February 14, 1925: Lawman Mack Day Killed by Bootlegger

Feb 15, 2018

On February 14, 1925, lawman Mack Day was shot dead by a bootlegger at Pageton in McDowell County. The Virginia native had come to McDowell as a young man to mine coal.

Known as a shootist, Mack Day is known to have killed only three times.
Credit E-WV / WV Humanities Council

He built a 14-room house for his wife and 12 children on Belcher Mountain. He joined the local Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and eventually the Ku Klux Klan, during the Klan’s early-20th-century revival in West Virginia.

Day eventually became sheriff of McDowell County. Also an ordained minister, he claimed that God had called him to enforce the prohibition of alcohol. In drying out one of the state’s wettest regions, he even arrested his own uncle and son on liquor charges.

Legend has it that Day once performed one man’s wedding, later shot him, and then preached at the man’s funeral.

Though he was known as a shootist, Mack Day is known to have killed only three times. After being killed himself by the bootlegger on Valentine’s Day 1925, he was buried on Belcher Mountain. The Klan and other organizations marched through the streets of Kimball on their way to his burial.