In the olden days nearly every family in Breathitt County was related to nearly every other. And yet the feuds were numerous.


Kinship In Breathitt

Courier-Journal - June 3, 1904

Camp Jackson, Jackson, Kentucky

President Roosevelt's heart would be gladdened by a sight of Jackson where he could fairly revel among large families and numerous children. A family of ten or twelve children is not an unusual thing here. There are enough children here to well stock and ordinary city of many times the population of Jackson. Whatever else may be charged against Jackson, the crime of "race suicide" cannot be laid at its door.

About as nearly as can be observed every baby here is of some kin to every other baby.

Factional strife in Breathitt County is equivalent to family dissension. Internal warfare is waged not against aliens, but against one's own flesh and blood. The kinship of the people whose names have been prominently mentioned in connection with the troubles here is very close in instances and it appears links of blood relation ought to tend to bind them together.

A few illustrations will serve as examples of the close kinship which exists throughout the county.

James Buchanan Marcum

J. B. Marcum was the son of Alfred Marcum. His mother was the daughter of Col. Ed Strong, and the sister of the famous Capt. Bill Strong, the feudist. J. B. Marcum's sister married James W. Linden, whose daughter, Joanna Linden, married former Senator Alex Hargis. J. B. Marcum's brother, Ed Marcum, married Malissa Cockrill, and aunt of Jim and Tom Cockrill, and thus by marriage he was related to the Cockrills, Jetts, and Cardwells. J. B. Marcum married Abrelia Hurst, daughter of D. D. Hurst, the present postmaster of Jackson. D. D. Hurst is a brother of Capt. William L. Hurst, one of the wealthiest land owners of this section of the state. Capt. William L. Hurst is the father of Judge D. B. Redwine's wife. Capt. William L. Hurst's wife is a cousin to J. B. Marcum and to James W. Linden. Except through his wife Judge Redwine is not related to anyone in this county except Leonidas Redwine, his nephew, who is an attorney at this bar, and at the special term of court which has just closed appeared as counsel for Sheriff Ed Callahan. Judge Redwine's family came from Virginia, and he himself was born in Magoffin County.

Col. Ed Strong's mother was a Callahan, and was the great-grandaunt of Ed Callahan, the present sheriff of Breathitt County. Otherwise Sheriff Callahan is not related to others connected with the troubles here.

The Hargis Family

Former State Senator Alex Hargis, whose wife is a niece of J. B. Marcum, is a brother of Judge James Hargis. Judge James Hargis is a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee. He married a sister of Walter Day, state treasurer under William Taylor's administration. Judge Hargis' half-sister is Sarah Sewell, later Sarah Jett, and at present Hagins. She is the mother of Curtis Jett, charged with the assassination of Marcum and Cockrill. She is also the aunt by marriage of Tom and Jim Cockrill, who are blood cousins of Curtis Jett. judge Hargis' mother, who still lives on "Panbowl farm," is an aunt of William Britton, whose name, however, has not been printed in connection with any of the troubles here.

Sarah Sewell, the half-sister of Judge Hargis, married the father of Curtis Jett and is now the wife of Linville Hagins, uncle of A. L. Hagins, present circuit court clerk.

Judge Hargis was the son of John S. Hargis. John S. Hargis was the nephew of John Hargis, whose daughter married Capt. Bill Strong, and whose son is Judge Thomas Hargis, of Louisville. John Hargis was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1849. Sarah Sewell was the daughter of William Sewell and Evelyn Hargis, nee Britton, and William Sewell, whose wife was a sister of William Turner. Sewell and Turner lived in Harlan County and were the wealthiest men there, each worth about $200,000.

William Spencer, the jailer of the county, married a daughter of John S. Hargis, and thus his children are cousins of James and Alex Hargis. Spencer was once a very wealthy man, but lost his property mostly in court costs.

The Late Dr. Cox

Dr. D. B. Cox, who was assassinated, is generally said to have been an alien in these parts, but, as the following genealogy will show, he was related by both blood and marriage. His mother was a sister of Sampson Smith, of Wolfe County. Smith married a daughter of William M. Combs, one of the wealthiest men in the county. The Combs family is large and influential. Dr. Cox married a daughter of Thomas P. Cardwell, and is thus related by marriage to the Cockrills.

Thomas P. Cardwell, who has served both as state senator and representative, married the daughter of Jerry W. South, former warden of the Frankfort penitentiary and uncle of the Hon. South Trimble. Jerry W. South married a daughter of John Cockrill. John Cockrill was a brother of Simon Cockrill, the great-grandfather of Tom and Jim Cockrill, and of Curtis Jett. Simon Cockrill was in his time the wealthiest man in Breathitt County, and was said to be an uncle of United States Senator Cockrill, of Missouri. T. P. Cardwell, Jr., is a cousin of Congressman Albert Watkins, of Tennessee.

How many times the kinsmen of these families have married and intermarried is not known. Then, there are ties that bind as strong as blood. For instance, the Hargises and Strongs were formerly friends and the Hargises and Callahans were enemies, but Judge Hargis and Sheriff Callahan are now inseparable friends, and he was not a friend of J. B. Marcum.

Judge B. F. French

Judge B. F. French, of Winchester, one of the counsel for White and Jett, is also a warm personal friend of Judge Hargis, and was a bitter enemy of J. B. Marcum. Judge French was, for five years at the head of the French-Eversole feud of Perry County, and when he was indicted for the murder of Joe Eversole, in Breathitt County, he was prosecuted by J. B. Marcum, and was assisted by the Hargises. Marcum also prosecuted members of the French faction in other counties.

Tom White is not related to any of the others whose names have been connected in one way or another with the feud. The lawyers for Curtis Jett, however, have given out that they will also be counsel for White.

Cockrill's relation to other people here is fairly given in the foregoing genealogies. Cockrill's name is also spelled Cockrell, but Cockrill is generally used.