GREEN McCoy’s hands were sore from splinters and his mind was filled with worry. There hadn’t been enough pleasure on this trip to Kentucky. It had all started out reasonably well – a homecoming, some drinking in Inez, a little music, pretty girls strolling about town, a comfortable bed at the Palace… But then suddenly, at Milt’s suggestion, they had left town for northern Martin County – more specifically, the farm of Stephen Williamson on Rockhouse Fork. There was too much work here, bad work, the kind Green preferred to pass over. For the past few days, he and Milt had worked like colored people – and with no money to show for it. The weather had also grown chilly, especially at night. Green’s nose was often cold. A miserable frigid rain – sometimes light, sometimes heavy – kept the ground muddy. Surely, there was somewhere better to be. Green longed for the hotel in town. Why were they out in the country? How could this be part of the plan? Too much work, not enough fun. The whole place was void of women. All of the Williamson girls were married and gone away.
As Green’s spirits faded, Milt seemed happy.
“This is the kind of work that keeps a man’s head clear,” he said. “We got it made. No worries here.”
Green did not agree.
Each day after supper he and Milt would play their fiddles for Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, mostly sacred tunes. Then, with Asa in tow, they would traipse out to the barn and play most of the night by lantern-light. So as to not offend their host, they kept their drinking to a minimum.
Asa particularly enjoyed their company. It was rare that such fine musicians passed through the community.
“How long you all aimin’ to stay?” he sometimes asked. “Where you boys headin’ to next?”
Milt and Green could not answer him. They did not know. Green never intended to stay in Martin County for so long; it was a sort of “in between” – a place that allowed him to consider some of the options before him. When he lay down at night among the blankets and hay, he thought of his brother’s home up the Tug, of his wife and son in West Virginia, and of places far away… Milt never spoke of these things.
I gave Clyde Haley a call to ask him about this Josie Cline, who was somehow connected to Ed Haley. Was it his sister, half-sister…or even a girlfriend?
“No, I don’t recall him ever having anybody by that name around the house,” Clyde said. “I’ve just heard my dad talk about her. He didn’t womanize, if that’s what you’re talking about. He didn’t bring any women around the house or anything like that.”
I mentioned that Josie Cline was supposedly Ed’s sister and he wasn’t surprised.
“He might have,” he said. “I never did get acquainted with her. Josie Cline – I recall the name real well. I don’t recall any Clines personally. We went up around Kermit and Logan and up in that area quite a bit, you know. My dad took me with him all the time. I was his pet. I wasn’t around that area too much. The only time I went over there was one time I run off from home and went over that way and scrounged, you know. I couldn’t have been over ten, eleven, twelve years old.”
I asked Clyde why he ran away and he said, “Well, mostly because I was just that type of a guy. I didn’t always stay around the home. A lot of the times when I was away from home that way, it was because I was in dutch with the law, you know. I had to get away from Ashland. And we’d go different places, you know, me and my dad.”
I asked if Ed ever got “in dutch with the law” and he said, “Not too often, not too often. The only time he ever got in dutch was one time when he was whooping us kids in school you know and he whooped me so hard using a thin, brown belt – and he was using the buckled end of it to whip me with… He wrapped that belt around my body and accidentally hit my tally-whacker you know and put me out of commission for about three months. Yeah, I remember that pretty well. He wouldn’t never whip the other boys like he whipped me. But as I look back on my lifetime, I see that he did things that he wouldn’t ordinarily have done if he had been a normal man. He was blind and he done these things to us and my mother – he beat my mother quite a bit, you know. If he could have seen like a normal person, I think he’d been an altogether different person. I forgave him a lot of that stuff but he was awful mean to my mother.”
“He’d come in drunk sometimes and beat on her and every time he’d do that, when I was big enough, I’d hit him with something. I hit him with a milk bottle one time, one of those big old heavy milk bottles. But I conked him with one of them one time and cut a pretty good gash in the top of his head. If he’d ever found out that that was me that done that, he’d a beat me half to death. But we all told him that Sarah West done that. She stayed with us. John West’s wife. John West stayed with my mother and dad a lot of times too, because I remember him pretty well. And he did things around the house that my mother and father couldn’t do. He was like a handyman. But Sarah West got the blame for that milk bottle because I blamed her. I told him, I said, ‘Pop, that was Sarah done that, hit you in the head with that milk bottle.’ And he got on her about it. And I remember she couldn’t talk real well. She had a hesitant speech. She says, ‘Mr. Haley that was Clyde did that. Wasn’t me. That was Clyde.’ Trying to tell him it as me. And he wouldn’t believe her. She took the blame for that, poor girl. I was a regular hellion.”
I asked Clyde if he remembered any of the other people who worked around Ed’s house and he said, “We had so many people stayed around in my house. My mother and father were hospitality plus. You know, anybody that came around the house they were just like family. There was a lot of them that was at my house because they knew my mother’s part of the family, like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd. Those people in that category. They were from right there in the area. Their homes were right around in Logan and West Virginia. My dad was from Logan County. They’d come and listen to my dad play the fiddle. There’s stories that I could tell you that you wouldn’t believe about my dad – those things that we done when he was away from home. Things that were mean, pertaining to the family. He wasn’t a nice person to be around. If you come down this a way and we get together and talk, I can tell you things that I wouldn’t tell you on the phone.”
For reasons I can’t quite explain, although perhaps related to my belief in genetic memory, Ed Haley’s genealogy remained a real source of interest to me. I knew virtually nothing about his father’s background, although I had a strong suspicion that Milt Haley’s roots were somewhere along the Tug Fork at the West Virginia-Kentucky border – that same section of country made famous by the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Taking a tip from Pat Haley, I called Grace Marcum, a woman of advanced age who was somewhat of an authority on the old families in her section of the Tug Valley. I first asked Grace if she remembered a fiddler named Ed Haley.
“Oh, I did know Ed Haley years ago when I was a girl,” she said. “He played a fiddle and he was blind. He had a sister named Josie and she married a Cline and he stayed with her.”
“Oh, Lord,” Grace laughed. “I was just a young girl. I’m 80 years old now.”
I said to Grace, “Now, we’d understood that the Muncys were related to the Haleys,” and she said, “They was. Ed visited Loosh and his wife pretty often. He stayed with Loosh a while and then he stayed with Rush a while. They was old Uncle Sammy Muncy’s boys. They used to live here. My daddy sold him the store. He bought our grocery store out, Loosh did. Yeah, they always kept a grocery store a going, both of them did.”
THE next afternoon, Justice Elias Vance rode to Al Brumfield’s farm. In recent days the justice had collected enough testimony from locals to pinpoint Milt Haley and Green McCoy as the primary suspects in the shooting of Al and Hollene Brumfield. He did not yet have enough evidence to prosecute them but had issued warrants for their arrest.
At the time of Mr. Vance’s arrival, Al Brumfield and his father sat on the porch discussing new developments.
“Good news on the way,” Paris said to Al as the justice came into view.
Al stepped down from his porch into the yard.
“Got somethin’ for us?” Brumfield asked.
“Sure do,” the justice said.
“You remember I give you my word I’d catch whoever shot you and Hollene,” Elias said.
“Yep,” Al said.
“Well, we got two suspects,” Elias said.
The justice climbed down from his horse and reached four folded papers to Al. Brumfield opened them. They were arrest warrants for Green McCoy and Milt Haley. Vance had signed the Lincoln County warrant, while Anderson Blair had signed the warrant for Logan County.
“How in the hell did you get Anse Blair to sign this?” Al asked.
He knew that Blair was the uncle of Green McCoy.
“Well now,” Elias said. “It weren’t easy. I had to promise him these boys’d get a fair trial.”
“Well…” Al said.
“Now we still don’t know if Haley and McCoy is guilty,” Elias said. “They’re only suspects. We still need to catch ‘em and question ‘em. You understand?”
“Of course,” Al said.
There was a momentary pause. The two men were not particularly close; their exchanges were always awkward.
“Are these mine?” Al asked, referencing the papers.
“Yeah,” Elias said.
Al stuck the papers into his coat pocket.
“How about Kentucky?” he asked. “You got any pull over there?”
“No,” Vance said. “If they’re in Kentucky, you’re goin’ to need a good detective or extradition papers from the governor.”
At that moment, Paris Brumfield stood up from the porch.
“Sounds like you boys are gettin’ close,” he said.
“Yes sir,” Elias said. “I believe we are.”
“Let me ask you somethin’, Elias,” he said. “What does the law say a man gets for tryin’ to kill somebody?”
“For attempted murder?” Elias said. “Two to ten years, for each charge.”
“Is that it?” Paris said.
The old outlaw laughed.
Ed Haley’s grandfather, Andrew Jackson Mullins, was born about 1843 to Peter and Jane (Mullins) Mullins. Jackson, as he was called, was named in honor of President Andrew Jackson, that early American icon. Like many folks in those days, Peter and Jane Mullins appear to have been caught up in the Jackson mystique. They even named one son Van Buren, after his vice president. Jackson Mullins was the first child born to Peter following the family exodus from Kentucky or Tennessee to Logan County, (West) Virginia. The 1850 Logan County Census listed him as seven years old. In 1860, he was eighteen. Jackson did not participate in the Civil War. Brothers Weddington and Van Buren served as Confederates. In the late 1860s, Jackson married the slightly older Chloe Ann (Gore) Adams, a widow. Chloe had been born around 1840 to John and Margaret (Dingess) Gore, pioneer residents of Harts Creek. She had first married John Quincy “Bad John” Adams, a first cousin to Jackson, with whom she had four children: Dicy (born 1857), Joseph (born May 1858), John C. “Frock” (born c. 1861) and George Washington “Ticky George” (born 15 Jul 1864). She and Jackson had three children: Emma Jean Mullins (born c.1868), Peter Mullins (born May 1870), and Weddington Mullins (born April 10, 1872). Jackson and Chloe are thought to have lived on Trace Fork, perhaps at the present-day site of the Turley Adams home where they certainly lived in later years.
What little is known of Jackson Mullins — the man who partially raised Ed Haley — comes through deed records and census records. On February 13, 1869, his uncle Spencer A. Mullins wrote him a note that read: “Mr. A.J. Mullins and wife: you will pleas Come down and git your Deed for the Buck fork Land. I will not pay the taxes any longer.” In 1869 he purchased 200 acres of land on the creek from Riland Baisden. The next year he was listed in the 1870 census as 27 years old with 700 dollars worth of real estate and 200 dollars worth of personal property. His daughter – Ed Haley’s mother – first appeared in that record as “Em. Jane Mullins,” age two. An April 1871, Justice Jeremiah Lambert provided a receipt to him for $2.80 “in the cost of the peace warrant in favor [of] him against Benjamin Adams.” An 1871 Logan County tax receipt listed A.J. Mullins as a resident of “Hearts Creek.” On February 28, 1877, the Logan County Court appointed him as “Surveyor of Roads in Precinct No. 76 in place of Weddington Mullins for the time of two years commencing April 1, 1877.” On December 17, 1877, the Logan County Clerk provided a receipt to him for recording a deed from Henderson Dingess and wife (parents to Hollene Brumfield). An 1878 tax receipt shows him in charge of six tracts totaling 244 acres under the ownership of ”John Adams Heirs.”
The 1880 Logan County Census listed Jackson as 37 years old, while his wife was 40. Children in the household were John C. Adams (aged eighteen), George Adams (aged 15), “Emagane Mullins” (aged 12), Peter Mullins (aged 9), and Weddington Mullins (aged 6). That same year, Jackson sold five tracts of land totaling over 200 acres to brother-in-law Mathias Elkins for 3,000 dollars. He also sold 50 or so acres on Buck Fork to his father Peter and stepmother Elizabeth for 600 dollars. In February 1881, the Logan County Court reappointed him to relieve his brother Weddington as Surveyor of Public Roads for Precinct No. 76 ”commencing April 1st, 1881.” That same year, he secured land from the John Q. Adams estate and bought 100 acres on Trace Fork from A.A. Low, attorney. On August 7, 1883, Enoch Baker, a timber boss on Harts Creek, provided a receipt to him for fifteen dollars “in payment for a Stove.” In 1886, Jackson deeded 37 tracts on Trace Fork to stepsons Joseph and John Adams. On April 2, 1888, he signed a promissory note agreeing to pay William Abbott $41.75 plus interest within a year. Because he was illiterate, he signed the note with an “X.”
In 1890, Jackson and Chloe Mullins deeded their property on Trace Fork to their three children: Emma Jean Haley, Peter Mullins, and Weddie Mullins.
In the 1900 Logan County Census, Jackson gave his birth date as March of 1845, while Chloe gave hers as July 1834. Ed Haley first appears in the 1900 Logan County Census as “James E. Haley, born August 1885,” and living in their home. His birth date of 1885 was two years later than what was given by the Haley family records. By 1910, Jackson lived with son Peter Mullins, while Chloe was in the home of Weddie Mullins’ widow, Mag. Ed was absent from the census entirely, indicating that he was gone from Harts by that time. At some point during the year, Jackson Mullins died and was buried in an unmarked grave at the Robert Mullins Cemetery on main Harts Creek.