This Week in West Virginia History: March 23-29

CHARLESTON, W.Va.—The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

March 23, 2003: Private Jessica Lynch of Palestine, Wirt County, was serving as a supply clerk with the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company when she was captured by Iraqi forces after her group was ambushed. 

March 24, 1890: Confederate General William Lowther ‘‘Mudwall’’ Jackson died in Louisville. Jackson, who was born in Clarksburg, joined the Confederate Army as a private. After helping to organize an infantry unit, he was promoted to colonel. He served on the staff of his cousin, Gen. Thomas J. ‘‘Stonewall’’ Jackson, and was jokingly nicknamed ‘‘Mudwall.’’ 

March 25, 1878: Attorney General Armistead Abraham ‘‘Cousin Abe’’ Lilly was born at Jumping Branch, Summers County. Lilly appealed the Virginia Debt Suit to the U.S. Supreme Court; when settled, it was estimated that Lilly saved the state a large sum of money.

March 26, 1863: The state’s first constitution was overwhelmingly ratified by the voters, by a majority of 28,321 to 572. The constitution was drafted during the state’s first Constitutional Convention at the federal custom house in Wheeling.

March 26, 1920: Aviator Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins was born. She was the first black woman to become a solo pilot in the Civilian Pilot Training Program at West Virginia State College (now University).

March 27, 1917: Statesman Cyrus Roberts Vance was born in Clarksburg. In 1977, President Carter tapped Vance as his secretary of state. In 1978, Vance was instrumental in the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel and in negotiating the Panama Canal Treaty.

March 28, 1870: State officials, with state records and property, boarded a steamboat called Mountain Boy, one of six steamboats that moved West Virginia’s capital from Wheeling to Charleston. 

March 28, 1941: Musician Charlie McCoy was born in Oak Hill. One of the most significant harmonica players in country music, his work can also be heard on rock ‘n’ roll albums. He was the musical director for the television program Hee Haw.

March 29, 1834: Henry Mason Mathews, the fifth governor of West Virginia, was born at Frankford, Greenbrier County. There were strikes and riots during much of his administration, including the national railroad strike of 1877, which began at Martinsburg. 

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; (304) 346-8500; or visit e-WV at


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