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.
Anderson Ferrell, Appalachia, crime, David Ross, education, Ferrell School, feud, feuds, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Homer Claude McCoy, Johnnie Rutherford, Kentucky, Logan County, Mate Creek, Mate Creek School, Mingo County, Nona McCoy, Pike County, Tug Fork, West Virginia, William Anderson McCoy
From “The Rise of Education and the Decline of Feudal Tendencies in the Tug River Valley of West Virginia and Kentucky in Relation to the Hatfield and McCoy Feud” by Homer Claude McCoy (1950):
I attended school in the school house on Mate Creek just a few days after the McCoy boys was taken out and killed. The kettles and pans that they used to cook their grub in was still in the school house yet. This was my first school. This was about 1882. My next school was in the school house on the Anderson Ferrell farm about one mile below Mate Creek on the W.Va. side of Tug River. The teacher of Mate Creek School was David Ross and teacher for the Ferrell School was Johnie Rutheford.
William Anderson McCoy
Dec. 4, 1949
Note: Homer Claude McCoy (b. 1904) was the son of William Anderson and Nona (Jackson) McCoy. William Anderson McCoy was born in 1873 and died in 1960. To see William’s family in the 1880 Logan County, WV, Census, follow this link: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YB2-97NB?i=7&cc=1417683
Alex Messer, Anse Ferrell, Appalachia, Bill Tom Hatfield, Bud McCoy, Cap Hatfield, Charles Carpenter, crime, Dan Whitt, Devil Anse Hatfield, Doc Mayhorn, Elijah Mounts, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Jeff Whitt, Joe Murphy, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Mate Creek, Moses Christian, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Plyant Mahorn, Preacher Anse Hatfield, Sally McCoy, Sam Mayhorn, Tolbert McCoy, Tom Mitchell, Tug Fork, Valentine Wall Hatfield
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is Dan Whitt’s deposition regarding the affair:
The Commonwealth then introduced as a witness Dan Whitt who proves that [he] knows the Defts Doc & Plyant Mayhorn. Knew the three McCoy Boys. Saw them on head Blackberry. Ance, Cap, & Jonse Hatfield, C. Carpenter, Alex Messer were there with me. I saw Defts at Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s was there when we came down the creek to that place, do not remember whether they had any arms or not. All the balance of us had arms. Defts. was somewhere above there when we formed line do not remember whether they got in line or not. Do not remember how Defendants crossed the river. Saw them on the West Virginia side. Had no trial at the mouth of Blackberry. Defendants went to the school house on Mate Creek where the McCoy boys were taken. Do not remember that the Defendants had guns or was armed. There was arms there and they was handled through each other. When Aunt Sally come Ance objected to her seeing the boys but consented afterwards. Wall told Aunt Sally that if they were bothered they would shoot the boys as full of holes as a sifter bottom. Myself, Ance Hatfield, Cap, & Jonce Hatfield, Alex Messer, Jo Murphy, Tom Mitchel C. Carpenter Doc & Sam Mayhon Moses Christian and Jeff Whitt crossed over river into Ky with the McCoy boys we crossed in a flat boat we took them up the bank and up the river a piece to a flat place and there surrounded them and set down and some one said something about a shooting match and I told them if that was what they was for I would leave and me and Sam Mayhorn, Jeff Whitt, & Moses Christian run and got 15 or 20 steps away and the guns fired. The boys was tied together. After the shooting the balance all come to where we was on the bank of the river and we all crossed back together in the boat and when we got to the mouth or Just up in the mouth of Mate we found Wall Hatfield, Elias Hatfield, Plyant Mahon, & Elijah Mounts. They was near the sign board. Wall Hatfield there. Saw the crowd that had been near the river to protect each other and never tell anything that had happened that night. I was indicted for this offense and my father in law got a letter from McKenner saying that if I would come in and give up and tell all I knew about the case he would dismiss the indictments against me and I should not be prosecuted. The prosecution has been dismissed against me. I did not take the oath. We left Ance Ferrells in West Va, that is me, Ance, Jonce, & Cap Hatfield, Alex Messer, C. Carpenter, Jo Murphy, Tom Mitchel, Bill Tom Hatfield, & Jeff Whitt with the agreement to go and Hang the McCoy boys. We staid all night at Farmans store at the mouth of Blackberry in Pike Co Ky. We had no agreement with the Mayhon boys to hang the McCoy boys and they knew nothing of the agreement made at Ance Ferrells. I said at the Jail that I would give same amount to know which one of the Mayhon boys was across the river…[cropped]
Alex Messer, Andy Varney, Appalachia, Blackberry Creek, Cap Hatfield, Charles Carpenter, crime, Devil Anse Hatfield, Elias Hatfield, genealogy, Harrison Steele, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Mate Creek, Mingo County, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Plyant Mahorn, Preacher Anse Hatfield, Tolbert McCoy, Tug Fork, Valentine Wall Hatfield, West Virginia
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is Andy Varney’s deposition regarding the affair:
The Commonwealth then introduced as a witness Andy Varney who proves that he knows Defts Wall, Ance, Cap, & Jonce Hatfield, C. Carpenter, Alex Messer. Knows the McCoy boys. I first saw them over on Blackberry just a little above Rev. Anderson Hatfield. Saw Ance, Cap, Jonce, Wall, and Defts. Do not remember seeing defendants with any arms. I next saw them at the river. Was at the school house on Mate creek Tuesday evening to the best of my knowledge the defts had arms there. Guns, I think. The crowd come to Elias Hatfields about 11 oclock. Wall, Elias, Jonce, Ance, Cap, Alex Messer, and the defts they were all armed. They were all there next morning. I was Lying on the porch when the parties came to Elias Hatfield. I saw these two Mayhorn boys there. I staid there all night. I had a gun. I was guarding the prisoners while at school house on Mate. Some one told me he had a summons for a sufficient guard. I have been staying at old man McCoy’s. I was indicted with defendant but the case has been filed away. I was behind all the way down Blackberry Creek with Harrison Steele.
Appalachia, Bud McCoy, crime, Doc Mayhorn, Don Whitt, feud, feuds, Floyd Mounts, genealogy, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Jeff Whitt, Logan County, Mingo County, Pharmer McCoy, Plyant Mahorn, Tolbert McCoy, Tug Fork, Valentine Wall Hatfield, West Virginia
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is Floyd Mounts’ deposition regarding the affair:
I know Don and Jeff Whitt. Jeff said at the Jail Door Just after the __ of Wall Hatfield that if he swore Wall, Plyant and Dock Mahorn went across the river where the boys were killed he was mistaken, and that he was served and didn’t know what he was doing and that they were not there.
Alex Messer, Appalachia, Bud McCoy, Cap Hatfield, Charley Carpenter, crime, Dan Whitt, Devil Anse Hatfield, Doc Mayhorn, Ellison Mounts, feuds, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Jeff Whitt, Johnson Hatfield, Mose Christian, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Plyant Mayhorn, Sam Mayhorn, Tolbert McCoy, Tug Fork, Valentine Wall Hatfield, West Virginia
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is Ellison Mounts’ deposition regarding the affair:
I was present at the time the 3 McCoys were killed. They were killed on the Ky side of the river opposite a little drain, or maybe a little above it. Neither Plyant Mayhorn nor Dock Mayhorn were present at the time or place where the McCoy boys were killed.
Ance, Cap, & Johnce Hatfield, Charley Carpenter, Dan Whitt, Mose Christian and Sam Mayhorn, Jeff Whitt, Alex Messer and myself were present when the killing was done. Jeff Whitt, Dan Whitt, Mose Christian and myself were not ___ present when the Guns were fired. we were 15 or so steps away. After we got across the river Ance called on Wall to Swear them to keep secret what had occurred that nights and Wall did so.
[I cropped the bottom of the page in my photo]
Appalachia, Big Sandy River, Cabell County, Guyan Valley Bank, Guyandotte River, H.M. Booth, Hamlin, history, Huntington, James Barbour, Logan, Logan County, Mary Morris, Pennsylvania, Peter Dingess, Philadelphia, Richmond, Robert Brooke, Robert Morris, Robert Morris Grant, Russell County, Tug Fork, Virginia, West Virginia, William Crammond, Wythe County
320,000 Acres of Land Hereabouts Sold for Five Shillings According to Old Records Found in Old Vault
H.M. Booth, in cleaning out the vault of the old Guyan Valley Bank preparatory to moving his offices from Logan to Hamlin, uncovered a number of old documents that dated back to the time when “horse and buggy days” were a fact and not merely a political equation.
Many of these old papers, including deeds, receipts, account books and other papers of a semi-personal nature, are originals, while others are notarized copies of originals. They make interesting reading in these days of speed, radios, high prices and typewriters.
The old documents were all hand written, in clear, flowing script, the capital letters often decorated with fancy scrolls and shaded lines. Many of them were written with a quill pen.
Of particular interest is one deed, 12 ½ by 15 ½ inches, written on sheepskin. The ink has not faded, and although the skin is old and discolored, the deed is easily read. It was made in the days when Logan county was unheard of, and all this vicinity was part of Cabell county, Virginia. It seems strange, now, to think of a governor in Richmond, Virginia, parceling out land in Logan county.
The deed reads, in part: “James Barbour, Esq., Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia: To all whom these presents shall come, Greeting: Know ye, that by virtue of a Land office Treasury warrant, No. 6126, upon the 9th day of Sept. 1780, there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto Peter Dingess, a certain Tract or Parcel of Land, containing one hundred and twelve acres, by survey, bearing date the 31st day of March, 1813, situate in the County of Cabell, joining to his own deeded land, and bounded as followeth, to-wit:”
Then follows a detailed description of the boundaries of the land, in which prominent trees and landmarks play a common part. After the description of the land, which was written in pen and ink, came the regular printed form as follows:
“In witness whereof, the said James Barbour, Esq., Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath hereunto set his Hand, and caused the Seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond, on the twenty-fifth day of October, in the Year of our Lord, One thousand eight hundred and fourteen, and of the Commonwealth the thirty-ninth.”
Down in the lower right hand corner of the paper can be plainly seen the signature of James Barbour, governor of Virginia at that time.
A notarized copy of another land deed was signed by Robert Brooke, Governor of Virginia in 1795, and was dated March 23 of that year. It deeded through the Land Office treasury warrants numbered from 472 to 530, inclusive, a parcel of land containing 480,000 acres, “by a survey made the 10th of September, 1794.” The land was described as being in the county of Wythe, on the Tug and Guyandotte rivers. This grant of land was known as the “Robert Morris Grant.”
Evidently, from the records, Robert Morris became involved in difficulties, for after a considerable amount of legal red tape, all duly recorded, there is a document showing where “Robert Morris and Mary, his wife, of Philadelphia, sell to William Crammond of Philadelphia as well for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings lawful money of Pennsylvania to them well and truly paid do grant bargain and sell, alien and enteoff release and confirm to the purchased 320,000 acres of land in the counties of Wythe and Russell, lying on both sides of Sandy Creek.”
Among the records of accounts paid found by Mr. Booth were numerous fees paid out for “boating freight from Huntington.” Six dollars and fifty cents is entered “for a suit of clothes,” and another entry shows where four dollars and a half were paid for two pair of shoes.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 19 August 1936