Appalachia, crime, farming, genealogy, Gilbert Creek, H.E. Ellis, history, James E. McDonald, James Stimpson, Joseph Bragg, justice of the peace, Logan, Logan County, Logan County Banner, logging, M.A. Hatfield, merchant, Mingo County, timbering, West Virginia, William Johnson
From the Logan County Banner of Logan, WV, come these items about Gilbert in present-day Mingo County, WV, dated 1894:
On yesterday William Johnson lodged James Stimpson and Joseph Bragg in jail here. They were sent on for further trial by Justice M.A. Hatfield, on a charge of breaking into the store of H.E. Ellis, on Gilbert creek. The boys confessed to the offense.
Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 24 May 1894
From Waco, written on July 7, 1894 from Gilbert:
EDITOR BANNER: Farmers are very busy with their crops. Corn is looking as well as could be expected. Oats in most cases are promising.
Two or three applications have been made for our school, but it is thought that Prof. James E. McDonald will teach it.
That log tide which failed to materialize makes it hard on taxpayers and merchants.
Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 12 July 1894
African-Americans, Alfred Beckley, Anna Brooke Hinchman, Bruno, Buffalo City, civil war, Claypool, Clean Eagle Coal Company, coal, Combs Addition, Confederate Army, Cyclone, Cyclone Post Office, Davin, Elk Creek, Forkner, genealogy, Guyandotte River, history, Hollow A. Davin, Huntington, John L. Lewis, Lake Claypool, Laura Hinchman, Logan, Logan County, logging, Lorenzo Dow HInchman, Mallory, Man, Man High School, Morris Harvey College, Oceana, Paul Hinchman, Pete Toler, postmaster, rafting, Raleigh County, Rosa Hinchman, splash dams, timbering, Ulysses Hinchman, United Mine Workers of America, Vic McVey, Walter Hinchman, West Virginia, Woodrow Hinchman, Wyoming County
Laura C. Hinchman was born on March 22, 1919 to Walter and Anna Brooke (McVey) Hinchman at Mallory in Logan County, WV. She was an educator for over fifty years and was very active in civic affairs. For more information about her background, see her obituary at this location: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140834185/laura-caryl-hinchman
The following interview of Ms. Hinchman was conducted on July 16, 1984. In this part of the interview, she discusses her ancestry, community history, timbering, and coal mining.
Miss Hinchman, how did your family first come to this area?
Well, when West Virginia was being settled, people who were willing to come here were given land grants by governors of Virginia over different periods of years. This property was given by the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia at that time, Governor Nicholson. It was given in 1815 to my great grandfather, Dr. Ulysses Hinchman, who was a member of the legislature. He had land holdings in Wyoming County, and he laid out the town of Oceana. He is recorded in a lot of the books of the history of Wyoming and Logan Counties. According to the West Virginia Blue Book, that is how Man got its name. At first it was called Buffalo City. Then they decided to change the name. They thought Hinchman was too long and there was already a place called Hinch, so they named it Man in honor of my great grandfather. Now, that’s according to the West Virginia Blue Book.
Do you remember what your grandparents were like?
Now, both my grandfather and grandmother Hinchman died before I was born, so I don’t remember either of them. At that time, this was all timber land. My grandfather Hinchman, whose name was Lorenzo Dow Hinchman, was a timberman. We have a lot of records here in the house where he kept books of how much he paid the men and how much he sold, and all that. After this was cleared, then, of course, it became farmland. Now, they had no way of getting the logs that were cut to a market. So down there just below Woodrow’s, and this happened several places, they built what was called splash dams. They made a dam and dammed the water up and filled it with logs. Then there would be a great big lot of excitement. Everybody would gather and they would tear the dam lose and let the logs float down to the Guyan River. There were men who went with them, I suppose on rafts, and rafted the logs together, and floated them down the Guyan River to the Guyandotte. Now, my mother’s father, who came from Raleigh County, was Uncle Vic McVey. Of course, I remember him well, he lived here with us until he died at the age of ninety-four. He was one of the men who followed floating those logs down the river, and then they would walk back from Huntington. They had places that they stayed on their way back. I don’t know how many days it took.
Now, my grandmother Hinchman was a Chambers, which is also one of the early settler families in this area. She was a schoolteacher. At that time, it was possible to teach school when you got through the eighth grade, you were given a certificate. All first teachers in the one room schools here were just graduates of the eight grade, because the high school at Man was not built until 1919 or 1920, and that’s all they had. Now some people taught after they finished the eighth grade, and then went on when it was possible. I have a cousin Lake Claypool–that’s another old family in this area for which Claypool is named–that she taught after she finished the eighth grade then she went on to Man and finished high school and then went to Morris Harvey. But all the older teachers were just eighth grade. There was a one room school down here at Claypool. There was a one room school up at Vance’s. There were several one room schools on Buffalo Creek. There was a one room school up–what’s that creek up Bruno called–Elk Creek. My grandmother was a teacher, but as I say, both died before I was ever born. Now then, this place was called Cyclone. This is where Cyclone was. My grandmother Hinchman kept the Cyclone Post Office here for forty years. After she passed away, my mother–she was a McVey–and she married my father, Walter Hinchman, in 1910, and came here. I had Aunt Rosa Hinchman, who had never married at that time, who helped her keep the post office. The mail was carried on horseback from Huntington and the West, came that way, and from Oceana, from that direction they carried it. The postmasters met here, and they ate dinner here every day. My mother–ever who all was here, and at that time, you never knew who might be there for dinner… But when this house was built, this part wasn’t part of it. The kitchen and the dining room were in separate buildings. Now, of course, in the south they had slaves and all, but I do recall their talking about on black man, by the name of Sam. I don’t remember much about him but that’s the only black person that they ever had here, you know, on the farm.
I do remember my granddad McVey quite well, and my great-grandfather came to Raleigh County with General Beckley and settled there. Then my mother’s grandfather was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. His name was Zirkle, which is the German word for circle. He ran away from home during the Civil War and joined the Confederate Army. After the war he came here and settled. He also lived with us until he was in his nineties. But my mothers’ mother, my grandmother McVey, died when my mother was only, maybe two years old, so I never knew any of my real grandparents except, you know, my granddad McVey.
Were you born here, at this house?
I was born here on March 22, 1919. My father passed away in February of 1920 when I was eleven months old. There were three of us Hinchman children: Woodrow, Paul, and I was the youngest, of course. I don’t remember my father, but Woodrow does. Then my mother married Pete Toler when I was twenty-three months old, a year after my father died. I remember his as my real father because he reared me. He worked this farm and I remember the first time I called him Daddy, now I don’t know how old I was.
There was a mine at Davin that was first called Forkner, and it was changed to the name of Davin after Hollow A. Davin, a prominent man in Logan who probably owned the mine, and that started in 1923. Then the post office was taken up the creek and then we had a post office at Davin. Then my dad ran a coal cutting machine. Men took those jobs by contract and they were paid for the number of cars that they cut. They could work as many hours as they wanted. The men who loaded the coal–they may have loaded themselves, I don’t know–they loaded the coal into wooden cars. Now, in order to get credit of the coal car that they had loaded they had a–what was it called? Well, it was a little round piece of metal with a number on it that they hung on that coal car. The coal was hauled out of the mine by mule or ponies. There was a tipple and everything there at Davin. Then the Clean Eagle mine went in later, I don’t remember when, but my dad worked there, and he also worked at Mallory. But when we were children, we never saw our dad until the weekend because he went to work before daylight, before we ever thought of getting up and he never came in until after we had gone to bed. That sort of thing kept up with miners until John L. Lewis, you see, organized the union.
Appalachia, Big Sandy River, Bragg Creek, Fort Gay, history, Horse Creek, Kenova, logging, Mingo County, Naugatuck, Ohio River, pushboats, rafting, steamboats, timber, timbering, Tom Brown, Tug Fork, Twelve Pole Creek, Wayne County, West Virginia
The following interview excerpt of Tom Brown (born c.1909) was conducted at Fort Gay in Wayne County, WV, on December 15, 1979.
It was probably hard to get around back then, to go to church.
Well the only way you could get around through this country was up and down creeks or on horseback or wagon. And roads were in the creek most of the way. And where they cut timber and logs they had tram roads built back in the heads of the hollows and they had tracks–they built their track out of 2″ X 4″s–and they hauled these logs or ties from the mills back to the heads of the hollows back to the railroads. And they logged out of the mountains and they ran lots of rafts down Tug River. I’ve see high as four to five. They started the rafts running in the spring. They run them out of Mingo County and generally a lot of them was set out in Naugatuck.
That’s how they got them, they used rafts and boats?
Yes, they used rafts. Logs. They’d put these logs together… Sometimes a raft would be maybe 200 or 300 feet long.
200 or 300 feet long?
Almost as wide as the river. The man would stay on that and they’d pull the men to, I guess, Kenova and the Ohio River down here. And they would log them through the winter. The spring waters came and they started down the rivers with the rafts. The river banks were all cut clean.
That’s what I was going to ask you about. They had to be cut clean, didn’t they?
Yes, they was all cut clean. But the rafts… Well they ran logs down Twelve Pole Creek to… Back then people used to put their logs in the creek when it would raise and run them plumb out down Twelve Pole to Kenova. Heads of these creeks… And sometimes I can remember Bragg Creek and Horse Creek… They was a sawmill. There was locks in at Saltpeter and they pushed just like water to Bragg Creek. I’d say along 1916-1917. And almost the travel was boats. It went down on a little showboat. It used to come up an old paddle wheel boat.
That was in about 1917?
About 1917, ’18, ’19, along that.
Could you get a ride on that showboat if you wanted to?
No, they just pulled in and parked and had a show every night, like the picture show, the movie picture show had.
How long did that showboat go up and down the river? How many years did that last?
Well, I don’t know. It would just come up every once in a while maybe, and just stopped at certain places maybe. Places you know at that time… That was about as far as it could get up. And then things was brought up on pushboat. They loaded ties and stuff like that. I remember them loading them on the boat at the river at the mouth of Horse Creek. It was about as far as boats could come up the river.
Appalachia, Bert Curry, Catlettsburg, coal, Cole and Crane Company, Delbarton, Elk Creek, Henry Ferrell, history, Holden, Island Creek, Island Creek Coal Company, Lando Mines, Lenore, logging, Louisa, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Pigeon Creek, rafting, Rock House, splash dams, timber, timbering, Trace Fork, Tug Fork, Wallace Curry, West Virginia
The following interview excerpt of Bert Curry (born c.1901) was conducted at Lenore in Mingo County, WV, on December 5, 1978.
How much money was around back then?
The first public works to come into the Pigeon Creek areas was when Cole and Crane come in to cut all of this virgin timber. All of Pigeon Creek. They built a splash dam at Delbarton, one on Elk Creek, and one on Rock House. They come in here in 1910 and they paid seventy-five cents a day and board for a man to work and he worked from daylight til dark and along later some of their best men, their team drivers… Team drivers had to work extra hours. They’d put them on by the month. I remember my brother-in-law got $35 a month, but he’d have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and then after supper he’d have to go out and clean the stable and curry his team and doctor ‘em, anything that had to be doctored and feed ‘em and bed ‘em down of the night.
Where did people get most of their income in those days?
If you had a job it was usually helping somebody cut timber. My first job was fifty cents a day carrying water for seventeen men and I was about twelve or thirteen years old.
Was that for loggers?
Well, these was loggers but my brother Wallace had a big field of corn. He had to grow corn to feed his cattle. He had six yokes of cattle and he used cattle in logging and he’d take a big flour barrel full of corn and them cattle would get around and he’d feed that corn to ‘em. They’d eat a barrel of corn each night and they’d let ‘em… Maybe a little fodder, or once in a while in bad weather they’d give ‘em a little hay. But them cattle, they worked ‘em six days a week haulin’ logs. They was trained to work and them six yokes of cattle was worth more than you could get for… You could buy a beef for $25 at that time but if you bought a good oxen that was broke you’d have to give about $50 for him.
What do you remember about the logging operations?
They was very primitive. They had nothin’ like a chain saw. They had a cross cut saw and they had axes and they had cane hooks and they had their teams of oxen and then some had teams of mules and horses. When Cole and Crane come in here they contracted all the cuttin’ of this timber. All the haulin’ it and puttin’ it into the creeks where the waters from the dams would take care of it. They had several contractors. They’d contract a whole boundary, maybe 500 or 1000 acres of timber to cut, and it was all virgin timber. It took six yoke of oxen or two to three big span of mules or horses to pull a tree. They didn’t cut it up into logs like they do now. They cut the whole tree and they didn’t take anything less than 16 inches up to the top. They’d be from 5 to 7 feet down where they cut them off and some of them would be 100 feet long and I’ve seen gorges of logs in Pigeon Creek they claimed had 5,000 trees in it. For a mile it’d be piled up bank to bank as high as they could pile. They’d work sometimes with all the teams they could get around them for three weeks a breaking one gorge. And when they got it to the Tug, they’d raft it. Sometimes they’d raft them and sometimes they would drift them down to the locks at Louisa before they’d raft them and they never went past there. They’d raft them there and then take tug boats and haul them from there to Cincinnati.
How did you raft them? I’m not familiar with that.
They had what you call chain dogs, a little chain about that long (indicates about 12 inches) with a spike on each end. They’d drive a spike in this log here and in this log (indicates two logs laying side by side) to hold it together, one at the front and one at the back, and they’d be oh maybe they’d be 50 feet wide and two or three hundred feet long, the rafts would. Maybe they’d have two or three rafts. One steamboat would be pullin’ maybe two or three rafts.
The logs wouldn’t drift apart?
They’d drive them spikes. Them spikes was about that long (indicating about six inches) and they’d drive them in there and it took a whole lot to pull ‘em out.
Did they work in the winter time, too?
Oh yes! I’ve seen fellers wade Pigeon Creek when they mush ice was a floatin’ and when they’d have to get back in the water to thaw before they could walk.
Was the creek deeper then or about like it is now?
It was more even. They had water all the time but they didn’t have as many severe floods as they have now because this was all covered with timbers, all of everything. See, this mulch in these forests held the water and let it leak out. It didn’t run off like it does now.
The water flow was more evened out this year around?
More evened out. But when they’d have a splash dam at Delbarton, one on Rockhouse up at Lando Mines and one in the head of Elk Creek, they’d time these. They’d know how long it took the water to run from Elk Creek, and they knowed how long it took the water to run from Rock House, and they knowed how long it took the water to meet. They’d try to have them all three come out at once so that they’d have a vast big sudden increase in water. You could look up the creek when they’d splash and you could see a wall floatin’ and a turnin’ in and everything.
And that was to wash the logs out?
Yes, well they washed them out to Tug River that way. That’s the way they got them out of Pigeon Creek.
Do you remember when Island Creek first came into the area?
No. Island Creek first come in about 1901. That was over there. They started when two young fellows come from New York in there looking for oil, to prospect for oil, so they could invest some money. And some old man had a mine open right where No. 1 Island Creek mine is and he was a haulin’ coal with a mule—a mule and a sled. He’d go back in there and he’d haul coal out—a big seam of coal six foot high and good and clean. So they decided that there was where they could make their money. So they got to talkin’ with these fellows and they went and got lawyers and they bought around Holden and Trace Fork and up Mud Fork and a vast area. I don’t know how much: 79,000 acres for 470,000 dollars. And fellows like Henry Ferrell, he counted timber so long. To count timber you have men a goin’ through and selecting the trees and one man a tallying. They’d make a mark on a tree when they’d count it, and the fellow with the tally sheet, he kept the numbers. He said they’d count timber a while and said then they had more money than they had brains. To spend that much money for that much land—470,000 dollars—and he said they put up a band mill and cut the timber and sold the timber and built their camps and sold enough lumber to pay for all of it. They got their coal and their land free. Just cut the timber and sold it and got their money back. People thought they were foolish for paying that kind of prices. Buying some of them farms out with all that timber for thousand dollars—that sounded like an awful lot of money. They didn’t have any money. They weren’t used to money. You worked for fifty cents a day. $1000 seemed like a whole lot.