Bernie Adams, Brandon Kirk, Dood Dalton, Earl Tomblin, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, Harts Creek, history, John Hartford, Lincoln County, music, Stump Dalton, Uncle Harmon and his Fiddlin Fools, West Virginia, writing
Brandon asked if Ella ever played with Ed at Dood’s and Stump said, “The only time I ever seen her play was when Ed asked her. I’ve seen her come there and not play. Now, she didn’t play a mandolin like I played or say like Bill Monroe or somebody like that. All she done was just chord the thing. Play the second on the guitar you know and strummed it. She was a quiet person and she was a heavy-built woman. She never had much to say to nobody. She sorta give you the impression that she ‘would rather be somewhere else than where I am now,’ you know.”
Thinking of Ed’s accompaniment, Stump said to me, “You ever hear the name Bernie Adams?”
I had, but didn’t know much about him.
“Bernie Adams was a cousin of mine,” Stump said. “Bernie was born and raised up on Hoover and he was one of the best second guitar players I ever heard pick up a guitar. And all he did was drink. He’d been to Nashville maybe twice, I think. Now when Ed Haley come to our house, the first thing he’d ask Dad, he’d say, ‘Dood, where’s Bernie Adams at?’ Back then, you didn’t have no telephone. Big Hart Road was dirt. We’d take a timber truck and hunt Bernie Adams up and bring him down there. If we found him drunk, we’d bring him down there and he’d sober up. Ed told me, he said, ‘I never played with a man that had the timing that Bernie Adams had with that guitar.’ He was one of the best.”
I asked Stump if Bernie played runs and he said, “He could, but he played a follow-up for their music. And you talk about time.”
Stump didn’t know that Bernie ever played over the radio, but we later heard that he played on Logan radio in the mid-40s with a group called Uncle Harmon and his Fiddlin’ Fools.
Bernie died in 1962.
“They found him dead right at the mouth of Hoover when they went down over that little hill next to the creek,” Stump said. “He’d sat down next to a log and they found him laying beside that log. He drank himself to death. He’d left Earl Tomblin’s beer garden up on Big Hart. Somebody probably picked him up and drove him down there and they found him dead the next morning.”
I asked Stump to describe Ed and he said, “Ed was a pretty big man. I’d say Ed Haley woulda weighed 180-185 pounds and I’d say Ed Haley was 5’11” or 6′, too. I particularly noticed his hands. He had long fingers. And he was a fast walker. Ed Haley was the type of feller that would eat anything you put on the table. He liked to cut his onions up in his beans, buttermilk, cornbread, then rub some bacon in it.”
Did Ed do any kind of chores to help out around the house when he was there?
“No, he was just a guest and that was it. We never asked him to do anything, he never done anything. When he come to our house, other than sleep, 75-percent of our time was playing music.”
I asked Stump if Ed ever came around his father’s home drunk and he said no — Ed was always “very mannerly” at the Dalton home.
“Ed Haley was a fine man, buddy,” he said. “He was my idol. Ed Haley was a pretty smart man. He was good when it come to the Bible — he knowed what to do, you know, and they’d sit there and discuss the Bible, but Ed never would accept the Lord as far as being saved. If anybody could’ve ever got Ed to quit drinking, it woulda been Dad.”
Dood Dalton was a moonshiner in his younger days but gave it up just after Stump’s birth.
“Dad was one of the most well thought of men in this country really, if you want to know the truth about it. Dad made a study of the Bible for 62-and-a-half years.”