Alex Messer, Anderson Ferrell, Appalachia, Blackberry Creek, Bud McCoy, Cap Hatfield, clerk, crime, Devil Anse Hatfield, Doc Mayhorn, Elias Hatfield, Elijah Mounts, Ellison Hatfield, Floyd Hatfield, G.W. Pinson, genealogy, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, James McCoy, Joe Davis, Joe Hatfield, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Logan County, Mate Creek, Mathew Hatfield, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Pikeville, Plyant Mayhorn, Preacher Anse Hatfield, Tolbert McCoy, Tom Mitchell, true crime, Valentine Wall Hatfield, West Virginia
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is James McCoy’s deposition regarding the affair:
COMMONWEALTH VS DOC MAYHORN &C
Bill of Exceptions
FILED Sept. 1889
G.W. Pinson, Clk
The Commonwealth then introduced as a witness James McCoy who proves that he is brother to Tolbert, Randolp (sic) Jr. and Pharmer McCoy. Saw them Aug 9, 1882 on Mate Creek in the state West Va. Saw them on Blackberry Creek on Election day. Jo Hatfield, Mathew Hatfield and Floyd Hatfield had charge off them on that day. First saw them next day at Rev. Anderson Hatfield about 12 o’clock. They were tied arm and arm and all tied together. Saw several persons there. Saw Defendants there. They had guns. I think Rifle guns. Soon after I got there Bad Ance formed a line and said let all Hatfield men or friends fall into line. Deft. fell in to line. Doc had a gun. Am not sure that Plyant Had any gun. Ance said when the Prisoners were brought out we will take charge of them now. The whole crowd then went down Blackberry Creek toward the river. Witness went along about 1 ½ miles. Ance said to me I had no business further down and I stopped. Ance further said that he had a notion to tell the officers along that he had no further use for them. I went to Mate Creek in West Va. where my brothers was in a School house Wednesday Aug 9th 1882. I saw Bad Ance, Cap, Jonce Hatfields Defendants Doc & Plyant Mayhorn, Alex Messer, Tom Mitchell and some others. Defendants had guns some times. I left there about 3 o’clock p.m. Went down to mouth Mate Creek staid a few minutes at Sam Simpkin’s. Then went to Asa McCoy’s at mouth Sulphur. I saw Wall with a papers. Do not know what it contained and heard Wall call for signers. Saw Plyant walk up to Wall but can not say whether he signed it or not. Saw Plyant with Wall & Elias Hatfield and Elijah Mounts that evening late at the mouth Mate Creek. They went up river. Saw them again just after dark pass down by the mouth of Sulphur. I was there and they had not been gone by perhaps 20 minutes when I heard a volley of guns or pistols fired on the Ky side of the river about ½ way between Mouth Sulphur and Mate Creek but on the opposite side of the river from Sulphur. My brothers was dead when I found them. Anderson Ferrell went with him to find them. Found on the Ky shore short distance from river in a sink or flat all tied together and to two Paw Paw Bushes. Tolbert had one hand over his head. Made an examination of my brothers and found Pharmer shot 16 times. Randolph with the whole top of his head shot off. Six or seven shots in Tolbert. We removed them in a sled. They were all burried (sic) in one coffin. Elias Hatfield had a gun as they passed me at the mouth of Sulphur there was one horse in the crowd was considerably excited at times. The officers had the boys in charge for murdering Ellison Hatfield. There were a great many men along who had guns that are not indicted. There was six or seven guards and some that were not guards along with my brothers. I do not know where any one objected to my brothers being brought to Pikevill or not. I can not tell all the parties who had guns. Ellison Hatfield died about 2 ½ or 3 oclock Wednesday Aug 9, 1882. The men who taken the corps of Ellison Hatfield to Elias Hatfields was a part of the men he had seen at the school house. My brothers were found dead in Pike County Ky. Wall Hatfield is the brother of Ance, Elison & Elias Hatfield, and the father in law of the defts. When I saw my brothers at Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s there was also present Ance, Cap, Johns, Wall & Elias Hatfield. Carpenter, Dan Whitt, Messer, Murphy, Mose Christian and defts. When I found my brothers dead they were tied together and to two paw paw bushes. When Wall, Elias, & deft. Plyant Mahorn found me near the mouth of Sulphur at dark they were passing from the direction of Joe Davis’ at mo. Blackberry and going in the direction of the mouth Mate. From Jo Davis’ to mouth of Sulphur is about ½ mile, and from Sulphur to mouth Mate is about ½ mile. From the point where my brothers were found dead in Pike Co Ky is _____ in WVa immediately opposite is about 125 yards. As soon as they passed me near the mouth of Sulphur I ___ my horse pulled some grass and fed him, went back and sat down on the porch, and the firing directly began. I think it was 20 minutes after they passed until the firing began. I think I heard 50 shots. After the volley ceased there was one loud shot.
Written in the margin: Soon after this I went down to Ferrell’s and ___ Simpkins and myself went and found my brothers.
An unknown correspondent from Harts Creek in Lincoln County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on November 28, 1924:
The girls and boys all appreciate the bible school at Cole Branch.
Miss Lilly Curry was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Sunday.
Misses Lizzie Nelson and Lilly Curry took a joyful horse back ride Sunday.
Bruce McCann and Lucian Kirk were calling on Misses Harriet and Lilly Curry Sunday.
Daily things will happen–Lilly and her powders; Harriet and her watch; Roxie and her belt; Nervie and her combs; Bruce and Miss Curry’s gold ring; Lucian and his legging; Fisher and Amos wading the creek and all about Bill Thompson and his Bible; Lizzie and her hat; Janie and her coat.
Albert Adkins, Ann Davis, Appalachia, Ben Walker, Bob Adkins, Brooke Adkins, C.E. Burns, Catherine Adkins, Clementine Dingess, Douglas Branch, Ed Dingess, Ferrellsburg, Fisher B. Adkins, Floyd Enos Adkins, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek District, Henry Adkins, Jake Adkins, Lincoln County, Marshall County, notary public, Ruby Adkins, Susan Adkins, West Virginia, Yantus Walker
Perceptions of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud and of Southern Appalachia in general often differ greatly among insiders and outsiders. The following letter from Lafe Chafin of Mingo County, WV, reveals his disdain for inaccurate reporting by the New York Times about the feud and his community:
Chafin Scores New York Times For News Story
Mingo Prosecutor-Elect Takes Exception To Story Recalling Old Family Feud and Tells Some Facts About State.
Penchant for publication by New York newspapers of news stories calculated to place West Virginia in an unfavorable light before the public and to ignore publicity matter favorable to the state is charged in a communication forwarded by Lafe Chafin, prosecuting attorney-elect of Mingo county in The New York Times on December 12.
The letter reads:
The New York Times.
New York, N.Y.
Your attention is invited to an article published in the New York Times on Sunday, November 16, 1924, on page 20 of section 8, headlined, “One More Hatfield Bites the West Virginia Dust.” The article appears on the back page of section 8. Hence, it is apparent to the reader that you did not care to dignify it as news matter for the public but simply used as filler. No doubt you had run out of anything else to print on this page and so ran this in the thought that it would be interesting reading for those who have heard of the feud days in West Virginia. The article is unsigned. Hence, I am taking you, as editor, to task for permitting the publication of it and what I shall say will be offered in a spirit of friendly criticism and I hope you will accept it as such.
To begin with, you deliberately publish an untruth when you say, at the head of the article, that Alex Hatfield was killed and that Mingo county was humming and teaming with excitement. It is true that a man by the name of Alex Hatfield was shot about ten days prior to the recent election, but it is not true that he was killed, or even seriously wounded. He sustained a flesh wound and this is known only to a few people. Alex Hatfield is not the son of the mountaineer who started as bloody a feud as the south has ever known. In fact, he is not related in any way to the Hatfields who were involved in the so-called Hatfield-McCoy feud. The writer of the article simply seized upon the fact that a Hatfield had been shot as an excuse to rehearse his conception of the so-called Hatfield-McCoy feud, and he proceeds to write in a dime-novel fashion his notion of what happened in the fight between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
If it were not for the fact that your paper is read so universally and by people who do not know of conditions in West Virginia and Mingo county, I should not write you this letter. The so-called Hatfield-McCoy feud is dead and has been dead for twenty-five years or more. Every community, like every family, has its family skeleton, but we bury our skeletons and try to keep them buried until someone like you comes along and resurrects them.
I shall not take the time to point out all the slander and untruths included in this article, because most of it is untrue, as all who know conditions here will attest. I want particularly to call your attention to the fact that the apparent excuse for the article, if any there is, lies in the fact that a man by the name of Hatfield was shot about ten days prior to the recent election. Notwithstanding the fact that he only sustained a flesh wound, you carry a story in this article almost a month later, to-wit, November 16, 1924, that he was killed and that the county was all in excitement and that it has never forgotten the days of the so-called feud. A publication of the standing of The Times cannot afford to publish such misstatements and to libel this community in such manner.
Would it not be better to publish facts about West Virginia and about our community? In the thought that you were misinformed in this instance, I purpose giving you some facts that you can publish with safety and without fear of contradiction.
The population of West Virginia in 1920 was 1,500,000. Ninety per cent of the population is native white American. Less than four per cent is foreign born. Ninety-eight per cent of the farm population is native American stock. Less than six per cent of the population is illiterate. The per capita wealth is $1,429.64. There are twelve state educational institutions to train for leadership in the professions. There are 213 high schools, with an enrollment of 35,000. There are 1,800 high school teachers. Five thousand five hundred complete high school courses each year. There are 500,000 enrolled in the elementary schools. The per capita cost of education based on enrollment is $44.20.
This is the kind of publicity we want and we feel it is the kind that we deserve. Our natural resources are unmatched by any other state in the union. While these resources are decreasing, our human resources are increasing, in value. Like any community, we have had, and how have our problems, but we are doing our best to solve them. You are not helping us to solve them by publishing such articles as you published in our issue of November 16.
I would be glad to know that you have given some attention to this letter, and it seems to me that in justice and fairness to our county the party responsible for the article appearing in your issue of November 16, should be taken to task.
It so happens that I am the prosecuting attorney-elect of Mingo county and I resent such libel, not only as a citizen of the county, but as an official. Since I cannot prosecute the writer of the article for this libel, I think I at least ought to take this matter up with you as the editor and ask you to correct it insofar as you might be able to do so.
Yours very truly,
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 19 December 1924.
Appalachia, C.L. Bradley, crime, Democratic Party, Deputy Marshal, deputy sheriff, Don Chafin, George Pack, George Thompson, history, Hugh Deskins, Ira P. Hager, Jay Elkins, Joe Hatfield, Logan County, Mine Wars, Mud Fork Precinct, Nannie Pack, Pat Adkins, Pat Murphy, Republican Party, sheriff, Tennis Hatfield, U.S. Commissioner, West Virginia
Political history for Logan County, West Virginia, during the 1920s was particularly eventful; it included the latter years of Sheriff Don Chafin’s rule, the Mine Wars (“armed march”), Republican Party ascendancy, and the rise of Republican sheriffs Tennis and Joe Hatfield. What follows are selected primary source documents relating to this period:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
BEFORE THE UNDERSIGNED authority, Ira P. Hager, a United States Commissioner in and for said District, personally appeared this day, Nannie Pack, who after being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says:
That she was standing on the election ground at Mud Fork Precinct, Logan County, election day, November 4th, 1924, and saw Don Chafin, Sheriff of Logan County there. That Pat Adkins was standing on the ground, waiting to vote, and affiant saw the said Don Chafin take hold of the said Pat Adkins and shove him, saying, “Go on in,” and repeated it, “Go on in,” and shoved the said Pat Adkins toward the election room door. That he turned immediately and ran toward Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal, who was standing near by, and said, “What are you doing here, you cock-eyed son-of-a-bitch?” That he slapped the said Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal. That he then followed the said Deputy Marshal around on the ground, saying, “Have you had enough? Have you had enough?”
That they put affiant’s husband, George Pack, in jail on November 1st, 1924, and affiant went to Jay Elkins and George Thompson to ask them to go the bond of affiant’s husband. This was on Saturday, November 1st, 1924. That they declined and refused to do it, and affiant went home. That John Roberts followed affiant and said, “If you will vote our way, we will sure go this evening and get your husband out.” Then he said, “Unless you do that, we will not get him out and he will not get out.” The same day Thompson and Elkins refused to go my husband’s bond. They hunted me up while I was on the Dempsey Branch and told affiant that “if I would vote Democratic, and talk to my children and have them vote Democratic, that they would see that my husband got bond and got out.”
Nannie Pack (her mark)
Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 10th day of November, A.D., 1924.
Ira P. Hager
United States Commissioner as aforesaid.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
BEFORE THE UNDERSIGNED AUTHORITY, this day personally came, C.L. BRADLEY, who after being by me first duly sworn, says: That he was on the election grounds at the Mud Fork Precinct on election day, November 4th, 1924, and affiant saw Don Chafin, sheriff of Logan County strike Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal on the head or face. I saw Don follow him up after he had hit him and I heard him say, “How did you like that?” and if “he did not like it he could give him more of it, or oodles of it,” or words to that effect.
When Don Chafin was after Hugh Deskins, Pat Murphy, supposed to be a Deputy Sheriff, was acting like he was about to pull his gun from his pocket. He pulled it part way out of his pocket.
Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me, the undersigned authority, this the 10th day of November, 1924.
Ira P. Hager
U.S. Commissioner as aforesaid
Abner Vance, Appalachia, Aracoma, Ben Stewart, Ben White, Bluestone River, Boling Baker, Buffalo Creek, Charles Hull, Clear Fork, Dingess Run, Elias Harman, Flat Top Mountain, genealogy, George Berry, Gilbert Creek, Guyandotte River, Henry Clay Ragland, history, Horse Pen Mountain, Huff Creek, Island Creek, James Hensley, James Hines, James White, John Breckinridge, John Carter, John Cook, Joseph Workman, Kentucky, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Logan County Banner, Mallory, Native American History, Native Americans, Oceana, Peter Huff, Rockcastle Creek, Shawnee, West Virginia, William Dingess, William S. Madison
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history concerning Boling Baker and Princess Aracoma, dated March 23, 1937:
Dying Words of Princess Aracoma Related In Story Taken From Banner Files
Though much has been written on the history of Logan county, just as much has been forgotten about its early development.
One of the county’s first historians, Henry Clay Ragland, mayor of the city, church worker and editor of the Logan County Banner, recorded some of the high spots of the development of Logan county in a series of articles which he ran in his newspaper during 1896.
It is from this series of articles that the following story of the early settlement of Logan county is taken.
Records show that a large number of white men first set foot in what is now Logan county in the spring of 1777, when Captain Charles Hull with 20 men pursued a band of marauding Shawnees to the site where Oceana was later built. They lost the trail at Oceana and had to turn back. The Shawnees had raided a white settlement near the falls of New River one spring night and had stolen thirty head of horses. The army captain and his men set out in pursuit but the redskins had too great a start.
Huff Creek was given its name on this expedition in honor of Peter Huff who was killed in a skirmish on the banks of the stream as the men returned home. Huff was buried near the spot where he was killed, which is believed to have been near where the town of Mallory now stands.
Other men on this expedition and who returned to the valley of the Guyandotte later and built homes were John Cook, James Hines, William Dingess and James Hensley.
The first white man really to be identified with what is now Logan county was Boling Baker, a renegade white, but the old-timers would not give him credit for being a white man. They said: “He lived with the Injins and that makes him an Injin.” Baker, however dastardly he was, was indirectly responsible for the settlement of Logan county in 1780-85.
The renegade had one great weakness. A weakness that they hung men for in those days. He was a horse thief. He would take a party of Indians a hundred miles through the mountain passes of Logan county to raid a white settlement in order to steal 20 or 30 horses.
Baker had gone into the business on a large scale. At the head of Gilbert Creek, on Horse Pen Mountain, where the mountain rises abruptly with almost cliff-like sharpness, he had stripped bark from hickory trees and stretched it from tree to tree making a pen in which to keep his stolen stock.
Old settlers of the county who have had the story passed down to them from their great-grandfathers say that the pen was somewhere in the hollow below the road which leads to the fire tower on Horsepen Mountain. It was from this improvised corral of Boling Baker that the mountain was named.
But, back to how Baker was responsible for the settlement of the county.
He left his Indian camps on the Guyan river in the fall of 1780 and visited the white settlements in the Bluestone valley in the Flat Top mountain territory. There he told the settlers a story of how he had been captured by the Indians when he was a young man and had learned their ways. He said he had just escaped from the Shawnee tribe known to be hunting in the Guyandotte valley and was on his way back east to see his father and mother who lived in Boston. Shrewd chap, this Baker!
The settlers were taken in by his story and allowed him to remain with them for several weeks during which time he got the location of all the settlers barns well in mind and after a time departed “back east.”
Soon after the renegade left the Bluestone settlement the whites awoke one rainy morning late in autumn and found every barn empty. The Indians had come with the storm which lashed the valley and had gone without arousing a person. Thirty horses from the settlement went with them.
An expedition headed by Wm. S. Madison and John Breckinridge—son of the Breckinridges who settled much of Kentucky—was made up in a neighboring settlement and set out in pursuit of the thieving Shawnees.
They trailed the party over Flat Top Mountain and southwest to the headwaters of the Guyan River by way of Rockcastle creek and Clear Fork. Trail marks showed that the band had gone down the river, up Gilbert Creek to Baker’s pen and thence over the mountain.
Madison and his 75 men did not follow the Indian trail over the mountain but the redskins probably brought their herd of 50 or 75 horses down Island Creek to the Guyan.
The white expedition chose to follow the Guyan in a hope that they would find the party encamped somewhere along its banks. Scouts had reported that a large tribe of Indians used the Guyan valley as its hunting grounds.
Madison’s party followed the river down to Buffalo Creek—named because the white men found such a large number of buffalo grazing in its bottoms—crossed Rum Creek and pitched camp for a night at the mouth of Dingess Run because “Guyan” Green and John Carter, scouts sent ahead to reconnoiter, had reported finding ten Indian lodges in the canebrakes of an island formed by the joining of a large creek and the Guyan river.
The men rested on their guns for the night and the following morning divided into two parties and attacked the encampment from the front and rear.
In the furious fighting that followed, nine of the thirty Indians in the camp were killed and ten or twelve wounded. Only a few escaped the slaughter of the white men. Among those captured was an old squaw 50 or 60 years old, who by her bearing, was obviously leader of the party. She was wounded but refused to talk.
Near midnight, however, following the massacre of the camp the old squaw felt death creeping upon her and called Madison to her quarters, and told him in broken English the following:
“I am the wife of a pale face who came across the great waters to make war on my people, but came to us and became one of us. A great plague many moons ago carried off my children with a great number of my people, and they lay buried just above the bend in the river. Bury me with them with my face to the setting sun that I may see my people in their march to the happy hunting ground. For your kindness I warn you to make haste in returning to your homes, for my people are still powerful, and will return to avenge my death.”
The proud princess died before morning and the white men buried her “near the bend in the river.” The Indian captives were all killed.
Four days later the men returned to the valley of the Bluestone.
Among those who helped Wm. S. Madison rout the Shawnees and who vowed to possess the valley of the Guyandotte for themselves and their children were George Booth, George Berry, Elias Harman, Ben Stewart, Abner Vance, Joseph Workman, Ben White and James White. All these names are familiar in the county today.
After the Indians were pushed to the west, surveyors allotted the land to the first settlers who had dared, with Madison, to come into the wilderness of the Guyandotte and open it up for the white man.
Madison owned several thousand acres of land on Island Creek, Gilbert Creek and Dingess Run. Other fighters were given like parcels of land.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 23 March 1937