This week in history |


Charleston – The following events occurred on these dates in West Virginia history. For more information, visit e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

January 2, 2006: An explosion at the Sago mine in Upshur County killed 12 men. Federal investigators have indicated that a lightning strike was the most likely ignition source for the explosion.

January 3, 1856: Musician Lewis Johnson ” Uncle Jack ” McElwain was born. He was the most respected violinist in central West Virginia during his lifetime. He took part in many violin competitions and no one remembers that he was ever beaten.

January 3, 1921: The State Capitol building in Charleston is destroyed by fire. A temporary wood-frame building was erected in just 42 days and has come to be known as the “Pulpboard Capital”.

January 4, 1897: Classes begin at Montgomery Preparatory School, a public institution established to prepare students for the University of West Virginia. The school became the University of West Virginia Institute of Technology.

January 5, 1810: The Virginia General Assembly recognizes 20 acres of land owned by farmer and merchant Thomas Buffington at the confluence of the Guyandotte and Ohio rivers as the new village of Guyandotte.

January 5, 1887: Governor Emanuel W. Wilson hosted a ball and banquet to officially open the new capital in Charleston. The so-called Victorian capital, the second in Charleston, incorporated the capital in 1870.

January 6, 1828: Ward Hill Lamon was born in Jefferson County. Lamon was a friend, legal partner, and unofficial bodyguard of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln sent Lamon to Richmond on business, and the president was assassinated while his bodyguard was away.

January 6, 1921: Death of Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield. He was the patriarch of the Hatfield family and their leader during the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

January 6, 1931: An underground gas explosion kills eight men at the Glen Rogers coal mine in Wyoming County.

January 6, 1948: Bob Wise was born in Washington DC. He served in Congress and was the state’s 33rd Governor.

January 7, 1955: The Cedar Lakes Conference Center officially opened, although it was not named until 1957. The name was chosen for its two lakes and an abundance of native cedars.

January 8, 1866: William Gustavus Conley was born near Kingwood in Preston County. Conley was the 18th Governor of West Virginia, from 1929 to 1933.

January 8, 1919: The West Virginia Legislature ratified the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with a Senate vote of 26-0 and a House vote of 81-3. West Virginia became the 21st state to ratify the Ban Amendment. The national ban came into effect under the Volstead Act on January 16, 1920.

January 8, 1926: comedian Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman. Raised in Huntington and a graduate of Marshall College (now Marshall University), he rose to prominence as a wacky television personality.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; (304) 346-8500; or visit e-WV at


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