Nine Upper Ohio Valley Residents Named West Virginia ‘History Heroes’

WHEELING — Nine area residents have been chosen as West Virginia History Heroes in recognition of their efforts to preserve the history and heritage of the Northern Panhandle.

They and other recipients throughout the state will be recognized Feb 21 during the West Virginia History Day festivities at the state Capitol in Charleston.

The 2019 honorees include Laura Carroll, Alan Fitzpatrick, Roger Micker, David J. Perri and Barbara Pirhalla, all of Wheeling; Jon Smith of Bellaire; Tom and Judi Tarowsky of St. Clairsville and Carla Tustin of Triadelphia.

The locally-named History Heroes are involved in a wide variety of projects to benefit area organizations. Highlights of their biographical sketches include:

∫ Carroll, of Wheeling, who was nominated by Wheeling Heritage, was cited for her work to archive the papers of the former LaBelle Nail Co. through a project of Wheeling Heritage. She organized, cleaned and rehoused documents “into about 100 boxes that are now usable by historians and other researchers.”

Now an archivist at the Ohio County Public Library, she is involved in efforts to archive the city of Wheeling’s documents and is working with American Legion, Post 1, to archive its documents.

∫ Fitzpatrick, who was nominated by Fort Henry Living History Inc., has participated in Fort Henry Days since its inception in 1997 and is a former board member of the organization. He has written four books on the history of Native Americans in the Ohio Valley.

∫ Micker, who was nominated by the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable, is the current president of that group and organizes symposia sponsored by the roundtable. He also gives living history presentations, lectures and talks.

At West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling, he organized and produced modern versions of John Brown’s trial in 2017 and 2018. He served on the Ohio Civil War 150 committee.

∫ Perri, who was nominated by the Fort Henry chapter of Sons of the American Revolution, has been involved with Fort Henry Living History and Fort Henry Days as a re-enactor and battle coordinator. He became the overall coordinator of Fort Henry Days four years ago. His efforts have resulted in increased membership for the Sons of the American Revolution.

∫ Pirhalla, who was nominated by the Victorian Old Town Association, serves on the neighborhood group’s board of directors and is a member of the association’s design review committee.

A key organizer of the 2017 Save Our Structures house tour, she has conducted research on North Wheeling’s history and early residents. She also has worked with her husband to renovate four houses.

∫ Smith, who was nominated by Friends of Wheeling, is a master craftsman and a former field lab instructor in Belmont College’s building preservation and restoration program. He has worked on countless historic preservation projects in West Virginia.

∫ The Tarowskys, who were nominated by the Marshall County Historical Society, spent several years developing educational programming at the Cockayne Farmstead in Glen Dale and doing research for preservation projects at the historic property. He served as part-time program director for four years and she worked with him.

The Tarowskys have been involved in organizing a mother-daughter Victorian tea, tours and talks to benefit the farmstead.

∫ Tustin, who was nominated by the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society, is described as “a tireless researcher” of cemetery markers and genealogical information in Ohio, Marshall, Brooke and Belmont counties.

“Over the past six years, she has responded to an amazing 3,846 individual requests for information and added more than 20,000 photos to Find A Grave,” her nominators stated.

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