The Siege of

Crooked Creek Gap

By: Michael M Meador

Photographs by Rick Lee



Early Ball
The events of late summer 1921 are vividly recalled by people living along the main line of march and in the Logan County battle zones. Many fled the area, while others watched in fascination as milelong processions of miners arrived on foot, by automobile, and by hijacked trains. Remembering residents appear to have been sympathetic to the marchers, and many took up arms in their cause.

Early Ball and Cush Garrett live in Lake, at the forks of Hewett Creek in Logan County. Both lived in the community in 1921, with Ball teaching school nearby and Garrett himself a schoolboy. In late August they watched the union invaders tramp up Hewett, then turn left up Craddock Fork to attempt a crossing into nonunion territory at Crooked Creek Gap.
From the Gap, it was only a short march down to the Guyandotte River near Logan town, and many observers felt the angry miners had their best chance to break through at this point. In these conversations with Michael Meador, Ball and Garrett recount why the unionists failed to make the planned dawn crossing, and Ball remembers the hectic night before, when he served as the miners' "generalissimo."
Michael Meador: How many days were the men up here fighting?
Early Ball: I couldn't tell you that. They kept moving in closer. The first time I heard of them they were over at Mariner and then kept moving this way. I was a single man then and lived up the hollow here, pretty well where they were fighting. I was at home with my dad. Everybody was leaving the head of this creek, going down toward Boone County where they had relatives and family to keep them. I drove hundreds of people out of this hollow in my car.
MM: Did you have men in the house with you? Did the miners take over your house?
EB: No, they didn't take over the house. They never bothered anything. We owned a farm up there just off the main road a little bit, up the creek here on above Cush Garrett's, on up the left-hand fork, where they came and took over the schoolhouse, Craddock Fork. They came up there and took it over for barracks.
MM: Cush Garrett and I drove up there and looked where the school was and he showed me where the bomb had been dropped on the school.
EB: That was the only one that ever exploded. I saw it drop and saw the dirt fly up.
MM Were the planes very high?
EB: I don't know. There was one that went over us, and it was shooting some kind of gun, a rifle or pistol or something, and it wasn't very high. We both tore loose with high-powered guns. If we ever hit it, it never made a bobble.
Of course, I aimed to be neutral in the case. To tell the truth, my sympathy was with the miners; still I was not a miner, l was a schoolteacher. Elmer Nelson, a boy from up the creek here, we inspected these lines. We started over to inspect the thugs' line, over in the head of Mill Creek. It had rained and we had moved out on a point where we could look them over. We had field glasses and looked them over and didn't go on down, but if we had went on down we would have been on the other side. They would have captured us. We were in the head of Hewett, on Hewett Mountain, looking down Mill Creek. Mill Creek is on the other side going on the right-hand fork.


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Permission given by Michael M Meador. Article published in The Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars

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