The Famous Needmore Saloon

of Paint Creek

(The Hatfields and Davis’ mentioned in this item are all cousins to the editor.)


From the time of the closing of Nathan Purdy’s whiskey distillery until the opening of the A.B.C. liquor stores, there was not any place in Raleigh County that whiskey could be bought legally: however, moonshine was always available.


About the beginning of the twentieth century, there were laws passed that permitted each county to decide whether they would have saloons or not. It seems that the commissioners of the county court could make this decision. There was much pressure put upon the court by both the “wets” and the “drys” on this issue. The “wets” won in Fayette County without much trouble but in Raleigh County, the fight was long and bitter. I remember only one member of the Raleigh County Court through this period. That was a farmer from Slab Fork District, Hick Garretson. The other two members were divided on the question and that left it up to Mr. Garretson to make the decision on whether Raleigh was to be a wet or dry county. Mr. Garretson after quite a lot of study on the question decided that it was not to the best interest of the people of Raleigh County to have saloons. The people that wanted whiskey sold openly in the county tried in every way they knew to get him to change his mind. I have been told he was offered a large sum of money to vote for the saloons but Mr. Garretson had made up his mind and there was no changing him. So Raleigh County never had open saloons and Mr. Garretson stands in history as one who stood firm for what he believed to be right. I believe there are many like myself who do not remember the names of the other court members but remembers Mr. Garretson and honor him for his firm stand for his convictions.


As Raleigh County was dry and Fayette County was wet, some enterprising men of both counties thought it would be good business to put in a saloon in Fayette but as near the line between the two counties as possible. They formed a company, obtained proper license, erected a building, and went into the business of selling whiskey. Somebody gave this place the name of Needmore.


In their eagerness to get their saloon as near the county line as possible, they failed to note that the law stated they must be a certain number of feet from the county line and they built too close to the line. After a short time the law closed them down. That company gave up and quit. It looked like Needmore was doomed to failure, but not so. A little later the Hatfields came, put up a better building the correct distance from the county line and the Needmore was in business again.


The two Hatfield boys that ran the Needmore saloon were Willis and Tennis, although other members of the family came to visit them often and to see how they were getting along with the business. Devil Anse himself made at least one visit and stayed around for sometime.


Both Willis and Tennis Hatfield married Cirtsville girls. Willis married Lakie Maynor, daughter of Squire Joe Maynor, and Tennis married Lottie Hunter, daughter of Dr. J.W. Hunter.


I don’t know how long the Needmore saloon was in business but after the McKell Coal Company built the railroad from Mount Hope to Pax, the town of Pax became the commercial center of Upper Paint Creek and the Hatfields closed the Needmore saloon. In fact, the building was destroyed by fire, but they opened a saloon in Pax. Needmore did not last long but it was wild and wooly while it lasted.


(USGENWEB- compiled and written by Okey R. Stover when he was 90 years of age.     



October 17, 1911: Hatfield brothers killed in shootout


The violence of the Hatfield-McCoy feud was responsible for the deaths of five of Randolph McCoy's children. But "Devil Anse," the patriarch of the Hatfield clan, never had to grieve over the loss of a child as a direct result of the feud, although two of his sons were killed later in a gunfight with an Italian immigrant. 


Before the gunfight with Octavo Gerome, the Hatfield brothers, Troy and Elias, recognized the enormous money making potential of the saloon business in the Fayette County coalfields. So they invested in one of the only bars in the area. In a 1950s article in the Charleston Daily Mail, a former bartender for the Hatfields said the Hatfield saloon often took in $3,000 on paydays and never less than $300 a night.


The Hatfields guarded their investment fiercely, so when Carl Hanson opened a bar at nearby Cannelton they took steps to protect it. They cut a deal with with Hanson to stay out of each other's territory. But despite warnings from the Hatfields, an employee of Hanson's, Octavo Gerome, continued to sell beer and liquor in the Boomer area.


On October 17, 1911, Gerome expected trouble when he saw the Hatfields approaching his home at Harewood, near the town of Smithers. Before the Hatfields had time to act, Gerome killed Elias and fatally wounded Troy. Before he died, though, Troy managed to shoot and kill Gerome.


Violent incidents like this fueled the debate over the immorality of drinking. West Virginians voted in 1912 to outlaw the sale and consumption of alcohol.



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