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Shawnee, Ohio

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Your Story – San Toy, Huey White and Bill Hamrick, by Curtis Yehnert

Posted by JRW on June 11, 2011

As told by Curtis Yehnert about William S. Hamrick

Spring, 1907. On a dark midday with blackened clouds scudding low over the hills, a young boy followed his father into San Toy’s other tavern, the legendary White Front Saloon. Just off Alabama Hill road, the raw lumber structure sported a jaunty white false front, with two large windows on either side of the door. It was owned by Huey White, later a famous Chevrolet dealer and multimillionaire.

The boy’s father, visiting from a nearby town, picked him up and set him on a stool while he ordered a beer. The man who drew the beer wore a gartered pin-stripe shirt, and his left eye twisted in its socket. His smile made the boy uncomfortable. Only one other patron in the bar, a large man in greasy clothes, sat at a table behind five or six empty glasses.

The visitor took his beer to a table in back. “That’s Huey White,” the man whispered to his son, pointing with his chin to the barkeep, who was wiping down tables with a filthy rag. “Goes by Whitey, but everyone here calls him Cockeye. The other man’s the marshal who captured James Dageman. You needn’t be scared.”

When Whitey tried to take some of the glasses from the marshal’s table, Turner clapped his hand down on the barkeep’s wrist. “Leave ‘em,” he growled. “I like to see what I’ve accomplished.”

Whitey smiled, an open-mouthed, leering grin, and shuffled back behind the bar. Turner spat on the floor. Then Whitey said something that threw Turner into a rage, and he whipped out his pistol and pressed the barrel between Whitey’s eyes. He said, “Blink your eyes and you’re a dead man.”

The boy’s heart leapt into his throat. He closed his eyes. When nothing happened he opened them part way.

The marshal had turned his head and was looking straight at him. “Hey kid,” he said, twitching his bushy gray eyebrows. “You want a drink of beer?”

The kid, whose name was Bill Hamrick, went on to become the last marshal of San Toy.

This story was told to author Curtis Yehnert during an interview with William S. Hamrick, December 13, 1981. It is found in the book manuscript San Toy, Ohio: the Life and Times of a Vanished American Coal Mining Town, currently under review at Ohio University Press”


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