Sarah Ann Legg was accused of murdering her husband, Jay, in 1904 in the tiny community of Ira which is located a few miles up the Elk River from the town of Clay. Sarah was the first female resident of the newly constructed jail and was charged with first degree murder.
The trial became something of a sensation because first degree murder without mercy meant that she could be hanged. No woman had ever been hanged in West Virginia. Needless to say, the regional newspapers begin to spread the word.
The incident inspired a folk song entitled the Ballad of Jay Legg which is still sung to this day at festivals around the state. David O’Dell of Glenville sings a version of it. The Ballad, like the Ballad of Tom Dooly, has kept the incident alive over the years.
As previously mentioned, this account of the murder and it’s aftermath is a novel. Some fiction has been added to make the story more readable. But most of it is based on historical fact and the transcript of the trial itself.