The Notorious Mud Hole Area




                                                                             The Mud Hole


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  sent  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.

About 500 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 Waggoner’s 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.

The men unharnessed the horses from all but the lead wagon when the train of wagons arrived at the Mud Hole. 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 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 moon-shiner 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 KILLINGS AT MUD HOLE ..............     And Other Areas of The Pound

The following is a list of killings on the Pound that was given to James Taylor Adams

by One -Eyed Dock Mullins in George Austin's Store at the Pound in 1930.


Brack Phelps was killed by Elias Collier on North Fork about 1890.

William Addington was killed by Dock Howell at Donkey. 

Noah Sowards killed about 1900 by Sam Craft.

Wid Moore and Horace (Harve) Wright were killed by Ed Hall at Donkey. 

Ira Mullins, Mrs. Mullins, Wilson Mullins, John Chappell and Greenberry Moore were killed by Dr. Marshall B. Taylor at Killing Rock on Pine Mountain. 

John Hall was killed by Jerome "Fish" Gilliam on Indian Creek. 

Pat Cox was killed by Em. Swindall, Nelson Mullins, Martin Sowards and John Marion Hall on Pine Mountain. 

Ed Cox was killed by Mack Wright in South of the Mountain. 

John Marion Hall was killed by Arch Hopkins near Donkey. 

George Sowards was killed by Harry McFall at Foot of the Mountain. 

Unknown person, may have been Arch Hopkins,  killed Ed Hall at Donkey. 

Unknown party killed Rufus Phipps at Foot of Mountain. 

Unknown man killed by Tolby Hall at Mud Hole (or might have been Hall who was killed). 

Unknown person killed McKinley Waldron or McKinley Waldron killed somebody at Foot of the Mountain.

Marshall Mullins was killed by Gaston Mullins on Bold Camp. 

Nan Branham was killed by her husband, Clifton Branham on Mill Creek and hanged for it. 

Joel Sturgill killed by Bill Tutt on North Fork. 

Monroe Pennington was killed by Will Wallen on North Fork. 

Floyd Bolling was killed by his son, Edmond Bolling on North Fork.

Joe Short killed by Sol Osborne at the Pound. 

Sampy Short was killed by Edmond Bolling on North Fork. 

Will Mullins was killed by his brother, Bob Mullins on Bold Camp. 

Daniel Short was killed by Elbert Hale on Bold Camp. 

Mrs. Bogus (who was a Mullins) was killed by her husband John Bogus on bold Camp. 

John Steffey was killed by Bronson Waddell in South of the Mountain. 

George Vaughn was killed by Edmond Bolling on South Fork. 

Jeffery Hubbard was killed by his brother-in-law, Milford Hubbard on Laurel Fork. 

Milford Hubbard was killed by his brother Willard Hubbard at the same place. 

Preston Bentley killed by Enoch Wright at Donkey. 

Charlie Powers was killed by Walter Killen on Bold Camp. 

Dave Fleming was killed by George Branham on Mill Creek. 

Eugene Sowards was killed by Lee Sloane in South of the Mountain. 

Arch Mullins was killed by Carlton Boggs near Foot of the Mountain. 

Jone Mullins was killed by Carlton Boggs at Donkey

Jude Mullins was killed by Nancy (Nannie) Jane Mullins, his wife, at Donkey. 

Carlton Boggs was killed by Dock Mullins at Foot of the Mountain.  (The Jonce Mullins above, that was killed by Carlton Boggs, was Dock's only son.) 

Elbert Baker was killed by Rudolph Belcher on Laurel Fork. 

Tom Hawkins was killed by Clint Wyatt and his son at Foot of the Mountain. 

Jarvey Mullins was killed by Picket Hurt and other officers on Birchfield. 

Ira Patton Mullins was killed by unknown people at the same place. 

Henry Dorton was killed by his brother, Douglass Dorton on Bold Camp. 

George Tillman was killed by Willie Addington and others on Indian Creek. 

Green Branham (may not be Green) killed by Son Gibson and John Cox   on Indian Creek  (It was later reported by Meredith Branham of Chicago, IL, a former resident of Pound, that this person was Grover Branham, brother to Millard Branham, and son of Mack Branham.) 

Leonard Wood, a Negro, was killed by a mob in Pound Gap. 

A Negro killed two Negroes in the Combs Construction Camp, at Foot of the Mountain. 

Henderson Adams was killed by Bob Qualls on South Fork. 

Hark Willis Howell was killed by Morgan Mullins on Bold Camp. 

(--?--)  Fletcher was killed by a man named Lewis at Horse Gap. 

Unknown man killed by a man named Shupe on Indian Creek. 

Bill Culbertson killed by Columbus Craft at Mud Hole.

Sometime after relating these names, One-Eyed Dock Mullins accounted for another of the killings by blowing his own brains out.



The material on this webpage holds a copyright © 2010 by  Nancy Wright Bays &  Patty May Brashear

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