Appalachia, Battle of Blair Mountain, Blair Mountain, Charles L. Estep, Chauncey, Edgar Combs, history, Litz-Smith Coal Company, Logan County, Simp Thompson, United Mine Workers of America, West Virginia
Appalachia, Battle of Blair Mountain, Blair Mountain, Charleston, crime, deputy sheriff, Edgar Combs, Ephraim Morgan, genealogy, governor, Harold Houston, history, Howard Gore, Huntington, J.E. Wilburn, John Gore, John Wilburn, labor, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Moundsville, prosecuting attorney, United Mine Workers of America, West Virginia, West Virginia Federation of Labor, Wheeling Metal and Manufacturing Company
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, in a story dated August 14, 1925, comes this bit of history relating to the “armed march” on Logan and Mingo counties in 1921:
FEDERATION ASKS PARDON FOR MAN WHO KILLED GORE
The West Virginia Federation of Labor has been holding its annual convention in Huntington during the past week.
On Tuesday morning the convention unanimously passed a resolution calling upon Governor Howard M. Gore to pardon or parole Edgar Combs who is serving a sentence imposed in connection with the murder of John Gore who was killed on Blair mountain when the “Red Necks” made their famous “armed march” in an attempt to invade Logan and unionize this field.
The resolution was presented Monday by Attorney Harold Houston, of Charleston, counsel for the United Mine Workers in District 17.
The resolution was as follows:
“Whereas Edgar Combs is now confined in the state penitentiary at Moundsville serving a life sentence imposed by the circuit court of Logan county for the alleged murder of John Gore, killed on Blair mountain during a clash between members of the ‘armed march’ of 1921 and a posse of Logan county; and
“Whereas he is now the only person serving in the penitentiary for an offence connected with said uprising, the Rev. J.E. Wilburn and John Wilburn, his son, having turned so-called ‘state’s evidence’ and been pardoned by Governor Ephraim H. Morgan, the said pardon to take effect early in the year 1926; and
“Whereas all of the many hundreds of prosecutions growing out of said trouble have been dismissed and abandoned by the prosecuting attorney of Logan county; and
“Whereas Edgar Combs has a wife and five infant children dependent upon him for maintenance and support, his wife at the present time working for the Wheeling Metal and Manufacturing company in an effort to keep her family together.
“Therefore, be it resolved by the eighteenth annual convention of the West Virginia Federation of Labor assembled at the city of Huntington W.Va. that we earnestly petition the Honorable Howard M. Gore, Governor of West Virginia, to grant and extend executive clemency to Edgar Combs, and either pardon or parole him for said alleged offense.
“And be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution be immediately forwarded to Governor Gore for its consideration.”
On February 17, 1922, the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, offered this little tale relating to the Armed March, or the Battle of Blair Mountain as it is mostly known now:
JAIL PARLOR IS SCENE OF HAPPY WEDDING FEB. 15
Miss Lacie Kirk, of Peach Creek, Becomes Bride of Jack Brinkham, of Charleston
That little goddess of love called Cupid simply will not be downed. Blows below the belt, solar-plexus blows and all others fail to knock the little fellow out and he remains constantly on the job. Obstacles are nothing in his life and no obstruction is so great as to be insurmountable by him. Cupid had shot his darts into the heart of Jack Brinkman, pianist for the Hippodrome Theatre of Charleston and also into the heart of Miss Lacie Kirk of Peach Creek some months ago and the wounds were to be healed on January 22, when they expected to appear before a minister and have the injury cured via the matrimonial route but Fate struck Cupid a blow that all but put the little fellow out for the count.
On the evening preceding the intended wedding, Capt. Lilly of the state police arrived in Charleston, and in his pocket he carried a warrant for the arrest of Brinkman, charging him with being a member of the armed band who marched on Logan county last August. Capt. Lilly executed the warrant and brought Brinkman to Logan and lodged him in the county jail, where he lingered until Wednesday of this week when he obtained bail.
In the meantime the wound in the heart of Miss Kirk had refused to heal and cupid kept alive the spark of love kindled in her breast in days gone by. She bided the time and with womanly patience and fidelity she counted the days until her intended husband should gain his freedom.
Brinkman was busy Wednesday making preparations for the ceremony and the parlor of the Jailor’s residence was obtained and the nuptial knot tied there. Mr. Wm. Chafin of Williamson was present and played for the wedding ceremony and many relatives and friends of the couple were present to witness the happy event, which was a very elaborate affair. The happy couple left the residence amid the congratulations and best wishes of those present and the day proved doubly happy to them in that the husband had again obtained liberty and likewise a lovely bride.
Appalachia, Battle of Blair Mountain, Blair Mountain, C.W. Conrad, Charles Town, Charleston, circuit clerk, crime, deputy sheriff, Don Chafin, H.E. Keadle, history, Jefferson County, Logan Banner, Logan County, Mexico City, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, sheriff, U.G. Young, United Mine Workers of America, Walter Allen, West Virginia
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: https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/205
A.M. Belcher, Appalachia, Battle of Blair Mountain, Bill Blizzard, Blair Mountain, Boone County, C.W. Osenton, coal, Coal River, crime, deputy sheriff, Dingess Run, Edgar Combs, George Muncy, H.W. Houston, history, J.E. Wilburn, James Cafalgo, John Gore, Lewisburg, Logan Banner, Logan County, Nellis, Ottawa, T.C. Townsend, United Mine Workers of America, Velesco Carpenter, W.B. Mullens
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this story dated June 29, 1923 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.
A.C. Rouse, A.R. Browning, Appalachia, Battle of Blair Mountain, Bill Blizzard, Blair Mountain, Charleston, crime, deputy sheriff, District No. 17, Don Chafin, Ferndale, Frank Keeney, George Munsy, H.M. Miller, history, Hubert Ferrell, J.E. Wilburn, J.L. Workman, John Gore, Lens Creek, Logan, Logan Banner, Madison, Marmet, merchant, Mine Wars, Mother Jones, Savoy Holt, sheriff, T.C. Townsend, United Mine Workers of America, Warren G. Harding, West Virginia
Here is one article from the Logan Banner relating to Bill Blizzard and the Armed March on Logan County, WV, popularly remembered today as the Battle of Blair Mountain:
Blizzard Gloated at Gore’s Death, Said
“That’s fine! What’s the matter you haven’t killed any others?” William Blizzard, mine workers’ officer, was quoted as saying after he heard of the death of Deputy Sheriff John Gore and two companions at the hands of a party of union miners, according to testimony Monday at Blizzard’s trial upon an accessory to murder indictment growing out of the armed march against Logan county in 1921. Blizzard is charged with having participated in the plans that caused the death of George Munsy, one of the Logan defenders killed with Gore.
Hubert Ferrell, of Ferndale, the witness who quoted Blizzard’s words, declared the mine workers’ office made the statement in a speech to the armed miners gathered at Blair on the afternoon of the day after they had returned from Blair mountain where the Logan “defenders” were killed.
“It don’t seem like it would take any more nerve to kill Don Chafin (Logan county sheriff) and his thugs than it would a sheep-killing dog,” Ferrell testified Blizzard continued in his speech. “Right tomorrow I want you to fix up to go over the top. It don’t matter about losing a few men. I want you to go over to Logan and let the men out of jail and tear the thing down to the ground.”
Under cross-examination Ferrell added that Blizzard had told the men he wanted them to eat dinner the next day “on the jail house step.”
Ferrell, according to his testimony, failed in his first effort to visit the men who participated in the armed march when he was stopped by guards at the mouth of Lens Creek where the marchers first assembled. He denied that he had ever desired to join the march and said he went there only to see if there were any men there whom he knew. T.C. Townsend, one of the defense attorneys, cross-examined Ferrell vigorously upon that point. The witness said he was on his way to Charleston to buy clothing at the time. Later he said he went to Blair intending to go on to Logan and visit his half-brother, but was prevented by the armed men in Blair from either going on or returning and eventually returned home on a special train after federal troops took charge of the situation.
While he was at Marmet at the mouth of Lens Creek and unable to go farther up the creek because he could not give the guards the password and did not belong to a union, Ferrell said Fred Mooney, secretary treasurer of District No. 17, United Mine Workers, and a man who was said to be C. Frank Keeney, the district president, were there in an automobile. Mooney, the young man told the jury, asked the guards if any guns and ammunition had arrived and on being told he had none informed them that two truck loads had left Charleston. The man pointed out as Keeney told the men he did not believe they were sufficiently prepared and that they would do better to go home, “get prepared and then go over and get Don Chafin and his thugs.”
On the day before Gore and Munsy were killed, Ferrell said Blizzard also made a speech from the porch of the school house that served as base for the armed forces on the union side at the mountain and asked what was the matter that they were not having more success and told them they ought to go over and “get Chafin and the thugs and get it over with.”
Mrs. J.E. Wilburn, wife of the miner-preacher who was one of the principal witnesses for the state now serving a sentence of 12 years for his part in the killings on Blair mountain, testified that guns and ammunition were stored in the parlor of their home. She did not know Blizzard, she said, but men who took the arms into the house said Blizzard had brought them, she testified.
A.R. Browning, a merchant at Blair, told the court that members of the armed forces there got merchandise at his store and told him to charge it to the United Mine Workers of America. The things they got, he said, included shoes, overalls, and other clothing and also some women’s clothing, which he thought, they got for their wives and daughters.
H.M. Miller, a constable at Madison, said that just before Keeney made a speech at the ball park near there which he counselled the marchers to return to their homes, he had a conversation with the union president in which Keeney said that “if the federal troops would keep out he would take these men and go through Logan with them.”
Earlier in the day, J.L. Workman and A.C. Rouse of Marmet had testified as to the occurrence during the assembling of the men on Lens Creek. Workman told of “Mother” Jones’ efforts to get the men to go back to their homes and her declaration that she had a telegram from the President of the United States, which he said Keeney called a “fake.” Later that day both Workman and Rouse said Savoy Holt in a speech from the running board of an automobile said the union officials were their but could not address the men and that he had been instructed to tell them that the telegram was not genuine and that they were to “go on.” Rouse said Keeney and Mooney were in this automobile and that Blizzard was in another nearby. A man he did not know spoke from the running board of the automobile in which Blizzard was riding, telling the men to go on, and Blizzard’s car drove up Lens Creek followed by the armed hordes.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 6 July 1923
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