Joshua Butcher Deed to John Workman (1851)


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Josh Butcher to John Workman 1852 1.JPG

Deed Book C, page ____, Logan County Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.


Island Creek Roads (1927)


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about Route 3 dated October 14, 1927:

“Changes Can Be Noted” In Island Creek Hills

Madison Editor Waxes Interesting on Old Times and Primitive Conditions–Surfaced Highways Mark the Paths Through Woodland That Were Traveled a Generation Ago.

An article of special interest to Logan folk is here reproduced from the Coal Valley News (Madison) of which M.L. Jones is editor. In a reminiscent mood he tells of road conditions and other conditions that prevailed hereabouts a generation ago. Exceptions might be taken to one or two statements, but the whole article is interesting indeed and informative.

It is considered appropriate that West Virginians should sing the “West Virginia Hills,” and year after year the teachers in their institution disturb their neighbors with this song, while “Tears of regret will intrusively swell.” There is some romance and merit in the song; but it strikes us that it is about time for a revision of this line.

“But no changes can be noticed in the West Virginia Hills.”

To prove our point we quote from memory.

For some years after 1882, there lived in the extreme head of the left fork of Island Creek, or Main Island Creek, a man named Bob Browning. It was 18 miles from Logan. The house was a two-room log cabin, surrounded by palings; and the valley was so narrow that it was difficult to find enough level ground for a garden. Apple trees and peach trees were scattered over a few acres of cleared mountain side. The family subsisted by a little farming, a little hunting and much ginsenging.

This place was between two low mountain gaps. A dim road, usable for wagons in dry weather, led down the creek to Logan, and forked at Browning’s house. One fork led east over one gap to Horsepen and Gilbert of Guyan; the other went west over the other gap to Pigeon creek, and by more or less roundabout ways connected with Ben Creek, Beech Creek, Mate Creek and Pigeon Creek, all of Tug river. Hence, it was a possible road route.

The nearest house down Island creek and on Horsepen creek was two miles; and on Pigeon creek about three-fourths of a mile. A wagon, lightly loaded, passed here on the average six times a year. Horsemen may have averaged one a day, though often a whole week passed without a traveler. It was simply a log shack in the head of the hollow, four miles from a school, ten miles from a store, without anything “which exalts and embellishes civilized life,” and so very remote from the haunts of men that when “Devil” Anse Hatfield and his followers concluded to surrender Tug river to Frank Phillips and the McCoys, they picked their “last stand” on Island creek, four miles below the spot we have been talking about.

Now, in the close of 1927, can “changes be noticed?” We have not been there for over 30 years. But we recently received a present from John W. Smith, commissioner of agriculture , Charleston, W.Va., entitled “West Virginia by Rail and Trail,” containing 22 maps and 174 pictures reproduced from photographs of different parts of the state, and for which we sincerely thank whoever got our name on Mr. Smith’s mailing list.

From this book we learn that when we laboriously trudged through the Horsepen gap or the Pigeon gap, from 45 to 35 years ago, we failed to foresee that within on generation men would pick those two gaps, within less than a miles of each other, as a route for one of West Virginia’s leading roads; and not only for one, but for two, of West Virginia’s leading roads. As we will explain:

Route 3, connects Huntington, Wayne, Crum, Williamson, Gilbert, Iaeger, Davy, Welch, Bramwell, and Bluefield. From Huntington to Wayne and about 15 miles above Wayne, it is mostly on the waters of Twelve Pole creek. It then bears west to Tug river and follows it from Crum to Williamson, about 25 miles. It then bears east to Pigeon Creek, which it follows to the spot we are writing about, in the head of Island creek, some 20 miles. It then goes through the two gaps and down Horsepen creek to Gilbert, on Guyan; up Guyan and Little Huff’s creek, of Guyan, and across the mountain to Iaeger, on Tug river. It then follows up Tug, by Welch, to the head of Elkhorn and then on the waters of Bluestone to Bluefield.

In all, Route 3 is in seven counties, though less than a mile of it is in Logan county, in the head of Island creek. It is graded all the way about 60 percent of it is hard surfaced, including about 25 miles at and near the Bob Browning place. Thus Bob, if alive, can ride on a hard surfaced road from his old home almost to Williamson, one way, and to Gilbert on Guyan the other way; and he could continue south by graded road, until he strikes hard surface again. The last fifty miles next to Bluefield is all hard surfaced, also the lower 25 miles next to Huntington.

But this is not the only big state route hitting this “head of the hollow.”

Route 10 runs from Huntington to the very same spot, a distance of 100 miles, through Cabell, Lincoln and Logan, and is all on Guyan or its tributaries. It is paved, or hard surfaced, from Huntington to West Hamlin, on Guyan where the Hamlin-Griffithsville hard-surfaced road turns off. It is also marked paved for seven miles north of Logan and twelve miles up Island creek. This leaves six miles up by the “Devil” Anse Hatfield place to the Bob Browning place to pave, and it is marked, “paved road under construction.” The only drawback to No. 10 is that from West Hamlin to Ranger is a patch where the grading is not yet satisfactory. Doubtless, within three years both 3 and 10 will be hard surfaced all the way. Even now, from the Browning place, the people can take their choice between an evening’s entertainment in Logan or Williamson.

But that is not all yet. The chances are heavy that there will never be but one hard surfaced road from Logan to Williamson. There will always be a heavy travel from Charleston to Williamson. It will be by our No. 2 to Logan; by No. 10 to the Browning place; and by No. 3 to Williamson. Within a few months it will all be hard surfaced.

From all this we conclude.

First; that we let a good chance slip when we failed to buy a half acre of land where No. 10 joints No. 3 for a hotel and filling station. We could have multiplied our investment by one thousand. But so far as we could see that spot was fit only to hold and the rest of the Earth’s surface together, and to get away from as rapidly as possible.

Second; that “changes can be noticed in the West Virginia Hills.”

We might add that thousands can remember crossing the Kanawha at Charleston on the ferry, because there was no bridge; and few, if any, three-story homes. The writer hereof did his first plowing with a two-horse turning plow in the center of what is now Huntington. It was a cornfield then. It is a fashionable residence district now. He boarded at an isolated log house on a hill back of the Huntington bottom, where now are miles of mansions on paved streets. Even in and about Madison and all over Boone county, it is hard for people to visualize how things looked a short ten years ago. Mrs. Sarepta Workman, on her recent visit to her old…

Jack Dempsey’s Mother (1927)


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about champion boxer Jack Dempsey dated September 9, 1927:

Jack Dempsey’s Mother Pays Visit to Logan

Travels from Utah to See Relatives and Old Friends and Neighbors

Maiden Name Cecilia Smoot

Uncle Dyke Garrett Among Welcomers; Dempseys Once Owned Site of Holden.

While Jack Dempsey is fighting to regain the heavyweight championship of the world, his mother Mrs. Hiram Dempsey will be the guest of Logan relatives and friends. She is expected to arrive at any hour for an extended visit to the scenes of her childhood.

Mrs. Dempsey arrived at Huntington Sunday and then planned to come here the next day. Later, word came that she would complete today the last lap of a motor trip from Salt Lake City to Logan.

Interviewed at Huntington Mrs. Dempsey told of her desire to revisit girlhood scenes and inquired about old friends. She spoke of Uncle Dyke Garrett and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he is still living. Uncle Dyke read the interview (his wife is an aunt of Wiatt Smith, the interviewer) and despite the nearness of his 86th birthday, came back up from his home back of Chapmanville to welcome Mrs. Dempsey.

This beloved old mountain minister never knew Jack Dempsey, but he remembers Jack’s mother as a girl, her maiden name being Cecilia Smoot. She was a daughter of Charles Smoot, who came to Logan from Boone county, and who lived and died up on Island Creek. After his death, Mrs. Smoot (Jack Dempsey’s grandmother) married Simpson Ellis, who died but a few years ago, after serving a long period on the county court.

Scott Justice, who divides his time between Huntington and Logan, was among those who greeted Mrs. Dempsey at the Huntington Hotel yesterday. He remembers the marriage of Hiram Dempsey and Cecilia Smoot, and also recalls that the site on which the town of Holden now stands was sold by Hiram Dempsey to Mr. Justice’s father when the family decided to migrate westward.

According to Mr. Justice, the tract of 200 acres changed hands for a consideration of $600.

“Uncle” Enoch Baker was another caller to greet the challenger’s mother. Mr. Baker was engaged in business in Logan county when the Dempseys lived here, being well acquainted with the family.

Mrs. Dempsey was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. J. Kenneth Stolts of Salt Lake City. They made the trip from Utah, where Jack’s mother now has her permanent home, in a large automobile, traveling in easy stages. They arrived in Huntington Sunday evening and are leaving there today.

She called her famous son in Chicago by telephone Sunday night to advise him she had arrived here safely.

While in Logan, Mrs. Dempsey will visit her half-brothers, Don Ellis of Stratton Street, and Joseph and John B. Ellis of Island Creek, and others.

She has never seen Jack in the ring and will probably receive the result of the coming battle from friends in Logan.

The difference in the ages of the champion and challenger will not be an advantage to Tunney, Jack’s mother thinks. “If Tunney will stand up and fight, I expect Jack will give a good account of himself. But if Jack has to chase him all the time, Tunney may turn around and give him a licking in the end. I believe they are pretty evenly matched and lucky may figure in the outcome,” she said.

The Dempseys left Logan in 1887 and William Harrison (Jack) was born in Manassa, Colo., in June ’95. While he was a mere child they returned to Logan county. Jack remained here until a young man, having been employed by the Gay Coal and Coke Company as late as 1913, and then went west alone to seek pugilistic fortune. He met Jack Kearns on the Pacific coast, from which point his spectacular climb to the pinnacle of the heavyweight division furnished the sport with one of its most romantic episodes.

In view of the fact that Dempsey is said to have lived in this county and because of the interest in the approaching fight, the foll

Jack Dempsey (2018)


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I spotted two Jack Dempsey photos displayed at Sullivan’s Steakhouse during a recent trip to Chicago. Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion of the world from 1919-1926, was partly raised in Logan County, WV. Seeing these old photos made my day! Photo by Carol Howerton. 7 April 2018.


Cole Kripak, the manager of Sullivan’s Steakhouse, gave these three Jack Dempsey photos to me. Very generous! For more about the restaurant, go here: Photo by Carol Howerton. 8 April 2018.

Chapmanville News 09.20.1927


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An unknown correspondent from Chapmanville in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on September 20, 1927:

The 7th and 8th grades and Junior high school are progressing nicely under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Rigdon and Mr. Dobbin.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Chapman and children motored to Ferrellsburg Sunday.

Mrs. Dennie Blevins and children of West Logan passed through this town Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Millard Curry were visiting Mr. and Mrs. Peter Garrett, Sr., of Curry Sunday.

Miss Lula Blevins was visiting home folks over the week end at Curry.

Misses Opal Bryant, Courtney Stollings, Ruby Baisden and Roy Stollings are attending high school here.

French Ellis and Anderson Hatfield, Sr. (1895)


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Anse Hatfield 1895 1.JPG

Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.


Anse Hatfield 1895 2

Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.

Anse Hatfield 1895 3

Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.

Anse Hatfield 1895 4

Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan, WV.

Banco News 10.08.1926


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An unknown correspondent from Banco on Big Creek in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on October 8, 1926:

Everyone is very busy in Banco at this writing.

Everything sure is lively around this town as there are three sawmills on the Ed Stone Branch.

L.P. Swentzel of Huntington who is working for the McClintock Field Company was calling in Banco last week.

Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Stone of Blair were calling in our town one day this week.

Wonder if Hassell Vance likes taffy? We believe he does as he has been visiting the taffy mill real often.

Miss Fannie Brumfield of Trace Fork left for her home at Harts Saturday accompanied by her grandmother.

Miss Eva Ellis of Ellis Fork was a business caller in Banco last Tuesday.

Miss Gladys Ferrell and two sisters of Henlawson are visiting relatives on Ed Stone Branch this week.

J.W. Thomas and son Arnold returned from a peddling tour at Peach Creek, Logan and Aracoma.

Wonder which H.F.L. likes best: the North Pole or the ‘ville?

Mrs. Anna Duty and small daughter returned from Logan where she has been visiting her daughter, Mrs. Robert Varney.

C. Russel Christian: The Irish Plowman (1887)


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C. Russell Christian (c.1861-1889) was a well known regional poet born in Logan County, WV. A son of B. and E. (White) Christian, he married Marian Trent, fathered at least one son (Carl), and died of typhoid fever at Kirbyville in Wyoming County, WV. He is buried in Oceana, WV.


One bright and balmy morn in May,

Ere the sun had kissed the dew,

Mick Hurley trudged the broad highway

In search of aught that he could do.

With heart so light and conscience free,

Each farmer he would ask:

“An’ have ye got a job for me,

No matter phwat the task.”

At last he met a farmer who

Did need a steady working man,

Who asked if he could farming do;

“Begorra,” said Mick, “you’re right I can.”

“Then hitch the horses right away–

You’ll find them in the barn–

The near one’s black, the off one gray–

And start to plowing corn.”

Though Mick spake up in accents bold

When the farmer asked the question fair,

He knew full well a lie he told,

For the beam he wot not from the share.

“Howly mother,” says Mick, “phwat’ll I do?

May the good St. Patrick now kape me from harm.

Begorra, but won’t the ould farmer look blue

When he sees Mick Hurley a-plowing his farm?”

But Mick made a start. In his throat was a lump.

He felt like a man just sentenced to death.

He hadn’t gone far when the plow struck a stump,

And heels over head went Mick, out of breath.

Ne’er daunted by fear, he tried it again.

“Be jabers,” says Mick, “I’m doing immense!”

But to steady the plow his trials were vain,

And each furrow resembled a crooked trail fence.

Old Sol had arisen quite high in the skies

When the farmer concluded to visit poor Mick:

But a glance at the field was such a surprise

That to look at the man you’d think he was sick.

“Stop! stop!” said the farmer, “or you surely will rue it;

To hold a plow with that team is nothing but play.”

“Howld it?” says Mick; “how the devil can I do it,

When two horses are trying to pull it away!”

Source: Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 9 July 1887.