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On June 21, 1989, scholar John Hennen interviewed Tom Chafin (1911-1997) of Williamson, West Virginia. What follows here is an excerpt of Mr. Chafin’s story about the death of his grandfather Ellison Hatfield in 1882 and other general memories of the Hatfield family.
JH: Okay, let’s go ahead and just follow that line. Tell me about Ellison Hatfield. And of course Ellison Hatfield was one of the participants in the early days of the so called Hatfield and McCoy feud.
TC: He’s the one that the McCoys killed. Uh, he lived up Mate Creek at the mouth of a hollow they call Double Camp Holler. He came down to Matewan here and got with some of his friends and they had a saloon here. It was called a saloon then, not the liquor store like we call it.
JH: Do you have any idea where that saloon was?
TC: Uh…the saloon was close to where the liquor store is now.
TC: I’m…I’m sure it was in the same building. That’s the Buskirk building. And he got with some of his friends and they got to drinking and was a having an election across the river in Pike County, Kentucky. Just across the river here. And he said to them said, some of his friends said, “Let’s go over and see how the elections goin’,” and when they got over there, they got into it with them and he was cut all to pieces with knives. He didn’t die in Kentucky. They loaded him up and hauled him back in a wagon. They hauled him back through the river up here at the upper end of Matewan and took him to Warm Holler. Now this is Warm Holler straight across from the bank on the right goin’ down there. You go across the railroad tracks. Uncle Anse Ferrell lived there. That was Ellison’s uncle. Uncle Anse Ferrell lived there in a big old log house. And they took Ellison there to his house that evening and he stayed there all that evening, all that night, and all day the next day and died the next evening. Just about dark. But in the mean time now, the Hatfields captured the three McCoy boys that they said did the killin’ of Ellison. Cuttin’ him up with knives. They captured them and took them up to a place they call North Matewan just out of Matewan here. They had and old school house there at the mouth of Rutherford Hollow. And they had an old school house there at the mouth of Rutherford Holler and that’s where they kept the three McCoy boys. All this evening, all night tonight, all day tomorrow, until tomorrow evening. And they brought him back down here, took him across the river and then a little drain, I call it, instead of a holler. It’s not a holler, it’s just a drain where water runs out where you go up to the radio station. That’s where they tied them to three papaw bushes. Now, we don’t have any papaw bushes around like we used to. We used to have whole orchards of them but they all disappeared. Why, they was papaws everywhere You could pick up a bushel of papaws anywhere when I was a boy. But you don’t even see a papaw tree any more. They said they tied them to three papaw bushes and killed all three of them.
JH: And this was after Ellison died?
TC: They waited until Ellison died. Say he died this evening and they went up there and got them and took them over there I believe the next morning.
JH: Who were some of the Hatfields involved in this?
TC: Well, to be exact, I’d say Cap… Cap was the head man. He was Devil Anse’s oldest son.
JH: I’d like you to tell me a little bit more about Cap Hatfield and well, do you have a personal memory of Devil Anse? I know you have been to his house when you were a boy.
JH: You can’t remember anything directly about him?
TC: I’ve been to his house. I know where his house is. I knew what kind of house it was. It was a log house and it had a window in that end of it and a window in this end of it and it was across the creek. I could show you right where it is on Island Creek over there and I can remember goin’ over there with my grandfather Mose Chafin. Now, he was a brother to Devil Anse’s wife, Aunt Vicy. We’d go over and see Aunt Vicy after Uncle Anse had died. I believe he died in 1921 and I was ten years old when he died. And when I would go over there with him, probably I was twelve or thirteen or something like that, after Uncle Anse had died. And we’d ride a horse. I’d ride on the hind and my grandfather Mose Chafin. And I could tell you exactly how to go. We’d go up Mate Creek across the hill into Beech Creek and from Beech Creek into Pigeon Creek and Pigeon Creek into Island Creek.
JH: And Vicy was still living at that time?
JH: So you knew her then?
TC: Yeah. She was a pretty big fat woman. She wasn’t too big and fat. She was about, say, hundred and sixty, something like that, I’m guessin’. I’m gonna guess it. About a hundred and sixty pound. Anyhow, she was a big fat woman.
JH: Now, Cap lived on up into…to be an old man?
TC: Yeah. Willis is the last man that…last one to die.
JH: He was the son of Devil Anse also?
TC: Yeah. I was with him at a birthday party for Allen Hatfield on Beech Creek. That was his cousin. Allen was Elias’ boy* and he was Ellison’s boy**. Willis was. That made them first cousins and Willis was the only Hatfield left on Island Creek so we got him to come to that… Allen’s boy Estil Hatfield got him to come over to the birthday party, and I believe Truman went with me. He died in seventy-eight. I can tell you when he died.
TC: Willis died. Last child that Devil Anse had died in seventy-eight. 1978.
*Should read as “Wall’s boy”
**Should read as “Anse’s boy”
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From Pearl Browning Burgess, ninety-seven-year-old daughter of Allen and Emily Browning, dated September 1998:
“I remember Anse Hatfield as Devil Anse. He was a kind old man. We called him Mr. or Uncle Anse. He was so kind to everyone he met. We children of Allen Browning loved to go to his home to see two bears tied up in a log house. The year was 1916. Also, we loved his two pea fowls that spread their tail feathers to show their beauty. I was a young woman in my teens and did Mrs. Hatfield’s laundry when she was ill. They had a real nice family. Seemed everyone who met Mr. Anse loved him and can’t understand why anyone would call him Devil Anse. When he died, my father and I sang one song and Dyke Garrett preached. The men carried his body nearby to Hatfield Cemetery. There they placed him in a grave. At the close of the grave, two sons that had not spoke for many years reached across the grave and shook hands. When they got his monument, his shoes or boots were on backwards. I am 97 years of age and still love to think of the times my father and I visited Uncle Anse and I can remember three sons: Cap, Tennis, and Willis. I remember his girls, yet I can’t recall their names. All this time is now Sarah Ann in Logan.”
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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:
Over the years, much has been written about the male members of the Hatfield clan who took part in that early orgy of blood-letting–the Hatfield-McCoy feud. But nothing has been said concerning the indomitable wives of that stalwart breed of men.
My purpose is to pay a richly deserved tribute to one of those pioneer women–the late Nancy Elizabeth, wife of William Anderson Hatfield, common known “Cap,” second son of Devil Anse, and the most deadly killer of the feud.
More than 30 years have passed since I last talked with her; but I still regard Nancy Elizabeth Hatfield as the most remarkable and unforgettable woman of the mountains.
In the spring of 1924, I was a candidate in the primary election for the Republican nomination for attorney general, and I wanted the Hatfield influence. Devil Anse had died in 1921, and his mantle of leadership of the clan had fallen to his oldest living son, Cap–a power in Logan County politics.
I had met Cap, casually, in 1912, but I had not seen him since that meeting. But his sister, Mrs. Betty Caldwell, and her husband, lived in my county of Mercer, and were among my political supporters. To pave the way for my later meeting with Cap, I had Mrs. Caldwell write and ask him to support me.
Later, when campaigning in the City of Logan, I engaged a taxi to take me the few miles up Island Creek to Cap’s home. The car stopped suddenly and the driver pointed to a comfortable-looking farm house on the other side of the creek and said:
“That’s Cap’s home, and that’s Cap out there by the barn.”
I told him to return for me in two hours.
Cap saw me get out of the car, and, as I crossed the creek on an old-fashioned footlog. I saw him fold his arms across his chest and slip his right hand under his coat. Later, I noticed a large pistol holstered under his left arm. Even in that late day, Cap took no chances with strangers. When I got within speaking distance, I told him my name, and that I had come to solicit his support in my campaign for attorney general. He gave me a hearty handclasp, and said:
“My sister, Mrs. Caldwell, wrote us about you. But, let’s go to the house, my wife is the politician in our family.”
Cap was reluctant to commit himself “so early.” But Nancy Elizabeth thought otherwise. Finally, Cap agreed to support me; and, with that point settled, we visited until my taxi returned.
Meanwhile, with Cap’s approval, Nancy Elizabeth gave me the accompanying, heretofore unpublished photograph of the Devil Anse Clan. In 1963 I rephotographed it and sent a print to Willis Hatfield (number 22 in picture), only survivor of Devil Anse, who made the identification. Nancy Elizabeth is number 16, and the baby in her lap is her son, Robert Elliott, born April 29, 1897. Therefore, the photograph must have been made late in 1897, or early in 1898.
A few months after Cap’s death (August 22, 1930), the West Virginia newspaper publishers and editors held their annual convention in Logan. I was invited to address the group at a morning session. That same day, Sheriff Joe Hatfield and his brother, Tennis, younger brothers of Cap, gave an ox-roast dinner for the visiting newsmen and their guests. The picnic was held on a narrow strip of bottom land, on Island Creek, a half-mile below the old home of Devil Anse.
I ate lunch with Nancy Elizabeth and her sister-in-law, Betty Caldwell. After lunch, at the suggestion of Mrs. Caldwell, we three drove up the creek to the old home of her father–Devil Anse. It was a large, two-story, frame structure (since destroyed by fire, then occupied by Tennis Hatfield, youngest son of Devil Anse).
The most interesting feature in the old home was Devil Anse’s gun-room. Hanging along its walls were a dozen, or more, high-powered rifles, and a number of large caliber pistols, ranging from teh earliest to the latest models. “The older guns,” said Nancy Elizabeth, “were used in the feud.”
As we returned, we stopped at the family cemetery that clings uncertainly to the steep mountainside, overlooking the picnic grounds. There, among the mountains he loved and ruled, old Devil Anse found peace. A life-size statue of the old man, carved in Italy (from a photograph) of the finest Carrara marble, stands in majestic solitude above his grave. On its four-foot high granite base are carved the names of his wife and their thirteen children.
Source: West Virginia Women (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 149-151
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In 2001-2002, I wrote a series of popular stories for the Logan Banner that merged aspects of well-known Hatfield-McCoy books written by Otis Rice and Altina Waller in the 1980s. I had previously enjoyed Rice’s narrative and Waller’s analysis; I did not conduct any new research. Even though I believed the definitive Hatfield-McCoy Feud book remained unwritten, my purpose in writing these stories was not a step toward writing a book; my purpose in writing these stories was to revisit the narrative with some analysis for Banner readers. My hope was that readers would see what I saw: first, fascinating history (or folk story) for its own sake; second, the power of history to create a popular type of tourism.
I was fortunate during this time to meet Jean Hatfield. Jean, born in 1936, operated a Hatfield family museum at Sarah Ann, WV. Jean was not a native of West Virginia but had lived her entire adult life locally and had personally known several of Anderson Hatfield’s children. I really appreciated her desire to promote regional history. She “got it.” She inspired me. Anytime that I drove up Route 44, I stopped to visit Jean at the museum. She was always welcoming. Knowing her reminded me that every Hatfield (and McCoy) descendant is a source of information–and that for the most part they have yet to tell the story in their own words. Three notable exceptions include The McCoys: Their Story by Truda Williams McCoy (1976), The Tale of the Devil (2003) by Coleman Hatfield and Bob Spence, and The Hatfield and McCoy Feud After Kevin Costner: Rescuing History (2013) by Thomas Dotson.
What follows is Part 1 of my interview with Jean, which occurred on August 7, 2001:
You were telling me some of the things you have. Family things.
Like the guns and gun molds and knives and things like that that belonged to the Hatfields. And of course as you can see here in the shop I’ve got all kinds of photographs. Still have more. I just don’t have the room to display all that I have.
You mentioned a gun specifically.
I have three of the pistols that belonged to Grandpa [Devil Anse]. The last one that he carried in his pocket. And then I have a large .38/.40. I also have a little silver pearl handle squeezer that my husband’s father gave him when he was running for sheriff before he died.
Which one of those boys was your father-in-law?
Tennis. That was Devil Anse and Levisa’s youngest son. He was just like 6 years old, seven years old when the feud was going on. I think he was born in 1889. And the feud actually started around 1886. So he was just a little boy, him and Uncle Willis both. Willis, if you remember the old picture of them in front of the old log house, Willis was sitting on one side and Tennis was sitting on the other side. Both of them was small boys.
Is that the one where they have the little coon skin caps?
Uh huh. It’s a very common picture. I think about everybody has that one.
Did you say you had an axe, too?
Yeah, I’ve got a little axe that they called their kindling axe. They chopped their wood up to start their fires with. Little short handle. Maybe the handle on it is like 28, 29 inches long. And it’s got two cutting sides so it would be a double-bitted axe. And I have gristmill rocks that they used to use to grind their meal up from their corn that they raised. They were pioneer people. They had to do everything on their own because there was no convenience store at that time. Anything they had… They floated their logs down to Catlettsburg in the fall and then they’d take a train back with their flour and sugar and things like that they needed for winter. And the rest of the things I would imagine they canned and dried so they had plenty of food the winter.
So they had their own mill?
Oh yeah. They’d grind their own corn into meal.
Where did it sit?
Uncle Joe had one over here across the road but now they had one earlier over ___. That was the area that they were in when the feud was going on. That’s where they done a lot of their timbering back over in that area.
What little town is there now that’s close to where they lived?
Red Jacket, over in that area. Close in around Matewan.
So you remember your father-in-law pretty well?
Well no. He died two weeks after my husband and I met. But I knew Willis and I knew Rosie [Browning] and Betty [Caldwell] and Uncle Joe. They were all Devil Anse’s children.
A lot of these things I read about, you don’t get a good idea of what they were like. Do you know anything that would make them seem like real people? Any stories? Things you’ve never seen in print?
Well, like Johnse. He was the ladies’ man. He was the one that fell in love with Roseanne and they wouldn’t let them marry. Now Tennis and Willis and Joe pretty well hung together. They were more buddies than the rest of them. Aunt Rosie was a nurse. So she nursed everybody. She was like a mother figure to all of them.
Did she nurse in a hospital?
I think she did nurse at one time in one of the hospitals. Probably one of Big Doc’s hospitals. Dr. Henry D. But she was always the type to go to the homes and take care of them, more or less. And Aunt Betty was very religious, so she was like the minister to the family.
Do you know what her religion was?
I would say Baptist. What was the older one? Probably United. But she was religious all of her life. They were human. I have a lot of people in the years that I’ve been here tell me that their grandfather and grandmother stayed at Grandpa and Grandma’s house because he wouldn’t let nobody go by if it was getting dark because they had wild bears and panthers and things like that. He was afraid people would get hurt. So he would make them come in the house and they would feed them supper and they’d sleep and the next morning at daylight they could go on. He’d done took care of their horses and everything. I would have give anything if he would have had some kind of a register that people could have signed that they have stayed all night with him. Because I still have people telling me, “My grandma, my great-grandma did this” and “My great-grandma did that.” And they took a lot of people in that didn’t have homes and let ‘em work and live with ‘em. They were kind people. But I think that they just didn’t like to be pushed around. Right now, everybody’s that way. They’ll give you anything they got, but just don’t try to take it off of ‘em. Now my husband, he was a very large man. He was like 6’2” when I met him. And I always called him my gentle giant because he was just as gentle as he could be. But you didn’t want to make him mad. He did have a temper. But I very seldom ever saw it. And they loved people. They liked dealing with people. Most of them were storekeepers. Two of Grandpa’s sons were doctors. Of course, Tennis was sheriff, Joe was sheriff. Lias and Troy, they were storekeepers. So they always were dealing with the public. You don’t deal with the public without repercussions if you’re mean.
Did you say something about having a chifferobe?
Yes. A handmade chifferobe and it has a little hidey-hole in the top of it where you could hide guns or money or whatever you want in it.
Do you know where the fort was?
I have never figured that out. I don’t know whether it was… There may have been one over on Beech Creek or Ben Creek, over in that area. But as far as I know from the family telling me, it didn’t exist. But I know their house was built back off of the road. Well, back at that time, there wasn’t a road. You had to go down through the creek to get anywhere. And trespass on other people’s property to get to Logan. I think this road went in here in 1932 or 1938. But even when Henry’s father put the monument up for Grandpa, there was no road here. That was in 1928. And they had to use mules and sleds and everything else to get that stone up on the mountain.
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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the statue of Anderson Hatfield at the Hatfield Cemetery on Island Creek:
Hatfield Statue is Shipped from Italy
A statue of “Devil Anse” Hatifeld, which has been recently completed by a world famous sculptor in Carrara, Italy from a model drawn by F.C. McColm, of Huntington, has been shipped to that city where it will be placed on display, before erection at the grave of Captain Hatfield, near his home on Main Island Creek, Logan county.
The statue shows the late “Devil Anse,” standing erect, typifying the stalwart, West Virginia mountaineer, in a characteristic pose, with slouch hat, loose long coat and baggy trousers.
The pedestal, which is being made by the McColm Granite Company, is thirteen feet high. There is no epitaph, merely the words, “Captain Anderson Hatfield, 1839-1891,” and “Levicy Chafin, his wife, 1842–.” The statue is being erected by his family. There is a space at the side of the monument for the thirteen children, who are: Johnson, William A., Robert L., Nancy, Elliott R., Mary, Elizabeth, Elias, Troy, Joseph D., Rose, Willis E., and Tennis S.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 17 March 1922. Note: The Banner printed an incorrect date for Anse Hatfield’s death year.
Memorial Unveiled To “Devil Anse” Hatfield
Magnificent Statue Unveiled at the Family Burying Ground Last Sunday Before Friends.
ERECTED TO MEMORY OF STATE’S MOST NOTED MAN
Carved from Italian Granite by a Noted Sculptor in Carrara Arriving Here Last Week
The magnificent statue of Anderson Hatfield, better known throughout this section of the nation as “Devil Anse” Hatfield, was unveiled Sunday afternoon at the family burying ground near his old home on Upper Main Island Creek.
Preparations had been made for a large crowd and a free dinner had been prepared, but due to the condition of the roads and to the fact that showers fell in the afternoon hundreds of his friends were kept away. About 500 people braved the threatening clouds to attend and gazed upon a handsome marble figure standing 13 feet in height, typifying the deceased mountaineer in his daily walks of life.
The majestic statue is erected to the memory of one of the most noted characters that ever lived in West Virginia. It is erected to the memory of a life that was crowded with thrilling events, but in this body, that witnessed and participated in many historical events, there ran a strain of human kindness never exceeded.
In keeping with the well known hospitality of the Hatfields, his relatives had prepared a bountiful repast for all that visited their home Sunday and the food was all that could be desired. His children and grandchildren were there in large numbers and many of the friends of the family.
The statue stands in the family burying ground and the full life size figure stands majestically overlooking the hills and valleys were “Devil Anse” in his lifetime was wont to roam as lord and master of all he surveyed.
The statue is of Italian granite and was carved by a noted sculptor in Carrara and is set upon a granite pedestal. The shaft contains the name of the noted old leader, together with the dates of his birth and death, the name and date of birth of his wife. Space is left on other portions of the statue for the names of his thirteen children.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 14 April 1922.
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My name is Deanna Hatfield and tonight I would like to share with you a West Virginian, Allen Hatfield, who the community of Beech Creek honored and loved. Allen was born October 11, 1877. He was the youngest child of the pioneer couple, Wall Valentine Hatfield and Jane Maynard Hatfield, who settled on Beech Creek in 1861, the year that the Civil War broke out in this country. His parents had settled at the mouth of Grapevine Fork of Beech Creek. They had occupied a log cabin near the present site of Lawrence Hatfield’s home. He was the nephew of Captain Devil Anse Hatfield, clan leader in the famed Hatfield-McCoy Feud, and a first cousin of Willis Hatfield, the only surviving child of that family.
Almost until the day of his death, Allen carried a sadness in his heart over the death of his father in the days of the famous feud. His father, a peaceable man, was not an active member of the fighting group of the Hatfields during the trouble between his family and the McCoys but was named in warrants along with two of his sons-in-law, Doc and Plyant Mayhorn. Allen Hatfield, but ten years old at the time, remembered that his father Wall, thinking that he had nothing to fear in the courts of Kentucky, wrote the prosecuting attorney of Pike County that he and his sons-in-laws wished to surrender in Pikeville and stand trial for crimes for which they were accused. Allen Hatfield recalled the incident from his boyhood, including the feud. His father did go to Pikeville to voluntarily stand trial and clear his name but he was convicted by a prejudiced jury, the son remembered, and was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Kentucky State Prison in Frankfort. After sentencing, he lived about one year and his burial place is still unknown today. The two Mayhorns served several years and were later pardoned.
One of his fondest memories was that of his mother Jane who took over the management of the home and did a good job of raising a large family after her husband was taken from her. She did chores around the homestead. A great and interesting conversationalist in his adult years, he liked to tell of how he and his friends made bows and arrows–arrows consisting of straight pieces of wood with a horseshoe nails attached as the spike. He became an excellent marksman with the bow and arrow and later with his first rifle as he helped to provide squirrels and other wild game for the family table.
The early years of Hatfield’s life were marked by sadness as a result of the loss of his family in the feud. But his hours spent in the great outdoors hunting and fishing provided a therapy that led to his development to splendid manhood. He was several years old when the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company built an extension from Virginia to southern West Virginia and Mingo County, which still was Logan County at that time.
In 1899, Hatfield was married to Martha Bell Murphy, daughter of Joseph and Eliza (Steele) Murphy. She had just turned fourteen when he proposed and her family thought she was too young to wed. The young couple sort of eloped the night of April 8, 1899, to Allen’s home where they were married by Allen’s brother, Ellison, a country preacher and a granny doctor, as he later recalled. Late that summer, he amassed enough lumber to build their first home—a one-room abode that was erected next to the hillside just north of the present homestead. Allen Hatfield made most of his furniture and his wife tended a garden and dug ginseng to help the family fortune.
During the ensuing years, the Hatfields had eleven children, two of whom preceded them in death. Lawrence Hatfield, who married Dollie Kiser, is now retired and lives with Dollie on Beech Creek at the mouth of Grapevine Fork. Estel Hatfield, who married Virginia Varney, lived with his dad and still lives in the old homeplace. Estel is an agent for the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company. Major Hatfield, who married Mildred Friend, is employed as an agent also for the Norfolk and Western Railroad Company in North Tazewell, Virginia. Rosa Hatfield, married Wayne Simpkins, lives on Beech Creek on Right Hand Fork. Goldie Hatfield married Gordon Smith, and they make their home below Grapevine Fork on Beech Creek. Mamie Hatfield married Charlie Simpkins and makes her home in Rockville, Maryland. Glendeen Hatfield married Douglas Berlin, and they make their home in Louisiana. Etta June Hatfield, never married and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Erma Hatfield married Forest Baisden, and she lives in Williamson, West Virginia. Milda Hatfield, deceased, was a retired school teacher and was never married. Joseph Chester Hatfield, died at six months old.
In 1914, Allen bought from his brother Smith a grocery store at the old homeplace and moved the merchandise to a small building at his home. He built a large home later and it was there that most of the children were born. He expanded his business to a larger store building, which still stands, and then he erected the present homeplace. During his early merchandising days, Hatfield was compelled to haul his goods from the railway station at Devon by team and wagon for the roads had not been built and most of the rough team tracks was through the creeks. It was a problem in the wintertime to get through the streams as they were filled with ice. After the county built a road up Beech Creek, he retired his team and wagon and switched to a gasoline-powered vehicle to haul and deliver his goods. He learned carpentry in the early years of his marriage and continued this art until 1964 when he retired. Hatfield was a 57-year member of the Hugh C. Boyd Lodge No. 119 AF & AM at Matewan and received his 50-year service award from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia in 1970. The lodge, when he became a master mason, was known as Thacker No. 119. It was located at Thacker, West Virginia. It later was moved to Matewan. He also belonged to the Beni Kedem Temple of Charleston, being a 50-year member of the Shriners. He also received the honorary commission of a Kentucky Colonel on April 10, 1972. He had been a member of the Devon Church of Christ since 1916 and sponsored the building of the present church that stands near his home on Beech Creek.
In his years of selling groceries, Hatfield said he never lost but 50 dollars in bad debts. He was proud of his heritage, a leader in his community, and in his active life a crack shot with a rifle, pistol, and shotgun. His hunting and fishing kept the table supplied with food. He won beef, hogs, turkeys, and chickens in the old-time rifle matches that were so popular in the Beech Creek area years ago. He and the former Martha B. Murphy were married 71 years before her death on May 25, 1970. His life might have been used as the subject by the poet who wrote, “Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” Allen Hatfield had spent a lifetime doing just that, living beside a little country road on Beech Creek and being a friend to mankind. On March 2, 1975, Allen was taken to the Williamson Memorial Hospital for ailments associated with his advanced age. He then was released and re-entered the hospital on April 18 in critical condition. On Friday, May 2, 1975, the community of Beech Creek lost one of the dearest old-timers that was ever known. Allen Hatfield, 97, prominently-known Mingo pioneer citizen, retired merchant of Beech Creek, died at 3 a.m. in the Williamson Memorial Hospital of a lingering illness. Funeral services were scheduled at the Chambers Funeral Home Chapel with his beloved ministers Clyde Kiser and Raymond Hatfield officiating. Burial took place in the family cemetery behind the homeplace on Beech Creek. His grandsons and great-grandsons were his pallbearers. Allen would have wanted it this way. Simple.
NOTE: Some of the names may be transcribed incorrectly.
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.
A.J. Shepherd, Appalachia, Calico, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dewey Boaz, Elias Hatfield, genealogy, Greenway Hatfield, history, Horse Pen Fork, hunting, Huntington, Island Creek, jailer, Joe Hatfield, John Totten Vance, Joseph Hatfield, Logan Banner, Logan County, Logan County Banner, Logan Democrat, M.K. Diamond, Melvin Runyon, Mingo County, Moundsville, New River, Omar, Stirrat, Tennis Hatfield, Thacker, Tom Hatfield, West Virginia, West Virginia Coal & Coke Company, Willard Hatfield, William E. Glasscock, William Hatfield, Williamson, Willis Hatfield, Wyoming County
From the Logan County Banner, the Logan Banner and the Logan Democrat of Logan, WV, come the following items about the Hatfields:
In some way our watchful jailor Elias Hatfield learned that some week or to days ago, the wife of Melvin Runyon, who is confined in jail here for the murder of John Vance at Thacker had been trying to get a pistol in the jail to him. On Monday, Mrs. Runyon, with a brother of Runyon, and Mr. A.J. Shepherd came over to see him. Mr. Hatfield thought it was his duty to search Mrs. Runyon before she was allowed to go into the jail, which he did at once, and found a hatchet under her dress. The hatchet was taken from her and she was not allowed to go in. Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Runyon were, however, allowed to go in and talk with the prisoner. The jailor is commended by all for his action.
Source: Logan County Banner, 17 April 1895.
Tennis Hatfield is reported on the sick list.
Source: Logan Democrat, 23 January 1913.
Tennis Hatfield, who has been confined to his room for several weeks, is improving under the care of Dr. Steele.
Source: Logan Democrat, 30 January 1913.
Tennis Hatfield who has been confined to his room for two months at Calico left last week for New River.
The many friends of Willis Hatfield here are glad to hear that Gov. Glasscock paroled him from a four year sentence at Moundsville for killing Dr. Thornhill in Wyoming county.
Source: Logan Democrat, 20 March 1913.
Mr. Hatfield caught five ground hogs Tuesday and said that it was not a good day for them either.
Source: Logan Democrat, 24 April 1913.
Joe Hatfield, of New River, visited his parents at Calico last week.
Source: Logan Democrat, 15 May 1913.
Postmaster Willard Hatfield of Williamson was bound over to court yesterday following a row in which Police Officer Dewey Boaz was shot in the foot. Hatfield waived examination and his bond for $1,000 was signed by his father, Greenway Hatfield.
Source: Logan Banner, 5 August 1927.