African-Americans, Appalachia, coal, Con Chafin, crime, Democratic Party, deputy sheriff, Don Chafin, E.T. England, guitar, Guyandotte River, Herald-Dispatch, history, Huntington, Ira P. Hager, John B. Wilkinson, Ku Klux Klan, lawyers, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, mine guards, O.J. Deegan, politics, prosecuting attorney, Republican Party, sheriff, timbering, W.C. Lawrence Jr., West Virginia
From the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, WV, comes this story printed by the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, dated October 30, 1914:
Republican Voters Driven from Co. by Gunmen
Deputy Sheriffs, Acting as Mine Guards, Are the Law and Enforcement Thereof.
Many Believe Martial Law Will be Sequel to Rule of Thugs.
Democratic schemes for the intimidation of Republican voters, for the prevention of a Republican victory in the state next Tuesday, whether by fair means or foul, have reached their climax in Logan county. If there is a place in West Virginia where lawlessness has succeeded law and order, where the persons chosen to enforce the law have initiated a system of rule by force and intimidation, a rule by force of clubs and pistols, a rule by thugs and gunmen, that place is Logan county.
A thorough investigation of conditions in Logan county today proves that the Ku Klux Klan in the south were mere pikers. There are men in Logan county who could beat them blindfolded.
The man, woman or child who would enjoy life–aye, who are willing to accept life or pass through Logan county, must be careful not to cross the paths of Sheriff Don Chafin and his force of about two hundred armed deputies.
And it can be truthfully said that the paths of these men extend to every nook and corner of the county. And several newly-made graves along the banks of the Guyandotte river and its tributaries shows who is the law and the enforcement thereof.
Several men have been shot, two negroes fatally, others have been clubbed and driven out of the county, women and children have been forced to flee clad only in their night-clothes, upon order of the Chafin deputies.
And all this because some Republicans desired to be registered in order that they might cast their votes for the Republican candidates next Tuesday.
Logan county is about to throw off the yoke of Democracy. The coal and lumber industries are rapidly being developed, and, as is always the case in progressive communities, the Republicans are making large gains.
If the voters of Logan county are allowed to cast their ballots as they desire, and those ballots are counted as cast, the Republican candidates will be elected.
If the conspiracy which has been formed by and in the interest of the Democrats is allowed to be carried out, the Democrats will continue in control of the county, the enforcement of law will be a mere joke and there will be probably a score added to the newly made graves along Old Guyan after next Tuesday.
Opinions vary as to what the outcome will be. Some believe that only martial law will prove a solution. Others are of the opinion that conditions will grow gradually worse and that the enforcement of law and order in Logan county will be a subject for investigation by the next legislature which convenes in January. Most certainly, if the threats of the Democrats are carried out, the Republicans are driven from the polls next Tuesday, the legislature will be asked to make a sweeping investigation and their findings will reveal conditions incredible in a civilized state.
Don Chafin is high sheriff of Logan county. His cousin, Con Chafin is prosecuting attorney. All the county officials are Democrats. Circuit Judge Wilkinson is a Democrat, though a man who wants the law enforced.
Sheriff Chafin, it is estimated, has about two hundred deputies. When he was elected, a part of his platform was that he would drive out the Baldwin mine guards from Logan county. No Baldwin men are known to be in this county now but these deputy sheriffs are known as mine guards. All of them are supposed to be armed with pistols, black-jacks and the usual weapons of gunmen. But few of them are licensed to carry such weapons and there is no trouble to find evidence that they have these weapons in violation of the law. Some of them are known to be ex-convicts and as such would not be licensed to carry revolvers, etc.
They shoot, club, slug and thug at will. But they are not arrested and imprisoned. For they are the law and the enforcement thereof.
Events of the past few weeks show the effectiveness of this organization of deputies and the way in which they operate. When the registrars were on their rounds registering the voters some of the deputies were on hand and even the Democratic registrars were afraid not to obey their orders. To go back further, they were on hand at the Democratic primaries and the Democratic nominees were the men of their choice and of that of their chief.
The Democratic registrars refused to register many Republicans, especially among the colored voters. When the county commissioners met to canvass the registration, four Republican lawyers State Senator E.T. England, Ira P. Hager, W.C. Lawrence, Jr., and O.J. Deegan, the latter being Republican county chairman, took the lead to see that Republicans entitled to vote were registered. One hundred colored voters were brought into Logan for examination and registration.
Threats have been made by deputies against the journeying of negroes to the court house, there to demand their rights, and the republican leaders realized there was danger.
The work before the county court was slow, as the democratic leaders challenged every step of the republicans. But eleven men were passed upon the first day, five of whom were registered, six turned down. That night the apparent cause for delay came. A colored family lived at Monitor, a mile from the court house. It was supposed that some of the negroes awaiting registration were there. This gave the conspirators a chance and the gunmen got busy.
Soon after dark a band of armed men raided the house, shot out the windows, fired bullets into bodies of two colored men, beat up others and drove a woman and child into the hills without giving them time to dress. The raiders said they were looking for “strange niggers.” As the result of that raid one colored man lies in an unmarked grave on the hillside and another is likely to join him soon. No “strange niggers” were in that house.
A colored man owned a cleaning and pressing establishment within a couple of squares of the court house. His windows were demolished and his place of business next morning looked as though a German siege gun had been turned on it.
A score of colored men awaiting registration were quartered for the night in the office of Senator England, and adjoining offices. About 11:30 o’clock at night some of the negroes were awakened by noises in the hallways and a sensation of not being able to breathe. They rushed to the windows and threw them open, but met with a shower of stones from the outside.
Piled on Senator England’s desk can be seen the stones hurled with force as is shown by the scars on the walls. Some of the stones were thrown from the court house steps.
No arrests were made. A grand jury was in session and Judge Wilkinson instructed the jurors to ferret out the dastardly assault and bring the miscreants to justice. But not an indictment resulted. It is no mystery in Logan as to who committed the deed. Any citizen not afraid to talk, and they are few, will name half a dozen deputy sheriffs as being in the party.
A telephone exchange girl next door to where some of the negroes were attacked made an outcry and was told that she would not be hurt if she kept still. She knows who told her to keep quiet, but would hardly give his name, probably not if she faced a jail sentence for contempt of court. It is not safe to talk in Logan county. “Don’t mention my name,” is what they all say when discussing the outrages.
A short distance from Logan is a construction camp. A large crowd of deputies raided the camp. One negro was playing the guitar and singing. No “strange niggers” were found there, but the one negro sang his last song. He, too, lies in an unmarked grave along the banks of Old Guyan. “Resisting arrest” was the excuse given.
Such depredations naturally drove many colored voters away and they will not vote.
Though threats have been made against the life of Senator England and his followers, they are putting up a game fight. By agreement the county court was to hold a night session to get through with the registration. England was later notified that nothing further would be done that night but the work would be taken up the next day he was amazed to find the court was no longer sitting. He went before Judge Wilkinson, mandamused the county court to sit again, and got ninety-eight colored voters registered.
The democrats were beaten in that game. “What’s the difference,” said a deputy when the court reconvened. “We will get them election day.” It has been openly boasted by the democrats that in many precincts the republicans, especially the colored voters, will not be allowed at the polls next Tuesday.
The sheriff and his deputies form an organization with unlimited power. Every little town or village, every public works, has the deputies. By intimidation and force in most instances and by favors in others, these deputies can run things to suit themselves. Infractions of the law by supporters of the organization can easily be overlooked, while on the other hand, the slightest technical violation can be punished to the full extent of the law.
The high-handed way in which the Democratic county organization is running things has caused a ruction in the Democratic ranks and many of them will quietly vote the Republican ticket. Many members of the old-time militant Democracy, some of them ex-Confederate soldiers, have assured the Republican leaders that they can no longer approve the Democratic methods employed in Logan County and will record their votes against it.
Appalachia, Aubrey Stollings, Boone County, Boone Court House, Democratic Party, Ethel Stollings, genealogy, history, Joel E. Stollings, Logan County Banner, Madison, merchant, Opie Stollings, Pearl Stollings, politics
Col. Joel E. Stollings, of Boone C.H., who was well and favorably known throughout the State, died on last Monday morning, after a brief illness with inflammation of the stomach.
Col. Stollings has long been the leading spirit and most prominent citizen of his county. He conducted a large store at Madison, was engaged in timbering on a large scale and was a practicing attorney. He was a member of the constitutional convention, has twice represented his district in the State Senate, and was the Democratic candidate for Senator at the last general election. Being a man widely known by reason of his public services and large business connections, he was held in the highest estimation everywhere.
Col. Stollings was 64 years of age at the time of his death. He leaves a widow and seven children, Mrs. Hopkins and Mrs. Leftwich, of Boone county; Mrs. Peck, of Logan; Misses Ethel and Pearl and two sons, Aubrey and Opie, of Madison.
“Col. Joel E. Stollings,” Logan County Banner (Logan,WV), 2 October 1897.
From the Logan Democrat of Logan, WV, we find the following editorial dated February 24, 1916:
The following was prominently displayed in fourteen point type under the bold, three-column heading, “What Does It Profit a Young Man to Be a Logan County Democrat?” on the front page of the Logan Banner last week. We cheerfully aid in giving it the widest possible publicity and commend its careful reading to all of the conscientious and thoughtful citizens of Logan county:
“To the young men of Logan county, who are to cast their first vote this year and hereafter participate in the political life of the commonwealth:
“For Forty Years Logan county has given stupendous democratic majorities. It has always had the largest percent of democratic votes of any county in the state.
“Logan county has never been recognized by the Democratic party by awarding any one of its citizens a nomination upon the state ticket.
“Logan county Democracy has never had a member of the state committee.
“Not one of its citizens holds an appointment under the national administration other than postmasters of the local offices.
“You, as a Democrat, are just voted like dumb cattle.
“In the Democratic organization of Logan county the highest achievement to be obtained by ambitious youth is to become a deputy sheriff with a tin badge and a gun.
“The Republican party welcomes the vaulting ambition of youth.
“It meets young men on the first round and lifts them higher.
“Logan county Republicans have a voice and exert a powerful influence in the councils of the party in the state.
“It dwindled the Forty Years of Huge Democratic Victories in Logan county to the necessity of a recount in the election two years ago.
“This year the Democratic Hurrah and Horrors will be as naked as Robinson Crusoe’s summer underwear.
“Choose which primary you will go into.”
“Honest confession is good for the soul.” But, whoever expected anything honest from the source from which the foregoing sprung? Yet there it is, and seeing is believing, and we have no choice other than to congratulate the author of the superlative exposure of the designs and ambitions of the so-called Republican organization of Logan county.
Public office, spoils, graft, gratification of personal desires and ambitions, such is the bait brazenly held out in the effort to tempt good men to desert principle and aid in the maintenance of the most corrupt political organization known under the sun, the state Republican machine and its Logan tentacle. The implied promise may be within the Corrupt Practices act, but never was there a more damnable attempt to influence or corrupt voters than The Banner’s public solicitation.
Logan has never had a citizen on the state Democratic ticket; never had a delegate to a national convention; none of its citizens holds an appointment other than postmasters, etc., says the Banner. Undoubtedly true. But for fifty years the Democrats of Logan county along with those throughout the country have battled for something that they prized and still prize far more than self-advancement and this Principle.
How many Presidents has the Democratic party had in fifty years? How many Democratic governors has the state of West Virginia had in the past 20 years? But, has the rank and file of the Democratic party of the nation or state wavered in its allegiance to principle? Not that you could notice it; it has fought steadily on in the face of repeated failure, and discouragement and was finally crowned with a glorious success in the nation in the year 1912, and it is now strongly entrenched and fully prepared to turn the rascals out of the West Virginia state house in the year 1916. The Banner can read the signs, and its outrageous plea for succor is a forcible admission that its organization is in dire distress and will go the limit for votes. Votes to carry on the nefarious work of an organization that has bankrupted the state and sullied its reputation; votes to keep in office the plunderers who have done nothing but feed from the public trough from time immemorial and would not know how to work if cast adrift; votes to maintain a system of subsidized newspapers to outrage the public while at the same time subsisting from public funds lavishly distributed through administrative favor. It is obvious that the Banner is correct when it asserts that its organization, posing as the Republican party, can feed its swine. There is no room for argument on that score; but, where is the honest man of principle that wants that kind of success? He is not in the Democratic party, whether he be young or old, about to cast his first vote or his last this year.
The Banner boasts that Logan county Republicans exert a powerful influence in the councils of the party in the state. No they don’t, and the Banner knows it lies when it says they do. The Republicans of Logan county have no more influence in their so-called party affairs than the editor of the Democrat has with Hatfield, et al. The true Republicans of Logan county are a negligible quantity when it comes to influence, but the so-called Republicans who wear the administration, stand-pat collar, who dictate the policies and the utterances of the Banner, and who are in the political game to rule or ruin are high with the powers that be, but so far as can be noticed they have never let anything get away from them that was at all valuable or that they could use. The very existence of the Banner is a testimonial to the selfishness and applications of this little coterie to whom principle is an unknown quantity and the dough bag and preferment the swaying elements of their lives.
Principles not spoils nor selfish ambition sway the Democratic voter, and one of his foremost principles is directed against this very system of corruptness that the Banner so valiantly expounds as good Republican doctrine. Reduced to the naked truth, the battle of ballots in the state of West Virginia for the past 12 years has been between Democrats and Grafters, the Republicanism of Lincoln has long since been routed out. Democrats vs. Graft, and up to this time Graft has won, but the battle is to be renewed with increased vigor next November and w hen the smoke has cleared away there is every indication that at last Right will have come into its own.
The Banner’s closing paragraph is worthy of another repetition: “Choose which primary you will go into.” Yes, choose! But be not too hasty. Consider well the situation from every angle. If you are a Republican in principle, and you can discover any Republican principle in the organization posing as that of your party in the county or state, do your duty; if you are a Democrat in principle now is the time of times to assert yourself and your manhood, without thought of personal advancement or selfish ambition, but for the satisfaction of assisting in achieving the goal of Democratic ambition, the betterment of the condition of all the people.
Democrats will be confronted this fall with a condition that will take concerted action and shoulder-to-shoulder advance to successfully combat. Negroes, the secret of the Banner’s boast of reduced Democratic majorities in Logan county, will be voted in increased numbers and every artifice and design, legitimate or otherwise, that can be devised will be used to stay the tide of public indignation and resentment against Republican gang politics, so it behooves all true party men to stand-pat and go into the fight prepared to battle for and with his neighbor of the true faith for the common wealth.
A.B. Eubanks, Appalachia, assessor, Chapmanville District, Charles Ritchie, Cole Hatfield, constable, county clerk, Democratic Party, E.R. Chapman, E.T. England, G.R. Claypool, history, Ira Hager, J.G. Hunter, James French Strother, Joe Buskirk, Johnny Pack, Lloyd P. Hager, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Naaman Jackson, Noah Browning, politics, Republican Party, Superintendent of Schools, W.N. Bechtel, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find the following story dated September 10, 1926:
Groundwork for an energetic campaign was laid at a meeting of the candidates, committeemen and other party leaders and workers at a meeting held in Republican headquarters Wednesday afternoon. For more than two hours there was a frank discussion of local political conditions. Every appeal for party harmony–and these appeals came from all quarters–was greeted with applause and called forth unreserved pledges of loyalty to the whole ticket. Those present declare that so convincing was the evidence of a general determination to lay aside past differences about candidacies and party management that during the meeting and afterward predictions were advanced that the Republicans would carry the county by not less than 2,000 and more probably by 3,000. After the general meeting, local candidates and members of the committee met to formulate plans for the campaign. As a result of these meetings, it may be announced that this year the Republican campaign will be extended into every district. For the first time in the party’s history Chapmanville district is to be considered part of the battle-ground. That old Gibraltar of the Democracy is to have an opportunity at last, it is asserted, to hear both sides.
E.T. England, former attorney general and now the Republican nominee for representative in congress from the Sixth district, opened the general meeting by a fervent appeal for harmony and a whole-hearted effort in behalf of every candidate from Congressman James French Strother to Johnny Pack, candidate for constable. Notwithstanding his own candidacy, he declared that nothing interested him more in a political way than to see Logan county definitely fixed in the Republican column. “I have no personal interest at stake here,” he said, “yet if you think I’m needed at any time in the campaign let me know and I’ll come if it is possible. But you won’t need my services. All that is necessary to do is to go to the people and tell them in detail of what a Republican county court, a Republican sheriff, and a Republican assessor and magistrates have done; and then contrast that record with the record of the Democratic machine.” Until there was a political change in the administration of affairs, General England pointed out, the casual meeting of three or more Republicans on the street was considered by the authorities as an unlawful assembly. “Remind the people of the greater measure of liberty now, accorded to every man,” he advised. “Explain so all can understand that a Republican regime has lowered taxes, in spite of a reduced valuation of property for taxation purposes. It was the first time the taxpayers’ interest had been served; in fact for many years the subject of economy was never mentioned in Logan county.”
G.R. Claypool, chairman of the county committee, presided at the meeting and called on representatives of every element and of every section to discuss the party’s problems and prospects. Each speaker was able to present some new thought concerning the situation and as the meeting progressed enthusiasm waxed steadily higher. A climax was reached near the close of the session when Ira Hager, after adverting the registration figures showing a Republican margin of about 1,800, turned to General England and said: “You need not be troubled by the situation here; Logan county will give a Republican plurality of 3,000 all along the line.” Charles Ritchie, law partner of General England and a former assistant attorney general, recalled the court battle involving title to county offices in which he participated and commended Republican officials on the basis of reports he had received as to the record they are making. “No matter how earnestly you may have differed in the primary, you should abide by the expressed will of the majority,” he admonished. Senator Naaman Jackson urged the prompt discarding of minor grievances and differences tot he end that a vigorous canvass might be waged and a substantial victory won on November 2. Rev. A.B. Eubanks, introduced as one who had been made to feel the ruthless power of the Democratic machine, told of the interest of the colored voters in the impending contest.
Among others who spoke briefly were Joe Buskirk, candidate for county clerk; Noah Browning, candidate for county superintendent of schools; County Assessor J.G. Hunter; Cole Hatfield, Lloyd P. Hager, City Treasurer Nowlan, E.R. Chapman, Mr. Claypool, and W.N. Bechtel, who said he had been a member of the county committee for 30 years.
Source: “Republicans Form Plan for Spirited Campaign This Fall: Purpose to Invade Chapmanville Dist.,” Logan (WV) Banner, 10 September 1926.
From the Logan Banner of Logan, West Virginia, dated October 23, 1914, we find this editorial:
“Politicians of Logan County are accused by citizens of other counties, and it can be heard in our own county, too, that there is never an election where officers for the county offices are to be elected that a great deal of liquor and money is not used for the purpose mostly of buying votes. If this accusation is true and we believe it is, limited to the August election, the good citizens of this county ought to bring every iota of influence which they may have to bring such an iniquitous and unlawful practice to the bar of justice. A candidate who buys his way into office is dishonest through and through, and is not fit to represent the people in the most trivial matter. A grand jury would do the most noble service for this county if it would be the means of bringing before the court for trial offenders of this type. Already it is being mentioned that a great deal of money will be used in the coming election, mainly for the purpose of buying votes and buying WHISKEY with which to buy votes.
“West Virginia was voted dry on last July 1st, and while our laws do not prohibit liquor from being brought into the State it certainly does prohibit the giving away of it or the selling of it in this State; and every one knows that our late law was not required to make the use of it on election day, for the purpose of influencing votes, illegal. This paper intends to let people know, if the astuteness of those indulging in this phase of illegality does not make it impossible to get the information, just who are the offenders, and just what candidate was the one to profit by such insidious practice. We except candidates from no party.”
Appalachia, Blood in West Virginia, Boone County, Charleston, Charleston Gazette, Coal River, genealogy, governor, Gretna, Hamlin, Henry H. Hardesty, history, Jacob B. Jackson, Joseph E. Chilton, Kanawha County, Kanawha Ring, Kuna and Walls, lawyer, Lincoln County, Louisiana, Mary Elizabeth Chilton, Pelican Publishing Company, politics, prosecuting attorney, teacher, West Virginia, West Virginia University, William Edwin Chilton
From “Hardesty’s History of Lincoln County, West Virginia,” published by H.H. Hardesty, we find this entry for Joseph E. Chilton, who resided at Hamlin in Lincoln County, West Virginia:
Was born at the mouth of Coal river, Kanawha county, (now) West Virginia, December 6, 1855, and came to Lincoln county in 1878. He is a son of William Edwin and Mary Elizabeth (Wilson) Chilton. Joseph E. Chilton taught in the public schools of Kanawha county, West Virginia, five years, two years of which were spent in Charleston. He read law in the office of Kuna and Walls while teaching, and at the age of twenty-one was admitted to the bar. In 1880 he was elected prosecuting attorney of the counties of Lincoln and Boone, West Virginia, which office he still holds. Mr. Chilton is a regent of West Virginia University, having been appointed by Gov. Jackson in October, 1882.
Source: The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Vol. 7 (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 109.
NOTE: Mr. Chilton briefly appears in my book, Blood in West Virginia: Brumfield v. McCoy. For more on the very important Chilton family, follow this link: https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1167