That night, Brandon suggested visiting Lola McCann, a local widow of advanced age. Lola, born on the West Fork of Harts Creek in 1909, lived in Harts proper, just back of an old hardware store, a video store, and the post office. She spent a lot of time with her daughter Cheryl Bryant, who lived across the street with her family. We found Lola at her daughter’s home almost buried in the cushions of a plush couch. As everyone made introductions, I headed over and sat down beside of her.
When Brandon asked Lola about the old Al Brumfield house, she said it was haunted, that Hollena Brumfield had kept the clothes of deceased relatives in an upstairs closet (top-story front downriver side). She never would spend the night there. She said the staircase was stained with blood and five or six bodies lay down in the old well. This all sounded like folk tales, the type of stories to tell in an old cabin around the fireplace…but who knows?
As things kinda moved along with Lola, Brandon mentioned that we should be sure and visit Billy Adkins, a neighbor and expert on local history and genealogy. Lola’s daughter immediately called him and invited him over. The next thing I knew a little stocky guy with a shaggy beard arrived at the door. It was Billy, of course, holding a fiddle, which he said belonged to his father Bill Sr., an old fiddler in Harts.
I told Billy that his father just had to know Ed Haley but he said, “I asked him and his mind’s gone. He can’t remember. He’s got Alzheimer’s. His mind just comes and goes.”
Bill, Sr. had given up the fiddle in recent years, but Lola’s daughter had a short home video of him playing “Bully of the Town”, “Way Out Yonder”, and “Sally Goodin” in 1985. Bill’s style was completely different from what I pictured as Ed’s — he held the bow toward the middle and played roughly with a lot of double-stops — but I was still anxious to talk to him. Billy said we could see him the following day as he was already in bed asleep.
When we mentioned our interest in the 1889 troubles, Billy said, “Green McCoy married Cain Adkins’ daughter. Cain and Mariah. Mariah was a Vance, I think. And they lived where Irv Workman’s house is now.”
Brandon asked, “Which is near where they’re buried, right?” and Billy said, “Yeah, right across the road from it. And Milt Haley married Jackson Mullins’ daughter. Jackson and Chloe Mullins, from up on Trace. She married again.”
What? Ed’s mother remarried after Milt’s murder?
“I believe it was another Mullins,” Billy said, “but I’d have to look it up. Milt’s name was Thomas, you see.”
It was all in his notebooks at home, he said, although he warned us: “See, I didn’t document any of this stuff. I didn’t put my sources down and when I’d run across it I’d just write it down. Now, I don’t know how I found it out.”