Appalachia, Cabell County, Cook Humphrey, Craig Tolliver, Democratic Party, history, Huntington, Huntington Advertiser, John Martin, Kentucky, Morehead, politics, Republican Party, Rowan County, Rowan County Feud, sheriff, Solomon Bradley, West Virginia
From the Huntington Advertiser of Huntington, WV, dated July 2, 1887 comes this letter about the Rowan County Feud:
The Rowan County War.
The writer is not surprised that your paper of last week fell into the current of popular opinion and denounced the Toliver gang, of Morehead, Kentucky, as the guilty ones in the celebrated feud which has caused the killing of about thirteen persons. Later advices appear at least to throw doubt on the subject of who is really to blame. Let us see. Here is the Cincinnati Enquirer’s account of the origin of the trouble, taken from that journal of the 23d inst.:
“The beginning of the trouble dates from the August election of 1884, when Cook Humphrey, a Republican, was elected sheriff by a trifling majority. He was a young, spare-built man, fresh from the country, and unsophisticated in appearance and manner. Craig Toliver, at the head of a party of friends, declared that Humphrey should not serve as sheriff. On the evening of the election a row occurred. Pistols were drawn and used, and Solomon Bradley (Democrat), a friend of Toliver’s, was shot and killed. The killing was charged against John Martin, and Toliver swore to be avenged. Subsequently Floyd Toliver and Martin got into a fight and the former (Toliver, Democrat) was killed on the street. From this time it may be said that the Martin (Republican) and Toliver (Democrat) factions were organized in deadly array, both sides determined never to yield, one to the other.”
The analysis of the above is, that the Republicans, having carried the election, became more or less insolent towards the opposition, who were correspondingly depressed and sore over their defeat, and gave utterance to their disappointment, and Craig Toliver used a very foolish expression to the effect that the Republican sheriff elect should not be installed. It is probable that this was accompanied by charges of fraudulent voting on the part of the Republicans–at any rate it was not such an offense as to justify Martin, Republican, in shooting Sol. Bradley, a partisan of Toliver’s. Subsequently Floyd Toliver denounced Martin for having killed Bradley without sufficient provocation and in an unmanly way, and was himself shot by Martin on the instant. So that a war of extermination seems to have been inaugurated by the Martins and their Republican following, against the Bradleys and Tolivers and their Democratic following, and signalized by the cold blooded murder of two of the latter. If this is true, and the record seems to bear it out as true, then the Tolivers were simply defending themselves and their households and party friends against the tumultuous murder of the Martins and their Republican following.
The subsequent getting possession of the person of John Martin (already a double murderer) and his killing at the hands of the Tolivers, whose brother and friend he had slain, was in the nature of retribution, and justified by the circumstances. Later, killings on both sides followed from the hot blooded feud which these had aroused, and while some of them appear to have been barbarous in the extreme, yet they legitimately came of a war of extermination such as had been initiated by the Martins and responded to, and not by the Tolivers and their friends.
A prominent citizen of Cabell Co., now sojourning near the scene of the disorder, in Rowan County, says:
“I suppose the dispatches have told you the war news; how 300 Republicans succeeded in killing four Democrats; but the war has only begun. I hear, to-day, that the Democrats are organizing a company near —— to put down the mob at Morehead who did the killing. He is more than sanguine who thinks the trouble ended.”
Our fellow-citizen, on the ground in Kentucky, evidently thinks the late killing of the three Tolivers unjustified by the facts as they are known to him. Let us wait for the facts.
Andrew Chapman, Appalachia, C.C. Watts, C.W. Campbell, constable, crime, Dode Adkins, Elisha Chapman, Eustace Gibson, Frank Guthrie, genealogy, Gibson & Michie, Hamlin, history, Huntington Advertiser, Ira J. McGinnis, John Chapman, Perry Stevens, West Virginia, Wilson Branch
From the Huntington (WV) Advertiser come these stories about a Chapman fracas in Lincoln County, WV, in 1887:
One of the most desperate affrays that ever occurred in this State took place at Hamlin in the adjoining county of Lincoln, last week, between Elisha, Andrew and John Chapman, on one side, and Perry Stevens, Wilson Branch and Dode Adkins on the other. It was a family affair, all the parties being related by blood or connected by marriage. The trouble originated some weeks ago between Wilson Branch and Andrew Chapman, a woman being the cause. On the day of the trouble Branch swore out a warrant and had Andrew and Elisha Chapman arrested. The two men were brought to the Court House by a constable, and while under arrest and awaiting examination by the Justice, Dode Adkins began to abuse Andrew Chapman, which he resented, and the row began. Wilson Branch, seeing the two men about to fight, drew his revolver and began firing. Andrew Chapman was hit in the right breast and left hip and fell in the road. His brother, Elisha, dropped a moment later with a bullet in his groin. Branch then turned to shoot the remaining brother, but his pistol snapped and John sprang at him with a big knife and buried the weapon in his back. Dode Adkins then rushed at John, but was stopped by the deadly knife penetrating his right shoulder. Some fifteen shots were fired during the fracas, and when it was over four men lay on the ground desperately wounded and bleeding frightfully. Elisha Chapman and Dode Adkins are the most severely wounded, the former fatally it is thought, though he was doing well at last accounts.
Source: Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 5 March 1887.
The indictment against Andrew, Elisha and John Chapman, and Paris Stevens, for the shooting affray which occurred in Lincoln County between the Chapmans and the Adkinses some months ago, was tried at the present term of the Circuit Court. Andrew Chapman was fined $25.00 and each of the others $5 and the cost. Wilson Branch engaged in the same difficulty and also under indictment came into court, confessed judgment and was fined. Gibson & Michie and C.W. Campbell defended the Chapmans, and Gen. C.C. Watts [defended] Wilson Branch. Judge Frank Guthrie presided during the entire term of the court, he and Judge McGinnis having exchanged circuits temporarily.
Source: Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 25 June 1887.
Alifair McCoy, Appalachia, Beech Creek, Calvin McCoy, Chafinsville, crime, Dan Cunningham, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dollie Hatfield, feud, feuds, Floyd County, Frank Phillips, genealogy, George Hatfield, Gilbert Creek, Greek Milstead, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Henry Clay Ragland, history, Huntington Advertiser, Johnse Hatfield, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Logan County, Logan County Banner, Matewan, Mingo County, murder, Nancy Hatfield, Norfolk and Western Railroad, Oakland Hotel, Pikeville, Portsmouth Blade, Prestonsburg, Southern West Virginian, T.C. Whited, Thomas H. Harvey, true crime, Vanceville, West Virginia
From the Logan County Banner of Logan, WV, and the Huntington Advertiser of Huntington, WV, come the following items relating to Johnson Hatfield:
We are glad to see that Johnson Hatfield, who has been confined to his room for the last ___ weeks, is able to be on the street again.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 2 March 1893.
There was an unfortunate difficulty at Matewan on Sunday last in which Mr. Johnson Hatfield was severely wounded through the hand. His son had become involved with an officer which drew his father into the trouble.
Source: Southern West Virginian via the Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 1 January 1896.
Johnson Hatfield, accompanied by his daughter, Miss Dollie, left on Monday last for a visit to friends and relatives in Mingo county.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 23 January 1897.
Johnson Hatfield and daughter, Miss Dollie, have returned from a visit to friends on Sandy.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 6 February 1897.
Johnson Hatfield, the genial proprietor of the Oakland Hotel, is visiting friends at Pikeville, Kentucky.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 28 August 1897.
Johnson Hatfield has returned from a visit to Pikeville, Ky.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 9 October 1897.
Johnson Hatfield is at Williamson this week.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 23 October 1897.
The many friends of Mrs. Johnson Hatfield will regret to learn of her serious illness. She has a very bad attack of rheumatism.
Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 13 November 1897.
Johnson Hatfield and wife, of Mingo, passed through here [Chafinsville] last Sunday en route for Vanceville, where they will make their future home.
Source: Logan County Banner (Logan, WV), 21 April 1898.
TAKEN TO KENTUCKY ON A SERIOUS CHARGE–NOW IN JAIL.
Johnson Hatfield was arrested yesterday and taken to Pikesville, Kentucky, and lodged in jail on a charge of being an accomplice in the murder of Alifair McCoy on New Years night about nine years ago. This murder was committed during the feud of the Hatfields and McCoys.
Source: Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 20 July 1898.
NOTE: Not all of these stories may pertain to the Johnson “Johnse” Hatfield of Hatfield-McCoy Feud fame. For instance, items relating to the Oakland Hotel and a daughter named Dollie relate to a Johnson Hatfield (born 1837), son of George and Nancy (Whitt) Hatfield.
These may be hot days in the Logan jail, but they are clean ones. Under the regime of Sheriff Hatfield and Jailer Kimmell, the jail interior is kept in the most sanitary condition.
The following regulations are in force at the jail:
Each prisoner must make up his bed upon arising or he will spend one day in the cell.
Refuse must not be thrown on the floor or out the window. Penalty: one day in cell.
Each prisoner must use his own plate and spoon.
All inmates must assist in keeping the jail clean or be punished by two days in cell and privilege of visitors refused.
No prisoner is allowed to loiter in entrance hall.
Prisoners are prohibited from crowding around windows when men are locked in cells.
Stealing from another prisoner is punishable by one week on bread and water.
One or more baths must be taken by each prisoner every week.
Talking to women prisoners is absolutely prohibited. Violations punishable by two days in cell.
Noise after 11 p.m. will cause offender to be placed in cell and denied visitors.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 27 July 1926.