Northern Panhandle Residents Among West Virginia History Heroes

Several Northern Panhandle residents were among a group of West Virginia History Heroes recognized during West Virginia History Day in Charleston on Thursday, Feb. 20.

West Virginia History Heroes are nominated by historical, genealogical, preservation, museum, patriotic or like organizations from across the state. The purpose of this annual award is to give state-level recognition to individuals chosen for dedicated service on behalf of an organization’s programs or for a recent significant contribution to state and local history through research, interpretation, publication or preservation. The West Virginia History Hero award is a one-time-only recognition.

The Northern Panhandle residents announced by the West Virginia Archives and History last week include:

Hilda Blake: Blake, a member of the Marshall County Historical Society, is a pillar of the community. As president of the Moundsville Landmarks Commission, she spearheaded the restoration of the historic home, Kirkside. More recently, she worked to have signage placed on 100-plus-year-old buildings that are still in use. She partnered with the city council on a streetscape project and worked tirelessly to obtain the funding for a survey of the downtown commercial area with the goal of having it listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Blake was a founding member of the Moundsville Economic Development Council, which is responsible for the Elizabethtown Festival, an event that provides a forum for historical and cultural groups. Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society

Thomas Buckley: Buckley has been a member of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable since 1998 and has served as trustee, vice president and president. Currently, he is newsletter editor and notifies members of upcoming meetings and events. As an officer, he has promoted the study of Civil War and local history by scheduling and giving presentations for local libraries and organizations. Buckley participated in two modern-day trials of John Brown at Independence Hall. He also updated a list of Belmont County Civil War soldiers for the Tri-State Military Veterans Museum. Among his other activities, he is a volunteer at the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio. Nominated by Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable

Daniel Butler: A volunteer at The Cockayne Farmstead, Butler is a skilled woodworker who has taken on oversight and maintenance repairs at the farmhouse, reading preservation briefs and talking to the architect before beginning work. When he takes on extensive repairs, he will work long hours day after day until the task is completed to his perfectionist standards. In 2019, he constructed a new sill for one window and made repairs to the wraparound porch. Butler also identifies issues that can be addressed by volunteers during United Way Day of Caring events at the farmstead, picks up supplies as needed, provides the tools and supervises the work of the volunteers. Nominated by the Cockayne Farmstead

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William Hal Gorby: Gorby has worked with Wheeling Heritage on several projects over the last few years, ranging from development of a walking tour brochure for the South Wheeling neighborhood to a review of LaBelle Nail Company records to determine a representative sample collection. His most recent work is a podcast on the life and legacy of Wheeling industrialist Henry Schmulbach, which was the first podcast and new media production for Weelunk, Wheeling Heritage’s web-based magazine. Gorby has written about immigration, labor and Appalachian, West Virginia, and Wheeling history, all of which inform the work and programs of Wheeling Heritage. Nominated by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation

Lisa McNeil: McNeil is an active member of the Wheeling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is serving her second term as chapter historian. She is preserving DAR history through scrapbooking and has won several awards for her work. McNeil has volunteered for or co-chaired several commemorative events, including the Foreman Massacre and the Zane memorial service during the Wheeling 250 celebration, and works with the Christopher Columbus and American History essay contests. She also is serving her second term as chair of the Blanche L. Reymann Scholarship Fund Committee for the state society. Nominated by Wheeling Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

James R. “Jim” Stultz: Stultz has spent decades fostering a love of and dedication to keeping the historical record intact. As a member of the Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library’s board of trustees for more than a decade and as current president, he has been active in the library’s history-themed programming and helped secure funds for the purchase of land for the future establishment of an archival center. From research to groundskeeping to fundraising, his active involvement in preserving sites and artifacts has shone a light on the importance of the past in cementing a positive future for a community. Stultz also is active with the Marshall County Historical Society. Nominated by Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library READ more about Stultz: OVMC Nurse-Training Skeleton Memorialized

Louis A. Yurkovitch: Yurkovitch is a former president of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society and currently serves as a member of the board of directors and as webmaster. He has taught genealogy classes and acquired computer equipment and peripherals, helping the society enter the modern era. His efforts have also made the organization more attractive to members who rely on social media. As website administrator, Yurkovitch has worked to create one location from which information can be disseminated about meetings, classes, genealogy, and local people and history. The site not only carries information about the genealogical society but also publicizes the meetings and events of other local historical and genealogical organizations. Nominated by Wheeling Area Genealogical Society

History Heroes are individuals who go beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of local history, genealogy, preservation and museum organizations. Their combined work makes a statement most deserving of this statewide public recognition. These recipients have been recognized for their grassroots efforts, years of dedicated behind-the-scenes services, or for a significant contribution such as preserving a site or collection, or publishing a work of family or local history.