Appalachia, Blood in West Virginia, cemeteries, genealogy, Harts Creek, history, Hugh Dingess, Hugh Dingess Family Cemetery, Lincoln County Feud, Logan County, photos, Smokehouse Fork, U.S. South, Viola Dingess, West Virginia
Betty Dingess, Bill Brewster, Bill's Branch, Blaine Dingess, Bruce Dingess, cemeteries, Cleo Dingess, Delphia Dingess, Don Braudis Dingess, Donna Jean Dingess, Fisher Dingess, genealogy, Harts Creek, Henry Dingess, history, Hugh Dingess, Hugh Dingess Family Cemetery, Hugh Dingess Hollow, John Dingess, John M. Slone, Logan County, Martha Dingess, Mary Dingess, Mathew Dingess, Matilda Dingess, Millard Dingess, Pauline Dingess, Sally Dingess, Smokehouse Fork, Viola Dingess, Wallace Dingess, West Virginia
The Hugh Dingess Family Cemetery, which I visited on 24 August 2014, is located on Smokehouse Fork of Harts Creek in Logan County, WV. Driving up Smokehouse Road from the old Shively Post Office, it is located to the right of the road just past Hugh Dingess Hollow (or Bill’s Branch, as the stream is sometimes called). I updated this cemetery list on 3 August 2015.
rock headstone and footstone
Fisher Dingess — tin marker; born about 1917; s/o Willis and Bertha (Adkins) Dingess
Viola Dingess — tin marker; born 23 August 1919; d/o Willis and Bertha (Adkins) Dingess; died 23 July 1921
Cleo Dingess — tin marker
Viola Dingess (15 April 1860-12 October 1896); d/o Harvey S. and Patsy Ann (Adams) Dingess; m. Hugh Dingess
Hugh Dingess (01 June 1858-23 May 1916); s/o Henderson and Sarah (Adams) Dingess
rock headstone and footstone (baby)
rock headstone and footstone
B. BRU — This is Bill Brewster; born 10 April 1854; s/o James and L. (Holbrook) Brewster; m. Nancy Cline (sister to Matilda Cline); died 24 July 1921
Harry Dingess (12 April 1930-1940)
(small gap between graves)
rock headstone and footstone
square rock headstone and small rock footstone
Mathew Dingess — tin marker
rock headstone and footstone, both fell over (baby)
rock headstone fell over with footstone?
little rock headstone located out of sync with Row 2 just below the footstones for the graves of Don and Bruce Dingess in Row 3
rock headstone laying with small rock beside of it protruding upward
tiny rock headstone protruding upward, large rock footstone
square rock headstone laying on ground
smashed rock headstone, thick square footstone
little rock headstone
Don Braudis Dingess (28 September 1913-18 April 1948); s/o Charles Everett and Bessie (Cline) Dingess
Bruce Dingess — tin marker; born 26 July 1900; s/o Hugh and Matilda (Cline) Dingess; died 06 February 1940
Delphia Dingess (03 May 1903-16 July 1971); d/o Charles and Minerva (Vance) Hager; m. Charles Evert Dingess
Sally Dingess (01 January 1898-16 August 1986); d/o Harvey and Flora Belle (Farley) Dingess; m. Millard Dingess
Millard Dingess (30 September 1892-10 December 1956); s/o Hugh and Viola (Dingess) Dingess
(gap between graves)
Wallace Dingess (December 1886-September 1944); s/o Hugh and Viola (Dingess) Dingess
Betty Dingess (1894-1938); d/o David and Nancy Ann (Cabell) Farmer; m. Wallace Dingess
Henry Dingess (24 June 1928-06 November 1966); s/o Wallace and Betty (Farmer) Dingess; WV PFC INFANTRY
“T.D.” on rock footstone behind Wallace Dingess — this is Terry Dingess, s/o Dave and Dorothy (Farley) Dingess
(gap in graves)
John Dingess (19 January 1900-29 October 1955)
Blaine Dingess (1906-1955); s/o Hugh and Matilda (Cline) Dingess
Matilda Dingess (17 October 1878-03 July 1962); d/o James and Pricie (Roberts) Cline; m1. ?; m2. Hugh Dingess; m3. Charles Hager
Mary Dingess (1932-2005)
Donna Jean Dingess (22 July 1937-31 July 1975)
tin marker — name and date gone
John M. Slone (11 October 1982-11 October 1982)
Martha Dingess (08 July 1923-17 January 1998); d/o Millard and Sally (Dingess) Dingess
Pauline Dingess (17 May 1921-07 April 2003); d/o Millard and Sally (Dingess) Dingess; m. Charles Edward Dingess
Others Reportedly Buried Here:
Thelma Dingess (August 1924-22 August 1927); d/o Millard and Sally (Dingess) Dingess
Janett Dingess (1930-16 August 1934); d/o Charles Everett and Delphia (Hager) Dingess
Harvey Dingess (13 April 1930-24 June 1941); s/o Millard and Sally (Dingess) Dingess
Alfred Cabell, Alifair Adams, Almeda Mullins, Andrew J. Fowler, Anthony Adams, Appalachia, Barker School, Betsy Fowler, Big Creek, Bruce McDonald, Buck Fork, Burl Farley, Chapmanville, Chapmanville District, Crawley Creek, David C. Dingess, David Kinser, Dorcas Barker, E.C. Duty, education, Etta Robertson, F.D. Young Tie and Lumber Company, Fowlers Branch, Garland B. Conley, genealogy, Green Farley, Harriet Duty, Harriet Thompson, Harts Creek, Harvey Thompson, history, Hugh Dingess, Huntington, J.E. Peck, J.T. Ferrell, James I. Dingess, James Lowe, Jane Ferrell, Jennie Dingess, Joe Phipps, John G. Butcher, Lane School, Logan County, Louisa Butcher, Lucinda Lucas, M.D. Stone, M.J. Stone, Marsh Fork, Martha J. Dingess, Mary Ann Farley, Mary Peck, North Fork, North Fork School, Peter Dingess, Polly Conley, Robert L. Barker, Robert Mullins, Rocky Branch, Rocky School, S.B. Robertson, Smokehouse Fork, Sophia Kinser, Striker, Theophilus Fowler, Three Forks, Tim's Fork, Trace Fork, U.S. South, West Fork, West Virginia, William Barker
In 1908, A.J. Fowler, James Lowe, and Alfred Cabell, members of the Chapmanville District board of education, recorded deeds for district school property at the Logan County (WV) Clerk’s Office. Most of the deeds had been previously destroyed in a house fire. At the time of their destruction, 1897, Joe Phipps was secretary of the district board of education. Given below is the date of transfer, the grantor’s name, the location of the property, and the amount of money paid by the board to the grantor.
October 3, 1896: Louisa Butcher, 1/2 acre on Crawley Creek, near Striker, $25
August 4, 1897: Betsy Fowler, widow of Theophilus Fowler, et al, 1/4 acre Fowler’s Branch in Chapmanville, $50
August 10, 1897: Jennie Dingess, widow of Peter Dingess, and David C. Dingess, 1/2 acre Tim’s Fork, $0
August 10, 1897: James I. Dingess and Martha J. Dingess, “Rocky School,” 1/2 acre mouth Rocky Branch, $30
August 10, 1897: Harvey and Harriet Thompson, 1/2 acre, East Fork, $15
August 10, 1897: Lucinda Lucas, main Harts Creek, $8
August 10, 1897: Jane Ferrell, widow of J.T. Ferrell, et al, Lane School, $15
August 10, 1897: Hugh Dingess, Smoke House Fork, $15
August 10, 1897: Louisa Butcher, widow of John G. Butcher, 1/2 acre Crawley, Striker, $20
August 10, 1897: Anthony and Alafair Adams, mouth of Buck Fork, $0
August 10, 1897: E.C. and Harriett Duty, 1/2 acre North Fork, “North Fork School,” $15
August 10, 1897: Robert L. Barker and Dorcas Barker, widow of William, Big Creek, “Barker School,” $15
August 10, 1897: J.E. and Mary Peck (originally from Green Farley), Three Forks of Crawley, $10
August 17, 1897: Polly Conley, widow of Garland B. Conley, et al, Smoke House, $8
August 18, 1897: Sophia and David Kinser, Trace Fork, $0
August 24, 1897: Mary Ann and Burwell Farley, Smoke House Fork, $15
February 7, 1902: Robert and Almeda Mullins, main Harts Creek, $10
January 2, 1904: F.D. Young Tie & Lumber Company of Huntington, 1/2 acre Marsh Fork Branch of West Fork, $10
December 2, 1905: M.D. and M.J. Stone, 425/1000 acre, $25
July 21, 1908: S.B. and Etta Robertson and Bruce McDonald, Lot 64 in Chapmanville, $125
Al Brumfield, banjo, Billy Adkins, blind, Bob Bryant, Brandon Kirk, Burl Farley, Charley Brumfield, Ed Haley, Fed Adkins, fiddlers, French Bryant, Green McCoy, Harve "Short Harve" Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, John Hartford, Kentucky, Lincoln County Feud, Martin County, measles, Milt Haley, music, Nashville, Piney, Smokehouse Fork, Tom Holzen, West Fork, Wolf Creek, writing
Brandon and I also called Bob Bryant, a son of the infamous French Bryant, who lived with his son at the mouth of Piney Creek on West Fork. Billy Adkins had encouraged us to call Bob, saying that he would probably tell us what he knew of the Haley-McCoy murders. When we called Bob, his son said we were welcome to talk with his dad, although he warned us that his memory wasn’t very good.
Bob said he was born on Piney in 1911.
When I asked him about French Bryant he said he knew very little about him because his dad “was pretty old” when he was born. He said he did remember his father talking “some” about the Haley-McCoy affair.
“Milt and Green were pretty rough fellers who got in a lot of trouble all the time,” Bob said. “They were bad to drink. Milt Haley and Green McCoy was fiddlers — I think so. Maybe they was. Yeah, I almost know they was. One of them picked the banjo, I believe, but I don’t know for sure.”
Bob said Hugh Dingess, who was “kind of an outlaw,” organized a posse to fetch Milt and Green after they shot Al and Hollena Brumfield. They found them over around Wolf Creek in Martin County, Kentucky.
“Them Dingesses up there killed them,” Bob said. “It didn’t take much to get them to shoot you back then. People’d shoot you just to be a doing something.”
I asked Bob if he ever heard anything about who took part in what he kept calling “the shooting” and he said, “Hugh Dingess and four or five more.”
He paused, then said, “A few of them I wouldn’t want to tell you.”
We were just waiting for him to say his father’s name when he said, “Short Harve Dingess was pretty rough. Seems like he was in that bunch some way.”
Some of the others were: Al Brumfield, Charley Brumfield, Fed Adkins, and Burl Farley.
Bob never identified his father as a member of the mob but mentioned that his father was a friend to the Dingesses on Smokekouse.
He said he remembered seeing Ed play at the schoolhouse above the mouth of Piney when he was nineteen years old.
“He was a real fiddler,” Bob said.
In subsequent weeks, Brandon and I went through most of our information — processing it, sorting it, discussing it. We thought more about the story of Milt causing Ed’s blindness by dipping him in ice water and wondered how anyone would have ever equated those as cause-effect events. I got on the phone with Dr. Tom Holzen, a doctor-friend of mine in Nashville, who said Milt’s dipping of Ed in ice water, while a little crude, was actually the right kind of thing to do in that it would have lowered his fever. Based on that, Milt seems to have been a caring father trying to save Ed’s life or ease his suffering. Was it the act of a desperate man who had already lost other children to disease?
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Anthony Adams, Ben Adams, Bill Brumfield, Bill's Branch, Billy Adkins, blind, Blood in West Virginia, Boardtree Bottom, Brandon Kirk, Buck Fork, Burl Farley, Carolyn Johnnie Farley, Cecil Brumfield, Charley Brumfield, Charlie Dingess, crime, Ed Haley, Fed Adkins, fiddling, French Bryant, George Fry, Green McCoy, Green Shoal, Hamlin, Harts Creek, Harve "Short Harve" Dingess, Hell Up Coal Hollow, Henderson Dingess, history, Hugh Dingess, John Brumfield, John Dingess, Kentucky, life, Lincoln County Feud, Low Gap, Milt Haley, murder, Paris Brumfield, Polly Bryant, Smokehouse Fork, Sycamore Bottom, Tom Maggard, Trace Fork, Vilas Adams, West Fork, West Virginia, Will Adkins, Williamson, writing
Al rounded up a gang of men to accompany him on his ride to fetch the prisoners in Williamson. Albert and Charlie Dingess were ringleaders of the posse, which included “Short Harve” Dingess, Hugh Dingess, John Dingess, Burl Farley, French Bryant, John Brumfield, and Charley Brumfield. Perhaps the most notorious member of the gang was French Bryant – “a bad man” who “did a lot of dirty work for the Dingesses.” On the way back from Kentucky, he tied Milt and Green by the arms and “drove them like a pair of mules on a plow line.”
“French Bryant run and drove them like a pair of horses ahead of these guys on the horses,” John said. “That’s quite a ways to let them walk. Old French, he married a Dingess. I knew old French Bryant. When he died, he was a long time dying and they said that he hollered for two or three days, ‘Get the ropes off me!’ I guess that come back to him.”
When the gang reached the headwaters of Trace Fork — what John called “Adams territory” — they sent a rider out ahead in the darkness to make sure it was safe to travel through that vicinity.
Waiting on the Brumfield posse was a mob of about 100 men hiding behind trees at Sycamore Bottom, just below the mouth of Trace Fork. This mob was led by Ben and Anthony Adams and was primarily made up of family members or people who worked timber for the Adamses, like Tom Maggard (“Ben’s right hand man”).
As the Brumfield rider approached their location, they began to click their Winchester rifles — making them “crack like firewood.” Hearing this, the rider turned back up Trace Fork, where he met the Brumfields and Dingesses at Boardtree Bottom and warned them about the danger at the mouth of Trace. They detoured safely up Buck Fork, then stopped at Hugh Dingess’ on Smokehouse where they remained for two or three days, not really sure of what to do with their prisoners. They made a “fortress” at Hugh’s by gathering about 100 men around them, fully aware that Ben Adams might make another effort to recapture Milt and Green.
While at Hugh’s, they got drunk on some of the red whiskey and apple brandy made at nearby Henderson’s. They also held a “trial” to see if Milt and Green would admit their guilt. They took one of the men outside and made him listen through the cracks between the logs of the house as his partner confessed on the inside. About then, the guy outside got loose and ran toward Bill’s Branch but was grabbed by “Short Harve” Dingess as he tried to scurry over a fence.
After this confession, the Brumfields and Dingesses considered killing Milt and Green on the spot but “got scared the Adamses was gonna take them” and headed towards Green Shoal.
John didn’t know why they chose George Fry’s home but figured Mr. Fry was a trusted acquaintance. He said they “punished” them “quite a bit there” but also got one to play a fiddle.
“These people that killed them, they made them play their last tune,” John said. “One of them would play and one guy, I think, he never would play for them. I forgot which one, but they never could get one guy to do much. The other one’d do whatever they’d tell him to do. That’s just before they started shooting them. The tune that they played was ‘Hell Up Coal Hollow’. I don’t know what that tune is.”
After that, the mob “shot their brains out” and left them in the yard where the “chickens ate their brains.”
A neighbor took their bodies through Low Gap and buried them on West Fork.
John said there was a trial over Haley and McCoy’s murders, something we’d never heard before. Supposedly, about one hundred of the Brumfields and their friends rode horses to Hamlin and strutted into the courtroom where they sat down with guns on their laps. The judge threw the case out immediately because he knew they were fully prepared to “shoot up the place.”
This “quick trial,” of course, didn’t resolve the feud. Back on Harts Creek, Ben Adams often had to hide in the woods from the Dingesses. One time, Hugh and Charlie Dingess put kerosene-dowsed cornstalks on his porch and set them on fire, hoping to drive him out of his house where they could shoot him. When they realized he wasn’t home, they extinguished the fire because they didn’t want to harm his wife and children. Mrs. Adams didn’t live long after the feud. Ben eventually moved to Trace Fork where he lived the rest of his life. Charlie never spoke to him again.
John also said there seemed to have been a “curse” on the men who participated in the killing of Haley and McCoy. He said Albert Dingess’ “tongue dropped out,” Al Brumfield “was blind for years before he died,” and Charlie Dingess “died of lung cancer.” We had heard similar tales from Johnny Farley and Billy Adkins, who said mob members Burl Farley and Fed Adkins both had their faces eaten away by cancer. Vilas Adams told us about one of the vigilantes drowning (Will Adkins), while we also knew about the murders of Paris Brumfield, John Brumfield, Charley Brumfield, and Bill Brumfield.
Just before hanging up with John, Brandon asked if he remembered Ed Haley. John said he used to see him during his younger days on Harts Creek.
“When he was a baby, old Milt wanted to make him tough and he’d take him every morning to a cold spring and bath him,” he said. “I guess he got a cold and couldn’t open his eyes. Something grew over his eyes so Milt took a razor and cut it off. Milt said that he could take that off so he got to fooling with it with a razor and put him blind.”
John said Ed made peace with a lot of the men who’d participated in his father’s killing and was particularly good friends with Cecil Brumfield, a grandson of Paris.
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Ben Adams, Bill's Branch, blind, Buck Fork, Dorothy Brumfield, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, feud, French Bryant, Green McCoy, Harts Creek, Harve "Short Harve" Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, John Brumfield, Lincoln County Feud, Logan County, Milt Haley, Piney, Smokehouse Fork, Ticky George Adams, timbering, Violet Mullins, West Virginia, writing
Sensing that Dorothy had told all she knew about Ed and knowing that she was one-quarter Dingess, we asked her about Milt Haley.
“Some terrible things went on about Ed’s daddy,” she said. “I heard about that.”
Dorothy blamed the trouble squarely on Ben Adams. She said he was a “bully” who wanted to control all the timber on Harts Creek. He hired Milt Haley and Green McCoy to kill Al Brumfield but they accidentally shot Hollena.
“And them men that shot them went back in towards Kentucky somewhere and they put out a reward for them,” Dorothy said.
Haley and McCoy were soon caught and a Brumfield posse took possession of them.
Ben Adams organized a mob to free them at the mouth of Smoke House Fork but the Brumfields were warned by a spy and detoured up Buck Fork and over a mountain to Hugh Dingess’ house.
“The Adamses come a hair of catching them,” Dorothy said. “You can just imagine what kind of war would have been if they had a got them.”
A large number of men gathered in at Hugh’s for protection, including Albert Dingess (her great-grandfather), “Short Harve” Dingess (her great-uncle), John Brumfield, and French Bryant, among others. At some point, they took Milt outside and shot a few times to scare Green into making a confession inside Hugh’s, but Milt yelled, “Don’t tell them a damn thing. I ain’t dead yet!” McCoy yelled back, “Don’t be scared. I ain’t told nothing yet!”
Dorothy said the mob eventually took Milt and Green up Bill’s Branch and down Piney where they “knocked their heads out with axes and the chickens eat their brains.”
Just before we left Dorothy, we asked if she remembered any of Ed’s family. She said his uncle Ticky George Adams (the grandfather of her late husband) was a ginseng digger who spoke with a lisp and loved to heat hog brains. This image contrasted sharply with what others around Harts Creek had said: that he was a moonshiner who’d shoot someone “at the drop of a hat.” Violet Mullins had told us earlier how Ticky George would get “fightin’ mad” if anyone called him by his nickname. The only thing Dorothy knew about Ed’s wife was, “She went in the outside toilet and then after that some woman went in there and said they was a big blacksnake a hanging. They said she went places and played music.”
Al Brumfield, Ben Adams, Bernie Adams, Brandon Kirk, Cain Adkins, Caroline Brumfield, Cecil Brumfield, Dave Dingess, Ed Haley, fiddle, French Bryant, Harriet Brumfield, Harts Creek, Henderson Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, John Hartford, John W Runyon, Lillian Ray, Logan, Milt Haley, Paris Brumfield, Sallie Dingess, Smokehouse Fork, Tom Martin, writing
A little later, Brandon visited Lillian Ray, a seventy-something-year-old daughter of Cecil Brumfield who lived in a beautiful two-story house on the Smokehouse Fork of Harts Creek. Lilly, he discovered, had a lot of the old Dingess family photographs. To Brandon’s surprise, there were several thick-paged Victorian velvet-covered albums full of tintypes and a few boxes of sepia images on decorative cardboard squares. Only a few were labeled, but he recognized some of the faces: Al Brumfield, Henderson and Sallie Dingess, Hugh Dingess, Mrs. Charley Brumfield, Mrs. John Brumfield, and Dave Dingess. No doubt, there were pictures in the album of Ben Adams and Hollena Brumfield in their youth.
Before leaving, Brandon asked Lilly about Ed Haley. She said she remembered him coming to her father’s house when he lived in the old Henderson Dingess homeplace. He would just show up, leading himself with a cane, and stay for two or three days. Lilly hated to see him come because he was so hateful to the Brumfield children — “always running his mouth.” She described him as a “little short man” who “drank a lot” and told how he and Bernie Adams once borrowed a fiddle from her father and then pawned it off in Logan. The fiddle originally belonged to Tom Martin.
Not long after visiting Lilly, Brandon sent me a letter updating me on his research along with pictures of people we’d only imagined. As they turned up, I wondered if I were to go into a room with Al, Paris, Milt, Green, French, Cain, Runyon — without knowing who any of them were — which ones would I take to strictly on a personality basis? Which ones would I have a gut reaction to think, “Well, he’s a pretty fair good old boy,” or, “Boy, I don’t know about that feller there. Something’s just not right.” I mean, you walk in the room and, “That’s Al Brumfield?” No way. “That’s Cain Adkins?” Nope, I can’t believe that.
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