May 15 in history

Minnie Buckingham Harper is born May 15, 1886. In 1928, the McDowell County homemaker becomes the first African-American woman to serve in a state legislative body in the United States. Gov. Howard Gore appointed her to fill the unexpired House term of her husband, Republican E. Howard Harper. She dies in her native Winfield in 1978.


Four years after Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the telephone, on May 15, 1880, West Virginia’s first exchange is placed in service in Wheeling. The 25 subscribers could make only local calls until 1883 when long-distance service begins between Wheeling and Pittsburgh.


Invented by Iowa-born DuPont chemist Wallace Carothers, nylons go on sale for the first time in the United States on May 15, 1940. After a long run as a fashion must-have, stockings finally begin to fall from favor in the 1990s.

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