Bernie Adams, Big Branch, Billy Adkins, Brandon Kirk, Cacklin Hen, crime, Dood Dalton, Ed Haley, fiddle, fiddler, fiddling, Green McCoy, guitar, Harts, Harts Creek, history, Hollene Brumfield, John Hartford, Logan, Luster Dalton, Milt Haley, Mona Haley, music, Rockhouse Fork, Stump Dalton, Wild Horse, writing
From Harts proper, we headed up Harts Creek to the home of Luster Dalton, a son of Ed’s friend, Dood Dalton. Luster was born in 1924 and used to play the fiddle on weekends for free drinks at local “dives” with his brother Stump and two cousins. I asked him if he learned much from Ed and he said, “Yeah, I learned a lot from the old man Ed. He was a real fiddle player, son.”
I wondered if anybody around Harts played like Ed.
“Not as good as he could, no,” Luster said. “I’d have to say no to that. That old man really knew how to handle that job, buddy.”
Luster tried to remember some of Ed’s tunes.
“Way back in them days, they had one they called ‘Cacklin’ Hen’ and ‘Wild Horse’ and such as that on down the line,” he said.
I got my fiddle out and pointed it toward Luster, who said, “They ain’t a bit of use in me to try that. I’ve had too many bones broke.”
I tried to get him to just show me anything — but he refused.
He chose instead to talk, starting with how Ed came to visit his father on Big Branch.
“He came about onest a year and would maybe stay a month,” Luster said. “He’d maybe stay a week at Dad’s and go to some other family and stay a week and go up Logan and stay a week or so with somebody. Him and his old woman both would come and a couple three of his kids. Mona was one of them’s name. About all of them I guess has been to my dad’s. I don’t see how they raised a bunch of kids — neither one of them could see. That’s something we got to think about. They was good people. And a fella by the name of Bernie Adams used to come with them — he was a guitar picker — and they’d sit up there and sing and pick up at my dad’s till twelve o’clock and go to bed and go to sleep, get up the next morning, go into ‘er again. I went in the army in 1940, I believe it was, and I know I’ve not heard from them since then.”
Luster didn’t know if Milt Haley was a fiddler but had heard the old-timers talk about how either him or Green McCoy had shot Hollena Brumfield through the jaw at the mouth of the Rockhouse Fork on Harts Creek.
“They were murdered in a little log house,” Luster said. “They took a pole axe and beat them to death and then chopped them up.”