From documenting West Virginia's storied history through photography and writing to inspiring young minds to inquire into their heritage, nine Northern Panhandle residents have demonstrated there are many ways to become a West Virginia History Hero.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History hands out the award each year to those nominated by various historical, genealogical and preservation organizations throughout the state for dedicated service through research, interpretation, publication or preservation.
Local honorees this year include Wheeling residents Sally Wells Ezell, Alexandra Jebbia, Lee Kelvington, Baird Kloss and Gary Zearott; Jane Klug and Gary Rider of Moundsville; Bonnie Mueller of Glen Dale; and Nola Jean Parks of New Martinsville. They and the state's other 29 History Heroes will be honored during a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Culture Center of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, part of the annual West Virginia History Day at the Legislature.
- Ezell, a 25-year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution's Wheeling chapter, helped to boost her organization's once-declining membership by conducting a number of genealogy workshops and working with individuals to uncover their family history.
She was nominated by the Wheeling DAR chapter.
- Jebbia, a public history major at West Virginia University, is being recognized for her work to reconstruct a lost index to the archives of the Arthurdale Heritage Museum in Preston County.
She was nominated by Arthurdale Heritage Inc.
- Kelvington and Kloss were nominated by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. for their contribution to preserving the music of the Big Band Era - specifically, their book "It's Wheeling Steel."
- Klug, president of the Marshall County Historical Society for the past two years, is being honored for her work in planning various statehood sesquicentennial celebrations last year.
She was nominated by the Marshall County Historical Society.
- Mueller is being recognized for taking a leading role in preservation of the historic Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale since the last surviving family member died in 2001.
- Parks is being honored for her efforts as a member of the DAR's Ohio Valley chapter to encourage her organization to donate $1,500 toward purchase of a track chair for a local veteran with severe mobility limitations.
Parks was nominated by the DAR's Ohio Valley chapter.
- Rider, a former social studies teacher, is being recognized for his contribution to making sure Marshall County veterans' stories are recorded for future generations.
He was nominated by the Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library.
- Zearott earned the honor through his contributions to West Virginia history in the field of photography. Highlights of his original work include documenting the demolition of the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, repairs to the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge and Wheeling's statehood sesquicentennial events.
Zearott was nominated by the Friends of Wheeling.