A.M. Belcher, Appalachia, Charleston, coal, deputy sheriff, Ed Reynolds, Edgar Combs, George Munsey, Harold W. Houston, Harry R. Barnes, history, Jackson Arnold, James Miller, James Swanner, John Chafin, John Gore, justice of the peace, Lee Belcher, Logan, Logan Banner, Mason City, Matewan, Meigs County, Mine Wars, Ohio, Point Pleasant, Pomeroy, Savoy Holt, U.S. Cantley, United Mine Workers of America, W.M. Swanner, Wallace Chafin, Welch, West Virginia, William Chafin
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the armed march of 1921:
OFFICERS SAY OHIO MOB THREATENED LIVES
“Let’s Make It a Matewan-Welch Affair,” Yells Citizens of Pomeroy
Officers Say Lives Were Threatened
Another tragic sequel to the miners “armed march” on Logan was narrowly averted at Pomeroy, Ohio, Monday, when a mob of about three hundred persons are said to have threatened the lives of Deputy Sheriffs Wallace Chafin and Lee Belcher, and Mr. Chafin’s son William, who went to Pomeroy to visit his grandfather. The officers were sent to Pomeroy with requisition papers for the removal of Savoy Holt, and U.S. Cantley, who are wanted in Logan on the charge of being accessory before the fact of the killing of George Munsey and John Gore, during the “armed march.”
A statement was given out by Officer Chafin Wednesday, which he described in detail the affair at Pomeroy. Bearing requisition papers for the removal of Holt drawn by the Governor of Ohio and later held up by the agreement of attorneys of both the defense and prosecution till after the trial of James Miller. Officers Chafin and Belcher reported to the sheriffs of Meigs county. They were sent to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office of the county where they were advised that they would have to get other papers for their purpose. They then went before Justice of Peace Harry R. Barnes and swore out a fugitive warrant for the two men wanted. “A crowd of seventy-five or a hundred gathered around the jail. All of the men wore coats and did not seem friendly,” Mr. Chafin said. “We returned to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, and as I came out there was considerable commotion among the large crowd of men. Persons were being waved back and told to stand aside. These directions were being made by members of the crowd,” Officer Chafin said. Chafin returnerd to the Sheriff’s office and was told that he had been called away, and that he could not see Holt.
“Officer Belcher, myself and my son were directed to the Mayor’s office. We were told that the Mayor had a telegram for us from Governor Donahey, which said that Holt should not be delivered and that if we were ___ to run us out of town and tell us not to return. We did not go to the Mayor’s office, and thought if we were really causing trouble it would be best for us to leave immediately. From the time I arrived in town I noticed that the atmosphere had changed since I was last there. Not an officer could be found anywhere. People gazed out on the streets from their houses in great numbers. And several people were noticed to follow us from the time we arrived in town.”
“When we decided to leave, we hired a taxi cab with the intention of going to Point Pleasant. Again, the crowd which seemed to be growing surrounded the cab, and the driver fled, leaving us standing amidst the crowd in the middle of the street. We heard some one in the crowd say, ‘Let’s make it another Welch or Matewan affair.’ A man who said he was a newspaper reporter began to ask questions as the crowd pushed in against the cab. We were asked if we weren’t Logan county thugs, and if we were not in the gang that opposed the ‘armed march.’ We told them that we were regular Logan county officers and had been serving as Deputy Sheriffs for some time, also that we had been sent there with the proper papers to return Savoy Holt to Logan. They were told that I had been a Deputy for two years and that Belcher had been in office for six years. The crowd dropped back and we got our bags and endeavored to hire another taxi, but evidently the drivers had been given instructions not to drive us. They all refused and we were forced to go to the ferry. The crowd continued to swell and they followed us to the ferry. The ferry boat was on the West Virginia side and we were forced to endure the jeers and threats of the crowd until the boat returned to the Ohio side.
While on the ferry ten or twelve men came in a group and demanded me to get off, saying that I had given a false name. I told them if they wanted me they would have to come and get me. They approached and requested me to show further identifications and I compiled by showing them my Masonic cards.”
“Upon arriving on the West Virginia side I saw several of the same men I had seen in Pomeroy. Another taxi was hired to take us to Point Pleasant. As we started we were hailed. The taxi was stopped and we were told that the driver could not take us. We concluded that we would walk to the next station to avoid trouble. A short distance below the town we were surrounded by about twelve men in automobiles. Heading for the river, and afraid that they would kill my son, we returned to the station at Mason City to wait for a train. While sitting in the station group after group of men came to the doors and men swarmed around. I believe they would have fired on us in the station if there had not been several women sitting near us. The first train to arrive was an east bound train which we took to Parkersburg. The last words we heard from the crowd was from a large man who seemed to act in capacity of spokesman. He yelled, ‘I’m damn sorry boys we did not make this another Welch or Matewan affair.'”
Mr. Chafin reported the affair to Governor Morgan at Charleston Tuesday. He was instructed by the governor that the removal of Holt and Cantley would be affected by the state authorities. It is understood that Colonel Jackson Arnold has been sent to Columbus, Ohio, to get the proper extradition papers for the men’s removal. Cantley is still at large and Holt is being held in the county jail at Pomeroy, where he has been held as a witness in the case of James Miller who was sentenced from two to twenty years for the killing of E. Reynolds and W.M. Swanner. Holt was in the Miller home in Pomeroy at the time of the shooting which took place in Miller’s front yard.
Logan (WV) Banner, 3 August 1923
POMEROY, OHIO, IS A REFUGE AFTER CRIMES ARE COMMITTEE, SAID
A.M. Belcher, Attorney, Says the Failure of Meigs County to Relinquish Prisoners Is Proof.
MAKES STATEMENT WHILE CALLING ON PROSECUTOR
“The attack on Deputy Sheriffs Wallace Chafin and Lee Belcher, at Pomeroy, Ohio, where they were threatened by a mob when they attempted to return Savoy Holt to West Virginia for trial in connection with the armed march on Logan, in 1921, is only added proof to the claim that the Pomeroy Band is serving as a refuge for various crimes in West Virginia,” said A.M. Belcher, state counsel in the prosecution of the so-called armed march cases.
Mr. Belcher was here Thursday to assist Prosecuting Attorney John Chafin resist an application for a change of venue for Harold W. Houston, chief counsel for District 17, United Mine Workers and Edgar Combs, a member of the mine workers union, for their alleged connection with the murders which grew out of the armed march.
“The refusal of the Meigs county authorities to turn over Holt to the custody of the Logan county sheriffs was in a direct violation of an agreement we had made with attorneys representing the defense,” said Mr. Belcher.
“At the time J.E. Miller was indicted for the murder of James Swanner and Ed Reynolds, Holt was indicted as an accessory to that crime. He was also wanted by the Logan county authorities for his participation in the march, but an agreement was made with Miller’s attorneys that if he were allowed to remain in Meigs county until after the Miller trial that he would immediately be returned to Logan.”
Requisition papers for Holt’s return were honored at the time by Governor Donahey but at the request of Miller’s attorneys West Virginia decided not to insist upon Holt’s immediate return, relying on the defense’s promise that he would be surrendered as soon as the trial was over.
“When Deputies Chafin and Belcher went to Pomeroy Tuesday they had in their possession the requisition papers issued at the time we instituted the original proceedings. They were signed by Governor Donahey on May 15. Neither of the two deputies expected any resistance but to their surprise they were met by a mob of 300 men who not only drove them out of town but pursued them across the river into West Virginia territory.
It would appear that there is something radically wrong with the state’s government that would permit a mob’s action to override its official decisions. The Pomeroy Band has become the refuge of scores of miners who took part in the uprising against Logan county. The entire section apparently is in sympathy with the band of radicals who fostered the march against the citizens of a peaceful county.
The temper of the mob which threatened the two Logan county deputies is seen in the fact that it was only by a miracle that the two officers escaped with their lives. “Let’s make it another Matewan affair” was their battle cry; and the reason that two more West Virginians did not meet death in Pomeroy as did Jim Swanner and Ed Reynolds is due to the courage and coolness of the two officers.
Holt was once in custody of the Logan county officers but was released on bail. Soon after his release he is said to have gone to the headquarters of the United Mine Workers at Charleston and then on the following day left for Pomeroy. It was on the next day that Swanner and Reynolds went to Pomeroy to offer Miller immunity if he would return to Logan county and testify for the state in the armed march cases.
Miller met the two men at the door of his home near Pomeroy and shot both of them to death, though neither of the Logan deputies were armed. Holt, it is said, was in the house at the time of the shooting.
Logan (WV) Banner, 10 August 1923
The following story about an attack upon a non-union mine at Ottawa in Boone County comes from the Logan Banner on July 21, 1922:
300 Shots Are Fired At Boone County Mine
Three hundred shots were fired from the mountain side into a group of non-union miners as they were going to work at 7:30 A.M., in a mine at Ottawa, Monday. There were no casualties as the miners fled and hastily hid behind trees, and other points of safety.
Two state troopers stationed at Ottawa made an immediate dash for the scene of the trouble but the firing which had lasted for only a few minutes, was over when they reached the mine. An investigation disclosed the fact that the attacking party had made a hasty retreat and their whereabouts could not be ascertained. A call for assistance brought five additional troopers from Clothier who brought with them a bloodhound but the dog could not take the trail evidently due to some substance that the attacking party had used to throw the hounds off the trail.
Immediately after the firing was over an investigation was made and 30 sticks of dynamite were found concealed beneath the mine track inside of the drift mouth of the mine and so arranged that it would explode when the first mine motor entered.
The outbreak Monday was the first that has occurred on Little Coal River in some months and the state police in that section are making every effort to apprehend members of the party who did the firing. Ten special officers were sworn in at Madison on Monday and Capt. Midkiff, in charge of the state police at Clothier, dispatched trooper Lloyd Layman to Logan Monday where he was furnished with 30 high-powered rifles and 3,000 rounds of ammunition with which to equip the special officers and successfully combat any further outbreak that might occur as well as to assist in apprehending members of the attacking forces last Monday.
Trooper Layman stated that in addition to the ten men sworn in Madison there would be 50 special officers sworn in at Ottawa, and every effort put forth by officers to track down the men who were responsible for the mine battle and bring them to justice.
50th Virginia Infantry, Appalachia, Battle of Charleston, Camp Garnett, Charleston, civil war, Confederate Army, Confederate Cemetery, genealogy, history, Joseph H. Conley, Kanawha County, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Spring Hill Cemetery, Stonewall Jackson Camp, Terry Lowry, United Confederate Veterans, West Virginia
Here is a bit of history for the Logan County (W.Va.) Jail based on documents from 1921:
Appointment of Jail Inspectors
Dr. N.E. Steele, Wm. B. Johnson and Denver Beckett are hereby appointed, authorized and directed to inspect, investigate and report in writing to the court at the present term the existing conditions of the Jail of the county, the care and treatment of the prisoners therein confined, in detail, as required by Secs. 40 and 41 of Chapter 41 of the Code of West Virginia.
The Clerk of the court will furnish said inspectors a copy of said sections for their guide in making said inspection and report and will make four attested copies of this order and place them in the hands of the sheriff of this county to be served on the above named inspectors which shall operate as a summons to them to forthwith appear in open court and take the oath required by law and to enter upon the discharge of the duties herewith.
Law Order Book X, page 183, 11 April 1921
Sec. 40. DUTIES OF JAILER. The jailer shall cause all the apartments of his jail to be well whitewashed at least twice in every year, and have the same properly aired and always kept clean. He shall furnish every prisoner with wholesome and sufficient food, and with a bed and bedding cleanly and sufficient, and have his apartment warmed when it is proper, in case of the sickness of any prisoner, he shall provide for him adequate nursing and attendance, and if there be occasion for it, and circumstances will permit shall confine him in an apartment separate from other prisoners. In no case shall a jailer permit the use of ardent spirits in the jail, except when prescribed by a physician. (Code Va. 1860, p. 289; Acts 1881, c 19.)
Sec. 41. Annual Inspection. The circuit court of every county shall annually, or oftener, if deemed necessary, appoint three persons, one of whom shall be a physician, to inspect the jail of each county. The judge shall administer to them the following oath: “You shall truly report to the court, as to the jail in this county, the size thereof, the number of its apartments, and its state, and condition; whether it is secure, sufficient for those who may be confined therein, and such that convicts may be kept in apartments separate from each other and from the other prisoners; whether every apartment is as constructed that it can be kept comfortable; whether it is kept in constant and adequate repair, and supplied with the furniture and other things necessary, and if not, in what it is deficient. You shall also diligently examine and truly report whether or not the jailer, has, during the last twelve months, faithfully performed the duties required of him by the fortieth section of the forty first chapter of the Code of West Virginia, and if not, in what respect he has failed to perform the same.” The said inspectors shall be furnished for their guide with a copy of the said oath, and of the said section. If they make a report, which fails in any respect to conform to said oath, it shall be recommitted to them until they fully report upon all the said matters. (Code Va. 1860, p. 289, Acts 1881 c. 19.)
N.E. Steele, William B. Johnson and Denver Beckett, who were appointed to inspect and report the existing conditions of and at the County Jail, by an order entered at a former day of this term of court, pursuant to Section 40 of Chapter 41 of the Code of West Virginia, and who were sworn as the law directs, having made the inspection as required, returned into court and submitted the following report in writing:
“We the undersigned appointed to inspect the jail of Logan County, hereby make the following report.
Size of Jail approximately 39 by 84 feet. Exclusive of jailer’s Residence. Brick building with concrete floors, three stories high, with cells on first and second floors, third story unfinished.
31 apartments or cells.
Capacity 112 men.
Confined therein at present 93 persons.
State and condition of jail, Good.
We consider jail secure and sufficient for those who may be confined therein, and convicts may be kept separate one apartment or cell from the other, the capacity of each apartment or cell being 3 or 4 persons or more.
Apartments or cells are so constructed that they can be kept comfortable.
Jail is new and in good repair and condition, and supplied with Furniture and other things necessary.
As to the jailer performing the duties required by Section 40 of Chapter 41 the past twelve months, will state that the present jail is new, and the old jail recently torn, and we doubt if the jailer could during the past twelve months comply with all the requirements in all cases in the old jail which has been torn away.
At present we believe that the jailer is complying with section 40 of Chapter 41.
Wm. B. Johnson
It appearing from said report that a new county jail has been provided and the prisoners moved from the old jail into the new one but a few days before the beginning of this term of the court, and the old jail was torn down. It was not possible for the committee to make a report as to the condition of the old jail for the year preceding, but the report showing that the new jail is in good condition, ample and sufficient to provide for the comfort and well-being of the prisoners, as well as for their proper detention, and that the prisoners are being provided with suitable clothing, bedding, food and other necessaries, as required by law, the court perceives no reason for making any order changing the existing conditions, and the report is therefore received, confirmed, ordered to be filed, and the committee discharged.
It is further ordered that the said committee each is allowed for his services in this behalf the sum of Five Dollars ($5.00), payable out of the treasury of this county.
Law Order Book X, page 264, 6 May 1921
Appalachia, Baldwin-Felts Agency, Bluefield, Cabell Testerman, Carleton Starr, Chambers Hardware Store, chief of police, Clara Berman, coal, crime, Harry Berman, history, Matewan, mayor, Mine Wars, Mingo County, Sid Hatfield, teacher, United Mine Workers of America, Welch, West Virginia, Williamson
On December 2, 1978, Harry Berman of Williamson, Mingo County, West Virginia, recalled the Matewan Massacre of May 19, 1920:
When do you remember that the union… What do you remember about the organization of the unions?
Well, that was in Matewan. I was at the age of about thirteen years old at that time. That was about 1915, I’d say. This was concerning the miners there, about a strike. They all got together and so they went on a strike, and the company has ordered the people that went on a strike. The company has ordered them to vacate their homes.
That was the company houses?
That was the comp-any houses. The miners at that time, they didn’t approve of it and so they began to gather around. So they got Baldwin-Felts men in there. There as about twelve of them from Bluefield, West Virginia. So they came in on that midnight train that comes through there about twelve.
The Baldwin-Felts gang was a gang that broke the unions. They traveled all over the state or throughout the coalfields breaking the unions.
Well, they were trying to break the union at that time, but these twelve men were sent in here from Bluefield and they came in on the twelve o’clock train and they went over to the hotel. They spent the night there and the next morning they got up and out and they vacated more houses for these men. This kindly upset the union men at that time. So anyway then when after all that was all done they all went back again to the hotel, and so they packed their bags. Unfortunately, what they done, they took their rifles, they took them apart, and they packed them on the inside of their bags and some of them packed them on the outside of their bags.
In other words, they were going to show that they were leaving in peace?
After vacating people from their company houses?
Yeah. That was about the time… Let’s see, the train comes through there, that Number 16, it comes through there about five o’clock in the evening. So they all came to the station at that time. When they all got to the station, all the union men–there must have been at least 100 of them–all gathered around them. You know, as they came to the station. Well, I was standing there in front of the door, in front of my father’s store there at that time, and watched all these people coming to the station. So, they all went the other way–that was Chambers Hardware at that time–they went toward Chambers Hardware. When they all got there, they all bunched together.
Was that the union men bunching together?
That was the union men that bunched together there around the Baldwin-Felts men, because I don’t think the Baldwin-Felts men suspected anything at all. If they did, they would have went there with their rifles, see.
In other words, you think they were surprised with an ambush?
Yeah, they were surprised. It took them by surprise.
The whole, as I understand it, the whole Baldwin gang was shot on the platform as they were getting ready to board the train?
Well, before the train came in. That was about maybe fifteen minutes before the train came in through there, see. So the mayor of the town was Testerman. He went along with them to the Baldwin-Felts men down in there and also with the union men and they all bunched around Chambers Hardware Store. Then the chief of police–he was also in the crowd, too. Just for the curiosity I went right along with them. Sid Hatfield, I knew him pretty well. So when he was standing there with Testerman, which is the mayor. Facing one another, I was standing about maybe two feet in the back of Sid Hatfield, and all at once there was a shot fired and I think he was the one who put a bullet through Testerman.
Yeah. The mayor. And then that was what started all this shooting. So the first thing I knew I got scared and I beat it back to the store again, see, and while I was going back to the store there was one man laying across the broadwalk. At that time there wasn’t any…
Boards for a sidewalk?
Yeah. The boards were made out of sidewalks. One was scattered there. One was laying here, one was over there. And the first thing you know, then they began to get out and try to get away from them, if they could, you know, see. But the first thing I knew, there must have been at least maybe about eight or ten of them laying around on the ground there.
Bullets went over your head. Remember the bullets that were shot over your head?
Oh, there was bullets everywhere at that time. I really do recall that. That’s a fact. Then after Sixteen came in, the union men, the conductor got off. Which he was a tough conductor, too, he was. They called him McCullock. A captain McCullock at that time. So he got off of the train and he wanted to know what it was all about. And then union men all went into the train. When all the passengers on the train came off you know, the union men went in there and they were searching the train because they figured that some of these detectives stopped Sixteen down there just on this side of the tunnel. To see if any did get on there. Because they said there was about…
In other words, they expected more of the gang to come in?
No. Some of these that did get away from the union men… They thought about two or three of them went down toward the tunnel to stop the train to get on. So that’s what they expected, you know.
The union breakers?
Yeah, the union breakers, and so when the train came in to the station they rushed into the train and they looked all through the compartments. Under the seats and everywhere and there wasn’t no union men on there.
Yeah. There wasn’t any detectives on there at all. In the meantime, I think there was about maybe one got away, from what I understand. He was hid in a coal pile. Mrs. Hoskins, a school teacher, hid him in a coal pile and she didn’t say anything about him at all. She must have felt sorry for him or something. And I think he got away. He really did… He got away, from what I understand. So that was it and so when Sixteen came in they put Testerman on the baggage car and before he got to Welch he died.
They killed him.
Yeah. Well, they killed him, naturally.
In other words, he left here alive but they killed him before he got to the hospital?
Yeah. He died in the baggage car. Testerman died in the baggage car.
But the chief of police’s family killed him because the chief of police had been shot?
No. The chief of police wasn’t shot. Let’s get it straight. The mayor is the one who got shot. The chief of police is the one who shot the mayor.
22nd Virginia Infantry, Appalachia, Charleston, Confederate Army, Daniel Ruffner, French and Indian War, gas, George S. Patton, George Washington, Henry D. Ruffner, history, Holly Mansion, John McCausland, Joseph Ruffner, Kanawha County, Kanawha Riflemen, Kanawha River, Kanawha Street, oil, Revolutionary War, Richard Laidley, salt, Thomas Bullitt, United Daughters of the Confederacy, West Virginia
Appalachia, Bill Skeens, education, Frank Rice, genealogy, Haskell Compton, Hattie Loud, Henlawson, history, Lizzie McComas, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Roberta Russell, Sadie Ferguson, Stone Branch, Von Browning, West Virginia
A correspondent named “Sweet Marie” from Stone Branch in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following news, which the Logan Banner printed on January 11, 1924:
We are having some bad weather at the present writing.
There is a lot of sickness in our camps at this time.
Miss Hattie Loud and Roberta Russell was calling on Sadie Ferguson Tuesday evening.
Mrs. Lizzie McComas and Mrs. Bill Skeens of Henlawson was visiting friends at this place Saturday night and Sunday.
Wonder how the boys like their teacher here.
Haskell Compton was visiting Frank Rice Sunday afternoon.
They are holding a revival at this place. Everybody is invited to attend.
Mrs. Bill Rice was calling on Mrs. Von Browning Sunday evening.