• June 22, 1984 — The Sixth Annual Conference on Women Miners began its three-day meeting in Charleston. At the time, miners faced a probable strike and the conference was well attended by high-placed UMW officials touting women’s role in the mining industry and encouraging them to run for run for local, district, and federal offices available in the Union. Federal records of the time showed that 3,773 women worked underground and more than 200 women miners, and about 50 men, came to Charleston from 12 states and Canada for the three-day conference sponsored by the Tennessee-based Coal Employment Project. Women had always had an important role in mining. From Sara Rebecca “Mother” Blizzard, who gave land and food to miners driven from their jobs and homes in Cabin Creek by coal operators in 1912, and of Mother Jones (Mary Harris), who led the same miners in a bloody strike known as the Matewan Massacre. The conference was set up to address issues facing women in the industry such as the “last-hired, first-fired” policy that hit women particularly hard during the layoffs at the time and maternity leave. Women miners first officially entered the mines in 1973. By 1979, the Coal Employment Project began receiving phone calls from pregnant miners who wondered if they should quit working, or switch to lighter jobs.

• June 23, 1944 — A powerful tornado struck the north central West Virginia town of Shinnston in Harrison County, killing more than 153 people. The tornado, the most severe one West Virginia has experienced, came about 8:30 in the evening when from the northwest a great black funnel-shaped cloud appeared, traveling about 40 miles per hour. People who had witnessed the tornado say that one minute it was there-the next minute it had gone as though by some magic; describing it as the most terrifying sight of their lives, a monstrous mixture of fire and sulphur and blackness, forming its deadly funnel shape, and carrying tops of trees, large pieces of timber and debris. Dozens were killed at that spot. People in the path of the storm had brief seconds of warning in the unnatural noises immediately preceding the blow and in the appearance of the awful cone-shaped cloud on the horizon, few of the victims had time to seek shelter, even in the basements of their homes. And as panic seized everybody the crash of death was heard, the havoc was wrought, and the devastating force moved on to spread its rage and destruction for many miles. Immediately after the tornado had struck calls were sent to Clarksburg and Fairmont for help and amid the screams of ambulance sirens and general panic and confusion of the people, the rescue work quickly took form. The Coffindafter Clinic, the only hospital in the city, was soon crowded with the wounded and stricken, and an emergency ward was opened at the First Methodist Church for the less seriously wounded, while Clarksburg and Fairmont Hospitals received the many critical cases. Not more than ten houses were left standing in the Pleasant Hill addition to Shinnston, while South Shinnston was entirely wiped out and the four houses at Lucas Mill, just across the river from Pleasant Hill were blown into the river together with their occupants.

• June 24, 1934 — The West Virginia-Virginia Dairymen’s Cooperative held their first public demonstration at Lake Shawnee with then Governor Kump and other officials from the state. The gathering included 500 representatives of the area dairy industry and was presided over by then Bluefield Daily Telegraph owner and publisher Hugh Ike Shott. President of the Dairymen’s’ Association J. L. Alexander outlined the objectives and purpose of the association along with the State Commissioner of Agriculture, J. B. McLaughlin spoke about the need for changes in the methods of transportation and the need for the regulation to that industry and improvements in order to promote the dairy industry in the state of West Virginia.

• June 24, 1934 – Former editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer and second Secretary of the State Granville D. Hall died in his home in Glencoe, Ill. after a fall. Hall, who died at the age of 96, served as the second secretary of state of West Virginia from 1865 to 1867. He was born in New Salem, Va., in Harrison County and there he spent his early youth. Hall began his career as a schoolteacher in Harrison County when he was 17. In 1859, he left Harrison County to work in the printing office of the Wheeling Intelligencer. Mr. Hall was serving as a shorthand reporter in the United States Senate when he returned to Wheeling to participate in the formation of the new state of West Virginia. He served as secretary to Governor Francis H. Pierpont when the “Reorganized Government of Virginia” was set up by a convention of Western Virginia residents in Wheeling in 1861. This was two years before West Virginia became the 34th state in the Union. He was elected the first clerk of the House of Delegates on June 20, 1863 and in 1865, he was elected secretary of state and the same year also served as private secretary to West Virginia’s first governor, Arthur I. Boreman. Mr. Hall subsequently became the second Secretary of State of West Virginia, serving from 1865 to 1867. After the Civil War, Hall held several positions in the railroad industry and was eventually named president of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. During his early years he was associated with Ben Pitman, of Cincinnati, a pioneer in the system of shorthand. After leaving Wheeling Mr. Hall became an author of note, one of his most popular books being “The Daughter of the Elm,” the scene of which is laid on the old Hood farm near Shinnston. He also wrote “The Rending of West Virginia,” which depicts the forming of the state.

• June 24 and June 25, 1950 — Flash flooding in a 6-county area of central West Virginia killed almost three-dozen people. The worst flash flood on record swept across parts of Gilmer and nine other central state counties Saturday night and Sunday morning and took the lives of some thirty-three persons, twenty-seven of whom were reported recovered by Wednesday morning. The Little Kanawha River in Glenville reached a crest of 31.1 late Sunday afternoon and flooded Main Street to a depth of four feet. Throughout the central state area the flash flood hit terrifically in Ritchie, Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, Braxton, Upshur counties and left hundreds of people homeless. Salem, Berea, Harrisville, Smithfield and a half dozen other communities were hit by the flood. Ninety percent of the homes in the little Berea town were washed away and there is no end to the stories of horror that came about with the loss of the some thirty-three lives. Men climbed trees and waited all night as the torrents swept by. As many as thirteen persons were drowned in one house in Doddridge County. At least one highway bridge was swept off its piers in Gilmer County when a barn full of hay landed against it after being washed from Troy community. Weston estimated damage there at 2,000,000. Gilmer County’s loss will be at least at $1,000,000, considering loss and damage to crops, homes, business, etc., There is no estimate of the tons and tons of hay that went down the Little Kanawha from Sand Fork, Leading Creek and other streams. All along the Little Kanawha from Glenville to Burnsville the loss was tremendous. The crest of the river at Glenville was about two feet short of a record of 33 feet in 1930.

• June 26, 1909 — A riot erupted in Grafton in which several traveling horsemen, mistaken for B&O Railroad employees working during a strike of machinists against the company, were attacked. According to reports of the time, a train car load of horses arrived in the city on their way to Wheeling for a racing meet accompanied by several attendants. Upon the arrival of the car here, the attendants, several in number, came up street and, entered the saloon of Tom Shuttlesworth where they were mistaken for strike-breakers. Once they had left the saloon they were set upon by a number of men and beaten. With calls from the crowd of “Scab! Scab!” “Get back down to the shops where you belong,” and “This is the way we treat scabs here.” One man was kicked and knocked down from the front of the Klein stores, to a point near the railroad footbridge that leads to the depot. Bleeding profusely, he managed to reach the bridge and from there several parties assisted him to his car, where Dr. Warder later attended him. Another man, James Shields, of Erie, Pa., who was with the Johnson horses, was badly beaten up at a point near the McAvay saloon and was stretched unconscious for a time on the pavement. He was taken to the City Hospital, where his life hung in the balance that night and it was not until the next day that he regained consciousness. The leaders in the Machinists’ strike disclaimed any participation in the trouble as an organization, and stated that they are wholly irresponsible for the actions of their sympathizers, or more radical members, whom they are unable to hold in check. Richard Barrett, who appeared to be the leader in the trouble, was arrested and placed in jail. The strike leaders state that Barrett is not even a member of their union, but belonged to one in Ohio. The leaders of the Machinists Union placed a letter to the editor following the riot in the Grafton Daily that said, in part, “We want the people of Grafton and the world at large to know and see that we stand for principle, for law and order, and if any one or more of our members should overstep either, none will be more active in bringing such to punishment than this order. And we want the people to know too, that our members are not dense enough in mistake the traveling public for “scab” machinists. While we do not make any pretense of superior intelligence, we have enough common sense and discriminating intelligence to distinguish between a horseman and a machinist, real or pretended.”

• June 27, 1924 — Noted women’s rights activist Izetta Jewell Brown became the first woman to deliver a seconding speech for a presidential nominee, Democrat John W. Davis, at a major American political convention. Born in Hackettstown, New Jersey, Ms. Brown was a noted actress during her younger years performing and staring in several summer stock and touring companies. She left the stage when she married Congressman William Gay Brown Jr. a lawyer, banker, livestock rancher and farmer from Kingwood, West Virginia; and his death in 1916, just after their daughter’s birth, left her a millionaire. In 1921 she was part of the National Women’s Part that met with President Harding to urge his support to call a special session of congress to address discrimination against women. Three months later the NWP named Jewel as one their twenty-seven founding members and by 1922 she was a leading figure behind the Women’s Committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation that lobbied for reforms to help improve the lot of rural farmers and their families. In 1922, Jewel became the first woman south of the Mason–Dixon line to run for the U.S. Senate where she narrowly lost the West Virginia Democratic Party nomination to Matthew Neely. In 1935 Jewel was appointed Regional Director of Women’s Activities of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), overseeing women’s relief projects in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky and Ohio. Jewel and her second husband, Hugh Miller, relocated to Southern California after the war years where she became a local radio personality on KCBQ in San Diego. In 1951 she was elected to the executive board of the newly formed American Women in Radio and Television organization. Jewel died in 1978, at the age of 95, in La Jolla.

• June 28, 1943 — Dr. Harriet B. Jones, women’s rights and political leader, and the first woman licensed physician in West Virginia, died. Harriet B. Jones was the first female licensed physician in West Virginia and one of the first women to serve in the West Virginia Legislature. She was born in Edensburg, Penn. in 1856, and raised in Terra Alta. After attending the Wheeling Female College, Jones graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore. She pursued additional studies in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, specializing in gynecology and abdominal surgery. In 1886, Jones opened a private medical practice in Wheeling. She became assistant superintendent of Weston State Hospital in 1888 and returned to Wheeling to establish a women’s hospital in 1892. Jones advocated better health care through numerous public speaking engagements and served as secretary of the West Virginia Anti-Tuberculosis League. Jones was also a leader in the area of women’s rights. She was outspoken about her beliefs that women should be able to attend West Virginia University, where women were not admitted as students until 1889. Jones worked tirelessly for women’s right to vote and belonged to the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, the West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She combined her interest in health care issues and politics as a lobbyist to the legislature. Jones was instrumental in securing the establishment of the West Virginia Tuberculosis Sanitarium, the West Virginia Children’s Home at Elkins, and the West Virginia Industrial Home for Girls. After women won the right to vote in 1920, Jones became even more active in politics. She was elected to the House of Delegates from Marshall County in 1924, serving two terms. Jones authored several pamphlets, including “What You Should Know About the Government of West Virginia,” “Parliamentary Laws,” and “How We Got Our English Bible.” She also wrote a history of women’s suffrage in the state.

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