From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history for Logan County printed on November 3, 1936:
Time-Dimmed Record of Early Logan County Families in 1852-1877 Period in Old Books Found at Pecks Mill
Thumbing the now-dimmed pages of a yellowed book which recently came to light in old Peck’s Mill, members of Logan county’s oldest families may read in a painstakingly-kept record of the years 1852 to 1877 how their forefathers were brought into the world, married, educated, governed.
The record is written in pen and ink with the quaint flourishes and old-fashioned double letters of the 1800s by James J. Hinchman, who was clerk of the 12th regiment of the Virginia militia from 1852 to 1858; and by one, Ulysses Hinchman, who was clerk of the 129th regiment from 1858 to the Civil War; and later pastor, doctor, and trader.
The first entry, dated Nov. 3, 1852, records the meeting “at the house of Wm. McDonald near the mouth of Huffs Creek” of the Twelfth regiment of the Virginia militia in the days when Logan county was the property of Virginia.
Among the officers present were Major John Hager and Capt. James J. Hinchman, who was also clerk.
Most of the records at the first, which deal entirely with the regiment, are devoted to the salaries paid for “drumming and fifing,” the fines of 50 cents each for failure to report at meetings, and the excuse of members from duty “because of physical infirmities.”
Among the interesting entries is one relating, it is believed, to an ancestor of ex-champion Jack Dempsey, which reads:
“William Dempsey for fifing one day in Capt. Miller’s company.”
Two dollars, according to numerous accounts, was the regular salary paid for a day of fifing or drumming. For three days training, officers received $10.
Among regiment members mentioned are Calvary Hatfield and Reece Browning, forefathers of the Hatfield and Browning families of today.
On Sept. 10, 1858, the record is transferred to that of the 129th and is kept by Ulysses Hinchman. His first entry tells of a meeting at which John De Journett was elected colonel; K. McComas, first major; Reece Browning, second major; and Ulysses Hinchman, clerk. Officers attending were Captains George Avis, James H. Hinchman, John Starr, John Hatfield, John Chapman, and Barnabus Carter; and Lieutenants Martin Doss, George Bryant, Granville Riffe, Louis White, Charles Staton and Green A. Clark.
Interesting in these pages are the forming of new companies in which the names of the creeks and localities are for the most part the same as today. Among the familiar names are Huffs, Gilbert, Harts and Big Creek, Guyandotte river, and Trace Fork.
There is no mention of the Civil War, but it is mutely attested to by two entries, the first, dated 1862 at the bottom of one page and the second dated 1866 at the top of the next, which read:
“Apr. 5, 1862—Abner Vance and Nathan Elkins received their claims.
1866—Rec’d of Eli Gore, county treasurer for my last year’s services, $50.
“Ulysses Hinchman, superintendent of schools.”
The next year, we are gratified to learn, his salary has increased to $300.
We learn that Logan, which then included Mingo and Wyoming counties, was at that time composed of five districts, Union, Triadelphia, Hardy, Chapmanville, and Magnolia; and that the county’s finances were all handled through Wheeling, then the only city of size in West Virginia.
The records contain long lists of certificates awarded to teachers for $1, among the recipients being John Dempsey, Eli Gore, Joseph Hinchman, Harvey Ellis and Evans Ferrell.
In the midst of the records of 1866 and ’67 we come upon the terse paragraph which informs that:
“The sheriff failed to settle for taxes of 1861.”
The board of education’s budget for 1869 was $2077.60 and was apportioned to these clerks of the various townships; Union, David Mullins; Triadelphia, Gordon Riffe; Magnolia, Joseph B. Browning; Hardy, Adam Browning; and Chapmanville, Wm. Stollings. Increased expenses that year made it necessary to levy a tax of “5 cents on $100.”
An enumeration of all children “between the ages of 6 and 21” in 1868 totaled 2139.
In 1871, our patient scribe becomes “Dr. U.S. Hinchman” and the record his personal account book. We learn much of the practices and hardships of the first country doctors and that his troubles in collecting the pitifully small fees of those days were as great as those of any “specialist” of today.
Dr. Hinchman had no set rates, but based on his charges upon the number of miles traveled (usually 50 cents per mile); the number of days and nights spent, and—quite evidently—the circumstances of his patient.
His customary charge for a delivery, if it chanced to come in the day time, appeared to be $5.50; but if the child arrived in the night and required many miles of travel it was a more expensive proposition—the fees sometimes reaching as high as $9.
The birth of one of these $9 babies is graphically recorded as follows:
“Labor two nights and days–$7
10 miles at 50 cents–$5
The doctor’s highest charge was one of $10 on a case which required three days and nights.
Interspersed freely with the accounts of births, and sicknesses are frequent entries of marriages at $2 each.
Toward the last of the book, in 1877, the author’s handwriting becomes more labored and the fine shadings and flourishing gradually disappear—evidence that his years of soldiering, school teaching, and doctoring were taking their toll.
At this time, too, he begins to record not only his receipts, but his expenditures and trades, and we read, not without envy, of purchases of “one bushel of sweet potatoes, 50 cents,” and “one and a half bushel of Irish potatoes, 75 cents.”
One of the last entries, dated Aug. 1877, tells of his receiving for his professional services a large amount of coffee which he traded for $5 cash, a suit, and a round of shoes,” the latter evidently referring to horseshoes.
As, regretfully, we close the book; we feel that we know that patient and prolific old settler of Logan County, Ulysses Hinchman—his honor as a soldier and officer, his strict accounting of himself as a public official, his hardships and struggles as a country doctor; and through all, his conscientious, faithful keeping of records. And we share, with his descendants, a great pride in him.
Somehow we know that when, with failing hand, he concluded his long accounts in another book; his record was clear and straight—his house was in order.