Appalachia, Ben Walker, Burbus C. Toney, Cain Adkins, Canoe Tree Fork, Eliza Adkins, Ellen Ferguson, genealogy, George Dickinson, Green McCoy, Green Shoal Creek, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek District, Hezekiah Adkins, history, justice of the peace, Lincoln County, Lincoln County Feud, timber, timbering, West Virginia
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.
The Wyoming County Museum located in Oceana, WV, is one of the region’s best museums…and one of America’s greatest small town museums. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Here is a link to the museum website: https://wyomingcountymuseum.webs.com/
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.