On last Saturday night Ham. Collins, a resident of Pocahontas county, W.Va . and a noted moonshiner, was shot and instantly killed, by Charles Slaven, on the S. & P. road, on the eastern slope of Cheat Mountain, Pocahontas county, W. Va.
The facts related to us by one of the jury of inquest, are about these: Ham. Collins, Peter Kramer and a boy by the name of Collins were returning from Beverly, and among the purchases of the day, was a five gallon keg of whiskey, of which they had been partaking freely. They passed the Cheat Bridge Lumber camp about dark and had not gone far when Jasper Varner, who had been working at the camp and was going home, overtook them. Ham. Collins and Varner were walking together behind the wagon, when Collins, without any provocation, knocked Varner down and jumped on him. After being badly used up Varner was released and with great difficulty made his way toward home.
Chas. Slaven, who lives four or five hundred yards from the scene of the conflict, had retired, but on hearing an unusual disturbance, went to the door to investigate. He heard voices among which he thought he recognized his brother's, Gratz Slaven, whose residence is not far where the fight occurred. He went back into the house and told a young man by the name of Houchin, who was boarding with him, that he feared his brother Gratz was in trouble, and he was going to see about it. He dressed, armed himself with a Winchester rifle, and in the company of Mr. Houchin, started out upon what resulted in a bloody mission. They first came across Varner, who was covered with blood. His condition was such that he could not make any reply to the questions they asked him. They went on until they met Hum Collins. Slaven asked him the cause of the disturbance and Collins replied that he and Jasper Varner had a fight. At this time Kramer came up and asked Slaven if he wanted to take it up for Varner. Slaven replied that he wasn't after anything of the kind, but wanted to know where his brother was. Kramer did not answer his question but asked him repeatedly if he wanted to do Varner's fighting, when finally Slaven told him that if nothing else would do he would take it up for Varner, and raised his gun to strike Kramer. As he drew the gun back, Ham Collins and young Collins grabbed it and tried to take it away from him. Slaven succeeded in freeing the gun from their grasp when Collins pulled something from his coat pocket, with the remark that he would kill Slaven, and at the same time advanced and struck at him. In order to get out of his reach Slaven jumped over the embankment of the road, turning quickly and fired twice, both shots taking effect in Collins' body, producing instant death.
Kramer went to a Justice of Pocahontas county and swore out a warrant, upon which Slaven was promptly arrested and lodged in the county jail at Marlinton. Collins was past middle age, and had been looked upon for several years as a desperate character. He has had many races with the Revenue officers who sought his arrest on repeated charges of moonshining, which he carried on to a considerable extent in the mountains of W. Va. It is stated that he has killed one man.
Charles Slaven is a young married man with a small family.
Highland Recorder (Monterey, Virginia), March 8, 1895.