Don Chafin

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
and West Virginia Biography
Volume II Biographical, Page 579
The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York
Published 1923

DON CHAFIN. Logan County’s best known citizen is Don Chafin, business man and public official. His abilities have given him an unusual sphere of usefulness from early boyhood. He has taught school, been a merchant, is interested in banking and coal operations, has twice filled the office of sheriff, and represents a family that has supplied a number of courageous and capable officials to the county.

Don Chafin was born on Maribone Creek, near the present site of Kermit, in what was then Logan County but now Mingo County June 26, 1887, son of Francis Marion and Esther (Brewer) Chafin. His mother is now living near Logan, on Island Creek, in a home built by her son Don. Francis M. Chafin, who died in 1903, at the age of fifty-four, was the son of a lieutenant in a Virginia regiment in the Confederate Army. Francis M. Chafin served as sheriff of Logan County from 1894 to 1898, before Mingo County was separated. His brother John was county and circuit clerk for eighteen years, until his death, and another brother, James Chafin, was county clerk of Mingo County from 1896 until his death in 1900. A cousin of Don Chafin was the late Judge J. B. Wilkinson, who for twelve years was prosecuting attorney of Logan County and for twelve years circuit judge, resigning from the bench and dying in 1900. The Chafins came to Logan County from Tazewell County, Virginia.

Don Chafin was the sixth in a family of eleven children.  There were four sons. William has been blind for the past four years and lives with his brother Don. John B. at the time of his death was a railroad engineer of the Norfolk and Western Railroad. James A. died when thirteen years of age.

Don Chafin acquired his early education in the Town of Logan while his father was sheriff, and later at the Dingess School in Mingo County, and also did work in Marshall College and took a commercial course in the Mountain State Business College at Parkersburg. He taught his first term at Dingess at the age of fifteen. In the intervals of school teaching he clerked for the firm of Hurst and Persinger for eight years. He was employed in the commissary and business offices of the Pearl Coal Company of Fairmont, and in 1904 joined the business firm of F. P. Hurst at Island Creek for two years. Then for a few months he was associated in business with Alex. Mounts, his brother in-law.

Mr. Chafin was only twenty-one years of age when he was elected assessor of Logan County, in 1908. In 1912 he was elected for his first term as sheriff. At the close of that term, in 1916, he was appointed county clerk, and in 1920 was again made a candidate for sheriff and elected, beginning his official term January 1, 1921. The efficiency he has exemplified in the conduct of his office is too well known to require comment.

In 1905 Mr. Chafin married Mary Mounts, who was born on Gilbert Creek in Mingo County, daughter of Moses Mounts. Mr. and Mrs. Chafin have six children: James A., Marion Rathburn, Lillie Hazel, Mary Frances, Charlotte Jane and William Al.

Mr. Chafin is affiliated with the Elks Lodge. He was one of the organizers of the Aldredge Coal Company, operating near Logan, also of the Chafin-Jones-Heatherman Coal Company, whose operations are at Peach Creek. He is a director and one of the large stockholders in the Bank of Logan, which was established late in 1920, with a capital of $100,000, and already has deposits aggregating $1,000,000. He is also a heavy stockholder in the Guyan Valley Bank.


In 1921 the infamous Sheriff Chafin was the leader of the defending forces in the Battle of Blair Mountain.  Consequently, the coal miners despised Sheriff Don Chafin. Their dislike of Chafin is epitomized by the song the miners sang on their march to Logan County: “We’ll Hang Don Chafin from a Sour Apple Tree”.

When Don Chafin died in Huntington on August 9, 1954, he was known as one of Huntington’s wealthiest men. It is no secret how Don Chafin acquired his wealth and many coal miner families still detest him for it.

Chafin’s former residence was built around 1900 and is called the “Chafin House”. The house is located at 581 Main Street in downtown Logan. In 1920, Chafin bought the property from Frank Hurst for $27,500.  The Chafin House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as the Women’s Club and the Logan Library for many years but it’s now closed and is in a bad state of disrepair.

Chafin House 3-25-2014

The historic Chafin House. If the roof isn’t replaced soon, the structure will be too far gone to restore. Photo taken 3-25-2014.

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One Response to Don Chafin

  1. Julie Acatitlan says:

    This is sad…I lived in the red house to the left of the Chafin House 17 years ago as a child, and I recall visiting it when it was a library and when they had ice cream socials. Too bad no one can preserve this beautiful, old house.