Appalachia, Blood in West Virginia, books, Brandon Ray Kirk, Cain Adkins, Catlettsburg, Chadwick's Creek Missionary Baptist Church, Faye Smith, Green McCoy, history, Kentucky, life, Lincoln County Feud, photos, Spicie Fry, U.S. South, writers
Angeline Lucas, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Daisy Ross, East Lynn, Faye Smith, genealogy, Green McCoy, Harts Creek, history, John Hartford, Kenova, Lee Adams, Lincoln County, Lynza John McCoy, Mary McCoy, Spicie McCoy, Stiltner, Twelve Pole Creek, Wayne County, West Fork, West Virginia, writing
Things got kind of quiet after that. I asked Faye if we were wearing her mother out and she said, “No, I don’t think so. She sits there and… Of course, she makes quilts. She’s made twenty since the first of the year. We’ve got them stacked upstairs. She made sixty-four the year before last. Last year she only made fifty-four. I don’t know how many she’ll make this year. She makes them upstairs. She pulls herself up there — you know, a handrail.”
Brandon asked if Daisy sold her quilts and Faye said, “Yeah, she sells them. Well, she gives us kids all one every year for our birthday. I’ve probably got forty or fifty.”
I asked how much they sold for and Faye said, “Thirty dollars.”
I said, “Have you got one you’d sell me?” and Faye laughed and said, “I’ve got a dozen if you want them. As a matter of fact, she’s even got her name and the date she completed it on each quilt.”
Faye looked over at her mother and said loudly, “He wants to buy one of your quilts.”
Daisy said, “Well, they’re upstairs.”
Brandon, Faye, and I went upstairs and fished through a bunch of quilts in a bedroom. We bought several; they were great souvenirs.
Back downstairs, Daisy told us more about Green McCoy’s “other family” in Eden, Kentucky.
“He had two children by his first wife,” she said. “Mary come and seen us and we was all tickled about it. I don’t know how she found us. She’d come to Kenova and stayed with some woman and found out where we lived up there above East Lynn in Stiltner way up in the country in a hollow. And she stayed a week or two. I don’t know how long she was aiming to stay, but she’d stayed with some lady and cleaned house and she cleaned out her wardrobe and took it with her and the law came and got ‘er. We don’t know what ever happened to Mary — we never heard from her no more. She was from down in Kentucky somewhere. I was just a little girl when she come up there.”
As for Green’s other child: “They had another’n, but I don’t know whether it was a girl or a boy.”
Not long before we left, Daisy revealed a final interesting connection between Green McCoy’s family and Cain Adkins’ family. She said Green McCoy had a brother named John who came around Cain’s place on Harts Creek.
“He’d go up there when Mom and Green lived out there in one of Grandpaw’s shacks. I think he was younger than Green.”
He might have been the same John McCoy, Brandon said, who land records showed owning 526 acres on Twelve Pole in Lincoln County in 1883.
About two years after Green’s death, John had a fling with Spicie’s sister, Angeline Lucas (Boney’s widow).
“Aunt Angeline went and had a young’n by him,” Daisy said.
A little later, she married Lee Adams and had seven more children, bringing her total to fourteen.
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After the feud, Cain Adkins settled on Laurel Creek in Wayne County and never returned to Harts. Not long afterward, he began suffering from some type of lingering illness.
“Grandpaw, he played a fiddle,” Daisy said. “They had him to play the fiddle on his deathbed. Somebody came in and they wanted to hear a song and he played it for him. He said, ‘They ain’t no harm in a fiddle. If they’s any harm, it’s when no one plays it.’ I’ve heard Mom tell the last song he played, but I don’t know what it was he played. Mom said it made him feel better.”
Cain died of Brights Disease in 1896.
His widow Mariah lived many more years.
“Grandmaw was a good person — she went to church every Sunday. The last ten years she went blind and stayed with Mom. Mom waited on her.”
She died in 1931.
It took Spicie years to forgive the Brumfields for killing Green. Even after remarrying Goble Fry (her first cousin) in 1893, she was unable to cope with Green’s death and always cried when recounting the tale of his murder. For years, her bitterness kept her from joining the church.
“She felt like he hadn’t done nothing to be killed for ’cause she loved him better than anything,” Daisy said. “Before she was baptized, my brother Sherman had went off to work — him and a bunch of boys — and they was all telling what church their mother belonged to and Sherman said to Mom, ‘Mom, I had to tell them you didn’t belong to the church.’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I can’t forgive the Brumfields.’ He said, ‘You can’t forget it, but you got to forgive them or you’ll go to the same place where they did.’ I heard him say that. I was a young woman.”
These were apparently inspiring words, because Spicie was baptized soon afterwards and formed a gospel quartet, “The McCoy Time Singers.” Her son, Sherman McCoy, was a key member.
“Brother Sherman could play any kind of instrument, but banjo is what he played mostly,” Daisy said. “He played all kinds of pretty tunes on the banjo that wasn’t gospel. And when he was on WCMI he wanted people to write in and tell him to play the gospel music, but he had to play the one that got the most requests and he didn’t get very much requests for the gospel. But Mom and Sherman sung them gospel songs on there. They had a program on WCMI one time.”
Daisy said the only known recordings of the McCoy Time Singers had been destroyed years ago.
“They made records of their quartet singing and they peeled up. Got damp. Monroe, my brother, got some and even wrapped them in cloth and they still peeled.”
I wanted to know more about Sherman McCoy, so I got out my banjo and played a little bit for Daisy. She said he played a lot with his uncle, Winchester Adkins (one of the best fiddlers in Wayne County), and a guitar player named Oscar Osborne.
“Brother Sherman was one of the best banjo players I ever heard,” Daisy said. “I’ve heard them on television but I’ve never heard anything to beat Brother Sherman. He played a guitar and taught music lessons. He played all kinds of jigs. Did you ever play ‘The Indian Girl’? He didn’t like to play that one very much because he had to tune it different but that was the prettiest tune I ever heard on the banjo. It sounded like he had more than ten fingers.”
I asked Daisy about Sherman playing with Ed Haley and she said, “He played music with Ed Haley and they played in Catlettsburg.”
That’s all she knew about it but I wondered just how well they actually knew each other. Was it possible that Ed named his oldest child Sherman Luther Haley after Sherman McCoy? I could just picture them loafing together as young bachelors.
Daisy said Green McCoy’s other son, Green Jr., was a singing instructor. She remembered the first time he came into contact with a guitar.
“Uncle Cain, he played a guitar,” she said. “He come down one time and wanted Green to see his guitar. Green only seen that guitar one time and worked a week and got him a guitar and tuned it up and was playing on it. He was gifted.”
What happened to him?
Faye said, “Uncle Green, he hadn’t been dead but I’d say about eight or ten years. He played a guitar good.”
Daisy said Green’s son Luther plays the guitar on the radio in the Columbus-Chillicothe area.
“Uncle Green said he was absolutely the best he ever heard,” she said.
She didn’t know much about Luther or have any recordings of him but had a videocassette tape of Green Jr. picking the guitar and singing in 1975. (I couldn’t help but note that Green Jr. and Ed Haley both had sons named Luther.)
Spicie’s children by Goble Fry also were talented musicians, hinting at a musical strain in her genetics as well.
“Uncle Monroe was a Fry — that was Mom’s brother — and Harkins — they both played music,” Faye said. “But now, Uncle Monroe could play, I guess, about any type of instrument. I remember him playing ‘Salty Dog’ one time.”
Daisy really bragged on her brother Harkins Fry, a music teacher and songwriter. He wrote one gospel song called “Time Has Made A Change”, which Daisy and Faye sang for us:
Time has made a change in the old homeplace.
Many of my friends have gone away,
Some never more in this life I shall see.
Time has made a change in me.
Time has made a change in the old homeplace.
Time has made a change in each smiling face,
And I know my friends can plainly see
Time has made a change in me.
In my childhood days I was well and strong.
I could climb the hillside all day long,
But I’m not today what I used to be.
Time has made a change in me.
When I reach my home in that land so fair.
Meet my friends awaiting me over there.
Free from toil and pain I shall ever be.
Time has made a change in me.
Angeline Lucas, Bill Frazier, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Cain Adkins Jr., Daisy Ross, Faye Smith, feud, Harts Creek, history, John Hartford, Laurel Creek, Lee Adams, Lena Adkins, Lincoln County, Liza Adkins, Mariah Adkins, Mittie Adkins, Napier Ridge, Ranger, Sherman McCoy, Spicie McCoy, Stiltner, Wayne County, West Virginia, Winchester Adkins, writing
I asked Daisy again about her mother’s escape from Harts Creek.
“Grandpaw and the oldest boy had to come on out and come down into Wayne County to save their lives,” she said.
This seeming abandonment of his family in such a dark time appeared to be a blemish on Cain’s otherwise “spotless record.” I thought about that and said, “Seems to me like the safest way to get everybody out was to get the menfolk out first. And also, too, the menfolk could have got out of there quicker without the womenfolk.”
Faye said, “Well, I remember Grandmaw saying the Brumfields said they’d kill everything from the housecat up. I guess that’s why Grandpaw left, but I still wonder why he left the womenfolk. I can’t help it if it is my great-grandpaw.”
Not long after Cain left Harts, Daisy’s grandmother, Mariah Adkins, killed twelve sheep and some hogs and stored the meat in barrels, then loaded the barrels and all of the other family possessions onto a rented push-boat.
“They couldn’t get nobody to row the boat,” Daisy said. “Grandmaw tried to hire a colored man and he said he would, but he said, ‘I know they’d kill me.’ So they had to do it all theirselves. And Mom and Sissy done the rowing.”
“It was a pretty big size boat cause they had all the stuff they had in their house and their barrels of meat all in there,” Daisy said. “But they couldn’t get nobody to row the boat. Grandmaw tried to hire a colored man and he said he would but he said, ‘I know they’d kill me.’ So they had to do it all theirselves. And Mom and Sissy done the rowing.”
Those on the boat were 46-year-old Mariah Adkins, 23-year-old Spicie McCoy, 18-year-old Mittie Adkins, 13-year-old Lena Adkins, 13-year-old Liza Adkins, nine-year-old Cain Adkins, Jr., and one-year-old Sherman McCoy. Daisy wasn’t sure if Aunt Angeline (aged 28) was on the boat with her six kids, including a newborn.
“I don’t know whether she was already down here or not,” she said. “She didn’t come on the boat with them, I don’t think. She come down and married Lee Adams and lived out on the Napier Ridge.”
Daisy gave a chilling account of the ride down-river.
“Mom was about four months along with my brother Green and she had that little baby. Sherman was about a year and a half old — and it was raining and cold. 8th day of January. They come down through there and the peach trees was in full bloom, she said. Had been kind of a warm spell and the peach trees bloomed out that year. Mom said she was cold; she was numb.”
As they crept out of Harts, little Sherman McCoy pulled a long hair pin from his mother’s hair and stuck it repeatedly in her breast. She was afraid to take it from him because he might cry and alert the Brumfields of their exodus.
“He’d take that straight pin and poke it in her breast and pull it out,” Daisy said. “She knowed she was gonna be drowned every minute, so she wouldn’t scold him for it. She said, ‘It didn’t hurt and he had fun at it.’ He was just a little fella.”
It was the beginning of a rough ride: Mariah almost tipped the boat twice before allowing her daughter Mittie to pilot it.
The Adkinses spent the night at Ranger where they stored their goods at a local home. The next day, they got off the boat at Branchland and crossed over a mountain to Laurel Creek in Wayne County.
“Then they got Bill Frazier from Stiltner to go back up there to Ranger in a wagon — he was a young man then — and haul whatever they had stored down there,” Daisy said. “By the time he got there, the hams and meat didn’t have much meat on them.”
This story about the Adkins family’s exodus constituted one of those unforgettable tales in our search. Hearing about the Brumfield threat to kill “everything from the housecat up” caused Brandon to feel horrible that his ancestors would’ve perhaps harmed innocent women and children. Things had apparently come to that in Harts. Women shot from ambush. Young widows. Orphans. The entire community seemed to be coming undone. Of course, the determination of the women and children to survive their horrible ordeal was both inspiring and awesome, especially considering they weren’t the strong, raw-boned mountaineer women which one imagines them to have been. (Spicie McCoy only weighed about 91 pounds.)
Boney Lucas, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, crime, Daisy Ross, Eden, Eliza Fry, Faye Smith, feud, Green McCoy, history, Imogene Haley, Kentucky, Logan County, Milt Haley, Paris Brumfield, Randolph McCoy, Sherman McCoy, Spicie McCoy, West Virginia, writing
Brandon asked Daisy about Paris Brumfield.
“Well, he had a band of people. They went around and killed a lot of people, they said. They called them a mob. Mommy said they had a mob and if they didn’t like somebody they’d kill them. The Brumfields was rough. The Brumfields first killed Grandpa’s son-in-law, Boney Lucas, and when Mom married Green McCoy they said they had another one they was gonna kill.”
Daisy told us an incredible story about Green whipping Paris in a fight.
“All I know, they was into a racket beforehand and Green McCoy got him down and pulled his eyes all out and said, ‘Go back.’ He said they was just like rubber — he’d pull his eyeballs out and they’d go back. Said you couldn’t pull them all the way out. He did finally get his sight back. Had to wear a blindfold for two or three weeks or a month. Laid around for a while.”
Faye said, “Mom said Grandma was laughing — she kinda thought it was funny to tell about him pulling that eyeball out and it popping back like a rubber band.”
We could just picture the fight, based on what we’d read in the Lambert Collection.
“Fist fights between neighborhood bullies, or to settle old scores” were a part of local culture in those times. “It was not uncommon for contestants to engage in ‘gouging,’ as a natural sequence of a fist fight. Weapons were banned, but many a man lost an eye, by having it gouged out.”
It probably wasn’t too long after Green’s fight with Paris that he and Milt were murdered. Daisy knew they were killed in October (just after Spicie’s twenty-third birthday) after being captured in Eden, Kentucky, where Green’s first family lived. She said a Brumfield mob easily took possession of them there because “the law was afraid of them.”
“Paris Brumfield was one of the ringleaders,” she said. “They brought them back from Kentucky up to Fry and killed them there. They made Green McCoy play the fiddle and he didn’t want to. They was a gonna kill him, they said. Mrs. Fry — that lived in that house — she crawled under the bed, she said. She was afraid they was gonna kill her.”
Mrs. Fry was a sister to Boney Lucas.
Daisy said some of the younger Brumfields protested Milt’s and Green’s murder.
“They are good Brumfields,” she said. “Like other people, they’re mean people in every generation. Some of the Brumfields was real good people.”
Daisy said Spicie didn’t go with Milt’s wife to beg for Milt’s and Green’s life, as we’d heard from Billy Adkins. Actually, Daisy didn’t think her mother had known Emma Haley but Brandon wondered about that since one of Emma’s uncles had married an aunt to Spicie McCoy years before. (Another confusing, but seemingly relevant, genealogical connection.)
“Then after they shot them and killed them,” Daisy said, “they took a pole axe and beat his brains in and his brains went up on the door, Mom said. Oh, that liked to killed Mom.”
After the murders, the Brumfields warned people not to touch Milt’s and Green’s bodies.
“The Hatfields up there was a friend to Green McCoy ’cause when they murdered them they wasn’t gonna let them be buried, they said, and the Hatfields from Logan County come down there with their rifles to see if Grandpaw had let them bury them on his farm,” Daisy said.
That seemed unlikely to us, considering how the Hatfields were busy feuding with Randolph McCoy’s clan, however, Devil Anse Hatfield’s mother was a first cousin to Spicie McCoy’s grandfather.
In any case, Daisy said there was no Hatfield-Brumfield trouble because Milt and Green were buried on Cain’s farm before the Hatfields arrived in Harts.
In later years, Spicie made several trips to the gravesite with her son, Sherman McCoy — sometimes on paw paw runs. Faye took Daisy and Spicie on a final trip in August of 1953. The graves were in bad shape.
“It looked like it had been neglected,” Daisy said. “They just had little rocks for their tombstone. I couldn’t go up there now — I’m ninety-one years old — but I went there several years ago with my mother.”
Angeline Lucas, banjo, Brandon Kirk, Daisy Ross, dulcimer, Faye Smith, fiddlers, fiddling, Fire on the Mountain, Green McCoy, history, John Hartford, Kenova, Kentucky, Lincoln County, Mariah Adkins, Milt Haley, music, Spicie McCoy, West Fork, West Virginia, writing
We next inquired about Green McCoy. We were particularly curious about why he left Kentucky and settled in Harts.
“I don’t know why he went up there,” Daisy said. “He was just playing music and started running around, I guess.”
Green and Spicie had a love for music in common.
Daisy said her mother “always liked music” and sung “from the time she was a little girl.” She “could sing any part of music — all four parts” — and “could play a banjo and she was left-handed. Played pretty good. She said she could play a dulcimer.”
Green was Spicie’s “first boyfriend” and she was crazy for him, even though she knew very little about his past.
“Grandma Spicie, she called him Will,” Faye said. “His name was William Greenville.”
“She didn’t even know Green McCoy was married till after she was engaged to him,” Daisy said of her mother. “He come up there with his brother and pretended to be single. Aunt Angeline, I think, was the one who found it out. And after Grandmaw found it out, she tried to keep Mom from marrying him, but Mom loved him so good she couldn’t believe it. They tried to keep Grandmaw from marrying him, but that just made her love him that much more.”
She “loved him so good she went ahead and married him anyhow.”
Green and Spicie settled in one of the small shacks on the Adkins farm. Faye said she’d heard that Green “would go off for a couple of weeks for a time,” then return home to his young wife, who always ran out to hug him. He’d tease her by running through the yard or “maybe around the house a couple of times — make her chase him. She was thrilled to death to see him come back.”
We wondered if perhaps Green was traveling between wives or playing music abroad, since Daisy said he never had any occupation aside from music.
I asked if he was a drinking man and Faye said, “If he had a been, Grandma wouldn’t a told it ’cause that woulda looked bad on him. Grandma Spicie told Green that she would swim the briny ocean for him.”
Okay…so what about Milt Haley?
Daisy said he was a good friend to Green and her mother. I asked if she thought we would ever find that picture of them together and she said, “No, I don’t. Mom kept it in her trunk. My niece has got it but she’s sick and got a house full of junk like I have and will never find it. She got Mom’s pictures. It was a little tintype snapshot of him and Green McCoy standing together. I think he had a hat on — seemed like both of them had a hat on in that picture. That was when they was playing music, but they didn’t have no instruments with them.”
I got a sheet of paper and tried to do a sketch, asking questions like, “Do you remember if he had bushy eyebrows?” or “Thin face, you reckon?”
I was pretty desperate.
Daisy kept insisting, “I can’t remember. I can’t tell you how somebody looks.”
Brandon asked if Milt and Green knew each other in Kentucky, before their move to Harts.
“No,” Daisy said. “Not until he come up there. I don’t know, now, where Milt Haley come from. They played music together.”
I wondered if Milt was the best fiddler between the two and Daisy said, “I don’t know which one was the best.”
“But Grandma thought Green was the best, didn’t she?” Faye said to her mother.
“Oh yeah,” Daisy said. “That was her husband. I never heard her say nothing against Haley.”
I asked if Spicie ever mentioned the names of any tunes that Green played and she said, “She might’ve said some of them. One of them I think was ‘Fire on the Mountain’.”
I got real excited hearing that and asked if she would remember more tunes if I played for her.
“No, I wouldn’t recognize…,” she said. “I never heard fiddles very much. My brothers had them there some, but they never played fiddles too much. They had guitars and banjos and pianos and organs and other stuff.”
I gave it a try but all I got when I played Ed’s version of “Fire on the Mountain” was, “That’s all right, but I don’t feel like dancing.”
We all cracked up and Faye warned us about her mother, who sat stone-faced in her chair.
“Sometimes she’s a smarty,” she said.
Ben Walker, Boney Lucas, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Daisy Ross, diphtheria, education, Faye Smith, feud, Flora Adkins, genealogy, Green McCoy, history, Huntington, Kenova, Low Gap United Baptist Church, Mariah Adkins, medicine, Melvin Kirk, murder, Nancy Adkins, Paris Brumfield, Spicie McCoy, Wayne County, West Virginia, writing
The day after visiting Abe Keibler, I met Brandon Kirk in Huntington, West Virginia. We made the short drive into Wayne County where we located the home of Daisy Ross in Kenova. Her daughter, Faye Smith, met us at the door and told us to come in — her mother was waiting on us. She led us through a TV room and into the dining room where we found Daisy seated comfortably in a plush chair. She was hard of hearing, so Faye had to repeat many of our questions to her.
We first asked Daisy about Cain Adkins. Daisy said he was a United Baptist preacher, schoolteacher, and “had several different political offices.” He was also a “medical doctor” and was frequently absent from home on business.
“I would imagine Grandpaw Cain — I’m not bragging – was pretty well off at that time compared to other people,” Faye said.
Daisy didn’t think Cain was educated — he “just had the brains. Mom said he could be writing something and talk to you all the time.” He was also charitable.
“Lots of times when he doctored, they didn’t have no money,” Daisy said. “They’d give him meat or something off of the farm,” things like dried apples and chickens. “He had little shacks built and would bring in poor people that didn’t have no homes and Grandpaw would keep them and Grandmaw would have to furnish them with food. Kept them from starving to death.”
Cain seemed like a great guy.
Why would the Brumfields have any trouble with him?
Daisy had no idea.
We had a few theories, though, based on Cain’s various occupations. First, as a schoolteacher in the lower section of Harts Creek, he may have provoked Brumfield’s wrath as a possible teacher of his children. As a justice of the peace, he was surely at odds with Paris Brumfield, who we assume (based on numerous accounts) was often in Dutch with the law. As a preacher, Cain may have lectured citizens against living the “wild life” or condemning those locals already engaged in it, which would’ve also made him an “opposing force” to Brumfield.
There is some reason to believe that Cain was a potent religious force in the community during the feud era. Unfortunately, the earliest church record we could locate was for the Low Gap United Baptist Church, organized by Ben Walker and a handful of others in 1898. Melvin Kirk was an early member. More than likely, Cain was an inspiration to Walker, who was ordained a preacher in 1890.
Brandon asked Daisy what she knew about Boney Lucas’ murder.
“They killed him before they killed Green McCoy,” she said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “They mighta had trouble, too.”
Then came an incredible story, indicating that Boney Lucas was no saint, either.
“He lived about a week after he was hurt,” she said. “He wanted to be baptized and the preachers around there wouldn’t baptize him because he didn’t belong to the church. Grandpaw said, ‘I’ll baptize him.’ Grandpaw was a good preacher. He said, ‘I’ll baptize you, Boney.’ So they made a scaffold and they took him out there and somebody helped him and they baptized him before he died.”
Brandon said, “So Boney was kind of a rough character,” and Faye said, “See, he was connected with Grandpaw’s family and they didn’t tell things. If some of the family was mean, they didn’t get out and tell things.”
Cain had more bad luck when two of his daughters, Nancy and Flora, died of diphtheria.
“They buried them little girls out from the house somewhere up on the hill,” Daisy said. “I don’t know where they were buried. Mom never showed me. I guess they just had rocks for tombstones, you know.”
Angeline Lucas, banjo, Boney Lucas, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Daisy Ross, Eustace Gibson, Faye Smith, fiddler, Green McCoy, guitar, Harts, Harts Creek, history, Huntington Advertiser, John McCoy, Kenova, Lincoln County, Milt Haley, Oscar Osborne, Paris Brumfield, Sherman Boyd, Sherman McCoy, Spicie McCoy, Tug Valley, West Fork, West Virginia, Winchester Adkins, writing
Meanwhile, as I churned up new details about Ed Haley, Brandon was busy chasing down leads on the Milt Haley story in West Virginia. One crisp December day he visited Daisy Ross, the aged daughter of Spicy McCoy, who lived in a nice two-story house at Kenova, a pretty little town just west of Huntington. It was Brandon’s first face-to-face contact with Green McCoy’s descendants and he was anxious to hear more about their side of the tale. Daisy was white-headed and a little hard-of-hearing — but full of information about Green’s family. Her daughter Faye played hostess during Brandon’s visit.
Daisy said Green McCoy was originally from the Tug Fork area. He came to Harts playing music with his brother, John McCoy. He always kept his hair combed and wore a neatly trimmed mustache. Spicy used to have a tintype picture of him with Milt Haley. He and Milt met each other in the Tug Valley.
Daisy said her grandfather Cain Adkins was a country doctor. He was gone frequently doctoring and was usually paid with dried apples or chickens. He feuded a lot with the Brumfields, who killed his son-in-law, Boney Lucas. Boney’s widow Angeline was pretty wild: she had two illegitimate children after Boney’s death. One child belonged to a man named Sherman Boyd and the other belonged to John McCoy — Green’s brother.
When Green McCoy came to Harts, Cain discouraged Spicy from marrying him because he was divorced from a woman living in Kentucky. Spicy didn’t believe the family talk of “another woman” and married him anyway. She and Green rented one of the little houses on Cain’s farm. Green made his living playing music and he was often gone for several days at a time. When he came home, Spicy, ever the faithful wife, ran out of the house to hug him and he would playfully run around the yard for a while before letting her “catch” him. Daisy had no idea where Green went on his trips because he never told her mother. Spicy didn’t really care: she always said she would “swim the briny ocean for him.”
Brandon showed Daisy an 1888 newspaper article he had recently found, documenting Cain’s trouble with Paris Brumfield.
“Paris Brumfield was indicted for felony in five different cases by the grand jury of Lincoln county at its last term,” according to the Huntington Advertiser on June 23, 1888. “He fled the county, not being able to give bail, which was fixed by the Court at $5,000. Brumfield’s latest act of violence was his murderous assault upon Cain Adkins, a staunch Democrat, one of THE ADVERTISER’S most esteemed subscribers. The last act was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the county became too hot for Paris. Gibson & Michi have been retained by Brumfield’s friends to defend him when brought to trial.”
Daisy blamed Green’s murder on the Brumfields. She said Green once got into a fight with Paris Brumfield and “pulled his eyeballs out and let them pop back like rubber bands.” Brumfield had to wear a blindfold for a while afterward.
After Green’s death, Cain Adkins and his son Winchester fled Harts, probably on horses. Winchester was one of the best local fiddlers in his day. He mostly played with his nephew Sherman McCoy (banjo) and Oscar Osborne (guitar).
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