Bill Kibble finds ways to share stories

PARKERSBURG – West Virginia has many stories and Bill Kibble is sharing them one at a time.

What started as a way for a father to keep in touch with his children has turned into a love of history Kibble is sharing with more than 200 people online and by presentations for the classes of his grandchildren and other relatives over the last 20 years.

Kibble was nominated as a Gem of the Valley.

Kibble’s children had left home for college and he wanted a way to continue to interact with them.

”I wanted to keep in contact with them,” he said. ”Nothing in an average person’s life that happens in a day is really exciting, so I just started sending them little tidbits about West Virginia.”

Through extensive research, Kibble writes one- or two-page stories about West Virginia history. From October to April, he is writing about five stories a week.

”It started with family and it just kept growing,” he said. ”Soon people outside the family wanted to have it. Today, I probably send them to about 200 people. Most are personal friends, some I have never met.”

Many stories go to residents in the Mid-Ohio Valley and some go out-of-state.

”When I started this, I had to go to the library a lot and dig up stuff there,” Kibble said.

”The internet, believe it or not, was not always around,” he said, laughing. ”You really had to go to the library and dig information up.”

Many people have an interest in West Virginia history.

”It has really caught on,” Kibble said. ”My stories are more of discussions. I encourage everyone I send them to let me know if I make a mistake.

”If you write 175 stories a year, you are going to make some mistakes, even if it is just typographical. I encourage everyone that if they see a mistake I can correct it with everybody. I encourage people to add to it if they have had a personal experience. If someone has had a personal experience, that is a more interesting experience.”

Kibble has written stories on some aspect of history from each of the state’s 55 counties once and is starting around again as he discovers new things. He has notebooks of stories for each county in the state. Some counties have more information available than some others.

”Some of these counties have done a wonderful job of digging up history,” he said.

He is not looking for anything specific, just interesting stories that catches his attention.

”It is all about whatever catches your eye, things I think are pretty interesting to read about,” Kibble said.

He recently wrote stories about the steel industry in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. He had a contact who worked up there who could check some of his facts and add personal accounts of the industry.

”That personal experience makes it more real,” Kibble said.

Doing things on Wood County has been the biggest challenge because there are so many knowledgeable historians here.

”I had to do some really deep research,” Kibble said. ”If you make a mistake, there are a bunch of people out there who would know it.”

One of the most interesting aspects of his research is he will sometimes find conflicting explanations about something that has happened.

”You would be surprised how many times you go to research something, you get completely different stories of thea certain situation,” he said. ”Different authors will say something happened different ways.

”It is almost like Republican Democrat. You run into that a lot.”

Kibble usually checks with an historian or someone who knows a lot about a subject.

Kanawha County is another county with a lot of available information as well as Cabell County and others. Some of the smaller rural counties do not have as much information available and he doesn’t have as many stories done for those areas.

Kibble is interested in sharing the information.

”I don’t care if someone forwards them on,” he said. ”The only thing I ask is that they don’t sell them. I don’t.

”The information I use is from books, magazines, CDs and DVDs all about West Virginia. That is where I got my information.”

He has files full of articles and information he has collected from various sources about a variety of topics.

People have told him he should try writing a book, but he doesn’t know what the legalities of that is with the amount of published works he does his research from.

”To me, I am just doing this for fun,” Kibble said. ”It is a good hobby to have. It fills my winter months when I can’t get outside.

”I will sit here and write all day. It is something I really enjoy doing it.”

He has given presentations at schools for his grandchildren and other young relatives.

His granddaughter lives in Charleston.

”I talked to them about Charleston,” he said. ”We discussed the Indians and settlers, what people use to live in, the old capitol and more.

”They live in South Hills which is south of the Kanawha River. We discussed Bill McCorkle and the part he played in establishing the southside of Charleston, Kanawha City, South Hills and South Charleston.

”I always pick something to discuss that they could relate to as kids.”

Kibble retired from DuPont.

Many of his stories are sent to employees at Dupont, Public Debt and the Wood County School System.

”A lot of people get them at work and many companies don’t want them to spend a lot of time reading non-company material,” he said. ”It is something they can read on a break and in a couple of minutes.”

Kibble welcomes people to correct him or tell him about additional facts he did not know. It is about being involved with people and sharing a love of history, he said.

”There is no ego involved,” he said. ”I have met some people that I otherwise would not have had to opportunity to meet.”