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Haunted Appalachia: Law & order comes to Booger Hole, Clay County

By Staff | May 30, 2018

After dusting off some old newspapers at my dad’s house, I came across an old tattered column bragging how the law had wiped out the little community of Booger Hole of its unruly characters and outlaws. One of my former columns a few years ago, featured a ghostly tale from this area of Big Otter Creek so I felt obliged to share with you another side of the coin, the human side.

Dating back to a 1918 newspaper article, Booger Hole was mentioned as a violent area where thieves, murderers and unsolved crimes were the norm. Keep in mind these were the post-Civil War days when men feared their neighbors and suspicions of rebels and unionists could cost you your life. As late as 1918, law abiding citizens tired of the area’s riff raff and lawlessness and took matters into their own hands. A hand bill was passed around and posted in various areas stating the seriousness of the situation. It is shared here in the exact style it was written. It reads:

“We, the citizens of Clay County, seeing that we cannot get justice by law, have organized the Clay County Mob. We have pledged our lives to drive these people from our county or kill them. If we cannot catch and hang you, we will sneak up on and kill you as you killed Henry Hargis, Lacy Ann Boggs, the old peddler and Preston Tanner. If before you leave there is any stealing, killing or burning, we will get the bloodhounds and detectives and run you to the ends of the earth. Nill Sampson, Kooch Sampson, Fred Moore and Aaron Runyon are hereby notified to leave the state in ten days. Rose Lyons, Bill Moore and Elizabeth Sampson are notified to leave in thirty days. PS Do not stop this side of the Ohio River.”

The people of Clay County were fed up. To many folks, the senseless killing of Lacy Ann Boggs was the final straw. Lacy was an elderly lady who knew a great deal of the goings on around the holler but she was smart enough to keep her mouth closed. Unfortunately, this was not the case when several men questioned her about the missing body of one Henry Hargis. Old Lacy was said to touch her lamplighter to her pipe and with a grin said, “Why I know exactly where he is.” The very next day she was found dead, shot to death in her favorite chair with her beloved pipe on her lap. Apparently some folks did not want his body found and found a way to keep the old lady silent forever.

Eventually the law and the righteous law abiding folk won out. Court cases were won one at a time, many arrests were made and the outlaws and lowlifes figured out that they best be moving out of Booger Hole and finding a new place to haunt. Booger Hole’s reputation healed after a few decades and everyone began to rest a bit easier among the living. Now the dead??? Well, I will save that for another time.

Sherri Brake is a paranormal researcher, author and Haunted Heartland Tour owner. You may email her at SherriBrake@gmail.com or visit her website at www.HauntedHistory.net