Andy Mullins, Ashland, banjo, Ben Adams, Bernie Adams, Bill Adkins, Brandon Kirk, Buck Fork, Claude Martin, Clyde Haley, Devil Anse Hatfield, Devil's Dream, Dingess, Drunkard's Hell, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, fiddling, George Baisden, George Mullins, Greasy George Adams, Harts, Harts Creek, Henderson Branch, history, Hoover Fork, John Frock Adams, Johnny Canub Adams, Kentucky, Lincoln County, Logan County, Mona Haley, music, Ralph Haley, Roxie Mullins, Sally Goodin, Soldiers Joy, Ticky George Adams, Trace Fork, Weddie Mullins, West Virginia, Wilson Mullins, writing
Throughout the winter 1996, Brandon kept busy interviewing folks around Harts for new Ed Haley-Milt Haley leads. In March, he wrote me about recent developments, including the death of Bill Adkins, Sr. — the old fiddler in Harts. At Bill’s wake, Brandon met Andy Mullins, who had recently moved back to Harts Creek after settling in Michigan in 1952. He was the son of Roxie Mullins.
Andy said, when he was a child, Ed Haley spent summers with his parents. Ed also stayed with George Mullins on Buck Fork, George Baisden (a banjo player) in the head of Hoover Fork, “old John Adams” on main Harts Creek, and Johnny Adams (Ticky George’s son) on Trace Fork. Ed had a big, fat belly. Sometimes, he came with his wife, a quiet woman who would eat dinner and then sing for an hour or so while playing the mandolin. Their daughter “Mona Mae” traveled with them, as did her husband, Wilson Mullins.
Andy didn’t remember much about Ed’s other children. He said Clyde stayed six months at a time on Harts Creek and “wouldn’t work a lick” and “couldn’t stay out of trouble.” He heard that Ralph used to hang upside down from a bridge in Ashland.
When Ed was young, Andy said, he supposedly played a lot of music with George Baisden. Later, he played with Bernie Adams and Claude Martin. Andy remembered that Ed didn’t saw the fiddle — he played smooth — and he was a good singer. His voice was like a bell. When he played music with Bernie and Claude, people gathered in and brought food and booze. Andy never saw Ed drunk, although he would get pretty high. Ed and Bernie were hateful. Somebody might request a tune and Ed would say, “What do you think I am, a steam engine?” — then play it five minutes later. Andy remembered Ed playing “Devil’s Dream”, “Drunkard’s Hell,” “Soldiers Joy” and “Sally Goodin”.
Andy was familiar with Ben Adams, who he said operated a mill-dam at Greasy George’s place on main Harts Creek. Ben used this dam to back the creek all the way up to Henderson Branch. Before turning it loose, he would go and tell people to get out of their homes. His nephew, “old John Adams” (a.k.a. “Long John” or “John Frock”), was the one who went to Dingess and killed the man who had shot Ed’s uncle, Weddie Mullins. Andy said the doctor had this man on a table working on him when John showed up and “wasted” him. John Frock let Ed cut his fingernails one time and he cut them up so badly that his fingers bled. (Mona had told me a similar story, except she thought that Ed had cut Devil Anse Hatfield’s nails.)