Albert Dingess, Allen Tomblin, Amy Hill, Andrew Fowler, Andrew J. Marcum, Appalachia, Cain Adkins, Clarissa Kirk, David Booth, David C. Dingess, David Farmer, David James, Edmund N. Marcum, Elisha Dial, Elizabeth Ratliff, Emily Carter, Eveline Hall, Farmer Nelson, genealogy, George Bryant, George W. Hensley, Harts Creek, Imogene Mullins, James Cline, James Dickinson, James Queen, James Workman, John F. Conley, Josephus Workman, Laurie B. Dingess, Logan County, Malinda Browning, Martha A. Bryant, Martha J. Chapman, Mary F. Lilly, Mary J. Roberts, Milt Haley, Nancy Cabell, Polly A. Dingess, Polly A. Hale, Robert Workman, Sarah Hensley, Sarah J. Vance, Sarah J. Wiley, Sol James, Thomas J. Jordan, Van B. Prince, Vashti Fry, VIctoria Davis, Victoria Lilly, West Virginia, William Christian Fry
The following list of Logan County marriages for the period of 1882 to 1884 reveals the names of preachers operating in the Harts Creek area. This is a “working list” and will be updated. The source for this material is “Marriages-Births-Deaths, 1872-1892,” pages 41-48, which is located at the Logan County Clerk’s Office in Logan, WV. Many thanks to the county clerks and their employees who have always been so helpful to my research these past twenty-five years. NOTE: Marriage records for the Lincoln County section of the community are unavailable.
Josephus Workman 4 February 1882 Elisha Dial and Victoria Lilly
Canaan Adkins 9 February 1882 Edmund N. Marcum and Martha J. Chapman
Josephus Workman 11 March 1882 Thomas J. Jordan and Malinda Browning
Josephus Workman 19 March 1882 James Dickinson (colored) and Amy Hill (colored)
Canaan Adkins 23 March 1882 Eli Workman and Millie Marcum
Van B. Prince 12 August 1882 Allen Tomblin and Sarah Hensley
Canaan Adkins 17 August 1882 George Bryant and Polly A. Dingess
Canaan Adkins 21 September 1882 Albert Dingess and Martha A. Bryant
Canaan Adkins 7 December 1882 Robert Workman and Clarissa Kirk
Josephus Workman 5 April 1883 Collumbus C. Pack and Victoria Lambert
Josephus Workman 17 April 1883 George W. Hensley and Rosa C. Hall
Josephus Workman 11 August 1883 John F. Conley and Elizabeth Ratliff
Josephus Workman 16 September 1883 David Booth and Victoria Davis
Josephus Workman 12 November 1883 Andrew Fowler and Mary F. Lilly
James Queen 8 November 1883 Andrew J. Marcum and Sarah J. Vance
James Queen 8 November 1883 Farmer Nelson and Sarah J. Wiley
Josephus Workman 22 February 1884 David Farmer and Nancy Cabell
Canaan Adkins 22 March 1884 Thomas M. Hauley and Immagin Mullins
Josephus Workman 17 April 1884 David C. Dingess and Laurie B. Dingess
Van B. Prince 8 May 1884 James Workman and Emily Carter
Canaan Adkins 10 July 1884 James Cline and Mary J. Roberts
Josephus Workman 12 July 1884 David James and Polly A. Hale
Josephus Workman 23 August 1884 Sol James and Evaline Hall
Josephus Workman 26 October 1884 W.C. Fry and Vashti Kirk
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Alice Adams, Alice Dingess, Andrew D. Robinson, Appalachia, Bill Fowler, Chapmanville District, Enzelo Post Office, Everett Dingess, Ferrellsburg, genealogy, George W. Adkins, Glen R. Dial, Halcyon Post Office, Harts, Harts Creek, Harts Creek District, Harts Post Office, Henry S. Godby, Herbert Adkins, history, Hollena Brumfield, Hollena Ferguson, Ina Adams, Isham Roberts, James Mullins, John S. Butcher, Lawrence Riddle, Lewis Dempsey, Lincoln County, Logan County, Nora St. Clair, Queens Ridge Post Office, Ross Fowler, Sallie Adkins, Sallie Farley, Shively Post Office, Sol Riddell, Spottswood Post Office, Thomas H. Buckley, Ulysses S. Richards, Warren Post Office, West Virginia, Whirlwind Post Office
Big Harts Creek, located in Harts Creek District of Lincoln County, West Virginia, and Chapmanville District of Logan County, West Virginia, has hosted seven post offices: Hearts Creek/Hart’s Creek/Hart/Harts (1870-present), Warren (1884-1894), Spottswood (1901-1908), Halcyon (1906-1923), Whirlwind (1910-1950s), Enzelo (1916-1922), and Shively (1926-?). Today, one post office exists at the mouth of Harts Creek in the town of Harts.
Enzelo Post Office (1916-1922) — located in the Logan County section of Harts Creek
Ulysses S. Richards: 22 March 1916 – 15 December 1922
Post office discontinued: 15 December 1922
Halcyon Post Office (1906-1923) — located near the mouth of Marsh Fork of West Fork of Harts Creek in Logan County
Albert Dingess: 3 May 1906 – 20 April 1921
Everet Dingess: 20 April 1921 (took possession), 11 May 1921 (acting postmaster), 21 September 1921 – 14 July 1923
Post office discontinued: 14 July 1923, mail to Ferrellsburg
Hearts Creek Post Office (1870-1872) — located at the mouth of Big Harts Creek in Lincoln County
Henry S. Godby: 3 November 1870 – 20 November 1872
Post office discontinued: 20 November 1872
Hart’s Creek Post Office (1877-1880) — located at the mouth of Big Harts Creek in Lincoln County
William T. Fowler: 2 March 1877 – 9 September 1879
Andrew D. Robinson: 9 September 1879 – 2 December 1880
Post office discontinued: 2 December 1880
Hart Post Office (1881-1910) — located at the mouth of Big Harts Creek in Lincoln County
Andrew D. Robinson: 6 July 1881 – 12 November 1883
Isham Roberts: 12 November 1883 – 3 June 1884
Thomas H. Buckley: 3 June 1884 – 1 July 1884
George W. Adkins: 1 July 1884 – 25 May 1885
William E. “Ross” Fowler: 25 May 1885 – 30 October 1891
Post office discontinued: 30 October 1891, mail to Fourteen
Allen Brumfield: 19 January 1900 – 6 September 1905
Hollena Brumfield: 6 September 1905 – 25 July 1907
Hollena Ferguson: 25 July 1907 – 30 July 1910
Post office discontinued: 30 July 1910, mail to Queens Ridge
Harts Post Office (1916-present) — located at the mouth of Big Harts Creek in Lincoln County
Lewis Dempsey: 5 April 1916 – 12 April 1921
Herbert Adkins: 12 April 1921, 30 April 1921 (assumed charge) – 31 December 1953 (retired)
Glen R. Dial: 31 December 1953 (assumed charge), 22 January 1954 (acting postmaster), 8 March 1955 (confirmed) – 29 July 1966 (removed)
Shively Post Office (1926-?) — located on Smokehouse Fork of Big Harts Creek in Logan County
Ina E. Adams: 4 December 1925 (acting postmaster), 18 January 1926 – 2 August 1935
John S. Butcher: 2 August 1935 (assumed charge), 18 September 1935 (acting postmaster), 25 October 1935 – 1 January 1949
Mrs. Sallie Farley Adkins: 1 January 1949 (assumed charge), 10 June 1949, 1 October 1949 (assumed charge) – 22 July 1958 (resigned)
Nora St. Clair: 22 July 1958 (assumed charge) –
Spottswood Post Office (1901-1908) — located near the mouth of Trace Fork in Logan County
Alice Adams: 9 October 1901 – 4 August 1905
Alice Adams Dingess: 4 August 1905 – 31 December 1908
Post office discontinued: 31 December 1908
Warren Post Office (1884-1894) — located near the mouth of Smokehouse Fork in Lincoln County (today Logan County)
Andrew D. Robinson: 17 June 1884 – 17 January 1894
Post office discontinued: 17 January 1894
Whirlwind Post Office (1910-1950s)
L.W. Riddle: 31 March 1910 – 25 May 1911
Sol Riddell: 25 May 1911 – 30 April 1914
James Mullins: 30 April 1914 –
NOTE: For more information regarding the Whirlwind PO, see other posts at this blog.
Source: U.S. Appointments of Postmasters, 1832-1971, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Anthony Adams, Ben Adams, Bill Brumfield, Bill's Branch, Billy Adkins, blind, Blood in West Virginia, Boardtree Bottom, Brandon Kirk, Buck Fork, Burl Farley, Carolyn Johnnie Farley, Cecil Brumfield, Charley Brumfield, Charlie Dingess, crime, Ed Haley, Fed Adkins, fiddling, French Bryant, George Fry, Green McCoy, Green Shoal, Hamlin, Harts Creek, Harve "Short Harve" Dingess, Hell Up Coal Hollow, Henderson Dingess, history, Hugh Dingess, John Brumfield, John Dingess, Kentucky, life, Lincoln County Feud, Low Gap, Milt Haley, murder, Paris Brumfield, Polly Bryant, Smokehouse Fork, Sycamore Bottom, Tom Maggard, Trace Fork, Vilas Adams, West Fork, West Virginia, Will Adkins, Williamson, writing
Al rounded up a gang of men to accompany him on his ride to fetch the prisoners in Williamson. Albert and Charlie Dingess were ringleaders of the posse, which included “Short Harve” Dingess, Hugh Dingess, John Dingess, Burl Farley, French Bryant, John Brumfield, and Charley Brumfield. Perhaps the most notorious member of the gang was French Bryant – “a bad man” who “did a lot of dirty work for the Dingesses.” On the way back from Kentucky, he tied Milt and Green by the arms and “drove them like a pair of mules on a plow line.”
“French Bryant run and drove them like a pair of horses ahead of these guys on the horses,” John said. “That’s quite a ways to let them walk. Old French, he married a Dingess. I knew old French Bryant. When he died, he was a long time dying and they said that he hollered for two or three days, ‘Get the ropes off me!’ I guess that come back to him.”
When the gang reached the headwaters of Trace Fork — what John called “Adams territory” — they sent a rider out ahead in the darkness to make sure it was safe to travel through that vicinity.
Waiting on the Brumfield posse was a mob of about 100 men hiding behind trees at Sycamore Bottom, just below the mouth of Trace Fork. This mob was led by Ben and Anthony Adams and was primarily made up of family members or people who worked timber for the Adamses, like Tom Maggard (“Ben’s right hand man”).
As the Brumfield rider approached their location, they began to click their Winchester rifles — making them “crack like firewood.” Hearing this, the rider turned back up Trace Fork, where he met the Brumfields and Dingesses at Boardtree Bottom and warned them about the danger at the mouth of Trace. They detoured safely up Buck Fork, then stopped at Hugh Dingess’ on Smokehouse where they remained for two or three days, not really sure of what to do with their prisoners. They made a “fortress” at Hugh’s by gathering about 100 men around them, fully aware that Ben Adams might make another effort to recapture Milt and Green.
While at Hugh’s, they got drunk on some of the red whiskey and apple brandy made at nearby Henderson’s. They also held a “trial” to see if Milt and Green would admit their guilt. They took one of the men outside and made him listen through the cracks between the logs of the house as his partner confessed on the inside. About then, the guy outside got loose and ran toward Bill’s Branch but was grabbed by “Short Harve” Dingess as he tried to scurry over a fence.
After this confession, the Brumfields and Dingesses considered killing Milt and Green on the spot but “got scared the Adamses was gonna take them” and headed towards Green Shoal.
John didn’t know why they chose George Fry’s home but figured Mr. Fry was a trusted acquaintance. He said they “punished” them “quite a bit there” but also got one to play a fiddle.
“These people that killed them, they made them play their last tune,” John said. “One of them would play and one guy, I think, he never would play for them. I forgot which one, but they never could get one guy to do much. The other one’d do whatever they’d tell him to do. That’s just before they started shooting them. The tune that they played was ‘Hell Up Coal Hollow’. I don’t know what that tune is.”
After that, the mob “shot their brains out” and left them in the yard where the “chickens ate their brains.”
A neighbor took their bodies through Low Gap and buried them on West Fork.
John said there was a trial over Haley and McCoy’s murders, something we’d never heard before. Supposedly, about one hundred of the Brumfields and their friends rode horses to Hamlin and strutted into the courtroom where they sat down with guns on their laps. The judge threw the case out immediately because he knew they were fully prepared to “shoot up the place.”
This “quick trial,” of course, didn’t resolve the feud. Back on Harts Creek, Ben Adams often had to hide in the woods from the Dingesses. One time, Hugh and Charlie Dingess put kerosene-dowsed cornstalks on his porch and set them on fire, hoping to drive him out of his house where they could shoot him. When they realized he wasn’t home, they extinguished the fire because they didn’t want to harm his wife and children. Mrs. Adams didn’t live long after the feud. Ben eventually moved to Trace Fork where he lived the rest of his life. Charlie never spoke to him again.
John also said there seemed to have been a “curse” on the men who participated in the killing of Haley and McCoy. He said Albert Dingess’ “tongue dropped out,” Al Brumfield “was blind for years before he died,” and Charlie Dingess “died of lung cancer.” We had heard similar tales from Johnny Farley and Billy Adkins, who said mob members Burl Farley and Fed Adkins both had their faces eaten away by cancer. Vilas Adams told us about one of the vigilantes drowning (Will Adkins), while we also knew about the murders of Paris Brumfield, John Brumfield, Charley Brumfield, and Bill Brumfield.
Just before hanging up with John, Brandon asked if he remembered Ed Haley. John said he used to see him during his younger days on Harts Creek.
“When he was a baby, old Milt wanted to make him tough and he’d take him every morning to a cold spring and bath him,” he said. “I guess he got a cold and couldn’t open his eyes. Something grew over his eyes so Milt took a razor and cut it off. Milt said that he could take that off so he got to fooling with it with a razor and put him blind.”
John said Ed made peace with a lot of the men who’d participated in his father’s killing and was particularly good friends with Cecil Brumfield, a grandson of Paris.
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.”
Albert Dingess, Alice Dingess, Birdie, blind, Brandon Kirk, Cecil Brumfield, Cripple Creek, Dorothy Brumfield, Ed Haley, fiddler, fiddling, Harts Creek, Henderson Dingess, history, Holden, Hugh Dingess Elementary School, John Brumfield Jr., John Hartford, Kentucky, Logan County, Louisa, Milt Haley, music, Smokehouse Fork, West Virginia, Wildwood Flower, writing
About a half hour later, we drove up the Smoke House Fork of Harts Creek to see Dorothy Brumfield. Dorothy lived in a white one-story home situated on a hillside overlooking the Hugh Dingess Elementary School, just down the stream from the old Henderson Dingess homeplace. Dorothy had been born in 1929 at Louisa, Kentucky, but came to Harts when she was seventeen and soon married John Brumfield, a son of Ed’s friend, Cecil. Her father was a descendant of Albert Dingess, a member of the 1889 mob.
I started the conversation by asking Dorothy about Ed. She said she never knew him personally but heard that he lost his eyesight after his father dipped him in water. She also heard that he was a great fiddler when he got “pretty high” but was mean and eager to fight if he drank too much.
Dorothy knew the story about Ed borrowing a fiddle from her father-in-law Cecil Brumfield; her husband later acquired it. “He had come through here and borrowed a fiddle off of Paw Brumfield, him and Bernie Adams, and went up yonder to Logan and pawned it,” she said. “Paw Brumfield liked to never found it.”
Dorothy said the only time she actually saw Ed was when her husband brought him home early one Sunday morning around 1949-50.
“My husband worked at Holden, and I’d heard tell of Ed Haley but I hadn’t met him,” she said. “So John stopped at the top of Trace Mountain at this place. Back then, they called them saloons. And he was supposed to been in at one o’clock in the morning. He didn’t make it. Oh, did I get mad when four o’clock come in the morning. Here he knocked on the door and I could tell someone was with him, but I couldn’t make out that it was a blind person with him. I thought it was just somebody real drunk that had passed out. He got here in the house with him and I fixed them something to eat.”
“Why didn’t I know you all was over there and got me a babysitter and caught me a ride over there and had me a time?” Dorothy said to her husband. “What would you done if I’d walked in?”
“What, mam?” Ed said.
“All them women John had over there tonight,” she said to Ed.
“Mam, he didn’t have no women,” Ed said.
“Now sir, you told me you couldn’t see,” she said. “How do you know?”
“Well, John sit beside of me,” Ed said.
A little later, Dorothy fixed Ed a bed and she went and asked her husband, “Would you tell me who in the world you’ve brought home with you again?”
John said he’d stopped in at that saloon and found Ed playing music “and a bunch of them women dancing” and he “wouldn’t leave Ed there. When they closed, he brought him here.”
“Well, then they got up the next morning and I said, ‘Now John you help him around and show him around.’ I was already mad at John for laying out. Little bit jealous, too. We hadn’t been married long.”
Dorothy said she cooked a big breakfast for everyone.
“Mam, have you got any onions?” Ed asked her at the table.
“Yes I have but why would you want an onion for breakfast?” she said.
“Don’t you know what onions are good for?” Ed said. “Many a things.”
Dorothy said Ed seemed intelligent by the morning conversation.
After breakfast, Ed went back into the front room and played the fiddle for Dorothy’s kids in front of the fireplace. She said he held his fiddle under his chin and played “Wildwood Flower” and an extremely fast version of “Cripple Creek”.
John said, “Ed, play that there ‘Birdie’ for these children.”
“Well, he stayed around and I think they drunk all the booze up,” Dorothy said. “John, he was wanting more booze, too, so he went off with Ed to Aunt Alice’s or somewhere and got some liquor and he didn’t come back till about dark. I don’t know where all he took Ed. When he come back, he kept telling me why he brought him here. He said that he didn’t want to leave him. If something happened, he wouldn’t forgive hisself. Nobody else wouldn’t take him after all the big time was over with.”
“Daddy’s Girl,” a local correspondent at Halcyon on the West Fork of Big Harts Creek, Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Democrat printed on Thursday, February 27, 1919:
We are pleased that spring will soon be here with its flowers and sunny weather.
Our singing school is progressing fine but will soon be out. The singing master says he will begin a school at Striker, on Crawley, when our school closes.
The girls and boys of Halcyon are preparing to have a good time at school Friday. They all have arranged to wear fancy dress costumes.
Will Harris is preparing to move into the house on the A. Dingess farm, where he will work this season.
A. Dingess is still very poorly.
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Ben Adams, Brandon Kirk, Charlie Dingess, crime, Dave "Dealer Dave" Dingess, Dave Dingess, feud, fiddler, fiddling, French Bryant, Green McCoy, Harts Creek, Harve Dingess, Harvey "Long Harve" Dingess, Henderson Dingess, history, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, Maude Dingess, Millard Dingess, Milt Haley, Thompson Branch, writing
Either way, Milt Haley and Green McCoy were paid a side of bacon and some money to eliminate Al Brumfield. Maude Dingess said Milt and Green ambushed Al and Hollena Brumfield as they rode down Harts Creek on a single horse. Hollena’s brothers, Harvey and Dave, followed behind them on separate horses.
“I guess they thought he was gonna have trouble or they wouldn’t a been doing that,” Maude said, somewhat logically.
As they made their way past Thompson Branch, Brumfield spotted two men hiding in the weeds. He ducked somehow to avoid harm, but Hollena was shot from the horse.
“Al just went on,” Maude said, while Dave and Harve “ran back up here to their mother and daddy’s house to get somebody to go down there with them.”
They later returned with a sled and hauled Hollena’s bloody body back to Smoke House.
In a short time, Milt and Green were rounded up and taken to Hugh Dingess’ home at the mouth of Bill’s Branch.
“I’d say old man Hugh got them kids and took them maybe to some of their relatives’ houses or somewhere else,” Harve Dingess said. “Maybe up to old Albert Dingess’ or somewhere like that. See, old Albert just lived on up the road a mile, mile and a half.”
Harve continued, “They said they all had a big feast there and I guess they had a lot of the corn whiskey there and all of them drinking and playing music. And they said they made the old man Haley — he was a fiddle player — they said they made him play that fiddle all night and all of them drunk a dancing. They said that they just kept telling him to keep that fiddle a going.”
I wondered where Milt got the fiddle at Hugh’s and Maude said, “They sent somebody to somebody’s house that had a fiddle I bet and brought it back. Back in them days you know a lot of households had them old instruments in them.”
I asked if Milt was considered a good fiddler and Harve said, “At that time, I think they said he was. Supposed to’ve been very good.”
Harve had never heard much talk about Green McCoy but stressed: “I know I did hear them talk about them making the old man play the fiddle all night and all of them a dancing and cooking and having a big feast there and drinking their moonshine.”
I said, “Most people that are gonna kill somebody, they don’t want to get to know them. If you have an execution, the executioner don’t want to get to know the prisoner because the more he gets to know that prisoner the harder it is for him to conduct the execution. To have two guys to play music for you before you’re fixing to kill them — that’s a good way to get to know them real quick. Boy, I don’t see how they did that.”
“I guess that’s the reason they kept old French Bryant,” Harve said. “They said he didn’t care for nothing. They said he was one of the leaders. He was a hollering, ‘Let’s go! Let’s do it!’ Pushing the thing, from what I could understand. He was a hollering, ‘Let’s kill the sons of bitches!’ That’s what I heard over the years. I even heard Millard say that one time. French was the one wanting to hang them up to the walnut tree and I think they finally decided against that.”
Brandon wondered who else was in the gang and Maude said, “Hugh and Charlie Dingess was into that. They was Grandpap’s boys — the older boys. Hugh was rough and over-bearing. Harve’s grandfather, ‘Short Harve,’ was into that. Burl Farley was into it, too.”
Maude doubted that Henderson Dingess was involved due to his advanced age (approximately 58 years), but we felt it was entirely possible since (1) men his age and older participated in the Hatfield-McCoy feud and (2) these guys had reportedly shot his daughter. Harve said he figured that his great-grandfather Albert Dingess was in on it because “he was just that kind of guy.”
“Dealer Dave” Dingess was probably involved, too, Harve said, because “them Dingesses all hung together. They was just a band of outlaws, as we would call it, that day and time.”
Harve and Maude hadn’t heard much about the story beyond that, although they knew that Milt and Green were taken away from Hugh’s when the Brumfields learned that another mob was forming to rescue them. They never confessed to committing the ambush on Al and Hollena Brumfield but everyone figured that Ben Adams was behind the trouble. As a result, Maude said the Brumfields and Dingesses were “against” Ben in following years. At one point, they tried to burn his home. Maude’s father was one of the few Dingesses who never held a grudge. He often referred to him as “poor old Uncle Ben.”
Al Brumfield, Albert Dingess, Ben Adams, Billy Hall, Brandon Kirk, Burl Farley, Charlie Dingess, crime, Dave Dingess, feud, Floyd Dingess, Harts Creek, Harve Dingess, Harvey "Long Harve" Dingess, Henderson Dingess, Hollene Brumfield, Hugh Dingess, John W Runyon, Logan County, Maude Dingess, Milt Haley, Rockhouse Fork, Sallie Dingess, timbering, West Virginia
Brandon asked Maude Dingess about her grandparents, Henderson and Sallie (Adams) Dingess. Maude said Grandpap Henderson was “kindly the leader of his family” but he had a real time keeping his older sons — Charlie, Floyd, and Hugh — in line. They ran around a lot with their uncle Ben Adams, who was Sallie Dingess’ youngest brother. Uncle Ben Adams was pretty tight with the Dingesses in the early years (he named his first three children after them) but was reportedly a bad influence on the Dingess boys. At some point, Maude said, her uncles “turned their meanness on him.”
One time, after Charlie Dingess whipped Ben in a fight, Ben came to complain to Sallie. Henderson saw him coming and told her, “Go out there and tell him to go home. We don’t want no trouble with them.” Sallie went outside and said to her brother, “Now Ben. You just go right back home. Don’t you get off here. There’s no use to quarrel at Charlie and Floyd ’cause you’ve made them what they are. You taught it to them.”
In subsequent years, Henderson tried to “distance” himself from Ben. He often made snide comments, like telling his son Dave that he was “all Adams” when he wouldn’t work.
“If I knew where the Adams vein was in your body, I’d drive a knife in it and let it run out,” Henderson would say.
Brandon asked Maude if her uncle Floyd Dingess was killed over timber in 1888.
“Floyd was tough,” she said. “Floyd was killed there at the mouth of Rock House. He had some logs there and that was his brother-in-law he was into it with, Bill Hall. They just got to quarreling over the logs, I guess. Floyd was bent down to drive the dregs in the logs and Bill Hall run up behind him and knocked him in the head with a pole axe.”
“I’ve heard Maude’s father talk about it,” Harve said. “He said when they’d be a floating the logs out of here — you know, huge water — Floyd Dingess would run them logs like a gray squirrel.”
Maude said, “He was a small man. Dad said Floyd was much of a man to be a little fella like that. He said he saw him do things a big man couldn’t do.”
As soon as we asked about Milt Haley’s death, Harve said, “It was all over timber. The Adamses around in the other creek yonder, they was all wanting to make a dollar out of timber, no doubt. Ben Adams and them had their own dam built somewhere up main Hart — splash dam. Well now, up in this fork, old Albert Dingess had a big one up there. Burl Farley had one too on up above it. They kept a huge dam there and when they’d get ready to float their logs, everybody would turn their dams out at once and let them go. When they would knock them there dams off and everybody had their timber ready to float out of here the timber would get mixed a going down. Naturally, it would. When they’d get down there at Hart — the Brumfields had the boom in there that caught the timber and hold it out of the river and then they’d make up their rafts there — and they’d have to pick through that and sort their timber out. They had their brands on it, but they’d slip and change their brands. Maude’s father, I heard him talk that they’d get down there and they’d get in the awfulest arguments ever was over whose logs were whose and whose belonged to what. I guess they had a time with it.”
In addition to all the hard feelings over people stealing logs, there was a lot of animosity toward Al Brumfield — even among his in-laws — because of the toll he charged at his boom.
“They was having to pay a toll down there at Hollene’s and they didn’t want to pay any toll,” Maude said. “And that’s what Al’s wife was shot over.”
“The Mullinses put this old guy [Milt Haley] up to doing the dirty work, I think,” Harve said. “Now, I ain’t sure on that. I’ve heard that talked a little bit.”
Brandon told Harve and Maude how Ben Adams was supposedly the one who hired Milt and Green to kill Al Brumfield and Maude confirmed, “He did. I thought it was Ben ’cause, you know, they talked that here.”
“That’s what the word was,” Harve said. “The Adamses and Mullinses around there. See, the Adamses and Mullinses was always locked in through marriage. They said that old Ben was the head of it. I just heard Maude’s brothers talking, you know, that he was a pretty ruthless man.”
Maude said, “He was awful hidden in his ways but Dad always bragged on him. Ben was his uncle.”
Brandon said, “People that live in Harts, down at the mouth of the creek, they’ve all been told that John Runyon hired those two men. People up here on the creek have always been told it was Ben Adams. What it looks like is that they both were in on it.”
Harve said, “It’s possible that they were in cahoots because now… Seems to me like, something I did hear… Somebody talked that in the past — might have been Maude’s father — that there was another person or some other people — which could have been the very people you’re talking about — tried to horn in on the Brumfields there at the mouth of the creek at one time and they had some problems with it. Like they tried to put a boom in of their own and squeeze old Hollene out.”
“I think Ben did that,” Maude said.
“Well, Ben could have been in on it with this other guy like he’s talking about,” Harve said.