Appalachia, Big Ugly Creek, Burbus Toney, Clearing Branch, genealogy, history, James Ferrell, justice of the peace, Lincoln County, Logan County, Nancy Toney, Spencer A. Mullins, Squire Toney, Virginia, West Virginia
Adam Lambert, Andrew D. Robinson, Appalachia, B.C. Curry, Big Ugly Creek, Boone County, Burbus Toney, Charles Spurlock, constable, Edley Elkins, education, Fourteen Mile Creek, genealogy, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek, Harts Creek District, Henry H. Hardesty, Hezekiah Adkins, history, Isaac Elkins, James White, Jefferson District, Jeremiah Lambert, Jesse Gartin, John Fry, John H. Brumfield, John Lucas, justice of the peace, Kiahs Creek, Laurel Hill District, Lewis Queen, Lincoln County, Little Harts Creek, Little Ugly Creek, Logan County, Methodist, miller, Rhoda Elkins, Richard Adkins, Richard Elkins, Sarah Elkins, Squire Toney, timber, timbering, Wayne County, West Virginia, William Lucas, William West
From “Hardesty’s History of Lincoln County, West Virginia,” published by H.H. Hardesty, we find this entry for Harts Creek District in Lincoln County, West Virginia:
This is the most southern subdivision of the county. It derives its name from Harts creek, a tributary of the Guyandotte river. On the north is Laurel Hill district, on the northeast is Jefferson, east Boone county, on the south Logan, and on the west Wayne. Guyandotte river flows northwest and divides the district into two nearly equal parts. There are several small streams, among which are Little and Big Harts creeks, Little and Big Ugly creeks, Kiahs creek, and Fourteen Mile creek.
The first settler was Richard Elkins, who reared his cabin in the month of September, 1807. Here he removed his family, and here Charles Spurlock became his first neighbor. Other early settlers were: Esquire Toney, John Lucas, Edley Elkins, John Fry, Hezekiah Adkins, John Brumfield, and Richard Adkins. Rhoda, a daughter of Edley and Sarah Elkins, was the first white child born in the district. The first grist mill was built by James White about the year 1821. It was a small tub-wheel mill, water being the propelling power. Isaac Elkins built the first saw mill in 1847 or 1848. It was constructed on the old sash-saw plan, and had a capacity for cutting from 800 to 1,000 feet per day.
The first school was taught in a log cabin one mile above the mouth of Big Harts creek about the year 1832, but who the teacher was cannot now be ascertained. The date, however, is remembered by an old resident, because it was the year in which he first visited this section. The first house for educational purposes was built near the mouth of Big Harts creek in 1834. It was a five-cornered building, one side being occupied by the ever-present huge fire place. There are now ten public school houses in the district, “some of which,” says an informant, “are in bad condition, but will soon be replaced by frames;” 334 boys and girls attend school in this district.
The first sermon was preached here in the year 1823 by a Methodist minister named William West, and here the same year he gathered a little church, one of the first ever formed in the valley of the Guyandotte river; but of its history or who composed its membership, nothing is known. When the writer asked of an old settler the question: “Who were the first members?” his reply was: “The register is gone, and no one living can tell.” When asked who organized the first Sabbath school, he replied: “There never was one in the district.”
The first township officers were as follows: Supervisor, Burbus Toney; justice of the peace, Jeremiah Lambert; constable, Jesse Gartin; clerk, Andrew Robinson; treasurer, B.C. Curry; school commissioners, Adam Lambert, William Lucas, and Lewis Queen. According to the census of 1880, the population was 1,116.
Source: The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Vol. 7 (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 106-107.
NOTE: I descend from Richard Elkins, John Fry, John H. Brumfield, and Jeremiah Lambert.
Admiral S. Fry, Burbus Toney, C. Brumfield, Erastus Kelly Steele, Ferrellsburg, Fry, George W. Ferrell, Green Shoal, Green Shoal Post Office, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek District, James H. McComas, Lincoln County, Logan County, postmaster, Route 10, Toney, Virginia, West Virginia
Green Shoal Creek is a tributary of the Guyandotte River located in Harts Creek District of Lincoln County, West Virginia. Prior to 1863, the stream was located in Virginia, and prior to 1869, it was located in Logan County. Today, it is situated on Route 10 between the communities of Ferrellsburg and Toney. Prior to the Civil War, Green Shoal was a sort of community hub for the Harts Creek area. Green Shoal had the first post office located in the Harts area.
Green Shoal Post Office was established on January 4, 1855. It was discontinued on July 9, 1866. Burbus C. Toney, son of Squire and Nancy (Brown) Toney, was postmaster from 1855 to 1866.
Green Shoal Post Office was re-established on November 25, 1873. Admiral S. Fry, a Confederate veteran and merchant, served as postmaster until November 1, 1878. Kale Steele served as postmaster until November 17, 1879. The post office was discontinued on November 17, 1879.
Greenshoal Post Office was established on December 20, 1899. James H. McComas served as postmaster until April 5, 1901. According to one period newspaper account, C. Brumfield replaced McComas on April 2, 1901. Official records cite McComas as postmaster until December 22, 1902. George W. Ferrell, adopted son of local merchants, served as postmaster from December 22, 1902 until December 27, 1904. At this latter date, the post office was discontinued to Ferrellsburg.
In the twentieth century, the Green Shoal area was called “Fry.”
Abijah Workman, Abner Vance, Arnold Perry, Big Ugly Creek, Buck Fork, Burbus Toney, Charles Spurlock, Edmund Toney, Elias Adkins, genealogy, George Spears, Green Shoal, Guy Dingess, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek, Harvey Elkins, Henderson Branch, Henry Conley, history, Hoover Fork, Isaac Adkins, Jacob Stollings, James White Jr., John Fry, John Gore, John H. Brumfield, John Rowe, John Workman, Joseph Adams, Joseph Fry, Joshua Butcher, Kiahs Creek, Levi Collins, Lorenzo Dow Hill, Marsh Fork, Mekin Vance, Moses Brown, Moses Workman, Obediah Workman, Patton Thompson, Peter Dingess, Peter Mullins, Price Lucas, Ralph Lucas, Richard Elkins, Richard Vance, Robert Hensley, Rockhouse Fork, Samuel Lambert, Smokehouse Fork, Squire Toney, Trace Fork, William Dalton, William Wirt Brumfield
Listed below are land grants and early deeds citing the Harts Creek and Big Ugly Creek areas of what was then Logan and Cabell counties, Virginia. The list will be updated and improved periodically.
1812 Squire Toney 100 acres 1 1/2 poles from A.W. grave
1813 Jacob Stollings 185 acres Harts Creek, mouth
1814 Henry Conley N/A Hearts Creek
1815 George Spears 300 acres Guyan River at upper end of William Brumfield’s line
1817 Edmund Toney 40 acres Guyan River near Harts Creek
1819 William Brumfield 75 acres Below Big Ugly on Guyan River
1819 William Brumfield 75 acres Waters Guyandotte
1821 Charles Spurlock N/A mouth of Harts Creek
1824 Jacob Stollings 50 acres N/A
1824 Peter Dingess 170 acres Harts Creek
1827 John Goare N/A Marsh Fork
1828 Elias Adkins N/A Waters Guyandotte
1828 Richard Elkins 18 acres Harts Creek
1828 John Fry N/A Green Shoal Creek
1833 Isaac & Elias Adkins N/A Mouth of Harts Creek from Richard Elkins
1834 Henry Conley N/A Harts Creek
1834 Abner Vance, Jr. N/A Harts Creek
1834 Richard Vance N/A Smokehouse
1835 Isaac Adkins N/A Waters Guyandotte
1835 Moses Brown N/A Guyandotte River
1835 John H. Brumfield N/A Waters Guyandotte
1836 Harvey Elkins N/A Harts Creek
1836 Richard Elkins N/A Harts Creek
1836 Squire Toney N/A Ugly Creek
1837 Richard Vance 25 acres Trace Fork
1838 Joseph Adams 100 acres Mouth Rockhouse Fork from Guy Dingess
1838 John H. Brumfield 255 acres Big Ugly Creek
1838 Ralph Lucas N/A Ugly Creek, Green Shoal
1838 John Rowe 38 acres Ugly Creek
1841 Joseph Adams 30 acres Buck Fork
1841 Moses & John Workman N/A Harts Creek
1842 Joseph Adams N/A Harts Creek
1842 Robert Hensley N/A Smokehouse
1842 Lorenzo Dow Hill N/A Buck Fork of Harts Creek
1842 Peter Mullins 25 acres Harts Creek, from Abijah Workman and Mekin Vance
1842 Burbus Toney N/A Limestone
1843 Joshua Butcher N/A Smokehouse
1843 Price Lucas N/A Harts Creek
1843 James White, Jr. N/A Rockhouse?
1844 Joseph Adams N/A Four Tracts, Harts Creek and Buck Fork
1844 Peter Mullins 50 acres First lower branch of Trace Fork
1844 Meken Vance N/A Harts Creek
1846 John Workman N/A Hoover Fork
1847 William Dalton N/A 2 Tracts, Harts Creek, Kiahs Fork
1847 Samuel Lambert N/A Marsh Fork
1847 Arnold Perry N/A Hoover’s Fork
1847 Obediah Workman N/A Henderson’s Branch
1848 Joseph Fry N/A Ugly Creek
1849 John H. Brumfield N/A Ugly Creek
1849 Levi Collins N/A Ugly Creek
1849 Peter Mullins N/A Harts Creek
1849 Patten Thompson N/A Marsh Fork
Admiral S. Fry, Al Brumfield, Arena Ferrell, Boney Lucas, Burbus Toney, Cat Fry, Charles Lucas, Christian Fry, crime, Eliza Fry, Evermont Ward Fry, genealogy, George Fry, George McComas, George W. Ferrell, Green Shoal, Guyandotte, history, James L. Caldwell, Jesse James, John Brumfield, Milt Haley, Paris Brumfield, The Lincoln County Crew, Watson Lucas, West Virginia, writing
According to the Fry history, A.S. Fry eventually moved to Guyandotte, a river town in Cabell County, “where he built and owned a hotel. The Jesse James gang, who robbed a Huntington bank, stayed in his hotel for several nights.” His son George, meanwhile, took control of the family interests at Green Shoal. He presumably lived in the family homestead, where he was located at the time of Milt and Green’s murder in 1889. Deed records refer to it “as the old A.S. Fry homestead above the mouth of Green Shoals” and describe it as follows:
BEGINNING at the mouth of Green Shoals Creek, thence up with the meanderings of said creek to a survey made by C.T. fry, thence with the line of same to a white oak corner on a point, thence up the said point with the line of Chas. Lucas to the top of the mountain, thence running with the ridge to the head of a little ravine to a dog-wood corner made by C.T. Fry, thence down the hollow with C.T. Fry’s and B.C. Toney’s lands to a walnut corner made by said C.T. Fry, thence down the hill with John Fry’s and B.C. Toney’s line to the river, thence down with meanderings of the river to the place of beginning, containing seventy-five acres, more or less.
Although the deed was vague in giving its coordinates, it clearly proved that the “A.S. Fry homestead” — and thus the site of Milt and Green’s murder — was on the same side of the river as the railroad tracks.
By 1889, when the Brumfield gang took over the Fry house, George and his wife Eliza had a six-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. Cat Fry, a niece, also lived in the home. The family was connected to various participants in the 1889 troubles. Eliza’s older brother was married to Paris Brumfield’s sister, while two of her sisters were married to Brumfield’s nephews. These marriages were perhaps complicated when Paris murdered Mrs. Fry’s brother, Boney Lucas.
Following the Haley-McCoy murders, George Fry suffered some bad luck. In 1892, his wife reportedly had an illegitimate child by John Brumfield (Al’s younger brother). Four years later, his father sold the family homestead on Green Shoal to Arena Ferrell, a local storekeeper. George’s wife died around 1902 “when her children were young” (according to one source) and was buried in the old Fry Cemetery at Green Shoal. A.S. Fry himself was murdered at his hotel in 1904. George afterwards moved to Guyandotte where he died on May 19, 1905. Control of family businesses thereafter went to his brother Evermont Ward Fry, who was still alive as late as October 1939.
As for the “murder house” itself, Arena Ferrell deeded it to her adopted son George W. Ferrell, who is credited with writing “The Lincoln County Crew” — the song about Milt’s death. In 1899, he sold it to George R. McComas, who in turn sold it to J.L. Caldwell three years later. (This was probably the same J.L. Caldwell referred to in George Fry’s 1880 letter.) It was around that time (1902-04) when the railroad came through the Guyan Valley, which apparently had a direct effect on the “murder house.”
“The railroad now runs through one side of the house as well as that of the school building,” Ward told Fred Lambert. “This school was about one fourth mile above our residence.”
In 1915, Caldwell sold the property back to Arena Ferrell. Then, in 1919, it was transferred to Watson Lucas, whose heirs sold it to the current owners, the Lamberts, in the 1960s.
Admiral S. Fry, Anderson County, Burbus Toney, Charles Lucas, Cincinnati, civil war, Eliza Fry, Evermont Ward Fry, Franklin County, Fred B. Lambert, Garnett, genealogy, George Fry, Green Shoal, history, James L. Caldwell, Kansas, Lucinda Lucas, Ohio, Ottawa, Rhoda Fry, Will Fry, writing
A.S. Fry — the man who owned the home where Milt Haley and Green McCoy were murdered — was a former officer in the Confederate army and early businessman in Harts. According to the Fry history, “Shortly after his return home from the War, his adventurous spirit led him to Kansas and on to Texas; his family remained in Lincoln County. After his return from the West, his youngest son was born.” This son, Evermont Ward Fry, was born in 1872 and was later interviewed by Fred Lambert.
“When I was a boy, people gathered for a week’s religious meetings,” Fry told Lambert. “My father would keep from forty to fifty people. They held meetings in the summer or early fall. The people came on horseback from all directions. The preaching was at the Green Shoal School house; this was an old log building. Before it stood three or four beech trees. Preaching was under these trees. On one occasion my father’s house caught fire. He kept store and had just received an order of five or six dozen buckets. It was the nighttime, but he got out the fire buckets and the men formed a line up from the river. They put out the fire, but one end of the house was pretty badly burned.”
In subsequent years, A.S. Fry made other trips West, apparently with his son, George. George Franklin Fry was born in 1858 and was married to his first cousin, Eliza Virginia Lucas, a daughter of Charles and Lucinda (Fry) Lucas.
“Mrs. Rhoda Fry — Wear in this city and will Remain Hear for a few days,” A.S. Fry wrote to his wife from Ottawa, Franklin County, Kansas, on July 14, 1880. “Lands is from $3 to $20 dollars per acor. Thare is fine crops hear. We may By Land in this County. This is said to be the beste County in the state and thare is thousands of acors for sail heare. It is vary warm. I don’t know when I will be at home. I will wright when I will be at home and I want you and Ward to meet me at huntington. This is a nice Country. I will wright to you in 2 or 3 days what we ar a doing. We have Gist Reatch this City. The Pepel is all Kind and seemes to tak intrust in Emzy Jane. I have nothing worthey of wrighting. Give all of my frieands best Respects for me and tell BC Toney not to Rune his stones two close. So I will close by saying that we ar well. Hoping the last few Lines will find you all well. So fare well. If you Right Direct yere Letter A.S. Fry, Garnett, Anderison Co., Kansas.”
“We wrote you from Cincinnati Ohio regarding Goods,” George wrote as an attachment to the aforementioned letter. “We bough[t] a little stock — and if Will has not gone after them go at once — they are in care of J.L. Caldwell. We also sent Bills at same time. In close you will find a butiful song bough[t] on Train.”
In 1855 Green Shoal became the first post office in the Harts area, with Burbus C. Toney acting as postmaster. At that time, the Kiah’s Creek United Baptist Church in nearby Wayne County served the religious needs of the community. Politically, the area was overwhelmingly Democratic and aligned itself with the South during the War Between the States. One study of veterans places the percentage of Harts-area Confederate veterans at 90 percent. Locals were more concerned with states’ rights than slavery; there were fewer than thirty slaves in the entire area just prior to the war. Likewise, in 1890, there were only seven Union veterans living in Harts; most had arrived after the war.
In the late 1860s, Harts residents continued their efforts to improve educational opportunities for young people by constructing a school on the West Fork of Harts Creek.
“The school started in 1865 in an old hunter’s cabin,” said Kile Topping. “The teacher had to take guns with him to school because there were wild animals in the woods. All the students studied out loud and listened to the squirrels jump off of trees on to the top of the cabin. There was no floor in the school and students would stump their toes on briers.”
In 1867 Lincoln County was formed from Cabell County and, within two years, had pulled the lower section of Harts Creek within its boundaries from Logan County and Wayne County. The formation of this new county bisected the community of Harts into halves: those who lived on the upper part of the creek — such as Jackson Mullins — were in the Chapmanville District of Logan County and those who lived along the lower portion of the creek — such as Al Brumfield — were in the Harts Creek District of Lincoln County.
Within a short time, the people of Harts were caught in the industrial wave overtaking the nation. The arrival of the timber industry changed the community forever from a stereotypical mountain agricultural-oriented place to one of small-scale commerce. Settlements with impressive store buildings and homes formed along the riverbank and at the mouth of local creeks. New people moved into the area from eastern Kentucky looking for work in timber, helping to change the genealogical make-up of the community. Flatboats, pushboats, small steamboats, ferry boats, and rafting were all themes from this era.
Things were looking up in terms of education as well. “Harts Creek Township has never had a fair opportunity to place her schools in good condition,” wrote county superintendent James Alford in 1871. “A portion of this township formerly belonged to Logan county, and a portion to Wayne county, and school affairs became considerably confused in making this township. But the citizens are manifesting great interest in their schools, and will no doubt, at no distant day, have their schools in full operation; and, with the assistance of competent teachers, make great improvement in the youth of the township.” It was worse in Logan County: “Chapmansville Township, in which I reside, has had no schools taught in it until the last year,” wrote county superintendent C.S. Stone. “The opposers of the free schools fought the thing back until last year, when the cause of education gained the ascendancy.”
In 1871, Harts area teachers were Canaan Adkins, Stephen Lambert, and William T. Fowler, and (likely) Elisha W. Vance and J.W. Gartin. All had No. 5 Certificates (the lowest) except for Lambert, who had a 4. Teachers listed in educational directories for the following year were: Caleb Headlee, Thomas P. Moore, Isaac Nelson, Henry Spears, V.B. Prince and (possibly) Elias Adkins, Philip Hager and J.B. Pullen. Moore, Prince and Spears had a No. 4 Certificate, while Nelson had a 5 and Headlee had “no grade on certificate.”
The county superintendent was full of compliments for the Harts area in his 1872 report. “Hart’s creek has also built two school houses this year,” wrote Superintendent J.W. Holt. “The buildings are of logs, but are really neatly and substantially gotten up, and reflect credit upon the contractors and the township. This township is exhibiting a very commendable spirit upon the subject of education, and in the course of another year will have her school affairs in good working order.” Attendance was low in the region. In 1872, Superintendent C.S. Stone of Logan County wrote: “It appears that the mass of the people do not take hold of the thing right; they do not appreciate properly the great benefit of a general education. They generally admit that schools are the thing they want, and that public schools are the only means that will diffuse a general education, but there is something in its operative influences not altogether right.”
In the late 1870s, an agitated superintendent Marion Vickers wrote of the educational situation: “There is a great irregularity in the attendance of our children. Is not this non-attendance too large for an enlightenend community? How can the children of our country receive the many benefits of our school system, unless they are sent to school. Should not parents consider that they are depriving their children of that which will be of more benefit to them than anything else within their power to give? While passing around and seeing so many naturally intelligent youths growing up in ignorance, with almost every possible opportunity offered for improvement, I am almost ready to say: ‘Give us a compulsory system of education.'” In that time frame, 1877-1878, the Harts teachers were: John Gore, T.H. Buckley and Canaan Adkins and (maybe) Henry Shelton. Buckley and Adkins had No. 2 Certificates.”
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