Blackburn Lucas, education, Ferrellsburg, Fisher B. Adkins, genealogy, German Vance, Greely Isaacs, Guyandotte River, Hamlin, history, Homer Hager, J.M. "Doc" Mullins, John Clay Farley, Lincoln County, Lincoln Republican, Matthew Farley, Sand Creek, typhoid fever, West Virginia, William H. Mann
“Old Hickory,” a local correspondent from Ferrellsburg in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Lincoln Republican printed on Thursday, January 18, 1912:
Winter weather is still here. A fine snow is on the ground and the boys are enjoying fox hunting.
Doc Mullins killed a fine large red Fox which he is very proud of, it being the first he ever killed.
F.B. Adkins and Homer Hager, at the beginning of the freeze up in the Guyan river, attempted to make their way through the ice in a small boat and came near being drowned.
B.B. Lucas and other members of his family, who have been suffering with typhoid fever for some time, are able to be at their usual labors again.
German Vance, who has been teaching school at Sand Creek, is very low with typhoid fever at the home of Greely Isaacs, of Ferrellsburg.
John C. Farley, the oldest man in Harts Creek District and the father of M.C. Farley, member of the County Court, is very sick and is not expected to live but a short time.
W.H. Man, of Harts Creek, went to Hamlin the first of the week.
M.C. Farley made a business trip to Hamlin the first of the week.
Ben Walker, Boney Lucas, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Daisy Ross, diphtheria, education, Faye Smith, feud, Flora Adkins, genealogy, Green McCoy, history, Huntington, Kenova, Low Gap United Baptist Church, Mariah Adkins, medicine, Melvin Kirk, murder, Nancy Adkins, Paris Brumfield, Spicie McCoy, Wayne County, West Virginia, writing
The day after visiting Abe Keibler, I met Brandon Kirk in Huntington, West Virginia. We made the short drive into Wayne County where we located the home of Daisy Ross in Kenova. Her daughter, Faye Smith, met us at the door and told us to come in — her mother was waiting on us. She led us through a TV room and into the dining room where we found Daisy seated comfortably in a plush chair. She was hard of hearing, so Faye had to repeat many of our questions to her.
We first asked Daisy about Cain Adkins. Daisy said he was a United Baptist preacher, schoolteacher, and “had several different political offices.” He was also a “medical doctor” and was frequently absent from home on business.
“I would imagine Grandpaw Cain — I’m not bragging – was pretty well off at that time compared to other people,” Faye said.
Daisy didn’t think Cain was educated — he “just had the brains. Mom said he could be writing something and talk to you all the time.” He was also charitable.
“Lots of times when he doctored, they didn’t have no money,” Daisy said. “They’d give him meat or something off of the farm,” things like dried apples and chickens. “He had little shacks built and would bring in poor people that didn’t have no homes and Grandpaw would keep them and Grandmaw would have to furnish them with food. Kept them from starving to death.”
Cain seemed like a great guy.
Why would the Brumfields have any trouble with him?
Daisy had no idea.
We had a few theories, though, based on Cain’s various occupations. First, as a schoolteacher in the lower section of Harts Creek, he may have provoked Brumfield’s wrath as a possible teacher of his children. As a justice of the peace, he was surely at odds with Paris Brumfield, who we assume (based on numerous accounts) was often in Dutch with the law. As a preacher, Cain may have lectured citizens against living the “wild life” or condemning those locals already engaged in it, which would’ve also made him an “opposing force” to Brumfield.
There is some reason to believe that Cain was a potent religious force in the community during the feud era. Unfortunately, the earliest church record we could locate was for the Low Gap United Baptist Church, organized by Ben Walker and a handful of others in 1898. Melvin Kirk was an early member. More than likely, Cain was an inspiration to Walker, who was ordained a preacher in 1890.
Brandon asked Daisy what she knew about Boney Lucas’ murder.
“They killed him before they killed Green McCoy,” she said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “They mighta had trouble, too.”
Then came an incredible story, indicating that Boney Lucas was no saint, either.
“He lived about a week after he was hurt,” she said. “He wanted to be baptized and the preachers around there wouldn’t baptize him because he didn’t belong to the church. Grandpaw said, ‘I’ll baptize him.’ Grandpaw was a good preacher. He said, ‘I’ll baptize you, Boney.’ So they made a scaffold and they took him out there and somebody helped him and they baptized him before he died.”
Brandon said, “So Boney was kind of a rough character,” and Faye said, “See, he was connected with Grandpaw’s family and they didn’t tell things. If some of the family was mean, they didn’t get out and tell things.”
Cain had more bad luck when two of his daughters, Nancy and Flora, died of diphtheria.
“They buried them little girls out from the house somewhere up on the hill,” Daisy said. “I don’t know where they were buried. Mom never showed me. I guess they just had rocks for tombstones, you know.”
A.W. Sloan, Appalachia, Big Creek, Blackburn Lucas, Buffalo, Chris Lambert, Christmas, Cleve Fry, Dingess Run, Ferrellsburg, Frank Davis, genealogy, Guyan Valley Railroad, Harts, Herbert Shelton, history, Hugh Fowler, John Fowler, John Lucas, Jones Adkins, Lincoln County, Lincoln Republican, Logan, Logan County, Matthew Farley, Sand Creek, Sheridan, Toney, typhoid fever, Ward Brumfield, West Virginia, Wilburn Adkins
“Old Hickory,” a local correspondent from Ferrellsburg in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Lincoln Republican printed on Thursday, December 28, 1911:
Xmas has come and gone and the people of Ferrellsburg enjoyed the occasion nicely.
A.W. Sloan, of Ferrellsburg will soon return to his former location at Sheridan.
B.B. Lucas and other members of his family have been suffering with typhoid fever the past week.
John Lucas, of Big Creek, Logan county, and Frank Davis engaged in a scrap at this place Xmas day. Lucas received a black eye.
Wilburn Adkins, son of Jones Adkins, received painful wounds in his thigh, Christmas day, as the result of an accidental discharge of a pistol which he had in his pocket.
Cleve Fry, of near Toney, has moved his family to Dingess Run, above Logan, and has taken charge of a section on the G.V. Railroad.
Ward Brumfield, John and Hugh Fowler, of near Hart, and Chris Lambert and Herbert Shelton had a knock down at Sand Creek the day before Xmas. Ward Brumfield received a severe blow over the head with a quart bottle, Lambert wielding the bottle.
M.C. Farley will now return to Buffalo, Logan county, where he has a job of work, as Xmas is over.
The Guyandotte river has been “full” during the holidays.
It seems funny that the Sheriff has recently come to the conclusion that the sheriff’s office is not a piddle office and that no one has a right in it but himself and his deputies. The voters will speak at the next election.
Best wishes to The Republican.
Abe Keibler, Asa Neal, Big Indian Hornpipe, Big Rock Candy Mountain, Birdie, Charley Keibler, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, fiddlers, fiddling, Greenup, Grey Eagle, Henry Keibler, history, Jim Keibler, John Hartford, John Lozier, Kentucky, Morris Allen John Keibler, music, Ohio, Portsmouth, Portsmouth Airs, Pretty Polly, Roger Cooper, Sam Keibler, Turkey in the Straw, writing
As Abe and I fiddled the afternoon away, Roger Cooper and John Lozier showed up. In ensuing conversation, John mentioned to Abe that he didn’t remember his father, Jim. Abe said it was because his dad had died young.
“My uncle raised me from seven year old and raised Morris Allen from three months old,” he said.
“Uncle John and Uncle Henry raised me,” he said.
I said to Abe, “How many fiddling Keiblers were there all told?”
“Well, there weren’t many — just that one generation,” he said. “John — that was the oldest — Charley — that was the next one — and my dad and Sam. Them was the four fiddlers.”
His mind was starting to pull out great memories.
“Grandpa wouldn’t allow them to bring a fiddle into the house to saw around on and learn and they got a hold of an old fiddle and took it out in the cornfield. And the three brothers, he kept seeing them going out and he told Grandma, ‘Them boys are into something. I’m gonna follow them and see what they’re into.’ So he goes out there and Uncle John — that was the best fiddler — he was a playing and my dad was a dancing and he said, ‘Well now, John, you can bring your fiddle into the house.’ He had learnt to play it then pretty good.”
I asked Abe where he first heard Ed play and he said, “Greenup, Kentucky. Up here at the county seat. He played around the courthouse there and people donated him money. He had a cup on the neck of his fiddle and they’d drop five-dollar bills in it. When that old mill was a running and whiskey was in, he’d come around there to that mill on payday and maybe take a thousand dollars away from there. I was about eighteen years old when I heard him. He was a good fiddler. He could play ‘Birdie’ and all that. Played it in C or G either one. He played and sung a lot of songs — ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’. He could play anything.”
Abe said he usually saw Ed at the courthouse on Labor Day or the Fourth of July. Ed always wore a hat and was dressed in a suit. He placed the fiddle under his chin, pulled a long bow and ran his fingers all up and down the neck of the fiddle. Abe said he “could play anything” but he only remembered “Grey Eagle”, “Big Indian Hornpipe”, “Portsmouth Airs”, and “Turkey in the Straw”. His wife normally sang while he played the fiddle, although he sang “Pretty Polly”. Abe never got to talk much to him because the crowds kept him so busy playing the fiddle.
I asked Abe if he ever played with Asa Neal and he said, “No, I never did play none with Asa but he was a pretty good fiddler. I remember when we first moved to Portsmouth in ’23, he couldn’t play nothing on the old Blues, but he got to be a pretty good fiddler. He used slip notes.”
Abe Keibler, banjo, Boatin' Up Sandy, Charley Keibler, Cold Frosty Morning, Cotton-Eyed Joe, fiddle, fiddlers, Germany, Girl With the Blue Dress On, guitar, history, Jim Keibler, John Keibler, Kentucky, Morris Allen, music, Ohio, Old Coon Dog, Parkersburg Landing, Portsmouth, Rye Whiskey, Sally Goodin, Sally Got Drunk on Irish Potatoes, South Shore, Stumptail Dolly, Susan's Gone to the Ball With Her Old Shoes On, We'll All Go to Heaven When the Devil Goes Blind, writing
Later that day, I went to see 88-year-old Abe Keibler in nearby South Shore, Kentucky. Abe was the last surviving member of the old fiddling Keiblers and a first cousin to fiddler Morris Allen, one of the sources for Parkersburg Landing.
“My grandfather, he was sixteen years old when he landed in here from Germany and he got a job out here at an old furnace,” Abe said. “He couldn’t even speak the language when he first come here, they said, and he didn’t play nothing.”
“Wow,” I said, “So fiddling started with your dad and uncles?”
“My uncles and dad, yeah,” Abe confirmed. “Jim was my dad’s name. He played a banjo — the old claw-hammer style.
Abe was raised up in a family of fiddlers, but he originally played the guitar. He began to play the fiddle at the age of 55. He wasted little time in showing me the old family fiddle, which he inherited from his uncle John Keibler. It was a good-looking instrument with a good tone, although the bridge was ready to collapse.
“Way back before I was born some fella came into Portsmouth when they had the old saloons in and he had this old fiddle and couldn’t play it,” Abe explained. “My uncle John, he seen that it was a good fiddle and he wanted to buy it and this guy wouldn’t talk about selling it. My uncle Charley, he was a left-handed fiddler. He said, ‘Now John, if you want that fiddle, I can buy it for ten dollars.’ So he bought it. It’s been in our family around ninety years or maybe close to a hundred.”
Abe said the old fiddle was hard to tune — it had seen some rough times.
“My uncle fell and busted the top all to pieces. I had a fella that made fiddles put that top off of another old fiddle on it. My uncle had patent keys put on it and I had them took out and wood keys put in it.”
I tuned the Keibler fiddle as best as I could, then reached it back with a request for a tune I’d heard Abe mention called “We’ll All Go to Heaven When the Devil Goes Blind”. He couldn’t remember it but said it was the same thing as “Stumptail Dolly”. He scratched out a melody in the key of G, then said, “Some of them called that the ‘Girl With the Blue Dress On’. ‘Old Coon Dog’ is all I ever heard it called.”
He also played “Boatin’ Up Sandy”, “Sally Goodin” (in G), “Rye Whiskey” (which he called “Cold Frosty Morning”), “Sally Got Drunk on Irish Potatoes”, “Cotton-Eyed Joe”, and “Susan’s Gone to the Ball With Her Old Shoes On” (key of G).
Every now and then, I joined in with my fiddle.
“I’m gonna learn you how to play a fiddle yet,” Abe said.