McDowell County from 100 Years Ago

McDowell Exerpts from 100 Years Ago in Huntington,
Articles abstracted and compiled from Huntington Advertiser
by Cyndi Reynolds and Brandon Woolum
McDowell Exerpts submitted by June White

March 3, 1902

The wife of Estel Thomas, foreman of a Tug River Lumber Company mill and her
three-year-old child were sleeping in their home in the Dry Fork of Tug River,
when the stream flooded the house with three feet of water. They were still
inside, when "a huge drift came by, striking the structure which forced it from
its foundation and over the bank." It was reported that the woman cried piteously
for help as the structure floated down by the town of Davy" and that hundreds of
people stood lining the banks, helplessly watching as the house struck the railroad
bridge and sank from view.


March 14, 1902

Because the smallpox epidemic in McDowell and Mercer counties was growing worse,
several men were being quarantined near Welch, where they reportedly grew tired
of confinement, "broke through the lines and escaped into the hills." After puruing the
men about three miles, guards met up with the infected men and a gunbattle ensued. J. M.
Pickle, of Welch was seriously wounded in the fray and the guards were forced to retreat.


March 15, 1902

Mr. Joseph Fink and his bride were walking to the train station in Keystone, McDowell
County, to begin their honeymoon. They were accompanied by a man who was described as
a "colored man," carrying some of their baggage. Suddenly another man appeared and
drew his gun, demanding that Mr. Fink turn over all his valuables. Before Fink could decide what to do, the man who had been seen with him opened fire on the the robber, who fired back before leaving the scene. The Mr. and Mrs. Fink were unharmed, but the man who defended them was killed. The Finks decided to postpone their wedding trip to assist in identifying the killer, should he be caught. At the time the story went to press, police were "making every effort to capture the murderer and would-be robber."


March 19, 1902

Winston Gravely and Jenks Houston were working on a grade near Coopers on the N & W,
when a blast they had set failed to go off. As they attempted to move the blast with a drill,
it exploded "with terrific force." Gravely died instantly, "literally torn to pieces." Houston's
wounds were so severe he was not expected to live."


March 19, 1902

U. S. Steel Corp. announced they would open 50 new mines along the Tug River alone. N & W lines were to be double tracked the entire distance to accommodate increased coal traffic.


March 19, 1902

Dr. Hatfield, the son of Devil Anse Hatfield, was visiting Huntington. It seems his father had
killed "four fine large bears" over the winter, stories of which the Doctor delighted in relating
to anyone who would listen. Dr. Hatfield was described as one of the most prominent physicians
of the Tug River country, "a clever gentleman, popular in his home community" and "no bad
shot himself when it comes to a Winchester."


March 26, 1902

Negotiations for the purchase of the coal lands and mining rights owned by the Pocahontas
Collieries Company in Southwest VA, which were begun soon after the N & W secured the
Flat Top coal lands, had reached a point where it was believed that a deal seemed assured.
E. W. Clark & Co., formerly the SWVA Improvement Co., was the original owner of the
Pocahontas land sold to the Flat Top Association, subject to certain 100 lease holds. N & W.
was believed to be the proposed buyer.


June 27, 1902

A log train on the Panther Lumber Company's tram road in McDowell County was wrecked
yesterday and one man was killed and several injured, one whom was a Huntington man, Rich
Davis, who left here several months ago to work in the timber camps. On a car loaded with saw
logs, around which a heavy chain was bound to keep the logs from rolling off, were Andy Estep,
Davis, and others. While coming down the mountain, the logs swagged outward and the chain
came in contact with a projecting rock which severed it allowing the logs to roll off and the men
with them. Estep's skull was crushed, collar bone and left arm were shattered. Davis was also
badly injured and the others were just slightly hurt.


October 16, 1902

William Radford was arrested in the Palace Saloon on Ninth Avenue about five o'clock Tuesday
afternoon by Lieutenant David and Officer Ross on the charge of killing a man several months
ago. . .

Radford's arrest was upon information given the police by Officer Fed Myers of Williamson who is here attending court and who knows Radford. After seeing him here Monday notified the police. The officer from Williamson says that Radford went to Welch several months ago and opened up a blind tiger on the street. Whiskey was sold openly, and almost everyone in town knew that he was selling whiskey without a license. A warrant for Radford's arrest was sworn out, but before it could be served, Radford was informed of the name of the man who had caused the warrant to be sworn out. He immediately started out on a hunt for the man and finding him on the street shot him dead and then dared anyone to arrest or follow him. He walked out of town and has not been seen since until his presence was discovered here by the officer from Williamson.

Radford, who was charged with having killed a man in McDowell County several months ago
. . .has been confined to the city jail, awaiting word from the authorities in Welch. . .[and] has
been turned over to the Federal authorities to be tried in the United States court on the charge
of selling whiskey without license. Radford has been transferred from the city to the county
jail and if the necessary witnesses can be produced his trial will come up at this term of
Federal Court here. If Radford's case is not tried at this term of court, he will be held on the
charge of selling whiskey without a license until the next term of Federal court or until an
indictment is made against him for killing the man at Welch. Radford claims that he killed
the victim Frank Ervin in self-defense, but Officer Meyers of Williamson, who is well acquainted
with the case, says that Ervin was shot down in cold blood because he had a warrant issued for
Radford's arrest. . .

If Radford is convicted on the charge of selling the whiskey without a license, he will serve his
sentence for that offense and then be turned over to the authorities on the charge of killing Ervin.


December 17, 1902

The following large coal companies have been granted charters: Vaughan Coal and Coke Company of Welch, McDowell County, to conduct a general coal mining business. Capital, $50,000. Incorporators: J. L. Vaughan, Roanoke, Virginia; E. H. Sudduth, D. J. F. Strother, S. J. Johnson and S. A Strother, Welch.

Wenoah Coal and Coke Company of Bluefield, to conduct a general coal mining business. Capital,
$150,000. Incorporators: K. E. Harmon and J. C. Lonn, Pulaski City, Virginia; O. C. Jenkins,
Bluefield; D. H. Barger, Shawsville, Virginia; A. W. Reynolds, Princeton.


December 23, 1902

One of the most extensive coal land deals ever known in this section of the state is now in progress
with fair prospect that it will be consummated in a short time. C. Crane & Co., the big Cincinnati timber firm, who have such extensive interests in southern West Virginia, have received an offer of a syndicate of eastern capitalists of several millions of dollars for the coal under the lands in this section. C. Crane & Co. probably owns one hundred thousand acres of the finest coal lands in the state. It is understood that the price offered is six millions of dollars. Officials of the company declare that the offer will have to be increased before they will part with their holdings.



McDowell County