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West Virginia History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in West Virginia
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in West Virginia history.
The Mound Builders were the earliest known inhabitants. When the first Europeans arrived, however, the region was for the most part unpopulated, serving as a common hunting ground (and therefore a battleground) for the settlers and Native Americans.
When the state of Virginia voted to secede from the United States during the Civil War (1861-65), the people of the rugged and mountainous western region of the state opposed the decision and organized to form their own state, West Virginia, in support of the Union. Congress granted statehood to West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
17th Century West Virginia History Timeline
1607 - Virginia Colony established by England
1670's - Exploration of West Virginia begins
1671 - Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam discover waters flowing westward into the Ohio River and help establish English claims to the Ohio Valley
18th Century West Virginia History Timeline
1712 - Baron Christopher de Graffenreid enters the Eastern Panhandle
1716 - Lt.-Gov. Alexander Spotswood enters western Virginia to the banks of the Shenandoah River.
1719 - Presbyterians founded the first church in West Virginia, Potomoke Church at Shepherdstown.
1727 - Settlement at New Mecklenburg (Shepherdstown) founded by Pennsylvania Germans.
1731 - Morgan Morgan establishes first settlement in present West Virginia near Bunker Hill in Berkeley County.
1744 - Territory between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River ceded to the English by Indians of the Six Nations.
1754 - 1763 - French and Indian War
1754 - December 13 - Hampshire county, created from Augusta, Frederick county also formed .
1757 - Hampshire county organized.
1758 - Morgantown settled.
1762 - December 23 - Romney and Mecklenburg (later Shepherdstown) established when the Governor of Virginia signs bills of incorporation.
1764 - General Horatio Gates settles in Jefferson County.
1765 - Clarksburg settled.
1767 - Ice's Ferry, Monongalia County, settled by Frederick Ice. Adam Ice, son of Frederick was the first white child born in the Monongahela Valley..
1770 - "Harewood," the home of Colonel Samuel Washington was built in Jefferson County near Charles Town.
1771 - Natural gas discovers in the Kanawha Valley by John Floyd.
1775 - Gas discovered near Charleston.
1783 - Settlers west of the Allegheny Mountains attempt to create "Westsylvania," a new state
1791 - Daniel Boone elected as a delegate to the Virginia Assembly.
1792 - June 30 - First post office established at Martinsburg.
1795 - Daniel Boone leave Kanawha Valley.
1796 - November 30 - Brooke county created from Ohio county
1799 - January 14 - Monroe county created from Greenbrier county.
19th Century West Virginia History Timeline
1801 - January 8 - Jefferson county created from Berkeley county.
1803 - First newspaper west of the Alleghenies is the Monongalia Gazette and Morgantown Advertiser.
1804 - January 2 - Mason county created from Kanawha county.
1805 - Harman Blennerhassett and Aaron Burr plotted to conquer territory of the US south of the Ohio River on Blennerhasset Island.
1806 - First salt well drilled in Great Kanawha Valley
1807 - Wheeling's first newspaper, the Repository, published.
1808 - Lewisburg Academy (later the Greenbrier Military School) opens its doors to boys
1809 - January 2 - Cabell county created from Kanawha county.
1815 - Natural gas discovered by James Wilson in Charleston.
1816 - December 18 - Lewis county created from Harrison county.
1821 - December 21 - Pocahontas county created from Bath, Pendleton, Randolph county.
1823 - First religious newspaper, "The Christian Baptist," begins publication.
1824 - January 12 - Logan county created from Cabell, Giles, Kanawha, and Tazewell county.
1825 - Marquis de Lafayette arrive in Wheeling
1829 - Virginia counties west of the Allegheny Mountains protest constitution that favors the slave-holding counties.
1830 - Separation of western Virginia from eastern Virginia proposed by The Wheeling Gazette
1833 - Cholera epidemic in the Wheeling district, killing 23 in one day.
1834 - First commercial coal company in the Kanawha Valley, Ohio Mining Company
1838 - April 4 - Town of Beckley created by Virginia Assembly.
1840 - Bethany College, West Virginia 's oldest degree-granting college, founded by Alexander Campbell.
1841 - Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike completed
1842 - January 18 - Wayne county created from Cabell county; Marion county created from Harrison and Monongalia county.
1844 - January 19 - Taylor county created from Barbour, Harrison, and Marion county.
1845 - February 4 - Doddridge county created from Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Tyler county; Gilmer county created from Kanawha and Lewis county.
1846 - January 10 - Wetzel county created from Tyler county.
1849 - October 30 - Wheeling Bridge completed. (1849- 1851, longest bridge in the world) destroyed in 1854.
1854 - Wheeling Bridge destroyed by high winds.
1857 - B&O Railroad reaches Parkersburg.
1875 - State capital moved to Wheeling.
1876 - Broaddus College moves from Winchester, Virginia, to Clarksburg.
1881 - February 3 - Governor approves a bill allowing all eligible voting citizens, including blacks, to be jurors.
1887 - Huntington replaces Barboursville as the Cabell county seat.
1893 - The Huntington Herald, later the Herald-Dispatch, begins publication.
20th Century West Virginia History Timeline
1900 - June 8 - The Raleigh Herald (later the Beckley Post-Herald) begins publishing.
1902 - Mother Jones campaigns to unionize 7,000 miners in Kanawha Valley.
1903 - January 29 - Big Laurel (Rhodedendron Maximum) adopted as state flower.
1904 - Davis and Elkins College established at Elkins.
1905 - Morgantown incorporated.
1912-1921 - Conflicts between miners and mine owners over labor unions
1916 - November - Amendment allowing suffrage for women rejected by voters.
1918 - Fire destroys the Charleston Gazette building at 909 Virginia St. , Charleston
1920:1921 - Coal wars in an effort to unionize West Virginia coal miners.
1923 - WSAZ - begins broadcasting at Pomeroy, Ohio. It later moved to Huntington.
1929 - March 7 - State flag adopted.
1930 - March 30 - New-Kanawha Power Company breaks ground on the Hawks Nest Tunnel and Dam, part of the New River power project
1931 - December 10 - Two blacks accused of killing two white constables in Greenbrier County are lynched.
1937 - January 26-27 - Huntington's worst flood paralyzes the entire city and leaves 6000 homeless. Parkersburg also flooded.
1939 - West Virginia makes the final payment of its debt to Virginia.
1942 - February 6 - Governor Neely orders activation of West Virginia State Guard, an internal security force serving in the absence of the federalized National Guard.
1944 - June 23 - North-central West Virginia battered by the Shinnston Tornado, killing 116.
1947 - State's coal production reaches 173.7 million tons, more than any previous year. More than 167,000 miners are employed.
1950 - Elizabeth Simpson Drewry of McDowell County serving until 1964 becomes the first black woman elected to the House of Delegates.
1951 - July 17 - Elizabeth Kee of Bluefield elected to complete the unexpired term of her husband, Rep. John Kee became the first woman in West Virginia history to serve in Congress.
1957 - George Howard Mitchell appointed the first black Assistant Attorney General.
1958 - December - James R. Jarrett named head basketball coach at Charleston High School, the first black in the state to be appointed head coach at a previously all-white public school
1966 - Summersville Dam on the Gauley River dedicated.
1970 - November 14 - Southern Airways plane crashes killing almost the entire Marshall University football team, coaches, and other athletic department personnel, All 75 aboard were killed.
1971 - November 12 - Governor Arch Moore negotiates the end of a 44-day national coal strike.
1974 - September 12 - Kanawha County school board removes controversial textbooks; and students at George Washington High School in Charleston walk out in protest.
1974-1975 - Coal miners staged a wildcat strike in support of the textbook critics crusading against what they considered to be unpatriotic and immoral textbooks.
1975 - Major resurgence in the state's coal industry.
1980 - Governor John D. Rockefeller defeats Arch A. Moore
1981 - June 8 - Miners return after a 72-day strike.
1983 - July - Governor John D. Rockefeller IV imposes major cutbacks in state spending.
1992 - December - Marshall University Thundering Herd win the NCAA I-AA National Championship at Marshall Stadium.
1993 - March 12-14 - Snow storm paralyzes West Virginia
1995 - March 1 - Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) adopted as state butterfly
1997 - Monongahela Silt Loam adopted as state soil.
1998 - November 3 - Marie Redd, a professor at Marshall University elected to the state senate from Cabell County, first female African-American to serve in the senate.
21st Century West Virginia History Timeline
2006 - 13 miners trapped in mine, one survived
2011 - $209 million in restitution, civil and criminal penalites by mine owner agreed to for mine explosion - largest settlement in a government investigation of a mine disaster