The Hatfield-McCoy feud (18781891) is an account of American lore that has become a metaphor for bitterly feuding rival parties in general. It involved two warring families of the West Virginia-Kentucky backcountry along the Tug Fork River, off the Big Sandy River.
The Hatfields involved in the feud descended from Ephraim (born c. 1765), and the McCoys from William (born c. 1750).


Family origins

The McCoys, led by Randolph "Ole Ran’l" McCoy (grandson of William), lived mostly on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork (a tributary of the Big Sandy River), and the Hatfields, led by William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (great-grandson of Ephraim), lived mostly on the West Virginia side. Both families were part of the first wave of pioneers to settle the Tug Valley. The majority of the Hatfields living in Mingo County (in what would eventually become West Virginia), fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. The majority of the McCoys living in Pike County, Kentucky fought for the Union army. The first real violence in the feud was the murder of a returning Union soldier, Asa Harman McCoy. Harman was killed by a group of ex-Confederate Homeguard called the "Logan Wildcats". Devil Anse Hatfield was a suspect at first but later confirmed to have been at home, sick, at the time of the murder.
The Hatfields were more affluent than the McCoys and were well-connected politically. "Devil Anse" Hatfield's timbering operation was a source of wealth for his family, but he employed many non-Hatfields, and even hired Albert McCoy, Lorenzo Dow McCoy, and Selkirk McCoy.

Family origins

The McCoys, led by Randolph "Ole Ran’l" McCoy (grandson of William), lived mostly on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork (a tributary of the Big Sandy River), and the Hatfields, led by William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (great-grandson of Ephraim), lived mostly on the West Virginia side. Both families were part of the first wave of pioneers to settle the Tug Valley. The majority of the Hatfields living in Mingo County (in what would eventually become West Virginia), fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. The majority of the McCoys living in Pike County, Kentucky fought for the Union army. The first real violence in the feud was the murder of a returning Union soldier, Asa Harman McCoy. Harman was killed by a group of ex-Confederate Homeguard called the "Logan Wildcats". Devil Anse Hatfield was a suspect at first but later confirmed to have been at home, sick, at the time of the murder.
The Hatfields were more affluent than the McCoys and were well-connected politically. "Devil Anse" Hatfield's timbering operation was a source of wealth for his family, but he employed many non-Hatfields, and even hired Albert McCoy, Lorenzo Dow McCoy, and Selkirk McCoy.

The major participants

Hatfield clan

  • William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield, the younger, more militant brother of eldest Hatfield, Valentine, led the clan in most of their combative endeavors.
  • Valentine "Uncle Wall" Hatfield, the elder brother of "Devil Anse" was overshadowed by Anderson's ambitions but was one of the eight convicted to end the feud. He died in prison of unknown causes. He had petitioned his brothers to assist in his emancipation from jail, but none came for fear of being captured and brought to trial. He was buried in the prison cemetery which has since been paved over.
  • Doc D Mahon, son-in-law of Valentine and brother of Pliant, was one of the eight convicted to end the feud. He served 14 years in prison before returning home to live with his son Melvin.
  • Pliant Mahon, son-in-law of Valentine, brother of Doc, was one of the eight convicted to end the feud. He served 14 years in prison before returning home to rejoin his ex-wife who had remarried (she left her second husband to be with Pliant again).

McCoy clan

The feud

Beginning

"Most people believe that the Hatfield-McCoy feud began with the death of Asa Harman McCoy (Randall McCoy's brother) on January 7, 1865."[citation needed] The uncle of Devil Anse, Jim Vance, and his "Logan Wildcats" despised Asa Harmon McCoy because he had joined the Union army during the American Civil War. Harman had been discharged from the army early because of a broken leg; one night, on his return home, he was murdered in a nearby cave.
The second recorded instance of violence in the feud occurred after an 1878 dispute about the ownership of a hog: Floyd Hatfield had it and Randolph McCoy said it was his. The pig was only in the fight because some of the Hatfields believed that since the pig was on their land, that meant it was theirs; some of the McCoys objected saying the "notches" or "marks' on the pig's ears were McCoy marks, and not Hatfield marks. The matter was taken to the local Justice of the Peace, and the McCoys lost because of the testimony of Bill Staton, a relative of both families. The individual presiding over the case was Anderson "Preacher Anse" Hatfield. In June 1880, Staton Hatfield was killed by two McCoy brothers, Sam and Paris, who were later acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.

Escalation

The feud escalated after Roseanna McCoy began an affair with Johnse Hatfield (Devil Anse's son), leaving her family to live with the Hatfields in West Virginia. Roseanna eventually returned to the McCoys, but when the couple tried to resume their relationship, Johnse Hatfield was arrested by the McCoys on outstanding Kentucky bootlegging warrants. He was freed from McCoy custody only when Roseanna made a desperate midnight ride to alert Devil Anse Hatfield, who organized a rescue party. The Hatfield party surrounded the McCoys and took Johnse back to West Virginia before he could be transported to the county seat, Pikeville, Kentucky, for justice the next day.
Despite what was seen as a betrayal of her family on his behalf, Johnse thereafter abandoned the pregnant Roseanna, marrying instead her cousin Nancy McCoy in 1881.
The escalation continued in 1882 when Ellison Hatfield, brother of "Devil Anse" Hatfield, was killed by three of Roseanna McCoy's young brothers: Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud. Ellison was stabbed 26 times and finished off with a shot during an election day fight that took place in Kentucky. The McCoy brothers were initially arrested by Hatfield constables and were being taken to Pikeville for trial. Devil Anse Hatfield organized a large group of followers and cut off the constables with McCoy prisoners in tow before they reached Pikeville. The brothers were taken by force to West Virginia to await the fate of mortally wounded Ellison Hatfield. When Ellison finally died from his injuries the McCoy brothers were themselves murdered in turn as the vendetta escalated. They were tied to pawpaw bushes, where each was shot numerous times. Their bodies were described as "bullet-riddled".[citation needed]
The escalation reached its peak during the 1888 New Years Night Massacre. Several of the Hatfield gang surrounded the McCoy cabin and opened fire on the sleeping family. The cabin was set on fire in an effort to drive Randal McCoy into the open. He escaped by making a break but two of his children were murdered and his wife was beaten and left for dead. The remaining McCoy family moved to Pikeville to escape the West Virginia raiding parties.
Between 1880 and 1891, the feud claimed more than a dozen members of the two families, becoming headline news around the country, and compelling the governors of both Kentucky and West Virginia to call up their state militias to restore order[citation needed] The Governor of West Virginia once even threatened to have his militia invade Kentucky. Kentucky Governor S.B. Buckner in response sent his Adjutant General to Pike County to investigate the situation. Newspapers from around the country awaited word from Adjutant General Sam Hill to find out "what in the Sam Hill was going on up there".[citation needed]
In 1888, Wall Hatfield and eight others were arrested by a posse led by Frank Phillips, and brought to Kentucky to stand trial for the murder of Alifair McCoy who was killed during the New Years Massacre.[3] She had been shot after exiting the burning house. Because of issues of due process and illegal extradition, the United States Supreme Court became involved (Mahon v. Justice, 127 U.S. 700 (1888)). The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kentucky. Eventually the men were tried in Kentucky and all were found guilty. Seven received life imprisonment, while the eighth, Ellison "Cottontop" Mounts, was executed by hangingThousands attended the hanging in Pikeville, Kentucky.

The feud ends

The families finally agreed to stop the fighting in 1891. The trial of Johnse Hatfield was the last of the feud trials. It took place in 1901.
In 1979, the two families united for a special week's taping of the popular game show Family Feud, in which they played for a cash prize and a pig which was kept on stage during the games.
On June 14, 2003, on the initiative of Reo Hatfield, an actual peace treaty was drawn up and signed in Pikeville by representatives of the two families, even though the feud had ended over a century before. The idea was symbolic: to show that Americans could bury their differences and unite in times of crisis, most notably following the September 11 attacks.[6]

Descendants

Assassinated police chief Sid Hatfield and singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfieldare descendants of the Hatfield family.
Bobaflex, a rock band formed in the 1990s, has two frontmen, brothers Shaun and Marty McCoy, who have ancestral ties to the McCoys.
Medical researchers have discovered that many McCoys suffer from the autosomal dominant Von Hippel-Lindau disease, with approximately 75% of them having tumors on their adrenal glands. This has led to speculation that symptoms of this disease caused some of the violent tendencies manifested by McCoys during the feud.

Tourism

Many tourists each year travel to parts of West Virginia and Kentucky to see the areas and historic relics which remain from the days of the feud. In 2004 a large project known as the "Hatfield and McCoy historic site restoration" was completed. This project was funded by a federal grant from the SBA. Many improvements to various feud sites were completed. A committee of local historians spent months researching reams of information to find the factual history of the events surrounding the feud. This research was compiled in an audio CD called the "Hatfield - McCoy Feud Driving Tour". The CD is a self guided driving tour of the restored feud sites. It includes maps and pictures as well as the audio CD. (see external link below)
Bo McCoy, a college student, organized a joint reunion of the Hatfield and McCoy gangs in 2000 which attained national attention; more than 5000 persons attended the reunion dubbed "The Reunion of the Millennium"
Additionally, an entire recreation area, the 500 mile (800 km) Hatfield-McCoy Trails system, has been created around the theme of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud.

Deaths

  • [1] 1865: Former Union soldier Asa Harman McCoy killed January 7, 1865 probably by the 'Logan Wildcats' led by Jim Vance.
  • [2] 1878: Bill Staton (nephew of Randolph McCoy - not shown on family tree) was killed in 1878 as revenge for testifying for Floyd Hatfield in his trial for stealing a McCoy hog.
  • [3] 1880: Ellison Hatfield was killed from wounds received on election day in the spring of 1880 (he died in 1882).
  • [4] 1882: Tolbert, Pharmer & Randolph McCoy Jr. tied to pawpaw trees & killed August 9, 1882 (the day of Ellison's death) as revenge for Ellison Hatfield's 1880 election day shooting/stabbing.
  • [5] 1886: 'Jeff' killed fall of 1886 following his murder of Fred Wolford.
  • [6] 1888: Alifair & Calvin McCoy killed January 1, 1888 at Randolph's house by 9 attackers led by Jim Vance. The attackers failed in their attempt to eliminate witnesses against them.
  • 1889: Ellison Mounts was hanged on February 18, 1889 for Alifair's murder
Numbers in square brackets are cross references to names on the family trees below.

Hatfield family tree

Names in red indicate those who were killed as a direct result of the feud.[17]
Names in blue highlight intermarriages between Hatfield and McCoy.
Numbers in square brackets are cross references to the timeline in the "Deaths" section above









with Mary









with Anna


















Ephraim Hatfield
b. c1765
m. Mary Smith Goff
m. Anna M. Musick Bundy
























































































Valentine
b. 1789
m. Martha Weddington













George
b. 1804
m. Nancy Whitt








Jeremiah
b. 1805
m. Rachel Vance




























































Ephraim
(Big Eaf)
b. 1811
m. Nancy Vance










Anderson
(Deacon Anse)
b. 1835
m. Polly Runyan

Basil
b. c1840
m. Nancy Lowe

Elias
(Bad 'Lias)
b. 1853
m. Jane Chafin

Floyd
b. 1858
m. Anne Pinson
m. Jenny Hunt


Ephraim
b. 1838
m. Elizabeth McCoy







































Valentine
(Uncle Wall)
b. 1834
m. Jane Maynard

Martha
b. 1838

Anderson
(Devil Anse)
b. 1839
m. Lavicy Chafin

*Ellison[3]
b. c1842
m. Sarah Staton {daughter of Nancy McCoy{below}

Elias
(Good 'Lias)
b. 1848
m. Elizabeth Chafin

























Victoria
b. 1862
m. Plyant Mahon








Ellison Mounts

Dr. Henry D.
b. 1875
m. S.C. Bronson











































































































Johnson
(Johnse)
b. 1862
m. Nancy McCoy
m. Rebecca Browning
m. Roxie Browning
m. Nettie Toler

Wm. Anderson
(Cap)
b. 1864
m. Nancy Glenn

Robt E. Lee
b. 1867
m. Mariah Wolford

Nancy
b. 1869
m. John Vance
m. Charlie Mullens

Elliott Rutherford
b. 1872
m. Margaret Shindler

Mary
b. 1873
m. Frank Howe

Elizabeth
b. 1875
m. John Caldwell

Elias
b. 1878
m. Peggy Simple

Detroit
(Troy)
b. 1881
m. Pearl

Joseph
b. 1883
m. Grace Ferrell

Rosada
b. 1885
m. Marion Browning

Willis Wilson
b. 1888
m. Lakie Maynor
m. Ida Chafin

Tennyson
(Tennis)
b. 1890
m. Lettie Hunter
m. Sadie Walters
m. Margaret


[edit] Family genetics

The male members of the family may have belonged to Y chromosome haplogroup E1b1b Ysearch user 3AC8Z is a descendant, and the family participates in the Hatfield DNA surname project. (Kit number 79827 is descended from Ephraim Hatfield.)

[edit] McCoy family tree

[17]
Names in red indicate those who were killed as a direct result of the feud.
Names in blue highlight intermarriages between Hatfield and McCoy. Numbers in square brackets are cross references to the timeline in the "Deaths" section above
}}1982 William Arthur Sargent/Theresa Lorena Bobel















William McCoy
b. c1750

















































































Samuel
b. c1782
m. Elizabeth (Davis?)







Daniel
b. 1790
m. Margaret Taylor


















John
b. 1788
m. Margaret Jackson


































































Asa
b. c1810
m. Eleanor Burress

William
b. c1811
m. Mary Buress

Allen
b. c1823
m. Betty Blankenship

Sarah
b. 1829
m. 1st cousin
Randolph



Randolph
b. 1825
m. 1st cousin
Sarah

*Asa Harmon[1]
b. c1828
m. Martha Kline















Nancy
b. c1809
m. Wm Staton

























































































Selkirk
b. c1830
m.Louisa Williamson


Elizabeth
b. c1838
Ephraim Hatfield










Mary M
b. 1851
m. Bill Daniels

Jacob
b. 1853
m. Elizabeth Vance
m. Ruth Christian

Larkin
b. 1856-d.1937
m. Mary Coleman.

*Louis Jefferson[5]
(Jeff)
b. 1859

Asa H
(Bud)
b. c1862

Nancy
b. c1865
m. Johnse Hatfield
m. Frank Phillips


Sarah
b. c1844
m. *Ellison[3] Hatfield

*William Staton[2]
b. c1852














































Lorenzo Dow
b. c1852
m. Phoebe




















Frank McCoy
1889-1969
m. America Hatfield
1893-1960
granddaughter of *Ellison[3] Hatfield











Elliott Hatfield
1866-1939
m.Mathilda Christian
parents of America Hatfield wife of Frank McCoy


















































































































Josephine
b. c1850

James H.
(Uncle Jim)
b. c1851
m. Malissa Smith

Floyd
b. 1853
m. Mary Rutherford

*Tolbert[4]
b. 1854
m. Mary Butcher

Samuel
b. 1855
m. Martha Jackson

Lilburn
b. c1856

daughter
b. 1857

*Alifair[6]
b. 1858

Rose Anna
b, 1859

Calvin[6]
b. c1862

*Pharmer[4]
b. c1863

*Randolph Jr.[4]
b. c1864

William
b. c1866

Trinvilla
b. c1868
m. William Thompson

Adelaide
b. 1870

Fanny
b. 1873
m. Roland Charles


Media

The 1946 Disney cartoon short, The Martins and the Coys, was a very thinly disguised caricature of the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
In 1949, the feature film Roseanna McCoy tells the story of the romance between the title character, played by Joan Evans, and Johnse Hatfield, played by Farley Grange In 1975, a television movie titled The Hatfields and the McCoys retells the feud.
The two feuding families on Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud are called Hatfield and McCoy.[20]
The West Virginia native Heavy Metal band Byzantine (band) feature a song titled "Hatfield" on their debut album The Fundamental Component. The theme of the song is forgetting your family's past so you can move forward.
The Hatfield-McCoy feud is also said to be the inspiration for a long-running game show, Family Feud.
There was a Scooby-Doo episode involving the Hatfields and McCoys, in which the Hatfields have ended up living in the McCoys' cabin after their own cabin was washed away in a storm. They are haunted by the ghost of Old Witch McCoy, a woman executed for witchcraft years before, until the gang unmasks her as one of a pair of bank robbers who have come to the area to find their loot.

external image Hatfield%20&%20McCoy%20Feud.jpgexternal image Hatfie1.jpg external image casket.jpgexternal image Hatfie2.gifexternal image Hatfie3.gif
Photos courtesy of McDowell County Historical Society "Devil Anse" top right Hatfield family photo

My grandmother's name is Alifair. She lived to the age of 98 on the Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky lines. That is the second time I have heard that name - my grandmother and Randolph McCoy's daughter, Alifair, who died in a house fire allegedly started by a member of the Hatfield family as told in the famous Hatfield - McCoy Feud.
The southern Appalachian coalfields where I live has a wealth of folklore, mountain traditions and wonderful, fascinating history such as the Hatfield - McCoy Feud which began before the Civil War and was settled just a few years ago at a family reunion in Pikeville, Kentucky. The families lived on the Tug Fork River.
When I interviewed Buck Wright, War, McDowell County, West Virginia, he told me about his connection with the Hatfield-McCoy familys: excerpt from "Law and DisOrder in the Southern Appalachian Coalfields"
"My grandmother's sister was married to Devil Anse Hatfield. So many tales told about that feud that no one knows the truth. In the first place Anse Hatfield was a wealthy man through owning timber and land and the McCoy's couldn't get it.
Then there was the love affair between Jonathan Hatfield and Roseanne McCoy. Then the Civil War came along, Anse was a Captain for the South and McCoy fought for the North. Someone in one of the families supposedly got killed.
They used to tell this story; Uncle Ellison, Anse Hatfield's brother went to vote, went upstairs to the 2nd floor to vote, as he came down the steps three McCoys, in their teens, drinking moonshine shot him twice as he came the steps and after he rolled down, they stabbed him several times.
Anyway, the way I was told was the McCoy boys were arrested and they told Devil Anse to let the law take its course. Uncle Anse said, "If he dies, they die."
He died and after they buried him, Devil Anse's son, Cap, my grandfather, everybody call him "Cottontop" went and took the three McCoy boys away from the Deputy Sheriff on the Kentucky side, killed all 3 of them in a PawPaw patch and the war broke out. They scouted them out because they had rewards out for them and the fighting and feuding went on until they got a Hatfield elected Governor of the State of West Virginia. Anse died a natural death.
They had a write up in the Bluefield paper that said, "Devil Anse Hatfield was not a mean man but wealthy and he would give you the shirt off his back but it wouldn't do to make him mad".


The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports on January 8, 1921 the following story on "Devil Anse" Hatfield:

"Pneumonia Ends Career of Devil Anse Hatfield" Bluefield Daily Telegraph January 8, 1921

*Pneumonia Ends Career of Devil Anse Hatfield
*Noted Feud Leader Had Always Predicted He Would Live to Die Natural Death.
*Had None of Attributes Bad Man in Character
*Spent Last Fifteen Years of His Life Quietly and Peacefully on Small Farm He Owned in Logan County - Will be Buried There Sunday.
*Huntington, W. Va., Jan. 7. - Funeral services for "Devil Anse" Hatfield, noted feud leader, who died at his home on Island Creek, Logan county, Thursday night of pneumonia, will be held at three o'clock Sunday afternoon.
*Williamson, W. Va., Jan. 7. - Reports reaching Williamson tonight were that Devil Anse Hatfield, leader of the clan in the Hatfield-McCoy feud in the 80's and 90's, had died at his home on Island Creek, Logan county, of pneumonia last night. Relatives here were without word of the death.
*Anderson ("Devil Anse") Hatfield was one of the leaders of the historic feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families in the mountains of West Virginia and northern Kentucky. Shot at from ambush and in hand-to-hand combat scores of times with the McCoys, he had always predicted he would live to die a natural death, as he now has at the age of eighty, without bearing any marks of battle.
*"Devil Anse" had a reputation as a crack shot, that was known throughout the mountainous region of the two states, and at the age of seventy he could shoot a squirrel out of the tallest timber. He often turned the trick for admirers, with the old rifle that he carried ready for action at all hours, and with which during the early eighties, he would shoot on sight any member of the McCoy family.
The celebrated feud of the Hatfield family with the McCoys was started over some hogs, one of the Hatfields winning a lawsuit that was brought to determine their ownership. Soon after that a brother of "Devil Anse" was shot and wounded in more than fifteen places by one of the McCoys. The feud then started and did not end until the few remaining McCoys went over into Kentucky, where they now reside.
"Devil Anse" had none of the attributes of the "bad men" in his character. He always was recognized as a loyal friend of the many with whom he was acquainted. Numbered among those who believed he had been right in the position he took during the feud days, were the late Judge John J. Jackson, known as the "Iron Judge," who was appointed to the federal bench by President Lincoln, and former Governor E. W. Wilson, the former protecting Hatfield form [sic] capture when he had been called into court, and the latter refusing to honor a requisition of the governor of Kentucky, for the arrest of "Devil Anse" on a charge of killing some particular member of the McCoy family.
Detectives, real and alleged, had arranged for the capture of Hatfield, spurred by a reward, after they had seen to it that he was indicted on a charge of whiskey selling, in 1888. Judge Jackson was on the bench at the time and was informed of the danger that awaited the accused man. Judge Jackson sent word to Hatfield that if he would appear in court with out an officer being sent for him, the court would see that he had ample protection until he returned to his home in Logan County.
Hatfield appeared and was acquitted of the charge against him. Some of the detectives pounced upon him soon after he left the court room, but Judge Jackson summoned all of them before him, and threatened to send them all to jail, directing special officers to see that Hatfield was permitted to reach his home. After Hatfield was well on his way, Judge Jackson told the detectives that if they wanted their man they would have to get him, just like the McCoys had been trying to do for a number of years. They never went.
"Anse" Hatfield spent the last fifteen years of his life quietly and peaceably on a small farm he owned in Logan County. He raised a good many hogs and but seldom left his community. Once he was prevailed upon by some enterprising amusement manager to go on the vaudeville stage. He made all preparations to do so but abandoned the idea when an old indictment was produced, which had been quashed on condition that the old mountaineer agree to remain at home the rest of his days.
Hatfield was born in Logan county, West Virginia, but then in the domain of the Old Dominion, in 1841, a short distance from the old cabin in which he died.

January 1, 1888: The Hatfield-McCoy feud

The conflict between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky is the most famous of a series of feuds in Appalachia in the late nineteenth century. Both families lived in the Tug Fork River Valley.
A cause of the feud has never been determined. Some say it started after Floyd Hatfield stole a razorback hog belonging to Randolph McCoy. Others point to the romance between Johnse Hatfield, "Devil Anse's" son, and Roseanna McCoy, Randolph's daughter. Court records indicate troubles between the two families started around the time of the Civil War.
Violence flared between the two families for years until tensions exploded on New Year's Night 1888. A party of Hatfield men, led by "Devil Anse's" uncle, Jim Vance, raided Randolph McCoy's home. The Hatfield raiders feared the outcome of impending trials connected to feud violence and planned to kill those who might testify against them. They set fire to the McCoy home; killed two of Randolph's children, Alifair and Calvin; and severely injured his wife Sarah. Randolph escaped unharmed. Several Hatfields received prison sentences and one defendant, Ellison Mounts, was sentenced to hang.
The feud appears to have fizzled out after the trials. "Devil Anse" moved from the Tug Valley to Island Creek near Logan and became a member of the Baptist church. He died in 1921. Randolph McCoy died seven years earlier.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph and January 1, 1888 stories from the WV Div. of History and Culture