June 23rd, 2008
The Daily Athenaeum, June 18, 2008
By Candace Nelson
On June 20, 1863, West Virginia was created from the secession of several northwestern counties of Virginia during the Civil War. West Virginia is the only state created from another without the parent state’s permission and the only to achieve statehood by the proclamation of a president.
In honor of West Virginia Day on Friday, West Virginia University Libraries is holding a series of free events to celebrate George Bird Evans.
Evans’ family enjoyed the outdoors, and, coincidentally, his middle name (Bird) was a family name.
“It’s a great opportunity for students and staff to know about our history. (Evans) may not be well-known, but (this display) will benefit the students,” said Monte Maxwell, a representative of WVU Libraries.
Toward the beginning of the year many of Evans’ papers, manuscripts, books and other materials were donated to the library – many of which were upland game bird hunting literature.
“(Evans) really enjoyed the experience rather than the kill… Every time he went into the woods, he wrote about the events in a diary. Some of these will be displayed on Friday,” said John Cuthbert, the West Virginia and Regional History curator.
Evans was an artist, breeder, author and outdoorsman who wrote over 100 books on his areas of expertise. Although he went to school for art, Evans paid for college by making music. Throughout his life, he wrote and illustrated for magazines and clients.
In the 1950s, he began to write about his passion – dogs, birds and West Virginia. His wife, Kay Harris Evans, co-wrote alongside him.
“West Virginia has a wealth of history and tradition, and it’s always very interesting and rewarding to explore our heritage and remember where we came from,” said Michael Richard, a senior aerospace engineering major.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. a reception will be held in the Milano Reading Room in the old section of the Downtown Library Complex. At 10 a.m., Catherine Harper, who wrote Evans’ biography, will be the keynote speaker at a dedication ceremony for Evans.
At noon in the J. Horner Davis Family Galleries on the sixth floor of the library, an exhibit will display the Evans works and other material from the West Virginia and Regional History Art Collection. All attendees will receive a West Virginia Day poster.
“I think it’s important that we don’t forget about celebrating our great state,” said Brad Shoulders, a senior criminology major.
Across the state, other events are going to celebrate West Virginia’s creation. On West Virginia Day, many West Virginia parks are offering free swimming at outdoor pools and designated swimming areas.
Gov. Joe Manchin invites citizens and visitors to enjoy the offer. The parks participating are: Audra, Babcock, Beech Fork, Berkeley Springs, Berwind Lake Wildlife Management Area, Bluestone State Park, Cabwaylingo State Forest, Cacapon Resort, Canaan Valley Resort, Cedar Creek, Chef Logan State Park, Greenbrier State Forest, Holly River, Lost River, Moncove Lake, Panther State Forest, Pipestem Resort, Twin Falls Resort, Watoga and Watters.
If any of the pools reach capacity, people will receive a “sun check” to use for free swimming on another day.
Other events around the state include: presentations of West Virginia’s birdlife, traditional folk song programs, storytelling, boating, cake walks, train rides, clowning, comedy, magic, balloon sculpting, stilt walking and bluegrass, country, and gospel music.