Sheriff Don Chafin (June 26, 1887-August 9, 1954) was born in Logan County. He was educated in Logan public schools, at Marshall College (now Marshall University), and at the Mountain State Business College in Parkersburg. His career included service as a teacher, a store clerk, and store owner and operator, but he is best known as a politician and controversial lawman.
Chafin was elected assessor of Logan County at age 21 and sheriff at 25. After a term as county clerk, he was reelected as sheriff in 1920. Chafin was a bitter foe of union organizers and, with financial support from coal companies, used his many deputies to keep labor organizers out of Logan County. United Mine Workers of America members hated Don Chafin so much that he was shot on sight and wounded when entering UMWA District 17 headquarters in 1919. During the Miners’ March in 1921, he was a key figure in organizing forces to defend Logan County and arranged for airplanes to drop homemade bombs on the miners during the Battle of Blair Mountain.
Later in the 1920s, Chafin served prison time in a federal penitentiary after being convicted of violating Prohibition statutes. He moved to Huntington in 1929 where he purchased a 10-story building, renamed it the Chafin Building, and operated the Chafin Coal Company as well as many other business interests. In his later years, he was a noted philanthropist, giving money freely to many charities. Chafin died in Huntington.
Written by Kenneth R. Bailey
Comstock, Jim, ed. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia vol. 5. Richwood: Jim Comstock, 1976.
Lee, Howard B. Bloodletting in Appalachia. Morgantown: West Virginia University, 1969.
Charleston Gazette, 8/10/1954.