• July 25, 1960 — Governor Cecil Underwood addressed the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Underwood was the 25th and 32nd Governor of West Virginia, serving from 1957 to 1961, and from 1997 to 2001. His first term marked the first time a Republican governor served the state sine 1928 and had the additional distinction of being the youngest governor. By 1956, Underwood had become a leading spokesman for the Republican Party. For his first term Undewood pledged to hire qualified personnel, keep taxes to a minimum, reform state purchasing, improve roads, strengthen education, attract new industry, and otherwise advance the state up the ladder, a symbol of progress he had used in his campaign. To an extent beyond that of his predecessors, Underwood also promised to report regularly ‘‘via the press, radio, and television’’ and to ‘‘move often among the people’’ instead of staying at the capitol, a move that drew criticism from his opponents. In 1960, barred from running for another term by the WV constitution, Underwood ran for the US Senate and was asked to give the keynote speech at the GOP national convention. The keynote address was not without controversy as Nixon asked Underwood to remove a key point of his address fearing that it might be misconstrued as an attack on his opponent, John F. Kennedy. The line in question followed a statement where Underwood said, “In the most vicious speech of his career, that rich young man, nominated by our opposition, said that the cards needed to be cut. I say that we Republicans here in Chicago will cut our own cards.” The line cut would have stated, “We would be foolish not to when we are playing with a gambler who can hide a Texan up his sleeve.” Referring to Lyndon B. Johnson. Underwood spoke to the assembled speaking harshly of the Democratic convention held earlier saying, “One by one, these amateurs and apologists paraded across the political platform to degrade America before the eyes of the world. In political desperation, these men played Russian roulette with the American people and American progress. For political expediency, they tried to undermine the confidence of the American people in themselves, in their government, in their economic and political system.”

• July 26, 1923 — West Virginia’s first state gasoline tax took effect. An additional two cents per gallon was imposed as a state tax, in compliance with a law enacted by the legislature on April 27, 1923. The tax was implemented in order pay for the re-construction, maintenance, and repair of roads and highways, and for the payment of the interest on state bonds issued for road purposes. No deductions were allowed for the operation of motor boats, agricultural tractors, stationary gasoline engines, gasoline used in the process of manufacturing or dry cleaning, or in air compressors, etc.; and no deductions are allowed on account of gasoline sold to the Federal Government. As of 2017 the estimated revenue was $164 million.

• July 27, 1897 — A conference of leaders from various trade unions met was held Wheeling to support striking coal miners. President Gompers, of the American Federation of Labor, sent telegrams to officers of thirty-eight national trade unions, calling for a conference to be held in Wheeling in response to a telegram from president M. D. Ratchford, of the United Mine Workers of America, in which he says that peaceable assemblage and free speech have been forbidden and suppressed in West Virginia. The telegram read, “President Ratchford, of the miners, just wires that peaceable assemblages and free speech have been forbidden and suppressed in West Virginia. In compliance with his request I invite you to a conference to be held at Wheeling, W. Va., July 27th. Similar invitation is extended to executive officers of all national trade unions. No duty is more important than attendance at this conference. The very presence of all to whom this is addressed will arouse the miners to their full duty and decide the contest in their favor. If your presence is impossible, send representatives.” At the conference, it was decided to make a renewed and determined effort to make the strike general in West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. According to reports it was the most important gathering of its kind every seen in this country, where the differences between various labor organizations are sent to the rear and - the leaders meet just as thorough they had never fought each other with the most violent bitterness. Labor leaders from coal, railroad, tobacco, bicycle, painters, plumbers and gas fitters and many more met in order to reinforce the strike and to detail the situation of the men, their low wages, which are not sufficient for subsistence and other abuses to which they had been subjected. Representatives of trade and labor organizations vowed to aid the strikers in any means possible and called upon the Governor of WV to allow protection of free speech and public assembly and called for sympathy and indignation assemblies at their respective trade houses. Officers of the several unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor were requested to transmit letters to their local unions and to building trades councils with reference to what is proper to do in view of the appeal made last night, and the officers of the United Pipe Workers of America were requested and have given their pledge to undertake a systematic method of agitation.

• July 28, 1927 — The Potomac Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, purchased Fort Ashby. Fort Ashby was the first fort built at the meting of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, and in 1755, Colonel George Washington gave orders to build a stockade and fort on the eastern side of Patterson Creek. Immediately after the close of the Revolutionary War Frankfort developed rapidly and the town was chartered on Dec. 5, 1787. As of 1971 it remained one of the only original forts designed and built during that era mostly intact. The garrison at Fort Ashby, fated to outlive its sister forts, saw only one serious engagement during the French and Indian War. This was an ambush, outside the fort itself, of a Lt. Robert Rutherford and party, on the way to Fort Cumberland to deliver a message to Washington. Rutherford was deserted by supporting militia, who ran back to the protection of the fort, incurring thereby the anger and disgust of Col. Washington. A factor in the survival of Fort Ashby, or the portion remaining, was its use as a dwelling. Through the years, several families lived in it. The last owner was about to tear it down when the Potomac Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at Keyser bought it on July 28, 1927. The old fort was temporarily saved, but sat virtually in ruins until the Works Progress Administration, with technical supervision by the National Park Service, began restoration under an order signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on Sept. 14, 1938. Fort Ashby was then owned by the Mineral County Court, the DAR relinquishing it so that federal funds could be made available. The fort was returned to the DAR about five years later and opened to the public on July 4, 1939. Electricity was installed in 1960. Historical items are actively solicited and installed from time to time, although the two-story log structure is far from crowded with artifacts. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 12, 1970 and remains open for special tours.

• July 29-31, 1915 — The first county 4-H camp in the United States was held at Camp Good Luck in Randolph County. In the late 1800’s, researchers discovered adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural developments, but that young people would; and with an eye to that, “hands on” clubs were formed in rural communities to introduce new agricultural technologies to boys and girls across the country. By 1914, with the introduction of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture, 4H was nationalized and the clubs grew. Cooperative Extension combines the expertise and resources of federal, state, and local governments and is designed to meet the need for research, knowledge and educational programs. About twenty of the boys and girls attended “Camp Good Luck” in co-operation with the U. S. Department of agriculture and the W. Va. Agricultural Extension Department camped for three days the last of last week at Crouch. William H. Kendrick, State Leader in Charge of Boys’ Clubs, has been acknowledged as the person mostly responsible for the unique emphasis on the four-fold development of 4-H that characterize clubs in W. Va. He helped set up and conduct the first county 4-H camps in West Virginia; he was the first Director of the State 4-H Camp at Jackson’s Mill and was one of the leaders in securing legislative approval of the Jackson’s Mill Camp. As for “Camp Good Luck” Kenrick said, “Camp life presents a most splendid opportunity for some practical teaching has been again demonstrated by County Agent and Mrs. Shipman. The open sesame of the boy and girl heart is never so good as when living close to nature. To those who love to see a young life unfold, the water is never finer than when you go camping. If you have something you are anxious to drive home plan your program and work it out with the children in camp. The girls learned something of the high ideals while they afforded the most excellent opportunity to teach the boys courtesy and manliness. Everything was fine. Just ask the boys and girls if it was not and ask them to tell you something they learned while in camp.” Today, 4-H serves youth in rural, urban and suburban communities across the world and teaches everything from STEM to animal sciences and affords youth across the world to “Make the Best Better.”

• July 30, 1782 — Noted frontiersman Samuel McCulloch was killed by Native Americans at a spot very near the line separating Brooke from Ohio County. At Fort Van Metre, called then the “Court House Fort, with work in the harvest fields demanding attention, Major Samuel McCulloch and his brother John undertook the duty of reconnoitering the neighborhood to ascertain whether there were any lurking Indians about. They traversed the path lying along Short Creek and made their way up the river until they reached Beech Bottom, about half way between Buffalo and Short Creek Riding along, they came to a tree top at the head of a ravine, around which it was necessary to pass. John looked around and just as he did so several shots from the treetop were fired and Samuel fell from his horse fatally hit. The next morning a party from the fort found the mutilated remains. According to reports of the time, the Indians had disemboweled the corpse, hung the entrails on a limb of a large tree and as was afterwards learned, taken out the heart to be eaten. It was subsequently ascertained that the party, a detachment of which killed McColloch, consisted of not less than a hundred warriors in all, and that they were on their way to attack Fort Van Metre. This fatal encounter was, doubtless, instrumental in the salvation of the lives of all in the fort. The McCollochs, emigrated from the south branch of the Potomac in 1770, and located on the borders of Short creek. The family consisted of four brothers, Abraham, George, Samuel and John, and several sisters. Major Samuel M’Colloch commanded at Fort Van Meter, in 1777, styled the Court House Fort, from the circumstance of the first civil court in North Western Virginia being held in it immediately after the organization and separation of Ohio County from West Augusta. This fort was one of the first erected in this part of Virginia.

• July 31, 1955 — WHIS-TV in Bluefield debuted. When allocations of TV stations were made in 1952, Bluefield was left out of the picture given only UHF channel 43. However, Hugh Ike Shott, founder of the Bluefield Daily Telehraph felt that an ultra high frequency station would not serve the needs of southern West Virginia because of the mountains and if the central an northern areas of the state warranted a VHF station, the southern area deserved one as well. At the time, there were only 12 channels to service the entire country, so the proposal to the FCC was to change the zone line from one to two in order to fit the channel within the 190 air mile space between Channel 6 in Knoxville, TN. The FCC was then petitioned to move Channel 6 from Beckley to Bluefield, and to give Beckley in its place Channel 4, both of which changes would fit the FCC’s allocation pattern. That also was granted, but only after a fight that involved Oak Hill, Beckley, High Point, N. C., and other towns seeking VHF service. To this day, this is the only change from its original pattern that the FCC has ever permitted. In addition to Ike Shott, Congresswoman Elizabeth Kee played an important part in getting the Channel 6 station to her constituants with the position that there was no VHF channels available to her constituants and fought for the change. However, getting permission was only half the battle, as a company formed by citizens of Beckly and Bluefield tried to block construction of the transmitter, only to back out after formal hearings at the FCC. Space was found at the “loft” of the Municipal Building in Bluefield to accommodate the television and radio studios and construction began. A massive fire at the Harry Heights transmitter location on Mother’s Day took out the transmitter and all of the equipment., but was back on the air after 44 hours of the first alarm with some quick thinking by Pat Flanagan, then engineering and administrative director, by borrowing back their old transmitter from WRBW in Welch and by sifting through the ashes of the site. The station sent out its test pattern at 6:30 p.m. on July 31, 1955 and put the first half-hour film on the air at 7 p.m. The movies, both public service films used for testing, were entitled “Research Acres,” a farm picture, and “A Nation on Wheels,” a film describing the automobile industry. An estimated 100 calls came in during the hour between 7 and 8 p.m. from Davy, West Graham, Duhring, Princeton, Richlands, Pulaski, Pocahontas and from every section of Bluefield stating the picture was clear.

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