By the mid-1990s, after several years of research, word had begun to leak out about my interest in Ed Haley. Around the first of 1995, Bluegrass Unlimited ran a story that prompted Bob Hutchison, a musician from Alledonia, Ohio, to write me.
“I played with an old fella down in Athens county (Ward Jarvis) who had played a lot and learned a lot from Ed Haley,” he wrote. “He played banjo with Ed and learned a lot of his tunes when he was a young man. He said Ed was the best he’d ever seen. Ward was in his 70’s when I got to know him and he was no slouch himself on the fiddle. He said Ed was big on different tunings on the fiddle. I learned the Icy Mountain tune from Ward that he had learned from Ed. Other tunes I remember him crediting Ed with were Camp Chase, Jimmy Johnson, Three forks of Reedy. Banjo Tramp was another of Ed’s. Ward has been dead for several years… Ward was originally from Braxton Co. W.Va.”
Ray Alden offered more information about Jarvis.
“In 1972 I went to Amesville, Ohio to visit instrument craftsman Ron Chacey,” he wrote. “Ron, on a very foggy night, brought me through some hilly back roads up to see Ward Jarvis, who had moved to the area in 1943 from Braxton County, West Virginia. Ward was 78 years old. I remember that special evening in which Ward played many unusual tunes, such as ‘Icy mountain,’ as well as a Kenny Baker Tune he had just learned from a record. It was lucky, since I didn’t have a tape recorder that evening, that Richard Carlin later went to tape Ward Jarvis [in 1976]. Old time musicians Dana Loomis and Grey Larson joined Richard and accompanied Ward at that session. Ward’s source for ‘Banjo Tramp’ was Ed Haley, who had a substantial influence over the Ohio River Valley Musicians in Ward’s younger days.”
Ray Alden’s statement about how Ed influenced a number of “Ohio River Valley Musicians” made me realize that thinking of him as a “Kentucky fiddler” or even a “West Virginia fiddler” was inaccurate. Early on, I’d dismissed the “Kentucky” label used on the Parkersburg Landing album, since he was born and raised in Logan County, West Virginia, and spent a great deal of time in central West Virginia, a hub for great musicians. Also, Lawrence Haley once said that he preferred to think of his father as a West Virginia fiddler because of how he was treated in Ashland. But I had to think, especially after reading Ray Alden’s statement, that it would be best to refer to Haley (in geographical terms) as a middle Ohio River Valley fiddler (or maybe even a Guyandotte-Big Sandy Valley musician) since his sphere of influence wasn’t limited to a single state.
Sometime in the middle of January 1995, I met Ugee Postalwait’s son at one of my shows in Birmingham, Alabama. It was my first encounter with Harold Postalwait, a rather robust man — clean-shaven with a beer gut and decked out in a snap-up shirt, cowboy hat and boots shined to perfection. He showed me Laury Hicks’ fiddle and some old family photographs.