Brandon asked Daisy about Paris Brumfield.
“Well, he had a band of people. They went around and killed a lot of people, they said. They called them a mob. Mommy said they had a mob and if they didn’t like somebody they’d kill them. The Brumfields was rough. The Brumfields first killed Grandpa’s son-in-law, Boney Lucas, and when Mom married Green McCoy they said they had another one they was gonna kill.”
Daisy told us an incredible story about Green whipping Paris in a fight.
“All I know, they was into a racket beforehand and Green McCoy got him down and pulled his eyes all out and said, ‘Go back.’ He said they was just like rubber — he’d pull his eyeballs out and they’d go back. Said you couldn’t pull them all the way out. He did finally get his sight back. Had to wear a blindfold for two or three weeks or a month. Laid around for a while.”
Faye said, “Mom said Grandma was laughing — she kinda thought it was funny to tell about him pulling that eyeball out and it popping back like a rubber band.”
We could just picture the fight, based on what we’d read in the Lambert Collection.
“Fist fights between neighborhood bullies, or to settle old scores” were a part of local culture in those times. “It was not uncommon for contestants to engage in ‘gouging,’ as a natural sequence of a fist fight. Weapons were banned, but many a man lost an eye, by having it gouged out.”
It probably wasn’t too long after Green’s fight with Paris that he and Milt were murdered. Daisy knew they were killed in October (just after Spicie’s twenty-third birthday) after being captured in Eden, Kentucky, where Green’s first family lived. She said a Brumfield mob easily took possession of them there because “the law was afraid of them.”
“Paris Brumfield was one of the ringleaders,” she said. “They brought them back from Kentucky up to Fry and killed them there. They made Green McCoy play the fiddle and he didn’t want to. They was a gonna kill him, they said. Mrs. Fry — that lived in that house — she crawled under the bed, she said. She was afraid they was gonna kill her.”
Mrs. Fry was a sister to Boney Lucas.
Daisy said some of the younger Brumfields protested Milt’s and Green’s murder.
“They are good Brumfields,” she said. “Like other people, they’re mean people in every generation. Some of the Brumfields was real good people.”
Daisy said Spicie didn’t go with Milt’s wife to beg for Milt’s and Green’s life, as we’d heard from Billy Adkins. Actually, Daisy didn’t think her mother had known Emma Haley but Brandon wondered about that since one of Emma’s uncles had married an aunt to Spicie McCoy years before. (Another confusing, but seemingly relevant, genealogical connection.)
“Then after they shot them and killed them,” Daisy said, “they took a pole axe and beat his brains in and his brains went up on the door, Mom said. Oh, that liked to killed Mom.”
After the murders, the Brumfields warned people not to touch Milt’s and Green’s bodies.
“The Hatfields up there was a friend to Green McCoy ’cause when they murdered them they wasn’t gonna let them be buried, they said, and the Hatfields from Logan County come down there with their rifles to see if Grandpaw had let them bury them on his farm,” Daisy said.
That seemed unlikely to us, considering how the Hatfields were busy feuding with Randolph McCoy’s clan, however, Devil Anse Hatfield’s mother was a first cousin to Spicie McCoy’s grandfather.
In any case, Daisy said there was no Hatfield-Brumfield trouble because Milt and Green were buried on Cain’s farm before the Hatfields arrived in Harts.
In later years, Spicie made several trips to the gravesite with her son, Sherman McCoy — sometimes on paw paw runs. Faye took Daisy and Spicie on a final trip in August of 1953. The graves were in bad shape.
“It looked like it had been neglected,” Daisy said. “They just had little rocks for their tombstone. I couldn’t go up there now — I’m ninety-one years old — but I went there several years ago with my mother.”