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Two Letters Concerning The French/Eversole Feud

Last year I was given copies of two letters regarding my family line, written by MALTA DAVIDSON. These letters contained quite a bit of history pertaining to the French/Eversole Feud and my direct Combs Ancestors, and both can be found in the archives. These first two letters were given to me by a 2nd cousin I found through research. Now, I have recently been given copies of two more letters written by MALTA, by another cousin also found through research. I am posting them because they contain much more detail about the Feud, and interesting family information for those of you who also descend from this line. I am leaving all spelling and grammar as originally written. As a refresher, MALTA DAVIDSON was the daughter of IRA DAVIDSON and MARTHA COMBS who where 1st cousins, IRA DAVIDSON bing the son of JOESEPH DAVIDSON of Russell Co, VA. and ALICE "ALCIE" COMBS, also known as GRANNY DUTCH. MARTHA COMBS was the daughter of JOSIAH H. COMBS and POLLY MATTINGLY. JOSHIAH H. and ALCIE were siblings, both being children of JESSE COMBS and POLLY BOWLING. JESSE COMBS was the son of GEN. ELIJAh COMBS, founder of Hazard, Ky. MALTA DAVIDSON was born in Hazard on Feb. 25, 1884 and died in London, KY in the late 1960s. This first piece was a school assignment written when she was a young girl. I will post the second letter in a separate mail. I hope some of you find this info useful. I have inserted some notes in [brackets] for clarification.

Malta Ellen Davidson
1891, Fariston, KY
School Henderson

Death of Nickolas Combs

On the 19th day of April - 1889, Alice Combs [Alcie, or Granny Dutch] was sweeping her yard at the Grandville [sic] Combs house, about 4 miles north of Hazard, Kentucky. She had an uneasy feeling and kept looking down the road. Her son Nickolas Combs had gone to Hayden [sic] from Hazard, Alice's brother Josiah H. Combs was judge and Joseph Eversole - Nick's best friend, were going with him to attend court at Hayden [sic], the county seat of Leslie county Kentucky.

Nick was riding her horse, John. She went in the house and just as she came back outside in the yard, she saw the large bay horse coming up to the fence - his saddle was empty and there was blood on the saddle - She pulled her apron off and threw it over the saddle and rode to Nick's house up Big Creek, about five miles from the house she found Nick lying by the side of the road. He had been shot several times and his eyes were shot out - Nick was still alive and lived for a few minutes after she found him. Joe Eversole had been shot about the same number of times of Nick. Joe Eversole was dead - Nick's mouth was full of blood and couldn't talk to his mother. Nick and his friend Joe were buried in the same coffin and the same grave.

On the same day Susan Eversole [daughter of Josiah H. Combs] was taking her three young children to church - Her two oldest sons Cashus and John B. were in Virginia studying at law school. Her husband Joe Eversole was a merchant and always insisted on her wearing nice clothes. She had on a nice taffeda dress when he died - After she took her children and left them at church, she went to spend the day with her Aunt Sarah Hundly who was keeping house for her dead sister's husband, Ira J. Davidson was Clerk of Perry county at the time.

The pastor of the church at the time was a visiting preacher, they were serving dinner for the preacher and had a fine dinner ready to set on the table - When a man arrived and told them Joe Eversole had been killed. He came to take her to town. There was blood on the saddle of the horse he brought. Joe Eversole's horse ran across Tawn Mountain, across Big Creek, crossed the Kentucky River and passed through town on his way home.

Nick Combs and Joe Eversole were murdered by men who ambushed them hidden behind a screen of bushes. The men who ambushed them and killed them were sent to prison and later pardoned. Tom Smith later confessed and said that he walked out in the road to see if Nick Combs was dead - Nick said "Tom don't shoot me again you have already killed me." He then shot Nick's eyes out.

Joe Eversole had earlier had trouble with a man named Fult French but had made friends and said that they would not cause each other any more trouble. This feud was known as the French and Eversole war - It was a bloody feud.

I was only a little girl - little more than four years old. But I can still see Uncle Nick with his eyes shot out and my Grandmother Alice Combs stuffing my Uncle Nick's eyes with cotton as she made him ready for burial - Nick Combs was half brother to Ira J. Davidson, my father - My Grandmother married Grandville [sic] Combs after her first husband Joe Davidson died.

MH: End of 1st letter.

This is the 2nd letter written by MALTA DAVIDSON. I don't have the date this letter was written, but we think it was when she was a young woman, not long after her marriage to JOHN WARD of Hazard. Again, I have left all spelling and grammer as is, but have added some notes in [brackets]

>From papers written by Grandma Malta. "The Murder of Josiah Harrison Combs"

After his half brother Nickolas Combs was ambushed and killed in the French and Eversole feud in Perry county my father, Ira J. Davidson took my sister Annie Eliza Davidson and me (Malta Ellen Davidson)and left Hazard Kentucky. His wife had died in childbirth [Malta's mother, Martha Combs]. her little baby daughter was buried in her arms. Before she died she asked him to take us and get away from all of the killing. He went to London Kentucky, Laurel county, where he married Naomi Philps. Later, my mother's father, Josiah Harrison Combs also left Hazard for Barboursville, Kentucky where they were trying the murderers of Uncle Nick and Uncle Joe Eversole. Grandmother Polly Ann [mattingly] Combs [wife of Josiah H. Combs] moved back to Hazard from Barboursville and one of my cousins accidentally shot her in 1888.

Then I went back to Hazard in 1893 - 1894 while I was about 10 years old. One night I was sleeping next to a window, one of the panes was broken. I was sleeping with my Aunt Mary [Mary Davidson, sister of Alcie. Mary married Elhannon Combs, son of Bird-Eye Nick Combs]. I looked up and saw a gun, I suppose it was a Winchester, all of the men had rifles. I put my hand on Aunt Mary's face, she rolled out of bed and pulled me and the feather bed with her. We slept the rest of the night on the floor. She was a witness in a murder case and I suppose they were waiting for her to rise up so they could kill her. A few days after that my grandfather Josiah H. Combs was returning from his lodge, some man shot at him as he entered his house. They missed him but they made a sifter of the door.

My father brought me back to London and a few months after that Grandpa Josiah came to see me at Farister, where we were living then. My father went back to Hazard with him on business. They were tired after their long trip on horse back through the mountains. The next morning a man came and told my Grandfather that there was something wrong with his mowing machine. There we[re] four men in a corner of a garden across the street. He and my Grandfather walked across the street. Grandfather bent over to look at the mower, someone shot from the trees on the hill near them and hit Grandfather Josiah under the heart. The men carried him to the house and laid him on the pallet on the floor. My father ran around the house and came in the back door. Grandfather reached and took hold of his hand but he could not speak. He died in a few minutes. The men who shot him were blacked up like black men. But a man by the name of Smith was hanged down at Jackson. He claimed he didn't kill Grandpa but said he had murdered Uncle Nick.

MH: End of letter #2

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