Brandon Kirk, Ed Haley, feud, Green McCoy, Haley-McCoy grave, John Hartford, John Imlay, Lawrence Kirk, Lincoln County Feud, Low Gap, Malcolm Richardson, Melvin Kirk, Milt Haley, Smithsonian, Steve Haley, Walker Family Cemetery, writing
The following morning, Brandon and I met Steve Haley at the bus. Not long afterwards, two men drove up in a white SUV and eased out toward us. The Smithsonian forensic crew had arrived. They were dressed ordinary and casually, except for very “official-looking” black caps adorned with golden seals. The driver, a large man with a rough voice and commanding presence, introduced himself as Malcolm Richardson – or “Rich,” as he preferred to be called. The other fellow, younger than Rich, tall and seemingly jolly, was John Imlay. We almost immediately piled into their vehicle and headed for the grave.
Upon reaching the logging road at Low Gap, Rich decided not to use it to drive up to the grave. Instead, we parked just off the hill near the Walker Family Cemetery and headed up the hill on foot. We were barely there when Lawrence Kirk, who’d shown me the gravesite back in 1993, popped out of the bushes. He’d preferred to “rough it” up the hill, somehow making it up the slope and through the brush in a pair of dress shoes, offering his assistance with any questions Richardson and Imlay might have about the site. It was neat having Lawrence there since his grandfather Melvin Kirk had helped bury Milt and Green in 1889. Steve Haley’s presence also was noteworthy in that it marked the first time, so far as we knew, that any of Ed’s family had ever been to the site. (We don’t know if Ed went there.)
As we watched Rich and Imlay probe their metal rods into the grave, we clung to their every word — every theory, question and comment. I guess it would be fair to say that we were hoping for some kind of “breakthrough revelation” from their probing…but the whole thing was over in about thirty minutes. Still, we were all electrified with excitement. For the rest of the day, we talked about every minute detail of our “probing experience:” the rods, how they worked, what they revealed and so forth. Then came all of the wild theories about what was actually down in the grave. We could hardly wait until spring.