Today in Wheeling History: June 30—The Synod and congregation of St. James Church in Wheeling celebrated the 25th anniversary of Reverend Albert William Werder's active ministry (1889). The German sermon was delivered by Reverend C. F. W. Brecht, Vice-President of the Eastern District, while the English sermon was given by Reverend Professor M. Loy, D.D., from Columbus, Ohio. (https://rb.gy/c5z2h) (https://rb.gy/qe5so) (https://rb.gy/gxjsu)
Today in Wheeling History: June 29--Governor Francis Pierpont, representing the Reorganized Government of Virginia based in Wheeling, wrote a letter to the sheriff of Morgan County notifying him of the obligation to take the oath of affirmation (1861). (https://rb.gy/0vzk2) (https://rb.gy/5e3gt)
Today in Wheeling History: June 28--Dr. Harriet B. Jones, a trailblazing advocate for women's rights, political leader, and the first licensed female physician in West Virginia, died (1943).
Dr. Harriet B. Jones, a pioneering physician, public health advocate, and champion of women's rights, made significant contributions to West Virginia. As the first licensed female doctor in the state, she established a successful medical practice in Wheeling. She also played key roles in healthcare initiatives, including the West Virginia Anti-Tuberculosis League and the establishment of Hopemont Sanitarium. Additionally, Dr. Jones actively participated in women's clubs, suffrage associations, and even served as a state delegate. Her remarkable legacy is honored on a plaque in Washington D.C., commemorating suffrage movement leaders. (https://rb.gy/tj3ki) (https://rb.gy/ghn45) (https://rb.gy/qjzdf)
Today in Wheeling History: June 28—Cornerstone of the second St. John’s Catholic Church in Benwood laid (1891).
The cornerstone laying ceremony for the new St. John's Catholic Church in Benwood took place with a large crowd in attendance, many arriving on a special train from Wheeling. The clergy present included Father Fitzgerald of Bellaire, Father McElligott and Father O'Kane of the Cathedral in Wheeling,, Father Hermann of St. Alphonsus Church, Father Mattingly of Martins Ferry, Father Mullen of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and Father McMenamin, pastor of St. John the Baptist. The Catholic societies in attendance included the Knights of St. George from the Cathedral and of St. Alphonsus Church, the Bellaire Ancient Order of Hiberians (A.O.H.) Society, and the Wheeling Hiberians. Bishop Kain delivered an address. The cornerstone was placed with articles such as biographies of Pope Leo XII, President Harrison, Governor Fleming, and Bishop Kain, along with copies of newspapers and current coins. After the ceremony, the Bishop gave his blessing. The construction of the church was expected to be completed by January 1 with a budget of $25,000.
This church was destroyed by fire in 2015, but a new church was constructed in 2017, incorporating salvaged items from the old church. The new church features stained glass windows, restored religious artifacts, and a memorial garden showcasing remnants of the former church. (https://rb.gy/lobgq) (https://rb.gy/cfism) (https://rb.gy/yjlhu)
Today in Wheeling History: June 27--"The Wheeling Register" reports the Steubenville Tunnel construction is advancing rapidly with a large workforce excavating, arching, and removing debris so that in a few months, the Steubenville road will connect to the Pennsylvania Railroad via this tunnel (1864). (https://rb.gy/5nmoq)
Today in Wheeling History: June 27--Newly built Vance Memorial Church holds a dedication service (1897).
Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church was built as a memorial to the parents of James Nelson Vance. Designed by the architectural firm Franzheim, Giesey & Faris, the Richardsonian Romanesque chapel attracted a large and fashionable congregation. The church, praised for its beauty and elegance, features an octagonal auditorium with exquisite interior decorations. The dedication service included organ music, choir performances, scripture readings, a sermon by Rev. D.M. Skilling, and the dedication by Rev. D.A. Cunningham. The church was initially led by an invited pastor, and its officers included elders, deacons, and trustees. (https://rb.gy/b37hy) (https://rb.gy/6nen4)
Today in Wheeling History: June 25--Ohio River flood waters in Wheeling began receding very slowly after cresting 10.6 feet over flood stage at 10:00 pm on June 24th (1972).
Because of the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Agnes, a flood crest moved southward along the Ohio River Valley and caused the evacuation of hundreds of homes in Wheeling, West Virginia (after also flooding parts of downtown Pittsburgh). Low-lying homes and businesses along the river were abandoned, and National Guard units were activated to assist with the evacuation. While some residents chose to wait out the rising waters on Wheeling Island, many others were displaced and found temporary shelter in the homes of friends and neighbors. Emergency stations were set up, and the National Guard was involved in evacuation efforts and providing support to affected communities. (https://rb.gy/bas3d) (https://rb.gy/lsbes)
Today in Wheeling History: June 24--Cornerstones laid at both the Masonic Temple, 1407 Market Street, and the new Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church, 1120 Eoff Street (1893). (https://rb.gy/2mtp0) (https://rb.gy/jxb5b) (https://rb.gy/z08vf)
Today in Wheeling History: June 23--Wheeling Police Officer James O'Keefe exonerated for killing Richard Smith (1901).
On June 22, 1901, Officer James O'Keefe shot and killed Richard Smith, a bottle blower at the North Wheeling glass factory, in an act of self-defense. Smith, who was intoxicated and jealous, had been harassing and threatening Miss Eva Wayman, seeking to enter her rooms against her will. When O'Keefe arrived to protect her, a struggle ensued, during which Smith fired two shots at O'Keefe, who then returned fire, fatally injuring Smith. O'Keefe's actions prevented a potential tragedy. Witnesses confirmed O'Keefe's account of the events. He was exonerated by the coroner's jury. (https://rb.gy/48lwy) (https://rb.gy/vm4hz)
Today in Wheeling History: June 22--First state lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks established at Wheeling (1884). (https://rb.gy/rs3zt)
Mike Minder was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia. He is the author of Wheeling's Gambling History to 1976.