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West Virginia history: Tornado, flood anniversaries, notable birthdays, and significant events

Charleston, WV – The following events occurred on these dates in West Virginia history. For more details, visit e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at

On June 23, 1944, a tornado ravaged Shinnston and nearby areas, resulting in 103 fatalities and numerous injuries.

June 23, 2016, saw central West Virginia receive eight inches of rain within 12 hours. Flooding from the Meadow, Cherry, and Elk rivers, as well as Howard Creek, devastated downtowns and The Greenbrier resort, claiming 23 lives.

Ambrose Bierce, author and Civil War-era short story writer, was born June 24, 1842.

Bridge builder Lemuel Chenoweth, noted for the earliest covered bridge at Beverly and the Philippi covered bridge, was born on June 25, 1811, near Beverly, Randolph County.

Sheriff Don Chafin, a staunch opponent of union organizers backed by coal companies, was born on June 26, 1887, in Logan County.

Pearl Buck, Nobel Prize-winning author of The Good Earth, was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro.

On June 26, 1936, basketball star Hal Greer was born in Huntington. Greer broke barriers as the first Black athlete at Marshall College, now Marshall University, and ended his pro career in 1973 with several NBA records.

Maceo Pinkard, co-writer of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and a prominent 1920s Jazz Era songwriter, was born on June 27, 1897, in Bluefield.

Kermit Hunter’s play, Honey in the Rock, depicting West Virginia’s founding in 1863, premiered on June 27, 1961, at Grandview near Beckley.

Athlete Chuck Howley, born June 28, 1936, in Wheeling, became a standout linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023 after his 12-year NFL career.

On June 28, 2010, longtime U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd died at 92. He had served since his first election in 1958.

George W. Atkinson, born on June 29, 1845, in Charleston, was elected governor in 1896, ending a 26-year Democratic rule.

Writer Breece D’J Pancake, known for setting many of his stories in Milton, fictionalized as “Rock Camp,” was born on June 29, 1952, in South Charleston.

On June 29, 2012, a derecho storm caused considerable damage across West Virginia. It downed trees and homes, leading to a power outage for about 688,000 homes and businesses during a heat wave.

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