All West Virginia History You Need To Know | News, Sports, Jobs
West Virginia history was among the subjects that grandson Bob had in eighth grade this year. With him being homeschooled, and me loving nothing more than talking about history, I was asked to be his teacher for this class.
His mother, Miss T, helpfully provided a thick textbook on West Virginia history. I checked a few facts and dates there, but most of the time I just talked.
I decided the best approach was to tie the history of West Virginia to our family history.
“The main thing to know about the history of West Virginia, Bob, is that our state was created during the Civil War,” I said. “We, the mountain people of the West, were for the Union and against slavery. When Virginia joined the Confederacy, we separated from Virginia and formed a new state on June 20, 1863. This is Statehood Day. You know the civil war, don’t you? »
“It was quite significant. Your great-great-great-grandfather, Morgan Miller, fought for the Union. He later bought our farm from his mother’s brother, Uncle Henry.
Bob knew it.
“Now the most important person in West Virginia history is Chuck Yeager. Chuck Yeager was an ace fighter pilot in World War II and the first man to fly faster than sound. He should have to be one of the first astronauts because he had The Right Stuff.
“Were there two world wars?
“Yes. My dad’s Uncle Jim Miller, who grew up on our farm, was a battlefield surgeon in the first one. Uncle Jim is the reason we have the farm. He loaned his little brother, Fred, to redeem his siblings after Morgan died in 1929. Now, on your grandmother Honey’s side, her grandfather Lloyd Ryan sat all alone on sacks of potatoes in the hold of his troop ship as he crossed the North Atlantic so he wouldn’t catch the Spanish flu and “buy the farm”.
“Grandpa Ryan bought the farm? »
“It’s a saying from the First World War, which means you’ve been killed. Families received $10,000 and could pay off their mortgage. Grandpa Ryan also survived the Spanish Flu and German U-boats, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. During World War II, Ol’ Food’s little brother, my Uncle Sweetland, who was a classmate of Chuck Yeager in high school, was in the Coast Guard. It escorted convoys across the North Atlantic and also survived German Wolf Pack submarines.
“And if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here?”
“No, you would still be here. Let’s look at West Virginia’s economy. Do you know about coal mining? »
“And I’ve told you before how the hoopies along the Ohio River came north to work in the potteries and the steel mills. Well, the coal miners who lost their jobs to the machines also came north to work in the steel mills, as well as in the rubber factories of Akron. Akron is the largest city in West Virginia.
“Wait. Isn’t Akron in Ohio?
“It’s a joke, son. Your great-grandmother Miller, my mother, Ol’ Food, wasn’t a coal miner, but she was a Lincoln County hoopie, and she came up north to live on the Miller farm, and she is our connection to the most famous family feud in history, between the Hatfields in West Virginia, led by their patriarch, Devil Anse Hatfield, and the McCoys in Kentucky. One of Ol’ Food’s aunts married a Hatfield. He was sent to Chicago to avoid getting shot, which is kind of ironic when you think about all the people getting shot in Chicago now.
“I never heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys,” said Bob.
“There’s a whole chapter on them.” I opened W.Va.’s history textbook and showed her.
Bob reviewed his notes.
“So Grandpa Morgan was in the Civil War and bought the farm from Uncle Henry, Uncle Jim was in World War I and helped Grandpa Fred buy the farm, Grandpa Ryan and Uncle Sweetland were in the North Atlantic and didn’t ‘buy the farm’, Chuck Yeager had The Right Stuff, Grandma Miller was a hoopie and sort of related to Devil Anse Hatfield, and West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863.”
I gave him a pat on the back. “I think you have it, my son!”
This boy is a genius.