Boone County, boxer, boxing, Cecilia Dempsey, Cecilia Smoot, Chapmanville, Charles Smoot, Chicago, Colorado, Don Ellis, Dyke Garrett, Enoch Baker, Gay Coal and Coke Company, Gene Tunney, Hiram Dempsey, history, Holden, Huntington, Huntington Hotel, Island Creek, J. Kenneth Stolts, Jack Dempsey, Jack Kearns, John B. Ellis, Joseph Ellis, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Manassa, Salt Lake City, Scott Justice, Simpson Ellis, Stratton Street, The Long Count Fight, Utah, West Virginia, Wiatt Smith
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about champion boxer Jack Dempsey dated September 9, 1927:
Jack Dempsey’s Mother Pays Visit to Logan
Travels from Utah to See Relatives and Old Friends and Neighbors
Maiden Name Cecilia Smoot
Uncle Dyke Garrett Among Welcomers; Dempseys Once Owned Site of Holden.
While Jack Dempsey is fighting to regain the heavyweight championship of the world, his mother Mrs. Hiram Dempsey will be the guest of Logan relatives and friends. She is expected to arrive at any hour for an extended visit to the scenes of her childhood.
Mrs. Dempsey arrived at Huntington Sunday and then planned to come here the next day. Later, word came that she would complete today the last lap of a motor trip from Salt Lake City to Logan.
Interviewed at Huntington Mrs. Dempsey told of her desire to revisit girlhood scenes and inquired about old friends. She spoke of Uncle Dyke Garrett and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he is still living. Uncle Dyke read the interview (his wife is an aunt of Wiatt Smith, the interviewer) and despite the nearness of his 86th birthday, came back up from his home back of Chapmanville to welcome Mrs. Dempsey.
This beloved old mountain minister never knew Jack Dempsey, but he remembers Jack’s mother as a girl, her maiden name being Cecilia Smoot. She was a daughter of Charles Smoot, who came to Logan from Boone county, and who lived and died up on Island Creek. After his death, Mrs. Smoot (Jack Dempsey’s grandmother) married Simpson Ellis, who died but a few years ago, after serving a long period on the county court.
Scott Justice, who divides his time between Huntington and Logan, was among those who greeted Mrs. Dempsey at the Huntington Hotel yesterday. He remembers the marriage of Hiram Dempsey and Cecilia Smoot, and also recalls that the site on which the town of Holden now stands was sold by Hiram Dempsey to Mr. Justice’s father when the family decided to migrate westward.
According to Mr. Justice, the tract of 200 acres changed hands for a consideration of $600.
“Uncle” Enoch Baker was another caller to greet the challenger’s mother. Mr. Baker was engaged in business in Logan county when the Dempseys lived here, being well acquainted with the family.
Mrs. Dempsey was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. J. Kenneth Stolts of Salt Lake City. They made the trip from Utah, where Jack’s mother now has her permanent home, in a large automobile, traveling in easy stages. They arrived in Huntington Sunday evening and are leaving there today.
She called her famous son in Chicago by telephone Sunday night to advise him she had arrived here safely.
While in Logan, Mrs. Dempsey will visit her half-brothers, Don Ellis of Stratton Street, and Joseph and John B. Ellis of Island Creek, and others.
She has never seen Jack in the ring and will probably receive the result of the coming battle from friends in Logan.
The difference in the ages of the champion and challenger will not be an advantage to Tunney, Jack’s mother thinks. “If Tunney will stand up and fight, I expect Jack will give a good account of himself. But if Jack has to chase him all the time, Tunney may turn around and give him a licking in the end. I believe they are pretty evenly matched and lucky may figure in the outcome,” she said.
The Dempseys left Logan in 1887 and William Harrison (Jack) was born in Manassa, Colo., in June ’95. While he was a mere child they returned to Logan county. Jack remained here until a young man, having been employed by the Gay Coal and Coke Company as late as 1913, and then went west alone to seek pugilistic fortune. He met Jack Kearns on the Pacific coast, from which point his spectacular climb to the pinnacle of the heavyweight division furnished the sport with one of its most romantic episodes.
In view of the fact that Dempsey is said to have lived in this county and because of the interest in the approaching fight, the foll