Charleston WV (October 2020) — The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.
Oct. 11, 1811: State founder and U.S. Senator Waitman Thomas Willey was born near Farmington. Willey proposed the West Virginia Statehood Bill in the Senate and saw to its passage and later signing by President Lincoln. He was then elected as one of West Virginia’s first two U.S. senators and served from 1863 to 1871.
Oct. 12, 1877: Howard Mason Gore was born in Harrison County. He served as U.S. secretary of agriculture and the 14th governor of West Virginia.
Oct.13, 1863: The Battle of Bulltown took place. The location was valuable during the Civil War because the Weston & Gauley Bridge Turnpike crossed the Little Kanawha River on a covered bridge at this site.
Oct. 14, 1947: In a Bell X-1 rocket airplane dropped from a B-29 bomber, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier by flying 700 miles per hour. He set another speed record on December 12, 1953, by flying two-and-a-half times the speed of sound in a Bell X-1A.
Oct. 14, 1949: WSAZ-TV went on the air on channel 5. Early shows included the first telecast of a Marshall College (now University) basketball game on December 3, 1949.
Oct. 14, 1985: Kanawha Airport was renamed Yeager Airport in honor of Chuck Yeager.
Oct. 15, 1839: Aretas Brooks Fleming was born in Fairmont. In 1888, Fleming won the Democratic nomination for governor and then won West Virginia’s most controversial gubernatorial election.
Oct. 16, 1859: John Brown and his raiders captured the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, but they were soon besieged by the local militia and federal troops. The raid galvanized the nation, further alienating North and South and drastically reducing any possible middle ground for compromise.
Oct. 16, 1922: The Rev. Leon Sullivan was born in Charleston. In 1977, Sullivan initiated the original Sullivan Principles, a code of conduct for companies operating in South Africa. The Principles were among the most effective efforts to end the system of apartheid.
Oct. 17, 1859: Heyward Shepherd, an African-American, was killed by John Brown’s raiders at Harpers Ferry. Shepherd was a porter at the local railroad station and a property owner in nearby Winchester, Virginia.
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 www.wvencyclopedia.org.