What a difference a year makes, right?
It was about this time last year that I was becoming excitedly optimistic about some changes that were occurring in and outside of Logan. I had made some new acquaintances and I was eager to see their local projects progress. About a month later, I would meet another newcomer to the area, who would quickly ruffle the feathers of some government officials and others, despite presenting an almost unbelievable plan that would create jobs in Logan. The politically outspoken newcomer to Logan was businessman Dongming Pan.
However, the first business person that drew my attention was Courtney McCoy Quick, who gave me a tour of the once-abandoned structure that she was in the process of restoring into a restaurant, with other plans for the huge four-story building still in the making. Today, the location behind the Logan Post Office, formerly incorporated in 1904 as Logan Hardware, is known as McCoy Station, which has since its opening been the scene of weddings, reunions and other get togethers. It also now features a huge bar area, an-axe throwing arena, and plenty of rental units — all being readied for trail riders and others to stay, for short- or long-term venues.
After continuously watching the progress of Courtney’s vision, we both, along with local historian Brandon Ray Kirk, traveled to Main Island Creek to meet Robert Hatfield, a great-great-grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield, who was progressing in the opening of what he termed the Hatfield-McCoy Museum that occupies the property that formerly was the site of the home of the famous clansman’s family. It is located about 150 yards from the Hatfield Cemetery.
I was elated to see something finally being done to the former homesite of the infamous feudal leader, and I hoped that it would lead to better acknowledgment of the often-visited cemetery that was and remains almost unreachable by the healthiest of souls, much less the elderly or disabled. The dirt roadway is a problematic eyesore that I have addressed repeatedly for over 40 years.
Like two of the great-grandchildren of the patriarch leader, Grant and Joe Browning, who visited the cemetery for all their lifetimes to decorate graves on Memorial Day weekend, I, too, was about to give up hope on Logan County. Both Grant (from Tennessee) and Joe (North Carolina), who met with the Logan County Commission during one visit back to their hometown, sadly, have since passed on, never to see the improvements so badly needed.
When the word came to Courtney, Brandon and myself that some guy named Pan had purchased the former Logan Banner properties on Stratton and Charles Streets, Brandon Kirk — by then, named as the town of Logan’s official historian — got permission, and Courtney and I tagged along with him to see the “remains” of The Banner prior to the place being totally cleaned out and remodeled.
What we discovered was astonishing, especially at the Charles Street location that formerly was called the press room. It was the site of my first job with The Logan Banner in the circulation department, thanks to then-circulation manager Bob Kolovich. Like the newsroom of the main building, it was a place of many memories.
Much like ground moles, Courtney and Brandon crawled through leftover debris from the days when the newspaper press roared six days a week, providing local news daily. Unfortunately, there was more than newspaper debris in the abandoned structure. In fact, there were visible remains of a small community in the former press building. The graffiti on the walls, needles in the floor, and bedding on the concrete surface made it clear that there had been a homeless domain at the site for a considerable amount of time.
With only flashlights to guide us through both former newspaper edifices, I watched as my two historian friends worked like curious beagles searching for rabbits among the brush. The stale and unfiltered air did not prevent the duo from finishing the mission — old newspapers, canceled employee checks, mostly items few others would value.
The next thing I knew, Courtney, Brandon and I were placed on the board of directors of the Hatfield-McCoy Foundation and Museum. After a grand opening of the museum, some board members questioned some of the legalities of the operation and it is my understanding the board was dissolved.
In the meantime Pan was continuing to grow his operations by obtaining the former Peebles building for a proposed garment factory that would employ at least 50 people. While awaiting certain machinery to arrive in order to start production, Pan chose to purchase property on Dingess Street of Logan in order to put in living facilities for the homeless of Logan.
Although he has spent over a million dollars already on properties and payroll in Logan, and last year purchased sleeping bags and tents for the homeless, Pan has yet to open for business and has not seen a penny of financial gain. In the last communication with him last week, he was in Uruguay conducting business. He indicated that one business would soon be opening at the former Banner building.
So, not even a year since Pan’s existence in Logan, improvements are visible to the buildings, that in itself being a positive for Logan.
Meanwhile, up on Main Island Creek plans are for a $200,000 project adjacent to the Hatfield Cemetery that includes parking for visitors. The state has already paid a large sum of money for engineering at the historical site.
More plans continue for that area as the Hatfield and McCoy’s Historical Society has teamed with the Pikeville Historical Society and is headed by Sarah Ann resident Larry Chafin, who along with fellow volunteers have repeatedly cleaned up the roadway area of Route 44 near Omar and cleared the cemetery at Stirrat that some refer to as the Cap Hatfield Cemetery. Chafin is a former member of the Hatfield-McCoy Foundation Museum board that reportedly was dissolved.
Chafin, a friend, asked me to write the narrative to the State Historic Preservation Office in order to have the so-called Cap Hatfield cemetery placed on the Historical Register and National Register of Historical Places, which I would do if appropriate to do so.
Nevertheless, having been fully aware of a long-lasting lawsuit involving the Cap Hatfield properties that caused a feud amongst the feudal family, I chose to speak with the property owner of a 6.5 acre tract of land that contains the cemetery and was part of the lawsuit. In addition, I sought his permission to see the work that had been done at Cap Hatfield’s gravesite.
Last week, I met the owner, Ronnie Osborne, who was one of the most congenial property owners I have ever encountered. The former coal miner, whose hobby is raising fighting chickens at a feeding cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per year, even transported me with his side-by-side to the graveyard.
The cemetery had been wonderfully cleaned up, although the inscriptions of the Hatfields on the monument of Cap and his wife are in desperate need of some sort of cleaning. Otherwise, the gravesites of different people there are now nearly immaculate.
After researching the deceased buried in the cemetery and reading their obituaries in The Logan Banner following various deaths, I cannot find anything that refers to the graveyard as the Cap Hatfield Cemetery. The family names there consist of Glenn, Kirk, Beres, Woody, and Hatfield.
In the 1975 obituary of Robert Hatfield, son of Cap and Nancy Hatfield, and the person responsible for the construction of the stone built house with a rock fence surrounding it at Stirrat, the opening paragraph of the obituary reads “Funeral services for Robert Emmett Hatfield, 77, of Stirrat will be conducted at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Honaker Funeral Home in Logan by the Rev. Earl Fraley Burial will follow in the Hatfield-Glenn Cemetery at Stirrat.”
In the 1980 obituary of Nancy Glenn Kirk, who was the daughter of Joe Glenn Sr., who helped Cap shoot and kill three men in Matewan, the obituary reads that services were conducted at Honaker Funeral Home and that burial “will follow in the Glenn Family Cemetery at Stirrat.”
Joe Glenn Jr., who was just 32 when he was killed in a coal mining accident in 1941, was reported in his obit to have been buried “in the family cemetery.”
Regardless, Ronnie Osborne has owned the property since 1993, and even though a family right-of-way to the cemetery is a part of the deed, Osborne, whose younger brother is now interred there as a result of a drug overdose, allows anybody to visit the graveyard, but because of several grandchildren living and playing adjacent to the right-of-way, he says he will not allow the right-of way to be used “for riff raff that thinks they can go through my property anytime they want.” “I have grandchildren to protect,” Osborne explained.
I have decided that I will not write a narrative for the inclusion of the graveyard to the registry, if in fact, it would mean that Osborne could not control the influx of traffic to the site.
Dwight Williamson serves as magistrate in Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.