Capitol Fire

On January 3, 1921, the West Virginia state capitol building in downtown Charleston was destroyed by fire. Originally dedicated in 1885 and completed in 1887, the 85-room Victorian structure was our state’s fourth capitol—and the second in Charleston. Firefighters struggled to put out the blaze due to the intense heat, and rescue efforts were pulled back after one firefighter was killed by a collapsing masonry wall.

Jan 1, 1910 — An association of County and Circuit Clerks was created at a meeting held at the Frederick Hotel in Huntington. The association was formed for the purpose of testing the constitutionality of a law passed in 1908 governing the fees collected in the various counties due to the stand taken by State Tax Commissioner Townsend stating that on any fees past $2,000, 15 percent of the whole amount must be paid to the county. The association wanted to pay the 15 percent on the remaining monies. The Attorney General at the time sided with the clerks, as did the president of the West Virginia Sheriff’s Department. There were 48 counties at the meeting with two or more clerks representing each county as well a number of sheriff’s departments who were also affected by the new law.

Jan. 2, 1920 — After realizing that 13 districts in Mercer County had no enumerators for the federal census, and after efforts by the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, every district now had enough people to begin taking the federal census and counts started this day. Census takers would travel to every location in the community to secure the information on the questionnaire that included: Sex, color or race, marriage status, birthplace, occupation, educational status, literacy and the ability to speak English, whether a home was owned or rented and how much was owed on the property. Foreign born peoples were also asked their year of immigration and if they were naturalized and the date of naturalization.

Jan. 3, 1980 — Shotts purchase Iowa TV station for $9.5 Million. The sale of television station KIMT of Mason City, Iowa to the Shott family was pending approval by the FCC. The Shott family, who owned the Daily Telegraph, another television station in Florence, S.C., two radio stations in Bluefield acquired the latest in their media empire for $9.5 million having sold their interests in the Bluefield television station WHIS as part of a realignment handed down by the FCC forbidding single ownership of both newspaper and broadcasting facilities in the same community.

Jan. 4, 1990 — Greyhound bus made its final run from Welch to Bluefield. For five years, the Trailways, then Greyhound had been trying to close the route from Welch to Bluefield citing the lack of customers. This final run affected Welch, Kimball, Keystone, Northfork, Mauybeury, Bramwell, Bluefield, Princeton, Rich Creek, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Roanoke. Greyhound was still planning runs from Bluefield To Roanoke, but none would be stopping in Welch, nor in any of the smaller towns along the way.

Jan. 5, 1939 — Three members of the Logan County Board of Education resigned their posts following the announcement of impeachment proceedings against the men on the grounds of malfeasance in office and neglect of duty. Board President R. L. Shelton, Cecil Brumfield, and Louden White resigned their posts and were scheduled to stand trial later that month on misdemeanor charges. Shelton was indicted on using board gasoline and signing a $300 daft for County Superintended E.V. Parsons for legal services, while White was charged with bribery regarding a school bus contract. Brumfield was indicted on bribery charges regarding a coal contract.

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