Poet Norman Schlichter Visits Logan, WV (1926)

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From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find this item dated 5 November 1926:

“Norman Schlichter, poet and story writer, has been reading from his books to the pupils of schools of the Island Creek Coal Company properties, at Whitmans, Mud Fork, Monaville, this week. His coming was due to the desire of General Manager Beisel and General Superintendent Hunt to give the schools an opportunity to hear work that is being received with delight by boys and girls all over the United States.

“Mr. Schlichter was for many years National Industrial Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. and is widely known among the mining men of the State. Recently he has been devoting all his time to writing and lecturing. His children’s poems and stories are attracting wide attention. The Chicago News radioed his book, ‘Fancy’s Hour.’ The author is loud in his praise of the great educational advances in West Virginia, especially in the mining communities. Last week he was the guest of Mr. J.G. Bradley at the properties of the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company. He is the author of the ‘Rivers of West Virginia,’ a poem widely known in his state. This poem is reproduced in another column.”

Booze and Money for Logan County (1914)

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From the Logan Banner of Logan, West Virginia, dated October 23, 1914, we find this editorial:

“Politicians of Logan County are accused by citizens of other counties, and it can be heard in our own county, too, that there is never an election where officers for the county offices are to be elected that a great deal of liquor and money is not used for the purpose mostly of buying votes. If this accusation is true and we believe it is, limited to the August election, the good citizens of this county ought to bring every iota of influence which they may have to bring such an iniquitous and unlawful practice to the bar of justice. A candidate who buys his way into office is dishonest through and through, and is not fit to represent the people in the most trivial matter. A grand jury would do the most noble service for this county if it would be the means of bringing before the court for trial offenders of this type. Already it is being mentioned that a great deal of money will be used in the coming election, mainly for the purpose of buying votes and buying WHISKEY with which to buy votes.

“West Virginia was voted dry on last July 1st, and while our laws do not prohibit liquor from being brought into the State it certainly does prohibit the giving away of it or the selling of it in this State; and every one knows that our late law was not required to make the use of it on election day, for the purpose of influencing votes, illegal. This paper intends to let people know, if the astuteness of those indulging in this phase of illegality does not make it impossible to get the information, just who are the offenders, and just what candidate was the one to profit by such insidious practice. We except candidates from no party.”

“Logan County Court House” (A Song)

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“Logan County Court House” or “Logan County Jail” is one of several songs written about events in Logan County, West Virginia. From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, dated 24 September 1926, we find this:

“For a dual purpose The Banner herewith reproduces one of the four known variants of the song entitled “Logan County Court House.” In the first place it should be of interest to those who have never read it or any similar version. Secondly, this paper is desirous of learning something about the authorship of the song.

“Who wrote it? And when and under what circumstances? Many a Banner reader may have some information on this matter which he or she should be willing to communicate.

“The variants of this song are reproduced in Prof. John Harrington Cox’s volume of ‘Folk-Songs of the South’ published last year. The following one was sent to that author, a member of the faculty of West Virginia University, by Miss Snoah McCourt, of Ornoff, Webster county, this state:

When I was a little boy, I worked on Market Square.

O’ money I did pocket, but I never did it fair.

I rode upon the lakes and learned to rob and steal,

And when I made a great haul, how happy I did feel.

I used to wear the white hat, my horse an’ buggy fine.

I used to court a pretty girl I always thought was mine.

I courted her for beauty, her love for me was great.

And when I’d go to see her, she’d meet me at the gate.

One night as I lay sleeping, I dreamed a mighty dream.

That I was marching down on the golden stream.

I woke all broken-hearted, in Logan County jail,

And not a friend around me for to go my bail.

Down came the jailer about ten o’clock,

And the key in his hand he shoved against the lock.

“Cheer up, cheer up, my prisoner!” I thought I heard him say.

“You’re going around to Moundsville, seven long years to stay.”

Down came the jailer about ten o’clock,

And with the key in his hand he shoved against the lock.

“Cheer up, cheer up, my prisoner!” I thought I heard him say,

“You’re going around to Moundsville, seven long years to stay.”

Down came my true love, ten dollars in her hand.

“O my dearest darling, I’ve done all that I can!

And may the Lord be with you, wherever you may go,

And Satan snatch the jury for sending you below.”

Sitting in the railroad, waiting for the train,

“I am going away to leave you, to wear the ball and chain.

I’m going away to leave you. Darling, don’t you cry.

Take a glass of whiskey and let it all pass by.”

A subsequent story printed on 28 September 1926, provided more information about the song’s history:

“Publication in last Friday’s Banner of the old ‘Logan County Jail’ song, with an inquiry as to its authorship, has brought a reward in the form of an interesting letter from John C. Elkins of the sheriff’s office. This letter reveals the name of the songwriter, and gives a glimpse into his life after his soul found a measure of relief in rime and rhythm.

“Doubtless many of those who last week read the song for the first time and others who re-read it with more or less eagerness will be interested and even pleased to learn that the prisoner escaped from jail and a long term at Moundsville: went west, reformed, and entered the ministry; then in the flickering twilight of his eventful life, he came back to die amid the mountains he loved so well.

“Here is the letter dated Sept. 27, which outlines the strange story:

“Question: Who was the author of the song ‘The Logan County Jail’?

“Answer: This song was composed by a Logan county boy whose childhood had been thrilled by the horrors of the war of 1861-65. His song tells the story of his life, his crime, his sentence, his thoughts of and goodbye to the girl he left behind, the invitation to take a glass of whiskey and let all worries pass by. He climbed the prison walls and made his escape into the west. There he became a minister. Some years later, broken in health, he returned to his native county and died about 20 years ago. The song was written 50 years ago and its author was Clayton Buchanan.

“J.C.E.

“To the Banner these revelations come with an irresistible appeal; and while thanking Mr. Elkins, the regret is expressed that he did not go into greater detail in unfolding this story–a story teeming with dramatic values.”

One additional story about the song appeared in the Banner on 5 October 1926:

“What the Banner has been publishing in recent issues relative to the authorship of the ‘Logan County Jail’ song has been read with interest by Prof. John H. Cox, head of the department of English, West Virginia University. It was from his book, ‘Folk Songs of the South,’ that this song was reproduced in these columns.

“From Prof. Cox the following letter dated September 30 was received by The Banner:

“This is to thank you for the clipping from The Logan Banner concerning the origin of the song, ‘Logan County Jail.’ It is very interesting and I have no doubt it is correct. I wonder if any records of Clayton Buchanan’s trial are in Logan County courthouse? I should like very much to have the details of the crime, the trial, the escape, and the death of this man for the files of the West Virginia Folk-Lore Society, of which I happen to be the president, archivist, and general editor. Could you not prevail upon Mr. John C. Elkins either to write out or dictate to some stenographer all that he knows about the case and have it printed in The Banner? It would be a real worthwhile piece of work.

“You may be interested to know that I am at work on a second volume of West Virginia Folk-lore, a volume which we hope to make as interesting and valuable as the first. We shall be glad to have any material of any kind that may be found.

“Sincerely yours,

“John H. Cox

“34 Campus Driveway

“P.S. A transcript of the record in the courthouse, if there is one, would be especially valuable.”

Let’s Boost Old Logan (1911)

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From the Logan Banner of Logan, West Virginia, dated January 5, 1911, we find this editorial:

“The bounteous harvest of holiday business is past, and the so-called dull season is upon our business man. But why a dull season? Some of our business men are going around with a face as long as a shingle, and to see them and hear them talk about dull business reminds one of a man in the last stages of consumption who is resigned to his fate. They appear as though they see bankruptcy staring them in the face. What they need is a little stiffening of the backbone. They need not expect business to be as good as it was through the holiday season, but they should remember that the people of this generation must be fed and clothed and furnished with whatever comforts they can afford, and as long as this is the case, there will be a continued demand for goods and merchandise of all kinds, and business will go on in the same old way. The trouble with the  business men of this city is that they talk down instead of talking up. If the merchant talks dull times, the farmer, the miner, the teamster, the carpenter, the professional man and all others will catch the contagion, and then business will be dull, but if they take an optimistic view of the matter and talk up, the opposite will be the result.

“There is no county in the state, and probably not in the union, that has a more brilliant future than Logan. Logan is today the best town of the state of its size, and it has much to be proud of. The coming year will witness greater development throughout the county than any two previous years, and instead of our business men going around with their lips hung down, they should be right now planning a vigorous campaign to capture their fair share of the prosperity that is sure to abound. Let them rouse themselves from the lethargy which now enshrouds them and be up and doing. Logan is all right. The fault is your own if you do not prosper. It is here for you. If you don’t get it, it will be your own fault. With the railroad going on up the river, and new coal operations opening up within sight of one another, and with our fine quality of coal and timber, nothing but Divine intervention can keep the Guyan Valley from blossoming as the rose. Stop your whining or get off the earth. Take hold and boost or the wheels of progress will mash you into smithereens.

“Logan is all right.

“It may be that you are too slow to keep up.”

 

Harts Creek Moonshine Case (1926)

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In a story titled “111 True Bills Found By Grand Jury Which Submits Final Report” and printed in the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, on October 12, 1926, we find this item (excerpted here):

“Concluding a four-day session the grand jury made its final report and was discharged last night by Circuit Judge Robert Bland. There were 111 indictments returned, 66 for felonies and 45 for misdemeanors–a total somewhat larger than the average for Logan county grand juries. Names of those indicted are withheld from publication for the reason that some persons involved are not in custody. Capiases will be issued forthwith for those indicted and not in jail, while those in jail and all who are apprehended without delay will be arraigned very soon. Court attaches are of the opinion that none of these will be tried until next month as there was already a big criminal docket. However, considerable progress has been made so far. Having caught up with the calendar, court adjourned yesterday morning for the remainder of the day, after a short session.

“Victory has come to the Bryants, who live on Old House Branch of Harts Creek, and who were indicted for operating a still last December. The joint indictment embraced Hent Bryant and his sons Calvary, Bob, and Floyd. When the case was called on Tuesday the defendants elected to be tried separately, whereupon Prosecuting Attorney Con Chafin chose to try Calvary first. There was a large volume of testimony for each side. The case was submitted to the jury without argument at 9 o’clock Tuesday night and in a few minutes a verdict of acquittal was returned. C.C. Chambers represented the defense.

“The State’s evidence showed that an official raiding party found a spot about three-fourths of a mile from the Bryant home where a still had been in operation and where a quantity of mash had been poured out shortly before the arrival of the officers. The Bryant premises were then searched, but no still or whiskey was found. However, Marion Bryant, a cousin of Calvary, testified that Calvary had employed him to assist him in the operation of a still.

“From the Bryants there came positive denials of any interest in any still or of any knowledge of a still having ever been in operation at the spot in the woods where the officers thought that they had made a significant discovery. The defense attacked the credibility of Marion Bryant’s testimony, claiming that he was actuated by spite. It was testified by members of the family that Marion, after staying at Hent Bryant’s home for a while and doing odd jobs, had been requested to leave; that he made threats against the family at that time because Nellie Bryant, a daughter of Hent, spurned his love and his proposals of marriage.

“After the jury returned its verdict, the cases against the other Bryants were continued to the next regular term.”