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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.

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