Appalachia, crime, Doc Workman, Ferrellsburg, Flora Workman, genealogy, Harts Creek, history, life, Logan Banner, Logan County, murder, mystery, Ray Watts, Roma Elkins, Simpkins Cemetery, true crime, U.S. South, West Fork, West Virginia, Workman Fork, World War I, writing
Fifty-six years ago, someone shot Wilson “Doc” Workman in cold blood at the front door of his little frame house on Harts Creek. Today, his unsolved murder is largely forgotten.
“Workman, 63, was found dead by his estranged wife, Mrs. Flora Workman, at 6 a.m. Friday at his home on Workman Fork of the West Fork of Harts Creek in Logan County,” the Logan Banner reported on Monday, April 23, 1956. “The victim died as a result of a stomach wound inflicted by a 20-gauge single barrel shotgun which was found lying across his left leg.”
Doc Workman was a man in the twilight of his life. By all accounts, he was a well-liked resident of the community. He was a quiet farmer, a former timberman, a veteran of the Great War and the father of nine children.
“Daddy and Mommy sure liked him,” said the late Roma Elkins, a native of nearby Ferrellsburg, in a 2004 interview. “He’d bring us a big water bucket full of eggs and wouldn’t let us pay him for them.”
Initially, Logan County sheriff Ray Watts and state law enforcement officers suspected robbery as the motive for Workman’s murder.
“Reports said Workman had been known to carry large sums of money around on his person and was believed to have between $400 and $500 at the time of his death,” the Banner reported. “Only a few dollars was found in the home after the shooting.”
On Sunday, April 22, Workman’s funeral was held at his home on Workman Fork. The service began at 2 p.m. and concluded with the burial at Simpkins Cemetery on West Fork.
On Monday, the Banner ran Workman’s obituary on its front page, listing his wife, nine children, four brothers and three sisters, most of whom lived in Logan County.