• July 5, 1908 — The first Father's Day observance was held at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont. In the summer of 1908 sadness ran so deep it just had to be shared. As the birthday of her own late father neared, 41-year-old Grace Golden Clayton was thinking about loss - her own at first, then those of the children around her. More than 1,000 were newly fatherless, their lives blown apart a few months earlier in nearby Monongah by the worst coal mining disaster in American history. Of the 361 men killed in the Dec. 6, 1907, blast, some 250 were fathers. Fathers who should be remembered and honored with their own special day, Clayton decided. So she made it happen. The woman often credited with starting Father's Day is Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Wash. In 1909, she sought a special day to honor her father, who became a single parent when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. That service was held in Spokane on the third Sunday in June 1910, and by the following year, there was a similar celebration in Portland, Ore. Chicago followed in 1915, Miami four years after that. By 1924, President Coolidge supported the idea of a national holiday, and in 1956, Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing Father's Day. President Johnson signed a Father's Day proclamation in 1966, and President Nixon made it permanent in 1972.

• July 6, 1899 — Escalations in the Hatfield/McCoy feud brought the death toll up one as Elias Hatfield and Ellis McCoy got into a gunfight where Ellis was slain and Elias fled to Kentucky. According to reports from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, a posse of 20 men under the direction of Sheriff N.J. Keadle, of Mingo County, pursued Elias with bloodhounds and he and his family were entrenched in a mountain gulch and are “determined to resist to the death.” Ellis MeCoy was a deputy sheriff, whereas Elias was the son of “Devil Anse” and a brother to the notorious “Cap” Hatfield who was implicated in a shooting of the Rutherford boys during the election of 1896. Elias had been implicated in several murders before and according to reports, “fears no man and will fight to the death before he will surrender. Reports from the day say that Elias eventually escaped the posse in a skirmish that left one man dead and several wounded.

• July 7, 1928 — The Madonna of the Trails monument at Wheeling Park, the second of 12 nearly identical monuments erected across the United States by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to honor women pioneers of the westward movement, was unveiled. About 5,000 people witnessed the dedication of the "Madonna of the Trails" monument at Wheeling Park to commemorate the unveiling. Elaborate and impressive ceremonies were carried out in which the statue, "a fitting memorial to the pioneer women," was presented to the city, and accepted as a "worthy gift to be cherished as a zealous treasure." Local, state and national officers of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the National Old Trails Road association took part in the exercises. Frank Davis, secretary of the National Old Trails Road association, delivered an address, as did Mrs. John Trigg Moss of St. Louis, Mo., chairman of the National Old Trails Road committee. Twelve monuments were erected in each state through which the National highway runs. The memorials are alike except the base where the four sides will be inscribed with historical data concerning the state or city in which the monument is erected. National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and became part of the National Auto Trail system in the United States. It is 3,096 miles long and stretches from Baltimore, Md., to California. Much of the route follows the old National Road and the Santa Fe Trail. In 1926, future President Harry S. Truman was named president of the National Old Trails Road Association and it was his work with the Daughters of the American Revolution to place the monuments along the roadway to commemorate the dedication and hard work of the pioneer mothers to help found the country.

• July 8, 1920 — About 25 shots rang out in the early morning at the tipple of the Borderland Coal Company in Williamson by striking mine workers to try and prevent operation of the mine. Following battles between the miners on one side and company officials, workers and deputy sheriffs on the other, Judge James Damron of the circuit court swore in an additional 15 deputies in and attempt to keep the peace. This was one of the many violent reports coming from the West Virginia “Coal Wars”that stretched from the 1912 Paint Creek strike and culminated in the Matewan Massacre of 1920. In the aftermath, support for unionization in Mingo County increased after the Matewan Shootout. By July 1, 1920, in the county had unionized and joined the UWM strike. Miners and mine guards engaged in several armed skirmishes over the closure of coal mines and access to rail routes in the summer and fall of 1920. The West Virginia government declared martial law and sent federal troops to quell the strike, but backed down under threat of a general strike of all union coal miners in West Virginia. Although the Borderland Coal Company operated on the Kentucky side of the border, the miners and the tipple were on the West Virginia side. With the WV miners participating in the general UMW strike and only the miners who did not join left to operate, the mine had a depleted workforce.

• July 9, 1942 — An explosion at the Pursglove #2 mine in Monongalia County killed twenty coal miners. The blast occurred less than two months after an explosion at the nearby Christopher No. 3 mine in which 56 men were killed on May 12. Generally regarded as one of the safest mines in the State, the Pursglove mine last year was awarded a certificate for its good safety record after 3 million tons of coal had been produced without a fatal accident. Six crews were working in the mine at the time of the blast, but only the crews headed by Charles Andy and Albert McDonald were killed. All the other men, numbering more than 50, escaped. Federal and State inspectors and company officials including N. P. Rinehart, chief of the State Mines Department, David Pursglove, and Samuel Pursglove III were included in the 16 person in the inspection party. The Pursglove No. 2 mined coal from the Sewickley seam and, by 1942, was fully mechanized. The mine acquired a reputation as one of the best-equipped and most efficient operations in the area. West Virginia officials classed the Pursglove mine as "gassy," but miners believed the risk from methane was more severe in the Pittsburgh seam beneath them because most of the major explosions in the area had occurred in the lower coal bed. Despite government recommendations and the suggestions of the manufacturer of Pursglove's ventilation fan, company officials continued to engage in the unsafe practice of circulating air through abandoned workings before it reached the operating faces and of passing air from one working section to another. As the Twenty Face crew turned toward their section, they passed under an area of "bad top" that would soon initiate catastrophe. At approximately 4:12 p.m., this area of unstable roof fell onto the haulage track. The fall was thirty-six feet long, sixteen feet wide, and one foot thick, and the impact suspended a large amount of Sewickley seam dust into the air. Torn from its hangers, a 550-volt trolley wire fell on the track, creating an intense electrical arc in a methane-charged cloud of coal dust and igniting coal particles. The explosion, fueled by the suspended coal dust, traveled along the same route the Twenty Face crew used moments before, increasing in intensity. the blast developed a horizontal swirling effect as it turned onto Twenty Face, creating a vacuum that accelerated the release of methane from the worked-out areas of both sections. The explosive force gained momentum when it reached Twenty Face; the men there, still putting away their personal items before beginning work, were killed and the man-trip cars blown from the track. In full fury as it came onto Twenty-four Face, The blast caught the members of that crew dispersed at their various assignments. Leaving twenty fatalities in its wake, the explosion exited the section and continued until it reached adequately rock-dusted areas.

• July 10, 1961 — Mildred Gillars, better known as "Axis Sally," was released from Alderson prison after serving eleven years at the Federal Reformatory for Women. She was convicted of treason for broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War II. In the trial, the jury threw out seven of the eight counts in the government's indictment and convicted on the single count of engaging in a broadcast entitled "Vision of Invasion." The melodramatic "Vision" broadcast was beamed to American troops in May, 1944, just a month before they sailed across the English Channel and stormed the German-held coast of France in the Normandy invasion, June 6. In the broadcast, Miss Gillars luridly and in gruesome detail depicted the purported horrors that awaited any Allied attempt to attack Hitler's so-called "Fortress Europe." As the star performer of the German radio troupe, Miss Gillars played the role of an American mother who dreams that her soldier-son dies in agony aboard a flaming invasion ship. She said the "Vision of Invasion" broadcast was written by Dr. Max Otto Koischwitz, a one-time Hunter college (N.Y.) professor, whom she had described at the trial as the man she loved and "my destiny." She had spent 11 years in the federal reformatory for women here on a treason conviction.

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