Wyoming County Report

History of Wyoming County

March 15, 2010

Marauding ‘Home Guards’ wreaked havoc during Civil War

Editor’s note: — Wyoming County was one of the border counties between the armies of the north and south and, while no major battles were fought in this section, Wyoming was the scene of much sectional strife and “guerilla” warfare between the marauding thieving “Home Guards” of the two contending sides.

In Wyoming County, both sides maintained small squads of Home Guards. The commanders of the Union Home Guards were Lt. Ferdinand Neumann, Richard M. Cook, Thomas Godfrey, Charles Stewart, Hiram Lambert and Sanders Mullens. On the Confederate side there were Major Dick Stratton of Logan, the “Logan Wildcats,” Andrew Gunnoe, Charles S. Canterbury and Russel Cook, who commanded Home Guards.

Home Guards were consumers and very poor producers. They felt that they had to live as well as other people, consequently, their captains on both sides allowed their soldiers to rob the corn cribs, smoke houses, granaries and chicken coops of the folks whose sympathies were on the other side in conflict.

This confiscation of property led to the guerilla warfare and the killings that took place in Wyoming County.

The families of every member of our history were involved in this war feud. Some of us have been trying for 81 years to outlive it and forget it, but the regrettable facts continue to bob up, so we have decided to make a clean breast of it and let the world know the facts as they are now history.

First Man Killed

This sectional feud took many lives on both sides. One of the first men killed in these skirmishes was John Allen Jr., generally known as “Crap” Allen. Allen lived on the Perry McGraw place near Glens Fork Gap. His brother-in-law, Ralph Laferty, with some of Lt. Neumann’s men (Union), captured him in early 1862 and took him prisoner to Charles Stewart’s on Laurel Fork.

Here he was given charge as a prisoner to Laferty, Dick Elkins, Owen Smith, and John J. Mitchell, who were to deliver him to the Union forces in Kanawha County.

In Walnut Gap, on the Wyoming-Boone line, they told Allen that he might run for his life, and as he started running, Laferty and Elkins shot and killed him and left him lying in the woods.

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History of Wyoming County
  • Civil War divided Shannon family

    The Shannon family of Wyoming County, descended from James and Sarah Layne Shannon through their sons James Shannon (1787-1881) and Rev. Layne Shannon (1789-1865), was among the early settlers of the county. James Shannon, a son-in-law of Capt. Edward McDonald, arrived in 1802 with his father-in-law. He built a large plantation-farm near present Brenton and owned several slaves.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tragedies of Civil War hit close

    The tragedies of war, some wanton and cruel, began to hit closer to home as units of Home Guards, both Union and Confederate, went rampaging throughout Wyoming County, pillaging, destroying, and performing wanton acts which resulted in the deaths of family, neighbors, and one-time friends.

    July 21, 2014

  • Civil War animosity turned deadly in spring 1862

    On April 11, 1862, slightly more than three months after he was made commander of Company I, Lt. Ferdinand Neumann was killed in an ambuscade on Indian Creek by Confederate sympathizer George Morgan and several other Confederate loyalists.

    July 14, 2014

  • Cookes typically Rebs, Stewarts sided with Yanks

    With a sweeping generalization, some histories have asserted that the Cookes were Confederates and the Stewarts were Federals.

    July 7, 2014

  • Local soldiers fought in battle at Scary Creek

    In June 1861, William T. Sarver (1825-1900), a son of Henry and Catherine Tracy Sarver, raised a contingent of Confederate soldiers at Oceana.

    June 23, 2014

  • Local men picked sides in 1861

    Wyoming County’s Civil War soldiers generally joined up with one of two companies. The Confederate soldiers joined Company G, 22nd Va. Volunteer Regiment, and the Union soldiers joined Company I, 8th (W)Va., later 7th WV, Cavalry. Many dozens of Wyoming County men, some for what appeared to be very personal reasons, were members of the Confederate and Union Home Guard units.

    June 16, 2014

  • County residents supported secession in 1860

    The Civil War, that most tragic period in all of American history, came to Wyoming County in a tragic fashion just as it did in much of the country.

    June 9, 2014

  • Town of Mullens officially became a city in 1912

    Mullens was a new town that got its post office in 1904 and grew rapidly after the coming of the Virginian Railway in 1906. Frame buildings were built from the Guyandotte River on the south, to Third Street on the north, and from the railroad on the east, to Slab Fork Creek on the west.

    June 2, 2014

  • ‘Uncle Jack’ Mullins elected first mayor of Mullens in 1912

    The first mayor of the City of Mullens was its founder, Andrew Jackson “Uncle Jack” Mullins, in 1912 and he was re-elected in 1913 for another annual term.

    May 26, 2014

  • 1910 trial of ‘Devil Anse’ son remembered

    The Bluefield Sunset News newspaper said, “Willis Hatfield is another son of ‘Devil Anse’ Hatfield and a saloon keeper at Boomer in Fayette County. He is a member of the bunch of Hatfields now living in Logan County. Dr. Thornhill was a very well liked and kind individual. He was the youngest member of the Thornhill family and had a faculty of making friends which made him popular. His death is greatly lamented.”
    Willis Hatfield could have had a fair trial in Wyoming County, because everyone knew he was guilty of murder.

    May 19, 2014