Anna Adams, Billy Adkins, Brandon Kirk, Chapmanville, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, fiddling, Gaynelle Thompson, history, Imogene Haley, John Adams, Kiahs Creek, Little Harts Creek, Logan County, Milt Haley, Mona Haley, music, Roxie Mullins, Ticky George Adams, Wayne County, West Virginia, writing
In Chapmanville, Brandon and Billy dropped in on Gaynelle (Adams) Thompson, a granddaughter of Ticky George Adams who spent a lot of time with Aunt Roxie Mullins during her “last days.” Gaynelle said Ed Haley’s mother never remarried after Milt’s death and died prematurely when Ed was eight to ten years old. She said Ed used to visit her parents, John and Anna Adams, on Trace Fork during the summers in the ’30s and ’40s. “Everybody in the country thought they was nothing like him,” she said. Gaynelle heard that Ed was a drinker and could get rough but said he was well mannered at the Adams home. He never cursed or drank and talked mostly to Gaynelle’s mother. He came with his daughter and wife and stopped visiting when he became too sick to travel just a few years before his death. In earlier years, he played on Kiah’s Creek and Little Harts Creek near the Wayne County line.
Admiral S. Fry, Al Brumfield, Arena Ferrell, Boney Lucas, Burbus Toney, Cat Fry, Charles Lucas, Christian Fry, crime, Eliza Fry, Evermont Ward Fry, genealogy, George Fry, George McComas, George W. Ferrell, Green Shoal, Guyandotte, history, James L. Caldwell, Jesse James, John Brumfield, Milt Haley, Paris Brumfield, The Lincoln County Crew, Watson Lucas, West Virginia, writing
According to the Fry history, A.S. Fry eventually moved to Guyandotte, a river town in Cabell County, “where he built and owned a hotel. The Jesse James gang, who robbed a Huntington bank, stayed in his hotel for several nights.” His son George, meanwhile, took control of the family interests at Green Shoal. He presumably lived in the family homestead, where he was located at the time of Milt and Green’s murder in 1889. Deed records refer to it “as the old A.S. Fry homestead above the mouth of Green Shoals” and describe it as follows:
BEGINNING at the mouth of Green Shoals Creek, thence up with the meanderings of said creek to a survey made by C.T. fry, thence with the line of same to a white oak corner on a point, thence up the said point with the line of Chas. Lucas to the top of the mountain, thence running with the ridge to the head of a little ravine to a dog-wood corner made by C.T. Fry, thence down the hollow with C.T. Fry’s and B.C. Toney’s lands to a walnut corner made by said C.T. Fry, thence down the hill with John Fry’s and B.C. Toney’s line to the river, thence down with meanderings of the river to the place of beginning, containing seventy-five acres, more or less.
Although the deed was vague in giving its coordinates, it clearly proved that the “A.S. Fry homestead” — and thus the site of Milt and Green’s murder — was on the same side of the river as the railroad tracks.
By 1889, when the Brumfield gang took over the Fry house, George and his wife Eliza had a six-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. Cat Fry, a niece, also lived in the home. The family was connected to various participants in the 1889 troubles. Eliza’s older brother was married to Paris Brumfield’s sister, while two of her sisters were married to Brumfield’s nephews. These marriages were perhaps complicated when Paris murdered Mrs. Fry’s brother, Boney Lucas.
Following the Haley-McCoy murders, George Fry suffered some bad luck. In 1892, his wife reportedly had an illegitimate child by John Brumfield (Al’s younger brother). Four years later, his father sold the family homestead on Green Shoal to Arena Ferrell, a local storekeeper. George’s wife died around 1902 “when her children were young” (according to one source) and was buried in the old Fry Cemetery at Green Shoal. A.S. Fry himself was murdered at his hotel in 1904. George afterwards moved to Guyandotte where he died on May 19, 1905. Control of family businesses thereafter went to his brother Evermont Ward Fry, who was still alive as late as October 1939.
As for the “murder house” itself, Arena Ferrell deeded it to her adopted son George W. Ferrell, who is credited with writing “The Lincoln County Crew” — the song about Milt’s death. In 1899, he sold it to George R. McComas, who in turn sold it to J.L. Caldwell three years later. (This was probably the same J.L. Caldwell referred to in George Fry’s 1880 letter.) It was around that time (1902-04) when the railroad came through the Guyan Valley, which apparently had a direct effect on the “murder house.”
“The railroad now runs through one side of the house as well as that of the school building,” Ward told Fred Lambert. “This school was about one fourth mile above our residence.”
In 1915, Caldwell sold the property back to Arena Ferrell. Then, in 1919, it was transferred to Watson Lucas, whose heirs sold it to the current owners, the Lamberts, in the 1960s.
Admiral S. Fry, Anderson County, Burbus Toney, Charles Lucas, Cincinnati, civil war, Eliza Fry, Evermont Ward Fry, Franklin County, Fred B. Lambert, Garnett, genealogy, George Fry, Green Shoal, history, James L. Caldwell, Kansas, Lucinda Lucas, Ohio, Ottawa, Rhoda Fry, Will Fry, writing
A.S. Fry — the man who owned the home where Milt Haley and Green McCoy were murdered — was a former officer in the Confederate army and early businessman in Harts. According to the Fry history, “Shortly after his return home from the War, his adventurous spirit led him to Kansas and on to Texas; his family remained in Lincoln County. After his return from the West, his youngest son was born.” This son, Evermont Ward Fry, was born in 1872 and was later interviewed by Fred Lambert.
“When I was a boy, people gathered for a week’s religious meetings,” Fry told Lambert. “My father would keep from forty to fifty people. They held meetings in the summer or early fall. The people came on horseback from all directions. The preaching was at the Green Shoal School house; this was an old log building. Before it stood three or four beech trees. Preaching was under these trees. On one occasion my father’s house caught fire. He kept store and had just received an order of five or six dozen buckets. It was the nighttime, but he got out the fire buckets and the men formed a line up from the river. They put out the fire, but one end of the house was pretty badly burned.”
In subsequent years, A.S. Fry made other trips West, apparently with his son, George. George Franklin Fry was born in 1858 and was married to his first cousin, Eliza Virginia Lucas, a daughter of Charles and Lucinda (Fry) Lucas.
“Mrs. Rhoda Fry — Wear in this city and will Remain Hear for a few days,” A.S. Fry wrote to his wife from Ottawa, Franklin County, Kansas, on July 14, 1880. “Lands is from $3 to $20 dollars per acor. Thare is fine crops hear. We may By Land in this County. This is said to be the beste County in the state and thare is thousands of acors for sail heare. It is vary warm. I don’t know when I will be at home. I will wright when I will be at home and I want you and Ward to meet me at huntington. This is a nice Country. I will wright to you in 2 or 3 days what we ar a doing. We have Gist Reatch this City. The Pepel is all Kind and seemes to tak intrust in Emzy Jane. I have nothing worthey of wrighting. Give all of my frieands best Respects for me and tell BC Toney not to Rune his stones two close. So I will close by saying that we ar well. Hoping the last few Lines will find you all well. So fare well. If you Right Direct yere Letter A.S. Fry, Garnett, Anderison Co., Kansas.”
“We wrote you from Cincinnati Ohio regarding Goods,” George wrote as an attachment to the aforementioned letter. “We bough[t] a little stock — and if Will has not gone after them go at once — they are in care of J.L. Caldwell. We also sent Bills at same time. In close you will find a butiful song bough[t] on Train.”
Al Brumfield, Ben Adams, Billy Hall, crime, Ed Haley, Eveline Dingess, feud, Floyd Dingess, Harts Creek, Henderson Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, Imogene Haley, John W Runyon, Kentucky, Kiahs Creek, Robinson Creek, West Virginia, writing
At the time of the ambush on Al and Hollena Brumfield, Henderson Dingess and his family were in no mood to see yet another one of their fold die violently. Less than a year before, on November 15, 1888, Floyd Dingess, an older son of Henderson, was murdered while working logs at the mouth of Rockhouse Fork on Harts Creek. It was a horrific deed: Floyd, whose wife was several months pregnant, was murdered by his own brother-in-law, Billy Hall. Floyd had never been popular with the Halls. He reportedly made a habit of bullying Billy. It was said that when he came home from working, his wife would clatter pots and pans in the kitchen just so her family wouldn’t hear his footsteps.
When Billy finally shot Floyd on that fateful day, some of the younger Dingess boys were fishing in the creek nearby. They raced home to tell their family what had happened, while Billy quickly returned home and received instructions to hide out in Robinson Creek, Kentucky. Meanwhile, Floyd’s pregnant wife was floated across the creek to her husband, who died in her arms. Hugh Dingess, Floyd’s brother, tracked Billy to Kiah’s Creek but lost his trail. For years, Hugh was devastated by his brother’s death. He used to get drunk and shoot the Halls’ cattle.
The Dingesses eventually learned the whereabouts of Billy Hall and prepared to fetch him by force. The Halls on Harts Creek caught wind of their plan and sent word to Billy to escape by train to Tennessee, which he did — and was never heard from again.
Surely, when Milt Haley and Green McCoy shot Hollena Brumfield less than a year later, the Dingess family was determined to execute a harsh revenge. It was, after all, the second attack on their clan in several months. We wondered then, why would Milt, Green, Runyon, and Ben Adams — knowing the fate of poor Billy Hall — want to risk their lives (and fortunes) to attack Brumfield? Surely Milt and Green — taking a cue from Billy Hall — were well aware that once they committed their heinous act, the only avenue open to them was to flee the state forever. We also wondered if Milt just abandoned Emma and Ed on Trace Fork or if there was some kind of arrangement to later meet him in Kentucky?
Al Brumfield, Billy Adkins, Brandon Kirk, crime, feud, Green McCoy, Green Shoal, history, Milt Haley, Opal Brumfield, Paris Brumfield, Rome Lambert, Stella Abbott, Tucker Fry, Wayne Brumfield, West Virginia, writing
A little later, Brandon and Billy visited Wayne Brumfield at Douglas Branch in Ferrellsburg. Wayne was born in 1926 and is the great-grandson of Paris Brumfield. As expected, Wayne and his wife Opal knew the general story of the Haley-McCoy killings. Wayne said the whole trouble was over someone losing timber but he never heard of anyone named John Runyon or Ben Adams. He said Tucker Fry and Rome Lambert — two residents of Green Shoal who (Brandon discovered) were married to Al Brumfield’s first cousins — supposedly participated in the Brumfield mob. According to Opal, Milt or Green said to the other, “Eat plenty ’cause it’ll be our last meal.” She also remembered hearing that Stella Mullins cooked their dinner, that a pistol was used to kill them, that someone hid under a bed and that chickens pecked at their brains in the yard. Wayne said people were afraid to touch Haley and McCoy’s bodies.