Tom Dula: Ferguson, NC (2020)


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Reading Sharyn McCrumb’s masterpiece “The Ballad of Tom Dooley” sent us down to find historical sites in the vicinity of Ferguson in Wilkes County, NC. 7 January 2020. Most anyone will remember this 1958 mega-hit by the Kingston Trio:


Tom Dula (1845-1868), a Confederate veteran and fiddler, lived in Elkville, just above Ferguson, NC. Few sites remain from his time; most of the old buildings are gone. 7 January 2020. Here’s the first recording of “Tom Dooley” by Grayson and Whittier (1929):


Finding this sign in Ferguson meant that we were basically at Ground Zero. More discoveries to come! Photo by Mom. 7 January 2020. Here’s a personal favorite version of “Tom Dooley” by Frank Proffitt:

Armed March Trial (1923): Convicted Man Flees to Mexico


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the “Armed March” at Blair Mountain, dated February 2, 1923:

Allen Is Traced By Deputy E. Keadle To Mexico City

Walter Allen, convicted of treason at Charlestown on September 15, and sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary and who was released on bond of $15,000 with U.G. Young of Charleston as surety and who jumped his bond and fled from the state recently has been traced by Logan officers to Mexico City.

A capias was received here on December 20 for Allen, the capias being issued to C.W. Conrad, clerk of the circuit court of Jefferson County, when Allen failed to appear there on the date set. Deputy H.E. Keadle took the capias to Charleston and called at headquarters of the United Mine Workers, and attorneys for that organization professed their ignorance of his whereabouts and stated they would do all within their power to apprehend the fugitive.

However it was ascertained that Allen had been in Oklahoma City, Okla., and the officers there were requested by wire to arrest the fugitive but he had fled the city when they searched for him. Deputy Keadle then continued the search and the latest information received at the sheriff’s office here states that Allen is now known to be in Mexico City, Mexico.

Allen was convicted for his participation in the armed march of Logan in August and September, 1921. According to the evidence in the trial which lasted five weeks, he handled the finances and otherwise assumed direction of the armed march which was stopped at the border of Logan County where a battle between the invaders and the state forces raged over a battle line extending for 25 miles.

After his conviction his attorneys noted an appeal and stated the case would be carried to the supreme court. The time granted Allen for his appeal expired December 13, but the time expired without any record of an appeal being noted. When Allen failed to appear at Charlestown to begin his sentence a capias was issued for him and sent to Sheriff Chafin for execution and the hunt for the fugitive then began.

Due to the red tape connected with extradition proceedings, it is not yet known what steps will be taken by Logan authorities toward extraditing the fugitive.


For more information about Mr. Allen, go here:

Appalachian Heritage Day in Logan, WV (2019)


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Appalachian Heritage Day occurred on August 25, 2019 in Logan, WV. The event featured authors, scholars, guest speakers, information tables, a genealogy workshop, a writers’ workshop, numerous old-time and bluegrass music workshops, and an all-day concert. Special thanks to the Logan County Commission, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, the Hatfield-McCoy CVB, and the Southern Coalition for the Arts for sponsoring the event. For more information, follow this link to the event website:

Buddy Griffin with Bluegrass Music Workshop

Buddy Griffith, who helped develop the world’s first bluegrass music degree program at Glenville State College, hosted a bluegrass fiddle workshop. For more about this amazing artist, go here:


Sons of Confederate Veterans, Albert G. Jenkins Camp, were on hand to educate attendants about Southern history. For more about this group and its activities, go here:


The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum provided information about regional labor history. Dr. Charles Keeney (shown above), a history professor at Southern WV CTC, presented a lecture about heritage tourism. For more about the Mine Wars Museum, go here:


Craig Ferrell, past president of the Kanawha Chapter of the West Virginia Archaeological Society, demonstrates flintknapping for Vinny Mendez, a local relic hunter who showcased his collection of Civil War artifacts. Craig presented a lecture titled “The Art of Flintknapping and Stone Tool Replication.”

Early Schools of Logan County, WV (1916)


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From the Logan Democrat of Logan, WV, in a story titled “Schools and School Houses of Logan” and dated September 14, 1916, comes this bit of history about early education in Logan County, courtesy of G.T. Swain:

The hardest proposition encountered by the author in the preparation of this book was securing the following information relative to the early schools of Logan. We interviewed numbers of the older inhabitants, but owing to their faulty memories we were unable to obtain anything accurate. Nor were the county school officials able to give us any information regarding the schools of the early period. In making mention of this fact to Professor W.W. Hall of Stollings, who is District Superintendent of the free schools in Logan district, he graciously offered to secure as much information as he could from an old lady by the name of Sarah Dingess, who lives near his home. Thus, when we thought that we had exhausted every effort along this line, we were surprised and doubly appreciative of the efforts of Professor Hall, who secured for us the data from which the following article was compiled:

When the first settlers of Logan left the civilization of the East and came to the fertile Guyan Valley to carve homes for themselves and their children out of the forest, they brought with them a desire for schools for their offspring. One of the first pioneers of this valley, Peter Dingess, very early in the last century, erected a pole cabin upon the ruins of the Indian village on the Big Island, for a school house. That was the first school house erected within the limits of Logan county. In that house the children of The Islands (the first name of Logan) were taught “readin’, writin’ and spankin’.” After they ceased to use that house for school purposes, the people annoyed Mr. Dingess so much, wanting to live in the building, that he had his son, John, go out at night and burn it down. Thus the first school house for the children of Logan disappeared.

After the cabin on the Big Island ceased to be used for a school house, Lewis B. Lawson erected a round log house near the mouth of Dingess Run, where W.V. Vance now resides, for a school building. In that house George Bryant taught the children of Lawnsville (the name of Logan at that time) for a number of terms. A Mrs. Graves from Tennessee, wife of a Methodist circuit rider, also taught several terms there. Her work was of high order as a few of the older citizens yet attest.

A short time after Mr. Lawson built his school house at Dingess Run his brother, James, erected a school house on his land at the forks of Island Creek in the Old Fork Field, where J.W. Fisher now resides. The Rev. Totten, a famous and popular Southern Methodist circuit rider, taught the urchins of Aracoma (the name of Logan at that time) for several terms in the early ’50s of the last century.

After the passage of the Free School Act by the General Assembly of Virginia in 1846, the people of Aracoma and Dingess Run erected a boxed building for a school house by the Big Rock in the narrows above Bill Ellis’ hollow. The county paid the tuition of poor children in that school. Rev. Totten taught for several years in that house. He was teaching there when the Civil War began, when he discontinued his school, joined the Logan Wild Cats, marched away to Dixie, and never returned. Each of the last three named houses was washed away in the great flood in the year 1861.

When the Civil War was over and the soldiers had returned to their homes, they immediately set about to erect a school house. They built a hewn log house on the lower side of Bill Ellis’ hollow. That was the first free school building erected within the present limits of the city of Logan. In that house one-armed Jim Sidebottom wielded the rod and taught the three R’s. He was strict and a good teacher in his day. That house served as an institution of learning till in 1883 the Board of Education bought about an acre on the hill where the brick school houses now stand from Hickman White. A few years later additional land was bought of John B. Floyd in order to get a haul road from Coal street opposite the residence of Joe Perry’s to the school building. The old frame building was erected on the hill in 1883, and it furnished ample room for the children for more than two decades.

After the completion of the Guyan railroad to Logan the phenomenal growth of the city began. The growth of its educational facilities has kept pace with its material progress. In 1907 a brick building of four more rooms was added. Then they thought they would never need any more room. In 1911 they built a two story frame school house. In 1914 the magnificent new High school building was erected. Today, nineteen teachers are employed in the city, and within the next few years several more teachers must be employed, while the buildings are already taxed to their capacity.

In the year 1911 the Board of Education employed W.W. Hall as district supervisor. He asked for the establishment of a high school, and the citizens strongly endorsed his recommendation. The high school was established and Mr. Hall went at his own expense to the state university at Morgantown to find a principal for the high school. He secured F.O. Woerner, and the school was organized in 1911, on August 28. The next year Miss Maude Smartwood of Cleveland, Ohio, was added to the high school teaching force. In 1913 J.A. McCauley died from typhoid fever before the school closed, and George EM. Ford was employed to finish the term. In 1914 the school offered for the first time a standard four-year high school course and was classified by the state authorities as a first class high school. Today it is regarded as one of the best high schools in the state. It has more than one hundred pupils enrolled and employs seven regular high school teachers. It has a better equipped domestic science department than any other high school in West Virginia. When the high school was organized in 1911, there were only seven pupils in eighth grade in the city school. These seven were taken and pitched bodily into the high school. Of that first class, Fred Kellerman, Leland Hall, Roscoe Hinchman, Leon Smith, Kate and Beatrice Taylor continued in school until they were graduated June 2, 1915.

The first common school diploma examination ever held in Logan county was conducted by Supt. Hall as the close of his first year’s work at the head of the Logan District schools. He also conducted the first common school graduation exercises ever held in the county, in the old Southern Methodist church, on May 28, 1912.

Logan is indeed proud of her schools, and the efforts made by the faculty and school officials toward the training and educational development of young America meets with the hearty approval and commendation of all citizens.

Those in charge of the county schools are: Lon E. Browning, county superintendent; W.W. Hall, Logan district supervisor; the Logan district board of education is composed of J.L. Curry, president; and J.L. Chambers and L.G. Burns, commissioners. Chas. Avis is secretary of the board.

The faculty consists of F.O. Woerner, Principal of the Logan High School and instructor in mathematics; Joel Lee Jones, languages; Minnie Cobb, science; Isabella Wilson, cooking and sewing; Maud Ryder, commercial subjects; Jennie Mitchell, history and civics, and Mrs. R.E. Petty, music.

Lucile Bradshaw, English, literature, and mathematics; Florence Hughes, geography, history, and physiology, of the sixth and seventh grades departmental.

The following are the teachers in the grades: G.O. Nelson, Principal; Athelyn Hatfield, Pearl Staats, Brooke McComas, Lillian Halstead, Elma Allen, Lettie Halstead, Pearl Hundley, Kittie Virginia Cleavinger and Bertha Allen.

Jewish History for Logan, WV (1923)


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From a Logan Banner story dated May 11, 1923 comes this bit of history about Jewish activity in Logan, WV.

Dr. Feinstein Gives Talk to Society

Dr. Abraham Feinstein, of Huntington, addressing the Hebrew Sisterhood of Logan county Wednesday evening, spoke zealously for the establishment of a Jewish synagogue in Logan.

Dr. Feinstein told the gathering that there was one idea uppermost in his mind, which he wanted to submit. And that idea was the establishment of a place of worship and meeting for the Jews of Logan.

This suggestion had a far more deeper significance than was apparent on the surface, the audience was told, because it was the small part of the greatest problem that the Jews of America face today.

And this problem, as Dr. Feinstein pointed out, is “the reclamation of Jews to Judaism. And this can be done only through the mediums of education. Study the history of your people and your race. Jews are Jews merely by accident; understanding Jews study their religion, so that they might know why they are Jews. Familiarize yourself with the prophets, be square-shouldered Jews, proud and happy in being a Jew.

“It isn’t anti-semitism, the K.K.K., Henry Ford with his smug ideas of patriotism, nor Lowell asking for the expulsion of the Jews from American universities, nor the Zionist movement that is your problem. Your problem is education. See to it that this problem is solved and you will have contributed richly to the Jewish life in your city.”

Dr. Feinstein pointed out that in New York, where the largest number of Jewish citizens in the world reside, that seventy-five percent of the children have never received any kind of Jewish education whatsoever. “The more we are attacked and denounced the more schools and synagogues we should build,” he said.

“The greatest enemy of the Jews is the Jew who goes out, ignorant of things Jewish,” Dr. Feinstein said.

These words were quoted from an address of a Philadelphia Rabbi by the speaker: “I am not particularly pleased when I hear of a Jew becoming a great scientist, for Judaism is not a school of science. I am not pleased when a Jew becomes a great actor, a great inventor, a great lawyer, pugilist, statesman, but I exalt and rejoice when a true altruistic man becomes a Jew.”

The order of the meeting follows:

Opening prayer–Dr. Feinstein.

Piano and violin–Mrs. Dave Fried and Mrs. Brown.

Piano Solo–Mrs. S. Michaelson.

Voice–Miss Mellman of Charleston.

NOTE: One excellent source for regional Jewish history is Deborah R. Weiner’s Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History (2006).

Appalachian Heritage Day in Logan, WV (2019)


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Appalachian Heritage Day occurred on August 25, 2019 in Logan, WV. The event featured authors, scholars, guest speakers, information tables, a genealogy workshop, a writers’ workshop, numerous old-time and bluegrass music workshops, and an all-day concert. Special thanks to the Logan County Commission, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, the Hatfield-McCoy CVB, and the Southern Coalition for the Arts for sponsoring the event. For more information, follow this link to the event website:


Authors Carter Taylor Seaton, Laura Treacy Bentley, and M. Lynne Squires offered their amazing books for sale, hosted meet-and-greet sessions at author tables, and presented about Appalachian topics. Each of these ladies has a website providing information about their biographies and books; for more info, give them a Google!

Cooney Ricketts UDC Group

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Cooney Ricketts Chapter, were featured at Appalachian Heritage Day. This wonderful group of ladies offered history about Confederate soldiers and women on the home front. For more about this group, go here:

Bobby Taylor in Old-Time Fiddle Workshop

Master fiddler Bobby Taylor hosted an old-time fiddle workshop. Bobby is the 2010 Vandalia Award winner. For more about Bobby, go here:

Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club

The Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club made plenty of unforgettable music at Appalachian Heritage Day. For more about them, go here:

Armed March Trial (1923)


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this story about the trial that resulted from the “armed march” on Logan County, WV, by UMWA miners:

Widow Is Introduced At The Blizzard Trial

LEWISBURG, W.Va., June 27 — Two word pictures, one from the lips of the widow of George Munsy, coal digger who “never came back” from guarding his county, the other from one of the party that met and killed the outpost on the mountain side, lay tonight before 12 men who are to determine whether Sub-District President William Blizzard, of the miners’ union, was an accessory to the murder of Munsy.

Before these word pictures the jurors had heard counsel on both sides outline the story of the labor trouble of Southern West Virginia coal fields, the march of thousands against the Logan border, the interruption of that march after a brigadier general of the United States Army had intervened a midnight clash between miners and deputy sheriffs and state police, resumption of the march, fighting on the mountain ridges that separated the non-union Logan coal fields from the then union fields on Coal River, the meeting of 30 or 40 marchers with Deputy Sheriff John C. Gore, of Logan county, and two companions one of whom was Munsey, the volley of shots that answered the Logan pass-word, “amen,” and a wealth of detail about the march presented from point of view of both prosecution and defense.

Review Blair Battle

All the morning was spent in the opening of the attorneys, A.M. Belcher and C.W. Osenton, for the prosecution, and H.W. Houston and T.C. Townsend, for the defense. Then in the afternoon the jurors turned their attention to the witness box. First they saw W.B. Mullens point out the battle line and the points of interest in the march on a map that was tacked to the courthouse wall above the witness stand. Next Velesco Carpenter, facing an inexhaustible stream of questions in direct and cross-examinations told how he had gone from his home in Nellis to Blair, how in a party of about 35 he marched up Blair mountain, spent the night, and early the next morning set out and from his place in line watched the meeting with three men, one of whom he learned was Gore, heard the shots and saw the bodies after they had fallen. Then just before court adjourned Mrs. Munsy took the stand for her brief examination so that she might return tomorrow to her seven children in her home on Dingess Run Creek in Logan county.

Widow on Stand

“The night before he was killed was his time to come home but he never came,” Mrs. Munsy testified that her husband had been digging coal for about fifteen years before his death and that they had been married about 20 years. He had been “guarding for about a week, working for Logan county, for the coal operators,” she went on, but later when Mr. Houston cross-examined her on that statement her formerly quiet tone rose to the ringing declaration “he was defending his county.”

Carpenter did not know who fired the shots that killed Gore, Munsy and James Cafalgo. When the shooting began he ran back a few steps and dropped to the ground, he said. After it was over he went to a point near the body of “the foreigner,” and saw that of Gore, but could not see the third body. Edgar Combs told him he had killed the one Carpenter had designated as “the large man in the middle,” and later told another of the party this man was Gore.

He left Nellis, where he was employed as a pump man, on August 29, 1921, he said, after a man had come to the mines and threatened to “knock off” the “yellow” men who did not go. A journey on foot and by rail took about 30 in his party to Ottawa, and there Edgar Combs picked him and three others he named to go to Blair. The next day from the schoolhouse steps in Blair, he said, Rev. J.E. Wilburn made a speech and a party was organized that went into the hills. Some threw down their guns and refused to go but threats were made, and the men were lined up in single file, with leaders for squads of eight men. The original party of 50 or 60 divided, and the group of about 35, in which he went, camped on the top of the mountain until daybreak. They heard firing in the direction of the “gap,” through which previous testimony had shown the road from Blair to Logan ran and set out in that direction.

Then he told of the meeting with the “large man” and his two companions, and by pre-arranged signal the leader lifted his hat three times to indicate there was no danger. The large man beckoned to them to come on, and when the parties met there were mutual demands for the password. The shots were fired, Carpenter testified, when somebody said “amen,” and in the opening statements prosecution counsel had told the jury that it would be shown that “amen” was the Logan password. Wilburn, the preacher, was in the lead of the marchers column, and Combs next behind him, the witness said.

Civil War in the Kanawha Valley: Buffalo Academy (2019)


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Terry Lowry is THE authority on the Civil War in the Kanawha Valley. Stop 11 on his tour: Buffalo Academy in Buffalo, WV. 29 September 2019. Here is a link to Terry’s latest book, The Battle of Charleston (2016):


Buffalo Presbyterian Church, located near Buffalo Academy (1857). 29 September 2019


Buffalo Presbyterian Church, located near Buffalo Academy. 29 September 2019


The tour concludes! 29 September 2019

Chapmanville News 11.23.1923


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A correspondent named “Old Man Grump” from Chapmanville in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following news, which the Logan Banner printed on November 23, 1923:

Last week was a sad week on account of the death of Dr. Turner and we failed to write. We all are much grieved over his death.

Rev. Chambers conducted a two weeks service and had quite a few joiners and several were baptized Sunday. Rev. Chambers left Sunday afternoon for Lexington, Ky.

Mr. Cecil Ward left Monday for Charleston where he will spend his vacation. Wish you a happy time, Cecil.

The Young People’s Epworth League are doing great work and the young and old people seem to be interested in it. We hope they still hold out for I am sure it will be a great help to all the young people.

Mr. Opie Robertson spent Sunday in Chapmansville with his mother, Mrs. A.K. Bowling.

We have seen in the papers so much about Hazel Maud, Hazel E. McCloud, but we haven’t never been able to find out which is Hazel M. and Hazel E. but we see them quite often.

Ima Nutt, we sure are glad you come to our little town, but we would be pleased if you would let yourself be known and not be so bashful. Now don’t get mad as we are just joking.

Mr. Donald Stone left Monday for Charleston for an extended visit. We haven’t been able to find out how long.

Mr. Basil Robertson spent Sunday with his mother of this place.

Seems like some of the girls like to quarrel on their way home from church, don’t they Hazel?

Mr. Victor Toney and Miss Bennie Robertson were seen out walking Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Floyd Barker spent Saturday in Chapmansville with friends. Mr. Barker is here from the army on a three [day?] vacation, then he will return and stay another year.

Mr. Code Tabor of Logan was visiting in Chapmansville Saturday.

Roscoe Turner, a brother of Dr. Turner, from New York, attended the funeral of his brother last week.

Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Ferrell of Huntington spent last week here with Mrs. Ferrell’s sister, Mrs. Turner.

Mr. and Mrs. King of Hinton attended the burial of Dr. Turner. Mrs. King is a sister of Dr. Turner.

Mrs. William Turner, mother of the late Dr. Turner, and his sister, Mrs. Mankins of Washington, D.C., attended the burial services.

Mrs. Subinia Ward was calling on Mr. and Mrs. B.B. Ward Sunday.

Mr. Wayne Brown and Miss Harriet Hill were seen out walking Sunday evening.

Miss Eva Barker and Mr. Wilkie were seen out car riding Sunday.