Alexander Varney, Appalachia, Devil Anse Hatfield, Elza Phillips, Frank Phillips, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Henry Clay Ragland, history, John B. Gillespie, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Logan County, Nancy L. Hatfield, Pike County, Pleasants Chafin, T.C. Whited, Thomas H. Harvey, U.B. Buskirk, West Virginia
Johnson “Johnse” Hatfield’s relationship with Nancy McCoy represents one of the more interesting components of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. I recently located Hatfield’s 1890 divorce record, which I transcribed as follows:
State of West Virginia
County of Logan to wit
In the Circuit Court of said County
The Bill of Complaint of Johnson Hatfield filed in the Circuit Court of Logan County against Nancy L. Hatfield.
To the Hon. Thos. H. Harvey, Judge of the Circuit Court of Logan Co.
Humbly complaining your orator Johnson Hatfield would respectfully ____ unto your Honor that on the 14th day of May 1881 he intermarried with the defendant Nancy L. Hatfield, then Nancy L. McCoy, that he was at all times to her a kind and affectionate husband, that some time in 1888 he was forced to leave his home in Logan County West Virginia, and that shortly thereafter the said defendant abandoned his home and went to the state of Kentucky where she has since that time been living in adultery with Frank Phillips, and ____ other lewd and lascivious _____.
Your orator further represents that he cohabitated with the said defendant for the last time on or about the 8th day of March 1888 in Logan County West Virginia and that they last lived together as husband and wife in said County within five years from the institution of this suit.
Your orator further represents that he be informed and so believes that some time in the month of December 1889, the said defendant was delivered of a child, which was as a ____ of more than twelve months since he had last had any sexual intercourse with her.
Your orator further represents that the adultery complained of was not committed by his consent, connivance or procurement or knowledge. He therefore prays that the bonds of matrimony existing between your orator and the said Defendant be dissolved, and that your orator be restored to his ________ rights, and as is duly bound he will ever pray
Johnson Hatfield, By Counsel
State of West Virginia
To the Sheriff of Logan County, Greeting:
We command you that you summons Nancy L. Hatfield if she be found in your bailiwick, to appear before the Judge of our Circuit Court for the County of Logan at rules to be held in the Clerk’s Office of said Court on the first Monday in February next, to answer a Bill in Chancery exhibited against her in our said Court by Johnson Hatfield
And have then and there this writ.
Witness: T.C. Whited, Clerk of our said Court at the Court House of said County, on the 1st day of February 1890, and in the 27 year of the State.
T.C. Whited, Clerk
Order of Publication.
State of West Virginia, Logan County, T0-Wit:
At Rules held in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of said county on Monday the 3rd day of February 1890
Johnson Hatfield v. Nancy L. Hatfield, In chancery
The object of this suit is to obtain a divorce from the bonds of matrimony. This day came the plaintiff by his Attorney and on his motion it appearing from an affidavit filed with the papers of this suit that the defendant is a non-resident of this State, it is therefore ordered that she appear here within one month from the first publication of this order and do what is necessary to protect her interest herein.
Teste: T.C. Whited, Clerk
H.C. Ragland, Sol.
I, U.B. Buskirk, one of the Publishers of the Logan County Banner, a newspaper published in Logan County, West Virginia, do hereby certify that the annexed notice was duly published in said paper for 4 successive weeks, ending on the 27 day of February 1890.
Given under my hand this 28th day of February 1890
Printer’s fees: $6.00
State of West Virginia
Logan County to wit:
Johnson Hatfield the plaintiff whose name is signed to the forgoing bill being first duly sworn upon oath says that the facts and allegations contained in the forgoing bill are true except so far as the same are ______ stated to be upon information and that so far as the same are stated to be upon information he believes ___ to be true.
Taken, __________ and sworn to before me this 10th day of March 1890.
T.C. Whited, Clerk
Notice to Take Deposition
To Nancy L. Hatfield. You will take notice that on the 10 day of October, 1890, between the hours of 8 o’clock A.M. and 6 o’clock P.M., at the house of Anderson Hatfield, in Logan County, West Virginia, I will proceed to take the deposition of myself and others to be read as evidence in behalf of myself in a certain suit in chancery now pending in the Circuit Court of Logan County wherein you are Defendant and I am plaintiff and if from any cause the taking of the said deposition be not commenced on that day, or if commenced and not completed on that day, the taking of the same will be adjourned and continued from day to day or from time to time, at the same place, and between the same hours, until completed.
Respectfully, &c., Johnson Hatfield
The depositions of Johnson Hatfield and others taken before Pleasants Chafins a notary in and for the county of Logan and State of West Virginia at the house of Anderson Hatfield on Friday October 10 in 1890, to be taken and consider as evidence in a certain chancery cause pending in the Circuit Court of said county wherein Johnson Hatfield is a plaintiff and Nancy L. Hatfield is a defendant.
Present Johnson Hatfield in person and by counsel , no appearance for the defendant.
Johnson Hatfield a witness of lawful age after being first duly sworn deposes in answer _____ as follows:
Q. What is your name, age, and where do you reside?
A. Johnson Hatfield. I am 28 years old past. I was born and raised in this county.
Q. What relation do you have to this suit?
A. I am plaintiff.
Q. When were you and the defendant Nancy L. Hatfield married?
A. It was on the 14th day of May 1881.
Q. How did you treat her during the time that you and she lived together as man and wife?
A. .I always kept her plenty of everything she wanted and was always good and kind to her.
Q. State about when it was that you and your wife separated.
A. It was on the 18 of March 1888.
Q. Have you lived with her since that time or had sexual intercourse with her?
A. No, sir.
And the next came Alex Varney, witness of lawful age being by me duly sworn, deposed and say as follows:
Q. State your name, age, and residents.
A. Alexander Varney, Age 56 years. Residents Logan County, West Va.
Q. State wither or not you are acquainted with the partys in this suit.
A. I am.
Q. State whether or not you know anything about the defendant Nancy L. Hatfield living in adultery with Frank Phillips or anyone else since her separation from the plaintiff.
A. I saw her in Pike Co. Kentucky on the 13 day of September 1890. She was staying at the house of frank filips and she told me that she was living with him. She showed me her baby and told me that frank filips was its father.
Q. How old do you suppose that the child was.
A. She told me that the child was 9 month and 4 days old and I suppose it was about that old as it was still sucking.
[Deposition of John B. Gillespie]
Q. State whether or not you know anything about the defendant Nancy L. Hatfield living in adultery with any person.
A. I was at a house in Pike County Ky. Frank Phillips and Nancy L. Hatfield were there. They called it their home.
Q. State whether or not it was the general impression throughout the community that they were living together as man and wife.
A. No, sir. Not as man and wife. It was that they were living together in adultery.
And further this _________ saith not.
John B. Gillespie
[Deposition of Johnson Hatfield]
_______ ________ __________ recalls and deposes as follows:
Q. State whether or not the acts of adultery committed by your late wife Nancy L. Hatfield with one Frank Phillips ______ in the two foregoing depositions were committed by or with your consent, knowledge, __________, or __________.
A. They were not.
And further this _________ saith not.
Johnson Hatfield, Jr.
State of West Virginia
Logan County, to wit:
I, Pleasants Chafins a notary in and for the county and state aforesaid do certify that the foregoing depositions were duly taken, sworn to, and subscribed in my presence at the time and place _____ in the notice here to _____.
Pleasant Chafin, a notary for Logan Co., W.Va.
2 hrs work as notary $1.50
Johnson Hatfield v. Nancy Hatfield, In chancery
This day this cause in which the defendant is prosecuted against as a nonresident and it appearing that the order of publication has been duly published and posted as required by law, came on to be heard upon the plaintiff’s bill and the depositions there with filed in support thereof together with the argument of counsel for plaintiff and the same being considered and inspected by the court the court is of the opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief therein prayed for, whereupon it is adjudged, ______, and decreed that the said plaintiff Johnson Hatfield be and he is hereby divorced absolutely from the defendant the said Nancy L. Hatfield and that the bonds of matrimony now existing between himself and the said defendant be dissolved and the said plaintiff Johnson Hatfield be and he is hereby restored to all the rights, privileges and immunities of an unmarried man. And this cause having performed its object, the same is ordered to be stricken from the docket and it appearing that this order was made at the October 1890 term of this Court, and by _________ not entered, it is ordered that the same be entered now as for ____.
Source: Logan County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Logan County, WV, Case No. 33, File No. 35
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Democrats who lived in Logan County, West Virginia, prior to 1896 may best be thought of as Democrats of the Jeffersonian and particularly the Jacksonian variety. The earliest settlers and their immediate progeny likely carried popular political viewpoints across the mountains from Virginia. Logan County Democrats appear to have believed in states’ rights, although few residents owned slaves. The old Democrats of the Civil War generation guided Logan County’s political scene until the 1890s, when the national political climate shifted toward issues relating to gold/silver, imperialism, etc. Still, the Confederate veterans of the county continued activity until the 1910s, even raising the Confederate flag over the courthouse as late as 1911. The Logan County Banner (later the Logan Banner), a Democratic organ since its inception in 1889, remained silent about issues that divided the Democratic Party in the 1890s. Based on its editorials, the Banner—operated by men of the Civil War era—was more concerned about industrial progress, particularly the development of a railroad in the Guyandotte Valley, than the national political issues that emerged in the 1890s. Examination of the active participants in the railroad effort include both Democrats and Republicans, locals and outsiders…
Logan County was organized in 1824. Voting trends from 1824 until 1856 reveal a strong preference for Democratic candidates:
1824: William H. Crawford (Democratic-Republican)
1828: Andrew Jackson (Democrat, 90+ percent)
1832: Andrew Jackson (Democrat, 90+ percent)
1836: Martin Van Buren (Democrat)
1840: Martin Van Buren (Democrat)
1844: James K. Polk (Democrat)
1848: Lewis Cass (Democrat)
1852: Franklin Pierce (Democrat)
1856: James Buchanan (Democrat, 80-90 percent)
We know, based on the above presidential tallies, the county was heavily Democratic. Because the Democratic Party was closely linked to slavery during this era, it is useful to consider local slave statistics.
1850 Logan County Slave Census: 26 slave owners in Logan County; 84 slaves (largest slave owner had 10)
1860 Logan County Slave Census: 27 slave owners in Logan County; 80 slaves (largest slave owner had 7)
We know the county voted heavily for John Breckenridge in the 1860 presidential election. What is remarkable to modern residents is this: Logan Countians gave no votes to Abraham Lincoln (see below):
Logan County Presidential Election Results (1860):
John Breckenridge (Southern Democratic), 271
John Bell (Constitutional Union), 100
Stephen Douglas (Democratic), 6
Abraham Lincoln (Republican), 0
We know Logan County’s delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention favored secession. James Lawson, the delegate to the Secession Convention for Logan, Boone, and Wyoming counties, voted in favor of the Ordinance of Secession on 17 April 1861.
We know the county did not favor anti-secession political developments in Wheeling. Logan declined to send delegates to the First Wheeling Convention (May 13-15, 1861).
We know the voters of Logan County favored secession. Here are results for Logan County regarding the Secession Ordinance in Virginia (23 May 1861):
We know Logan County did not support the political gatherings in Wheeling. Logan County sent no delegates to the Second Wheeling Convention, First Session (June 11-25, 1861). Likewise, it sent no delegates to the General Assembly of the Reorganized Government of Virginia (July 1-26, 1861) or to the Second Wheeling Convention, Second Session (August 6-21, 1861).
In the mind of local people, Logan County was invaded in 1861. On 25 September 1861, Union soldiers attacked Confederates at the Battle of Kanawha Gap (Chapmanville). The battle was a Confederate loss.
Due to the absence of its men and election irregularities, Logan County did not vote heavily on the question of “West Virginia.” This was true for many counties in western Virginia: West Virginia Statehood Referendum (24 October 1861): 34 percent turnout statewide; 18,408 for statehood and only 781 opposed! We can be sure that Logan did not favor “West Virginia.” Logan County sent no delegate to the West Virginia Constitutional Convention (26 November 1861).
Logan Countians overwhelmingly enlisted to fight for the Confederacy (60-90%). According to one estimate, Logan County contributed over 780 soldiers to the Confederacy. Contributions to the Union Army were less than 60. Based on the 1890 census, the following number of Union veterans lived in Logan County:
Chapmansville District: 7
Hardee District (later Mingo County): 16
Logan District: 13
Magnolia District (later Mingo County): 9
Triadelphia District: 11
During the war, Logan sent delegates to participate in the Confederate government in Richmond. Isaac E. McDonald represented Logan, Boone, and Wyoming counties at the Confederate General Assembly from 1861 to 1863. James A. Nighbert represented Logan, Boone, and Wyoming counties at the Confederate General Assembly from 1863 to 1865.
Because Logan was known as a Confederate stronghold and recruiting station, the town was once again invaded in 1862. Union troops burned the Logan Courthouse (15 January 1862).
Logan County was one of 15 counties in WV that did NOT vote in the 1864 U.S. presidential election (most were south of the Kanawha River).
After the war, Logan Countians refused to recognize West Virginia as a legitimate state and refused to pay taxes to the new state. Guerillas and gangs were active in the county. Governor Arthur I. Boreman sent troops into the county in order to collect taxes and maintain order.
Ex-Confederate disenfranchisement was common after the war. In 1868, of 888 voters in Logan County, only 125 voted for president. In 1870, 220 voted for the Democratic candidate for governor while 70 voted for the Republican (total 290). In Logan County, it was difficult to find any men who had NOT served in the Confederacy who could hold political office (or practice law, or teach).
Maj. William Straton (namesake of Stratton Street) typified Logan County political leadership during this time.
After the war, Democrats and Republicans largely chose/maintained party identification based on their views of the war. Logan had been heavily Democratic before the war; Logan was pro-Confederate during the war; Logan was strongly Democratic after the war
Logan County in Presidential Elections After the War:
1868: Horatio Seymour (Democrat)
1872: Horace Greeley (Democrat)
1876: Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat, by 90+ percent)
1880: Winfield Scott Hancock (Democrat, by 90+ percent)
1884: Grover Cleveland (Democrat, by 90+ percent)
Winfield Scott Hancock’s victory in Logan County is somewhat noteworthy considering that he was a former Union general.
On 30 October 1886, the Parkersburg Sentinel reported: “Logan county is so intensely democratic that there are thirteen democratic candidates running for the legislature and only one republican. Nevertheless one of the thirteen democrats will be elected.”
In 1888, Logan Countians voted for Grover Cleveland (Democrat).
The Logan County Banner was established on 7 March 1889 by Henry Clay Ragland (editor) and J.A. Nighbert (business manager). On 28 March 1889, it stated:
The paper will be devoted to the best interests of the people of Logan county. To the improvement of the education and morals of its people, and to the development of its great material resources. Politically, the Banner will be Democratic. Every one connected with it is a Democrat, but at the same time it will be fair to the opposition, and will heartily accord to the Republican party due credit for any good work which it may do. In addressing the questions which may arise in the Democratic party, as to its management and its leaders, the Banner will be Independent and will acknowledge no faction or factions, but will labor earnestly and zealously for the success of the party, and not for any individual.
In 1892, it reported: “Three years ago in order to furnish the people of Logan county with a home paper, we unfurled the Banner. We expected neither money nor glory, and our expectations have been fully realized.” On 3 January 1895, Ragland stated: “When I first went into the newspaper business I had no idea of continuing on for any length of time. My only desire was to see a newspaper in Logan county which would truly reflect the character of its people and be able to defend them from the many slanders which have been heaped upon them by the outside world…”
The Banner‘s reputation as a Democratic organ was well-known. In April 1889, the Parkersburg State Journal referred to it as “Democratic to the core.” On 11 July 1889, the Charleston Daily Star said: “The Logan County Banner is being made one of the best country weeklies in the State. As long as it continues as it has begun Logan may be depended upon for her customary Democratic majority.” On 13 January 1898, the Boone Democrat said of the Banner: “We cheerfully hail it, and hope that it may long continue to wave in the vanguard of Logan Democracy.”
The Banner never failed to applaud Democratic gains. On 6 November 1890, it stated: “Glorious old Chapmansville always does her fully duty. The Democratic vote increased from 205 in 1888 to 210, and the Republican vote decreased from 28 in 1888 to 14.”
This editorial, from 15 September 1892, is one example of Banner political commentary:
We have heard that there are several so-called Democrats born and reared in the mountain fastnesses of old Logan who have avowed their intention of ‘scratching’ one or another of the nominees of our party when they ides of November shall roll around, but we hope for the credit of Logan’s ‘rock-ribbed, copper-bottomed’ democracy that such reports are false. It is but natural that bitter feelings should be engendered by the clashing of the claims of rival candidates before our conventions but the conventions have done their work now, well and conscientiously, and every true Democrat in hearty and earnest response to the bugle call of freedom must face about with his brethren and forgetting all private feuds and grievances join in the charge upon our friends the enemy. That Democrat who falters in his duty in this the crisis of our party’s need betrays the trust reposed in him by the party of the people, forfeits his claim upon the confidence and good will of his compeers and deserves to be incarcerated in the bottom-most pit of damnation. You cannot afford to let a petty desire for revenge prevent you from casting a straight Democratic ticket on the 8th day of November. If you have ever harbored such a thought, exorcise the evil spirit that has taken possession of you and come back to the fold on bended knee and ask forgiveness for the wicked thoughts of your heart. The people have spoken and ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God.’ We feel sorry for that Democrat who, when the glorious news flashes over the wires next November that Cleveland, MacCorkle, Alderson and Mahood are elected can’t forget one or more of them was scratched on his ticket. Verily, like the Judas of old, he will feel like sneaking off with down cast eyes and hanging himself to the nearest tree. Logan expects every Democrat to do his whole duty during this campaign. The eyes of friend and foe alike are turned towards the mountains of old Logan whence cometh our help. Every Republican in the county is alert, active and zealous in the support of his whole ticket, and it behooves every Democrat to see to it that he does not prove a traitor in the camp of his friends. Stop a minute, friend, and think of the issues involved in the fight that is now upon us. Do you want the robber tariff barons to keep on heaping up their multiplied millions from your hard-earned dollars? Do you want your polls to be manned by Federal soldiers or maybe negroes from Virginia or North Carolina?
In 1892, Logan Countians voted for Grover Cleveland (Democrat).
During the mid-1890s, the Banner offered more brief political commentary. Here are some examples. On 21 June 1894, it stated: “The Logan Republican club was organized last Saturday night, with 20 members.” On 9 September 1896: “There is a meeting of the W.J. Bryan club at Chapmansville next Saturday evening. Everybody is invited to attend.”
Logan Countians voted for William Jennings Bryan (Democrat) in 1896 and 1900.
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From “Virginia and Virginians, 1606-1888,” published by H.H. Hardesty, we find this entry for Henry Clay Ragland, who resided at Logan, West Virginia:
Is of a family that has long been one of the most influential in the State. The founder of the family in America, John Ragland, came to this country directly from Wales, and settled in Virginia about the year 1630; his great-grandson, Finch Ragland, grandfather of the subject of the sketch, was a patriot of 1776 and fought through the Revolutionary war; his descendants have all inherited the spirit of patriotism, and have ever been foremost in enhancing the interests and defending the rights of their country. Thomas Eads, maternal grandfather of H.C. Ragland, was a soldier in the war of 1812. When the war between the States broke out in 1861 Henry Clay Ragland was among the first to volunteer his services in the cause of the South; he was a member of the 5th Va. Cav., was twice wounded, and was a prisoner at Point Lookout from Sept., 1864, to March, 1865. Since 1874 he has resided in Logan county, W.Va., where he is now editor of the Logan county Banner, besides has an extensive law practice in Logan and adjoining counties, being regarded as one of the leading lights in the profession. From 1886 to 1888 he was a member of the West Virginia legislature, in which he served with honor and distinction. His address is Logan Court House, W.Va. Mr. H.C. Ragland was born in Goochland county, Va., on the 7th of May, 1844; his wife, nee Miss Louisa Goings, was born in Lawrence county, Ky.; they were married at Logan Court House, W.Va., June 9, 1877.
Source: Dr. R.A. Brock, Virginia and Virginians, 1606-1888 (Richmond, VA: H.H. Hardesty, Publisher, 1888), p. 836-837.
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