Just a little somethin of interest

Just a little somethin of interest

Posted in the Harlan Forum

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#1 Jan 17, 2013
HARLAN DEPUTY SAYS HE WON TITLE OF “THUG”

FOR PART IN WAR TO SMASH COAL MINE UNION

Tells of Catching and “Bumpin off” Organizers in Kentucky

April 30, 1937

A little man with sleepy eyes and a dangling cowlick, a cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth, slouched languidly in the red-leather witness chair before the Senate Civil Liberties committee yesterday, to tell how he and his fellow deputies of Harlan County “went out to hunt down union organizers.”

“Thug Johnson, they call me,” said the little man with shamefaced pride.“Thug Johnson, of Bonnie Blue, Va., they called me that cause I was a thug.”

“How do you mean a thug?” asked Chairman Robert M. La Follette, jr.

“ Cuz I was always goin’ out thuggin.” said the witness, Thuggin is what we called goin’ out and catchin’ union organizers, takin’ them for a ride and bumpin’ em off.“But I never liked nobody-not in Harlan County, anyway.” Johnson added as the spectators roared. He had told the committee he had been acquitted twice on murder charges in Wise County, Va., his home.

“Thug,” whose real name is William C. Johnson, testified in a casual and carefree manner about his job as a deputy for the Harlan-Wallis coal mine, where he had strict orders to “fire all union men I learned about,” and of his special assignments to “beat up union men and bust up their meetin’s.”

As a specific example of his ability to follow the orders of his superiors, Deputy Sheriff Theodore R.Middleton, he cited an instance where “Merle saw Robert Ragland, a union man, in a poolroom. He says to me to go offer Bob Ragland a drink of liquor and when he drinks it, whip him over the head with your pistol.”

“Did you do it?” asked La Follette.

“I certainly did. I went in and invited him to have a drink of liquor and then I whipped him over the head with a pistol,“Then I put him in jail for being drunk,” added Johnson, stroking his weather burned cheek reflectively.

Johnson told the committee Pearl Bassham, prominent coal operator of Harlan County,“had heered about me as a mine foreman and a Baldwin-Felts detective agency man, and so he and Fred Loving, the supe,(superintendent) sent for me to work as a cut boss in the mine.”

Describing one occasion when a mass of armed deputies, turned back crowds of miners on their way to attend a union meeting, he said he “met Ted Creech, who showed me ‘over some guns he had, especially a submachine gun. He showed me how to handle it.”

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#2 Jan 17, 2013
Creech, now being held for the District grand jury, on bond of $2,000, for perjury before the Civil Liberties Committee in another matter, has told the committee flatly several times he never had or used a submachine gun in Harlan County, although several witnesses have testified he used such a gun such a gun for driving miners away from the meeting Johnson was describing yesterday.

Johnson told the committee Merle Middleton, a deputy, called out to him as the deputies “kicked some of the miners and poked the others with shotguns, to ‘Whoop ‘em up, Johnson!’ in order to keep the men moving down the road.“I had a pump shotgun on me that time,” mused Johnson,“and a .44 special pistol and a .38 special pistol, and Merle had a 30-30 high-power on him.” On another occasion, he said, Sheriff Middleton called all the deputies together to outline the day’s work in driving out union organizers.

“It was on a Sunday mornin’ at 7 a:m:,” Johnson recalled with a smile,“and the high sheriff, old Theo R., himself, said there would be two union meetin’s that day. He said it was open season on union organizers and not to let nobody stop on the highway to get to the meetin’s. Nobody did neither.” Searching his memory for other occations, Johnson told of trips he made with three other deputies in search of union men.

“I asked old George Lee,” said Johnson.“He and Merle Middleton and Frank White and me was the deputies in the car-I asked old George what we’re goin’ to do with any union men we catch, and he said,“Ram a .45 down their throat and take ‘em to a mountain top and bump ‘em off.” But we didn’t find any union men that time.” In the audience, George Lee, a saintly looking white-haired man with pink cheeks and clear blue eyes, smiled warmly at the recolletion, while bull-necked Sheriff Middleton and bald little Pearl Bassham exchanged sympathetic smiles.

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#3 Jan 17, 2013
Official Testifies

In the earlier session, Daniel Boone Smith, Commonwealth’s attorney for the counties of Bell and Harlan in Kentucky, a smooth-voiced young man, smartly dressed in a slate-gray gabardine suit, gray shirt and blue tie, testified in a confident and assured manner about the legal processes of Harlan County.

Smith admitted three coal companies, one of them in Harlan_Wallins Coal Mine, operated by Bassham, paid him total retainers of $2,100 a year, while his salary was $500, augmented by forfeitures and fines to a limit of $4,000. He told Senator Elbert D. Thomas, Democrat, Utah, that “perhaps there was some conflict at times” between his duty to the counties and his loyalty to the mine owners. He told the committee he was “a little bit proud of my record” and assured them that in his opinion “all the miners who voted for me before would vote for me again.”

Later testimony from union organizers contradicted this statement, and Smith appeared unable to give “satisfactory answers,” according to La Follette, to a long list of criminal indictments against coal-company deputies which Smith had moved to dismiss.

In one instance he dismissed four indictments of conspiracy of other crimes against Merle Middleton and later dismissed tow murder indictments against the same man “Peggy” Dwyer, union organizer later charged that “Boone Smith is owned by the operators, body, soul and britches.”

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#4 Jan 17, 2013
Creech, now being held for the District grand jury, on bond of $2,000, for perjury before the Civil Liberties Committee in another matter, has told the committee flatly several times he never had or used a submachine gun in Harlan County, although several witnesses have testified he used such a gun such a gun for driving miners away from the meeting Johnson was describing yesterday.

Johnson told the committee Merle Middleton, a deputy, called out to him as the deputies “kicked some of the miners and poked the others with shotguns, to ‘Whoop ‘em up, Johnson!’ in order to keep the men moving down the road.“I had a pump shotgun on me that time,” mused Johnson,“and a .44 special pistol and a .38 special pistol, and Merle had a 30-30 high-power on him.” On another occasion, he said, Sheriff Middleton called all the deputies together to outline the day’s work in driving out union organizers.

“It was on a Sunday mornin’ at 7 a:m:,” Johnson recalled with a smile,“and the high sheriff, old Theo R., himself, said there would be two union meetin’s that day. He said it was open season on union organizers and not to let nobody stop on the highway to get to the meetin’s. Nobody did neither.” Searching his memory for other occations, Johnson told of trips he made with three other deputies in search of union men.

“I asked old George Lee,” said Johnson.“He and Merle Middleton and Frank White and me was the deputies in the car-I asked old George what we’re goin’ to do with any union men we catch, and he said,“Ram a .45 down their throat and take ‘em to a mountain top and bump ‘em off.” But we didn’t find any union men that time.” In the audience, George Lee, a saintly looking

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#5 Jan 17, 2013
little man with sleepy eyes and a dangling cowlick, a cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth, slouched languidly in the red-leather witness chair before the Senate Civil Liberties committee yesterday, to tell how he and his fellow deputies of Harlan County “went out to hunt down union organizers.”

“Thug Johnson, they call me,” said the little man with shamefaced pride.“Thug Johnson, of Bonnie Blue, Va., they called me that cause I was a thug.”

“How do you mean a thug?” asked Chairman Robert M. La Follette, jr.

“ Cuz I was always goin’ out thuggin.” said the witness, Thuggin is what we called goin’ out and catchin’ union organizers, takin’ them for a ride and bumpin’ em off.“But I never liked nobody-not in Harlan County, anyway.” Johnson added as the spectators roared. He had told the committee he had been acquitted twice on murder charges in Wise County, Va., his home.

“Thug,” whose real name is William C. Johnson, testified in a casual and carefree manner about his job as a deputy for the Harlan-Wallis coal mine, where he had strict orders to “fire all union men I learned about,” and of his special assignments to “beat up union men and bust up their meetin’s.”

As a specific example of his ability to follow the orders of his superiors, Deputy Sheriff Theodore R.Middleton, he cited an instance where “Merle saw Robert Ragland, a union man, in a poolroom. He says to me to go offer Bob Ragland a drink of liquor and when he drinks it, whip him over the head with your pistol.”

“Did you do it?” asked La Follette.

“I certainly did. I went in and invited him to have a drink of liquor and then I whipped him over the head with a pistol,“Then I put him in jail for being drunk,” added Johnson, stroking his weather burned cheek reflectively.

Johnson told the committee Pearl Bassham, prominent coal operator of Harlan County,“had heered about me as a mine foreman and a Baldwin-Felts detective agency man, and so he and Fred Loving, the supe,(superintendent) sent for me to work as a cut boss in the mine.”

Describing one occasion when a mass of armed deputies, turned back crowds of miners on their way to attend a union meeting, he said he “met Ted Creech, who showed me ‘over some guns he had, especially a submachine gun. He showed me how to handle it.”

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#6 Jan 17, 2013
In the earlier session, Daniel Boone Smith, Commonwealth’s attorney for the counties of Bell and Harlan in Kentucky, a smooth-voiced young man, smartly dressed in a slate-gray gabardine suit, gray shirt and blue tie, testified in a confident and assured manner about the legal processes of Harlan County.

Smith admitted three coal companies, one of them in Harlan_Wallins Coal Mine, operated by Bassham, paid him total retainers of $2,100 a year, while his salary was $500, augmented by forfeitures and fines to a limit of $4,000. He told Senator Elbert D. Thomas, Democrat, Utah, that “perhaps there was some conflict at times” between his duty to the counties and his loyalty to the mine owners. He told the committee he was “a little bit proud of my record” and assured them that in his opinion “all the miners who voted for me before would vote for me again.”

Later testimony from union organizers contradicted this statement, and Smith appeared unable to give “satisfactory answers,” according to La Follette, to a long list of criminal indictments against coal-company deputies which Smith had moved to dismiss.

In one instance he dismissed four indictments of conspiracy of other crimes against Merle Middleton and later dismissed tow murder indictments against the same man “Peggy” Dwyer, union organizer later charged that “Boone Smith is owned by the operators, body, soul and britches.”

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#7 Jan 17, 2013
Heres another little interesting story about our past

Harlan County Murder and Mutilation

May 2, 1937

New and sensational stories of terrorism, murder and violence in Harlan County, Ky., were told by witnesses before the Senate Civil Liberties Committee last week.

The killing of their 19 year-old son was described by Marshal A. Musick, a Baptist preacher and union organizer, and his wife. After the father had received repeated warning that his life was in danger, a broadside of bullets was fired into the living room of the Musick home on February 9, killing 19-year-old Bennett Musick and wounding the mother and two other children.

Holding up his crippled bullet-mutilated hands for all to see, Hugh Taylor, a former Harlan Deputy, testified that Sheriff Theodore R. Middleton had offered him “2,000 and a new automobile”, if he would forget about the bullets fired at him by other deputies when he protested the Musick killing, and hide out until the Senate investigation was over.

A Harlan deputy,“Bill” Johnson, described himself as a “gun thug” and told how he was always “goin” out and catchin’ union organizers, taken’ them for a ride and bumpin’‘em off.”“But” he hastened to add,“I never killed anybody-not in Harlan County anyway.”

Sheriff Middleton, who admitted, that he and his wife had acquired property valued at $102,728 in the last three years, blandly informed the committee Friday that “quite a lot of violence has been committed by my deputies.” Admitting that he knew two deputies had shot a fellow officer and left him for dead on a mountain roadside, he said:

“As a rule we don’t dismiss them until they are convicted.”

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#8 Jan 17, 2013
I know I know.

The first story is all frigged up. I dont know how that happened. The first part posted twice and the middle of the story also posted twice. But heck I'm sure y'all are intelligent enough to figure it out

Since: May 12

Location hidden

#9 Jan 17, 2013
That is interesting. Where did you copy it from? My grandfather's brother Charles Ruth was killed by a deputy on Apr 2nd 1941. They had been picketing outside Long Branch MIne in Crummies Creek, and took a break to go into the commissary to get a pop. The mine owner/deputies had set a machine gun up on the butcher's block, and shot him as he entered. He was 28 and had two children. My mother remembers two men coming to her house to tell her father.

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#10 Jan 18, 2013
Backroads Wanderer wrote:
That is interesting. Where did you copy it from? My grandfather's brother Charles Ruth was killed by a deputy on Apr 2nd 1941. They had been picketing outside Long Branch MIne in Crummies Creek, and took a break to go into the commissary to get a pop. The mine owner/deputies had set a machine gun up on the butcher's block, and shot him as he entered. He was 28 and had two children. My mother remembers two men coming to her house to tell her father.
www.jeanhounshellpeppers.com/Newspaper_Articl... ...

Here's the link.

I was searching for pictures of the 1977 flood and just sorta stumbled upon this web site. There are some pretty cool articles from back in the day on this web site. And many of them are about Harlan and the surrounding area.

I thought it was sorta comical how they spoke about killing people the way you and I may talk about whats for breakfast.

There are even article about eh civil war in Ky on this web site.
Check it out!

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#11 Jan 18, 2013
May 2, 1937

New and sensational stories of terrorism, murder and violence in Harlan County, Ky., were told by witnesses before the Senate Civil Liberties Committee last week.

The killing of their 19 year-old son was described by Marshal A. Musick, a Baptist preacher and union organizer, and his wife. After the father had received repeated warning that his life was in danger, a broadside of bullets was fired into the living room of the Musick home on February 9, killing 19-year-old Bennett Musick and wounding the mother and two other children.

Holding up his crippled bullet-mutilated hands for all to see, Hugh Taylor, a former Harlan Deputy, testified that Sheriff Theodore R. Middleton had offered him “2,000 and a new automobile”, if he would forget about the bullets fired at him by other deputies when he protested the Musick killing, and hide out until the Senate investigation was over.

A Harlan deputy,“Bill” Johnson, described himself as a “gun thug” and told how he was always “goin” out and catchin’ union organizers, taken’ them for a ride and bumpin’‘em off.”“But” he hastened to add,“I never killed anybody-not in Harlan County anyway.”

Sheriff Middleton, who admitted, that he and his wife had acquired property valued at $102,728 in the last three years, blandly informed the committee Friday that “quite a lot of violence has been committed by my deputies.” Admitting that he knew two deputies had shot a fellow officer and left him for dead on a mountain roadside, he said:

“As a rule we don’t dismiss them until they are convicted.”

Another story about a killing during the labor unrest in Harlan from back in the day.

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#12 Jan 18, 2013
Harlan, Kentucky-May 10, 1937

February’s wave of labor violence in Harlan County brought a murder charge today against Frank White, deputy sheriff, and charges of shooting with intent to kill against White and two other deputies.

County Judge Morris Saylor issued the warrants, sworn to by County Attorney Bert Howard. The papers were turned over to Sheriff T.R. Middleton, who was directed to arrest his subordinates.

White, about 40, was charged with the murder of Bennett Musick, 19, son of Marshal Musick, United Mine Workers organizer. Musick was slain when a fusillade of bullets was fired into the Musick home near Evarts, Ky., February 9.

White Noncommittal

White, round-shouldered and tight-lipped, was noncommittal before the Senate Civil Liberties Committee on his activities in Harlan, although a number of witnesses testified he was a member of the group of deputies which left a Harlan lunchroom,“armed and intoxicated” on the night of the murder, with threat “We’re going over to see old man Musick.”

One witness even testified he saw White, in the glare of the headlights, in the car from which most of the shots were fired into the Musick home that night at the time of the shooting.

The other warrant against White charges he fired into the dwelling of William Clontz, Wallens Creek, also and organizer. George Lee and Ben Unthank, were ordered arrested on similar charges.

Lee, a saintly-faced white-haired man, also denied before the committee he had participated in numerous assaults, shootings, dynamiting and other terroristic activities with which other witnesses charged him, but was unwilling to impeach their testimony. He was identified also as a member of the group of deputies who threatened to “get” Musick on the night of February 9.

Sheriff Middleton, whom the Senate investigation showed had made more than $100,000 during his two years as Sheriff at a salary of $150 monthly, and who stood on his constitutional immunity several times when questioned as to participation in various affrays, admitted several times that Lee Unthank and White were key men among the 379 deputies he had sworn in to “preserve law and order in Harlan County.”

Unthank, whom Senate investigators could not locate, was termed by several witnesses the “head road killer” of deputy sheriffs employed by soft coal operators as mine guards. Sheriff Middleton said he did not know where Unthank now is.

Three other cases were investigated: The dynamiting of two automobiles near the L & M Railroad depot here, the throwing of tear gas into the New Harlan Hotel and the shooting and wounding of Tom Ferguson, union organizer.

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#13 Jan 18, 2013
If that dont work, Try this one

www.jeanhounshellpeppers.com

“"South of Southern”

Since: Jun 10

Location hidden

#14 Jan 18, 2013
That last link I posted took me to something entirely different.

Awww Heck just type in "Newspaper articles from the 1800"s to 1900"s and you'll find it.

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