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.