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Old June 5, 2012, 10:46 AM   #45
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
Well, I'm still of the opinion that muzzleloaders were pretty much put away for good by the end of WWII. At least, I never saw one and I spent more than a little time back in the sticks. The county even used 4x4 school buses where I lived. But I will grant that it is possible, just unlikely.

I also take issue with the level of poverty in the hills but you first have to understand there were two classes of people living back in the coal fields of southwestern West Virginia, although class is not really an appropriate word.

One group consisted of the descendents of the original settlers and mostly had English and Scotch-Irish names. My stepmother was named McKinney, the local general store and post office was run by a family named Mills. There were also Cooks (originally German Koch), Grahams, Sturgills, and Poe. Don't remember other names. Some were still managing to farm some, others also worked in the mines.

The other group were immigrants and their descendents, all from Italy in that part of the country. They didn't live out in the hills. They lived in "coal camps" or in town. Those who had been born in Italy were all older than my father and I suspect they all came during the 1920s.

Some of the small towns were real boom towns in the 1940s and 1950s. They were hardly all that well off but poverty stricken is probably an exaggeration. Hard times came later as the mines worked out and with the increasing use of machines and strip mining. The ones that stayed became worse off but there was an exodus of people out of the coal fields and I was one of them.

I noticed a shoulder holster in one of the photos and the pistol being held by a boy in the second photo looks like a, what, Forehand and Wadsworth? I'll look that up. (Maybe a Merwin Hulbert?)

The feuding and fighting, including the Matewan fight, took place further west from places I lived. Unexplored territory, it says on my maps. But in Mercer County, to be sure, there was a lot of hard feelings and some continued struggles after the Civil War. It was a border county in a border state and that's the way things usually turn out. There was a struggle over where the county courthouse was going to be. A midnight expedition settled the matter for good. One town in one of the next counties over even changed its name to "Union," just to make sure everyone was clear on their stand.
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