After a few hours of digesting this material, I met Brandon Kirk in the hall near the copier. Brandon, a neatly groomed young man wearing a tie, was freighted down with satchels. We introduced ourselves and were soon in the study room where Brandon started fishing through his bags and pulling out letters, notebooks, folders and photo albums. Within a few minutes, the table was covered. It was as if someone had walked up with a giant garbage bag full of papers and dumped it all out in front of me.
One of the first things Brandon showed me was a small account of Milt Haley’s murder titled “The Brumfield-McCoy Feud”, which was originally published in a 1926 edition of Lambert’s Llorrac.
The Brumfield-McCoy Feud took place in the month of September, about 1888, some three miles up Hart’s Creek. Hollena Brumfield and her husband, Allen Brumfield, had been visiting Henderson Dingess, father of Mrs. Brumfield, one Sunday and were about two miles below Mr. Dingess’ on their way home. Green McCoy and Milt Haley laid in wait for them. Mr. and Mrs. Brumfield were riding down the creek, Mrs. Brumfield being on the same horse behind her husband. McCoy and Haley began shooting at them, one bullet striking Mr. Brumfield in the arm, and the other tearing away a portion of Mrs. Brumfield’s face, disfiguring her for life. Mr. Brumfield jumped from his horse and ran, and in that way escaped further injury. McCoy afterwards told that they were bribed by John Runyons with a barrel of flour and a side of bacon to McCoy, and twenty-five dollars in money to [Haley]. The murderers escaped into Kentucky but were captured a little later and brought back. Allen Brumfield supplemented the reward offered by the state with one of his own.
It seems the cause of the trouble was bad feeling between John Runyons and Al Brumfield. Runyons had a store and saloon at the mouth of Hart’s Creek. Brumfield had a store on Guyan River about a fourth of a mile below Hart, on the south side of the Guyan and sold whiskey on a houseboat. John Dingess [Mrs. Brumfield’s brother] was a bartender.
McCoy and Haley were brought back and kept over night at the house of George Fry. The next morning a number of men, presumably Brumfield’s friends came in, and the two prisoners were shot and killed.
Along with the above article was another version of “The Lincoln County Crew”, which gave George (and not Tom) Ferrell as the author.
Come all young men and ladies, come fathers, mothers, too;
I’ll relate to you the history of the Lincoln County crew.
Concerning bloody rows, and many a thieving deed,
Dear friend, pray lend attention to these few lines I say.
It was in the month of August all on a very fine day;
Allen Brumfield he got wounded they say by Milt Haley.
But Brumfield couldn’t believe it, nor hardly thought it so;
He said it was McCoy who shot that fatal blow.
They shot and killed Boney Lucas, a sober and innocent man,
And left his wife and children, to do the best they can.
They wounded Rufus Stowers, although his life was saved;
And he seemed to shun the grog shop, since he stood so near his grave.
Allen Brumfield he recovered, some weeks and months had past;
It was at the house of George Fry, these men they met at last.
Green McCoy and Milt Haley, about the yard did walk;
They seemed to be uneasy and no one wished to talk.
And then they went into the house, and sat down by the fire,
And little did they think, dear friends, they had met their final hour.
The sting of death was near them, _________________________
A few words passed between them concerning a row before.
The people some got frightened, began to rush out of the room;
When a ball from some one’s pistol laid the prisoners in the tomb.
Their friends then gathered ’round them, their wives to weep and wail;
Tom Ferrell was arrested, and soon confined to jail.
The butchers talked of lynching him, but that was all the fear;
And when the day of trial came, Tom Ferrell he came clear.
And then poor Paris Brumfield, relation to the rest,
He got three balls shot through him, they went straight through his breast.
The death of these few men have caused great trouble in our land;
Men to leave their wives and children to do the best they can.
Lincoln County’s still at war, they never, never cease;
Oh, could I only, only see my land once more in peace.
I composed this as a warning, a warning to all men;
Your pistols will cause trouble, on that you may depend.
In the bottom of the whiskey glass, the lurking devil dwells;
It burns the hearts of those who drink, and sends their soul to hell.