Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Ben Adams, Bill's Branch, blind, Buck Fork, Dorothy Brumfield, Ed Haley, Ella Haley, feud, French Bryant, Green McCoy, Harts Creek, Harve "Short Harve" Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, John Brumfield, Lincoln County Feud, Logan County, Milt Haley, Piney, Smokehouse Fork, Ticky George Adams, timbering, Violet Mullins, West Virginia, writing
Sensing that Dorothy had told all she knew about Ed and knowing that she was one-quarter Dingess, we asked her about Milt Haley.
“Some terrible things went on about Ed’s daddy,” she said. “I heard about that.”
Dorothy blamed the trouble squarely on Ben Adams. She said he was a “bully” who wanted to control all the timber on Harts Creek. He hired Milt Haley and Green McCoy to kill Al Brumfield but they accidentally shot Hollena.
“And them men that shot them went back in towards Kentucky somewhere and they put out a reward for them,” Dorothy said.
Haley and McCoy were soon caught and a Brumfield posse took possession of them.
Ben Adams organized a mob to free them at the mouth of Smoke House Fork but the Brumfields were warned by a spy and detoured up Buck Fork and over a mountain to Hugh Dingess’ house.
“The Adamses come a hair of catching them,” Dorothy said. “You can just imagine what kind of war would have been if they had a got them.”
A large number of men gathered in at Hugh’s for protection, including Albert Dingess (her great-grandfather), “Short Harve” Dingess (her great-uncle), John Brumfield, and French Bryant, among others. At some point, they took Milt outside and shot a few times to scare Green into making a confession inside Hugh’s, but Milt yelled, “Don’t tell them a damn thing. I ain’t dead yet!” McCoy yelled back, “Don’t be scared. I ain’t told nothing yet!”
Dorothy said the mob eventually took Milt and Green up Bill’s Branch and down Piney where they “knocked their heads out with axes and the chickens eat their brains.”
Just before we left Dorothy, we asked if she remembered any of Ed’s family. She said his uncle Ticky George Adams (the grandfather of her late husband) was a ginseng digger who spoke with a lisp and loved to heat hog brains. This image contrasted sharply with what others around Harts Creek had said: that he was a moonshiner who’d shoot someone “at the drop of a hat.” Violet Mullins had told us earlier how Ticky George would get “fightin’ mad” if anyone called him by his nickname. The only thing Dorothy knew about Ed’s wife was, “She went in the outside toilet and then after that some woman went in there and said they was a big blacksnake a hanging. They said she went places and played music.”