By the time this column appears in today’s newspapers, I will have this past Sunday watched the final theatrical production of “Mamie,” which I understand had already received pretty nice reviews by some folks who recently attended one or more of the shows in Logan.
Over the past few weeks I have written material related to the bloodthirsty murder of Mamie Thurman in perhaps intriguing more people to want to see the Aracoma Story Inc.’s production of a true life local mystery. And I suppose I could continue for untold weeks writing about her life, death and the many suspects involved in the shrouded enigma. Nevertheless, I think I will today only share a few more things about the case with whomever may still be following the Mamie story.
Without going into great detail, allow me to shed some light onto a cloudy topic that has been the subject of speculation since 1932.
Most readers should recall that Mamie’s half-brother, George Morrison, and another gentleman came to Logan from New Mexico some 34 years ago, supposedly to find her burial site, place some type of tombstone or marker there, and try to find out as much as possible about Mamie’s murder.
Morrison interviewed several people, including local employees of restaurants and other places, and in 2004 his book titled “Ghost of 22 Mountain” was published. Looking back on things, I can’t help but wonder if Morrison’s real reason for visiting Logan wasn’t primarily for the purpose of writing his book. Although he never mentioned it to me, he had already written other books that were published. Regardless, he died never knowing where his sister or his father (for whom he was named) was buried, or who really killed Mamie. What he did confirm, however, after visiting there prior to coming to Logan is that Mamie was not buried in Bradfordsville, Kentucky, as some records revealed.
Bradfordsville is today, even with modern roads, 257 miles from Logan, a drive which takes four hours and 57 minutes to achieve. It is likely her husband, Jack Thurman, changed his mind as to her burial site when SOMEONE gave him a burial plot in the finest cemetery that then existed in Logan County — Logan Memorial Park, a place of rest that was falsely advertised as providing “perpetual care.”
Although his book was fictional, Morrison seemingly tried to use as many truths as he could for Logan locations during the decade of the 1930s. One remarkable mistake in the book, however, was his consistently referring to Nighbert Memorial Methodist Church as the Presbyterian Church where Mamie’s funeral services were conducted.
Claiming he had come to Logan to “find out what it was the people of Logan had been hiding all of these years,” he wrote ‘Why did Logan claim to have a funeral for Mamie in a church she never attended?”
He was incorrect about the church’s name, as an account of the service in the Logan Banner was published the day after the funeral services specifically identifying Nighbert Memorial Church as the correct location. Also, although Mamie may not have been a member of the church, she had previously attended church services there.
A couple of other tidbits of information which some people might appreciate is that Jack Thurman, 16 years older than his wife when she was killed, did not waste much time in finding him an even younger woman for his bride.
Thanks to the Logan County Genealogical Society’s Barbara Kovach, a marriage license that was provided to me by Kovach shows Jack married Clara Belle Lewis on May 15, 1933, in Madison of Boone County and that he listed his residence as still being in Logan. Jack was catalogued as being 49 years old and his young bride as 22. Interestingly, the marriage took place just 37 days before the first anniversary of his previous wife’s death.
I remember in 1985 speaking with an elderly lady, Ruth Morris, from Buffalo Creek, who said she had attended the funeral service at McConnell. I also spoke with Elzie Burgess, then 75 years old, whose father was a caretaker at what was Logan Memorial Park. Burgess, who then still lived just a stone’s throw from the cemetery, said he was 17 when he helped his father dig Mamie’s grave. “There’s no question about it,” he said. “I even helped cover her up.”
As is customary, before a headstone is placed at a gravesite, a small metal name plate is put at a grave by funeral home employees to identify the site until a tombstone of some sort is obtained. From what I’ve been able to find out, such a name plate was placed at Mamie’s grave and remained there for at least 30 years before two teenagers, both now deceased and former friends of mine — Butch Kazee and Chuck Varney — allegedly, as a Halloween prank, stole the grave marker from Mamie’s grave.
For the record, Jack Thurman reportedly paid over $700 cash for the funeral expenses of his wife. Even so, he never purchased a tombstone to mark her final resting place. Why?
The following is what jack Thurman is quoted as saying in trial testimony just moments after Harry Robertson — his wife’s admitted lover and landlord — informed him that the telephone call he had just received while they (Robertson, Thurman and Stephenson) were at the Logan National Bank on the day Mamie’s body was found: “I have nothing more to live for. I want to die.” Thurman also reportedly slammed his fists into the nearby bank door repeatedly.
In Clarence Stephenson’s murder trial, Clarence testified that Robertson tried to take Thurman’s gun from him shortly after he was told of the murder. He added that Robertson also told him, “You stay close to Mr. Thurman, don’t let him hurt himself.” Another Logan policeman came and disarmed Thurman. There was never any testimony as to what became of Thurman’s .38 revolver.
Testimony during the trial was that a powerful storm hit Logan around midnight on June 22 and it continuously rained until daylight on the day Mamie’s slaughtered 130-pound carcass was found.
Perhaps even the heavens had wept for Mamie Thurman during an evening that has scarred the City of Logan in scandal for close to 90 years.
BITS and PIECES
As Halloween approaches, many acts of local murders come to mind. Perhaps, readers would be interested in the stories involving the murders of people like Justice of the Peace Ezra Butcher, Susie Fortuna, Barlow Ramey and several others. We shall see.
In the meantime, I’ve uncovered some new information about a hanging at the Logan courthouse and the interesting story behind a righteous woman’s death; a lady whose family history will come as quite a surprise.
- Speaking of history, the old Appalachian Power Company building on Main Street that formerly housed the offices of the Logan County Prosecutor, as well as other county offices of government, is available for unpaid taxes. Records show the property has sold to the state for unpaid taxes in the amounts of $2,355 for 2016 and $2,396.00 for 2018.
- September’s regional jail bill for the Logan County Commission was the highest in the history of the county at $162,457, nearly all of the cost due to arrests resulting from the use of meth, heroin, fentanyl, or a mixture, thereof.
In addition, overdose deaths are increasing at an alarming rate, despite the hard work of local and state police officers to arrest those persons responsible for distributing the killing drugs that are mostly imported into the area. Unfortunately, the only light I can see at the end of the tunnel is a freight train — coming right at us.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams
CLOSING NOTE: The countywide cleanup and free dumps are currently being utilized to the point that mountains of garbage will appear in areas of Logan, Man and Chapmanville. I don’t know how long the County Commission will be able to afford to do this, but it’s a darned shame that people will continue to improperly dispose of litter and garbage almost as soon as the free dump locations close. Logan County, like most of our vastly misunderstood state, can be a place of beauty if properly taken care. Illegal litterers should know that even tossing a simple chewing gum wrapper out of an automobile can cost one as much as a $1,000 fine and mandatory community service. Littering people are difficult to catch in the act, but only God will have mercy on you, if you are guilty of that crime.