Brandon Ray Kirk, author of Blood in West Virginia: Brumfield v. McCoy (Pelican, 2014) and a descendent of feudists from Lincoln County, West Virginia, is an enthusiast of Appalachian feuds, Southern violence, timber history, and traditional Appalachian music. An assistant professor of American history at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Kirk gives daily lectures about Appalachian history. In addition to having written scores of Appalachian-themed articles for regional newspapers and books, including the West Virginia Encyclopedia, The Kentucky Explorer, and Goldenseal magazine, Kirk has contributed to the PBS series West Virginia and offered expertise for participants in the History Channel series Hatfields and McCoys. He has also lectured for the Scarborough Art and Lecture Series, the Lunch with Books program at the Ohio County Public Library, and the West Virginia State Archives & History Library.

His diverse career has included working as a university library assistant at Marshall University’s Morrow Library Special Collections Department, writing for the Lincoln (WV) Independent and Lincoln (WV) Journal, researching and writing for Hartford Music, Inc., writing for the Logan (WV) Banner, and teaching advanced placement history courses for Lincoln and Logan County Schools. He has worked extensively with Representative Ken Hechler’s Congressional papers, partnered with West Virginia Hillbilly editor Jim Comstock, and archived the papers of CBS executive Bob Tamplin. A close associate of the late John Hartford, Kirk co-authored the Ed Haley biography and assisted with the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? He is a Blake-Hulse Scholar and a past member of Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Alpha Theta honor societies.

More recently, Kirk has appeared in Smithsonian magazine and The New Yorker magazine as well as on The Friendly Neighbor Radio Show and the TV program Chapters. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to serve on the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. He also contributed to an upcoming John Hartford documentary. In 2015, The State Journal chose him as one of “55 Good Things About West Virginia.”

Kirk is a graduate of Marshall University where he earned a M.A. in history, specializing in Appalachian history. A dedicated Appalachian scholar, he spends his time collecting and compiling oral histories, researching at courthouses and archives, collecting old photographs, restoring and mapping cemeteries, and conducting field recordings of traditional Appalachian music. When he is not traveling through the American South promoting his book or visiting old homes, museums, battlefields, antique stores, and music festivals, Kirk collects, preserves, and promotes the culture and history of his section of Appalachia from his home in Harts, West Virginia.


108 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hello and thank you for the “like” on “Everything is Medicine.” Glad to have found you here. I grew up listening to “Stained Glass Bluegrass” on Sunday mornings when my dad was making pancakes. Eager to do some exploring here.

  2. Wow, honored to have you following me ! Thanks !
    Kassie aka “Mom”

  3. We’d love if you we could get together and do some guest blogging! You’ve got some really great things on here and would love for you to have a post on our blog! http://www.cliosparade.com

  4. Thanks for liking my recent Harpers Ferry post. I’m delighted to discover your blog and look forward to exploring more.

  5. Hi Brandon,
    Distant cousin here on the TONEY side… your gg-grandmother – Martha Rose Toney and my ggg-grandmother Mary Jane Toney were sisters… I’m sure that Mary Jane named my gg-grandmother Martha Ann Adkins after her two sisters – Martha and Ann…
    My gg-grandfather was William Tolbert Adkins – s/o of Allen and Fannie McNeely Adkins – who I”m almost positive were murdered by someone from the Gas Co.
    William Tolbert and Martha Ann married about 1869 and left ‘Little Harts Creek’ as Grandpa Bill always called it… and they moved to Blaine, KY… when they did come back to WV – it was between 1900 & 1905 sometime & they moved to the ‘Crockett’ area of Wayne Co, on Miller’s Fork – Grandpa Bill’s baby sister – Mary Margaret lived close by with her husband – John Henry Stephens…
    My mother could remember her g-grandfather – William Tolbert or Grandpa Bill as she called him… and how he used to sit out on the porch and talk about ‘Little Harts Creek’.
    Oh course, being just a child – she didn’t really remember too many stories…
    And it was only when she & I really got into genealogy back in the late ’60s and early ’70s that we realized how close it really was to that area of Lincoln Co.
    However, we don’t think that he or Grandma Martha ever went back to visit or anything after they left – in 1869 –

    Love your site and blog – keep in touch…

    Lynda Logan
    GeneaBug @ suddenlink . net

    • Thanks, Lynda! For better or worse, I descend from three of James Toney’s daughters: Mary Jane (Toney) Adkins, Ann (Toney) Brumfield, and Martha Rose (Toney) Lambert. Yes, I do believe that something terrible happened to Allen and Francis Adkins. The story I have always heard is that they went to pay their taxes and never returned. Little Harts Creek, as you probably know, is located a few miles downriver from Big Harts Creek.

  6. Hi Brandon, there’s a Liebster Award waiting for you on my Blog…Congrats. I hope it brings you tons of readership 🙂

  7. chris haddox said:

    Hi Brandon,

    I’ve been poking around your blog and wanted to say howdy. I am a fiddler and grew up in Logan (Mitchell Heights) and spent time in the Harts area as a kid where a woman (Patti Farley) who worked for my dad was from….Atenville. I was probably 6-7 at the time and whenever my folks would travel somewhere overnight, I’d go stay with Patti and her folks….Burl Farley (can’t recall her mom’s name). Anyhow, Patti was related by her sister’s marriage to the Brownings (Wilfred?) on Little Harts and I remember going over there and playing in the creek where they had dammed it up to make a combo swimming/baptizing hole.

    At the time I was not playing fiddle…didn’t take that up until later in life…but was taken with music. Many times I’ve wished some time away speculating on who I might have been around as a kid….some great local musician…fiddler/banjo player/ballad singer….and not even known about it. I don’t know that Burl played anything, but I know of a guy, Fred Coon, who said he met Burl when he was looking about local sawmills for some banjo neck wood.

    Of course, Haley is among my fiddle influences, though I would not begin to hold my fiddling next to his. I went looking for some older Logan fiddlers many years ago and came up pretty much empty, though I did meet Jim House from Switzer at Glenville one summer and we chatted and picked some tunes….never had contact with him again.

    Jake….can’t recall his last name but think it was Mayhorn….worked at Don Elkins Music forever, told me about a guy called Dirty John that lived in his car up on Wardrock Mountain….worked from one of the radio stations doing equipment room /signal equipment maintenance…….was supposedly a fantastic fiddler. Ever hear of him?

    I would also love to find info on Pete Hill…the black fiddler who supposedly played with Dick Justice from Henlawson. To me, Dick Justice was the stuff…..picking/singing……spine chilling stuff.

    Of course, Aunt Jennie Wilson…didn’t get to know her very well, but somewhat. I know Roger quite well and have recently reconnected with him re: some recordings I’m looking for. Fred Coon hung out with her and made some nice field recordings….ever talk with him?

    As for Toneys……Kate Toney in your lineage? I’d love to track down anyone who may have any memories of her. Seems she had someone prompting her on some of the Chappell field recordings from the 40’s…wonder if there is a daughter or, now, perhaps a grandchild around with any recollections?

    Back to Harts….I was leading a workshop this past summer in Huntington when I recognized one of the participants as someone I went to high school with back in Logan. We chatted for awhile and he introduced me to some of the folks with him. One of the women was related to Wilfred Browning from my earlier mention and knew the Farleys and all……very small world. It all got me wanting to get back down to Harts and explore those places/times that have all melded together into one collective memory.

    I’ll be down in Logan toward the end of July this summer and would enjoy saying howdy in person if that is possible. Might try to swing a drive down Harts with that trip.

    I’d enjoy any discussion with you around music of the area.

    Neat blog…thanks!

    Chris Haddox

    • Chris: so nice to hear from you. I am a fiddler myself. Do me a favor and email me. I would love to hear more about you. You and I have a lot of things in common. I have some questions for you.

  8. chris haddox said:

    Sent you an e-mail to the address listed on your site. Talk soon.

  9. Mr. Kirk,

    Thanks for the “like” and the “follow” of my blog thehistoricstruggle.wordpress.com

    It is always refreshing find someone interested in Appalachia!!! I look forward to reading your posts.

  10. Rebecca said:

    Bran, This is one amazing site to look at and read. You have done a lot of research over the years. It’s amazing at what one can get out of an old board left laying long after the house is no longer there. I love your work and appreciate you sharing it with everyone. I am very proud of you. Much love..

  11. So many of my ancestors settled and lived in the Big Sandy Valley region. I’m looking forward to reviewing your blog. Are you able to identify any of the many photos in your Gallery on your website?

  12. Billie Frye said:

    Enjoyed reading some of your blogs, lots of history.

  13. Brandon … This is a fascinating blog. I am learning a lot while being thoroughly entertained. Keep up the good work.

    At some point I will feature musicians like Charlie Poole, Monroe brothers on the immortal jukebox. Regards Thom

  14. Jolinda Perdue said:

    I stumbled across your blog while doing some research on my family from Ferrellsburg, Harts and Big Creek, Lincoln Co. Jeremiah (J.B.) Lambert was my GG Grandfather, through his daughter, Minnie Bell, who later married John Reed Ferrell and opened their own “general” store at Miami, Cabin Creek, Kanawha Co., WV in 1919. I have fond memories of my Great Grandparent’s store, “Ferrell’s Grocery” up at Miami, as a child in the 70’s. My father was their grandson. I just love reading about the local “happenings”. Thanks so much!!

    • Thank you so much. It’s always nice to locate people with roots in the Harts Creek community. You descend from Jerome Bonaparte (J.B.) Lambert, who lived across the river from Green Shoal? Do you remember Guy Harris, who married Minnie’s sister, Opal? They are my family.

      • Jolinda Perdue said:

        Yes! That’s the same JB. I’ll ask my dad. Opal was my father’s great Aunt and his mother (my grandmother) was actually named after Minnie’s sister. My grandmother was Opal Marie Ferrell and was the oldest of JR and Minnie’s 4 children. So how would that make us related?

      • Not very close, but kin nonetheless. 🙂 Rome Lambert’s mother, Julia (Fry) Lambert, was a sister to my great-great-grandfather, John Hennon Fry.

  15. Jolinda Perdue said:

    HAHA… Yes I see that it’s a very distant connection, but at least it’s a branch off a familiar tree! I would be interested in comparing information from your applicable connections with my tree, as I don’t have much information in the way of siblings, uncles, aunts, etc. You may email me privately at jolinda.perdue@gmail.com if you have time. 🙂

  16. Jeff Bosley said:

    Hey Brandon, I hope you’re well.

    Jeff Bosley here, I met you several years ago, I’m a recording engineer who worked with Lynn Davis and Molly O’Day at WEMM back in the ’70s.
    I provided you & John with some Ed Haley recordings from Lynn’s archives. When Lynn passed his sister Bibby gave me many reels, among them one labeled ‘Ed Haley’. John had stayed with Lynn many times but Lynn could never find the tape.

    I’m glad to see your efforts to preserve the history of this place are neing successful, these stories need to be told before they recede into the mists of time/

    I’m currently producing ‘The Friendly Neighbor Show’ with Elaine Purkey on WVOW in Logan, perhaps you’d like to come on the show sometime to talk about your new book and discuss your work.

    You can email me at soundsgood@frontiernet.net

    BTW, my wife is F.B. Lambert’s great-granddaughter, John told us how his archives at MU were a help to your research.


    Jeff Bosley

  17. Hi Brandon, Dale Brumfield here. I am a distant relative of the people in your book and I have ordered it. I am a writer also, and am writing my second book about the Virginia and DC underground press. I am also a 55-year-old Graduate student at VCU, getting my MFA in May, 2015. My web site is http://www.dalebrumfield.net. Great job on the book, I cannot wait to read it!

    • Thanks, Dale! It’s so nice to hear from you. I would love to hear more about your work and areas of interest. Also, what’s your Brumfield line? I hope we can meet someday. Best regards.

  18. Joe Adams said:

    Cool. I’m in the chain. Anthony’s son Solomon had Frank, who had Kessler, who had me. Love the site. Thanks for doing it.

  19. Hi Brandon – my book has officially been titled: “Independent Press In D.C. And Virginia: An Underground History.” The publication date is April 20 — 2 weeks before I graduate with my MFA. Interviewed already with Mary Washington University for an Assistant Professorship. Also I have been invited to present “Digital Archaeology” in studying the underground press at the 2015 Virginia Humanities Conference April 10 and 11 at Marymount University. Come on out if you can!

  20. Judy Obreza said:

    Hi Brandon, just spoke with my Mom today about your book and we are excited to read it. My Mom is soon to be 89 and she always has told us stories of the days growing up in Harts. Rachel Brumfield was my Mom’s grandmother. My Mom’s mother was a Farley and her Dad was a Spry. My Mom is still quite mentally sharp for her age and has amazing recollection about the days in Harts. Thank you for writing the book and we look forward to reading it.

    • How wonderful! I would love to know what she has heard or remembers about Aunt Rachel. I have a lot of history on the family, and a few photos of Rachel’s family. I’m so happy to meet new cousins! Please keep in touch. Be sure to follow my FB author page and the FB book page. I post some nice things at those sites that may or may not appear at the blog. Feel free to post family info.

  21. Judy Obreza said:

    Did Rachel have a store? My Mom was born in 1926 and she said that Rachel died in 1919, so her information comes from her Mom, my Grandma Spry. The store was the only one with a wind up telephone and it was told that when Rachel died, money was found hidden in the telephone.

  22. Mike Adkins said:

    Hay, I hope this gets to you. I’m not good at all with none of this. But I get on this website all the time, I didn’t know even know it was a blog, or what that really was until I asked my wife. But I really enjoy this site. My people have been in the Hart’s area since the last six generations. Since my 4th great granddaddy Elias Adkins. I’m also in the Sons of Confederate Veterans through my 3rd great granddaddy Andrew Lewis Sias. He’s buried up on Frye Ridge, even though I’ve never been to his grave. I’m gonna try to find it this summer. My grand daddy Adkins and my great grand daddy Adkins are buried in Harts, up on that hill behind the Little General store, I think it is. I also want to find my 4th great granddaddy Elias Adkins and his wife’s grave and my 3rd great granddaddys Hezekiah Adkins and his wife’s grave. I thank there buried in the Ferrrellsburg area. I come to Logan Co. usually a couple times a year to mud fork holden and Whitt man to visit my Aunts,Uncles, and cousins. I live in Fayette Co. right close to Raleigh Co. I’ve also been to that Tamarack a few times and that Books a Million in Beckley, and they ain’t got your book. And I’d really like to buy one. I really hope I do this right, and this gets to you. Thanks for all the neat stuff you put on here.

    • Hi, Mike. It’s always nice to hear from a cousin. From your post, I can see that we are related several ways. I also descend from Andrew Lewis Sias, through his son Henry H. Sias. I have visited Lew Sias’ grave many times and have recently ordered a military marker for it. Elias Adkins is buried on the hill here where I live in Ferrellsburg. I descend from his brother, Isaac, who is buried in Harts. Hezekiah “Carr” Adkins, who was Elias’ son, is also buried on the hill here in Ferrellsburg. If you’re ever in the area, I can show you their graves. I actually live on the old Elias Adkins farm, later owned by Carr. I can show you where Elias’ home stood, as well as the location of his slave quarters. Tamarack does carry my book. The last time I checked with them, they had several copies on hand. You can order my book through Books-A-Million but due to a dispute between my publisher and their distributor BAM does not currently carry my book. Of course, if you like online shopping, Amazon offers it cheapest. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. It’s so nice to hear from you. Keep in touch and let me know the next time you visit my area.

      • Mike Adkins said:

        Hay Brandon, Thanks so much for replying to me. I know you have to be a real busy person. I would like to know if you woundn’t mind, more about AL Sias’s grave marker and where he is buried. His daughter Lena Sias or as my older cousins that knew, and remember her called her Big Maw married Hezekiah Karr’s son Manville “Mann” Adkins. They were my 2nd Great Gandparents. I am really interested in learning about the Hart’s area, and it’s people, and my people. I’ve been there quite a bit since I was a boy, but I ain’t never lived there. I’m the first generation, in our line I believe since Elias not to ever live there. I tell my wife all the time I’m buying a house there by 2020, to get on the census, so I won’t break the tradition. I’ve come to Ferrellsburg looking for Elias, and Hezekiah’s graves, but didn’t have no luck. I didn’t have a whole lot of time that day. But if you would really show me I would be very grateful, and honored. I really love geneology, and the history. Thanks so much for your help, and all you do, and all your mountains of information. Mike Adkins

      • If you are able to come visit this summer, I will arrange for you to see all of the family sites. Just let me know. It will be my pleasure.

      • Mike Adkins said:

        Mr. Kirk, I took your advice an ordered your book from Amazon. My Moma was gonna do it at Christmas, but we both kept forgetting. I got it in this evening, I ordered it the Sunday before last. I’ve only read to page 35 so far, but man do I enjoy it. I’m seeing names in my family tree and everything. It already feels like I know these people where I research them. Then this feels like they come to life even more, plus the other characters. And I like the details so far of there houses, barns, and farms etc….. I really looking forward to reading the rest. Thanks again for your mountain of info. Mikey Adkins.

  23. Mike Adkins said:

    Hay, I also wanted to ask you about Waylon Jennings, it said on your information about you, that you had met him. I was curious ifin you knew a musician from Fayette Co. that made an album with Waylon’s band named Billy Payne? Because I am kin to him on my Momas side of the family.

    • I’m sorry, no. I’m not familiar with Billy Payne. I met Waylon several times at house parties and dinner and so forth during my time in Nashville. He was a very charismatic and friendly man. I enjoyed meeting him, talking to him, and sharing his company.

  24. Janet Burton said:

    I’m just discovering your sight and your prolific work about Ed Haley. I’ve been wondering about you ever since I heard that you and John Hartford worked together on a biography about Mr. Haley. Will it ever appear in print? Can you tell me anything about the tune Brushy Run? I’m preparing an old-time Tune of the Week (TOTW) for Banjo Hangout on this tune, having once written and recorded a TOTW for Cabin Creek. All I know about Brushy Run is its location and the fact that a fiddler lived there who composed the piece. Ed Haley’s seems to be the oldest recording of the tune, with luminaries like Art Stamper and Bruce Molsky having learned from Haley.

    Janet Burton
    Smartsville, CA

    • Hi, Janet. It’s wonderful to hear from you! We are looking to publish “In Search of Ed Haley” next year. My associates — MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, the Hartfords, the Haleys — and I are in contact with several publishers at this very moment and we will decide soon which publisher would work best for the manuscript. Watch for upcoming details and announcements at this blog. I’m sorry to say that in our decade-long search to learn about Ed Haley and his music John and I gathered no particular history or stories regarding “Brushy Run” from the Haley family and others who knew Ed Haley.

      • Janet Burton said:

        Thanks for your reply, Brandon. I’ll look forward to the book’s publication and have ordered your other book on amazon. The best I can figure regarding Brushy Run is that Mr. Haley traveled near to that part of WV and picked up the tune. He may not have gone to Pendleton County where Brushy Run is located, but apparently he was not that far away at some point in his musical travels. Wilson Douglas’ comments about the tune are found on-line and perhaps he would have known.

        I wonder how many well-known fiddle tunes which remain popular are attributed to Ed Haley — not necessarily as the author, though he apparently composed many tunes. Do you have any thoughts on that? I’ve used him as a source recording to learn some of his tunes on clawhammer banjo, as has Adam Hurt (who I Skype with) and I assume so have many fiddlers, like Bruce Molsky and Art Stamper.

      • Ed Haley frequently visited as far north as Parkersburg, WV, and over into Roane, Calhoun, and Clay counties. He may have learned “Brushy Run” from one of the many fiddlers he met along the way. For what it’s worth, we did not find any reference to him visiting Pendleton County. We are somewhat familiar with the tunes from the home recordings which were composed by Ed, based on interviews with his children. I believe that Ed could have composed more than a few tunes and also that he improvised them well ahead of many fiddlers of his time. Having said this, if I were to make a list of the tunes we KNOW he composed, it would be relatively short. I think it benefited him to play familiar tunes (and styles) that were popular in whatever region he visited and so he did — to put more money in his pocket.

      • Janet Burton said:

        Thanks much for your reply, Brandon. It’s refreshing to have someone like you be so accessible on-line to help.

        Here’s my first attempt at Brushy Run on banjo. I’m still working on my arrangement and have till the 4th of Sept. when I’ll post my Tune of the Week on Banjo Hangout.


  25. Jan Fisher said:

    Good morning from Canada.

    I am helping an elderly friend prepare information for her deceased husband’s family. Your blog mentions Cain and Sallie Adkins who left Harts about 1889. Do you have any further information on that couple? Who were their parents, when / where did they die?

    I can only find their son Manville b1862 marrying Martha Hansley in 1885 and then subsequently marrying Oma Frasher or Adkins in 1913. The only census I see him in is 1900 Sheridan, Lincoln Co, W Virginia. I can’t find a death for him.

    Two of Manville’s sons came to British Columbia Canada about 1907. Some Canadian records for this family refer to Pikeville, Kentucky so I wonder if Cain and Sallie and family left Hart to go there.

    Thanks for any assistance you can provide. Jan

  26. Mona Lambert West said:

    I recently purchased and read “Blood in West Virginia,” and was surprised at the connection to my family. My maternal great grandmother was Louisa Brumfield Fry, cousin of Paris Brumfield and wife of Howard Fry who was indicted in the Haley-McCoy killing. My paternal great grandmother was Rachel Brumfield Spry, daughter of Paris Brumfield. I am interested in whether your interviews with Verdayne Shelton contained information regarding the relationship of Howard and Louisa Fry with Victor Shelton. In particular, I am curious whether Vic Shelton was the person who implicated Howard Fry in the killings and what the bond was between the two men. Do you have copies of the interviews available for sale?

    After I graduated from Harts High School in 1965, I moved to Virginia where employment opportunities were better. I usually return to West Virginia once or twice a year to visit family who live there.

    • Hi, Mona. As you might expect, we are cousins several times over. I descend from Bill Brumfield, who was Rachel (Brumfield) Spry’s brother. Which one of Aunt Rachel’s children is your grandparent? You might remember my great-uncle, Taylor Brumfield. Louisa Brumfield, as I understand it, was a niece to Paris Brumfield. Her mother was Emmazetta Brumfield, sister to Paris, who later married Lewis Adkins of present-day Ranger. I also descend from Howard Fry’s uncle, Elisha Fry, who lived most of his life in Giles County, VA. Regarding the alleged affair between Constable Victor Shelton and Louisa Fry, this was put forth by members of Victor’s family, not in a mean-spirited way but as something they believed to be true. I was told by members of the Shelton and Adkins families how the Sheltons “claimed” the Fry offspring as family. I have no way of knowing the truth of it, of course, without DNA testing, which is why I chose to refer to the incident as “reportedly” in the book. I would very much love to know if it’s true, just to have the correct history one way or another. (A similar incident came up last year when one of the old stories told to me many years ago about a certain parentage proved to be true. A person contacted me after her DNA test did not place her closely to cousins. I had heard a story many years ago that explained the matter, having no idea if it was true. When I told her what I had heard, she was happy to know the story, which did in fact explain her “inconsistency” in the results. Not all of these stories are likely true, but I imagine a great many of them are true.) Unfortunately, because our courthouse burned in 1909, official trial records pertaining to the Haley-McCoy murder case are lost. Consequently, I can’t answer your question about who implicated Howard Fry in the killings. I wish I could! The intrigue that may have existed between Shelton, Fry, and Mrs. Fry certainly could have factored into the story, but I’m afraid we will never know. (Honestly, I don’t think Shelton fingered Fry as a guilty party, but…) I began my interviews in the early 1990s and was fortunate to have interviewed many descendants of all feudists for the next twenty years but only learned of Howard’s involvement (as well as the involvement of Morgan Brumfield and Frank Brumfield) about three years ago…after all of my original sources, most of whom were born before 1930, had passed away. In other words, I couldn’t return to ask their close relatives more questions about their newly-discovered role in the affair. None of the oral history from the 1990s linked Howard, Frank, and Morgan to the crime, yet I found their names among the accused in newspapers. As a result, we (myself and readers) are left to speculate about their part in the story. While I obsessively gather every detail about the feud still to this day, I know there is much about it that can never be known–and artistically it makes for a satisfactory contrast: for some characters, many details known; for others, very little details known. What can you tell me about Howard and Louisa? I would love to know more about their lives.

      • Mona Lambert West said:

        My father was Lawson “Jake” Lambert (July 15, 1909 – December 24, 1948), son of Wilson B. Lambert (April 21, 1889 – February 28, 1967) and Louisa Blaine Spry Lambert (July 13, 1884 – July 4, 1922), aka Lou B. Spry. My mother was Brookie Nelson Lambert (October 23, 1910 – September 25, 1993), daughter of Gilbert Lincoln Nelson (June 8, 1883 – November 9, 1968) and Telia Viola Fry Nelson (June 14, 1889 – April 29, 1973).

        Telia Viola Fry Nelson was born during the marriage of John Howard Fry (August 14, 1852 – April 5, 1922) and Louisa Brumfield Fry (August 1862 – ?). Information I have from a genealogy prepared by my sister indicates that Louisa Brumfield Fry was the daughter of Allen T. Brumfield (son of Willilam Brumfield and Eleanor Hoover) and Nancy Adkins (daughter of Edward Adkins and Nancy Bartram). I believe Allen’s brother, John, was Paris’ father. This lineage seems to be different from what you listed.

        When I was in elementary school at Atenville, I was approached by another student who was a descendant of Vic and Herb Shelton who told me I was her cousin. When I asked my mother if that was true, she replied that it probably was true, but did not explain the connection. I was an adult when a sister mentioned to me that Telia was rumored to be the child of a man named “Shelton,” rather than Howard Fry. Later, I learned that there may have been three children. I assume the other two were twins, Stella Fry Lucas (May 12, 1886 – June 16, 1937) and Maude Fry Nelson (May 12, 1886 – ?). Louisa had two other children, Minnie and Wilburn, who were older.

        My grandmother, Telia, was very firm about how a lady should behave, and seemed to be embarrassed by this tale. It was not discussed in our home. The Sheltons seemed to enjoy telling the tale.

        Apparently, Howard Fry had a lifelong connection to the Sheltons, since Herb Shelton was the person who reported Howard’s death to the County Circuit Court Clerk in 1922. Also, 1900 U.S. Census lists Vic Shelton family living next to Howard Fry family. I am trying to figure out if there is some connection (other than Howard’s wife) between Howard Fry and Vic Shelton.

        Regarding the killings, John Howard Fry had a brother, George Marshall Fry (April 19, 1856 – before 1910). Is this the same George Fry at whose home the killings occurred?

        I am interested in Verdayne Shelton’s statements, since he was my nextdoor neighbor when I was growing up on Dry Branch and my Uncle Therit Towles (son of Lou Spry Lambert) was married to Verdayne’s sister, Sylvia.

        I’ve enjoyed reviewing your postings and reading your book, and look forward to more information.

      • Hi, Mona. That’s fascinating. Regarding Louisa Brumfield: Allen T. Brumfield’s daughter by that name, born in August of 1862, married Wiley M. Hale on March 19, 1882 in Wayne County. Allen T. is a Wayne County Brumfield (and an uncle to Paris). Your Louisa, born May 10, 1860 to Emmazetta Brumfield, died on July 8, 1929 and is buried with her mother in the Adkins cemetery at Ranger (town). In Telie’s death record, Louisa’s maiden name is given as Sartin, so I assume that was her father’s surname. (You can find this record online.) Her mother married Lewis Adkins on November 24, 1865 in Barboursville. Emmazetta lived at Ranger (town). She died on September 25, 1909. Louisa shows up in the 1870 Lincoln County census using the surname of her stepfather, Adkins. She is listed at the bottom of the household, even though she is 13.

      • The George Fry who appears in the book is the son of Admiral S. Fry. Not the same one in your immediate family, although distantly related.

      • Mona Lambert West said:

        Regarding maiden name of mother of Telia Viola Fry Nelson: Entry #104 of 1860 U.S. Census June 12, 1860, Green Shoal, Logan County, Virginia, indicates Amazetta, age 35, lived with Rachel Brumfield, widow, head of household. Entry #106 indicates Isaac P. Garten, age 28, is head of household, lumber trader, lives with Elizabeth, age 24, and Elisa Ann, age 2. (Elizabeth may have been Elizabeth Toney.) If Louisa were born out of wedlock to Amazetta, might Isaac Garten have been Louisa’s father?

      • Hi, Mona. Glad to see you’re back. In the case of the two households cited in the 1860 census, they appear to be close together based on household numbers but were not. The Brumfields lived at the mouth of Big Ugly Creek, while Ike Gartin lived in the head of Little Harts Creek. Both are located in the Harts community, but are not too close to one another. (Ike and Paris Brumfield married Toney sisters.) Anything is possible, but I’ve never heard that Ike had a child outside of marriage. That would be a remarkable discovery. (His daughter had “Little Ike” outside of marriage by a Smith.) A DNA test through Ancestry would be very helpful. On a side note: I visited Telie’s grave a few days ago. She’s buried in my family cemetery at Frye Ridge.

  27. Brandon…do you know where fiddler Sherman Lawson is buried? He was from up Switzer way as I recall…no idea if he is buried in the area. He supposedly knew Ed Haley and learned some tunes from him. I’m hoping to get to Logan for some grave hunting this summer…..appreciate any info you might have.

  28. I found this site looking for information about Ben Adams and Lucinda Brumfield. They are my great grandson’s 4th grandparents according to my research. I had never heard of this feud but I look forward to reading it as I just purchased it from Amazon. When the boy is older(he is just turning 6), I plan to share it with him. Thanks for doing all this great research.

  29. Davis Zimmerman said:

    I have serious questions that relate back to the Lincoln county feud and if I am possibly related to any of the feudists seeing as that I am a Kirk.

    • Hi, Davis. The Kirk who played a role in the feud (not a fighting role, but a healing role) is my great-great-grandfather, Melvin Kirk, who originated in Martin County, KY, and who died in Logan County, WV, in 1911. His father was Thomas Kirk of Pilgrim, KY.

  30. wileykeenerwedding said:

    Hi Brandon! I’m reaching out about an interview you posted with Mayme Ferrel. If you have the time and you’d like to chat, please feel free to send me an email at the address below!

  31. Hello Brandon, I enjoy reading your stories very much. I am wondering if you can help me identify my 2nd great grandfather. My 2nd great grandmother’s name was Clementine Drake (1863-1899), her mother was Penelope Drake (1833-1905) but we don’t know who her father was. My mother, Connie Burgess (d. of Harry and Maude) said she was always told we were directly related to the Hatfields but I have only found indirect connections. Any information you have would be so much appreciated!


    Thank you,
    Kristin Kelley Richards

    • Actually looking for Clementine’s father, my 3rd great grandfather…

      • Hi and sorry for the delay in responding. I show Penelope Drake as the daughter of Henderson and Catherine (Lucas) Drake. I descend from two of Catherine’s siblings, Price and Bill Lucas. I’ve carried her this way for over 25 years. I don’t know that I could prove it, so if you find out otherwise let me know.

      • Clementine’s half-sister, Perlina Frances Drake, married Rufus French “Big Red” Hatfield. He was not really closely related to the feuding Hatfields. I show Perlina Frances Drake’s father as James Davis. Not sure if that’s correct. I might have noted my source in an older notebook.

  32. Brandon, I think it might be one of those dead ends but I thought I’d ask you since you are such an authority on the history of this area…

    • I don’t show a father for Clementine Drake. It’s a long shot, but maybe someone provided a name when I started gathering information back about 1990. Did you take the Ancestry DNA test? It might link you with relatives who would provide clues about her father’s identity.

      • Yes I did take the Ancestrry DNA test and there are a few names that say might be in my family tree. Hmmm…

      • I’m looking at your family tree now. I have a few questions for you. Have you ever visited James C. Brumfield’s grave at Gill? I was there recently and took some photographs. It’s in pretty rough shape! Also, do you know anything about Henon Smith, who married Josephine Payne? Is Theodosha Payne, daughter of Clementine Drake and Simeon Payne, a half-sister to Maggie and Olga Drake/Payne?

  33. Thank you Brandon! I will definitely check that out. By the way, here is a link to my “website” in progress, where I feature my grandmother (Maude Burgess Brumfield) singing songs that she grew up singing in West Virginia. It ended up being my Master’s thesis. I plan to scan and post that document soon and it tells a story about how early radio in West Virginia influenced the oral transmission of folk music in the hills of West Virginia.


  34. Patrician Herrin said:

    Hi. I’m wondering if you’ve researched my grandfather, Dr. William James Walker (died Nov 21, 1952 in McDowell Co, WV). He lived with my grandmother for the last 15 years of his life, and fathered 3 children with her ( William James, Susan Wilhelmina, and Lawrence Andrew). He was a surgeon, Internist, compound pharmacist, politician, avid horseman, writer, and business owner (jewelry store, land, real estate, construction, mining, banking, etc..). A lot of his wealth was inherited by his father who conquered Nicaragua. A lot of records (birth dates, places, relatives, etc..) have been changed about our family (Walker / Welker). My grandfather did a lot for the State of WV although not originally from there. I can be contacted at patrician1856@outlook.com

    • Hi, Patricia. McDowell County is a bit out of my research area, although it certainly has plenty of incredible history. I wish I knew more and could help you with Mr. Walker’s background, but in this instance you have taught me something! Other researchers may see your post in the future and offer some insight. So good to hear from you.

  35. Hi. You have some info about Kermit. I was wondering if you knew any good place to find any info regarding the gun battle in 1925 in Kermit other than the Wayne Co court info online and the Bluefield Telegraph articles


    • Hi, Jim. A gun battle would be recorded in any regional newspaper such as the Logan Banner (microfilm at the WV State Archives and the Logan Campus for SWVCTC). The Big Sandy News (online, I believe) would have covered the story, as would the Mingo County newspaper (some years can be found online and we have microfilm at the Williamson Campus for SWVCTC). Kermit is located in Mingo, not Wayne, county, so you MIGHT be given access to records at the Mingo Courthouse; the old records are/were in storage in the old jail, so access is limited. The WV State Archives recently acquired many of Mingo’s old circuit court records, so the records for 1925 may now be found in Charleston…if they have completed processing them. NOTE: My Kirks are from Wolf Creek at Pilgrim, just across the river and upstream a bit from Kermit. We left that area back in the late 1860s.

  36. darrelldee said:

    Thank you for sharing so much history. Your blog brings my ancestors to life. I’m so appreciative for your help as well.

    I cannot wait to put my feet back on Logan soil. My cousin, Peggy and I love all of your research!

  37. Chris Haddox said:

    Brandon…in Logan looking for Pete Hills grave. My cell is(304) 376-4089 if you have time for a chat. Thanks… Chris

  38. Lynne Frye Lieberman said:

    Hi Brandon, I found your site today when I typed a search into google for Harry Fry + banjo or ukulele. The search brought me to your April 14 and 26, 2014 entries of your conversations with John Lozier. That was a bombshell for me as Harry Fry was my father’s father and John Lozier is (if still alive) my mother’s uncle by marriage, married to my mom’s Aunt Mary. Our family did not know that one might know or know of the other! I would like to learn more about Harry and the musicians with whom he played. I don’t have his tenor banjo but I do have his banjo-uke. Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.

    • Lynne. Do you live in the Portsmouth area? If so, would it be possible to see the banjo-uke and photograph it? I’m not far away!

      • lynneshelley said:

        Hi Brandon, no I live in south Florida. I happy to send you photos of the banjo-uke. Meanwhile, my aunt (mom’s sister) wonders if the John Lozier you met with isn’t my threat Uncle John and Aunt Mary’s son? Have you seen the archives at Berea College that feature some of their presentations?

      • Hi, Lynne. Yes, I would love to see photos of the banjo-uke and I’m sorry that you are so far away! John Lozier was a harmonica master. He played music for a lot of people, likely Berea, too. He was very old in the 1990s.

      • lynneshelley said:

        How do I upload or attach photos to you? Also, I found a photo of Harry Fry in a band, a professionally done photo that my grandmother must have kept, if you are interested in it. It would be from the late 30s or early 1940s I think. You can send to my email directly if you want: lynneslieberman@gmail.com.

      • I sent an email to you. I would love to see the photo.

  39. Charles R. Allen Jr "Chad " said:

    Hi Brandon This is Chad Allen son of Hope Adkins Allen.I’ve got some great pictures from her of her family. Also have color video (8 mm transfered to DVD) of the 4th of July parade in Hamlin about 1957. Two of Spence Millers store in Hamlin and one has Bob Adkins in it. I want you to have copies of them. There’s so much more to list but I’m slow on a keyboard. visionseeker2u@yahoo.com / cell 804- 347-0769

    • Hi, Chad! Okay–I see your email address here. I’ll send an email to you. I research Fisher B. and Beatrice’s family, so you just made my day. I can’t hear or see enough about the old Adkins and Dingess people. Those are also my people!

  40. Charles R. Allen Jr "Chad " said:

    Hi Brandon, I’m Chad Allen, son of Hope Adkins Allen I’ve got lots of pictures from Lincoln County & Hamlin to share with you. visionseeker2u&yahoo.com

  41. Erica Chapman said:

    Hi Brandon, I’m a descendent of F.D. Stollings (my 2nd great grandfather) and Albert A. Stollings (great grandfather), as well as John Hunter (my other 2nd great-grandfather). Between them they were very involved in timber, land and coal in and around Cabell County. I’d love to talk to you or to share information you might have found related to a family history project I am working on. My email is ericachapman@dkdkproject.org. Let’s get in touch!

  42. Kerry Krogstad (Vance) said:

    Hi Brandon! I’m D.K. Vance’s granddaughter, a descendant of Abner Vance obviously. You know the rest! Lol, I just wanted to say thank you for writing such interesting articles about the feud and West Virginia. Congratulations on your publications and good luck in the future!

  43. Glenn cremeans said:

    Can you tell me where the site is of the Kanawha battle site 1861

  44. Alesia DiRusso said:

    Hello Brandon,

    Would it be possible for you to send me a copy of the picture of Alice Porter Workman, husband Abijah J Workman and two sons please and any other pictures or information you might have?

    They are my great grandparents through a daughter, Nannie Rose Workman, my grandmother m. Jasper W Chappell my grandfather. Their daughter and my mother, Daralene Easter Chappell m. Wallace, so I know this information to be true.

    However, researching my Workman ancestors I’m finding conflicting information about who my grandmother’s parents actually were. I’m thinking it is due to so many families with people of the same names?

    I’ve looked at your great website and pictures and I would like to ask if you have insight to any information for my Workman family? In addition to your website I have researched familysearch.org, ancestry.com, wiki, and findagrave.

    I appreciate all the work you do and just hope you may point me in the right directions. I’m also related to TN, VA, and WV Wallace’s on my father’s side if you would know anything about them?

    Alesia Wallace DiRusso

  45. Jean Staples Mitrovich said:

    I am a descendent of Evan Ragland and in Branch 7, Henry Clay Ragland,( descendent of John Ragland) who lived in Logan County West Va, was in Branch 14. I recently was given a book about Logan County written by Henry Clay. It is typewritten and Hard Bound, no dates. I have read the information about him on Brandon Kirks blog but cannot find any info about how my book came to be or any of his family who may want this book. Can you help? Thank you, Jean

    • Ragland wrote his history in serial form for the Logan County Banner about 1896. Sometime much later, his history was typed and distributed. It has appeared in book form, too.

  46. Brandon – thanks for the wonderful site, I’m still digesting it and will check out your book as well, but wonder if you know of any good histories (I have Ragland which has a fair amount of info on my Ferrell line) or local researchers (current or published) on the local Ferrell’s? Mine pass through Logan for a good period, but tracing back I run into a wall in the 1770’s… or anyone professional genealogists that do work in the region? I think I probably need to get into the Library of Virginia at some point to make progress. Brett

  47. Gary Bias said:

    I noticed you have Anderson Lucas was married to Lou Bias. I have a Louisa Bias married to an Andrew J Lucas 1875 in Cabell County. She was the daughter to Obediah and Martha Jane Nicely Bias who lived on Fall Creek. Could your Lou and my Louisa be the same person. Could Andrew and Anderson be the same. I’m showing Andrew dying in 1880 Lincoln County according to the Fed mortality sched. Index.

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