We have often stated that even the smallest of things said in a story passed down by word of mouth or recorded in books and newspapers often lead to a treasure of information… However, in the case of the Pound Gap Massacre some of them have led to even more unanswered questions… And one of the biggest mysteries and by far the largest unanswered question in the story of The Killing Rock is… Who is Amanda Jane Mullins?
The Mystery of Jane
The only hard concrete evidence easily found on Jane Mullins is that she was Wilson’s wife; this is verified by the 1880 census where she is listed in Pike County in the Upper Elkhorn Creek district simply as “Jane Mullins wife”.
We are told from the various web sites that she is Ira Mullins’ sister however some sites claim that she was his daughter. But there is no evidence for her being his daughter and the genealogy websites listing her as his sister are contradictory. Some have her listed as Amanda Jane Mullins with a birth date listed as born about 1855 while others have her birth date ranging from 1851 to 1857 while some have no birth date for her at all.
By far the strangest web sites has Amanda Mullins listed with a birth date of May 5th, 1855, and another sister named Jane Mullins with no birth date, or some of these sites even have them listed the other way round… Combine this with the fact that there is no clear evidence for her death, or the date and Jane Mullins becomes an enigma.
Clues But No Help
There are two clues found in the story of the apprehension of the Fleming Brothers, in this story we are told that Cal was killed, and Henan was captured. However, the story goes that when Henan comes to trial on July 24th, 1894, he is acquitted because Jane Mullins had died even though we are told that Henan had made a full confession. This statement is odd to say the least, but for now, we will focus on this clue and come back to this story in a later episode.
This puts Jane’s death at a fixed point sometime before July 1894. But at the Potter or Murdered Man Cemetery her grave has a marker stating that she passed away on Feb 15th, 1892. Which is nearly 3 months before the massacre. Some websites give her death as being Feb 15th, 1895. The genealogy sites are of no help either, as they have her death ranging from 1892-1948 this in and of itself is further complicated, in the fact that there is another Jane Mullins in the story…
Rebecca Jane and Amanda M. Mullins
Rebecca Jane Mullins was the daughter of Booker Basil also known as “Cripple Basil” Mullins and America Baker. She was born on May 5th, 1855, and has a sister named Amanda M Mullins born in 1857 who married Benjamin Taylor. However, Rebecca supposedly had two children by Doc Taylor and although Doc Taylor bought her a house on Bold Camp in Pound they would never marry. We will look at this story in a later episode as well.
Rebecca and her sister Amanda were first cousins to Jane’s husband Wilson Mullins. Ira and his sister Jane were also first cousins with Wilson. There are also other remarkable similarities between the two Jane’s… However, according to the 1870 census, Jane Mullins the wife of Wilson and Sister to Ira was named Amoda Jane Mullins. This explains why at least two genealogists had reported that she was also known as “Mona”. She was born on May 5th, 1855, as well and had a daughter with Wilson named Amarinda or “Mindy” Mullins who was born in 1881…
Rebecca Jane Mullins had a daughter in 1885 named America or “Mandy” Mullins… We believe that, just like us when we first started researching the massacre, most people get these two women mixed up. We certainly did when we first encountered the coincidence in their names, birth dates and the names of their daughters. This would certainly explain the contradicting dates for Jane Mullins.
How the Mix-up Happened
But it is our belief that Amanda M. Mullins has also gotten mixed into the character of Jane Mullins as one of the birth dates for Jane matches hers. Amanda also married a man named Taylor and even though they were never married, Rebecca Jane is sometimes called Marshall Benton Taylor’s second wife. Therefore, we believe that multiple stories and web sites report Ira’s sisters name as being Amanda Jane Mullins because both Amanda, and her sister Rebecca Jane were both tied to, married, or considered a “second wife” to a man named Taylor.
Amoda Jane Mullins
While it is true that the 1860 census report states that Jane Mullins’s name is Amanda, when viewing the actual microfilm of the census Her name is spelled Amoda Jane Mullins. It very well may be that this document which is the source for the entire mix-up of these three women. Finally, it is when we discovered Jane’s real name that we were able to find her in the birth and death registries…
However, the Mystery that is Jane Mullins does not stop here…
Jane Mullins and Issac Belcher
As we stated, we found the grave of Jane Mullins Belcher in the Potter cemetery. Her grave is found beside the grave of Elizabeth Belcher. Elizabeth was the first wife of Jane’s second Husband Isaac Belcher and the sister of James Potter. A man who’s name repeatedly comes up when deep searching The Pound Gap Massacre, but more on him in a later episode of the story. Her gravestone tells us that she died on Aug 20th, 1892.
Jane married Isaac Belcher in October of that same year, 7 to 10 days after Jane was released from “protective custody.” In addition to these 3 oddities, the name Isaac Belcher came up when we investigated the murder of Henry Vanover and Ira’s possible connection to his death.
What we had found was an interesting court document. The document tells us that Isaac Belcher and Henry Vanover were the primary witnesses against Ira Mullins in a criminal court case shortly before the death of Henry… This prompted us to take a closer look at Isaac Belcher and his relationship with all those involved. This, in turn brought up another question, did Jane marry an enemy of her brother 7 to 10 days after being released from protective custody?
Elizabeth Potter Belcher
While digging for information on this, we discovered a possible cause for Elizabeth Potter Belcher’s death. A newspaper reported that a woman had died on Little Elkhorn Creek from her injuries after falling into an open fireplace while cooking dinner. While the article gives no name for the woman the date given is Aug 20th, 1892. Elizabeth’s grave has an interesting epitaph as well it reads “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”.
While this seems innocent enough, when we know how and when she died, and consider Isaac Belcher’s whirlwind romance and marriage to Jane Mullins it seems strange to say the least. Especially after we found out the truth about Jane’s death and discovered the even stranger epitaph on Jane’s grave. Right next to Elizabeth we find the grave of Jane Belcher. As we have already said, it has her death occurring on Feb 15th, 1892.
Jane’s Graveyard Secret
We discovered that her death occurred on Feb 15th, 1894. Why the mistake, could it be deliberate? It is often reported that Jane died in childbirth, and we found that this is the story told in the family as told to us directly by Jane’s great, great, great grandson. We had been interviewing him through a social media app. He was shocked and refused to believe us when we told him how Jane had actually died. After producing the newspaper clip, he became upset with us and ended the interview accusing us of digging up a past that nobody wanted to know.
The epitaph on Jane Belcher’s grave is shocking, especially when taking everything we have just discussed into account. The epitaph reads “Faithful with her trust unto death”. So, what secret of Isaac Belcher’s did she take to the grave? We think that her death may tell us.
We also think that a lot of people may have gone to great lengths in order to cover up that death. She has been confused with at least 2 other women and her identity has been obscured with them. Her death and the date of that death had been hidden by the false identity and the wrong date on her tombstone.
The First Clues
But according to the Roanoke Times in a story dated Feb 16th, 1894, Jane Mullins Belcher was murdered the previous day. The story tells us that the suspect is Arbin “Orb” Fleming younger brother to Cal and Henan Fleming. The reporter suggest that the shooter hid in the brush some distance from the cabin. However, there are a few particulars that this story does not tell us.
A few days earlier, newspapers were reporting that Henan Fleming was expected to make a full recovery from his mortal injury at which time he would be expedited back to Wise County to stand trial. These reports state that Henan was claiming that his “full confession” was made under duress as medical treatment for his wounds were withheld until he had confessed to his part in the massacre.
As it would turn out “Orb” Fleming had been in Gladeville now Wise on the 15th talking to his brother’s lawyers in an effort to have Henan’s confession thrown out… Orb’s alibi was rock-solid as later that day it had also involved the judge.
Jane had perjured herself in the trial of Doc Taylor and her “eyewitness” standing in any upcoming trial of Henan was questionable. Finally, according to one source Jane Mullins Belcher had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of her head as she exited her home.
There are no remaining pictures of the women named Jane that can be found online. The families if they have them, are not sharing them publicly. So in place of the photos, we have decided to place pictures of the area as it existed before 1910 as closely as we possibly can. The photographs of the grave tombstones are taken by Joanna Adams Sergent. No tombstones were harmed in the photographing of them.
We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains
A Narrative History of Wise County Virginia
Charles A Johnson
The Roanoke Times
Feb 16th, 1894
Rebecca Jane Mullins
America Deloise Mullins 1884 – 1920 Seeking Genealogy
Matthew Mullins – pafg29.htm – Generated by Personal Ancestral File
America Deloise Mullins 1884 – 1920
Rebecca Jane Mullins
Copyright and Other Information
All photos are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. This includes photos dated before 1923. All other photos are used with permission or under the education fair use statute of the US copyright law.
Copyright 2022 Kentucky Tennessee Living
Social Media Pages
For more about us, you can visit our Facebook page:
Our Twitter page:
Our YouTube Channel:
When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.