Appalachia, barber, Big Creek, Big Creek Coal Company, Black Hawk Colliery Company, C&O Railroad, C.C. Spriegel, Cyrus Elkins, D P Crockett, genealogy, history, Huntington, J.W. Carver, jeweler, Kentucky, L.J. Manor, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Millard Sanders, Peach Creek, Peter M. Toney, Pikeville, Standard V. Rousey, stenographer, W.F. Stone, W.H. McKinney, Washington D.C., West Virginia
An unknown correspondent from Big Creek in Logan County, West Virginia, offered the following items, which the Logan Banner printed on January 27, 1922:
JAN. 25–Millard Sanders has just completed a nice two story building and is going to open up a store in the store room building.
Mr. Cyrus Elkins, car repairer of the C. & O. at Big Creek, has been laid off from work for the past ten days or two weeks on the account of an abscess on his shoulder due to a bruise while repairing bad order cars, but will resume duty again next week.
Mr. P.M. Toney, of Big Creek, has been in Huntington for a few days attending to business matters and visiting his family.
Mrs. L.J. Manor, wife of the general manager of the Big Creek Coal Co. and Black Hawk Colliery co., gave a dance and farewell party last week in honor of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Spriegel who left recently for Washington, D.C.
Mr. and Mrs. W.H. McKinney from Pikeville, Ky., are visiting friends and relatives in Big Creek.
Mr. W.F. Stone, who has been living in Big Creek and working at Peach Creek as train dispatcher, is moving to Huntington to accept another position with the C. & O. Railway Company.
Mr. S.V. Rousey, supervisor of the C. & O., has been in Big Creek several times in the last week or so on business for the company.
Mr. J.W. Carver, local barber and jeweler, of Big Creek has recently built a new barber shop and jewelry store.
Mr. D.P. Crockett, stenographer for England and Hager of Logan, was in Big Creek last Saturday.
Appalachia, Aracoma, Bluestone Valley, Boling Baker, Deskins Addition, Guyandotte River, Hatfield Island, Henry Mitchell, history, Island Creek, John Breckinridge, John Dempsey, John Dingess, Joseph Workman, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Montgomery County, Nancy McNeely, Native American History, Native Americans, Nimrod Workman, Peter Dingess, Shawnee, Tazewell County, Virginia, West Virginia, William Dingess, Wythe County
From an early edition of the Logan Banner comes this bit of history about Logan’s earliest Anglo settlers:
“First White Settler To Make His Home In Logan Lived on Hatfield Island”
The first white settler to make his home near Logan was James Workman who was with the force of men who struck the blow that broke the power of the Shawnee in the valley of the Guyandotte.
He was a member of the group of white settlers who pursued Boling Baker from a settlement in the Bluestone valley to the island that is now known as “Hatfield Island” and there burned an Indian village and mortally wounded Princess Aracoma. Boling Baker escaped.
After Workman had a glimpse of the beautiful lush valley of the Guyandotte, it took little persuasion by John Breckinridge, who had been granted much of the valley after the battle of the Islands to get Workman and his two brothers Joseph and Nimrod to make settlement there, Breckinridge was forced to settle the land by the law of 1792 in order to hold title to it.
Workman and his two brothers came to the island in 1794 and built a cabin and planted a few acres of corn. In 1795 and 1796 the brothers planted the same land and James, who was a man of family, brought his wife and children from their old home in Wythe (now Tazewell) county, Virginia, where they continued to live until about the year 1800 when they moved to a farm nearby which was later owned by Henry Mitchell.
The first recorded permanent settlement was made by William Dingess, son of Peter Dingess, a German. Dingess was the oldest in a family of eleven children.
He was born in Montgomery county in 1770 and married Nancy McNeely. He purchased a survey of 300 acres, which covers the present site of the courthouse and a portion of the land across the river which is now Deskins addition.
Dingess moved to his survey in 1799 and made his home. John Dempsey came with him and built a cabin on the island, but afterwards moved to Island Creek.
William Dingess was said to be almost a giant in strength, but so peaceable that no one could induce him to fight. He was a relentless Indian fighter in the Guyan Valley, however. A story is told that he was with a force of whites who pursued a band of Indian marauders as far as the falls of the Guyan where they killed several braves.
Dingess cut a portion of the skin from a forearm of one of the braves and tanned it using it for a razor strop until his death.
The first settler had no children by his first wife. In 1800, Peter Dingess and John Dingess joined him and built their homes in the fertile land on each side of the river near the islands. Other settlers followed in time and the little settlement grew to a thriving frontier town.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 1 April 1937.
Abraham Lincoln, Appalachia, Barnabus, Ben Creek, Betty Caldwell, Betty Hatfield, Bob Hatfield, C.C. Lanham, Cap Hatfield, Charles Dardi, Charleston, deputy sheriff, Devil Anse Hatfield, E. Willis Wilson, Elias Hatfield, Elliott R. Hatfield, F.M. Browning, Fayette County, feud, genealogy, governor, Halsey Gibson, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Henry D. Hatfield, Hibbard Hatfield, history, Holden, Huntington, Island Creek, J.O. Hill, Jim McCoy, Joe Hatfield, John Caldwell, John J. Jackson, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, L.W. Lawson, Levicy Hatfield, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Lundale, Marion Browning, Mary Howes, Mate Creek, Matewan, Matilda Chafin, Mingo County, Nancy Carey, Nancy Mullins, Nathaniel Chafin, Omar, Pike County, Pikeville, Pittsburgh, pneumonia, R.A. Woodall, Randolph McCoy, Rebecca Hatfield, Rose Browning, sheriff, Tennis Hatfield, Tom Chafin, Troy Hatfield, Tug River, W.R. Eskew, West Virginia, Wharncliffe
The following news items from the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, provide some history about the final years of Levisa Hatfield, widow of Anse Hatfield:
MRS. HATFIELD BETTER
Mrs. Levicy Hatfield, widow of Ance Hatfield, continues to recuperate from a serious illness and is now able to walk about the home of her daughter, Mrs. F.M. Browning, of Holden, where she has been cared for. She is 84 years old.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 03 June 1927
Mrs. Hatfield Hurt
Mrs. Lovisa Hatfield, widow of the late “Devil Anse” Hatfield, is suffering from injuries received in a fall at her home on Island Creek Sunday. She hurt her hip and shoulder and forehead and her condition was such as to cause some concern, yet she was able to sit up yesterday. Two or three of her daughters are helping to take care of her. She is 85 years old.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 20 September 1927
DEVIL ANSE’S WIDOW, AGED 86, RECOVERS FROM PNEUMONIA
In recovering from her recent severe illness Mrs. Levisa Hatfield, widow of the late “Devil Anse,” has again demonstrated her remarkable vitality. Though in her 87th year, she is now recovering from pneumonia with which she was stricken on December 28. Monday of this week her lungs began to clear up, and her son, Sheriff Joe Hatfield, said yesterday that she seemed to be assured of recovery.
So critical was her illness for several days that half a dozen physicians were summoned to her bedside. These included Dr. H.D. Hatfield, L.W. Lawson, J.O. Hill, Brewer and Moore as well as Dr. E.R. Hatfield, of Charleston, a son of the aged patient.
Mrs. Hatfield celebrated her 86th birthday at the Hatfield homestead near the head of Island Creek on December 20.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 18 January 1929.
Devil Anse’s Widow Died Early Today
Mrs. Levisa Hatfield Succumbs Unexpectedly In 87th Year
10 Living Children
Hers Was Life of Storm And Stress for Several Decades
Funeral services for Mrs. Hatfield will be held at 2:30 Sunday at the Hatfield cemetery on Island Creek.
Mrs. Levisa Hatfield, widow of “Devil Anse” of Hatfield-McCoy feud fame, died at the family homestead up near the head of Island Creek at about 8 o’clock this morning. Though she was frail and had been in ill health all winter, the news of her passing caused much surprise and regret among relatives and friends outnumbered. Still, her condition yesterday was unsatisfactorily, indicating she had suffered a backset.
Mrs. Hatfield celebrated her 86th birthday on December 20. Eight days later she was stricken with pneumonia, and for several weeks her condition was alarming. Despite her advanced age, her indomitable grit and wiry strength and endurance triumphed, having as she did the tender, constant care of her children and other kinfolk, neighbors, and friends.
Hers was a stout heart, otherwise it could not have, withstood the storms that raged about her home and her family for many years. But long before her interesting career ended, peace and contentment had come into her life, and her declining days were brightened by the successes that had come to her children and grandchildren.
The decedent was born and reared on Mate Creek in what was then Logan county but now in Mingo. She was a daughter of Nathaniel Chafin. In her teens she was married to a neighbor youth, William Anderson Hatfield, who shortly thereafter entered the Confederate army and attained the rank of captain. That was a trying experience for a bride, but a longer and more terrifying one came in the early ‘80s when her family became involved in a now historic private war with the McCoys, a large family living on the Kentucky side of the Tug River. Even after the feud ended and a tacit agreement was carried out whereby her family moved back from the Tug and over the county divide and their foes went farther away from the Tug in the opposite direction, tragedies cast their shadows across her pathway. Chief of these was the slaying of her sons Troy and Elias by a drunken miner in Fayette county in 1911. The miner, too, was riddled with bullets after his victims had fallen mortally wounded.
Ten children survive Mrs. Hatfield and three are dead, Johnson, the oldest, having died in 1922 on Ben Creek, Mingo county. The living are: William A. (Cap), who shared with his father the leadership of their clan in the days of the feud, now a deputy sheriff and living at Stirrat; Robert L., Wharncliffe; Mrs. Nancy Mullins, living just above the Hatfield place; Dr. Elliott R., Charleston; Mrs. Mary Howes, at home; Mrs. John (Betty) Caldwell, Barnabus; Sheriff Joe D. Hatfield; Mrs. Marion (Rose) Browning, Holden; Willis, deputy sheriff at Lundale; Tennis, former sheriff.
She is survived by two sisters and a brother: Mrs. Betty Hatfield, widow of Elias Hatfield and mother of U.S. Senator H.D. Hatfield; Mrs. Rebecca Hatfield, of Logan, mother of Hibbard Hatfield, and Tom Chafin, who lives on Mate Creek.
Mrs. Hatfield and devoted to her home and family. And her home as well as herself was widely known for hospitality. There the friend or wayfarer ever found a welcome. She was a member of the Church of Christ and was baptized along with her husband by Uncle Dyke Garrett some years before her husband’s death.
No announcement was made this forenoon as to the funeral arrangements. Squire Elba Hatfield, a grandson, said he supposed the funeral would be held Sunday. Burial will be in the family cemetery.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 15 March 1929
Great Crowd At Funeral of Mrs. Hatfield
Throng Surpassed That of Any Previous Funeral In County
Pictures Are Taken
News of Death of “Devil” Anse’s Widow Travels Far and Wide
Hundreds of relatives and friends and neighbors paid their last tribute of affection to Mrs. Lovisa Hatfield Sunday afternoon. It is declared to be, by persons capable of judging, the largest funeral crowd ever assembled in the county. Perhaps the maximum attendance of the afternoon was no larger than that at the funeral of Charles Dardi last November, but on Sunday people were coming and going for an hour or more before the hour set–2:30–for the services and until the services were concluded.
Early in the afternoon a crowd began to form both at the Hatfield cemetery and the homestead. A cool, steady, stiff breeze made it uncomfortable for those who gathered at the cemetery, with the result that they did not tarry long there; and on account of weather conditions a great many did not leave their cars, which were closely parked along both sides of the highway from Sheriff Joe Hatfield’s home up to and beyond the home of the decedent.
The attendance at Sunday’s rites exceeded that of the funeral of Mrs. Hatfield’s widely known husband, “Devil Anse,” which was held on Sunday, January 9, 1921. At that time there was but a semblance of a highway up toward the head of Island Creek and most of those who attended the rites of the old feudist chieftain rode on a special train that was run that day or walked for a great distance.
At the homestead there were scripture readings, sermons, and tributes by Rev. Joe Hatfield, a nephew of the decedent, of Matewan; Rev. Halsey Gibson and Rev. C.C. Lanham, pastor of the first Methodist church of Logan. Before the cortege left the house R.A. Woodall, local photographer, took pictures of the body at rest in a beautiful metallic casket and of the grandchildren and perhaps others who were grouped on the porch.
At the grave the services were conducted by Rev. W.R. Eskew of Omar and a solo by a Mr. Woods of Huntington featured the singing. Mr. Eskew paid a tribute to the generosity and hospitality of Mrs. Hatfield, to her love of home and her devotion to her children and other loved ones.
As related in Friday’s paper, Mrs. Hatfield died at about 8 o’clock that morning, after having nearly recovered from pneumonia. Her age was 86 years, two months and 25 days. She was a daughter of Nathaniel and Matilda Varney Chafin and was born on Mate Creek, now in Mingo county. Her sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Hatfield of Huntington , Mrs. Nancy Carey, Pittsburgh, and Mrs. Rebecca Hatfield of Logan, and her brother Tom Chafin of Mingo were at the funeral.
All over the country the news of Mrs. Hatfield’s death was flashed and it called forth much comment on the old Hatfield-McCoy feud that for a long time held the close attention evidently of millions of newspaper readers.
An old sketch of “Devil Anse” says he had none of the attributes of “bad men” in his character. He was always recognized as a loyal friend of the many who had some sort of claim to his friendship. Numbered among those who believed he had been right in the position he took during the feud days were the late Judge John J. Jackson, known as the “Iron Judge,” who was appointed to the federal bench by President Lincoln, and the late Governor E.W. Wilson, the former protecting Hatfield when he was called into court, and the latter refusing to honor a requisition of the Governor of Kentucky for the arrest of Devil Anse on a charge of killing some particular member of the McCoy family.
Detectives, real and alleged, had arranged for the capture of Hatfield, spurred by a reward, after they had seen to it that he was indicted on a charge of whiskey selling; in 1888, Judge Jackson, hearing of these plans, sent word to him that if he would appear in court voluntarily the court would see that he had ample protection until he returned to his home in this county.
Uncle Anse appeared and was acquitted of the charge against him. Some of the detectives pounced on him soon after he left the court room, but Judge Jackson summoned all of them before him, threatened to send them to jail, and directed special officers to see that Hatfield was permitted to reach his home. After Hatfield was well on his way, Judge Jackson told the detectives that if they wanted to get him they could proceed, just as the McCoys had been doing for a number of years. They never went.
Captain Hatfield spent the last 20 years of his life peacefully on his farm then in an isolated section of the county. Once he was prevailed upon by some enterprising amusement manager to go on the vaudeville stage but the lure of his home in the mountains soon proved stronger than the lure of the footlights.
In the splendid account of the death of Mrs. Anderson Hatfield, estimable woman who passed away at her home Friday, it was stated that Mrs. Hatfield was one of the last of either the Hatfield or McCoy family directly connected with the feud and that all the McCoy principals are believed to be dead. This last is in error as James McCoy, who resided in Pikeville for many years and latter came here, where he lived with his family for a number of years, and after the death of his wife only a few years ago again returned to Pikeville and is now living there. He is a highly respected and esteemed citizen and was the eldest son of the late Randall McCoy, of Pike county, and was one of the main principals of the feud.
Catlettsburg cor. in Huntington Advertiser
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 19 March 1929.
Abner Vance, Appalachia, Aracoma, Ben Stewart, Ben White, Bluestone River, Boling Baker, Buffalo Creek, Charles Hull, Clear Fork, Dingess Run, Elias Harman, Flat Top Mountain, genealogy, George Berry, Gilbert Creek, Guyandotte River, Henry Clay Ragland, history, Horse Pen Mountain, Huff Creek, Island Creek, James Hensley, James Hines, James White, John Breckinridge, John Carter, John Cook, Joseph Workman, Kentucky, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Logan County Banner, Mallory, Native American History, Native Americans, Oceana, Peter Huff, Rockcastle Creek, Shawnee, West Virginia, William Dingess, William S. Madison
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history concerning Boling Baker and Princess Aracoma, dated March 23, 1937:
Dying Words of Princess Aracoma Related In Story Taken From Banner Files
Though much has been written on the history of Logan county, just as much has been forgotten about its early development.
One of the county’s first historians, Henry Clay Ragland, mayor of the city, church worker and editor of the Logan County Banner, recorded some of the high spots of the development of Logan county in a series of articles which he ran in his newspaper during 1896.
It is from this series of articles that the following story of the early settlement of Logan county is taken.
Records show that a large number of white men first set foot in what is now Logan county in the spring of 1777, when Captain Charles Hull with 20 men pursued a band of marauding Shawnees to the site where Oceana was later built. They lost the trail at Oceana and had to turn back. The Shawnees had raided a white settlement near the falls of New River one spring night and had stolen thirty head of horses. The army captain and his men set out in pursuit but the redskins had too great a start.
Huff Creek was given its name on this expedition in honor of Peter Huff who was killed in a skirmish on the banks of the stream as the men returned home. Huff was buried near the spot where he was killed, which is believed to have been near where the town of Mallory now stands.
Other men on this expedition and who returned to the valley of the Guyandotte later and built homes were John Cook, James Hines, William Dingess and James Hensley.
The first white man really to be identified with what is now Logan county was Boling Baker, a renegade white, but the old-timers would not give him credit for being a white man. They said: “He lived with the Injins and that makes him an Injin.” Baker, however dastardly he was, was indirectly responsible for the settlement of Logan county in 1780-85.
The renegade had one great weakness. A weakness that they hung men for in those days. He was a horse thief. He would take a party of Indians a hundred miles through the mountain passes of Logan county to raid a white settlement in order to steal 20 or 30 horses.
Baker had gone into the business on a large scale. At the head of Gilbert Creek, on Horse Pen Mountain, where the mountain rises abruptly with almost cliff-like sharpness, he had stripped bark from hickory trees and stretched it from tree to tree making a pen in which to keep his stolen stock.
Old settlers of the county who have had the story passed down to them from their great-grandfathers say that the pen was somewhere in the hollow below the road which leads to the fire tower on Horsepen Mountain. It was from this improvised corral of Boling Baker that the mountain was named.
But, back to how Baker was responsible for the settlement of the county.
He left his Indian camps on the Guyan river in the fall of 1780 and visited the white settlements in the Bluestone valley in the Flat Top mountain territory. There he told the settlers a story of how he had been captured by the Indians when he was a young man and had learned their ways. He said he had just escaped from the Shawnee tribe known to be hunting in the Guyandotte valley and was on his way back east to see his father and mother who lived in Boston. Shrewd chap, this Baker!
The settlers were taken in by his story and allowed him to remain with them for several weeks during which time he got the location of all the settlers barns well in mind and after a time departed “back east.”
Soon after the renegade left the Bluestone settlement the whites awoke one rainy morning late in autumn and found every barn empty. The Indians had come with the storm which lashed the valley and had gone without arousing a person. Thirty horses from the settlement went with them.
An expedition headed by Wm. S. Madison and John Breckinridge—son of the Breckinridges who settled much of Kentucky—was made up in a neighboring settlement and set out in pursuit of the thieving Shawnees.
They trailed the party over Flat Top Mountain and southwest to the headwaters of the Guyan River by way of Rockcastle creek and Clear Fork. Trail marks showed that the band had gone down the river, up Gilbert Creek to Baker’s pen and thence over the mountain.
Madison and his 75 men did not follow the Indian trail over the mountain but the redskins probably brought their herd of 50 or 75 horses down Island Creek to the Guyan.
The white expedition chose to follow the Guyan in a hope that they would find the party encamped somewhere along its banks. Scouts had reported that a large tribe of Indians used the Guyan valley as its hunting grounds.
Madison’s party followed the river down to Buffalo Creek—named because the white men found such a large number of buffalo grazing in its bottoms—crossed Rum Creek and pitched camp for a night at the mouth of Dingess Run because “Guyan” Green and John Carter, scouts sent ahead to reconnoiter, had reported finding ten Indian lodges in the canebrakes of an island formed by the joining of a large creek and the Guyan river.
The men rested on their guns for the night and the following morning divided into two parties and attacked the encampment from the front and rear.
In the furious fighting that followed, nine of the thirty Indians in the camp were killed and ten or twelve wounded. Only a few escaped the slaughter of the white men. Among those captured was an old squaw 50 or 60 years old, who by her bearing, was obviously leader of the party. She was wounded but refused to talk.
Near midnight, however, following the massacre of the camp the old squaw felt death creeping upon her and called Madison to her quarters, and told him in broken English the following:
“I am the wife of a pale face who came across the great waters to make war on my people, but came to us and became one of us. A great plague many moons ago carried off my children with a great number of my people, and they lay buried just above the bend in the river. Bury me with them with my face to the setting sun that I may see my people in their march to the happy hunting ground. For your kindness I warn you to make haste in returning to your homes, for my people are still powerful, and will return to avenge my death.”
The proud princess died before morning and the white men buried her “near the bend in the river.” The Indian captives were all killed.
Four days later the men returned to the valley of the Bluestone.
Among those who helped Wm. S. Madison rout the Shawnees and who vowed to possess the valley of the Guyandotte for themselves and their children were George Booth, George Berry, Elias Harman, Ben Stewart, Abner Vance, Joseph Workman, Ben White and James White. All these names are familiar in the county today.
After the Indians were pushed to the west, surveyors allotted the land to the first settlers who had dared, with Madison, to come into the wilderness of the Guyandotte and open it up for the white man.
Madison owned several thousand acres of land on Island Creek, Gilbert Creek and Dingess Run. Other fighters were given like parcels of land.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 23 March 1937
Appalachia, Battle of Buena Vista, Ben Bolt, Charles Porter, Charleston, Edgar Allan Poe, George P. Morris, Green Gables Inn, history, Huntington, Know Nothing Party, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan Grazier, McDowell County, N.P. Willis, Nelson F. Kneass, New York Mirror, Philadelphia, poems, poetry, Rafting on the Guyan, Roy Fuller, Staunton, Thomas Dunn English, Vicie Nighbert, Wayne County, Welch, West Virginia, West Virginia Review, Wyoming Hunter
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history concerning Thomas Dunn English and his famous poem “Ben Bolt,” which was reportedly composed in Logan:
Poem Ben Bolt Not Written In This City
Legend Concerning Thomas Dunn English Is Refuted by Roy Fuller in Magazine Article
Another forceful kick has been directed against the legend that Thomas Dunn English wrote the poem Ben Bolt under the big elms back of the former Vicie Nighbert home, now known as the Green Gables Inn.
Though all reliable investigators agree that this famous poem was written before Dr. English settled in this community, the legend survives with a strange pertinacity.
The subject is discarded in an interesting and enlightening way in the current number of the West Virginia Review by J. Roy Fuller. He has written before in a similar vein for other publications.
Fuller, a native of Wayne county, had been connected with Charleston, Huntington, and Welch papers for several years. Recently he went to New York to take an editorial position on Picture Play. On the subject “As to Ben Bolt,” he writes as follows:
If a man writes a poem a little more sentimental than any other, and then some ten years later moves to another state, it seems that the towns and counties around his new home will, years later, recall the very spot where the poem was written. Such has been the case with Ben Bolt, by Thomas Dunn English. The people of Logan county point with pride to the very tree under which the poet scribbled Ben Bolt, and time and again articles have been written in support of the legend, and people who speak of it choose to believe nothing else. Why this should be considered in the least important is amusing. But that is not all. In McDowell county, it is said, Thomas Dunn English wrote the feverish lines while at the old county seat town, now called English. A clerk in a hotel informed this writer that he knew exactly where Ben Bolt was written and offered to show him the house somewhere just over the Virginia state line.
The rare honor of being the birthplace of Ben Bolt cannot be claimed truthfully for this section at all. It was written in Philadelphia nine years before he ever came to West Virginia. There was no romantic posing over the grave of the beloved lady in the song as it has been said in Logan county. A New York editor asked English to write something for him. He insisted, and finally English mailed the verses with instructions to burn them if not satisfactory, after combining parts of two poems into one. So any weeping we do can be for our own images, and not for sympathy with the poor poet.
English was once postmaster of Logan (1857), and also a resident doctor, politician, poet and lawyer. One time he attended a convention in Staunton where he made a speech that was influential in helping to bring about the downfall of Know-Nothingism. He wrote many local poems such as Rafting on the Guyan, Logan Grazier, and Wyoming Hunter. Before coming to the south he was well known in the east and was mentioned—unfavorably—by Edgar Allan Poe in his Literati. For calling him Thomas Dunn “Brown,” English wrote a severe criticism of Poe. Some time later Poe answered him in a Philadelphia paper, and brought suit against him. Poe was awarded $225 damages for English’s sarcastic literary thrust.
It has always been a matter of chagrin to English that his Ben Bolt was the most popular of his literary works. He himself called the song “twaddle.” But the German melody, mention of old mills, school, a loved one, friendship—these things made it take hold of the heart.
He wrote Ben Bolt in 1843 after having dabbled in his professions for several years, and quite unexpectedly found himself famous. The story of the song will show how far removed it is from the cherished pastoral story told in Logan county. The story persists, however, this being one of the cases where the “moving finger writes,” etc., and nothing more can be done about it.
N.P. Willis and George P. Morris had revived the old New York Mirror. The former asked English to write a poem for the paper and suggested a sea song. English tried to write it after renewed pressure but he reported to the editors that his muse was not working. Later he drifted into reminiscence and produced four and a half stanzas of the well known song. His muse balked again, and after some thought he added the first four lines of a sea song he had started and sent the whole with a note to Willis telling him that he would send something else when he was in a better writing mood. The poem was printed with a little puff, and was signed with the author’s initial.
Later it was suggested that the poem be set to music, but several attempts failed. English composed a melody for it, but another got the start of his. In 1846 Charles Porter, manager of the Pittsburgh theatre had Nelson F. Kneass, a fine tenor, in his company. Porter told the singer that if he could find a song suitable for his voice he would cast him in The Battle of Buena Vista. An Englishman, a sort of hanger-on named Hunt, had read Ben Bolt and could recall most of it. The gaps were patched up and to this Kneass adapted a German air and sang the piece. The drama was soon dropped but the song took the country by
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 11 December 1928
Appalachia, Cherry Tree, Cora, crime, Democratic Party, deputy sheriff, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Don Chafin, Ed Dingess, genealogy, Henry Sansom, history, Hugh Deskins, Ira P. Hager, Joe Hatfield, John Dingess, Lee Belcher, Logan, Logan County, Mine Wars, politics, Randolph Dial, Republican Party, Simp Thompson, Tennis Hatfield, Thomas Fisher, U.S. Commissioner, West Virginia
Political history for Logan County, West Virginia, during the 1920s was particularly eventful; it included the latter years of Sheriff Don Chafin’s rule, the Mine Wars (“armed march”), Republican Party ascendancy, and the rise of Republican sheriffs Tennis and Joe Hatfield. What follows are selected primary source documents relating to this period:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Before the undersigned authority, Ira P. Hager, a United States Commissioner in and for said District, Ed Dingess, who after being by me first duly sworn, says that he is thirty-seven years of age, married, resides at Cherry Tree Bottom, Logan County, and works in the ice business during the summer season.
That on November 2nd, 1924, affiant was in the Marshal’s office at Logan, when a man who lived at Cora came in and reported that Lee Belcher had ordered him to leave Cora, where he lived, on account of his having Republican literature on his car and house, stating that the said Lee Belcher, Deputy Sheriff had threatened to do him bodily injury, that affiant along with Henry Sansom was deputized by one of the Deputy Marshals to go to Cora and protect the man, he being afraid to return to his home without protection. That affiant and the said Henry Sansom were in Cora, guarding the man, and Lee Belcher came up and said, “Are you fellows here to guard these men out of here?” And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “The county ought to be filled up with good looking men like us.” And I replied “that it was pretty well full.” He then went away and did not make any trouble for us. On the night of the election I went to the Court House at Logan to ascertain the results of the election, and as I went through the corridors of the Court House I met Lee Belcher, and he said, “What was you doing in Cora, you god-damned son-of-a-bitch, that is my town.” He said, “I am running Cora,” and made at me with his pistol, and John Dingess, who used to be a deputy, pulled his pistol and said, “Give it to him, god-damned son-of-a-bitch,” and repeated it several times. John Dingess kept his pistol drawn on me while Lee Belcher beat me about the face. The scars and bruises are visible on my face where I was struck. I tried to shove off his licks, but he hit me twice, and Simp Thompson ran in and stopped him, and I presume that Thompson saved me.
I bled right much and suffered considerable pain as a result of the blows.
Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 8th day of November, A.D., 1924.
Ira P. Hager
United States Commissioner as aforesaid.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Before the undersigned authority this day personally came Thomas Fisher, who after being by me first duly sworn, says:
That he was deputized by Hugh Deskins, at Mud Fork, on election day, after the said Hugh Deskins, Deputy U.S. Marshal, had been assaulted by Don Chafin, Sheriff of Logan County, and that the said Hugh Deskins gave affiant a pistol, and about thirty minutes after affiant was deputized, the said Don Chafin came around and arrested affiant, and took the pistol away from affiant, and turned affiant over to Deputy Sheriff Randolph Dial, who took affiant to jail, where affiant was kept until the next morning. Affiant lost his vote. Affiant asked the said Randolph Dial to let him vote, having told the said Randolph Dial that affiant had not voted, and the said Randolph Dial said, “I haven’t time to fool with you.” So affiant lost his vote.
Affiant saw Don Chafin assault Hugh Deskins, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Hugh Deskins was standing on the election ground and Don Chafin drove up in his car. Hugh was standing with his hands folded and Chafin walked up and hit him on the side of the face under the left ear. Deskins backed off, and Chafin said, “Don’t you like that? If you don’t, I will give you some more.” Chafin drove off in his car and in a little while came back and one of the Mounts boys called to Don and pointed me out and then Don arrested me. When Chafin arrested me I told him that I was deputized by a United States Deputy Marshal and he said, “That don’t go here.”
Taken, subscribed and sworn to before me this the 8th day of November, 1924.
Ira P. Hager
Appalachia, Aracoma, Big Creek, Boone County, Brooke McNeely, Camp Chase, Chapmanville District, Charles Williams, civil war, Claude Ellis, coal, Confederate Army, crime, Dave Kinser, Democratic Party, Douglas Kinser, Elbert Kinser, Ethel, Fort Branch, French River, genealogy, ginseng, Harts Creek, Hetzel, history, J. Green McNeely, Jake Kinser, Jane Mullins, Jefferson Davis, Jim Aldridge, John Carter, John Kinser, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, logging, Malinda Kinser, Malinda Newman, Mary Ann Ellis, Mud Fork, Otis Kinser, rafting, Scott Ellis, Smyth County, Stonewall Jackson, timbering, tobacco, Virginia, Washington Township, West Virginia, Wythe County