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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


That year, Frederick Kimble, president of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, decided to expand into West Virginia’s southern coalfields. A sophisticated Philadelphia businessman, known for wearing black scarves and jeweled stick pins, Kimble realized the future of the N&W was in hauling coal, not passengers.

In Logan County, H. C. Ragland, a real estate developer and newspaper editor, announced that “a new era was dawning in the Tug Valley”.

As land prices shot upward in advance of the railroad, four businessmen who had loaned Devil Anse Hatfield money, demanded immediate repayment. One creditor, James Neibert, an agent for a Cincinnati lumber firm, called in a debt nine years old. To raise cash, Hatfield mortgaged his property to Neibert’s partner, H. C. Ragland, who would get the land if Hatfield defaulted.

Altina Waller: Devil Anse represents West Virginians caught in economic and political changes that were of incredible magnitude at that time. Devil Anse and his friends were not trying to stop what we would call civilization or progress. They in many ways wanted it to come and welcomed it, but they wanted to have a piece of it, they wanted a part of it, they wanted to prosper with it. The dilemma really came when it became clear that the mangers of those corporate forces did not want local people to share in it. That’s really what the argument came down to, ultimately. Who was going to benefit from economic development which really should have been a good thing for everyone ?

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