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.
Albert Adkins, Allen Nelson, Brooke Adkins, Buffalo Creek, Christmas, David Farley, Doren Lucas, education, Everett Dingess, Ferrellsburg, Fisher B. Adkins, Floyd Enos Adkins, genealogy, Harts Creek, Hazel Adkins, history, Jessie Lucas, Lincoln County, Lincoln Republican, Logan County, Lottie Lucas, Maggie Fry, Maggie Lucas, Matthew Farley, Maud Toney, Methodist Church, Minerva Brumfield, Rector, Sand Creek, Ward Lucas, West Virginia
“Old Hickory,” a local correspondent from Ferrellsburg in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Lincoln Republican printed on Thursday, December 21, 1911:
Mrs. Brook Adkins is teaching one of the best schools in Harts Creek district. She is a faithful teacher.
Misses Maud Toney and Maggie Fry of Rector, were visiting Mrs. Ward Lucas last Sunday.
A.G. Adkins and wife, and M.C. Farley were calling on Misses Maggie and Lottie Lucas Sunday.
Miss Minerva Dingess was visiting Mrs. A.G. Adkins Sunday.
Everett Dingess has just returned from a flying visit to Big Hart. He reports a fine time.
Born to Mr. and Mrs. Ward Lucas on last Monday morning, a boy. The mother and child are doing well, and Ward says the boy will be a republican.
F.B. Adkins on returning from the Toney lodge on last Saturday night lost his hat.
M.C. Farley has returned from Big Buffalo, Logan county, where he has a good job of work.
Mrs. Martha Farley, mother of M.C. Farley, died at the home of her youngest son, David Farley, on Dec. 5th. She had been a member of the Methodist church since early life and was ever faithful to the teachings of that church. She was past 74 years of age. The remains were interred at the place selected by her on the home farm.
A small child of Allen Nelson, of Sand Creek, caught its clothes on fire the other day and was burned to death.
Hazel, the six year old daughter of F.E. Adkins, caught on fire the other day and was badly burned.
M.C. Farley went to Hamlin last Monday.
The boys of this vicinity are preparing for a lively time. Xmas and the children are looking for Santa Claus.
Asa Neal, banjo, Birdie, blind, C&O Railroad, Charlie Mershon, Chet Rogers, Clark Kessinger, Clayt Fry, Community Common, Devil's Dream, Dinky Coffman, Dominique Bennett, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, Elmer Lohorn, fiddle, fiddlers, fiddling, Girl I Left Behind Me, Great Depression, Harry Frye, history, Jason Lovins, John Hartford, John Lozier, John Simon, Kentucky, Kid Lewis, music, Norfolk and Western Railroad, Ohio, Portsmouth, Portsmouth Airs, Portsmouth YMCA, Ragtime Annie, Roger Cooper, Roy Rogers, Russell, West End Jubilee, writing
A little later, I met John Lozier at Portsmouth. He was a real ball of energy. It was hard to believe that he was in his late eighties. I just sat back and listened to him talk about Ed.
“The first time I ever saw Ed Haley he was sitting on the street in a little old stool of a thing — him and his wife — had a little boy with him. They always kept a little boy with them — one of the kids that would lead them here and there and yander. And I didn’t know this but a fella by the name of Charlie Mershon was there and the Mershons are all fiddlers. They live over here in Ohio somewhere. And Charlie went home and told his dad, ‘I heard a man that could out-fiddle you.’ He went over and he had to take his hat off to Ed. But Ed had long, slim fingers like a woman and he played so soft you just had to listen. He was a great fiddler.”
I asked John to tell me about playing with Ed at the Portsmouth YMCA.
“A fella by the name of Dinky Coffman was the head of the entertainment committee at the N&W over here in Portsmouth,” he said. “Well, whenever Dink Coffman would want us to have a little shindig or whatever you want to call it he would take us over in the shops at the N&W at noon. They was about seven hundred people worked over there at one time. And nickels and dimes — whatever they could get — that’s the way Ed Haley made his living. It had to be a rough life. Of course, back in the twenties you make a dollar, honey, you could wrap it ’round a corncob and be nigger rich. And the last time I played with Ed Haley was at the YMCA at the C&O Russell yards.”
I asked John how Ed looked back then and he said, “Ed was a little old short pot-bellied feller. He had an old brown hat on as well as I can remember and just an old brown coat and a pair of britches. He didn’t dress like he was going out on vaudeville stage or anything. His wife would take Braille with her and read Braille for a little extra entertainment. She played a banjo-uke — eight string, short neck — but she just played chords. Mostly me and her would play and she would second after me. One time, we went up to the Russell yards at the YMCA up there and she accompanied me on the piano. I never knew any of the kids.”
John asked to see my fiddle, so I lifted it out of the case and reached it to him. He said to his wife, “Oh, Lord. Look at this. Isn’t that done pretty? My granddad made fiddles and he used three things: a wood chisel, a pocketknife, and a piece of window glass. All he bought was the fingerboard and the apron. And he made little wood clamps and wedges. He wouldn’t let me pick up the fiddle — afraid I’d drop it and break the neck out of it. And I started playing old fiddle tunes on a harp.”
Not long after that, John pulled out his harmonica and played “Devil’s Dream”, “Portsmouth Airs”, “Birdie”, “Girl I Left Behind Me”, and “Ragtime Annie”.
I joined in every now and then, which prompted him to say things like, “You’re putting something extra in there,” or “You missed a note. See that?”
To call him feisty would be a huge understatement.
At one point, he said, “I’m trying to tell you something. You’re gonna be here all day. This is my day.”
A little later he said, “I don’t know if you know what you’re doing or not, but you’re putting a few little slip notes in there. You put more notes in that than what Ed would have put in it. You’ve been listening to Clark Kessinger records.”
John opened up a whole new facet of our conversation by mentioning Clark Kessinger, who he’d heard play one time at the West End Jubilee on Market Street in Portsmouth.
“Clark Kessinger was a hard loser in a contest,” John said. “If he lost, he’d just stomp and carry on something awful.”
Clark came to Portsmouth and played a lot because of the great number of musicians in the town during the Depression.
“I come into Portsmouth about the time that Roy Rogers left here,” John said. “Now he had a cousin that was a better guitar player than he was: Chet. He had a little neck like a turkey. And him and Dominique Bennett, Clayt Fry, Elmer Lohorn… Elmer Lohorn was the only man I ever seen that played ‘companion time’ on the guitar. It was a double time — everything he done was doubled. And Harry Frye was a fine tenor banjo player. We had one guitar player by the name of Kid Lewis — was a smart-alec — and he could play classical stuff. But they just sat around and played cards and drank moonshine and got good. Asa Neal was, I’d say, our champion fiddler around here. Asa Neal bought ever record that Clark Kessinger ever put out.”
At that moment, John Simon, a local folklorist, showed up with Roger Cooper, a Buddy Thomas protégé. I got Roger to play the fiddle while I seconded him on my banjo. John Lozier jumped in when we weren’t playing something “just right.” At some point, Jason Lovins, a local newspaper reporter, dropped in with a camera and asked a few questions. He promised to plug my interest in Ed’s life in the Community Common.
Appalachia, Big Creek, Big Ugly Creek, Clerk Lucas, Evana Fry, genealogy, history, James B. Toney, Leet, Lincoln Republican, Lottie Lucas, Lottie Toney, Maggie Lucas, Minnie Lambert, Pumpkin Center, Rome Lambert, timbering, Toney, Viola Lambert, Watson Lucas, West Virginia, Wilburn Adkins
“Violet,” a local correspondent from Toney in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Lincoln Republican printed on Thursday, May 18, 1911:
We are having some very pleasant weather and our farmers are busy planting corn.
The men who have been timbering in this vicinity, floated their timber to market last week and received very low prices.
The Sunday School recently organized at this place, was attended by a large crowd on last Sunday. We hope all the parents will get interested and bring the little ones out next Sunday.
Mr. Messinger, Deputy Assessor, was calling on the citizens in this section last week.
Watson Lucas is hauling logs for the construction of the new Railroad up Big Ugly Creek.
Miss Minnie, the accomplished daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Lambert, of Leet, was calling on Misses Maggie and Lottie Lucas Sunday afternoon.
Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Toney and children, of Big Creek, were visiting at Toney Saturday evening and Sunday.
Messrs. Clerk and Wilburn Adkins, two jovial republicans of this place, were calling on friends in “Pumpkin Center” last Sunday.
Miss Evana Fry is suffering with a felon on her finger.
We are all anxious to get hold of THE REPUBLICAN.
Blackburn Lucas, Branchland, Catherine Toney, Clerk Lucas, Dollie Toney, Ferrellsburg, genealogy, Green Shoal, Hamlin, history, Huntington, Jim Brumfield, Joseph Elkins, life, Lincoln County, Lincoln Republican, Logan, Maggie Lucas, music, Nancy Elkins, Toney, West Virginia, William Elkins
“Violet,” a local correspondent from Toney in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Lincoln Republican printed on Thursday, April 13, 1911:
The weather is fine and the mud is drying rapidly.
The farmers are hustling about planting potatoes and preparing the ground for new crops.
The Death Angel visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Elkins on last Thursday and called from them their infant son. Interment took place in the Ferrellsburg cemetery Friday. We extend our sympathy.
There was a large crowd of persons assembled at the Green Shoal school house on Sunday and heard a very interesting sermon delivered by Rev. Adkins of Branchland.
Misses Dollie Toney and Maggie Lucas attended the examination at Logan last week.
B.B. Lucas spent last week in Huntington serving as Juror in Federal Court.
Miss Lottie Lucas spent a few days in Logan recently on a shopping tour.
Mrs. B.D. Toney was calling at Jim Brumfield’s, Monday.
A number of Guitar Harps have been purchased around here; plenty of music at every house.
Clerk Lucas took the examination at Hamlin last week.
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We next discussed Jean Thomas, who wanted to feature Ed in her “Wee House in the Wood” production.
“I remember Pop and Mom didn’t care too much for Jean Thomas,” Mona said.
Pat said she had a run-in with Thomas later, long after Ed had died.
“Larry and I went to see Jean Thomas so we could take our cub scouts out there and as soon as she found out he was Ed Haley’s son, she didn’t want a thing to do with him. We never did take our troop out there. She said Pop was blasphemous — which I suppose was true — and he was a drunkard because he would not go along with her plans to be Jilson Setters.”
Mona said, “Bill Day…there was some controversy there between Jean Thomas and Pop and Mom. And I think Bill Day had a lot to do with it. I remember that. He was almost blind. He wasn’t quite blind. He wasn’t blind like Mom and Pop. I wouldn’t say they were friends, but they were acquaintances.”
Mona said Bill Day wasn’t much of a fiddler and seemed to enjoy telling me how his son Clay was cross-eyed and a little “off”.
Talking about Bill Day got us on the subject of his wife, “Aunt Rosie Day.” Mona had great memories of her.
“She kept house for us a lot and lived with us. She was rough. She’s whipped me home a lot of time with switches. She chewed bubble gum all the time and dipped snuff and she would stick bubble gum up all along the door facings and stuff and go back and get it later.”
Pat said, “I knew she dipped snuff. I used to go down and try to clean Aunt Rosie’s house, bless her heart.”
Mona said, “We never called her ‘Aunt Rosie’. We just called her ‘Rosie’. She fell down the steps one time from the landing. She was drunk. Her and Mom had been drinking apricot brandy. I remember it well. They was a stove in the corner and Rosie got down to the landing and missed a step and hit that stove with her head and made a big dent in that stove and never even hurt her. Mom fell down the steps too once, but she fell from the top to the landing. This time Mom fell down, Pop was playing music down in the living room and Mom was dancing upstairs to his music and danced right off the edge of those steps. It didn’t seem to hurt her, either. They could make the house come alive with music. When I would dance, Pop would say, ‘I hear you. I hear you.'”
Pat said Ed used to get drunk and fight with Aunt Rosie Day. He liked to drink with her son-in-law, Manuel Martin. Martin was a bootlegger. He and his wife lived on Durbin Creek up the Big Sandy River. In the 1960s, Manuel got drunk and shot his son at the kitchen table in Canton, Ohio. Lawrence went to see him in the penitentiary, Pat said.
Just before Mona left, I told her, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you coming over here and talking to me.”
“It’s my pleasure,” she said. “Anything I can do. I’m available.”
At the door, I gave her a big hug and she said, “It’s good seeing you, John. You seem like family.”
A few minutes later, just before I turned in to bed, I mentioned Ralph Haley’s importance in this story. It was Ralph, after all, who had the foresight to record Ed and Ella Haley’s music in the late forties. (Never mind that he wasn’t really Ed’s son or that he recorded him on a machine stolen from the army.) Pat said Ralph helped take care of the family when he was young, like stealing chickens when the kids were hungry. When he was older, he kind of distanced himself from the family by changing his last name from Haley to Payne — perhaps to protest Ed’s treatment of his mother. (This was the surname used on his tombstone in Cincinnati.) The Haleys tried to keep in touch with Ralph’s widow, Margaret, who remarried a younger man named Mel and moved to Florida to work a chicken farm. At some point, she had a grocery store in Tampa called “M&M’s”. In the late forties, Lawrence was stationed nearby and visited. When he went back, her husband put a pistol in his face and ran him off. Pat had no idea why.