Take Me Out to The Library …

An upcoming celebration at the Ohio County Public Library of the 40th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1971 World Series championship has a special Wheeling connection.

The guest speaker for the Lunch with Books program at noon Tuesday, May 3, is author Colleen Walton Hroncich, granddaughter of the late Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh and daughter of Wheeling Jesuit University alumni Joe and Kathy Murtaugh Walton. The Waltons are 1971 graduates of the former Wheeling College.

Hroncich is visiting the library to discuss her recent book about her grandfather, “The Whistling Irishman: Danny Murtaugh Remembered.”

Lunch with Books coordinator Sean Duffy explained, “The book tells the inspiring story behind the man who led the Pirates out of the basement and into the spotlight. Through hustle, determination and strength of character, Danny scraped his way out of poverty and became a two-time world championship manager.”

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The historic courtroom of West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling certainly was the perfect place for officials of the Appalachian Regional Commission and American Heritage magazine to hold the national launch of a new tourism tool Thursday, April 21.

The Civil War: The Home Front Map-Guide to Appalachia, available in the magazine’s spring issue and in a special interactive format online, is designed to boost the economy and attract cultural heritage tourists to the 13-state region.

During the press conference held to unveil the map-guide, participants observed that actions taken in West Virginia Independence Hall in 1861-63 helped to preserve the Union and were pivotal to the nation’s fate in the Civil War.

Earl F. Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, noted that western Virginia delegates met in the U.S. Custom House (now known as WVIH) in 1861 to form the Restored Government of Virginia and strategized a nonviolent way to stick to their principles and remain in the Union. “This building represents an incredible exercise in courage and creativity,” he commented.

Echoing that thought, Edwin S. Grosvenor, editor-in-chief of American Heritage magazine, said, “This is really a thrill for me to be here in this building.”

Grosvenor described the time of the constitutional and statehood conventions held at the Wheeling building as “a very important moment in American history.” He said the people of western Virginia who met at the Custom House dealt a crucial blow to the Confederate states that seceded.

By their action, the western Virginians “crippled their (the Confederacy’s) strategy of cutting the Union in half,” Grosvenor remarked.

West Virginia Independence Hall is among 150 sites featured on the map-guide of Civil War home front attractions in the Appalachian region. The commemorative map-guide offers a fresh perspective on life for women, children and the elderly on the home front of the divided nation.

Referring to the Civil War, Travis Henline, site manager at West Virginia Independence Hall, told the audience, “This great struggle would tear our nation apart and also split the commonwealth of Virginia, which is the story we tell here (at the museum).”

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Happy Easter, readers!

We extend best wishes for a joyous holiday today for area residents. Added to those best wishes are the hope that other area residents had a blessed observance of Passover earlier in the week.

As April draws to a close, judging by the amount of rainfall that the Ohio Valley has seen, the May flowers ought to be spectacular.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net