Armistice Day (1936)


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Armistice Day LB 11.11.1936 1

Armistice Day, Logan (WV) Banner, 11 November 1936.


Democratic Party Intimidation in Logan County, WV (1928)


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Political history for Logan County, West Virginia, during the 1920s was particularly eventful; it included the latter years of Sheriff Don Chafin’s rule, the Mine Wars (“armed march”), Republican Party ascendancy, and the rise of Republican sheriffs Tennis and Joe Hatfield. What follows are selected primary source documents relating to this period:




BEFORE THE UNDERSIGNED authority, Ira P. Hager, a United States Commissioner in and for said District, personally appeared this day, Nannie Pack, who after being by me first duly sworn, deposes and says:

That she was standing on the election ground at Mud Fork Precinct, Logan County, election day, November 4th, 1924, and saw Don Chafin, Sheriff of Logan County there. That Pat Adkins was standing on the ground, waiting to vote, and affiant saw the said Don Chafin take hold of the said Pat Adkins and shove him, saying, “Go on in,” and repeated it, “Go on in,” and shoved the said Pat Adkins toward the election room door. That he turned immediately and ran toward Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal, who was standing near by, and said, “What are you doing here, you cock-eyed son-of-a-bitch?” That he slapped the said Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal. That he then followed the said Deputy Marshal around on the ground, saying, “Have you had enough? Have you had enough?”

That they put affiant’s husband, George Pack, in jail on November 1st, 1924, and affiant went to Jay Elkins and George Thompson to ask them to go the bond of affiant’s husband. This was on Saturday, November 1st, 1924. That they declined and refused to do it, and affiant went home. That John Roberts followed affiant and said, “If you will vote our way, we will sure go this evening and get your husband out.” Then he said, “Unless you do that, we will not get him out and he will not get out.” The same day Thompson and Elkins refused to go my husband’s bond. They hunted me up while I was on the Dempsey Branch and told affiant that “if I would vote Democratic, and talk to my children and have them vote Democratic, that they would see that my husband got bond and got out.”

Nannie Pack (her mark)

Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 10th day of November, A.D., 1924.

Ira P. Hager

United States Commissioner as aforesaid.





BEFORE THE UNDERSIGNED AUTHORITY, this day personally came, C.L. BRADLEY, who after being by me first duly sworn, says: That he was on the election grounds at the Mud Fork Precinct on election day, November 4th, 1924, and affiant saw Don Chafin, sheriff of Logan County strike Hugh Deskins, Deputy Marshal on the head or face. I saw Don follow him up after he had hit him and I heard him say, “How did you like that?” and if “he did not like it he could give him more of it, or oodles of it,” or words to that effect.

When Don Chafin was after Hugh Deskins, Pat Murphy, supposed to be a Deputy Sheriff, was acting like he was about to pull his gun from his pocket. He pulled it part way out of his pocket.

C.L. Bradley

Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me, the undersigned authority, this the 10th day of November, 1924.

Ira P. Hager

U.S. Commissioner as aforesaid

Appeared 1-13-25

Boling Baker and Princess Aracoma (1937)


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history concerning Boling Baker and Princess Aracoma, dated March 23, 1937:


Historical marker on Horse Pen Mountain near Gilbert, Mingo County, WV. 25 April 2015.

Dying Words of Princess Aracoma Related In Story Taken From Banner Files

Though much has been written on the history of Logan county, just as much has been forgotten about its early development.

One of the county’s first historians, Henry Clay Ragland, mayor of the city, church worker and editor of the Logan County Banner, recorded some of the high spots of the development of Logan county in a series of articles which he ran in his newspaper during 1896.

It is from this series of articles that the following story of the early settlement of Logan county is taken.

Records show that a large number of white men first set foot in what is now Logan county in the spring of 1777, when Captain Charles Hull with 20 men pursued a band of marauding Shawnees to the site where Oceana was later built. They lost the trail at Oceana and had to turn back. The Shawnees had raided a white settlement near the falls of New River one spring night and had stolen thirty head of horses. The army captain and his men set out in pursuit but the redskins had too great a start.

Huff Creek was given its name on this expedition in honor of Peter Huff who was killed in a skirmish on the banks of the stream as the men returned home. Huff was buried near the spot where he was killed, which is believed to have been near where the town of Mallory now stands.

Other men on this expedition and who returned to the valley of the Guyandotte later and built homes were John Cook, James Hines, William Dingess and James Hensley.

The first white man really to be identified with what is now Logan county was Boling Baker, a renegade white, but the old-timers would not give him credit for being a white man. They said: “He lived with the Injins and that makes him an Injin.” Baker, however dastardly he was, was indirectly responsible for the settlement of Logan county in 1780-85.

The renegade had one great weakness. A weakness that they hung men for in those days. He was a horse thief. He would take a party of Indians a hundred miles through the mountain passes of Logan county to raid a white settlement in order to steal 20 or 30 horses.

Baker had gone into the business on a large scale. At the head of Gilbert Creek, on Horse Pen Mountain, where the mountain rises abruptly with almost cliff-like sharpness, he had stripped bark from hickory trees and stretched it from tree to tree making a pen in which to keep his stolen stock.

Old settlers of the county who have had the story passed down to them from their great-grandfathers say that the pen was somewhere in the hollow below the road which leads to the fire tower on Horsepen Mountain. It was from this improvised corral of Boling Baker that the mountain was named.

But, back to how Baker was responsible for the settlement of the county.

He left his Indian camps on the Guyan river in the fall of 1780 and visited the white settlements in the Bluestone valley in the Flat Top mountain territory. There he told the settlers a story of how he had been captured by the Indians when he was a young man and had learned their ways. He said he had just escaped from the Shawnee tribe known to be hunting in the Guyandotte valley and was on his way back east to see his father and mother who lived in Boston. Shrewd chap, this Baker!

The settlers were taken in by his story and allowed him to remain with them for several weeks during which time he got the location of all the settlers barns well in mind and after a time departed “back east.”

Soon after the renegade left the Bluestone settlement the whites awoke one rainy morning late in autumn and found every barn empty. The Indians had come with the storm which lashed the valley and had gone without arousing a person. Thirty horses from the settlement went with them.

An expedition headed by Wm. S. Madison and John Breckinridge—son of the Breckinridges who settled much of Kentucky—was made up in a neighboring settlement and set out in pursuit of the thieving Shawnees.

They trailed the party over Flat Top Mountain and southwest to the headwaters of the Guyan River by way of Rockcastle creek and Clear Fork. Trail marks showed that the band had gone down the river, up Gilbert Creek to Baker’s pen and thence over the mountain.

Madison and his 75 men did not follow the Indian trail over the mountain but the redskins probably brought their herd of 50 or 75 horses down Island Creek to the Guyan.

The white expedition chose to follow the Guyan in a hope that they would find the party encamped somewhere along its banks. Scouts had reported that a large tribe of Indians used the Guyan valley as its hunting grounds.

Madison’s party followed the river down to Buffalo Creek—named because the white men found such a large number of buffalo grazing in its bottoms—crossed Rum Creek and pitched camp for a night at the mouth of Dingess Run because “Guyan” Green and John Carter, scouts sent ahead to reconnoiter, had reported finding ten Indian lodges in the canebrakes of an island formed by the joining of a large creek and the Guyan river.

The men rested on their guns for the night and the following morning divided into two parties and attacked the encampment from the front and rear.

In the furious fighting that followed, nine of the thirty Indians in the camp were killed and ten or twelve wounded. Only a few escaped the slaughter of the white men. Among those captured was an old squaw 50 or 60 years old, who by her bearing, was obviously leader of the party. She was wounded but refused to talk.

Near midnight, however, following the massacre of the camp the old squaw felt death creeping upon her and called Madison to her quarters, and told him in broken English the following:

“I am the wife of a pale face who came across the great waters to make war on my people, but came to us and became one of us. A great plague many moons ago carried off my children with a great number of my people, and they lay buried just above the bend in the river. Bury me with them with my face to the setting sun that I may see my people in their march to the happy hunting ground. For your kindness I warn you to make haste in returning to your homes, for my people are still powerful, and will return to avenge my death.”

The proud princess died before morning and the white men buried her “near the bend in the river.” The Indian captives were all killed.

Four days later the men returned to the valley of the Bluestone.

Among those who helped Wm. S. Madison rout the Shawnees and who vowed to possess the valley of the Guyandotte for themselves and their children were George Booth, George Berry, Elias Harman, Ben Stewart, Abner Vance, Joseph Workman, Ben White and James White. All these names are familiar in the county today.

After the Indians were pushed to the west, surveyors allotted the land to the first settlers who had dared, with Madison, to come into the wilderness of the Guyandotte and open it up for the white man.

Madison owned several thousand acres of land on Island Creek, Gilbert Creek and Dingess Run. Other fighters were given like parcels of land.

Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 23 March 1937

Thomas Dunn English and “Ben Bolt” (1928)


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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history concerning Thomas Dunn English and his famous poem “Ben Bolt,” which was reportedly composed in Logan:

Poem Ben Bolt Not Written In This City

Legend Concerning Thomas Dunn English Is Refuted by Roy Fuller in Magazine Article

Another forceful kick has been directed against the legend that Thomas Dunn English wrote the poem Ben Bolt under the big elms back of the former Vicie Nighbert home, now known as the Green Gables Inn.

Though all reliable investigators agree that this famous poem was written before Dr. English settled in this community, the legend survives with a strange pertinacity.

The subject is discarded in an interesting and enlightening way in the current number of the West Virginia Review by J. Roy Fuller. He has written before in a similar vein for other publications.

Fuller, a native of Wayne county, had been connected with Charleston, Huntington, and Welch papers for several years. Recently he went to New York to take an editorial position on Picture Play. On the subject “As to Ben Bolt,” he writes as follows:

If a man writes a poem a little more sentimental than any other, and then some ten years later moves to another state, it seems that the towns and counties around his new home will, years later, recall the very spot where the poem was written. Such has been the case with Ben Bolt, by Thomas Dunn English. The people of Logan county point with pride to the very tree under which the poet scribbled Ben Bolt, and time and again articles have been written in support of the legend, and people who speak of it choose to believe nothing else. Why this should be considered in the least important is amusing. But that is not all. In McDowell county, it is said, Thomas Dunn English wrote the feverish lines while at the old county seat town, now called English. A clerk in a hotel informed this writer that he knew exactly where Ben Bolt was written and offered to show him the house somewhere just over the Virginia state line.

The rare honor of being the birthplace of Ben Bolt cannot be claimed truthfully for this section at all. It was written in Philadelphia nine years before he ever came to West Virginia. There was no romantic posing over the grave of the beloved lady in the song as it has been said in Logan county. A New York editor asked English to write something for him. He insisted, and finally English mailed the verses with instructions to burn them if not satisfactory, after combining parts of two poems into one. So any weeping we do can be for our own images, and not for sympathy with the poor poet.

English was once postmaster of Logan (1857), and also a resident doctor, politician, poet and lawyer. One time he attended a convention in Staunton where he made a speech that was influential in helping to bring about the downfall of Know-Nothingism. He wrote many local poems such as Rafting on the Guyan, Logan Grazier, and Wyoming Hunter. Before coming to the south he was well known in the east and was mentioned—unfavorably—by Edgar Allan Poe in his Literati. For calling him Thomas Dunn “Brown,” English wrote a severe criticism of Poe. Some time later Poe answered him in a Philadelphia paper, and brought suit against him. Poe was awarded $225 damages for English’s sarcastic literary thrust.

It has always been a matter of chagrin to English that his Ben Bolt was the most popular of his literary works. He himself called the song “twaddle.” But the German melody, mention of old mills, school, a loved one, friendship—these things made it take hold of the heart.

He wrote Ben Bolt in 1843 after having dabbled in his professions for several years, and quite unexpectedly found himself famous. The story of the song will show how far removed it is from the cherished pastoral story told in Logan county. The story persists, however, this being one of the cases where the “moving finger writes,” etc., and nothing more can be done about it.

N.P. Willis and George P. Morris had revived the old New York Mirror. The former asked English to write a poem for the paper and suggested a sea song. English tried to write it after renewed pressure but he reported to the editors that his muse was not working. Later he drifted into reminiscence and produced four and a half stanzas of the well known song. His muse balked again, and after some thought he added the first four lines of a sea song he had started and sent the whole with a note to Willis telling him that he would send something else when he was in a better writing mood. The poem was printed with a little puff, and was signed with the author’s initial.

Later it was suggested that the poem be set to music, but several attempts failed. English composed a melody for it, but another got the start of his. In 1846 Charles Porter, manager of the Pittsburgh theatre had Nelson F. Kneass, a fine tenor, in his company. Porter told the singer that if he could find a song suitable for his voice he would cast him in The Battle of Buena Vista. An Englishman, a sort of hanger-on named Hunt, had read Ben Bolt and could recall most of it. The gaps were patched up and to this Kneass adapted a German air and sang the piece. The drama was soon dropped but the song took the country by

Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 11 December 1928

Whirlwind News 03.22.1929


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An unknown correspondent from Whirlwind in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on March 22, 1929:

Miss Mandy Farley was the all night guest of Mrs. Daniel McCloud Saturday.

We are listening for the wedding bells to ring on Hoover. Hurry up, Leonard.

Burl Mullins made a business trip to Huntington Monday.

Miss Garnet Mullins is on the sick list this week.

Wash Dempsey Deed to Risba Lambert (1905)


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Wash Dempsey to Risby Lambert Deed 3

Deed Book ____, page 394, Lincoln County Clerk’s Office, Hamlin, WV.

Wash Dempsey to Risby Lambert Deed 4

Deed Book ____, page 395, Lincoln County Clerk’s Office, Hamlin, WV. Justice Charles Adkins, who certified this deed, is my great-great-great-grandfather.

Democratic Party Intimidation in Logan County, WV (1924)


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Political history for Logan County, West Virginia, during the 1920s was particularly eventful; it included the latter years of Sheriff Don Chafin’s rule, the Mine Wars (“armed march”), Republican Party ascendancy, and the rise of Republican sheriffs Tennis and Joe Hatfield. What follows are selected primary source documents relating to this period:




Before the undersigned authority, Ira P. Hager, a United States Commissioner in and for said District, Ed Dingess, who after being by me first duly sworn, says that he is thirty-seven years of age, married, resides at Cherry Tree Bottom, Logan County, and works in the ice business during the summer season.

That on November 2nd, 1924, affiant was in the Marshal’s office at Logan, when a man who lived at Cora came in and reported that Lee Belcher had ordered him to leave Cora, where he lived, on account of his having Republican literature on his car and house, stating that the said Lee Belcher, Deputy Sheriff had threatened to do him bodily injury, that affiant along with Henry Sansom was deputized by one of the Deputy Marshals to go to Cora and protect the man, he being afraid to return to his home without protection. That affiant and the said Henry Sansom were in Cora, guarding the man, and Lee Belcher came up and said, “Are you fellows here to guard these men out of here?” And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “The county ought to be filled up with good looking men like us.” And I replied “that it was pretty well full.” He then went away and did not make any trouble for us. On the night of the election I went to the Court House at Logan to ascertain the results of the election, and as I went through the corridors of the Court House I met Lee Belcher, and he said, “What was you doing in Cora, you god-damned son-of-a-bitch, that is my town.” He said, “I am running Cora,” and made at me with his pistol, and John Dingess, who used to be a deputy, pulled his pistol and said, “Give it to him, god-damned son-of-a-bitch,” and repeated it several times. John Dingess kept his pistol drawn on me while Lee Belcher beat me about the face. The scars and bruises are visible on my face where I was struck. I tried to shove off his licks, but he hit me twice, and Simp Thompson ran in and stopped him, and I presume that Thompson saved me.

I bled right much and suffered considerable pain as a result of the blows.

Ed Dingess

Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 8th day of November, A.D., 1924.

Ira P. Hager

United States Commissioner as aforesaid.





Before the undersigned authority this day personally came Thomas Fisher, who after being by me first duly sworn, says:

That he was deputized by Hugh Deskins, at Mud Fork, on election day, after the said Hugh Deskins, Deputy U.S. Marshal, had been assaulted by Don Chafin, Sheriff of Logan County, and that the said Hugh Deskins gave affiant a pistol, and about thirty minutes after affiant was deputized, the said Don Chafin came around and arrested affiant, and took the pistol away from affiant, and turned affiant over to Deputy Sheriff Randolph Dial, who took affiant to jail, where affiant was kept until the next morning. Affiant lost his vote. Affiant asked the said Randolph Dial to let him vote, having told the said Randolph Dial that affiant had not voted, and the said Randolph Dial said, “I haven’t time to fool with you.” So affiant lost his vote.

Affiant saw Don Chafin assault Hugh Deskins, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Hugh Deskins was standing on the election ground and Don Chafin drove up in his car. Hugh was standing with his hands folded and Chafin walked up and hit him on the side of the face under the left ear. Deskins backed off, and Chafin said, “Don’t you like that? If you don’t, I will give you some more.” Chafin drove off in his car and in a little while came back and one of the Mounts boys called to Don and pointed me out and then Don arrested me. When Chafin arrested me I told him that I was deputized by a United States Deputy Marshal and he said, “That don’t go here.”

Thomas Fisher

Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 8th day of November, 1924.

Ira P. Hager

U.S. Commissioner

Jake Kinser of Logan County, WV (1936-1937)


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Jake Kinser Visits LB 06.20.1936 1

Logan (WV) Banner, 20 June 1936. Note: Jacob was not born in 1850, so he does not appear with his family in the 1850 Census for Wythe County, Virginia. He was nine years old in the 1860 Census for Smyth County, Virginia.

Jake Kinser Recollections LB 11.12.1936 2

Logan (WV) Banner, 12 November 1936. Note: Jake Kinser appears as a seventeen-year-old fellow in the 1870 Census for Boone County, West Virginia (Washington Township).

Jake Kinser and Jane Mullins LB 07.07.1937 2

Jake Kinser and his sister Jane Mullins, Logan (WV) Banner, 7 July 1937. 

Jake Kinser and Jane Mullins LB 07.07.1937 3

Jake Kinser and his sister Jane Mullins, Logan (WV) Banner, 7 July 1937. Note: Mary Jane (Kinser) Mullins was eleven years old in the 1860 Census for Smyth County, Virginia. Mr. Kinser died in 1944; his death record can be found here: