The Mud Hole            







Going south from Jenkins, Kentucky you must climb the heights of Pine Mountain then pass over Pound Gap to cross the state line into Virginia. In early days, with the exception of Cumberland Gap, this was the most widely traveled pass through the Cumberlands. Continuing south, you come to Almira at the Foot of the Mountain, which is at the foot of Pine Mountain, the main divide of the Cumberlands. A left turn here would take you to Haddonfield, the Post Office at South of the Mountain, about three miles north of Pound, Virginia. Beyond Haddonfield is referred to as being “in the mountains”.


Foot of the Mountain was the site of a Confederate Camp commanded by General Humphrey Marshall during the Civil War. It was here that General Marshall set up breastworks to defend against Union forces moving up the Big Sandy Valley.  When the Union General James Abram Garfield made his advance through Pound Gap General Marshall was forced to abandon this position leaving several valuable cannons, which had become stuck, in the swamps near the camp.  One of these cannons was unearthed just a few years ago when workmen were relocating the state road.


Horse Gap is located one mile northwest from Pound.  It possibly gained its name for a skirmish here between Union and Confederate forces, which left one party with all their horses killed. About 400 yards west is the cemetery where Devil John Wright is buried.  John spent his last years on the old Eff Sowards place where he could sit on his porch; look across the road and up a rolling hill to the cemetery.


The infamous community of Mud Hole, known throughout Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, was located about 500 yards north of Horse Gap. In olden days wagoneers had good reason to hesitate traveling this stretch of road unless they were accompanied by several other wagons. The reason for grouping wagons together to pass this section of road was probably double fold. First of all, it took more than one good team of oxen, horses or mules to pull their heavy wagons through the swampy mire of Mud Hole.  Secondly, there was a need for safety that was added by the company of other good men.


When the train of wagons arrived at the Mud Hole, the men un-harnessed the horses from all but the lead wagon. These two or three sets of horses were then attached to the lead wagon to haul it through the mud that could quickly swallow up the wheels of a slow or heavy wagon. The horses were then moved to the next wagon in the train, double and triple teaming the horses, until all wagons had passed through the mire. The process in which they moved the wagons through was time consuming, but it could also be dangerous. Lawless men saw a great opportunity for thievery when the wagons were forced to stop and regroup to get through the mud.  For this reason, Mud Hole became an excellent hangout site for lawless characters.



The road through Mud Hole was the commonly traveled trail between Kentucky and the Virginia communities of Pound, Norton and Wise.  Devil John Wright would have taken this route had he brought men to free his friend Talton Hall at the Wise jail.  Both Ed Hall, an officer of the law and Talton Hall, who was wanted by the law, traveled this road.  Doc Taylor lived nearby and made frequent trips through the area. This was also the route that moonshiner Ira Mullins and his family traveled the fateful day of their death. Clabe Jones, the Branham Brothers, all journeyed through this territory at some time.


Criminals who were wanted for crimes in Kentucky escaped justice by finding a haven where they could hide out across the state line at the Mud Hole. Moonshiners who frequently made trips to and from North Carolina and Tennessee discovered this was a grand place to set up their bootleg drinking establishments. They made sure there was plenty of liquor for them to belt down while they waited for their wagons to be hauled through the mud. Women of ill repute entertained the men and plied their trade throughout the area.  At one time there were as many as twelve of these roadhouses operating on the stretch of road from the Foot of the Mountain to the head of Indian Creek. These twelve roadhouses became known far and wide as “The Dirty Dozen.”


It was a rough and rugged length of roadway where it has been estimated that a man was killed every one hundred yards along its way. 






                                  Some of the killings in the Mud Hole area:





Ira Mullins, Louranza Mullins,                                           Killed by                Doc Taylor and Possibly Henan and Calvin Fleming

Wilson Mullins, John Chappell,

Greenberry Harris at Pound Gap



Ed Cox                                                             Killed by            Mack Wright in South of the





Brack Phelps                                                     Killed by            Elias Collier on North Fork



Pat Cox                                                            Killed by            Em Swindall, Nelson Mullins

Martin Sowards, John Marion Hall



William Addington                                              Killed by            Dock Howell at Donkey 



Noah Sowards at Donkey                                   Killed by            Sam Craft at Donkey



Wid Moore and                                                  Killed by            Ed Hall at Donkey

Horace Harve Wright



John Hall                                                           Killed by            Jerome Gilliam on Indian Creek




John Marion Hall near Donkey                             Killed by            Arch Hopkins    



George Sowards                                                Killed by            Harry McFall at Foot of the Mountain




Ed Hall at Donkey                                              Killed by            Unknown, possibly  Arch Hopkins




Rufus Phipps                                                     Killed by            Unknown at Foot of the Mountain




Unknown Man                                                    Killed by            Tolby Hall

Possibly a Hall




McKinley Waldron                                              Killed    by         Unknown


or Unknown                                                       Killed by            McKinley Waldron at Foot of the Mountain




Marshall Mullins                                                 Killed by            Gaston Mullins at Bold Camp




Nan Branham                                                    Killed by            Her husband, Clifton Mullin

On Mill Creek

He hanged for this murder




Joel Sturgill                                                       Killed by            Bill Tutt on North Fork




Monroe Pennington                                            Killed by            Will Wallen On North Fork




Floyd Bolling                                                     Killed by            His son Edmond Bolling on

North Fork




Joe Short                                                          Killed    by         Sol Osborne at the Pound




Sampy Short                                                     Killed    by         Edmund Bolling on North Fork




Will Mullins                                                       Killed    by         His brother Bob Mullins at

Bold Camp



Daniel Short                                                      Killed    by         Elbert Hale at Bold Camp




Mrs. (--?--) (Mullins) Bogus                                 Killed    by         Her husband John Bogus

At Bold Camp



John Steffey                                                      Killed    by         Bronson Waddell in

South of the Mountain



George Vaughn                                                  Killed    by         Edmond Bowling



Jerry Hubbard                                                   Killed by            His Brother-In-Law, Milford   

                                                                                                Hubbard On Laurel Fork



Milford Hubbard                                                  Killed by            His Brother, Willard Hebert




Preston Bentley                                                 Killed by            Enoch Wright    at Donkey




Charlie Powers                                                  Killed by            Walter Killed on Bold Camp




Dave Fleming                                                     Killed by            George Branham on Mill Creek




Eugene Sowards                                                Killed by            Lee Alone in South of the Mountain




Arch Mullins                                                      Killed by            Carlton Boggs at the Mountain




Once Mullins                                                     Killed by            Carlton Boggs at Donkey

Only son of Dock Mullins




Carlton Boggs                                                    Killed by            Dock Mullins at Foot of the Mountain




Jude Mullins                                                      Killed by            His wife Nancy Jane Mullins

            At Donkey



Elbert Baker                                                      Killed by            Rudolph Belcher on Laurel Fork




Tom Hawkins                                                     Killed by            Clint Wyatt and his son

            at Foot of the Mountain



Jarvey Mullins                                                    Killed by            Pickett Hurt and other officers    

           on Birchfield



Ira Patton Mullins                                               Killed by            Unknown on Birchfield



Henry Dorton                                                     Killed by            His Brother, Douglass Dorton on Bold Camp          





George Tillman                                                  Killed by            Willie Addington and others                   

            On  Indian Creek



A Branham                                                        Killed by            Son Gibson and John Cox                     

            On Indian Creek



A Negro Man, Leonard Wood                              Killed by            A Mob at Pound Gap



Two Negroes                                                     Killed by            Unknown Negro Man                             

           at Foot of the Mountain


Henderson Adams                                             Killed by            Bobby Qualls



Hark Willis Howell                                              Killed by            Morgan Mullins on Bold Camp



Mr. Fletcher                                                       Killed by            Mr. Lewis at Horse Gap



Unknown Man                                                    Killed by            Mr. Shupe on Indian Creek



Bull Culbertson                                                  Killed by            Columbus Craft at the Mud Hole




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The material on this website is copyrighted © 2001 by Nancy Wright Bays, Patty May Brashear . 


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