Billy Lynn Cunningham of Wetzel County was one of 34 individuals from around the state who were recognized as History Heroes on on Feb. 23 at the Culture Center in Charleston, W.Va.
Cunningham, nominated by Wetzel County WVGenWeb, is a pioneer of Internet genealogy. When the WVGenWeb Project began in 1996, he became the county coordinator for Wetzel County and since then he has helped people around the world research their Wetzel County families. He has compiled abundant genealogical information, provided tombstone transcriptions for most county cemeteries, and photographed countless gravestones. Cunningham also has taught computer skills to many people. His contribution to the preservation of Wetzel County's history and genealogy is extensive, and he shares everything online. Cunningham is loved, respected, and appreciated by the countless thousands who have benefited from his hard work, expertise, and generosity.
History Heroes are recognized for their grassroots-level contributions to the preservation, promotion, and perpetuation of the state's rich history. History enthusiasts gathered for an awards ceremony that kicked off a successful day of celebrating West Virginia history. Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History was assisted by Dr. Robert S. Conte, chairman, and Dr. Charles Ledbetter, vice chairman, of the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, in presenting History Hero awards. City, county, and state historical, preservation and genealogical groups and museums provided nominations for the awards.
Billy Lynn Cunningham of Wetzel County receives a History Hero Award in Charleston on Feb. 23. Pictured from left are Archives and History Commission Chairman Robert Conte, Cunningham, Delegate Dave Pethtel, and Archives and History Commission Vice Chairman Charles Ledbetter.
Throughout the day, the State Capitol Rotunda was filled with exhibitors and re-enactors eager to share their enthusiasm for the history of the state. The 16th History Day was a joint effort of the West Virginia Archives and History Commission, Friends of West Virginia Culture and History, Mining Your History Foundation, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Inc., West Virginia Association of Museums, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, West Virginia Historical Society, and West Virginia Humanities Council.
Next year's event is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2013. For more information about History Day or the History Hero awards, contact Joseph N. Geiger Jr., director of archives and history for the Division, at 304-558-0230, ext. 165.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary. The division brings together the past, present, and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation, and museums. For more information about the division's programs, events, and sites, visit www.wvculture.org.