Appalachia, Elias Vance, Elisha Vance, Everett Elkins, genealogy, Harts Creek, Harts Creek District, history, Lincoln County, notary public, Rufus Estep, Salena Estep, Spring Branch, W.C. Holstein, West Fork
Appalachia, Bill Staten, Bob Hatfield, Cap Hatfield, crime, Devil Anse Hatfield, Ellison Hatfield, feuds, genealogy, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Howard Alley, Island Creek, Kentucky, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Mingo County, Nancy Hatfield, Paris McCoy, Pike County, Randolph McCoy, Sam McCoy, Tolbert McCoy, true crime, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this story by Howard Alley titled “The Hatfield-McCoy Feud” and dated May 10, 1937:
The Hatfield-McCoy Feud…
“Aunt Nancy” Hatfield, Widow of “Cap” Hatfield, Relates That Historic Feud Actually Started Over An Election Argument When “Uncle” Ellison Was Killed Following Argument With a McCoy
Much has been said and many volumes have been written about the historic Hatfield-McCoy feud which took place in Logan and Mingo counties in the latter part of the last century. Lecturers have said the feud started over a razor-backed hog, and novelists have written that it began when a McCoy married a Hatfield lass and deserted her after he learned that she was to bear him a child. Both theories have their foundation in tradition, but neither Hatfield nor McCoy close to the feud has been quoted as saying either was right. Yesterday the mystery was cleared up. Because it seemed so utterly preposterous that two solid, level-headed mountain families with the solidity of the English for a background could wage a ten-year killing spree over a razor-backed sow when the woods were full of the animals, and because it was equally as improbable that the feud started over unhappy marital relationships when it is an established fact that mountaineers let their offspring take care of their own home life, we decided yesterday afternoon to find out what event was the spark which actually set off the powder magazine of mountain passion which rocked the hills of this section for nearly a decade.
And in the warm sunshine of a late spring Sunday afternoon we sat on the porch of the late William A. (Cap) Hatfield’s rambling frame home on the upper stretches of Main Island Creek and talked to “Cap’s” wife, the last survivor of those who were closest to the Hatfield clan in the feud.
“Aunt Nancy”, who has survived seventy winters and admits that she is “you and has the ‘hang’ of it,” but “don’t think I can do it again”, gazed reminiscently out over the newly-turned acres of her husband’s creek bottom estate, and her eyes grew misty as she told us of the closing years of the last century when Hatfield and McCoy alike expected death at every bend of the creek.
“That feud didn’t start over no ‘hog lawsuit’ and it didn’t start over a Hatfield-McCoy marriage,” Mrs. Hatfield said in a tone that showed plainly her disgust for those writers who had written of the feud and by twisting the facts had capitalized on it. “I’ve got a red-backed book two inches thick here that one of my sons brought to me and said: “Read this, Ma, and you’ll find out why we fought the McCoys.’ I read it–two pages of it–and it’s layin’ in there now with dust on its backs. Not a word o’ truth in it.”
She grew repentant.
“But they have to make their livin’, I guess. You want to know how it started? I’ll tell you. The Hatfields was always a political family, and it was their politics which got ’em into this fight. If they hadn’t gone to that election in Pike county in August of 1882, ‘Uncle’ Ellison would never have been killed and Ellison’s brother, ‘Devil’ Anse would never have been drawn into it. But I’m gettin’ ahead of my story. The way it was, ‘Uncle’ Ellison Hatfield was an officer in Logan county in 1882 and was sent out to arrest Sam and Paris McCoy who was supposed to have killed Bill Staten, ‘Uncle’ Ellison’s brother-in-law. These boys warn’t sons of Randall McCoy, ringleader of the McCoys. They were just cousins. He got the two boys and brought them to Logan county jail in Logan and afterwards testified agin’ them in a trial. The McCoys were ‘sent up’ for the killin’. Then in August ‘Uncle’ Ellison went to Pike county to ‘work’ at the polls, and it was so ordered that he was working for a man that the McCoys were agin’. Well, the only thing that could happen did happen. One of Randall McCoy’s sons, just a little twenty-one-year-old shaver, started a argument with ‘Uncle’ Ellison, and Ellison, who was always too high tempered for his own good, slapped him down. The little feller bounced up, and Ellison slapped him down agin’. But this time he jumped on top of him, and ’bout the time he drawed back his fist, aimin’ to end the fight, a shot rung out and ‘Uncle’ Ellison toppled over. He weren’t dead though. He told his friends to call ‘Devil’ Anse, who come a runnin’, and the McCoys ‘cleared out.’ ‘Devil’ Anse took his brother home and he lived from that Saturday until the next Wednesday. Just before he died, he said to Anse: ‘Anse, I want you to give the McCoys the ‘law.’ And that’s what ‘Devil’ Anse did. He gave ’em the ‘law’ as he knowed it–and that was just about the only law in them days–and lived to see the justice handed out. And, well, you know as much about what happened after ‘Uncle’ Ellison died as I do. I don’t want to add any more tales to the list.”
We took the hint, and willingly began to talk about the celebration of “Aunt Nancy’s” birthday last September when she fell off her back porch and was told by one of her sons that “she shouldn’t have been trying to turn handsprings at her age.”
“I wasn’t hurt bad enough to keep me from cuttin’ my birthday cake. And I gave Bob the smallest piece because he was so smart about me fallin’.”
African-Americans, Alva Grimmett, Appalachia, Austin Grimmett, Baileysville, Big Cub Creek, Bruno, Buffalo Creek, Christian, Cole and Crane Company, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dingess, Edith Grimmett, education, Elk Creek, Ettie Grimmett, farming, genealogy, general store, Green Perry, Guyandotte River, Guyandotte Valley, Henderson Browning, Henderson Grimmett, history, Holden, Horse Pen Mountain, Johnny Grimmett, Landsville, Lilly Grimmett, Logan, Logan County, logging, Madison Creek, Mallory, Man, McGuffey Readers, McKinley Grimmett, Mingo County, Mud Fork, Nancy Grimmett, rafting, Ralph Grimmett, Rose Grimmett, Sand Lick, Sanford Grimmett, Slater Hatfield, Tennis Hatfield, Thomas Hatfield, Tilda Hatfield, timber, timbering, Travis Grimmett, Verner, Walter Buchanan, West Virginia, whooping cough, World War I, Wyatt Belcher, Wyoming County
McKinley Grimmett was born on November 30, 1896 to Henderson and Nancy (Hatfield) Grimmett at Sand Lick, Logan County, WV. On May 14, 1916, Mr. Grimmett married a Ms. Plymale, who soon died, in Logan County. One child named Alva died on June 21, 1919 of whooping cough, aged fourteen months. His World War I draft registration card dated September 12, 1918 identifies him as having blue eyes and light-colored hair. He was employed by Mallory Coal Company at Mallory, WV. On November 13, 1919, he married Matilda “Tilda” Hatfield, daughter of Thomas Hatfield, in Logan County. He identified himself as a farmer in both of his marriage records. During the 1920s, he served as a deputy under Sheriff Tennis Hatfield.
The following interview of Mr. Grimmett was conducted at his home on July 17, 1984. In this part of the interview, he recalls his family background and early occupations. Logging and rafting in the Guyandotte Valley are featured.
Would you mind telling me when and where you were born?
Right here. I was born about a mile up above here. I was borned in Logan County. The post office was Christian at that time. Christian, WV. It’s changed now. They throwed Christian out – it was over here at Christian – and they throwed it out and moved it over here to Bruno. Christian went… The mines stopped over there. And that’s where I was born, right here at Bruno, Logan County. Been here all my life.
What day were you born?
November 30, 1896.
Who were your parents?
Henderson Grimmett and Nancy Hatfield Grimmett.
What kind of work did they do?
They did logging work. All they had that day and time. Mule teams and ox teams.
Where did your dad do his work?
All over Logan County.
Did he have his own farm?
Oh yeah. Yeah.
How big was his farm?
It was about 287 acres.
Can you describe his house?
Well, the house was a two-story building. But he never did get… He took the fever and he never did get the upper story, all of it completed. He died at a very early age of 74. He put him up a little store. Got ahead a little bit. Had a store here. Come down and bought this place off Walter Buchanan and he deeded his five kids the homeplace up there. And then he stayed on it from ’21 to ’29. He died 19th day of January, 1929.
Who were your mother’s parents?
Oh, Lord, I can’t… Slater Hatfield was her daddy’s name. And I don’t know my grandma. My daddy, now they both was born in Wyoming County. Baileysville or somewhere in there. I think my mother was born over there in Big Cub Creek. She was a Hatfield. I don’t know where…
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I had three brothers and three sisters. Sanford was the oldest one. Austin and Johnny. They’re all dead. I’m the only one that’s living. All my three sisters… Lilly was the oldest one, and Rose was the next one, and Ettie was the youngest. They’re all dead. All of ‘em but me.
Were you educated in Logan County schools?
Yeah, that’s all we got. Free schools. I believe we started off about three months out of the year. Right over there where that first house is sitting – a one-room school house. All of us kids.
What was the last year of school you completed?
I believe it was about 1914, I’m not right sure. ’15.
Did you use the McGuffey Readers?
That’s all we had. And the spelling books. And in the late years, why we had a U.S. history… A small one. Most of it was just about West Virginia. It wasn’t about the whole United States. And geography, we had that. Arithmetic. That was about all we had in free schools. We had to buy them all then. They weren’t furnished.
How did you meet your wife?
She was born and raised over here at Horse Pen in Mingo County. And that’s how we met. We were just neighbors.
What was her maiden name?
She was a Hatfield, too. But now they were… There’s three or four sets of them.
Was her family related to Devil Anse Hatfield?
Well, they was some… Not very close, though, I don’t think.
Which church did you belong to?
I don’t belong to any.
Did you belong to a church when you were younger?
No, never did. If I ever would have joined, I’d have stayed with it.
Do you remember the year of your marriage?
Yeah, I sure do. November 13, 1919.
How many children do you have?
Four. We have two boys and two girls. Travis Grimmett is the oldest. And Ralph, Edith, and Nancy.
What was your wedding like?
Well, we just got married and come right home. At that time, they didn’t have such things, to tell you the truth.
Who was the preacher?
Green Perry. Rev. Green Perry on Elk Creek. Rode a horse back when I went up there to get married. A pair of mules. I rode them mules.
Where did you first live after you married?
Right about a mile above here at the old homeplace.
You have lived here all of your life?
All of our life.
Was it always this populated?
No, no. Wasn’t three or four houses on this creek at that day and time. It was farm land. It’s all growed up now. All them hills was put in corn, millets, and stuff like that. If they couldn’t get a machine to it, they cut it by hand. Some of them raised oats and some of them raised millet, corn. Raised hogs and cattle and sheep and selling ‘em.
Who owned this property back then?
Burl Christian owned this here, but I don’t know… My daddy bought his… A fellow by the name of Wyatt Belcher. Wait a minute. Browning. I can’t think of his name. He lived over here on Christian and he bidded in… It sold for back taxes and he bidded in. Henderson Browning.
What kind of work did you do after you married?
Just the same thing as I worked at before I got married. I first started out – my daddy was a boss for Cole and Crane on this river. I first started out working in the log business. I worked two years at that and then I decided… Mule team – I worked about eighteen months at that. Then in 1913 the coal company started in and I went to work in carpenter work. I helped build all of these houses down here at Landville. The superintendent, we got done, they was wanting to hire men, he give me a job keeping time for a while. And he wanted me to learn to run the drum – that’s letting coal off the hill. I learned it and about the third day I was up there, a preacher was running it, and he told me they’d just opened up and they didn’t have much coal to run off the hill, he told me, that preacher, he rolled out two cards and he said if that preacher fails to go out and work on that side track today you give him one of these cards. Well, I didn’t give him a card. But he come out that evening, the boss did. And he said, did the preacher work. And I said, no he refused. He said, I’ll fix him. He fired him. And I took the job and stayed with it four years and then I got married and then I went to work over here at Christian running a drum and I stayed there 34 years.
When you worked for Cole and Crane, did either of those men ever come up here?
Oh yeah. One of them was. Cole was. I don’t think Crane was ever here. A little slim fella.
Did you get a chance to talk to them?
No, they wouldn’t talk to us working men. They’d talk to the boss. They’d go away from us and talk to theirselves. We just got a $1.10 for ten hours. Eleven cents an hour.
What kind of a person did Cole seem to be?
Well, he knowed how the men was. They’d raft timber and go down this river to Guyandotte. Had what they called locks and dams there to catch the logs. This river was full of logs. He bought timber everywhere. Plumb at the head of it.
Did you ever ride a raft?
Oh, yeah. I went with my daddy. I wasn’t grown.
Can you describe it?
Oh, they’d raft the logs, poplar. Now they didn’t raft hardwoods. They’d sink on them. Some rafts, a big one would be 160 to 200 feet long, about 24 to 26 feet wide. Oar on each end of it. If it was a big raft, they had two men up front all the time plumb in to Guyandotte. I was the second man on it when I got to go out on it. My dad had timber and he rafted it, took it there and sold it. Took what they called dog wedges and cut little basket oaks and rafted them, stringers across ‘em, you know. Lots of people get drowned, too.
Were you ever in an accident?
No, I never was in no big one. I’ve seen about six or eight drown.
Could you describe how it happened?
Oh, if he couldn’t swim, sometimes the best swimmer drowned, you know, if he got under a lot of logs or something. According to whatever happened there with him. He could get out if there wasn’t no logs on top of him no where to hold him under, you know. If logs were on top of him, he was gone. Now about the last ones I seen drowned was two colored people. They was building a railroad from Logan to Man up Buffalo Creek. So we was working on a log gorge down there at the lower end of Landville. And there was four colored men… 1921. Had a saloon up here at Verner. They wouldn’t allow one in Logan County. And they went up there on the 21st day of December to get ‘em a load of whisky. And they come back… They’d seen white people ride these logs. Some county people would get on one log and ride it plumb to Logan, as far as you wanted to go. And they thought they could ride it. And they got on. Rode ‘em off the gorge and they was running into eddy water and they would hit the back end, it would, and the other end would swarp out and they’d pull out that way. And they got on ‘em with their whisky and everything and two of ‘em got out and two of ‘em drowned.
When you rode the raft to Guyandotte, how did you get back to Logan?
Oh, we had to walk. We’d get a train up to Dingess over here. You know where that’s at? We’d ride down up to there. And then we’d have to get off and walk across the hill there and come right straight out at the mouth of Mud Fork, Holden there, and up another little drain and down Madison Creek down here. And walk… Man alive, our feet would be so sore, I’d be up for two or three weeks I couldn’t walk, my feet would be wore out so.
NOTE: Some names may be transcribed incorrectly.
Appalachia, coal, Coal River, Coal Street, Cole Street, Collis P. Huntington, general, George Rogers Clark Floyd, governor, history, Huntington, James Buchanan, John B. Floyd, John Floyd, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Logan Junior High School, Nighbert Memorial Church, T.C. Whited, Virginia, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about Coal Street dated September 7, 1928:
C-O-A-L IS CORRECT
Acknowledging that it has long been in error, The Banner announces on good authority that the name of the street running from the Wilkinson property up past Nighbert Memorial church and Junior High school is Coal street, not Cole. In some way it was impressed on the mind of the writer soon after he came to Logan that the proper spelling was C-o-l-e. That impression seems to have been widespread and fixed. Wherefore, when street signs were recently placed at the intersections preparatory to the establishment of mail delivery service and the name of “Coal” was made conspicuous at strategic points on “Cole” street, this writer and others were peeved about it. We thought it would cause endless confusion and perpetuate an inexcusable error.
In a desire to dispose of the matter with some finality we asked T.C. Whited about the spelling of the street’s name, the origin of the name, when, why and by whom was it selected. He replied that the street was named Coal by Col. George Rogers Clark Floyd, one of the most brilliant and beloved men that ever came into these mountains. Col. Floyd, a brother of John B. Floyd, who sat in Buchanan’s cabinet and later won renown as a general and who also, like his father, John Floyd, was a governor of Virginia, owned 700 acres of land in this immediate vicinity. It included what is now the west or main business section of the city. That was long before the railroad was built but Col. Floyd envisioned the industrial development that has come. In fact, he believed it would come long before it did, and his miscalculation led him eventually into financial difficulties. When he bore about the same relation to Logan village that Collis P. Huntington bore to the village of Huntington, the residents of this hamlet obtained coal for their own use from a mine opened up near the site of Mrs. Perry’s boarding house at the head of what is now Coal street. So, he gave it that name, says Mr. Whited, and having done so, there is no reason why it should not be preserved and why all confusion about it should not cease.
At that time Coal was perhaps the most logical and appropriate name, whereas under present conditions that name might be as appropriate for one street as another in any town in Logan county.
Once there was the same confusion about the name Coal River, some historians contending the name intended was Cole, in honor of a noted pioneer surveyor of that name. But that question was long ____ geographers and of those who dwelt on the banks of that noble stream.
NOTE: Today the street sign reads COLE STREET.
A.A. Wright, A.D. Robinson, A.V. McRae, African-Americans, Albert Meade, Anna B. Harris, Anna C. Hunter, Anna Spencer, Appalachia, Aracoma, Ardrossan, Audra Wilson, B.H. Hall, board of education, Bruce Hull, Clara Lee Johnson, Clara Richardson, Clothier, Coal River, Copperas, Cora, Crystal Block, D.E. Hopkins, Daisy Sheffery, Daniel H. Wood, Dehue, Doratha Withers, education, Elaine Ferguson, Elizabeth Creasy, Elizabeth Notter, Elma Phipps, Esta Shriver, Ethel, Ethel M. Page, F.O. Woerner, Flossie Hatfield, Flossie M. Jones, Garlands Fork, Georgia L. Miller, Gertrude Huntsman, Grace V. Reynolds, Harold Starcher, Hatfield, Helen E. Jones, history, Holden, Huntington, I.G. Hollandsworth, Imogene Baker, Ione Hall Cook, Island Creek, J.C. Evans, Jane Walker, John Pelter, Joseph D. Cary, Josephine Vaughan, Laura Griere, Laura J. Bayes, Laurel Hill, Lillian Samors, Logan County, Logan District, Logan High School, Logan Junior High School, Louis Simmons, M. Amelia Brooks, Macbeth, Mary Smith, Matilda Wade, Micco, Omar, Page Hamilton, Peach Creek, Preston A. Cave, Rossmore, Sharples, Slagle, Stirratt, teacher, Theodora Bradford, Thomas Jordan, Virginia Spratt, W.H. Houston, W.H. Huston, West Virginia, Yolyn
Logan (WV) Banner, 26 August 1927. This photo is meant to show the headline of the story; teachers named here are “white.”
A.L. Smith, Aaron Adkins, Allison Ferrell, Arisba Ferrell, Big Branch, Big Ugly Creek, Bill Duty, Blucher Lucas, Broad Branch, Climena Lucas, Elizabeth Adkins, Ellen Adkins, Evermont Ward Fry, Fourteen Mile Creek, genealogy, George W. Hill, Gilbert Topping, Guyandotte River, Harts Creek District, Heenan Smith, Henry Adkins, history, Isaiah Adkins, Jacob K. Adkins, James I. Kuhn, James Toney, John Adkins, John F. Duty, Keenan Toney, Kiahs Creek, Laurel Fork, Lena Ferrell, Limestone Creek, Lincoln County, Little Harts Creek, Lower Big Branch, Matthew Spurlock, Middle Fork, Minnie Mullins, Moses Adkins, Moses Dempsey, Mud River, N.B. Mobley, Nancy E. Fry, Overton Elkins, Parlee Hunter, Patton Thompson, Ralph Nelson, Sams Branch, Sankey Gillenwater, Sarah E. Thompson, Sarah Gillenwater, Sarah J. Nelson, Smith Ferrell, Susan Adkins, Trough Fork, U.G. Shipe, Van Donley Lambert, W.C. Smith, W.M. May, West Hamlin, West Virginia, William May
The following deed index is based on Deed Book 59 at the Lincoln County Clerk’s Office in Hamlin, WV, and relates to residents of the Harts Creek community. Most notations reflect Harts Creek citizens engaged in local land transactions; some reflect Harts Creek citizens engaged in land transactions outside of the community. These notes are meant to serve as a reference to Deed Book 59. Researchers who desire the most accurate version of this material are urged to consult the actual record book.
Aaron Adkins et ux to Moses Adkins et al 54 1/4 acres Little Harts Creek 12 March 1906 p. 481-482
Elizabeth Adkins et al to Jacob K. Adkins 1902 acres Little Harts Creek 01 September 1901 p. 272-273
Ellen Adkins to John Adkins 25 acres Lower Big Branch 22 February 1910 p. 95
Henry Adkins to Elizabeth Adkins et al 1962 acres Little Harts Creek, Fourteen Mile Creek, Trough Fork, Laurel Fork 28 June 1870 p. 269-270
Henry Adkins et ux to Ralph Nelson 20 acres Big Harts Creek 21 March 1905 p. 198-199
Isaiah Adkins et ux to John Adkins 45 acres Lower Big Branch 11 August 1906 p. 89
John Adkins Sr. et ux to K.E. Toney 30 acres mineral Big Harts Creek 27 July 1909 p. 91-92
John Adkins Sr. et ux to K.E. Toney 35 acres Big Harts Creek 25 February 1910 p. 93-94
Board of Education of Harts Creek District to John E. Fry et al 1/2 acre Big Ugly Creek 1 August 1905 p. 498
L.H. Burks et ux to Gilbert Topping 110 acres Little Harts Creek 30 March 1906 p. 5-7
Moses Dempsey to K.E. Toney 24 acres mineral Big Harts Creek 19 March 1910 p. 96-97
William Dempsey et al to Moses Dempsey 24 acres Big Branch 13 April 1908 p. 71-72
William R. Duty et ux to John F. Duty 50 acres Broad Branch 9 December 1887 p. 429-430
Allison Ferrell et ux to Sarah Gillenwater 133 acres Big Ugly Creek 26 October 1897 p. 499
Arisba Ferrell et al to Parlee Hunter 42 acres Broad Branch 15 February 1905 p. 168-169
Arrisba Ferrell et al to John F. Duty 25 acres Broad Branch 8 April 1891 p. 425-427
Lena Ferrell to Nancy E. Fry 5 acres Big Ugly 3 June 1905 p. 495
Smith Ferrell et ux to John F. Duty 55 acres Ugly Creek 5 April 1907 p. 428-429
William T. Fowler et ux to Mathew Spurlock 100 acres Sams Branch of Middle Fork of Mud River 9 January 1890 Elias Vance, JP p. 376-377
Sarah A. Gillenwater et vir to Nancy E. Fry 133 acres Big Ugly Creek 19 February 1898 p. 496-497
George W. Hill et ux to W.M. May 30 acres Limestone Creek 3 November 1906 p. 137-138
J.I. Kuhn, attorney, to Overton Elkins 100 acres Fourteen Mile Creek 1 June 1880 p. 420-423
V.D. Lambert et ux to Sarah J. Nelson 20 acres West Side Guyan River 13 April 1906 p. 289
Blucher N. Lucas to Climena Lucas 50 acres Fourteen Mile Creek 1 July 1910 p. 308-309
N.B. Mobley to Sankey Gillenwater 50 acres Limestone Creek 15 December 1909 p. 121-122
Minnie Mullins et vir to William May 30 acres Limestone Creek 29 January 1910 p. 140-141
A.L. Smith et ux to Susan Adkins 48 acres Big Harts Creek 11 July 1907 p. 225-226
A.L. Smith et ux to Ralph Nelson 2 acres Big Harts Creek 13 April 1907 p. 204-205
Heenan Smith to W.C. Smith 75 acres Guyandotte River 15 July 1902 p. 468-470
Sarah E. Thompson et vir to E.W. Fry 150 acres Guyandotte River, Laurel Hill District 12 February 1897 p. 487-488
P.T. Thompson to U.G. Shipe et al Lots 64-65 23 February 1909 p. 329
James Toney et ux to Gilbert Toppins 35 1/4 acres Kiahs Creek 03 January 1908 p. 7-8
NOTE: I copied all of these deeds.
Andrew P. Price, Appalachia, Canada, Cayuga, Chillicothe, Cumberland River, Dekanawida, Five Nations, Great Lakes, Greenbrier Valley, Hiawatha, history, Iroquois, Jackson River, James Fenimore Cooper, Kanawha River, Lancaster, Logan Banner, London, Marlinton, Mingo Flats, Mohawk, New York, Ohio, Oneida, Onondago, Ototarha, Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War, Rio Grande River, Seneca, Seneca Trail, Shawnee, St. Lawrence River, Tennessee, Tuscarora, Virginia, Warrior's Road, West Virginia, Winchester
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about the Iroqouis and West Virginia dated October 7, 1927:
West Virginia Part of Iroquois Domain
Confederation of Five Nations, Pledged to Peace, Endured For Two Centuries — Hiawatha One of Founders — Vast Indian Drama Told By Andrew P. Price, “Sage of Marlinton.”
You keep hearing of the Shawnees who overran this country prior to the Revolutionary War, and you keep hearing of them to the east and then to the west. You know that when 72 men went from this (Greenbrier) valley to fight them at the mouth of Kanawha, that they were living in Chillicothe.
The mystery of the Shawnee being to the east and then to the west is explained as follows:
When the whites first began to record history the Shawnees were far to the south and were split into two tribes. One lived on the Atlantic seaboard, around Savannah, and the other west of the mountains in the Tennessee country. They were forced north by their enemies and they were sometime after that found with towns at Winchester, in the valley of Virginia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and in other places in Pennsylvania, while those from the Cumberland basin in Tennessee came north into Ohio. The eastern tribe moved first and no doubt the communicating road between the settlements at Winchester and eastern Pennsylvania traversed West Virginia. They would have to cross Seneca Trail, or Warrior’s Road, and the military town of Mingo Flats lay in their line of travel and that is the occasion of the corrupting of that place and making the garrison traitor to the Five Nations.
The whole of the Appalachia Range of mountains was owned, policed and controlled by the Iroquois or Five Nations. This was the highest type of Indian north of the Rio Grande. For centuries they held a commanding position, their country extending from the mouth of the St. Lawrence river, west on both sides to the Great Lakes and turning there took all the mountain country as far south as Georgia, and they had at least 50 towns along the way from north to south. History deals more with the Mohawks around New York, but the westernmost part in which we live was occupied and kept by the Senecas. The list of the Iroquois or Five Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondago, Cayuga and Seneca. When the Tuscaroras came in in 1726 they were called the Six Nations.
Government Older Than Ours
This conference lasted for more than two centuries and was perhaps the most notable government ever set up by savages. They are the Indians that James Fennimore Cooper wrote about and they are entitled to every bit of praise that he gives them. They had a council that was noted for its dignity, faith, and ability. The kinds of Europe sent ambassadors to that council for many generations which made treaties, and it was well known in the London of that day as the American Congress is now. The Nations early agreed with the whites to allow the Europeans to settle and thrive on the Atlantic seaboard and they, the Five Nations, kept the mountains and western part of their countries.
Probably the first fraud practiced on the Five Nations was the Greenbrier Colony grant of 100,000 acres on waters that flowed into the Ohio, and this was held up for more than 30 years and only matured after the colonies had gained their independence. It is evident that it was first granted on the mistake of fact, that is, that the Greenbrier, like the Jackson River, flowed into the Atlantic.
Hiawatha an Organizer
The formation of the Five Nations was accomplished about the history the year 1750 and was the work of two Indians of great fame, Dekanawida and Hiawatha. The name of Hiawatha is famous by reason of Longfellow’s poem, but it does not contain a single fact of the history of Hiawatha. The two Indians posed as medicine men and magicians and spent their lives to bring about the league to promote peace and to end war. At the time they commenced their work, war was the religion of the tribes. Hiawatha was a Mohawk, and at times the Mohawks were cannibals. The two Indians traveled from council to council, proposing the scheme of the league to promote peace, and it was debated on the council fires, and it encountered the most bitter opposition. The name of the tyrant Ototarha comes down in history as the most formidable opponent to the peace makers.
The first success they had was to make it unlawful to prosecute family feuds and murders generally. For every murder the killer was required to pay the family of the dead man ten strings of wampum, as the value of a human life. Later the law was amended to require the payment of an additional ten strings of wampum, on the construction that the first payment was compensatory, and the second string to take the place of the life of the murderer which was forfeited under the old law to the blood kin of the slain man.
In time the confederation was formed. First by the Mohawk, Cayuga and Oneida. Then the Onondaga came in and last, the Senecas came in with reservations, and plenty of them. The Senecas refused to disband their armies and were thereupon made the police force of the Iroquois nations, and kept to themselves the department of war and foreign affairs. They gave up murder and cannibalism but clung to their military life.
The league got along pretty well until the introduction of fire-water and gunpowder. After that it was hard to keep the peace. The end of the league of the Iroquois came when they joined the British to fight the colonists. They came out of the Revolutionary War, doomed, and most of the survivors moved into Canada, though some are still to be found on the reservations in the State of New York.
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