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Not long after talking with Vergia, Brandon located Donna Samson, a daughter of Ed Belcher, in Logan, West Virginia. Belcher, we were told, was a multi-instrumentalist who played music with Ed Haley at George Mullins’ home on the Buck Fork of Harts Creek.

John Edward Belcher was born in 1886 or 1889, the son of James and Mary (Thomas) Belcher. The Belchers lived in Scott District, Putnam County, in 1900. Donna thought her father was from Buffalo Creek in Logan County. She said her family was once heavily involved in the sawmill business. As a young man, Ed played music with his brother Henry. At some point, he took music lessons and learned to read and write music. He could play the piano, banjo, guitar, and “could make a violin cry.” In the 1910s and 1920s, he played the violin in an orchestra during silent movies at the Logan Theatre. About that same time, he also operated a boarding house near the train station (likely a convenient “stopping off place” for Ed Haley when he came into Logan).

“He always kept music around his home,” Donna said.

Belcher played ragtime and loved to play “Falling Water” on the piano in his later years.

Donna said her father met her mother Rhoda Mullins (1919-1990) while at a dance in Logan. Rhoda was staying in town with her sister Dixie, who was a local schoolteacher. They were the daughters of George Mullins of Harts Creek. Her father, she added, was some thirty years older than her mother, who was his second wife.

Ed Belcher died in 1970. His death record gives his occupation as “Piano repair, tuner.”

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