Senator Robert Byrd is Born as Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr

Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on November 20, 1917.

When he was one year old, his mother, Ada Mae (née Kirby), died in the 1918 Flu Pandemic. In accordance with his mother's wishes, his father, Cornelius Calvin Sale, dispersed the family children among relatives. Titus and Vlurma Byrd, the infant's uncle and aunt, were given custody, adopted him, renamed him Robert Carlyle Byrd, and raised him in the coal-mining region of southern West Virginia.

Classmates. Neighbors. Friends.

Those are words 94-year-old Raleigh County’s Buford Hartsog uses to describe the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Both were born in North Carolina — Hartsog on April 14, 1916 in Clifton and Byrd on November 20, 1917 in North Wilkesboro. Byrd (born Cornelius Calvin Sales Jr.) was one year old when his mother died in the national influenza pandemic and he was taken by an aunt and uncle to West Virginia.

“I think we are both West Virginians,” grins Hartsog, whose family came to Raleigh County when he was just seven years old. He still works three days weekly at the Exhibition Coal Mine less than a mile from the downtown highway Robert C. Byrd Drive. “He (Byrd) got to be a lot more famous, though."

Senator Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in 1917. When he was one year old, his mother Ada Mae died in the 1918 flu pandemic and he was given into the custody of Titus and Vlurma Byrd, his uncle and aunt, who adopted him, renamed him Robert Carlyle Byrd, and raised him in the coal mining region of southern West Virginia.