Appalachia, crime, farming, genealogy, Gilbert Creek, H.E. Ellis, history, James E. McDonald, James Stimpson, Joseph Bragg, justice of the peace, Logan, Logan County, Logan County Banner, logging, M.A. Hatfield, merchant, Mingo County, timbering, West Virginia, William Johnson
From the Logan County Banner of Logan, WV, come these items about Gilbert in present-day Mingo County, WV, dated 1894:
On yesterday William Johnson lodged James Stimpson and Joseph Bragg in jail here. They were sent on for further trial by Justice M.A. Hatfield, on a charge of breaking into the store of H.E. Ellis, on Gilbert creek. The boys confessed to the offense.
Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 24 May 1894
From Waco, written on July 7, 1894 from Gilbert:
EDITOR BANNER: Farmers are very busy with their crops. Corn is looking as well as could be expected. Oats in most cases are promising.
Two or three applications have been made for our school, but it is thought that Prof. James E. McDonald will teach it.
That log tide which failed to materialize makes it hard on taxpayers and merchants.
Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 12 July 1894
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of news relating to coal miners on strike in Mingo County, dated March 31, 1922:
Mine Workers Cut Mingo Miners’ Wage
Will Reduce Strike Benefits to $3 to Men in Mingo Field, According to Letter
WANT AND FAMINE SURE TO INCREASE RAPIDLY
Fight Has Been a Losing One for Many Weeks and as Big Strike Looms Further Aid is Gone
The miners who have been fighting and striking in Mingo county for recognition of the union have just received word that their schedule of relief had been cut to $3 a week which would show that their fight has been a losing one.
This long story of suffering, want and privation in Mingo county will now be added to with additional misery, for the coming strike cannot be reckoned in days. Surely we of Logan county should be glad of the fact that our miners are working with their employers and not against them, and the first man who would suggest the Mingo conditions as better than the ones we are now enjoying should be properly dealt with by his fellow workers who are sure of year around employment at good wages to the $3 a week or less that is given to the strikers in Mingo. Surely the union officials will realize some day the suffering their greed is causing and stop this movement toward anarchy.
The following is the letter sent to miners on strike in Mingo county:
Williamson, W.Va., Mar. 20, 1922
Dear Sir and Brother:–
As you well know the drain upon the International Treasury for sometime has been very great. Notwithstanding that we have continued to supply the miners of Mingo county with a very liberal amount of relief. The amount of relief issued in the Williamson field has been greater than that in any strike in the history of the organization. The miners have been working on slack time throughout the country and on March 31, 1922, the present working agreement will expire and the miners of Mingo county will be standing side by side with the other miners of the country. The other miners of the country have given you more consideration than they have given themselves and are still willing to give further consideration through the long duration of your strike.
It will require a considerable amount of money to carry on negotiations so that it will be necessary for us to reduce the relief at this time.
I am therefore advising you that beginning with the week of March 27th, the schedule of relief will be men $3, women $1, child 50 cents a week. I am not sure that I can continue to pay even this amount if the general suspense of mining should last any length of time. However the miners of this country will do the best they can and continue to send in the liberal relief amount as long as possible.
With every good wish, I am,
Very truly yours,
International representative and financial agent
United Mine Workers of America
Appalachia, Delorme, Democratic Party, Devil Anse Hatfield, Evaline Marie Hatfield, genealogy, Grace Ferrell, history, Huntington Business College, Island Creek, Joe D. Hatfield Jr., Joe Hatfield, Levisa Hatfield, Logan Banner, Logan County, Marshall College, Mingo County, politics, Republican Party, sheriff, Stirrat, teacher, Tennis Hatfield, Tug River, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of political history dated December 13, 1927:
J.D. Hatfield Announces Candidacy For Sheriff
Native Son Will Ask for Republican Nomination in May Primary–That He Would Enter Race Was Expected, and That He Possesses Unusual Political Strength Is Undisputed
Joe Hatfield will be a candidate for the Republican nomination for sheriff in the primary election May 29.
That announcement will doubtless arouse tremendous interest but will create little surprise. For many months the public has expected that at a seasonable time his hat would be quietly tossed into the ring and remain there until the voters had registered their approval or disapproval. Having determined upon a course of action, he will go straight ahead.
Born and reared in Logan county, in love with its every stream and mountain, hoping and expecting to spend the remainder of his life amid the rugged hills to which his ancestors were lured by fate a century ago, he says he has long had an ambition to serve as sheriff of the county beloved of his kith and kin.
The statement that he was born in this county calls for this qualification: Joe Davis Hatfield was born at Delorme, on Tug River, then in Logan county but now in Mingo. That was 44 years ago. Except for a period at Huntington Business College and a year (1903-4) at Marshall College, he has lived hereabouts and his life is an open book. He attended country school on Island Creek and had some experience as a relief teacher, though at no time did he ever consider that his vocation. He is a brother of Sheriff Tennis Hatfield and a son of the late Captain Anse Hatfield and Lovisa Chafin Hatfield–their fourth youngest child, Tennis being the youngest.
Joe was married in 1917 to Grace Ferrell of a Mingo county family and is the father of two children, Evaline Marie, aged eight, and Joe D., Jr., aged five.
His fraternal affiliation are limited to the Elks and the Modern Woodmen of America.
In commenting on his announcement, Mr. Hatfield said, “I’m not running for the office solely for the honor and rewards it might bring, but also because I believe I can fill it in a way that my children and friends will be proud of. I want to give the people a square deal for their sake and mine–why should a man in an important office like that want to do less? I expect to be nominated, but if not I’ll do my part for the man who beats me; and when nominated I’ll plan to wage an active and winning campaign. Besides my experience and observation have given me some ideas about what a sheriff can and should do and I’ll probably discuss these with friends and perhaps in the papers at the proper time.”
It is not The Banner’s purpose to espouse any man’s candidacy before the primary, yet there is no hesitancy in saying here and now that Joe Hatfield will be regarded by voters of all parties as a formidable candidate for the nomination. Quiet, suave, friendly, neat and attractive in appearance, on intimate terms with hundreds and even thousands of voters in the county, the scion of a prominent pioneer family, his strength is obvious to the humblest citizens as well as those trained in politics. And while on the subject of politics, let it be recalled that Stirrat, Hatfield’s precinct, was the banner Republican precinct in the county in 1926. The Republican vote varied from 310 to 312 for the different candidates; the Democratic vote from 54 to 58. The precinct won a flag for the largest registration of Republican voters before the primary and won a silver cup for the largest Republican vote in the election, the prizes having been offered by the county committee. Incidentally, that feat was credited largely to Joe Hatfield and brought the first prophecy the writer heard that he would be the next sheriff of Logan county.
Appalachia, Beauty, Charleston, Cinder Bottom, coal, crime, dancing, Elizabeth Nagy, Ellis Park, Emmett Scaggs, Himlerville, history, Hungarian Benevolent Association, Hungarian Miners' Journal, Hungarian-Americans, Hungarians, Huntington, Joe Hatfield, Kentucky, Keystone, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Martin County, McDowell County, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Rose Mustapha, Warfield, Welch, West Virginia, Williamson, Williamson Daily News
Between 1900 and 1920, a large number of Hungarians settled in West Virginia. Most were employed as coal miners. As of 1920, 6,260 Hungarians lived in West Virginia, primarily in Logan and McDowell counties. The Logan Banner, seated in Logan, WV, offered coverage of Hungarian news. It also commented on items published by Martin Himler in the Hungarian Miners’ Journal.
New Marathon Dance Record Is Made Here
Rose Mustapha, Pretty Hungarian Starts the Step Believed to Be the record.
At nigh noon Sunday, Rose Mustapha, a beautiful Hungarian girl, tripped the starting step in a terpsichorean debauch, that is believed to have established a record for sustained dancing in groups. Rose led a cotillion of thirty of her countrymen over a stretch of nineteen hours of continual dancing.
The dance started at twelve o’clock Sunday noon and continued without intermission till seven o’clock Monday morning. The jolly spirit of old Budapest struck color with jazz hilarity as the dancers spun in a vortez over the polished floor.
Hundreds of the dancers’ admirers rimmed the floor, hailing the participants in a half dozen different languages and dialects. Three wheezy but quite animated violins provided the music, which ran in wild Magyar strains and jazzy syncopation.
For the most part the dancers adhered to their native folk dances, but occasionally a couple would break into a fox trot, or a one step. At six o’clock Sunday evening, the dancers were given liquid nourishment as they whirled, and at midnight the same was repeated.
Most of the dancers finished strong, but several of the weaker sex had to be helped from the floor by their friends. Long distance dancing is quite common in their native land, and had the participants been in trim the task would have been comparatively easy, they say. As it was all of the men, who are miners, reported for work Monday morning and so far no ill results have been reported of the affair.
Logan (WV) Banner, 3 August 1923
Several hundred persons enjoyed the dance given by the Hungarian Benevolent Association at Ellis Park skating rink last Saturday night. The program included many attractive features and novelties. Miss Elizabeth Nagy of Mud Fork was the winner of the beauty prize. She received a fine watch and $5 in gold.
Logan (WV) Banner, 29 November 1927
Hungarian Paper Tells of Resorts Hereabouts
Sensational Charges Prompt Williamson News to Demand Investigation and “Clean-Up”–Logan and Neighboring Cities Are Mentioned In This Alleged Expose
A Hungarian paper published at Himlerville, Ky., not far from Williamson, is running a series of sensational articles on vice conditions in Logan, Williamson, Huntington and Charleston. These articles are printed both in English and Hungarian and are attracting much attention, many copies of the paper having been sent to the cities named.
Two articles about Logan have mentioned various resorts in which it is charged that vice is rampant, that protection is obtained by bribery of officials, and that conditions are getting worse. Local officers brand these so-called disclosures as either baseless or greatly exaggerated.
In Williamson the expose has attracted much attention, particularly since the Williamson Daily News carried the following editorial, under the heading, “A Clean City.”
It’s a sad commentary on our city, county, and state police officials when the leaders of the foreign element in our midst are forced to take the lead in cleaning up moral conditions.
Through the Hungarian paper published at Himlerville, Ky., a campaign is being waged to clean up Williamson, Logan, Huntington and Charleston.
We are primarily concerned in Williamson and this paper charges that Williamson is harboring not less than eleven Hungarian brothels and some fifteen speak-easies. The editor of the paper has furnished the Williamson Daily News with the names of eight hotels and rooming houses where he says “light o’ love ladies” may be found.
It is common knowledge in Williamson that what he charges is true. Furthermore it is also common knowledge that there is hardly a hotel from the best to the worst in the city that does not harbor women of prostitution.
These women are debauching our manhood and spreading disease and there are attendant demoralizing evils which add to the indictment against them.
Not only are there Hungarian brothels in Williamson, but there are brothels that cater to every race and condition. The fact that they exist is known to practically every person in Williamson.
In this same Himlerville paper in an article published in this week’s issue it is stated that “Protection fees vary between twenty-five and seventy-five dollars weekly” suggesting a reason why no action is taken to remedy conditions.
We have had every reason to believe that Williamson was infested with brothels of every degree of degradation, but until the bold statement is made in the Hungarian paper, we had no reason to suspect that some persons were receiving protection fees.
However, such a state of things is a natural noncomitant, in view of the laws of the land. It would be very easy for city, state or county officers to take action, and if they do not the question immediately arises: Why?
It cannot be argued that it is impossible to clean up the city in this respect. We all know better. The chief of police and four good policemen, with proper backing of the mayor and the citizens of Williamson could do the job, and do it thoroughly in ten days. In doing it they could be so impressively earnest that there would be no recurrence of the evil for months to come. If instances of violations of the law of this character did occur in the future they could enforce the law with such vigor as to deter others. Williamson would soon be classed as a “clean city.”
Even the notorious “Cinder Bottom” at Keystone has been cleaned up. Welch, the county seat of McDowell county, is known far and wide as a “clean city.” Chippies and their like give it a wide berth. Why? Because the mayor and the chief of police of Welch, with a determined citizenship back of them, will not tolerate the evil. Merchants and business men of Welch generally are unreservedly in favor of an absolute ban against women of evil character being allowed to remain in hotels and rooming houses, because they know it hurts business and is a thoroughly demoralizing factor.
Primarily the question is one for the mayor and the chief of police at Williamson to handle, but there are other law enforcement agencies that could function.
For instance, the prosecuting attorney has an effective weapon at hand if he wants to use it. We refer to the state padlock law, upheld by the supreme court. With this weapon he could close every hotel and rooming house in the city that harbored women of ill fame. And there would be no question of securing sufficient evidence to act. It is ready at hand.
There is another agency, the state police. This efficient body of men could take action and bring the matter to a hand.
The state health department is aware of the fact that Williamson is one of the vilest cities in the way of brothels in the state. It has investigated conditions here and has data that could be used by officials who wanted to take action. Furthermore the state health department, on request of the city or county officials, would send investigators here to ascertain true conditions. But, if we understand the situation rightly there is no need for further investigation. The brothels are conducted more or less openly, are well advertised and unfortunately are well patronized.
There would be no lack of information to proceed upon if city, county or state officials wanted to take action. And first of all, it is up to our city officials to act.
Logan (WV) Banner, 27 January 1928
NOTICE TO LOGAN
With newly sharpened sticks the Hungarian Miners Journal, published at Himlerville, Ky., continues to prod into vice conditions hereabouts. Its latest issue is devoted largely to a further exposure at Williamson’s intrenched vice, but Logan has not been forgotten. In fact, in a large type box on the first page notice is given that the spotlight will be turned again soon on the garden spot. It says:
“The brother-situation of Williamson is taking up all our space and our energies for a few days.
“This does not mean that we have nothing more to say about Logan brothels.
“A score of Hungarian criminals, keepers of brothels and white-slavers are harbored in and by Logan, to the great detriment of the decent Hungarians in the Logan field.
“We demand the expulsion of these criminals and we will turn to Logan in a very short time.
“Surely the decent citizens of Logan are not going to build a roof over their town to designate THE red-light district.”
Logan (WV) Banner, 3 February 1928
Hungarian Paper Reverts to Logan’s Need of Reformation
Editor Fisher Takes Crack at The Banner, Sheriff Hatfield and Chief Scaggs–Long Silence Broken By Familiar, Rasping Outcry
Remember the Magyar Banyaszlap, a newspaper formerly published at Warfield, Ky., not far from Williamson, W.Va. A year or more ago it probed conditions in Logan and carried some sensational strictures about county and city officials. Finally, an officious and offensively inquisitive soul, the editor hisself, came in person and before he left was given quite a thumping by Chief of Police Scaggs.
Some time later the coal company located at Warfield and Hungarian-owned, went into the hands of a receiver and whether the Banyaszlap then suspended publication or not it ceased to come to this office. The other day a copy came. It is published in Columbus now but its editor is evidently still interested in conditions here. After scanning its eight pages, the writer of these lines found but one article printed in English. That embraced a clipping from The Banner and the Banyaszlap’s comments thereupon. The article clipped appeared to the Banner on April 9 and had to do with reports that the sheriff’s forces were determined to suppress the liquor traffic in boarding and lodging houses that cater to foreign-born miners. Most Banner readers will recall that news item and for that reason it will not be reproduced here, but what the Columbus paper says may be of some interest.
“We are glad to note the sudden interest of Sheriff Hatfield, and the rather mild interest of the Logan Banner, in the speak-easyes.
“The officers do not have to ‘trail’ these boarding houses, for we have published a list of them.
“And we have also published a long-long list of speak-easyes and brothels in Logan, W.Va., with addresses, and names, with locations and any other needed informations.
“Why not start a housecleaning right here in Logan, W.Va., and spread it then to the coal field?
“We can promise Logan and its vicinity that others than the sheriff will also be interested in these affairs.
“When the gunman (called chief of police) of Logan so heroically objected to our articles, we have promised that we will have the matter attended to in good time.
“It will happen soon.
“Perhaps hence the sudden interest in the Logan vice.”
Logan (WV) Banner, 23 April 1929
For more information about Hungarians in West Virginia, go here: https://www.appalachianhistory.net/2017/03/magyars-in-morgantown.html
For more information about Martin Himler, Himlerville (Beauty), and the Magyar Banyaszlap: Hungarian Miners’ Journal, go here: https://www.appalachianhistory.net/2014/11/saving-himler-house.html
Appalachia, Baldwin-Felts Agency, Bluefield, Cabell Testerman, Carleton Starr, Chambers Hardware Store, chief of police, Clara Berman, coal, crime, Harry Berman, history, Matewan, mayor, Mine Wars, Mingo County, Sid Hatfield, teacher, United Mine Workers of America, Welch, West Virginia, Williamson
On December 2, 1978, Harry Berman of Williamson, Mingo County, West Virginia, recalled the Matewan Massacre of May 19, 1920:
When do you remember that the union… What do you remember about the organization of the unions?
Well, that was in Matewan. I was at the age of about thirteen years old at that time. That was about 1915, I’d say. This was concerning the miners there, about a strike. They all got together and so they went on a strike, and the company has ordered the people that went on a strike. The company has ordered them to vacate their homes.
That was the company houses?
That was the comp-any houses. The miners at that time, they didn’t approve of it and so they began to gather around. So they got Baldwin-Felts men in there. There as about twelve of them from Bluefield, West Virginia. So they came in on that midnight train that comes through there about twelve.
The Baldwin-Felts gang was a gang that broke the unions. They traveled all over the state or throughout the coalfields breaking the unions.
Well, they were trying to break the union at that time, but these twelve men were sent in here from Bluefield and they came in on the twelve o’clock train and they went over to the hotel. They spent the night there and the next morning they got up and out and they vacated more houses for these men. This kindly upset the union men at that time. So anyway then when after all that was all done they all went back again to the hotel, and so they packed their bags. Unfortunately, what they done, they took their rifles, they took them apart, and they packed them on the inside of their bags and some of them packed them on the outside of their bags.
In other words, they were going to show that they were leaving in peace?
After vacating people from their company houses?
Yeah. That was about the time… Let’s see, the train comes through there, that Number 16, it comes through there about five o’clock in the evening. So they all came to the station at that time. When they all got to the station, all the union men–there must have been at least 100 of them–all gathered around them. You know, as they came to the station. Well, I was standing there in front of the door, in front of my father’s store there at that time, and watched all these people coming to the station. So, they all went the other way–that was Chambers Hardware at that time–they went toward Chambers Hardware. When they all got there, they all bunched together.
Was that the union men bunching together?
That was the union men that bunched together there around the Baldwin-Felts men, because I don’t think the Baldwin-Felts men suspected anything at all. If they did, they would have went there with their rifles, see.
In other words, you think they were surprised with an ambush?
Yeah, they were surprised. It took them by surprise.
The whole, as I understand it, the whole Baldwin gang was shot on the platform as they were getting ready to board the train?
Well, before the train came in. That was about maybe fifteen minutes before the train came in through there, see. So the mayor of the town was Testerman. He went along with them to the Baldwin-Felts men down in there and also with the union men and they all bunched around Chambers Hardware Store. Then the chief of police–he was also in the crowd, too. Just for the curiosity I went right along with them. Sid Hatfield, I knew him pretty well. So when he was standing there with Testerman, which is the mayor. Facing one another, I was standing about maybe two feet in the back of Sid Hatfield, and all at once there was a shot fired and I think he was the one who put a bullet through Testerman.
Yeah. The mayor. And then that was what started all this shooting. So the first thing I knew I got scared and I beat it back to the store again, see, and while I was going back to the store there was one man laying across the broadwalk. At that time there wasn’t any…
Boards for a sidewalk?
Yeah. The boards were made out of sidewalks. One was scattered there. One was laying here, one was over there. And the first thing you know, then they began to get out and try to get away from them, if they could, you know, see. But the first thing I knew, there must have been at least maybe about eight or ten of them laying around on the ground there.
Bullets went over your head. Remember the bullets that were shot over your head?
Oh, there was bullets everywhere at that time. I really do recall that. That’s a fact. Then after Sixteen came in, the union men, the conductor got off. Which he was a tough conductor, too, he was. They called him McCullock. A captain McCullock at that time. So he got off of the train and he wanted to know what it was all about. And then union men all went into the train. When all the passengers on the train came off you know, the union men went in there and they were searching the train because they figured that some of these detectives stopped Sixteen down there just on this side of the tunnel. To see if any did get on there. Because they said there was about…
In other words, they expected more of the gang to come in?
No. Some of these that did get away from the union men… They thought about two or three of them went down toward the tunnel to stop the train to get on. So that’s what they expected, you know.
The union breakers?
Yeah, the union breakers, and so when the train came in to the station they rushed into the train and they looked all through the compartments. Under the seats and everywhere and there wasn’t no union men on there.
Yeah. There wasn’t any detectives on there at all. In the meantime, I think there was about maybe one got away, from what I understand. He was hid in a coal pile. Mrs. Hoskins, a school teacher, hid him in a coal pile and she didn’t say anything about him at all. She must have felt sorry for him or something. And I think he got away. He really did… He got away, from what I understand. So that was it and so when Sixteen came in they put Testerman on the baggage car and before he got to Welch he died.
They killed him.
Yeah. Well, they killed him, naturally.
In other words, he left here alive but they killed him before he got to the hospital?
Yeah. He died in the baggage car. Testerman died in the baggage car.
But the chief of police’s family killed him because the chief of police had been shot?
No. The chief of police wasn’t shot. Let’s get it straight. The mayor is the one who got shot. The chief of police is the one who shot the mayor.
Appalachia, Big Sandy River, Bragg Creek, Fort Gay, history, Horse Creek, Kenova, logging, Mingo County, Naugatuck, Ohio River, pushboats, rafting, steamboats, timber, timbering, Tom Brown, Tug Fork, Twelve Pole Creek, Wayne County, West Virginia
The following interview excerpt of Tom Brown (born c.1909) was conducted at Fort Gay in Wayne County, WV, on December 15, 1979.
It was probably hard to get around back then, to go to church.
Well the only way you could get around through this country was up and down creeks or on horseback or wagon. And roads were in the creek most of the way. And where they cut timber and logs they had tram roads built back in the heads of the hollows and they had tracks–they built their track out of 2″ X 4″s–and they hauled these logs or ties from the mills back to the heads of the hollows back to the railroads. And they logged out of the mountains and they ran lots of rafts down Tug River. I’ve see high as four to five. They started the rafts running in the spring. They run them out of Mingo County and generally a lot of them was set out in Naugatuck.
That’s how they got them, they used rafts and boats?
Yes, they used rafts. Logs. They’d put these logs together… Sometimes a raft would be maybe 200 or 300 feet long.
200 or 300 feet long?
Almost as wide as the river. The man would stay on that and they’d pull the men to, I guess, Kenova and the Ohio River down here. And they would log them through the winter. The spring waters came and they started down the rivers with the rafts. The river banks were all cut clean.
That’s what I was going to ask you about. They had to be cut clean, didn’t they?
Yes, they was all cut clean. But the rafts… Well they ran logs down Twelve Pole Creek to… Back then people used to put their logs in the creek when it would raise and run them plumb out down Twelve Pole to Kenova. Heads of these creeks… And sometimes I can remember Bragg Creek and Horse Creek… They was a sawmill. There was locks in at Saltpeter and they pushed just like water to Bragg Creek. I’d say along 1916-1917. And almost the travel was boats. It went down on a little showboat. It used to come up an old paddle wheel boat.
That was in about 1917?
About 1917, ’18, ’19, along that.
Could you get a ride on that showboat if you wanted to?
No, they just pulled in and parked and had a show every night, like the picture show, the movie picture show had.
How long did that showboat go up and down the river? How many years did that last?
Well, I don’t know. It would just come up every once in a while maybe, and just stopped at certain places maybe. Places you know at that time… That was about as far as it could get up. And then things was brought up on pushboat. They loaded ties and stuff like that. I remember them loading them on the boat at the river at the mouth of Horse Creek. It was about as far as boats could come up the river.
Appalachia, Bert Curry, Catlettsburg, coal, Cole and Crane Company, Delbarton, Elk Creek, Henry Ferrell, history, Holden, Island Creek, Island Creek Coal Company, Lando Mines, Lenore, logging, Louisa, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Pigeon Creek, rafting, Rock House, splash dams, timber, timbering, Trace Fork, Tug Fork, Wallace Curry, West Virginia
The following interview excerpt of Bert Curry (born c.1901) was conducted at Lenore in Mingo County, WV, on December 5, 1978.
How much money was around back then?
The first public works to come into the Pigeon Creek areas was when Cole and Crane come in to cut all of this virgin timber. All of Pigeon Creek. They built a splash dam at Delbarton, one on Elk Creek, and one on Rock House. They come in here in 1910 and they paid seventy-five cents a day and board for a man to work and he worked from daylight til dark and along later some of their best men, their team drivers… Team drivers had to work extra hours. They’d put them on by the month. I remember my brother-in-law got $35 a month, but he’d have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and then after supper he’d have to go out and clean the stable and curry his team and doctor ‘em, anything that had to be doctored and feed ‘em and bed ‘em down of the night.
Where did people get most of their income in those days?
If you had a job it was usually helping somebody cut timber. My first job was fifty cents a day carrying water for seventeen men and I was about twelve or thirteen years old.
Was that for loggers?
Well, these was loggers but my brother Wallace had a big field of corn. He had to grow corn to feed his cattle. He had six yokes of cattle and he used cattle in logging and he’d take a big flour barrel full of corn and them cattle would get around and he’d feed that corn to ‘em. They’d eat a barrel of corn each night and they’d let ‘em… Maybe a little fodder, or once in a while in bad weather they’d give ‘em a little hay. But them cattle, they worked ‘em six days a week haulin’ logs. They was trained to work and them six yokes of cattle was worth more than you could get for… You could buy a beef for $25 at that time but if you bought a good oxen that was broke you’d have to give about $50 for him.
What do you remember about the logging operations?
They was very primitive. They had nothin’ like a chain saw. They had a cross cut saw and they had axes and they had cane hooks and they had their teams of oxen and then some had teams of mules and horses. When Cole and Crane come in here they contracted all the cuttin’ of this timber. All the haulin’ it and puttin’ it into the creeks where the waters from the dams would take care of it. They had several contractors. They’d contract a whole boundary, maybe 500 or 1000 acres of timber to cut, and it was all virgin timber. It took six yoke of oxen or two to three big span of mules or horses to pull a tree. They didn’t cut it up into logs like they do now. They cut the whole tree and they didn’t take anything less than 16 inches up to the top. They’d be from 5 to 7 feet down where they cut them off and some of them would be 100 feet long and I’ve seen gorges of logs in Pigeon Creek they claimed had 5,000 trees in it. For a mile it’d be piled up bank to bank as high as they could pile. They’d work sometimes with all the teams they could get around them for three weeks a breaking one gorge. And when they got it to the Tug, they’d raft it. Sometimes they’d raft them and sometimes they would drift them down to the locks at Louisa before they’d raft them and they never went past there. They’d raft them there and then take tug boats and haul them from there to Cincinnati.
How did you raft them? I’m not familiar with that.
They had what you call chain dogs, a little chain about that long (indicates about 12 inches) with a spike on each end. They’d drive a spike in this log here and in this log (indicates two logs laying side by side) to hold it together, one at the front and one at the back, and they’d be oh maybe they’d be 50 feet wide and two or three hundred feet long, the rafts would. Maybe they’d have two or three rafts. One steamboat would be pullin’ maybe two or three rafts.
The logs wouldn’t drift apart?
They’d drive them spikes. Them spikes was about that long (indicating about six inches) and they’d drive them in there and it took a whole lot to pull ‘em out.
Did they work in the winter time, too?
Oh yes! I’ve seen fellers wade Pigeon Creek when they mush ice was a floatin’ and when they’d have to get back in the water to thaw before they could walk.
Was the creek deeper then or about like it is now?
It was more even. They had water all the time but they didn’t have as many severe floods as they have now because this was all covered with timbers, all of everything. See, this mulch in these forests held the water and let it leak out. It didn’t run off like it does now.
The water flow was more evened out this year around?
More evened out. But when they’d have a splash dam at Delbarton, one on Rockhouse up at Lando Mines and one in the head of Elk Creek, they’d time these. They’d know how long it took the water to run from Elk Creek, and they knowed how long it took the water to run from Rock House, and they knowed how long it took the water to meet. They’d try to have them all three come out at once so that they’d have a vast big sudden increase in water. You could look up the creek when they’d splash and you could see a wall floatin’ and a turnin’ in and everything.
And that was to wash the logs out?
Yes, well they washed them out to Tug River that way. That’s the way they got them out of Pigeon Creek.
Do you remember when Island Creek first came into the area?
No. Island Creek first come in about 1901. That was over there. They started when two young fellows come from New York in there looking for oil, to prospect for oil, so they could invest some money. And some old man had a mine open right where No. 1 Island Creek mine is and he was a haulin’ coal with a mule—a mule and a sled. He’d go back in there and he’d haul coal out—a big seam of coal six foot high and good and clean. So they decided that there was where they could make their money. So they got to talkin’ with these fellows and they went and got lawyers and they bought around Holden and Trace Fork and up Mud Fork and a vast area. I don’t know how much: 79,000 acres for 470,000 dollars. And fellows like Henry Ferrell, he counted timber so long. To count timber you have men a goin’ through and selecting the trees and one man a tallying. They’d make a mark on a tree when they’d count it, and the fellow with the tally sheet, he kept the numbers. He said they’d count timber a while and said then they had more money than they had brains. To spend that much money for that much land—470,000 dollars—and he said they put up a band mill and cut the timber and sold the timber and built their camps and sold enough lumber to pay for all of it. They got their coal and their land free. Just cut the timber and sold it and got their money back. People thought they were foolish for paying that kind of prices. Buying some of them farms out with all that timber for thousand dollars—that sounded like an awful lot of money. They didn’t have any money. They weren’t used to money. You worked for fifty cents a day. $1000 seemed like a whole lot.
Albert Simpkins, Ambrose Guzlin, Anderson Ferrell School, Blackberry Creek, Bob Williams, Charles Carpenter, Coon Branch School, Delorme School, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dials Branch School, Dick Bachtel, education, Elias Hatfield, Elias Hatfield School, Ella Hatfield McCoy, feud, feuds, Hatfield School, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Head of Blackberry School, Henry D. Hatfield, history, Homer Claude McCoy, Jackson County, Johnnie Rutherford, Kate Ray, Kentucky, Lee Rutherford, Logan County, Mate Creek, Mate Creek School, Matewan, Mike Clingenpeel, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Ransom, Sam Jackson, Scott Justice, teacher, Tolbert McCoy, Tug River, Upper Mate Creek School, W.A. McCoy, West Virginia, Will Bachtel
From “The Rise of Education and the Decline of Feudal Tendencies in the Tug River Valley of West Virginia and Kentucky in Relation to the Hatfield and McCoy Feud” by Homer Claude McCoy (1950):
The following list of school houses are given to determine the location of schools at the time of the feud. Most of the information obtained in regard to the existence of schools and their teachers have been received from interviews. These people were actual students at the schools or had brothers or sisters who went to school there. This information has been verified when possible from different interviews.
Mate Creek School: Mate Creek School was located about a mile up Mate Creek from Matewan which is located at its mouth. It was a log structure and had only one room. The schoolhouse was used during the feud as a prison to retain the three McCoy boys in. David Ross was the teacher of the school during the time of the feud, 1882, just a few days after the boys were held there, and there is a possibility that there was school there before the incident and that David Ross was the teacher.
Upper Mate Creek School: It is believed that there was a school at the head of Mate Creek, but the information is not strong enough to be substantiated.
Coon Branch School: Coon Branch School was located in Kentucky across from the site of Matewan. The teacher of the Coon Branch School was Ambrose Guzlin, and was attending in 1887.
Anderson Ferrell School: This school was located on Anderson Ferrell’s farm a mile below Matewan and came into use when the Mate Creek School was closed about 1883. The teacher of this school was Johnnie Rutherford.
Hatfield School: This school was located on the farm of Elias Hatfield in a hollow behind his home. It was a log structure and came into use when the railroad made it necessary to eliminate the Anderson Ferrell School.
Delorme School: The Delorme school was located near the home of Devil Anse, it was believed, for Charles Carpenter mentioned as a schoolteacher taught in that neighborhood. It is doubtful that there was a school there, for no definite record has been found. Charles Carpenter was said to be a teacher in that locality.
The Dial’s Branch School: This school is not substantiated by any strong evidence as being in operation during the early days of the feud, but was known to exist in the latter days of the feud.
Head of Blackberry School: This was at what is known today as Ransom. This school was some distance (about 15 miles from the mouth of Blackberry). Bob Williams taught school there. Dr. H.D. Hatfield attended school at this school.
Kate Ray who was a teacher at the Elias Hatfield School in 1893, says that she went to school there and when she graduated from the fifth grade she took an examination and taught the next year. She says the examination was not hard, and all the teachers gathered at Williamson. Other teachers that taught there were Albert Simpkins, Dr. Rutherford, Lee Rutherford. Scott Justice taught school at Mud Fork. Mike Clingenpeel was another teacher at Mud Fork.
Mrs. Ray stated:
I went to my first school on Mud Fork in 1888. I was only four years old. They didn’t mind for I didn’t give them any trouble. I learned a little at that age. Lee Curry was the teacher that year. He made improvements in the log school. His first improvement was to put backs on the seats. We did not have any desks or any blackboards. Dick and Will Bachtel also taught school at Mud Fork. They came from Jackson County. They stayed at Sam Jackson’s. They paid about $8.00 a month for board. Scott Justice, now a resident of Huntington, West Virginia, taught school on Mud Fork. So did Mack Clingenpeel. Every one liked Mack. He could explain the lessons so well.
When I was in the fifth grade I went to the Hatfield School below Matewan. When I graduated, I took the teachers examination and taught the next year there at the school on Elias Hatfield’s farm about the year 1895.
Derived from these interviews by Mr. McCoy:
Ella Hatfield McCoy interview (she “lived on Blackberry Creek during the time of the feud”) (c.1949)
W.A. McCoy interview (c.1949)
Kate Ray interview (c.1949)