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Hatfield descendants plan cemetery cleanup

Logan Banner photo
Logan Banner photo

LOGAN, W.Va. — Two of Devil Anse Hatfield’s oldest living relatives will be in Logan County this week with hopes of “cleaning up” the Hatfield Cemetery at its Sarah Ann location. Grant Browning, age 83, and his brother Joe Browning, 81, are the great-grandchildren of the renowned clan leader and the grand-children of Devil Anse’s daughter, Elizabeth Hatfield Caldwell. Grant Browning, who resides in Nashville, Tennessee, said he and his brother, a resident of North Carolina, would like to hire “laborers” to do the work.

“We’re not able to do it, but we would like to make it (cemetery) look as good as we can,’’ Browning explained. “I can’t make it there until Friday, but my brother should be arriving Wednesday. We would love to have some help.”

Browning said he was born on Stratton Street “not far from the Don Chafin house.” His father, John B. Browning, was Chief Deputy for Sheriff Joe Hatfield, son of Devil Anse. Hatfield became Logan County Sheriff following the reign of legendary Sheriff Chafin, the commander in the infamous Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921. In an odd twist of fate, Chafin, a notorious opponent of unionization of the Logan coal fields, who reportedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from coal mine operators for his suppression of the union, would in 1924 be arrested for the illegal sale of liquor at a bar co-operated by Tennis Hatfield, another son of Devil Anse. The bar was located at Barnabus and was known as The Blue Goose. Reportedly, Hatfield spent time in prison but testified against Chafin, resulting in a three-year sentence to an Atlanta, Georgia prison for the longtime sheriff.

Sheriff Chafin’s connection to the Hatfield clan is the fact that Levisa “Levicy” Chafin was not only Devil Anse’s wife, but also Chafin’s great-aunt. The Chafin name has always served the political realm of Logan County since its early beginnings.

“My father had a business education,’’ Grant Browning said. “Most of the others couldn’t read or write very well, so when Joe Hatfield became sheriff he hired my dad to be the businessman of the Sheriff’s department. “Browning and Sons was the name of a country store my father owned at Barnabus when he took the Chief Deputy’s job. My father was a republican, so when the democrats took over, he went back to running the store before it burned down a few years later.”

Readers should be informed that the “democratic takeover” actually came in the election of 1932 when Chapmanville’s Sherman Smith, a democrat, defeated Tennis Hatfield in the Logan County Sheriff’s race. It should be noted that every republican in the county lost in their bids for office, including Naaman Jackson, the Circuit Judge in the infamous trial of Clarence Stevenson, convicted murderer of Mamie Thurman. The democrat who defeated him was C.C. Chambers, longtime Logan Judge whose huge house still stands on Cole Street, now owned by Mike and Jane Watson.

Joe Browning, who should arrive Wednesday afternoon from Carolina, said he and his wife have’ been visiting the cemetery for the past 45 years to place flowers and to do cemetery cleanup.

“I’ve got three brothers buried up there,’’ Browning said. “We’re going to bring a couple of weed eaters and do the work ourselves, if necessary…

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