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History heroes will be honored

CHARLESTON — Eight Ohio Valley residents, including two from Belmont County, will be recognized as West Virginia History Heroes during West Virginia History Day at the Culture Center in Charleston on Thursday.

The honorees include:

∫ Thomas Buckley of Flushing, nominated by the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable.

∫ Louis A. Yurkovitch of Martins Ferry, nominated by the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society.

∫ Hilda Blake of Moundsville, nominated by the Marshall County Historical Society;

∫ Daniel Butler of Glen Dale, nominated by The Cockayne Farmstead.

∫ William Hal Gorby of Morgantown, originally from Marshall County, nominated by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.

∫ Robert A. McColloch of Wheeling, nominated by the Fort Henry Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.

∫ Lisa McNeil of Wheeling, nominated by the Wheeling Chapter, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution.

∫ James R. “Jim” Stultz of Moundsville, nominated by the Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library.

Each award recipient has been nominated for his or her individual attention to West Virginia history.

Buckley, a member of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable since 1998, has served as trustee, vice president and president. Currently, he is a 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.

Yurkovitch is a former president of the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society and 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 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.

Blake is a member of the Marshall County Historical Society and 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 the 100-plus-year-old buildings that are still in use. She partnered with the city council on a streetscape project and worked to obtain the funding for a survey of the downtown commercial area with the goal of having it listed on 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.

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

Gorby has worked with Wheeling Heritage on several projects over the past 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.

McColloch is a charter member of the Fort Henry Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, and a founding director of Fort Henry Days Living History. He was treasurer of the latter organization for more than a decade and volunteered as a re-enactor. Preparations for the siege re-enactment involved a substantial commitment of time and effort, and McColloch was a member of the Fort Henry Days Planning Committee for many years. In 2019, he contributed a program about the McColloch family for a series that was part of a yearlong celebration of Wheeling’s 250th anniversary.

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 chairwoman of the Blanche L. Reymann Scholarship Fund Committee for the state society.

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.

West Virginia History Heroes are nominated by historical, genealogical, preservation, museum, patriotic or similar 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, publications or preservation. The West Virginia History Hero award is a one-time only recognition.

The 2020 History Heroes awards program is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the State Theater at the Culture Center and will conclude before 11 a.m. Honorees’ local legislators have been invited to participate in the ceremony in the Culture Center. During this time, photographs will be taken, copies of which can be obtained by visiting www.wvculture.zenfolio.com and selecting 2020 History Heroes.

In addition to the Archives and History Commission, co-sponsors of West Virginia History Day are the Mining Your History Foundation, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia Inc., West Virginia Association of Museums, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, West Virginia Historical Society and West Virginia Humanities Council.

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