It was 1912 in Logan County, and even though they were not allowed to vote, women had already started making a difference for the town of Logan, which was well on its way to becoming a true and bustling city. Thanks to the rapidly growing coal industry, Logan would become an enlightened and progressive locality, yet neither polished nor refined.
By 1912, the Logan Mercantile Co. — the first floor of which is now judicially utilized as Family Court — had been opened for barely a year by owner B.C Harris, who also conducted embalming and other undertaker procedures on the upper floor of the Main Street structure that featured an elevator.
Logan was growing quickly. The longtime former Indian burial grounds that existed under nearly all of the town even had its own Kroger’s on Main Street directly across from the courthouse. The word Kroger’s can still be seen painted on that particular building.
While men were probably hustling to open such businesses as pool halls, barber shops, retail stores and restaurants to take advantage of the growing population, and to cater to the coal camp folks who were pouring into Logan every weekend, many women saw the need for other things, so the group organized as the “Woman’s Civic League.”
The objective of the league was to improve the conditions of the community. After organizing and electing officers Feb. 3, 1912, its first move was to approach Logan City Council. It was reported that “every lady, married or single, over the age of 18 years, who has the interest of the city of Logan at heart” was invited to become a member. The initiation fee was a $1 and included the first year’s dues.
At a time when chewing tobacco was a popular item chewed inside and outside of the coal mines by both males and females, the Women’s League wanted a halt put to spitting in public places, and they convinced the council to pass an “anti-spitting ordinance.”
Spitting on the sidewalks, walls or floors of public buildings, or in other places where the public might be in Logan called for the offender to be liable for a fine of from one to ten dollars. Still, that wasn’t all the ladies got accomplished in creating a better health environment.
Through their efforts with the council, the beginning of proper garbage disposal became a reality for the first time in Logan as the street commissioner was ordered to collect and dispose of all accumulated garbage on Monday of each week. To facilitate the effort, all residents were requested to maintain a barrel or “other suitable receptacle for waste matter” and to have it in a convenient place for removal each Monday.
The Logan Woman’s Club would some years later come into existence, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution, both of which accomplished many outstanding civic endeavors — and it was these “feminine pioneers” who were not even allowed to vote in an election until 1920 that made the early difference in helping Logan government in matters such as the sale of sewer and paving bonds, the location of the first bridges across the Guyandotte River into Logan, the blocking of railroad tracks by trains and even the restoration of the evening passenger train to Holden.
These ladies should be recognized for their community efforts in making Logan County a better place to live.
BITS and PIECES
In writing about the year of 1912, the historical significance to Logan County, as well as much of the southern coalfields, is the November election, which not only became the first time legendary Don Chafin got elected sheriff, but it also was the year that Prohibition was ratified by West Virginia voters, although it did not go into effect until 1914.
The “outlawing” of the sale of alcohol in West Virginia actually created outlaws, including Don Chafin and his business partner, Tennis Hatfield, both of whom served time in prison for their illegal efforts at the Blue Goose Saloon that was located at Barnabus. The two men, who were blood related, grew to hate each other and were arch enemies in the political world. They strived to politically destroy each other, which is a virtually untold feud story that would rival the Hatfield-McCoy debacle of the 1800s.
I will relate this untold story of murder, deceit, political corruption and womanizing in later editions of this newspaper. However, I will tantalize readers by saying that Chafin left Logan County a multi-millionaire, and Hatfield — the youngest son of perhaps the most widely known West Virginian in the world — was said to later practically become a bum on the streets of Logan.
CLOSING NOTE: By the time this writing appears in the newspapers, political filings for elected offices will be completed statewide. Although elections are never boring in Logan County, this may mark the first election year in which Republican candidates in Logan County outnumber Democratic candidates on the May primary ballot. One has to go all the way back to 1924 when Republicans swept Logan County for the first time in a general election. Republicans would again win in 1928 with Joe Hatfield serving as sheriff. However, in 1932 every county in West Virginia went Democratic and every political office in Logan was won by a Democrat. The stronghold by the Democrats has been in place ever since. The general election in November, I predict, will be a doozy with Republicans jumping on the “Trump Train” in hopes of victory. Again, Logan County elections are anything but boring.