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Howard B. Lee, former Attorney General of West Virginia, provided this account of Nancy Hatfield (widow of Cap) in the early 1970s:
Our next stop was at the home of Nancy Elizabeth, the same home where I visited with her and Cap during my campaign. For nearly three hours I asked questions and listened to that remarkable woman recount many of her experiences as the wife of America’s most celebrated feudist.
Nancy Elizabeth’s home also held a number of guns, pistols, and other relics of the feud days. But the most interesting item was Cap’s bullet-proof, steel breastplate, designed to cover the entire front half of his body from his beck to his lower abdomen.
“Mrs. Hatfield,” I said, “judging from the three bullet marks on it, this breastplate was a great protection to Cap; but what was to prevent an enemy from shooting him in the back?” Her eyes flashed as she replied: “Mr. Lee, Cap Hatfield never turned his back on an enemy or a friend.”
“I have read two stories, Mrs. Hatfield, each purporting to give the true cause of the feud: One book stated that it was the result of a dispute between a McCoy and a Hatfield over the ownership of a hog. Another book said that it grew out of the seduction of a McCoy girl by Johnson Hatfield, oldest son of Devil Anse. Is either one of these stories true?”
“No, neither story is true,” she replied. “The McCoys lived on the Kentucky side of Tug River, and the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side. Hogs don’t swim rivers. I never heard the girl story until I read it in a book, written long after the feud was over. Both stories are pure fiction.”
“The truth is,” she continued, “in the fall of 1882, in an election-day fight between Ellison Hatfield, a younger brother of Devil Anse, and three McCoy brothers, Ellison was shot and knifed. He died two days later. In retaliation, Devil Anse and his clan captured and shot the three McCoy brothers. It was these four senseless killings that started the feud.”
In answer to my inquiry, Nancy Elizabeth said: “Yes, there had been ‘bad blood’ between the two families since the Civil War. In that struggle the Hatfields were ‘rebels’,–loyal to their State, Virginia. Devil Anse organized and was the captain of a company of Confederate sympathizers called the ‘Logan Wildcats’. They were recruited for local defense; but they left the county long enough to take part in the battle of Scary, fought along the banks of the Kanawha River, a few miles below Charleston.
“The McCoys, and their mountain neighbors, were pro-Union; and to protect their region against invasion by ‘Virginia rebels’, they organized a military company called ‘Home Guards’. There were occasional border clashes between the two forces, with casualties on both sides. The war ended only seventeen years before the feud began, and the bitterness still existed in the minds of the older generation, and they passed it on to their children. It was the old sectional and political hatreds that sparked the fight between Ellison Hatfield and the McCoy brothers.”
Nancy Elizabeth declined to estimate the number killed on either side of the feud.
“It was a horrible nightmare to me,” she said. “Sometimes, for months, Cap never spent a night in our house. He and Devil Anse, with others, slept in the nearby woods to guard our homes against surprise attacks. At times, too, we women and our children slept in hidden shelters in the forests.
“But these assaults were not one-sided affairs. The Hatfields crossed the Tug and killed McCoys. It was a savage war of extermination, regardless of age or sex. Finally, to get our children to a safer locality, we Hatfields left Tug River, crossed the mountains, and settled here on Island Creek, a tributary of the Guyandotte River.
“No, there was no formal truce ending hostilities. After a decade or more of fighting and killing, both sides grew tired and quit. The McCoys stayed in Kentucky and the Hatfields kept to West Virginia. The feud was really over a long time before either side realized it.
“Yes, Kentucky offered a large reward for the capture of Devil Anse and Cap. The governor of West Virginia refused to extradite them because, said he, ‘their trials in Kentucky would be nothing more than legalized lynchings’. It was then that Kentucky’s governor offered the reward for their capture–‘dead or alive’. Three attempts were made by reward seekers to capture them.
“Dan Cunningham, a Charleston detective, with two Cincinnati detectives, made the first attempt. They came through Kentucky, and crossed Tug River in the night; but the Hatfields soon captured them. A justice of the peace sentenced them to 90 days in Logan County jail for disturbing hte peace. When released, they were told to follow the Guyandotte River to Huntington, a distance of 60 miles, and ‘not to come back’.
“Next, a man named Phillips led two raids from Kentucky into Hatfield territory. In the first, he captured ‘Cottontop’ Mounts, a relative and supporter of the Hatfields, and took him to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he was hanged. But the second foray met with disaster at the ‘Battle of the Grapevine’. Phillips, and some of his followers escaped into Kentucky, but some where buried where they fell.
“This was the last attempt of the reward seekers. However, Kentucky never withdrew the reward offer, and that is why Devil Anse and Cap were always alarmed and on the alert.”
Source: West Virginia Women (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 151-152
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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about Stephen Hart and Harts Creek in Lincoln and Logan counties, West Virginia. The story is dated April 14, 1937.
Stephen Hart Settled at Cheat River, Pete Spurlock, A Great Grandson, Reveals
P.A. (Pete) Spurlock, assistant postmaster at the Logan post office, this morning revealed the destination of Stephen Hart, who went went after he had lived for a short time at the forks of the creek in the lower end of Logan county which now bears his name.
Spurlock said that Hart went to the Cheat River and settled permanently there to hunt deer and rear a family. He said the family name of Hart is as familiar there as the name Dingess is familiar in Logan county.
A daughter of Stephen, Jane, was Spurlock’s grandmother. She lived until 1913 and told her grandson much of the early history of the family which made its home in and around Spurlocksville, Sheridan, Ranger, and Midkiff.
Charles Spurlock, the progenitor of the Spurlock family, came to what used to be the Toney farm below the mouth of Big Creek in 1805 from Montgomery county, Virginia.
“Uncle Charley was a funny old cuss,” his great grandson Pete said this morning. “The story is told that a sheriff of Cabell county was given a capias to serve on the old codger for some minor offense when he was growing old and rather stout.
“Meeting him in the road one day, the sheriff informed Uncle Charley he had a capias to serve on him.
“None abashed, the old man informed the sheriff he was a law-abiding citizen and laid down in the middle of the road and told the sheriff to take him to jail.
“The ruse worked, for the sheriff chose to look for less obstinate prisoners,” Uncle Charley’s grandson said, chuckling.
Another story about the eccentric “Uncle Charley Spurlock” which has gone down in history, whether true or not, was that he lived for a short time below Big Creek under a rock cliff (known as a rockhouse) during the early summer while he was getting his cabin in shape for winter.
The tale is out that “Uncle Charley” explained his strange dwelling place in this way to his neighbors:
“Well I took Sarah (his wife) in a good substantial frame house in Virginia and she wasn’t quite satisfied. I took her to a log house and she wasn’t satisfied. I took her to a rail pen and still she grumbled. Then I took her to a rock house built by God Almight and still she wasn’t satisfied.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with Sarah.”
Sarah evidently became accustomed to “Uncle Charley” for the couple reared four sons. They were John, Seth, Lifas and Robertson. There were no daughters.
Seth was P.A. Spurlock’s grandfather. His father, Marshall, is 78 and lives on his farm near Cincinnati.
Spurlock says “Uncle Charley” is buried on a point at Spurlocksville overlooking the haunts of his early manhood.
Robertson was a gunsmith and lived near Hamlin. Seth was a civil engineer and helped survey much of Logan county. He was a Union soldier. John was a country doctor who practiced at Ranger.
Lifas was a preacher for sixty years and lived at Sheridan.
Charles Spurlock, of Omar, is a distant cousin, the assistant postmaster said. He is the only relative that lives in this section of Logan county, Spurlock said.
Spurlock, at Omar, was born at Spurlocksville and is a grandson of one of the original “Charley’s” boys.
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In 1929, the State of West Virginia nearly opted to allocate a monthly pension to its Confederate veterans, as well as blacks who had served the Confederate Army in service roles. In covering the story, the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, compiled a list of its remaining Confederate veterans.
HOW MANY VETERANS?
A pension of $20 a month is provided for Confederate veterans of the state by a bill passed by the Senate last week and sent in the House for concurrence. Senator M.T. Miller, of Boone county, who said he could not vote to pension men who had carried arms against their government, cast the only vote against the proposal.
A Charleston paper says there are only about 60 Confederate veterans living. This paper cannot believe that, although it has no information on the subject. How many are there in Logan county? Does anyone know? Has anyone an approximately correct list? If so, will he or she make the fact known? Uncle Dyke Garrett probably knows most of them.
The Banner would like to obtain a list of both Confederate and Union veterans still living in the county, together with their post office address.
Source: Logan Banner, 26 February 1929.
AS TO OLD SOLDIERS
The Banner’s request for information about old soldiers living in Logan county has not been in vain, nor has the response been satisfactory. The names of four confederate veterans have been turned in, as follows:
Rev. Dyke Garrett, Curry, beloved and venerable minister; William Workman, Shegon, who fought at Gettysburg and is now 88; Steve Markham, Holden No. 20, who has been blind for 20 years; and William Chafin, who lives with his son Harvey, at Holden 5 and 6.
Who are the others? Send in their names and addresses and any information you deem of interest concerning their careers as soldiers and citizens. The same information about Union soldiers, residents of the county, is likewise desired.
Logan Banner, 5 March 1929.
PREPARING THE ROLL
Another name has been added to the list of old soldiers that The Banner has undertaken to compile. Reference is to J. Matt Pauley, residing in Band Mill Hollow, post office Stollings. He was in the Confederate army, fought throughout the war and was wounded, writes Mrs. A.V. Pauley of Ethel. He is of the same age as Uncle Dyke Garrett.
The names of four survivors of the War Between the States, all living in Logan county, were published in Tuesday’s paper. There must be others. Who are they?
Today, W.C. Turley brought in a list of eight Confederate veterans, including the following new names: Wm. C. Lucas, Big Creek; Henry Mitchell, Henlawson; Hugh Avis, Green Thompson and John Neece, Logan; Harrison White, Pecks Mill.
Logan Banner, 8 March 1929.
On Confederate Roll
Two more names have been added to the roll of Confederate veterans that The Banner is preparing. These are James Zirkles of Man, whose name was sent in by Leslie Mangus, of Kistler, and Zan Bryant of Whirlwind, whose name was recalled by County Clerk McNeely. Are there not others besides nine or ten previously published?
Logan Banner, 12 March 1929.
Confederate Veterans Living Here Number at Least 17
There Are Probably Others–Will You Help to Enroll Them–All Merit the Tender Interest of Younger Folk
Seventeen names of Confederate soldiers, residents of the county, have been collected by The Banner. Wonder if any have been overlooked, or if the appended list is in error in including any Union veterans? If any reader knows of a Confederate soldier not listed here, please send in the name and address AT ONCE. There will be no further request or reminder.
This paper undertook to make up a list of these old soldiers for two reasons. Chief of these was a desire to prevent any of them being overlooked in case a bill to pension them was passed by the legislature–but the writer does not know yet whether or not that bill was enacted into law. Another reason for assuming the task was to test in a limited way a statement in a Charleston paper that there were only 60 Confederate veterans left in the state. That statement was doubted, and with good reason judging from the number polled in this county. Anyhow, the ranks have become terribly thinned. Every few days we all read of taps being sounded for another one here and there.
Middle-aged men and young folk should esteem it a privilege to do something to brighten the lives of these old soldiers. As the years roll by our pride will increase as we recall our acquaintance with and our kindness toward the “boys of ’61 and ’65.”
Here is the list. Look it over, and if there is a name that should be added or a name that should be stricken out, or any error or omission that should be corrected or supplied, speak up:
James Zirkles, Man; Zan Bryant, Whirlwind; J. Matt Pauley, Ft. Branch; Uncle Dyke Garrett, Curry; William C. Lucas, Big Creek; Henry Mitchell, Henlawson; Hugh Avis, Green Thompson and John Neece, all of Logan; Harrison White, Pecks Mill; Melvin Plumley, Crawleys Creek (post office not known); William Workman, Shegon; Steve Markham, Holden No. 20; William Chafin, No. 5 and 6.
Logan Banner, 15 March 1929.
Two Names Added Confederate Roll
Bill to Pension Them is Defeated By Parliamentary Tactics in House
Names of two more Confederate soldiers living in the county have been sent to The Banner. They are: C.H. Gilkinson, minister, resident of Holden, who was born and reared in Wayne county, and is the father of Dr. L.W. Gilkinson. Jackson McCloud, a resident of Whirlwind on Harts Creek. His name was supplied by A.L. Browning of Monaville, who says he feels sure that Mr. McCloud was in the Confederate service and fought at Gettysburg.
Assuming both names should be added to the roll, it means that there are at least 19 Confederate veterans still living in Logan county, seventeen names having been listed and published a week ago.
For many of them there will be disappointment in the information that the bill to pension them did not pass. Sponsored in the Senate by ex-governor A.B. White, the son of a Union soldier, the bill passed, that body, Senator M.T. Miller of Madison casting the only vote against it. In the House of Delegates it was amended, by a majority of one, to include Negroes, whether slave or free, who had served in the Confederate army of cooks, personal servants, or otherwise, and later tabled.
Source: Logan Banner, 22 March 1929.
Slagle Man 17th in Confederate List
Zan Bryant Probably Oldest Veteran In County–Born in Jackson’s Time
Joseph Lowe of Slagle is the latest name to be added to the list of Confederate veterans that has been compiled by The Banner. However, that leaves the count at 17, as the name of Melvin Plumley of Crawleys Creek was erroneously included in the published list. He was a Union soldier, it seems.
Of all those listed Zan Bryant of Whirlwind must be the oldest. He is said to be 98 years old and his wife, Judie Hensley Bryant, 91. They have been married for 75 years and have a son, Dave Bryant, who is 73. There are five other children, Dave, John, Wade and Dyke all live on Harts Creek, most of them near their parents; Mrs. Martha Jane Smith at Gay, and Mrs. Lucinda Spry of Mingo county.
This venerable couple have spent all their years in the isolated Harts country, their home being on White Oak fork, and can be reached only by a long horseback ride.
When Zan was born Andrew Jackson was president and Logan county as a political subdivision was but five years old. He was 23 years old when married and 30 when the War Between the States began.
Logan Banner, 26 March 1929.