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Booger Hole

The peace of the Rush Fork Valley near Ivydale in northern Clay County was disrupted in the early 1900s, when a series of murders or disappearances earned the valley the colorful sobriquet of Booger Hole. Booger was local usage for ‘‘bogey’’ or ‘‘bogeyman.’’

Accounts vary as to the number of people who were killed in Booger Hole, but the estimates are generally between six and eight. They include Joe Clark, a clock repairman who lived at the local schoolhouse; John Henry, a Russian Jew and peddler who is believed to be the first who entered Booger Hole and never left; Henry Hargis, alleged to have been killed for an inheritance; Lacy Ann Boggs, who supposedly was shot as she sat in her living room knitting and smoking her pipe; and Preston Tanner, a young man who was either killed or who died in his sleep, according to conflicting stories. Lacy Ann Boggs left a memorable quote in Booger Hole lore when she supposedly said she ‘‘could find Hargis’s body before her pipe went out.’’ It was sometime after that she herself was killed. The Preston Tanner episode ended the Booger Hole violence.

One version of how Booger Hole got its name is that an old stone mason who lived at the mouth of the valley grew tired of the violence and moved. Asked why, he said derisively that he was ‘‘leaving booger hole.’’ Motorists on Interstate 79 pass near Booger Hole, which lies south of the highway between Wallback and Big Otter.

Written by Ferrell Friend