Andrew Elkins, Appalachia, Burbus Toney, coal, Corbin Bryant, David Dingess, farming, flatboats, Francis Browning, genealogy, Guyandotte River, Harvey S. Dingess, Henderson Dingess, Henry Conley, history, James Bailey, Jefferson Thompson, Kanawha County, Logan County, navigation, rafting, Ralph Lucas, sheep, Squire Toney, timber, tobacco, Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia State Archives, William E. Browning, William Farley, William Toney
The following petition is imperfectly transcribed and will be corrected at a later date:
A Petition of Citizens of Logan County praying for the appropriation of money to clear out the obstruction in the navigation of the Guyandotte River (July 17, 1848)
Petition to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Virginia Legislature by the “citizens of the County of Logan” who “represent to your body that they live in a County of Boundless resources of wealth, with a soil adapted to the growth and culture of all most all the substantial ___ of Life. The Indian corn, Rye, oats, Tobacco, hemp, Flax, potatoes, cabbages, carrots, pumpkins are grown as well perhaps in this county as any other region in the commonwealth whilst there is no county can exceed it on firsts: Particularly Peaches by planting on the North Hill Sides they never fail to yield their fruits and the peaches often measure from 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, it is believed also that the ___ would grow well and by proper and well directed enterprize and industry ___ may yet be made in our County to gladden the Hearts of the Citizens and strangers. That your Humble body may have some Idea of the Rich character of our County. They respectfully State as cattle can be gotten of the county, better than almost anything else, in which they could spend their capital or employ their time, that many cattle are annually raisen and drove from the County. That these vast herds of cattle live through the winter without being far from the Produce of the farm with the exception of a few days of Heavy snow and __ rains from the rich character of our hills fine grapes will soon upon them it is believed that no portion of the world would be better adapted to the growing of sheep as not much attention hath yet been paid to the growing of sheep there is no fine Breeds in the county yet our sheep are large and very thrifty. There is perhaps no county that can boast of finer growth of timber which now is and must continue to be in great demand upon the Ohio river and we have no doubt our County abounds with valuable minerals of many descriptions. There is every portion of in the county Rich and deep veins of Bituminous coal and several Banks of the Canal Coal have been found and doubtless the county is filled with it, this Coal above if it could be gotten to market would bring in a great resource of wealth.”
“Yet all of these vast resources are locked and remain valueless for the want of outlet or the means of getting them to market and the necessaries of Life brought to the county for Sale owing to the obstruction of the navigation of the Guyandotte river, and taxed something like one cent on the Pound, this on ___ coffee, nails, Tobacco &c, operates verry __ the Guyandotte River is here. Great chance of communication–the articles of salt may be brought across the county from Kanawha But almost everything else must and __ be Brought up the river and there is no other Possible __ of getting out with our lumber and coal and wool and other products.”
The petition hopes the “Honorable Body” will “appropriate a sufficient sum of money together with what may be raised By individuals to remove the obstructions of the navigation of said river By the ___ upheavals and the Flat Boat and Rafts Downwards at the proper stages of the tide.”
Some signatures of interest to me (there were many others):
William E. Browning
Source: Library of Virginia, General Assembly Legislative Petitions, Logan County, Reel 111,” located at the WV State Archives.
African-Americans, Alfred Beckley, Anna Brooke Hinchman, Bruno, Buffalo City, civil war, Claypool, Clean Eagle Coal Company, coal, Combs Addition, Confederate Army, Cyclone, Cyclone Post Office, Davin, Elk Creek, Forkner, genealogy, Guyandotte River, history, Hollow A. Davin, Huntington, John L. Lewis, Lake Claypool, Laura Hinchman, Logan, Logan County, logging, Lorenzo Dow HInchman, Mallory, Man, Man High School, Morris Harvey College, Oceana, Paul Hinchman, Pete Toler, postmaster, rafting, Raleigh County, Rosa Hinchman, splash dams, timbering, Ulysses Hinchman, United Mine Workers of America, Vic McVey, Walter Hinchman, West Virginia, Woodrow Hinchman, Wyoming County
Laura C. Hinchman was born on March 22, 1919 to Walter and Anna Brooke (McVey) Hinchman at Mallory in Logan County, WV. She was an educator for over fifty years and was very active in civic affairs. For more information about her background, see her obituary at this location: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140834185/laura-caryl-hinchman
The following interview of Ms. Hinchman was conducted on July 16, 1984. In this part of the interview, she discusses her ancestry, community history, timbering, and coal mining.
Miss Hinchman, how did your family first come to this area?
Well, when West Virginia was being settled, people who were willing to come here were given land grants by governors of Virginia over different periods of years. This property was given by the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia at that time, Governor Nicholson. It was given in 1815 to my great grandfather, Dr. Ulysses Hinchman, who was a member of the legislature. He had land holdings in Wyoming County, and he laid out the town of Oceana. He is recorded in a lot of the books of the history of Wyoming and Logan Counties. According to the West Virginia Blue Book, that is how Man got its name. At first it was called Buffalo City. Then they decided to change the name. They thought Hinchman was too long and there was already a place called Hinch, so they named it Man in honor of my great grandfather. Now, that’s according to the West Virginia Blue Book.
Do you remember what your grandparents were like?
Now, both my grandfather and grandmother Hinchman died before I was born, so I don’t remember either of them. At that time, this was all timber land. My grandfather Hinchman, whose name was Lorenzo Dow Hinchman, was a timberman. We have a lot of records here in the house where he kept books of how much he paid the men and how much he sold, and all that. After this was cleared, then, of course, it became farmland. Now, they had no way of getting the logs that were cut to a market. So down there just below Woodrow’s, and this happened several places, they built what was called splash dams. They made a dam and dammed the water up and filled it with logs. Then there would be a great big lot of excitement. Everybody would gather and they would tear the dam lose and let the logs float down to the Guyan River. There were men who went with them, I suppose on rafts, and rafted the logs together, and floated them down the Guyan River to the Guyandotte. Now, my mother’s father, who came from Raleigh County, was Uncle Vic McVey. Of course, I remember him well, he lived here with us until he died at the age of ninety-four. He was one of the men who followed floating those logs down the river, and then they would walk back from Huntington. They had places that they stayed on their way back. I don’t know how many days it took.
Now, my grandmother Hinchman was a Chambers, which is also one of the early settler families in this area. She was a schoolteacher. At that time, it was possible to teach school when you got through the eighth grade, you were given a certificate. All first teachers in the one room schools here were just graduates of the eight grade, because the high school at Man was not built until 1919 or 1920, and that’s all they had. Now some people taught after they finished the eighth grade, and then went on when it was possible. I have a cousin Lake Claypool–that’s another old family in this area for which Claypool is named–that she taught after she finished the eighth grade then she went on to Man and finished high school and then went to Morris Harvey. But all the older teachers were just eighth grade. There was a one room school down here at Claypool. There was a one room school up at Vance’s. There were several one room schools on Buffalo Creek. There was a one room school up–what’s that creek up Bruno called–Elk Creek. My grandmother was a teacher, but as I say, both died before I was ever born. Now then, this place was called Cyclone. This is where Cyclone was. My grandmother Hinchman kept the Cyclone Post Office here for forty years. After she passed away, my mother–she was a McVey–and she married my father, Walter Hinchman, in 1910, and came here. I had Aunt Rosa Hinchman, who had never married at that time, who helped her keep the post office. The mail was carried on horseback from Huntington and the West, came that way, and from Oceana, from that direction they carried it. The postmasters met here, and they ate dinner here every day. My mother–ever who all was here, and at that time, you never knew who might be there for dinner… But when this house was built, this part wasn’t part of it. The kitchen and the dining room were in separate buildings. Now, of course, in the south they had slaves and all, but I do recall their talking about on black man, by the name of Sam. I don’t remember much about him but that’s the only black person that they ever had here, you know, on the farm.
I do remember my granddad McVey quite well, and my great-grandfather came to Raleigh County with General Beckley and settled there. Then my mother’s grandfather was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. His name was Zirkle, which is the German word for circle. He ran away from home during the Civil War and joined the Confederate Army. After the war he came here and settled. He also lived with us until he was in his nineties. But my mothers’ mother, my grandmother McVey, died when my mother was only, maybe two years old, so I never knew any of my real grandparents except, you know, my granddad McVey.
Were you born here, at this house?
I was born here on March 22, 1919. My father passed away in February of 1920 when I was eleven months old. There were three of us Hinchman children: Woodrow, Paul, and I was the youngest, of course. I don’t remember my father, but Woodrow does. Then my mother married Pete Toler when I was twenty-three months old, a year after my father died. I remember his as my real father because he reared me. He worked this farm and I remember the first time I called him Daddy, now I don’t know how old I was.
There was a mine at Davin that was first called Forkner, and it was changed to the name of Davin after Hollow A. Davin, a prominent man in Logan who probably owned the mine, and that started in 1923. Then the post office was taken up the creek and then we had a post office at Davin. Then my dad ran a coal cutting machine. Men took those jobs by contract and they were paid for the number of cars that they cut. They could work as many hours as they wanted. The men who loaded the coal–they may have loaded themselves, I don’t know–they loaded the coal into wooden cars. Now, in order to get credit of the coal car that they had loaded they had a–what was it called? Well, it was a little round piece of metal with a number on it that they hung on that coal car. The coal was hauled out of the mine by mule or ponies. There was a tipple and everything there at Davin. Then the Clean Eagle mine went in later, I don’t remember when, but my dad worked there, and he also worked at Mallory. But when we were children, we never saw our dad until the weekend because he went to work before daylight, before we ever thought of getting up and he never came in until after we had gone to bed. That sort of thing kept up with miners until John L. Lewis, you see, organized the union.
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.
Appalachia, Aracoma, Big Creek, Boone County, Brooke McNeely, Camp Chase, Chapmanville District, Charles Williams, civil war, Claude Ellis, coal, Confederate Army, crime, Dave Kinser, Democratic Party, Douglas Kinser, Elbert Kinser, Ethel, Fort Branch, French River, genealogy, ginseng, Harts Creek, Hetzel, history, J. Green McNeely, Jake Kinser, Jane Mullins, Jefferson Davis, Jim Aldridge, John Carter, John Kinser, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, logging, Malinda Kinser, Malinda Newman, Mary Ann Ellis, Mud Fork, Otis Kinser, rafting, Scott Ellis, Smyth County, Stonewall Jackson, timbering, tobacco, Virginia, Washington Township, West Virginia, Wythe County
Appalachia, Battle of Middle Creek, Brandon Kirk, Breaks, Breaks Canyon, Breaks Interstate Park, civil war, fossils, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, James A Garfield, Kentucky, Marion, moonshine, moonshining, Native American History, Native Americans, photos, Phyllis Kirk, rafting, Saltville, Union Army, Virginia
Appalachia, assessor, blacksmith, Bruno, Burl Stotts, California, Cap Hatfield, Christian, Christmas, coal, Devil Anse Hatfield, drum runner, Edith Grimmett, Elba Hatfield, Elk Creek, Ellison Toler, genealogy, Harvey Ferguson, Harvey Howes, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Henderson Grimmett, history, Huff Creek, J.G. Hunter, Joe Hatfield, Johnny Davis, justice of the peace, Logan, Logan County, Mallory, Mallory Coal Company, Matilda Hatfield, McKinley Grimmett, mining, Nancy Grimmett, Osey Richey, politics, pushboats, rafting, Ralph Grimmett, Rum Creek, Sand Lick, sheriff, Smoke House Restaurant, Tennis Hatfield, Thomas Hatfield, timber, West Virginia, whooping cough, Willis Hatfield, World War I
McKinley Grimmett was born on November 30, 1896 to Henderson and Nancy (Hatfield) Grimmett at Sand Lick, Logan County, WV. On May 14, 1916, Mr. Grimmett married a Ms. Plymale, who soon died, in Logan County. One child named Alva died on June 21, 1919 of whooping cough, aged fourteen months. His World War I draft registration card dated September 12, 1918 identifies him as having blue eyes and light-colored hair. He was employed by Mallory Coal Company at Mallory, WV. On November 13, 1919, he married Matilda “Tilda” Hatfield, daughter of Thomas Hatfield, in Logan County. He identified himself as a farmer in both of his marriage records. During the 1920s, he served as a deputy under Sheriff Tennis Hatfield.
The following interview of Mr. Grimmett was conducted at his home on July 17, 1984. In this part of the interview, he recalls his occupations. Tennis Hatfield, Cap Hatfield, Joe Hatfield, Willis Hatfield, pushboats, Logan, World War I, coal, and blacksmithing are featured.
What about Tennis and Joe Hatfield?
But now they come out, they paid all their debts and everything and stuff like that. They was honest, as far as I know. I think both of ‘em went broke, they was so good to the people. They had all kinds of things… Tennis had a five thousand dollar ring and he pawned it to the First National Bank and somebody got the ring. I don’t know who did. Tennis didn’t get it back. They both lost everything they had. And not just only them. Osey Richey, he was assessor and J.G. Hunter was assessor, and they lost all they had. People just, after they got elected and everything, thought that they had to furnish ‘em whether they had it or whether they didn’t.
Tennis and Joe were too young to participate in the Hatfield-McCoy Feud.
Oh yeah. That happened before I got big enough, Cap and them. Cap was chief deputy, though, while I was on. I can remember some of it. Just hear-says. I don’t know nothing about it. Ellison Toler was related to them someway and he stayed at my daddy’s and they kept him up for killing somebody over there at Welch and they hung him there at Welch yard on a tree. I remember getting into my daddy’s papers and reading the letters after I was just learning in school about such stuff like that. And I thought that was the awfulest thing ever was, writing to him and telling about it.
What changed in the county for the Hatfields between the feud and the 1920s?
Mostly, they died out to tell you the truth. Joe and Tennis died out and nobody else had guts enough to take it, you see? Now, Willis, he was the youngest brother. Elba, now he was JP and after he got out as JP he pulled out and went to California. And Willis, he died here about a year ago up on Rum Creek. And Tennis and Joe both died. And that was all of ‘em. All of the old people. Harvey Howes married their sister, and they’re all dead.
Did you ever talk to Cap or Willis?
Oh yeah. Willis, they’d hang after me all the time. They knowed I was half-Hatfield, you know. Tennis and Joe would, too. They was awful good to me ever way. Now Cap, I never – Cap just had one word for a person. If he wanted to talk with you, he’d say, well let’s talk a while, and if he didn’t, he’d say, get the hell away from here. That was the way Cap was. Devil Anse, he used to kill a beef and roast it every Christmas, you know. I’ve went there and eat with him a lot. They tell me they wouldn’t know that place now. They’ve cleaned the graveyard up, you know. I ain’t been up there in… Be five years in January since I got down and I ain’t been away … Only one takes me anyplace is my daughter Edith and Ralph and Edith’s working all the time and Ralph’s all the time busy and Ralph takes me to the doctor every month and Edith took me to the store back and forth and Ralph took me last Saturday.
How has Downtown Logan changed since you were young?
Oh, it’s changed a big lot. Built more buildings in it and everything. Used to be you had about three or four policeman and that was it. Now I can remember back whenever they had a wooden courthouse. A boxed building. I was just a big boy then. Daddy followed rafting and pushboating. You know what pushboating is? Well, they had a big long boat. He had two. And one of ‘em was about eight feet wide and about 46 feet long. Other one was about twelve feet wide. And they had to catch water to get that big boat. And sixteen foot wide. And they’d take a pair of mules or horses, whichever they had, and they’d go to Logan and buy groceries. He had a store and he boated most of his stuff. They’d kill hogs and take chickens and catch fish and take it down to Logan and sell it and they’d bring groceries back.
And they’d make these trips how often?
He went every week. It would take two days to make it, very best. You had from daylight to dark.
Tell me more about your work history.
Well I was a blacksmith. Worked in electric force. They knew I was going to fire. Harvey Ferguson was superintendent. Johnny Davis was general manager. They knowed how old I was. They knowed I was going to retire. I left Christian over here. They shut down. Johnny Davis offered me a job and offered me a job and I wouldn’t take it. I met him right at the foot of the hill. He was a boss over some Elk Creek mine. Well, I went and worked about six months lacking two days for Burl Stotts over there in Campbell’s Creek, built a tipple he fell off of and got killed. I come back and Johnny had come in home that week and Johnny and Harvey Ferguson had been up here and they wanted me to come around there and talk with them on Saturday night. I went around there. They said Johnny said he wanted me to come back up and work for him. I said, well you won’t give me enough. He said, how much you getting? I told him. He said, well I’ll give you three dollars on the day more. I said, well I’ll do it. The rates was 24 dollars. Union then. He give me 27 dollars. I wasn’t getting 24 and going over there and paying board, you know. So I said, well I’ll go back over there and work next week and pay my board up. I wouldn’t walk right off the job from him. He was a good fellow. And he was good to me. And he liked me and everything. And he give me all he could give me. They said they appreciated that, Davis and Harvey Ferguson both. That I’d do a thing like that. So I went back and worked that week and paid my board and come back and went up there and stayed with him fourteen years and retired. In November 30, 1962.
Do you remember anything about your last day?
No, they give me a pair of gloves and Johnny told me that he was going to put a ten dollar gold piece in my envelope. And he did.
What about World War I?
Well I was called… I was drum runner. The superintendent come down in the drum house where I was at. The superintendent said I see you are called for service. I said, Yeah, two more weeks will be my last. You better get somebody in here and let me learn him while I can. He said, we were studying about that. Do you want to go? I said, no I don’t want to go but I guess I’ll have to go. Kaiser was his name. He said, We’ll see what we can do about it. I’ll let you know and I’ll keep you posted at all times. Well, that was on Monday morning, I believe it was. On Saturday evening, I had to work six days a week, Saturday evening he wanted me to come over to his office. That was around on Huff Creek, at Mallory 1. And I went over there. He said, I think I’ve got you retired. He said, We’ve got to have coal men as well as army men. Just don’t say anything about it to none of the boys. You’ll not have to go. And that was all of it. I never did have to go. But I registered five different times for the service. Last time I registered, they took everybody. They didn’t get too old—I registered them all. And the company put me in a little old room beside the store and furnished my eatings for that day paid me for my day’s work and the government never did pay me a cent for none of it. Five different times. Now at first start I had to take them, I had to keep a tally of how many registered, had to take them to Logan and send them out, call in to Washington and tell them how many I registered and everything. Now the last time, I didn’t have to do that. A man come and got ‘em the next day.
Who taught you how to blacksmith?
Oh, I taught myself. My daddy used to shoe horses and I used to help him in the shop. That’s the hardest job ever I got in, shoeing horses or mules. Dangerous job, too. I’ve had them kick me plumb over top of… At that time you had belluses you blow. They’d kick me plumb over top of them belluses. Almost kill me sometimes.
Were there any blacksmith shops around Logan when you were a boy?
Oh yeah. There was plenty of them. There in Logan there was a big one. A fellow named White was the blacksmith down there. Boy, he’d whip a mule. He kept big old hickory poles in there and a mule or horse that didn’t hold still or anything he’d throw its leg down and grab one of them poles—I’ve been in there and watched him—and he’d beat that mule… I swear, I’d be uneasy about it. Think he was going to kill it. It would just quiver like a leaf.
Where was his shop?
Right where the courthouse sits now. There was a wooden courthouse. Box building. Two-story high. And his blacksmith shop was right on down the street. I’d say it wasn’t quite down to the Smoke House. Not quite down that far. Over on the right hand side. It was a big old boxed building and a shed to it. He’d get dirty coal. He was too tight to buy the coal or something. And he’d have enough smoke go all over that town. Yeah, I remember all about that.
NOTE: Some names may be transcribed incorrectly.
African-Americans, Alva Grimmett, Appalachia, Austin Grimmett, Baileysville, Big Cub Creek, Bruno, Buffalo Creek, Christian, Cole and Crane Company, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dingess, Edith Grimmett, education, Elk Creek, Ettie Grimmett, farming, genealogy, general store, Green Perry, Guyandotte River, Guyandotte Valley, Henderson Browning, Henderson Grimmett, history, Holden, Horse Pen Mountain, Johnny Grimmett, Landsville, Lilly Grimmett, Logan, Logan County, logging, Madison Creek, Mallory, Man, McGuffey Readers, McKinley Grimmett, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Nancy Grimmett, rafting, Ralph Grimmett, Rose Grimmett, Sand Lick, Sanford Grimmett, Slater Hatfield, Tennis Hatfield, Thomas Hatfield, Tilda Hatfield, timber, timbering, Travis Grimmett, Verner, Walter Buchanan, West Virginia, whooping cough, World War I, Wyatt Belcher, Wyoming County
McKinley Grimmett was born on November 30, 1896 to Henderson and Nancy (Hatfield) Grimmett at Sand Lick, Logan County, WV. On May 14, 1916, Mr. Grimmett married a Ms. Plymale, who soon died, in Logan County. One child named Alva died on June 21, 1919 of whooping cough, aged fourteen months. His World War I draft registration card dated September 12, 1918 identifies him as having blue eyes and light-colored hair. He was employed by Mallory Coal Company at Mallory, WV. On November 13, 1919, he married Matilda “Tilda” Hatfield, daughter of Thomas Hatfield, in Logan County. He identified himself as a farmer in both of his marriage records. During the 1920s, he served as a deputy under Sheriff Tennis Hatfield.
The following interview of Mr. Grimmett was conducted at his home on July 17, 1984. In this part of the interview, he recalls his family background and early occupations. Logging and rafting in the Guyandotte Valley are featured.
Would you mind telling me when and where you were born?
Right here. I was born about a mile up above here. I was borned in Logan County. The post office was Christian at that time. Christian, WV. It’s changed now. They throwed Christian out – it was over here at Christian – and they throwed it out and moved it over here to Bruno. Christian went… The mines stopped over there. And that’s where I was born, right here at Bruno, Logan County. Been here all my life.
What day were you born?
November 30, 1896.
Who were your parents?
Henderson Grimmett and Nancy Hatfield Grimmett.
What kind of work did they do?
They did logging work. All they had that day and time. Mule teams and ox teams.
Where did your dad do his work?
All over Logan County.
Did he have his own farm?
Oh yeah. Yeah.
How big was his farm?
It was about 287 acres.
Can you describe his house?
Well, the house was a two-story building. But he never did get… He took the fever and he never did get the upper story, all of it completed. He died at a very early age of 74. He put him up a little store. Got ahead a little bit. Had a store here. Come down and bought this place off Walter Buchanan and he deeded his five kids the homeplace up there. And then he stayed on it from ’21 to ’29. He died 19th day of January, 1929.
Who were your mother’s parents?
Oh, Lord, I can’t… Slater Hatfield was her daddy’s name. And I don’t know my grandma. My daddy, now they both was born in Wyoming County. Baileysville or somewhere in there. I think my mother was born over there in Big Cub Creek. She was a Hatfield. I don’t know where…
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I had three brothers and three sisters. Sanford was the oldest one. Austin and Johnny. They’re all dead. I’m the only one that’s living. All my three sisters… Lilly was the oldest one, and Rose was the next one, and Ettie was the youngest. They’re all dead. All of ‘em but me.
Were you educated in Logan County schools?
Yeah, that’s all we got. Free schools. I believe we started off about three months out of the year. Right over there where that first house is sitting – a one-room school house. All of us kids.
What was the last year of school you completed?
I believe it was about 1914, I’m not right sure. ’15.
Did you use the McGuffey Readers?
That’s all we had. And the spelling books. And in the late years, why we had a U.S. history… A small one. Most of it was just about West Virginia. It wasn’t about the whole United States. And geography, we had that. Arithmetic. That was about all we had in free schools. We had to buy them all then. They weren’t furnished.
How did you meet your wife?
She was born and raised over here at Horse Pen in Mingo County. And that’s how we met. We were just neighbors.
What was her maiden name?
She was a Hatfield, too. But now they were… There’s three or four sets of them.
Was her family related to Devil Anse Hatfield?
Well, they was some… Not very close, though, I don’t think.
Which church did you belong to?
I don’t belong to any.
Did you belong to a church when you were younger?
No, never did. If I ever would have joined, I’d have stayed with it.
Do you remember the year of your marriage?
Yeah, I sure do. November 13, 1919.
How many children do you have?
Four. We have two boys and two girls. Travis Grimmett is the oldest. And Ralph, Edith, and Nancy.
What was your wedding like?
Well, we just got married and come right home. At that time, they didn’t have such things, to tell you the truth.
Who was the preacher?
Green Perry. Rev. Green Perry on Elk Creek. Rode a horse back when I went up there to get married. A pair of mules. I rode them mules.
Where did you first live after you married?
Right about a mile above here at the old homeplace.
You have lived here all of your life?
All of our life.
Was it always this populated?
No, no. Wasn’t three or four houses on this creek at that day and time. It was farm land. It’s all growed up now. All them hills was put in corn, millets, and stuff like that. If they couldn’t get a machine to it, they cut it by hand. Some of them raised oats and some of them raised millet, corn. Raised hogs and cattle and sheep and selling ‘em.
Who owned this property back then?
Burl Christian owned this here, but I don’t know… My daddy bought his… A fellow by the name of Wyatt Belcher. Wait a minute. Browning. I can’t think of his name. He lived over here on Christian and he bidded in… It sold for back taxes and he bidded in. Henderson Browning.
What kind of work did you do after you married?
Just the same thing as I worked at before I got married. I first started out – my daddy was a boss for Cole and Crane on this river. I first started out working in the log business. I worked two years at that and then I decided… Mule team – I worked about eighteen months at that. Then in 1913 the coal company started in and I went to work in carpenter work. I helped build all of these houses down here at Landville. The superintendent, we got done, they was wanting to hire men, he give me a job keeping time for a while. And he wanted me to learn to run the drum – that’s letting coal off the hill. I learned it and about the third day I was up there, a preacher was running it, and he told me they’d just opened up and they didn’t have much coal to run off the hill, he told me, that preacher, he rolled out two cards and he said if that preacher fails to go out and work on that side track today you give him one of these cards. Well, I didn’t give him a card. But he come out that evening, the boss did. And he said, did the preacher work. And I said, no he refused. He said, I’ll fix him. He fired him. And I took the job and stayed with it four years and then I got married and then I went to work over here at Christian running a drum and I stayed there 34 years.
When you worked for Cole and Crane, did either of those men ever come up here?
Oh yeah. One of them was. Cole was. I don’t think Crane was ever here. A little slim fella.
Did you get a chance to talk to them?
No, they wouldn’t talk to us working men. They’d talk to the boss. They’d go away from us and talk to theirselves. We just got a $1.10 for ten hours. Eleven cents an hour.
What kind of a person did Cole seem to be?
Well, he knowed how the men was. They’d raft timber and go down this river to Guyandotte. Had what they called locks and dams there to catch the logs. This river was full of logs. He bought timber everywhere. Plumb at the head of it.
Did you ever ride a raft?
Oh, yeah. I went with my daddy. I wasn’t grown.
Can you describe it?
Oh, they’d raft the logs, poplar. Now they didn’t raft hardwoods. They’d sink on them. Some rafts, a big one would be 160 to 200 feet long, about 24 to 26 feet wide. Oar on each end of it. If it was a big raft, they had two men up front all the time plumb in to Guyandotte. I was the second man on it when I got to go out on it. My dad had timber and he rafted it, took it there and sold it. Took what they called dog wedges and cut little basket oaks and rafted them, stringers across ‘em, you know. Lots of people get drowned, too.
Were you ever in an accident?
No, I never was in no big one. I’ve seen about six or eight drown.
Could you describe how it happened?
Oh, if he couldn’t swim, sometimes the best swimmer drowned, you know, if he got under a lot of logs or something. According to whatever happened there with him. He could get out if there wasn’t no logs on top of him no where to hold him under, you know. If logs were on top of him, he was gone. Now about the last ones I seen drowned was two colored people. They was building a railroad from Logan to Man up Buffalo Creek. So we was working on a log gorge down there at the lower end of Landville. And there was four colored men… 1921. Had a saloon up here at Verner. They wouldn’t allow one in Logan County. And they went up there on the 21st day of December to get ‘em a load of whisky. And they come back… They’d seen white people ride these logs. Some county people would get on one log and ride it plumb to Logan, as far as you wanted to go. And they thought they could ride it. And they got on. Rode ‘em off the gorge and they was running into eddy water and they would hit the back end, it would, and the other end would swarp out and they’d pull out that way. And they got on ‘em with their whisky and everything and two of ‘em got out and two of ‘em drowned.
When you rode the raft to Guyandotte, how did you get back to Logan?
Oh, we had to walk. We’d get a train up to Dingess over here. You know where that’s at? We’d ride down up to there. And then we’d have to get off and walk across the hill there and come right straight out at the mouth of Mud Fork, Holden there, and up another little drain and down Madison Creek down here. And walk… Man alive, our feet would be so sore, I’d be up for two or three weeks I couldn’t walk, my feet would be wore out so.
NOTE: Some names may be transcribed incorrectly.
Appalachia, Cain Adkins, genealogy, history, Isaac Adkins Jr., Jeremiah Lambert, justice of the peace, Lincoln County, Lincoln County Feud, Logan County, rafting, Spencer A. Mullins, timber, timbering, West Virginia, William Robinson
Question by Defendant
Was you by at settlement took place between Isaac Adkins and William Robinson?
I was with them at the mouth of harts creek on a raft of timber that the(y) had bought of Deft. which timber I suposed they had just measshered as they had they measherment of the timber presant. they thare mad(e) a settlement on the raft and they raft locked fifteen its(?) or fifteen feet of paying a note that he held on defendant, which note had been executed to Canaan Adkins and the note was not presant at the time of settlement. the plantif was to give the said note to Defendant another time as he hadent the note withe him at the time they made they settlement.
At what time did this settlement take place?
In the year sixty or sixty one.
Appalachia, Betty Shoals, Big Branch Shoal, Big Creek, Big Cub Creek, Blackburn Mullins, Burrell Morgan, Byron Christian, Chapman Browning, Charley Toler, Copperas Fork, Ed Robertson, Eli Blankenship, Eli Morgan, Elk Creek, Ellis Toler, Epson Justice, Fred B. Lambert, Fred B. Lambert Papers, G. Pendleton Goode, genealogy, Gilbert, Guyandotte, Guyandotte River, H.C. Avis, Hickory Shute, history, Hugh Toney, Humphrey Cline, Huntington, James A. Nighbert, James Pine Christian, Jesse Belcher, John Buchanan, John Justice, justice of the peace, Lane Blankenship, Lark Justice, Leatherwood Shoal, Lewis Mitchell, Little Kanawha Lumber Company, Logan County, Logan Court House, logging, Marshall University, Mingo County, Morrow Library, Paren Christian, Peter Cline Jr., Peter Cline Sr., Peterson Christian, Pineville, pushboats, rafting, Raleigh County, Roughs of Guyan, Salt River Shute, Sanford Morgan, Simon, Spice Creek, Staffords Mill, West Virginia, White Oak Cliff, Wyatt Toler, Wyoming County
Recollections of A. Peterson Christian of Simon, WV, provided by G. Pendleton Goode of Pineville, WV, January 1, 1944:
I was born on Spice Creek, Logan Co., now Mingo County, West Va. on Oct. 12, 1857 — Now 86 years of age, Son of Rev. Byron Christian, and grandson of James Pine Christian (1800-1892), one of the justices who organized Logan County in 1824.
About 1867, people began what we called saw-logging. Dr. Warren from Big Creek brought the first six yoke ox team to our neighborhood, used them two years and then sold them to Chapman Browning who lived on Spice Creek. There sprang up among us, what we called timber merchants, among those were Paren Christian, Chapman Browning, Col. John Buchanan, H.C. Avis, Blackburn Mullins and Epson Justice and many others. Besides hauling and rafting their own timber, they would buy rafts of other parties and run them to Logan Court House and sell others to John and Lark Justice and afterwards to Ed Robertson and James Nighbert.
I entered the logging business in 1875, on a small scale. Lewis Mitchell and I bought some timber and made up a raft, and when the river reached rafting stage, Brother Mont Lewis and I started down the river with the raft which swung across the head of “Island 16,” but when the big July 12th freshet came it swept our raft away and we lost it. My next adventure in logging was in the spring of 1876, when Mont and I bought some timber in the bluff opposite the mouth of Elk Creek and with some loose logs in “Island 16,” we made up two rafts, but there was no rafting stage that summer, but when the ice went out the next winter, both rafts went with it and we lost them also.
Rafting down Guyandotte River from Reedy to Logan Court house was a great art during the 1870s and 80s. There were different opinions about the bad places along the stream. People at Logan Court house thought that the river from Spice down was real bad; but the river men around Spice did not mind running from there down, but said that up Copperas Fork, the Betty Shoals, Staffords Mill, and the White Oak Cliff was too bad for anybody to run a raft. The river men around about Gilbert said that the river from there down was a little rough but they didn’t mind it, but from Epson Justice’s up to Reedy was so rough that no person had any business trying it. But when you came up to Big Cub, Long Branch and Reedy and talked with the old pilots, such as Jesse Belcher, Lane Blankenship, Peter Cline Jr., Humphrey Cline and Peter Cline Sr. and numerous other persons such as oar carriers and seconds they would say something like this, “Well, the river for a few miles is pretty rough, especially at Wyatt Toler’s mill dam, the Fall Rock, near Charley Toler’s mill dam, the Hickory Shute, the Leatherwood Shoal, the Big Branch Shoal and the Salt River Shute, but if a man has good judgment about the drain and the water he will have but little trouble.” So you see all depends on whom you are talking to as to where the rough is on the Guyandotte River. The only way to find this out is to go through on a raft yourself.
I remember very well the thrill I got the first time I went through the “Roughs” on a raft. I got on at the mouth of Big Cub Creek; in a few minutes we were at the upper end of Leatherwood Shoal. We worked the raft to the proper position in the hole of water just above the shoal. We could look along the top of the water to the upper end of the shoal but there was such a fall there we could see the water until we dropped over the upper end of the shoal. The bow of the raft struck a wave and the water flew over our heads. I was carrying the oar and held the stern down on the raft while my second held my clothes to keep the oar from throwing me off. From there on to the lower end of the shoals (about ¼ mile) as soon as the raft would rise on one wave, it would plunge into another until we got through the shoal. From that time (1876), I followed running from Reedy to Guyandotte until about 1890.
It took 4 men to run a raft from Reedy or Cub to Spice. Then 2 men could take it from there to Logan C.H. Then we would latch two of those rafts together and 2 men would take those rafts through to Guyandotte.
In 1889, the Little Kanawha Lumber Co. came to Wyoming County and began logging on a big scale. The winter was warm and rainy. All goods and supplies were hauled from Prince Station on the C. and O. Ry. The roads through Raleigh were so muddy that a four-horse team could pull only 1000 or 1200 pounds, so in April Alec, Henry Blankenship and I made a push boat 50 feet long and 6 feet wide and 18 inches deep. We landed it at the mouth of Reedy Creek and started to Guyandotte with five men. I had about $95.00 in money, and the men from here to Elk sent money by me to buy flour. When I left Elk, I had about $260.00. Among the men that sent money by me to buy flour were Burrell Morgan, Ellis Toler, Eli Blankenship, Eli Morgan, Sanford Morgan and Chapman Browning and the only one alive now is Burrell Morgan. We reached Guyandotte the 3d day, where I bought 45 lbs of flour, 300 lbs of bacon and a lot of other things and after laying over at Capt. Toney’s for 2 days on account of high water, we arrived at the mouth of Spice Creek in 8 days from Guyandotte. I received $125 per 100 lbs. freight which gave me a nice profit for my trip. At that time and long before the people of Logan brought their goods up on push boats.”
Source: Fred B. Lambert Papers, Special Collections Department, Morrow Library, Marshall University, Huntington, WV.
Alice Lawson, Aracoma, assistant postmaster, Ben Bolt, Charleston Gazette, Edgar Allan Poe, George T. Swain, George Washington, Guyandotte River, history, Karl Myers, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, logging, mayor, New York Mirror, Pennsylvania, poems, poetry, postmaster, rafting, Rafting on the Guyandotte, Savage Grant, St. Albans, Thomas Dunn English, timbering, Vicie Nighbert, Walt Whitman, West Virginia, writers
Thomas Dunn English (1819-1902) was a Pennsylvania-born writer who lived briefly in present-day Logan, WV, before the Civil War. At one time, many Loganites believed he wrote his famous work titled “Ben Bolt” while a resident of Logan, then called Aracoma. For more information about his biography, follow this link: https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2205
The following story appeared in the Logan Banner on November 23, 1926:
“Logan gains quite a bit of notoriety from the fact that the song ‘Ben Bolt’ was written here,” said G.T. Swain in his short history of Logan county, published in 1916. Dr. English wrote “Ben Bolt” for the New York Mirror about 10 years before he ever came to Logan. So here explodeth another nice literary myth–if a myth concerning “Ben Bolt” may be called a literary one. They even tell how Dr. English laid aside his law and medicine practice, his novel writing, and his duties as assistant postmaster and politician and dreamily to go to the shades of certain elm trees overlooking the Guyandotte and there wrote the poem to a sweetheart of other days. The truth is that English wrote the poem while in the east at the request of “The Mirror” and while trying to compose a sea song he suddenly hit upon the sentimental mood and dashed it off, tacking the first four lines of the sea song-in-the-making onto the one in question. He sent it to the editor and told him the story and remarked that if it was not worth using to burn it. It was always a matter of chagrin to Dr. English that it was the best received piece he ever wrote and his prestige in congress was largely due to his fame from the song.
“For information relating to Dr. English we are indebted to Mrs. Vicie Nighbert, who gave us the information as told to her by her mother, and to Mr. Bryan [who] was personally acquainted [with English, now in his] 80th year and living at present in Straton street,” said Mr. Swain. “Mr. Bryan was personally acquainted with Dr. English, having at one time been postmaster of the town and employed Dr. English as assistant postmaster.”
English was mayor of Logan, according to Swain, in 1852. Mr. Swain said that Dr. English suddenly disappeared while living in Logan and showed up again with a woman and two children. Dr. English announced at the time that he had married a widow but rumors around the Logan chimney corners had it that the versatile gentleman had added that of wife stealing to his accomplishments. He did not permit the woman to visit or receive but a few friends “and she always carried a look of apprehension.” It is known that English, by act of the general assembly, had the names of the children changed to his own.
Although the whole thing is not worth refuting or proving, English did not write his “Ben Bolt” as told in Logan county. Mrs. Nighbert told the author of this historical sketch that “Dr. English used to often visit the large elm trees that stood by the bank of the Guyandotte near the woman’s residence. It was beneath the shade of the elm that stands today by the railroad bridge that he composed the song ‘Ben Bolt.'” Dr. English was a frequent visitor to the home of the Lawson’s, but the story to the effect that this song was dedicated to Alice Lawson is only imaginary for there was at that time none of the Lawson children bearing the name of Alice, nor were any of the girls at that time large enough to attract the attention of Dr. English.
The “Ben Bolt” myth is comparable to the story around Charleston that Poe wrote some of his works at St. Albans. Poe was never at St. Albans. It is like that pet tradition of the Huntington D.A.R. that George Washington surveyed lands in the Savage grant, the first grants involving the present site of Huntington.
Dr. English wrote a thousand rimes and jingles and couplets but no poems. “Ben Bolt” is a spurt of sentimentality of which the author was ashamed. Its popularity began when the German air was adapted to it, and has lived only on the strength of the music which is a sort the folk will not forget.
Don’t you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt…
Sweet Alice whose hair was so brown.
Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile.
And trembled with fear at your frown?
In the old churchyard in the valley, Ben Bolt.
In a corner obscure and alone,
They have fitted a slab of the granite so grey,
And Alice lies under the stone.
And so forth. English was at a loss how to open the verses when he hit upon the idea of tacking the first four lines of a sea song he was trying to compose for Willis, editor of “The Mirror,” and his last lines reflect the influence of the idea:
Your presence a blessing, your friendship a truth.
Ben Bolt, of the salt sea gale.
English wrote “Rafting on the Guyandotte” and two other “poems” while waiting on the return of a friend he was visiting, taking about an hour to [write] the poem. The opening to his poem is:
Who at danger never laughed,
Let him ride upon a raft
Down Guyan, when from the drains
Pours the flood from many rains,
And a stream no plummet gauges
In a furious freshet rages
With a strange and rapturous fear
Rushing water he will hear;
Woods and cliffsides darting by,
These shall terribly glad his eye.
He shall find his life blood leaping
Feel his brain with frenzy swell;
Faster with the current’s sweeping;
Hear his voice in sudden yell…
And so on for a 100 lines or more he describes the thrills of rafting. It would be interesting to have the collectors of West Virginia verse to rise up [illegible] now and tell exactly their reaction to this “beautiful verse” and why they like it, or why they attach importance to the scribbling pastimes of Dr. English, politician, physician, and lawyer.
Although he went to congress on “Ben Bolt,” there is no legitimate claims to list him as a West Virginia poet. Karl Myers writes much better verse than English ever achieved. A sixth grade pupil of native brightness a notch or two above his classmates can write pages of rhymes as good as the rafting poem. It is the sort of rhyme that is easier to do than not to do, once you establish the swing of it. Youngsters have been known to turn in history examination papers done in rhyme as good as this. But West Virginia is so anxious to claim some poets. Why this should worry the state is a mystery, for European critics say that the whole of America has produced but a poet and a half… Edgar Allan Poe the poet and Walt Whitman the half poet. So why should we feel sensitive about it?
Source: Charleston Gazette via the Logan Banner, 23 November 1926.
Atenville, Bob Lewis, Cabell Record, Eden Park, education, Ferrellsburg, Fry, Guyandotte River, Harts, Harts Creek, history, Lincoln County, moonshine, oil, rafting, timbering, Toney, West Virginia, writing
For the moment, timber remained king of the local economy. There were saw mills, large-scale timbering and news of a “firm from the East” locating in the area. “A firm from the East is getting ready to put men at work in the woods making barrel staves in the near future, near the Logan and Lincoln county line,” the Cabell Record reported in June of 1900. “Twenty thousand logs went out from Big Ugly and Hart’s creek last week,” it reported later in December. “There is a general activity in the timber business on Hart’s creek this winter,” the paper reported in January of ’01. “About fifty men are at work there getting out logs.”
With the coming of the railroad, Harts residents were also excited about the potential of extractive industries, like coal, natural gas, and even oil. “Everyone along the valley is talking coal these days,” the Record reported on December 6, 1900. “People with coal on their lands are jubilant over the prospects.” In January of 1901, the Record stated, “Hart’s creek people are enthusiastic over the prospects of striking oil or gas in that section. They have been encouraged very much by experienced oil men, who will work more wells in the spring on Little and Big Hart.”
Unprecedented economic opportunity seemed to be at everyone’s fingertips. “The valley will soon be dotted with small towns,” the Record accurately predicted on January 24, 1901. “Every day people are coming in to locate, and the future of the Guyan valley is promising.” On April 4, 1901, the Record wrote: “More timber went out of the valley in the late rise than has gone down in several years. Rafts followed one right after the other for several days. Bob Lewis is doing a lot of work on Hart’s creek now. He has got a large number of men in the woods chopping and has now on hand a grand lot of timber for the market.”
A major problem during this prosperous time involved an overabundance of alcohol. “A man claiming to be a Deputy U.S. Marshal or Revenue officer, was along the river the most of past week investigating reports regarding the sale of liquor without the proper Government permit,” the Record reported on April 5, 1900. “It is said that he ‘hooked’ on to plenty of clues and found where cider was ‘spiked’ quite heavily.”
On April 25, the Record offered this: “The past few days have been busy ones along the river. Timber men have been busy trying to save their stuff. At Nine, Fourteen, Big Ugly and Hart the stream has been filled with men rafting and working about logs. The river was higher than it has been for many years, and much damage was done to property along the streams and the big creeks.” On May 2, it stated: “Considerable dressed timber that was lying in the mouth of Big Ugly broke loose during the high water last week, but was caught below the Falls. The stuff is very valuable and is used in ship building, being transported to various ports in the East, and it is reported that some of it gets to England and Scotland.”
Alcohol continued to plague the valley. In June 1901, the Record offered this small dispatch: “From all reports plenty of ‘kill me quick’ liquor is being sold along the river these days. A big batch of indictments and arrests may result from it.” By fall, the Record wrote of the moonshiners and distillers: “They do business despite all protest.” Essentially giving up its attack upon the liquor men, it suggested that the Lincoln County Court “grant licenses to the saloons that do business openly near Big Ugly and Hart’s creek” because it “might as well get the revenue from this source.” In December, the Record reported, “It is said that the coming Lincoln county court may grant license to some saloons. Will it extend to those who openly violate the law along the river and don’t care?”
Once the railroad was completed in 1904, the newspaper’s predictions about “small towns dotting the valley” became a reality. In 1904, Ferrellsburg and Toney were established in Harts Creek District, followed by Atenville, Eden Park, and Fry in 1908. In 1904, there were 15 schools in the district and 482 students enrolled (out of 714 enumerated).
Al Brumfield, Alifair Adams, Anthony Adams, Ben Adams, Billy Adkins, Brandon Kirk, Ernest Adams, Ewell Mullins, George Mullins, Greasy George Adams, Harts Creek, history, Jay Queen, Joe Adams, John Hartford, Lewis Maynard, Mag Farley, Major Adams, Milt Haley, Mountaineer Missionary Baptist Church, Peter Mullins, rafting, writing
I asked Joe if he ever heard any stories about Milt being a fiddle player and he said, “They was having a square dance up there at Peter’s once and I heard them a talking about his father playing the fiddle but that was all. They never said what he played or how much or nothing about it. They just said he was a musician. I’ve heard talk of him but I didn’t know him personally. I know about the trouble they had up here. I heard them talking about that up at George Greasy’s. Said they followed them over yonder at Green Shoal or someplace somebody said and killed them. I heard my dad a talking about that.”
Brandon mentioned that Milt and Green had supposedly been hired by Ben Adams to kill Al Brumfield, which caused Joe to say, “Well, I don’t know whether it was Ben Adams or… Well, Al and Ben were both head strong, let’s put it that way. I don’t know what was wrong with the families back then, but they seemed like they wanted to fight each other. They didn’t want to fight no strangers. They was all fighting through each other all the time. They’d burn each other’s barn and shoot their mules and cows in the field and everything on earth. All of them first cousins. I said, ‘That don’t make no sense to me.’ But back then if somebody needed something, it didn’t matter how mean they were, people’d go help them. If somebody was sick, people’d go sit up with them.”
Talking about the old Adamses around Harts Creek caused Joe to reminisce about his grandparents, Solomon and Anthony Adams.
“Grandpaw Anthony was from Hazard, Kentucky. He cut timber and built splash dams through here. Them old Adamses — Anthony, Ben, Sol — they’d float logs down to Hart and raft them to Huntington. I heard them tell about them Robinsons down there helping them raft them. Grandpaw Anthony, he didn’t let nobody put nothing on him. Them old fellas, 90-percent of them carried a pistol all the time. Most of them had ten or twelve children. Grandpaw Anthony, he acquired that place in the Forks of Hoover and he traded that place in Hoover for this place out here. He built a little house right out here on thirty-five acres in 1908. He ran a store at one time, too. They sold riggings, shoes, groceries, plow stocks, shovels…
“I can’t remember my grandpaw Sol nor his wife Dicy nor my Grandpaw Anthony but I can remember my Grandmaw Alifair well. She was from Missouri. She’d stay a while with us and she’d go up George Mullins’ and stay a while and she’d go down to Aunt Alice’s and stay a while. All the women smoked them old stone pipes and they wore them big gingham aprons that had two big pockets on them and they carried their tobacco and pipe and stuff in their pocket. They always had these old-time fireplaces and she’d go out in the chip-yard where they made ties and stuff and she’d pick her up a bunch of splinters and she’d sit them up in the chimney corner to light her pipe with and you’d better not bother them either.”
Joe’s father was Major Adams (1885-1944), the youngest son of Anthony Adams. He was a hammer-style banjoist.
“My daddy had a .32 Smith & Wesson with a shoulder holster with red leather and he kept that a hanging on the head of the bed,” Joe said. “They had these old iron beds with big, high headboards and stuff on them. And he kept that a hanging on the head of the bed all the time fully loaded in the belt and we knowed better than to tip it. Now, you might hang something up like that and a child take it down and shoot your brains out with it.”
Joe said Trace Fork had changed quite a bit since his childhood days. In the thirties, Ewell Mullins, Ed’s first cousin, had a store on the creek, as did Ernest Adams and Joe Mullins and Lewis Maynard. At one time, there were four stores on the creek; today, there are none. In 1938, the same year that electricity arrived on Trace, the Mountaineer Missionary Baptist Church was constructed at the mouth of the creek. Now an impressive brick building, it was originally a 24′ X 20′ structure. Prior to its construction, people met at Anthony Adams’ store or at the lower Trace Fork School. Joe said he bought the creek’s first television set from Jay Queen’s Bluegrass Hardware in Chapmanville in 1955. The roads were paved on Trace about that time.
Joe said we might find out more about Ed from Ewell Mullins’ daughter, Mag Farley. Billy said she ran a store just up Harts Creek near a fire department and playground. We found Mag working behind the checkout counter. She was a granddaughter to Uncle Peter but didn’t look very much like him. She got a little excited when we showed her pictures of her family but became suspiciously quiet when we inquired about Emma Haley. All we could get out of her was that Ed’s mother never remarried after Milt’s death and died around Harts. Maybe that was so, but we felt there might be more to her story; Mag’s version was almost too dull. We gathered back toward a cooler where we talked and ate bologna sandwiches and potato chips.
Milt Haley, by all accounts, made his living as a timber man. He was probably lured “over the mountain” from the Tug River section by the timber industry that evolved in the Guyandotte Valley following the Civil War. It certainly played a role in his death. Really, for all practical purposes, logging was imbedded in the life fabric of every person living around Harts Creek in 1889…including little Ed Haley, who grew up in the era when timbering and steamboats gave way to coal and the railroad.
“Almost from the very beginning of history in this region, logs have been rafted on the Guyandotte and floated to Cincinnati and even to more distant markets,” according to Fred B. Lambert’s The Llorrac (1926). “In autumn, men with saws and axes went into the woods and cut down the trees. At first, the trees were so plentiful that they could be cut and rolled directly into the stream. In some cases, the bark was peeled from the logs and they were allowed to slide down the mountain side. But gradually the timber along the shore became scarce, and timbermen were compelled to go farther and farther into the hills or up the creeks, until now most of the virgin timber has been cut, and they are beginning on the second growth and, in some places, even on the third.”
The logging season began with the construction of logging camps “during the late winter and early spring months before the spring rains began to swell the creeks and rivers,” according to River Cities Monthly.
The men who came into these camps for work “were men in every sense of the word, and their beards of many days growth betrayed the fact that razors as well as some one to use them were quite scarce…,” Lambert wrote. They worked silently but would “yell like wild men” if something “unusual” happened. They were “master hands at swearing” and often fought amongst themselves, be it for sport or in fits of rage. Because of their wild nature, a foreman was often hired to regulate their activity. At night, they slept on bundles in crude log cabins. If the camp was large enough, a mess hall was constructed and a cook was hired to serve them bacon, beans, bread, coffee “or whatever may be brought into the camp from the surrounding country.”
According to Carol Caraco’s The Big Sandy (1979), loggers marked their timber by branding it with their initials. After branding their logs, they got them out of the hollow and to the river, usually by use of horse or oxen and cant hooks. Another often-used method involved splash dams. “When thousands of logs accumulated behind the timber and stone splash dam, a key wedge would be removed and the timber spewed forth,” Caraco wrote. As the logs made their way down the creek, many were jammed or land-locked along the bank.
At the mouth of creeks and rivers were “taker-ups” and booms. “The taker-ups were free-lance agents who caught and held unrafted logs until the owners appeared,” according to Caraco. “When their charge for this service proved excessive, the legislature standardized fees. Other times loose logs were stopped by a boom, a dam of huge poplar logs reinforced by a giant chain stretched across the stream.”
This boom concept, as well as questions about branding, were apparently at the heart of the 1889 troubles.
According to The Llorrac, “After the logs were all in the river, they were arranged into a raft and held in position by hickory pins driven through the small tiepoles. Later they were made more secure by the use of iron ‘chain dogs.’ Three men were required to build a raft; one to sight or place the logs, one to carry poles, and one to drive pins or chaindogs. They received a dollar a day each and it took about a day. The rafting was done in the fall and winter so as to be ready to go out on the first ‘log-tide’ of spring or early summer. An experienced raftsman always knew when it was safe to go. And well he did, for below him were the treacherous falls and shoals and eddies ready, without a moment’s notice, to hurl him to a terrible death. When the day came for the trip and the oarsmen decided that the river was at safe ‘log tide,’ the great ropes were loosened, the men took their places, the raft slowly moved into the current, and the wild ride was on.”
Based on Lambert’s notes, rafts moved at speeds of eight or nine miles per hour in convoys of fifty or more.
“There was an oarsmen at the bow’ and another behind, directing, with their strokes, every movement of the raft,” he wrote. “No one who has ever been near the river when rafts were passing, can fail to have heard the strange calls of the raftsmen to each other as they rounded the bends of the river or passed through dangerous chutes or rapids.”
“The man on the bow didn’t have to know much,” according to Lucian Mitchell, an old rafter who spoke with Lambert. “The man at the stern knew where to go, where the shoals were, and how to work up to the point on a hard bend and knew the Jordan sands at the mouth of Bear Creek. Sometimes a raft would cork the river by bowing and swing around in such a position as to get both ends afoul. If another raft came down it was rulable to hit this raft in the middle and cut it in two pieces.”
“This was a thrilling time,” The Llorrac claimed. “The front oar was often broken, leaving the raft unmanageable and, in the language of the raftsmen, it sometimes ‘swarped’ or turned completely around and even went to pieces. Let no one minimize the danger. If by accident, a man lost his balance and fell into the water, he was generally carried at once by the eddies to the bottom of the river; or, he drifted under the raft and was seen no more until his body was found, drifting far below, after many days or even months. In case they escaped these dangers they were still subject to sunken logs or great stones.”
Lucian Mitchell of Logan County downplayed the drowning aspect, saying, “Not many drowned. Most could swim.”
Betty Shoals, Cincinnati, Cole and Crane Company, Dave Straton, Dr. Bedford Moss, Fred B. Lambert, genealogy, Henry Clay Ragland, Hinchman House, history, John Thomas Moore, Kentucky, Logan, Louisville, Pecks Mill, rafting, Roughs of Guyan, Standard Mercantile Store, timbering, Urias Buskirk, West Virginia, writing
The Peter Morgan affair, as well as subsequent related events, had a profound impact on young U.B. Buskirk, who would become Logan’s wealthiest citizen in future years, but he chose not to divulge any information about it to Fred B. Lambert, regional historian. Instead, he discussed another murder involving Dave Straton, the son of Maj. William Straton of Logan.
“Once in 1870 or 1871, 200 or 300 rafters came to Barboursville. All got drunk. There was no room in the hotels. There were many fights and a wild time generally. Scott Lusher and Dave Straton were fighting in the street. Then John Thomas Moore was killed by Dave Straton. John Thomas Moore owned the Burnet House, a two-story building, and kept a hotel and bar room. It was near the Flour Mill at the corner of Water Street and Main Street (exactly where the First Methodist Church now stands). He had rented the upstairs for a dance.”
After 1870, Urias and Louisa Buskirk divorced and young U.B. went to stay with Dr. Bedford Moss in Barboursville.
“My parents fell out and Dr. Moss of Barboursville wanted a boy so I went to live with him,” Buskirk said. “This was about 1874 (September). I remember Henry Poteet, the Thornburgs, Baileys. John Wigal was my teacher. I went there April 1874.”
Throughout the 1870s, then, Buskirk lived in Dr. Moss’ home and received a Cabell County education. His father spent the decade in and out of court over the Morgan murder, while his mother married twice: first to Thomas Buchanan, a Civil War veteran, in 1874 and then to Henry Clay Ragland, future editor of the Logan County Banner, in 1878.
In 1880, young U.B. Buskirk left Dr. Moss and returned to Logan County.
“I left there on July 2, 1880 and came back to Logan,” he said.
After his return to Logan, Buskirk took a teaching position at Pigeon Creek for one year, then used the money he saved to pursue a life in business. His father, a local businessman, may have encouraged this venture.
“In 1881 I was a merchant at Logan,” he said. “I worked at this for 25 years. I bought deer skins, even bear skins, ginseng, etc.”
By the early 1890s, Buskirk was Logan’s wealthiest citizen, with business interests in timber, coal, and real estate. In 1892, he opened the Standard Mercantile Store (later the Guyan Mercantile Company). He served on the town council and built a livery on Hudgins Street. In 1896, he began construction of a mansion at 404 Cole Street.
“I first engaged in timbering, pushing timber into the river, for C. Crane and Co., about 1897,” he told Lambert. “They bought only portable timber. They had three double band mills in Cincinnati. They were in business 25 or 30 years before that.”
In his interview with Lambert, Buskirk showed a real familiarity with the timber industry — particularly its rafting era — as it existed in the Guyandotte Valley in the late 1800s. He sprinkled his stories with memories of people and geography.
“Rafting was rarely done beyond the mouth of Little Huff, just up above Ep Justice’s,” he said. “Most of the Justice family came to Logan. Ben lived on Main Island Creek. He moved to Huntington and died there.”
The upper Guyan Valley was difficult to navigate on rafts because of two geographical features, namely the “Roughs” and the “Betty Shoals.”
“The ‘Roughs of Guyan’ extended 14 miles from the mouth of Gilbert Creek to the forks of the river as the junction of the Clear Fork and the Guyan,” Buskirk said. “The Betty Shoals were just below the mouth of Gilbert Creek. A preacher Fontaine drowned there. His body was recovered.”
Peck’s Mill was a familiar site to raftsmen as they plied their way downriver toward the timber market in Guyandotte and Huntington.
“Peck’s Mill was built by Mr. White in the late ’60s and sold to J.E. Peck Sr. and Ed Peck,” Buskirk said. “R.W. Peck Sr. was sheriff in 1880.”
Logan County rafstmen heading toward the Ohio River usually made it to the Harts area of southern Lincoln County on their first day of travel.
“At the end of the first day’s run, raftsmen put up at Big Ugly, seven miles below Harts Creek — on the right going down,” Buskirk said. “Rafts ran 8-9 miles per hour coming down and reached Logan in 2-3 hours.”
A little further downriver, near West Hamlin, was the “Falls of Guyan,” an actual waterfall and hindrance to river traffic.
“The Falls were dangerous but were removed, as was Dusenberry Dam,” Buskirk said. “The Jordan Sands shifted. Men sometimes had to cut through the sands here and elsewhere to get pushboats through them.”
Upon reaching the town of Guyandotte, loggers sold their rafts and took their money to local saloons and hotels.
“Mrs. Carroll at Guyandotte kept 3-4 businessmen but not raftsmen,” Buskirk said.
Unfortunately, Fred Lambert’s interview ends on that note, leaving no personal record of his later life. Actually, his interview stops at the very moment when Buskirk was at a high point in his personal, economic, and political life. This makes sense considering that Lambert was probably most interested in his genealogy and connections to the timber industry, not his biography.
As a result, we must rely on local historians to briefly conclude the man’s life story.
At the end of 1897, Buskirk completed construction of a mansion at 404 Cole Street in Logan — known in later years as the Hinchman House — then promptly went to Cincinnati and married Frances “Fantine” Humphrey.
Mr. and Mrs. Buskirk settled in their Logan mansion, where they had three children: Voorheis (Buskirk) McNab, born January 2, 1899, Dr. Joseph Randolph Buskirk, born July 30, 1900, and Dr. James Humphrey Buskirk.
On May 15, 1909, Buskirk sold his home in Logan to Ettie Robinson (the wife of former sheriff and councilman, S.B. Robinson) and moved to Cincinnati. He kept in touch with his friends in Logan and died a wealthy man on March 14, 1956 at the age of 94 in Louisville, Kentucky.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Fred B. Lambert, a local historian and educator in southwestern West Virginia, interviewed Lucian Mitchell of Henlawson, Logan County, regarding his memories of the rafting industry in the Guyandotte Valley.
“I was born July 20, 1885,” Mitchell began. “I ran many rafts. I worked for the Hewett Lumber Company about 1922 for 5 years and then for Jeff Gill, who bought and sold lumber. I often went on rafts and put up at Guyandotte with the Stephenson Hotel.”
In those days, thousands of Guyan Valley logs were tied into rafts and piloted down the river by pilots to the now defunct town of Guyandotte.
“It took two days to get out from Logan,” Mitchell said. “The man on the bow of the raft didn’t have to know much. The man at the stern knew where to go, where the shoals were and how to work up to the point on a hard bend and knew the Jordan sands at the mouth of Bear Creek.
“Sometimes a raft would cork the river by bowing and swinging around in such a position as to get both ends foul. If another raft came down it was rulable to hit this raft in the middle and cut it in two pieces. Most raftsmen could swim so not many got drowned.”
Among the many turn-of-the-century pilots, Elijah Mobley of Big Creek was memorable.
“Elijah Mobley of Big Creek below Chapmansville was an eccentric river man — a pilot,” Mitchell said. “He went barefooted and bareheaded in summer and even went that way into Huntington — with his pants rolled up. He was killed by a C&O detective. He had been to Catlettsburg in the West Virginia prohibition days — three or four hoboes were with him — and he tried to bluff the detective by putting his hand in or near his pocket.”
At some point, the loggers traveling downriver stopped their rafts and boarded overnight with local residents.
“We took our lunches along and tied up at night,” Mitchell said. “I have stayed at Hubball with James Bench, with W.J. Hatfield at Ranger, with Norma Spurlock at Nine Mile and Burton Hensley at Dusenberry Dam. I stayed with a doctor who lived on the riverbank above Martha who kept about 600 to 700 game chickens. He lived some distance above the Turn Hole.”
As these trips were often made in the winter months, raftsmen had to survive the freezing cold of river travel.
“I have had fires on rafts in winter by closing small cracks between logs, but never knew of any cooking to be done,” Mitchell said.
Upon arriving in Guyandotte, timbermen were paid for their logs and usually used their money to buy liquor and raise all kinds of hell.
“I’ve seen some fancy fights in Huntington among the raftsmen,” Mitchell said. “Policemen usually didn’t interfere. Dolph Spratt of Mingo County or Paris Brumfield hit ‘Doc’ Suiter. He toned down after this.”
At the end of his interview, Mitchell recalled the time the Cole and Crane log boom broke at the mouth of the Guyandotte River.
“The Cole and Crane boom at Guyandotte broke once and came down and struck the piers of the suspension bridge and took it into the Ohio River,” he said.