Early Life In Logan County

Early Life In Logan County Described by K. F. Deskins

Pioneer Citizen Has Clear Recollection of Sixty Years Ago When There Were But Eight to Ten Houses Here

The Logan Banner, Nov. 12, 1937

By Stan Tobin

Sixty years ago, which is comparatively a short time in the ordinary span of things canoes and flatboats floated up and down the Guyan River, deer, bear and wild hogs roamed the hills in abundance and the few people that lived in the valley existed by what nature had to offer.

Sixty years ago not more than eight or ten houses were in the city of Logan, one homestead was at Mt. Gay, one at Midelburg Addition, and one at Stollings.

K.F. Deskins one of the foremost pioneers in the county, from whose father Deskins Addition received its name, has lived here all his life and at the age of 70, has a clear recollection of the early days.

He tells of those pioneer years as follows: “We farmed, raised cattle, kept a few head of sheep and owned 100 head of wild hogs. We also raised Geese, made our own feather beds and pillows, and sold surplus feathers to our little country store. During the winter we would run out occasionally into the mountains and kill a wild hog, or let a neighbor kill one for half the carcass. We raised cane too, and made from 90 to 100 gallons of molasses for cooking and table use. The cane was ground in an old home made mill and boiled down in three big kettles and placed in a furnace made in the ground.”

We raised corn and shelled it and took it to a water mill to Pecks Mill or Tone Lawson’s each seven miles away. It took a whole day to make the trip, get our grist and return. This supply would last about two weeks.

Merchandise all came by flatboat, pushed up the river from Guyandotte. It took about two weeks to make this trip, and there was no other way of transportation. Later on we hauled with teams and wagons from Charleston and Brownstown.

We wore what was called pee jackets, made out of gray cloth, known as Kentucky Jeans, which was tied in front in a hard knot. Mother knit our socks and suspenders. We wore leather shoes with thick soles and had laces made of ground-hog skins. Sometimes we wore moccasins made of one-piece leather. The women wore linsey dresses until three-cent calico was introduced and became very popular as a dress material. All women wore long dresses, and some wore hoops. They rode horseback on two-horn saddles, or rode behind their husbands.

Sixty years ago Mingo was embraced in Logan County. The town of Logan had but few houses. There was one house at what is now Mt. Gay. Aunt Jane Avis lived near where the power house now stands, and we could see her house from our log home. There was one house in what is now Midelburg — the home of Ed Robertson. There was one home in Aracoma where John Justice lived and had a grocery store. At Stollings, there was one house, that of James Lawson. There was a tanyard back of town near Hick White’s home. All those named are dead now.

There was not a single bridge in the county. Foot logs were used to cross the streams. A tree that would span a creek would be chopped down. It would be scored and hewn on one side and placed in a suitable position.

We owned 600 acres of the finest farm, timber and coal land in Logan County sixty years ago. Two of the boys still own quite a bit of the same property today in Deskins Addition. Our grandparents owned many slaves and lost heavily on them when they were freed.

Cookstoves, carpets, rugs, phonographs, iron bedsteads, electric light, radios, automobiles and flying machines were not dreamed of by us then.

We have seen deer come down the hill opposite our house and jump into Island Creek. We could hear foxes barking, owls hooting and wild turkeys gobbling most any morning as there were all kinds of game in the county sixty years ago.

“We could see and hear wild geese pass every fall. Wild ducks were plentiful and it was great sport to hunt and shoot them in the fall of the year. We children and mother dug wild ginseng and yellow root for a living, as this was quite a big business during the fall months.

Our forefathers of the Deskins line said our name originated from a boy child that was found on a doorstep wrapped in deerskin back in Indian times and they named him deer-skin.”

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3 Responses to Early Life In Logan County

  1. Steve Early says:

    K F Deskins was my Greatgrandmother Salona Belle Deskins’ brother. Salona Belle first married Jesse Meek. They had two children George and Charles Henry. Charles Henry was my grandfather. Thanks for sharing this article! It provides additional information relative to my family’s roots in Logan County.

  2. Charles D Isaacs says:

    People in those days were much more hardy than they are today. My grandpa, Ora Marcum, for example, worked the old Mt Gay mine during the depression. They worked long hours for very little money. He said, “when we came out of the mine and the snow would be flying and men would be standing around the parking lot hoping one of us would quit.”
    Before the turn of the twentieth century almost everything had to be done the hard way. They say some people were born in the wrong place, I guess I was born in the wrong century. I love reading the local history. keep up the good work and I will continue to read.

  3. Gertie Moore says:

    Very interesting,I love history,especially of our own home area!!! Thanks for sharing ,,