Appalachia, Bowlin, C.C. Chambers, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, coal, coal camps, Fayette County, fiddler, Frank Adkins, Gassaway, Jewell Encampment, John C. Hicks, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, music, Nick Roomy, Odd Fellows, W.M. Hornsby, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this favorable review by one prominent visitor in 1925. The story is dated Friday, June 5, 1925.
“Truth About Logan”
By W.M. Hornsby
Fayette County Man Who Attended Grand Encampment of Odd Fellows Here Makes Interesting Report.
The yellow journalists and just plain liars who have been telling everything about Logan county but the truth for many years may now prepare to receive a real kick in the slats. Their crazy illusions are due to get shattered.
No man ever came to Logan on a peaceful mission and went away to relate any stories of wrong treatment.
The finest group of men that have visited our city for many moons was here when the Grand Encampment of the Odd Fellows of the state was held in Logan recently. In their meetings at the Christian church many of the delegates confessed that they came to Logan fearful and trembling, all on account of the millions of lurid lies which they had read in various papers before coming here. It may sound like old stuff to say that “truth crushed to earth will rise again” but that is exactly what happened in this case. The delegates were recipients of the famous Logan hospitality. The keys to the city were theirs and they were accorded the kind of a reception which Logan has always given to anything good. After a pleasant visit the delegates departed for their homes with a true knowledge of the conditions which exist here, a knowledge of the fact that Logan is not different from any other prosperous mining section of the country.
One of the gentlemen who attended the Grand Encampment was Mr. W.M. Hornsby, of Bowlin, Fayette county. He too had been filled with the common ideas which prevail about Logan county, but during his visit here he discovered the real Logan, not the kind that exists in the putrid minds of the editors of the sensational yellow journals which have done a grievous wrong to Logan county. He discovered real friends with a handshake just as firm and a smile just as sincere as he had ever known. When Mr. Hornsby returned to his home he wrote a report to this lodge. That report is of vital interest to every Loganite and we are glad to reproduce it in the columns of this paper. The entire report is as follows:
“To whom it may concern…and I think it will concern all true hearted Americans:
“This is a true story of what took place during my stay in Logan county. To get a proper start, I must go back one year. On May 14, 1924, the Grand Encampment met in its annual session in Gassaway, W.Va. When the time arrived to choose a place for our next annual meeting, a good many towns offered invitations to the body. Among them was the town of Logan, and when Logan was mentioned there was silence in the hall, until finally some brother said: ‘Can we meet in Logan?’ For we thought by some of the newspaper reports that Logan county was the hell on earth and the town of Logan was the gateway to the bottomless pit. Then somebody got up in the midst of us and said: ‘Yes, you can meet in Logan, for I’m from the town of Logan.’ We looked over this monster from head to foot but could not see any horns and then our Grand Scribe stood up and declared: ‘Our own dear John wants us to come,’ and we answered, ‘If our own dear John wants us to come, we will go.’
“I started to Logan town on May 12, 1925, from Bowlin, Fayette county, wondering what was going to happen to me. We arrived at Logan the following day in a fine coach donated by the C. & O. for our convenience on the trip to Logan and return.
“When we got off the train at the Logan depot, some brother whispered, ‘Now where–and what?’ Just at that moment we found our way blocked–not by the sheriff and his so-called outlaw deputies as you might think–but by John Hicks with a three hundred pound smile for he is __ and by his side stood our own dear Captain of the Uniform Bank with his fine boys.
“The command was given about face, forward march, and we went up a finely paved street by skyscraper hotels and big mercantile houses to the court house. Instead of finding the so-called persecutors of the law awaiting, we ran into a committee of Jewell Encampment, No. 124, with some of the fairest of the fair sex assisting them and all wearing broad and welcoming smiles. We registered as customary and were assigned to our various hotels.
“After the grand body had been called to order in the Christian church by John C. Hicks, past grand patriarch, C.C. Chambers, mayor of Logan, gave us a fine talk and turned the town over to us, saying ‘the town is yours, do what you want with it,’ and common sense would teach that we were not going to destroy our own property. Next were a group of songs by Mrs. Frank Adkins and Mrs. Nick Roomy, accompanied by fine music, and followed in rotation by several fine speakers, and every one of them said ‘we welcome you,’ and by the smiles on their faces you could tell that they meant it.
“At the close of the morning session we had dinner in the basement of the church, where we saw some of our earthly angels sweating over a hot stove to prepare a feast good enough for a king, while two others rendered fine music and songs, accompanied by one of Logan’s imps–but he had a fiddle, not horns as you might think.
“During the afternoon session in stepped Little John, with the statement, ‘Grand Patriarch, the citizens of this town beg this grand body to let them take you out for an auto ride at your pleasure and show you some of Logan county.’
“___ for the ride, and promptly at that hour it was announced: ‘The cars are waiting.’ And we went out and loaded up according to the capacity of each car. It was found that there were not quite enough cars for all, so an appeal was made to the garage men of the town, and the latter stepped on the starters of some brand new machines and fell in line for our pleasure. Now, Fayette county garage men, would you have done that?
“The trip lasted two and a half hours over paved roads to the coal camps. I was told that part of the roads we traveled over were built by the so-called outlaw operators at a cost of $650,000 and when it was finished they walked into the court house and said to the county court, ‘your honors, we will give you this road if you will keep it up.’ Now, if this is so, I would not mind to have them for neighbors, would you?’ In going from one coal camp to another we met the miners coming from work. Walking? No! Sitting reared back in real cars–no Henry’s–and driving over hard roads built by the so-called outlaw operators for their use. I wish we had some outlaws like that in our town, don’t you?
I will say now, Mr. Newspaperman, wherever you may be over this great nation, listen to plain, honest-to-goodness, one-hundred percent American language. If you have been guilty of this dirty low-down, yellow dog propaganda about Logan county and its fine people. In the name of God and the love of humanity, I say stop right now. It’s a shame if you haven’t any respect for yourselves, for God’s sake have mercy on the people of the best county on earth and the country that gives you shelter for you may just as well stop right now for we have been there from every nook and corner in the United States, and we will not believe you anymore anyway. Cut it out or the devil will get you, for no one could write such stuff but imps. If you will just go to the town of Logan and walk around you will get ashamed of yourself and stop talking about your neighbors.”
Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club, Appalachia, Appalachian Heritage Day, authors, Bobby Taylor, books, Carter Taylor Seaton, Confederate Army, Cooney Ricketts Chapter, culture, fiddler, fiddlers, fiddling, Hatfield-McCoy CVB, Hippie Homesteaders, history, Ken Hechler, Laura Treacy Bentley, Logan, Logan County Commission, Looking for Ireland, M. Lynne Squires, photos, Rebel in the Red Jeep, Southern Coalition for the Arts, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Urban Appalachia, Vandalia Award, West Virginia
Appalachian Heritage Day occurred on August 25, 2019 in Logan, WV. The event featured authors, scholars, guest speakers, information tables, a genealogy workshop, a writers’ workshop, numerous old-time and bluegrass music workshops, and an all-day concert. Special thanks to the Logan County Commission, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, the Hatfield-McCoy CVB, and the Southern Coalition for the Arts for sponsoring the event. For more information, follow this link to the event website: https://appalachianheritageday.weebly.com/
A Prairie Home Companion, Appalachia, Appalachian Heritage Day, banjo, bluegrass, Bobby Osborne, Branson, Braxton County, Buddy Griffin, Charlie Sizemore, Cincinnati, David O'Dell, fiddler, fiddling, Glenville State College, Goins Brothers, guitar, Jackie Whitley, Jeff Roberts, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Katie Laur Band, Landon Williams, Larry Sparks, Logan, Mac Wiseman, mandolin, Missouri, music, Nicholas County, photos, Robert C. Byrd, Rocky Top X-Press, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, The Hard Times, Vandalia Award, Vetco Records, West Virginia, West Virginia All-Star Bluegrass Band, Wheeling, WWVA Jamboree
A native of Nicholas and Braxton counties, Buddy Griffin is a master musician on several instruments and a dedicated teacher and mentor. Raised in a musical family, Buddy began performing at an early age, excelling at banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin. In 1973, he was hired in the staff band on the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, where he came into contact with Landon Williams, who lured him to Cincinnati to play in his band, The Hard Times. He and banjoist Jeff Roberts joined the Katie Laur Band in 1975. Buddy also played with the Goins Brothers. He later worked as an engineer at Vetco Records in Cincinnati and played in Charlie Sizemore’s band. He recorded with Mac Wiseman and has worked with Jim and Jesse, Larry Sparks, the Heckels, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and Jesse McReynolds. He played in Branson, MO, for several years. In 1997, he returned to West Virginia and taught music at Glenville State College, where he was instrumental in developing the world’s first degree program in bluegrass music. He is a studio musician and has performed on various radio shows, including NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” In 2011, he was awarded the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor. In 2016, he played fiddle with Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press. He often performs with the West Virginia All-Star Bluegrass Band.
Appalachia, Brandon Kirk, cemeteries, Coney Isle, Ed Belcher, Elbert Garrett Family Cemetery, fiddler, Fort Branch, Frank Hutchison, genealogy, guitar, harp-organ, history, Lake, Logan Banner, Logan County, music, New York, Okeh Company, Omar Theatre, Peach Creek Theatre, piano, Sheila Brumfield Coleman, Stirrat Theatre, Stollings, West Virginia, West Virginia Rag, William Hatcher Garrett
Appalachia, Cain Adkins, Cain Adkins Jr., fiddler, fiddlers, genealogy, Grand Ole Opry, history, Lincoln County, Lincoln County Feud, Mariah Adkins, Matoaka, Mercer County, Mingo County, Mingo County Ramblers, Norfolk and Western Railroad, Raleigh County, West Virginia, Williamson, Winchester Adkins
Albert Stone, Annie Elizabeth Hill, Appalachia, Big Creek, Billy Adkins, Boone County, Brandon Kirk, California, Carlos Clark, Chapmanville High School, Church of Christ, Civilian Conservation Corps, Ed Haley, education, Edward W. Hill, Ellis Fork, fiddler, fiddling, Frank Hill, genealogy, Great Depression, guitar, Hell Among the Heffers, history, Huntington, Johnny Hager, Lloyd Ellis, Logan, Logan County, Madison, Melvin White, North Fork, Pope Dial, Pure Oil Company, Seymour Ellis, Six Mile Creek, square dances, Stone School, tobacco, Vernon Mullins, Walter Fowler, West Virginia, Whitman Creek
On June 2, 2004, Billy Adkins and I visited Frank Hill. Mr. Hill, a retired farmer, bus driver, and store keeper, made his home on Ellis Fork of North Fork of Big Creek in Boone County, West Virginia. Born in 1923, he was the son of Edward W. and Annie Elizabeth (Stollings) Hill. Billy and I were interested in hearing about Mr. Hill’s Fowler ancestry and anything he wanted to share about his own life. We greatly enjoyed our visit. What follows is a partial transcript of our interview:
I was born April 22, 1923 up the Ellis Fork Road. When I was born there, we had a four-room Jenny Lind house. It was an old-timer: double fireplace that burned coal and wood, you know. My mother had eleven children and I was the last one. When she saw me, she give up.
I went to the Stone School, a one-room school just up Ellis Fork. My wife’s grandpa, Albert Stone, gave them land to build this school. It wasn’t a big lot – it might have been 300 feet square. We played ball there in the creek. We didn’t have much dry ground. Well, I went through the 8th grade around there. Arithmetic was my best subject. I had good handwriting, too. I thought I could go into the 9th at Chapmanville but they wouldn’t let me. They said I hadn’t took this test you were supposed to take as you left the 8th grade.
I walked a mile and six-tenths to school. We’d had bad teachers. They couldn’t get no control over the students. Dad got this old fellow from Madison and he said, “Now, I’ll give you ten dollars extra on the month.” I think the board paid fifty dollars a month. Back then, young men and women went to school. Twenty, twenty-five years old. They were so mean the teachers couldn’t hardly handle them. I had an older brother that was one of them. A teacher whipped a younger brother he had one day and he said, “Old man, wait till I catch you out. I’ll give you a good one.” And he meant it, too.
Little Johnny Hager was a fiddle player. He was a little man, never was married. And he never had a home. All he had was a little suitcase with a few clothes in it. He’d stay with people maybe a month or two and the way he paid his keep was he whittled out lids or fed their pigs and stuff like that. He’d stay there a month or two till he felt he’d wore out his welcome then he’d go to another house. He was a well-liked little guy. Us boys, we followed him wherever he went cause he could sure play that fiddle. He played one tune called “Hell Among the Heffers”.
We had a hard time in this world. You couldn’t buy a job then. I had a brother-in-law that worked for the Pure Oil Company in Logan that was the only man that had a public job in this whole hollow. People grew tobacco to pay their taxes and bills they had accumulated. It was terrible. I remember my daddy had a little barrel of little potatoes when spring come and this old fellow lived above us, he was a musician. His name was Carlos Clark. He’d come out of the coalfields in Logan and he lost his home. His wife was a cousin of mine. He was trying to teach me to play the guitar. I’d go there and she’d lead the singing and he’d pick the guitar and I’d try to play second. He give me eleven lessons for that barrel of potatoes.
We had two or three around here that went to work in the CCC camps. Lloyd Ellis from Whitman’s Creek was one of them and Seymour Ellis was another one from Six Mile. In his last days, that was all he wanted to talk about. They went plumb into California in the CC camps. Then war broke out and they just switched them camps over to the Army. The Army operated those camps anyhow. That’s why they was so successful. They had control over boys to teach them how to do things.
We got just as wild as any of them. Ed Haley used to come over here and play. The Barker family had a full band. Now, they could make the rafters roar. There was an old lady lived in here married to Walter Fowler who called the dances and there wasn’t a one of us really knowed how to dance but we put on a show anyhow. They had them in people’s homes. No drinking allowed but there was always a few that did. They always had a lot of good cakes.
It was mostly Church of Christ around here. The main preacher up here in these parts was Pope Dial from Huntington. I’ll tell you another one that came in here that followed him sort of was Melvin White. Vernon Mullins followed up years later when he preached in here. I remember the first sermon he ever preached was around here in the one-room Stone School. He established a lot of different churches in the country but that was the first one. He’d talk about how he started here, preached his first sermon. Every funeral he conducted on this creek, he’d tell that story.
Let me try to describe John’s hands. They were very small in every way. He had frail hands as a gentleman might have, with little hair on them. I don’t recall that his fingers were unusually long. His knuckles were slightly larger than his actual fingers, maybe because his fingers were so thin. He kept his fingernails clean and filed smooth with a file. I remember he often filed his nails while on the bus during road trips; sometimes he filed his nails when conversations barely held his interest, half-listening. He absolutely never bit his fingernails. He seldom used his hands for any type of physical work because he didn’t want to risk hurting them; they were, he said, what paid the bills. The skin on his hands was somewhat loose and pale. When you shook his hand, it was very soft, although I’m sure he had slight callouses on the ends of his left hand fingers from playing the fiddle nearly every waking minute of the day. When I first met John at Morrow Library, he shook my hand and insisted that I call him John, not Mr. Hartford. When I later visited his home in Nashville during the summer for weeks or a month, before I had moved to Nashville, he would always shake my hand before I left for West Virginia. I recall at the end of my first trip how he stood in his driveway between his house and the guest house and remarked that we shouldn’t say goodbye because we would see each other again. John did not particularly like goodbyes; he preferred until next times. At the end of his life, upon commencement of his chemotherapy, he would shake very few people’s hand. Due to the chemotherapy, he was particularly concerned about germs. At that time, we shared a laptop and I always took care to clean the keys with alcohol before passing the laptop to him for manuscript review. I did this because I did not want to pass germs and make him ill; he never asked me to do it. Actually, I recall times he told me that it wasn’t necessary, but I did it anyway. Almost always, if he met someone at an event, they would greet him with a handshake, which he had to decline. It was awkward and in a peculiar way I think he enjoyed it. I may be mistaken, but it seems as if he contemplated or did in fact wear gloves for a short time just for handshakes. On a few occasions, he complained about having shaken hands with stout men who nearly crushed his hand; he detested an unnecessarily firm handshake because he said it might affect his ability to play. Later, after I moved to Nashville and visited and stayed many days and nights in his home I observed and he said that one of his favorite things to do was to sit with Marie on the bedroom couch at night and hold her hand while the two of them watched television. These were, of course, private moments and I only intruded if I had a question about the manuscript or a related matter. John’s wrists were small. He never wore a watch on his wrist, preferring instead to keep a pocket watch – usually tucked in his overalls front pocket or in the pocket of his vest, which he nearly always wore. If I remember correctly, his watch was colored gold, not silver. When I think of his hands, I see them holding a fiddle and bow at the dining room table and on stage, I see them moving across a banjo, I see them holding a fork and knife at dinner, I see them placing tiles on a Scrabble board during our games together, I see them holding a glass of red wine late at night during our conversations, I see them holding a book or a magazine at the couch by the fireplace, I see them gripping the wheel of his Cadillac on our way to Piccadilly Cafeteria, I see them pushing PLAY and turning up the volume on his car stereo…
For me a “tune” is a specific order of notes played by a certain person on a certain day at a certain time and given a certain name and if you want to really pin it down you could include the latitude and longitude of the event. If you were not there to personally witness this happening then the word of some one else is okay as long as you include that in the triangulation so that when you have put out this information you can lean back and say to your listener, “Now…you know as much about it as I do and you can draw your own conclusions.” This works for events and etc. Sometimes these sort of documented rumors are as close as we can get to the truth and it’s better than nothing.
I’ve been thinking about how much Ed probably wouldn’t like to think about a whole lot of what we have put in this book. For sure he didn’t like to talk about it, especially to his family. I guess I don’t blame him — he lived it. It’s easy for us to get into all of it from our totally secure positions here in 2000 knowing what we know. And from the vantage point of our research, there are probably some areas where we know things that Ed never did.
We decided to call this book “The Search for Ed Haley: Volume One” because we know that after it comes out people will be calling us saying, “Well, you didn’t call me,” and “You didn’t get that right,” and no telling what. But then that gives us fuel for Volume Two. Of course there is the chance (and it has crossed my mind) that when this book comes out that some of the old Harts Creek animosities might still be smoldering and some people might feel hurt. God, I hope not. Everybody has encouraged us and said it was time to bring out the truth.
In case you hadn’t figured it out, Brandon wrote most all of this book and I just went through and “Hartfordized” it. Even though I have my name up top, Brandon is the one who did all the work. A typical day for us would be Brandon back in the office transcribing taped interviews, making chapters out of them, and working and reworking the words. Me, I’ll be sitting at the dining room table out in the other room sawing on a fiddle. At first when Brandon would bring me a chapter I would go through it on the laptop and make corrections and reword some things. Then Brandon very quickly caught on to what it was I was after, and after awhile he would bring me chapters and I would just read them in amazement and not do anything to them, and we would just go on. It really is wonderful, ’cause even though we know every word in the book when we read it back we still learn things. “Oh, that’s why that happened that way. Well I’ll be damned.”
I’ve given this story a lot of thought and most of what I’m about to say is from instinct and gut reaction cause we didn’t necessarily have cold hard facts. I think Ed learned a lot from his mother in the period right after his dad’s death when he and her probably spent a lot of time in that cabin hid out together from the community at large and his only contact was through his mother’s family (his grandparents). Ed found a fiddle that his father had left behind (very possibly the one in the photograph which looks home made) and started sawing around on it. His mother in her grief over her late husband was probably all the time whistling and singing the old melodies, most of which he had played, and Ed picked them up much in the way that Howdy Forrester told me he picked up a lot of melodies from his mom’s whistling and singing around the house. They were the melodies Ed and his mother shared. His unusually natural technique developed because he had such a great ear and naturally not being able to see he was not in a position to pick up bad technical habits from other fiddlers. His mother probably coached him much in the same way that Lawrence coached me a hundred years later…saying things like, “That just don’t sound right.” “Pop never played that many notes.” “Pop’s groups of notes were smaller.” But then because we both could see, Lawrence also said things like, “Your bow hold don’t look like Pop’s” and “Pop held his fiddle down here and turned it.”