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In the year of 1884, Cook Humphrey, a young Republican man of 25 and Sam Gooden, a Democrat, were candidates for sheriff of Rowan County which was ordinarily Democratic. The contest was very bitter, Gooden lived in Morehead and Humphrey lived on his fathers farm about 7 miles from town. Humphrey was elected by a majority of 12 votes. On election day a man by the name of William Trumbo and a man by the name of Price quarreled, which led to a fist fight. While the fight was in progress, John Martin a son of Ben Martin, a well to do farmer, was struck in the face with a heavy instrument and one of his teeth was knocked out and his head badly bruised. He afterwards said that John Day and Floyd Tolliver struck him and knocked him down, when he got up he drew his pistol and the other men drew theirs also. In the battle that followed, Solomon Bradley, a middle aged man with 7 children who was standing near, was shot through the head with 2 bullets. The Martins claimed that John Day killed him and the Tollivers claimed that Martin did it. Ad Scyremore, another man who was not connected with the trouble, was shot in the neck but not fatally. It never was decided who did the shooting. From this killing the Tolliver-Martin feud originated.

The senoir Mr Martin had 3 sons, John, Will and Dave who all resided near him a short ways outside town. There were also several Tollivers. Marion and Craig at that time lived in Morgan County, and Floyd lived in Rowan County. Bud , Jay and Wiley Tolliver were their cousins and they lived in Elliott. Mace Keeton, Jeff and Alvin Bowling, Tom Allen Day, John Day, Boone Day, Mitch Day, Jim Arksley, Bob Nester and others who were engaged in the feud were Democrats and lived in Rowan. The Martins were Republicans and supporters of Cook Humphrey. The Logans were also Republican and friends of Humphrey.

In December following the August election, John Martin went to Morehead where he met John Day, Sam Gordon and Floyd Tolliver. Tolliver went up to Martin and said "John, you have been wanting to bulldoze me, but I am not going to permit it." Martin said "I have not tried to bulldoze you Floyd." Tolliver said "Yes, by god, you have and I am not going to permit it. I want you to understand me." Martin left him and went into the bar of hotel Galt House. Tolliver followed him. On the inside Tolliver repeated his threats and at the same time he put his hand in his pocket. Martin then said "Well if you must have a fight, I am ready for you." Both of them drew their pistols at the same time but Martin fired first and Tolliver fell mortally wounded. His friends ran to his side and Tolliver said to them "Boys, remember what you swore to do, you said you would kill him and you must keep your word.

Immediately after the killing, Martin gave himself up to the authorities. The members of the Tolliver faction were greatly enraged at the killing and Martin was rushed off to Winchester to prevent being lynched*.

He had been there 6 days, when 5 men arrived with an order signed by the proper authorities, commanding the return of Martin to the the jail at Morehead. It was claimed by the Martins that these 5 men were Alvin Bowling, Ed and Milt Evans, and 2 other men named Hall and Eastman. The order they had was forged. The jailor gave Martin to the men although Martin pleaded against it. Martin's wife was in Winchester and she went back to Morhead on the same train which took her husband back, but she did not know at the time her husband was on the train. When the train reached Farmers, a small town a short distance from Morehead, the train was boarded by a large body of masked men. Martin was handcuffed, then shot to death. No-one was ever arrested for the crime.

The stairway when Humphrey discovered his presence, seized the shotgun and discharged it into his face. Tolliver fell back down the steps and his friends rushed in, grasped him by the legs and dragged him out of danger. He was carried away and took no further active part in the seige. He was badly scarred by the load of shot but quickly recovered.

The half grown boy was at work in the field. He approached the house and two shots were fired at him. The news of the affair was taken to Morehead but no one dared to fo to the relief. Sue Martin made her escape out of the house. She was me by Craig Tolliver with his face covered with blood, he threatened to kill her if she dared to go to Morehead. She made a dash through the bushes and Tolliver fired 2 shots at her but she escaped and hid in a ditch until nearly night when she went to town where she was immediately arrested and placed in jail. In ther afternoon, the Tollivers threatened to set the shouse on fire if the 2 men did not surrender. About four o'clock Rayburn made an attempt to run for the bushes. Several hundred shots had by that time been fired. Mrs Martin attempted to assist him, she went to the stable where Tom Allen Day was ambushed and when he prepared to shoot at the fleeing man she knocked up his gun. The 2 men rushed out of the eastern door, leaped the yard fence and dashed across the cornfield towards the mountain and forest. The entire Tolliver band rushed after them, firing as the went. They rested their guns on the yard fence and took good aim. The fugatives were over 100 yards off when one of them fell. It was Rayburn. Humphrey escaped into the bushes and hid. The pursuers knew that he was armed with a Winchester and were afraid to go in after him. When the Tollivers reached Rayburn's body they fired several more shots into it, they then robbed him and divided the money.

After robing Rayburn, they went back to the house and left the body where it fell. They remained around the house and after dark Mrs. Martin said they set fire to it. She put it out but it flamed again and the house and all the furniture was consumed. The women ran from the house and all of them except one daughter spent the night under a tree. The daughter went to Morehead where she was arrested and put in jail with her sister.

*A note here to say that the word lynching was developed in Amherst county VA and along with Lynchburg was named for the Lynch family, one of which was high sheriff who hung most of the criminals, guilty or not, and also was a husband to one of the Tolliver females of the area.

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