Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

Stover/Williams/Wriston Feud, 1922

WILLIAMS-STOVER-WRISTON Feud, a Beckley based clan war which for a time outshadowed the Hatfield-McCoy feud, burned for a time in the early 20's and then petered out. The Charleston Gazette covered an incident in its issue of Jan 8, 1922 as follows:
Smouldering with a deep, dark and strong power, then breaking with volcanic force, the Williams-Stover-Wriston feud has intermittently been waged and let sleep in the mountains of Raleigh County for 14 years.
And Saturday evening, after warning rumbles that had menaced the peace of the countryside for days, the crater lifted its top with bloodshed and fire and strife.
In this latest chapter of a bloody warfare that had rivalled strife of the Hatfields and McCoys, a boy 14 years old, was slain, two homes were burned, another was riddled with bullets, rifles cracked throughout the brush, and the menfolk of an entire countryside, aligned in factions by blood ties, rushed to the hills. Just before dusk Saturday evening, the storm broke in all its fury along the waters of White Oak Creek, and tore its way over the countryside until long after dark.
The battle followed another of far less serious aspect, which occured a few days before, and in which two were wounded. That first fight was the first warning of impending storm, unmistakable to those who had seen the progress of this clan war, and many were the predictions that came true when the mountaineers foregathered for battle Saturday evening.
Murray Williams, fourteen year old son of Sanford Williams, was killed. The fight which occured in the early evening proved to be a free-for-all, in which more than one hundred shots were fired between the participants, who are said to have numbered more than a score.
In addition to the killing of Murray Williams, two houses were burned, one belonging to Linah Williams and the other to Preston Stover. The home of John Moles, near the Williams property at White Oak Creek was riddled with bullets, and today resembled a battle torn wreck.
Little details of the affair could be learned by the sheriff's office, which at once detailed several deputies to go to White Oak to investigate the circumstances of the shooting and arrest the participants. A detachment of the state police was also sent into the district with instructions to make all the arrests possible.
The shooting on Saturday evening is the result of a feud which has existed between the three families for the past fourteen years, during which time several members of the three families have been shot and in several instances killed.
Scarcely a term of court has been held for several years but that several members of the families have been tried for some kind of shooting affair, but invariably they have been freed for it has been found almost impossible to secure a conviction on account of the great number of relatives on each side called into court to testify in the behalf of the accused.
The last outbreak occured two weeks ago when Orville Williams, son of George Williams, living at White Oak, was shot and severely wounded, and Preston Stover, a member of the Stover faction, was shot in the head but not severely injured.