Title: Charles Allen Reed Collection
Span Dates: 1901-1906
ID No: Ms2012-011
Creator: Alexander Messer
Extent: 1 folder (Ms2012-011)
Repository: West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, WV
Abstract: Correspondence from Alexander Messer to Haney Prater
Provenance: Charles Allen Reed
Preferred Citation: [item, collection number], Charles Reed Collection, West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, WV.
Alexander Messer was born August 13, 1837, in Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky, and died on June 24, 1923, at the Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He served in the Union Army in the 4th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Company C, enlisting at the beginning of the Civil War. Messer participated in several actions in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, including the pursuit of Gen. John B. Hood’s army. He also was in action against Nathan Bedford Forrest’s army in the latter part of the war. Messer received a pension for his service, which he later requested be increased because of his infirmity and old age. It was because of his pension that Messer was able to finance his later legal expenses and help his family.
He is best known as a Hatfield supporter during the Hatfield-McCoy Feud and participated in the execution of the three McCoy boys in August 1882, allegedly as the shooter of the youngest, Randolph McCoy Jr. Messer was tried in Pike County, Kentucky, and sentenced to life in prison but was paroled in 1906. He violated the terms of his parole after a few months of freedom and was sent back to prison, eventually being sent to the prison hospital in Hopkinsville where he died at the age of 85.
Scope and Content: The ten letters in this collection were sent by Messer to his daughter, Haney Prater, between 1901 and 1906 while he was in prison in Eddysville, Kentucky. The letters are primarily of a personal nature and express his love for his daughter and grandchildren; however, there is some information regarding his case and its progression toward his eventual parole. In a March 16, 1902, letter, for example, Messer states his adherence to his principles, possibly a reference to an attempt to persuade him to confess or express regret. In a couple of other letters, Messer specifically makes reference to his efforts to obtain parole. Although Alexander Messer was the author of these letters, they were dictated to various other individuals who actually wrote them on paper. This explains the various spellings of his daughter's name, as well as the different handwriting.
Letter, Alexandria Messer to Haynie Pratter, October 7, 1901
Letter, Alexander Messer to Hanie Prather, March 16, 1902
Letter, Alixander Messer to My Dear Dauther, February 14, 1904
Letter, Alex Messer to My Dear Dauther, March 16, 1904
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Praitor, May 9, 1904
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Prather, February 15, 1905
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Prather, June 1, 1906
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Prather, July 1, 1906
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Prater, August 15, 1906
Letter, Alexander Messer to Mrs. Haney Prather, August 17, 1906