Archibald Harrison, Big Ugly Creek, Daniel Fry, fiddler, Francis Brumfield, genealogy, George Marshall Fry, Harold R. Smith, Henry H. Hardesty, John H Fry, Jupiter Fry, Levi Rakes, Martha E. Harrison, Nine Mile Creek, Phernatt's Creek, Sampson Brumfield, timbering, William A. Fry, writing
In 1865, Harrison married Martha E. Fry, the 21-year-old divorced wife of Lewis “Jupiter” Fry, a Confederate veteran and well-known fiddler in the Big Ugly Creek area of what was then Cabell County. Martha had been born on September 8, 1844 in Logan County. She was the daughter of Daniel H. and Nancy P. (Bailey) Fry, who lived at Big Creek in Logan County and later at the mouth of Big Ugly. One of her brothers, William A. Fry, died as a POW in a Delaware prison camp during the Civil War.
Archibald and Martha had seven children: William T., born April 18, 1867 in Kentucky; Daniel H., born September 29, 1869 in Kentucky; John M., born October 18, 1871; Mary L., born February 19, 1875, died August 7, 1875; George W., born October 10, 1874; Guy French, born June 18, 1876 in Virginia; and Louisa J., born February 1, 1879.
The first 23 years of Harrison’s second marriage are somewhat of a mystery. During the late 1860s, based on the birthplace of his two oldest children, he and his wife lived somewhere in Kentucky and, based on the birthplace of another child, they were in Virginia in the mid-1870s.
In 1878 Harrison settled near the Bend of the River or the mouth of Big Ugly Creek in the Harts Creek District of Lincoln County. His neighbors, based on the 1880 census, were Levi Rakes and Francis Brumfield, as well as brothers-in-law John H. Fry and Sampson S. Brumfield. Samp was a timber boss with a log boom at the mouth of the creek. George Marshall Fry, another brother-in-law, lived up Big Ugly where he worked as a farmer, timberman, and general store clerk.
On July 1, 1882, Harrison bought 360 acres of land on the west side of the Guyandotte River (near the Bend) in the Harts District from James I. Kuhn, a land agent for Abiel A. Low and William H. Aspinwall. It was worth $1.50 per acre and contained a $50 building, presumably a house or business.
“All that certain piece and parcel of land containing 260 acres more or less, granted by the commonwealth of Virginia to Wm. C. Miller & John H. Brumfield, assignees of Richard Elkins and Richard Elkins, May 1, 1850, lying on the Guyandotte above the mouth of Buck Lick branch,” the deed began. “Also all that part of a survey of 700 acres made for John H. Brumfield, Sept. 11th, 1854, on the east fork of Fourteen Mile Creek. The above described tract 100 acres of land is not to conflict with the lands conveyed to James Marcum.”
(The Kuhn deeds are interesting. In most cases, Kuhn, the grantor, was merely “selling” the surface rights to property already owned by the grantee. Kuhn’s employers claimed the mineral rights.)
In 1883, Harrison bought a 120-acre tract of land worth $2.50 per acre at Nine Mile Creek and a 230-acre tract of land worth $1.50 per acre on Phernatt’s Creek (at what would later be known as Brady) from W.T. Thompson. Harrison and his family soon settled on this latter property.
“Archibald B. Harrison is extensively engaged in farming, in Laurel Hill district, owning 380 acres of land on Guyan river, at the mouth of Phernats Creek,” Henry H. Hardesty chronicled in his history of Lincoln County, with “good improvements upon the farm, large orchard, heavily timbered, coal and iron ore in abundance.”
While Harrison referred to himself as a farmer in Hardesty’s history, there is also some indication that he was a timberman.
“The fact Archibald Harrison owned so much land at the mouth of Phernatt’s Creek is a clue that he was in the timber business,” said Harold R. Smith, Lincoln County genealogist and historian, in a c.2003 interview. “That was during the timber boom and land at the mouth of these creeks was heavily sought by people in that line of work. You could build a boom there and charge people a fee to get their logs out of the creek.”
At the time Harrison was profiled in Hardesty’s history, he and his wife were members of the Christian Church and received their mail at Hamlin.
“I don’t think he stayed at Phernatt’s Creek too long,” said Smith. “I think I read or heard somewhere that he moved to Big Ugly or Green Shoal and did a lot of timbering.”
Albert Dingess, Albert Gore, Alice Dingess, Anthony Adams, Burl Adams, Chloe Mullins, Dave Dingess, David Kinser, Ed Haley, Ewell Mullins, Frank Collins, genealogy, Henry Blair, history, Imogene Haley, Jackson Mullins, Joe Adams, John McCloud, Liza Mullins, Peter Mullins, Sewell Adams, Sol Adams, Sol Riddell, Spottswood, Thomas J. Wysong, Weddie Mullins, Whirlwind, writing
In spite of new economic developments, educational opportunities for young Ed Haley were limited. As far as can be ascertained, he received no formal education as a child. In that Victorian era of prosperity and refineries, schools (and other forms of improvement) were slow to arrive in the mountains of Appalachia. Joe Adams, whose father was Ed’s age and who was raised at the mouth of Trace Fork, summed it up this way: “All the education they got, they got theirselves.” (He had heard the old-timers speak of the McGuffey Readers.) In August of 1897, Ed got his first chance for an education when Sophia and David Kinser donated land on Trace Fork to the district board of education for the purpose of building a schoolhouse. So far as is known, this was the first school built on the branch. It was easy to picture Ed showing up to visit and entertain students with his amazing fiddle playing…and perhaps to occasionally sit in on school.
In February of 1898, as Ed approached his teen years, Weddie and Peter Mullins swapped property on Trace Fork. Weddie deeded his land to Peter’s wife Liza, who likewise sold her land to Weddie. Thereafter, Peter made his home in the spot where Lawrence Haley and I had visited in the early ’90s, while Weddie lived at the Jackson Mullins home. A few years later, after Weddie was murdered, his widow remarried to Lee Farley — brother to Burl — causing many people to refer to their home as the “old Lee Farley place” (as opposed to the Jackson Mullins place).
In May 1898, the Logan County Court appointed Henry Blair, Jr. as guardian of Ed Haley “an infant under the age of 14 years.” Blair and Albert Dingess paid the bond of 100 dollars. Haley was listed with his maternal grandparents, Jackson and Chloe Mullins, in the 1900 census.
By that time, the Emma Haley property had dropped in value to 33 dollars. Then, for reasons unknown, the value of “Emmagene Haley’s” property increased to $5.50 an acre for a total worth of $110 in 1906. Maybe Uncle Peter or Weddie had made an improvement on the property or maybe someone had appraised it for timber. In any case, Ed would’ve inherited it outright at that time as a person of legal adult age. More than likely, he had no idea of its worth.
The timber boom led directly to the creation of new towns on Harts Creek. Around 1902, a new post office was created at the mouth of Smoke House Fork called Spottswood. According to a 1904 business directory, Sol Adams was a justice at Spottswood. In 1906, Anthony Adams was the operator of a general store, as was J.M. Adams and James Thompson. Berl Adams was a blacksmith, Sewell Adams was a logger, Francis Collins was a miner, Albert Gore was a constable, David Dingess was a lawyer and Sol Riddell was a teacher. Joseph Adams dealt in walnut lumber, while Reverend John McCloud handled local religious matters. Alice Adams was the postmistress at Spottswood. A little later, Berl Adams, Albert Dingess, Alice Adams, Charles Dingess, William Farley and Thomas J. Wysong opened up general stores.
Later, other post offices opened on Harts Creek. In 1910, according to local tradition, Whirlwind Post Office opened in the head of Harts Creek. This replaced Spottswood as Ed Haley’s local post office, although he was traveling away from Harts quite a bit at that time. Whirlwind was roughly sixteen miles from Logan and nine miles from Dingess. (I had seen the remnants of Whirlwind post office on my recent visit to Harts Creek.) It served 250 people and received mail daily.
Ed Haley, meanwhile, sold the only piece of land he would ever own in March of 1911 to his first cousin Ewell Mullins for 25 dollars (1/5 of its appraisal value as per the assessor). In the deed, Jonas Branch was called Gunnel Branch and the size of the tract was given as 25 acres. The deed read as follows:
Beginning at a rock at the mouth of the Gunnel Branch on the right side of Trace creek thence up the hill to the top of the hill; thence up the ridge to opposite a ash corner on a cliff thence down the hill to the ash thence cross the creek to a plum tree thence up the hill to a beech thence a strait line to the top of the hill thence around the ridge to point on the u[p]per side of the Gunnel Branch thence down the point to a stake on the bank of branch thence down the branch and with the division between Ed Haley and Liza Mullins and crossing the creek to the beginning, containing 25 acres more or less.
Tax books first listed the property in Mullins’ name in 1912 and valued it at $140.
Andrew D. Robinson, Ben Adams, Boney Lucas, Chloe Mullins, Ed Haley, Harts Creek, Henderson Dingess, history, Imogene Haley, Jackson Mullins, Logan County Banner, logging, McCloud & Company, Paris Brumfield, Peter Mullins, timbering, Turley Adams, Van Prince, Warren, Weddie Mullins, West Virginia, writing
Ed Haley was born in 1885 at Warren, a small post office established the previous year five miles up Harts Creek just below the mouth of Smoke House Fork. It was a place of 300 to 500 people chiefly led in its daily affairs by Henderson Dingess, Andrew Robinson, Anthony Adams, Ben Adams, and Burl Farley — all connected genealogically through the Adams family. At Warren, in 1884, the primary business was a general store called McCloud & Company. Henderson Dingess, father to Hollena and the patriarch of the clan, was a distiller and storekeeper. Ben Adams, a brother-in-law to Dingess, was a general store operator. Andrew Robinson was the local postmaster. Van Prince was a physician, perhaps assisting in Ed Haley’s birth or in the treatment of his measles.
Henderson Dingess, a prominent personality from that era, was the son of pioneer parents, born in 1829 to John and Chloe (Farley) Dingess. His wife, Sarah Adams (1833-1920), was a daughter of Joseph and Dicie (Mullins) Adams, who settled on Harts Creek from Floyd County, Kentucky, in the late 1830s. Henderson and Sarah lived in a two-story log house on land partly granted to him by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1856. There, at the mouth of Hog Pen Branch, they raised eleven children, many of whom were active in the 1889 troubles. In the late 1880s, roughly the time of Milt Haley’s murder, Henderson and Sarah owned a 93-acre tract of land on Smoke House with a building valued at $100. They also owned an additional 350 acres on main Harts Creek and a 44-acre tract on nearby Crawley Creek worth $6.00 per acre with a $20 building on it.
At that time, Harts was caught up in the regional timber boom. According to The Logan County Banner, an estimated one million dollars worth of timber went out of the area in 1889. Perhaps prompted by this capitalistic invasion of the local economy, violence became the norm in Harts. Beginning with Paris Brumfield’s murder of Boney Lucas “over logs” in the early 1880s, there were at least six area killings before the turn of the century. (The Brumfields were involved in four of them and the Dingesses in three.) It was an era when Harts lost its innocence and began to earn the rough reputation it still carries today.
More than likely, following the horrific events of 1889, little Ed Haley and his mother lived for a brief time with Jackson and Chloe Mullins on Trace Fork. This changed a little later when, in 1891, Jackson and Chloe began to deed property to their three children. On March 18, they deeded their homestead to son Peter for 25 dollars. Deed records specify the property as a 20-acre tract of land, which began somewhere around the mouth of Trace and continued up to the Jackson Mullins Branch (basically the present-day Turley Adams property). The following day, Jackson and Chloe deeded another 20-acre tract to son Weddie Mullins for 25 dollars. This tract basically included everything from Jackson Mullins Branch to Jonas Branch.
On March 19, 1891, Jackson and Chloe deeded Imogene Haley 20 acres of land on Trace Fork for 25 dollars. In the property index, Imogene’s surname was spelled as “Hauley”, while the deed referred to her as “Immagin A. Haley.” Her land began at Jonas Branch and continued on up the creek. In the original deed, it was described as follows:
Beginning at the mouth of William Jonas branch thence up the Branch with the center of the branch to a _______ tree on the right hand side of the Branch as you go up the branch near a Chestnut that ________ on the left side of said branch thence acrosf the fields to some willow bushes at the front of the hill thence up the point with the center of the point to the brow of the Mountain thence with the brow of the Mountain to Mary Mullins line thence down the mountain to a bush thence a strate line crosfing the creek to a ash thence up the hill to the back line of the parties of the first part thence down the creek with the line of the said opposite the mouth of William Jonas branch thence down the hill a strate line to the Beginning supposed to contain 20 acres more or less.
An 1891 tax book listed “Emigene Hawley’s” property as being worth $2.00 per acre and having a total worth of $40. Records do not indicate if there was a house or building located on the property. In any case, Emma died soon after: an 1892 tax book lists her property under the name of “Immogen Hailey heirs”, which would have been Ed Haley. More than likely, seven-year-old Ed remained living in the home of his grandparents, Jackson and Chloe, for several more years.
At that time, Logan County was in the middle of a timber boom, which gave employment to Ed’s family on Trace Fork. “Some of the finest timber in the State is found in Logan county,” writes The Mountain State: A Description of the Natural Resources of West Virginia (1893). “Magnificent forests of oak, poplar, ash, lynn, maples, beech, birch, pines, hickory and other varieties still cover the greater part of the county in their primitive state. For thirty years timber men have been at work, destroying the forests and still in all this time not over a fourth of the timber has been removed. As an estimate of the value of the timber still standing in Logan county, three million dollars will not be far amise.”
Archibald Harrison, B.C. Levi, Barboursville, Chambersburg, civil war, Garland Matthews, history, Hurston Spurlock, John McCausland, Mary Harrison, Matt Adkins, Milton J. Ferguson, Monocacy Junction, Murder Hollow, Stephen Lewis, Sylvester Brooks Crockett, Virginia, Wayne, Wayne County, West Virginia, Winfield, writing
In January of 1864, Colonel Milton J. Ferguson’s 16th Regiment, which included Lt. Archibald Harrison, was back in southwestern West Virginia to visit family and restock supplies. On January 1, they crossed a frozen Big Sandy River into Kentucky and attacked a Union force at Buchanan. Eight days later, Ferguson and 150 of his men successfully engaged 75 members of the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry at Turman’s Ferry (near Catlettsburg), Kentucky, then made their way to East Lynn in Wayne County, West Virginia, and on to nearby Laurel Creek.
On January 16, a detachment of Union troops arrived in Trout’s Hill (Wayne) to quell the Confederate uprising in the area. Ferguson and the 16th, however, continued to wreak havoc on local Yankees from their base at Murder Hollow. On January 27, Spurlock’s Company (including Harrison) robbed Cabell County’s sheriff. The rebels suffered a mild setback shortly after the robbery: Captain Hurston Spurlock was apprehended by a detachment of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry at Lavalette in Wayne County.
Early in February, members of the 16th destroyed a Union cargo ship called the B.C. Levi on the Kanawha River near Winfield. They captured General E.P. Scammon, who was sent to Richmond, Virginia, and Captain Pinckard, who was sent to Wayne. (Harrison later claimed to have been present at this event, although history records Company H — not Company E — as being the actual force there.) Colonel Ferguson tried unsuccessfully to exchange Pinckard for Captain Spurlock, who was held at Barboursville.
On February 15, at daybreak, a Union force consisting of the 14th Kentucky Infantry and the 39th Kentucky surprised the 16th Regiment at their camp in Murder Hollow. Historian Stephen Lewis of Wayne records one account of this skirmish: “Garland Matthews told me that when he was a boy an old man by the name of Milt Adkins told him that he, though not a soldier, camped in the hollow with some friends who were Confederate soldiers, and that there were many soldiers camped there. They were attacked at dawn by Federal troops, and four or five Confederates were killed. Many were captured, but some got away. Garland Matthews confirmed that the battle was in winter; bodies froze to the ground and the spring ran red with blood. He also said they carted a number of the bodies away, but some were buried in Murder Hollow.” Colonel Ferguson was one of 42 men taken prisoner at Murder Hollow. Harrison managed to escape.
In July 1864, Lt. Harrison was captured by Union troops at Monocacy Junction, Maryland. Benjamin Dean, a Wayne Countian, wrote of the incident in a letter to his wife dated July 19. “We are under General McCaslin. We have been on a raid ever since the 11th of May. We started at Lynchburgh, from there back to the Valley of Virginia to Winchester, from there to Maryland to Frederick City. We fought 25,000 there. Lt. Harris was wounded and captured. We went near the city of Washington. We came back through East Virginia. I am near Winchester today. We marched all last night. I haven’t had a clean shirt for over five weeks. We manage to get enough to eat. We hook the Yanks at every point we can. We have been commanded by Colonel Graham. He does nothing but drink and curse and if Colonel Ferguson isn’t exchanged by next season I never expect to make another raid in this war.”
Three days after his capture, Harrison escaped and participated in a final engagement at Chambersburg on July 30, when Confederates burned the town.
In 1864, he returned home to Wayne County, at which time he and his wife, Mary Spurlock, were divorced. The former Mrs. Harrison soon remarried to Sylvester Brooks Crockett, who was eleven years her junior, and had several more kids before dying in 1883 on Wilson’s Creek in Wayne County.
Ben Adams, Bert Dingess, Billy Adkins, Cat Fry, crime, Ferrellsburg, feud, Fisher B. Adkins, Garnet Adkins, Green McCoy, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, Johnny Golden Adkins, Milt Haley, writing
As we stood at Runyon’s Branch staring at weeds and trying to imagine John Runyon’s 1889 spread, Billy said Garnet Adkins and her son Johnny lived nearby. Garnet was a granddaughter of Hugh Dingess and had been raised at Huey Fowler Hollow just off the hill from the Haley-McCoy grave. Perhaps more interesting, her son Johnny had told Billy recently that his grandfather Adkins used to talk about John Runyon being his neighbor.
We quickly drove to Garnet’s where Billy spotted Johnny working with a mule in the yard. In no time, we were in the living room listening to Garnet talk about the Haley-McCoy murders.
“Well, I’ve heard Mommy talk about it, but it’s been so long ago I’ve about forgot about it,” she said. “She said her and Cat Adkins got in there and got in under the bed — or behind the bed or something — when they was a doing that.”
Your mother was there?
“Yeah, she was just a young’n, though,” Garnet said. “She said one of them said to the other… One had the headache and he said, ‘I can’t eat no supper.’ And he said, ‘You better eat your supper. This’ll be the last supper you’ll ever eat.’ And they just took them out there and killed them. I guess they shot them, I don’t know.”
I asked Garnet if she thought the mob might have shot Milt and Green at the table right after they ate and she said, “No, they took them outside, I think. I’ve heard Mommy talk about it. See Cat lived there in that house where Mommy was at. That’s where they killed them at.”
Garnet said she had seen the house.
“Yeah, I’ve saw it,” she said. “It’s up here across from Fry.”
Wait a minute. That was the same side of the river as what Lawrence Kirk had shown me in 1993.
Milt and Green were killed on the other side of the river, right?
“No,” Garnet said.
Her son Johnny, however, agreed with the popular notion that the killings took place at the Fry house on Green Shoal.
“That’s what Granddad Aaron said,” Johnny said. “An old hued log house is what Granddad said. He said it sat there at Fry. There where Lon Lambert lives.”
Garnet insisted otherwise: “It was on this side of the river, just an old flat house.”
Perhaps sensing that we were not going to agree on the location of the murders, Garnet changed the direction of the conversation.
“You know, that was a mighty cruel thing to take them men out and kill them,” she said. “They claimed my granddaddy Hugh Dingess was in on that but I don’t believe he was. Course Aunt Hollene was his sister, you know. Aunt Hollene came up there to his house one Sunday and lord it scared me to death when I seen her face. I run off and hid. She was mean as a hound dog. She carried a pistol and a watch and pocketbook and all kinds of stuff in a big apron pocket swinging down on her.”
Billy said to Johnny, “Down here on this end of the creek, we’d never heard about Ben Adams a being in on it, had we?”
Johnny answered, “Yeah, oh yeah. Well he knowed them Adamses. That’s the reason they brought them in this other way ’cause they was supposed to been, Granddad told me, men a waiting to take them away from them fellers when they brought them back in here. But they come this other way — the back way — on horses. Come back in through Chapmansville and down this a way. They thought they’d be a coming down Harts Creek but they didn’t come that way. They brought them down around the river way.”
Garnet said Milt and Green’s grave wasn’t marked when she was a little girl.
“They just threw them in a hole really,” she said. “Somebody said Ben Walker buried them.”
Johnny said, “Well now Mother. didn’t they come over there and visit that grave after you was a great big girl?”
“Yeah, I was a young woman,” she said. “Now I don’t know where she was from. I just heard them talk about their uncle living over there in Fisher’s place where Irv Workman lives. They went up that hill a crying and carrying on and I didn’t know what to think. I was just an old big young’n there with the young’ns. Mommy and Poppy both was gone. And I’d think, ‘Lord, who in the world is that coming up through there carrying on like that?’ And I kept seeing them motioning over there across the creek to where Fisher’s place was talking about… Seems to me the man’s name was Ben. Ben Adkins.”
To get an idea of when it was that people used to come to the grave I asked Garnet what year she was born.
“I was born in 1909,” she said. “June 26th. I was born up here at Ferrellsburg.”