Photograph of young Coleman Shaffer in his casket, shot to death, showing mourners at the Shaffer Cemetery, located in the backwoods between Stinson and Route 16. Since the invention of photography in the 19th century through mid-20th century, it was a common practice for families to take photographs of deceased family members, often by a professional photographer, which was then kept in the family album as a remembrance.|
A TRAGIC DEATH IN CALHOUN BACKWOODS
By Bob Weaver
19-year-old Coleman Shaffer of the Stinson backwoods tragically died on June 10, 1927, old-timers saying he was shot to death at a dinner table, the subject of a bitter argument mixed with poker and drinking.
Shaffer was shot by Dave Hicks, 22, on May 26, 1927, the bullet entering Shaffer's right lung and lodging in his liver. He was taken to a Spencer hospital for treatment, where he died.
The Calhoun Chronicle account of the murder said, "The shooting was at the home of his mother, following a more or less drunken orgy."
Accounts said his mother grieved about Coleman's death until the day she died, creating a tense situation between the victim's and shooter's family for many years.
Dave Hicks was tried for murder in Calhoun Circuit Court in Grantsville in November, 1927, and found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced by Judge W. H. O'Brien to five years in the state penitentiary.
"There was a hard fought legal battle in circuit court...with Hick's attorney requesting the case be re-heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court," reported the Chronicle. Hicks was represented by attorneys A. G. Matthews, R. F. Kidd and Bee Hopkins.
The case was prosecuted by Bruce Ferrell and Thomas Ryan of Spencer.
It was unclear whether the case was heard by the high court.
It was a time and place where the making of home brew and moonshine didn't mix well with poor families struggling to survive.
Coleman Shaffer is buried in the Shaffer Cemetery on a ridge between Stinson and the West Fork of the Little Kanawha. He is listed in the 1920 census as the son of John and Caroline Shaffer.
Stinson had a reputation as a tough and tumble place, shootings and stabbings through the early half of the 20th century.
Famous fiddler Blind Ed Haley said, "Stinson was rough in those days, a good place to stay away from after dark," but nonetheless Hayley frequently came to the area to make music with some of the best old-time fiddlers.
He wrote two fiddle tunes about the place in the 1920s, "Down at the Mouth of Old Stinson," and "West Fork Gals."