It’s the most iconic of all American feuds one that began at the end of the Civil War and involved two legendary families the Hatfields and the McCoys family to Getz family friend against friend blood against blood was awfully the legend would evolve from stories of gun battles knife fights assassination attempts point-blank executions a volatile Romeo and Juliet romance.
And the public hanging of a man who may have been innocent everybody’s heard of the hatfield-mccoy feud but the truth is today nobody knows what actually happened America’s few the hatfields and mccoys the clashes between the Hatfield and McCoy clans began in 1865 in the absence of any strong local.
Authorities in West Virginia and Kentucky minor disputes between the families began to escalate there were 11 recorded murders of Hatfield and McCoy family members and their supporters for Hatfields and seven McCoys the feud is violent it’s awful it seemed no one could.
Really let go of revenge and pay back both clans trace their ancestry to the scots-irish who immigrated to America in the early 1800s they moved into the Appalachian region of the Tugg River Valley settling into an area of rough timber terrain with.
Little possibility of farming the only reason it was settled at all is that the government made these very cheap land grants to allow people to come here and begin.
To populate it and it was very very sparsely populated but there also wasn’t very.
Much farmable land and everybody at that time was subsistence farmers located in the border region between modern-day Kentucky and West.
Virginia the Tugg River was a wild lamb tall timber shallow running streams and little flat land to plant crops it’s very remote and very rugged it tends to form the people in a certain way they tended to be very suspicious of outsiders they tend to be very rugged individualists they.
Being a self-reliant person they had a great deal of pride they didn’t have a great deal of education but you saw a great deal of common horse sense in these people this little Enclave in America that was sort.
Of passed by you know you had culture on the east and a lot of activity and then you had this little pocket in the mountains that it had some appeal for these people but America just passed it by and moved out west the Hatfield clan mostly settled on the West.
Virginia side of the river the McCoys on the Kentucky side but members of both families did spread throughout the valley even called one another neighbors according to family history there was no record of conflict between the clans and previous generations up until the time the feud it was very common from them to intermarry you go very far into a family and.
You find out that nearly everyone’s related the hatfield-mccoy feud was a border war fueled by.
Resentment and hatred from the war West Virginia.
Was originally part of Virginia until the Civil War 1863 when it seceded from Virginia and became a union state it.
Was the only state born out of the Civil War while the ancestors of the Hatfield and McCoy clan settled in the Kentucky West Virginia region and set down their family roots it was not until the mid-1800s that the key players in the feud emerged William Anderson Hatfield 26 years old better known to his family and friends as devlins and Randolph McCoy 40 years old.
As Randall or by his nickname Oh Randall he was a farm laborer from his youth on up until he was a grown man and then he’s a farmer and a woodsman and that was typical for the time period the difference was that he wasn’t that successful with it Randall McCoy was not a good business man nor was his father his father Dan was sort of a.
Famous NER do well and he left his children destitute Randolph McCoy I don’t think had the physical appearance nor the solid upbringing and support it put him at a disadvantage with.
That few Hatfield was well known in the area having grown up an expert marksman hunting bears in the steep hills of West Virginia he married a local girl of I see and together.
They raised 13 children although illiterate devlins was a natural businessman and established himself as a well respected leader we see the name devil Anse and we immediately think evil he is an evil character and he looks very imposing.
When you see the pictures of him.
He’ll somewhat threatening with his long beard and his very stern expression there’s some argument of what the name means some people say it was because he actually was a little bit double ish had a good sense of humor very playful when he was younger according to his grandchildren he was a loving man that would tell wonderful stories he was a very physically active fit strong character and.
That physical presence was with him all his life that’s why he was a leader of men during the time of the Civil War and the early time of the feud he was a man not to be reckoned with he had a logging operation he had 20-some roughneck men living out in the woods cutting timber for malt on you know so he had.
He had his own little army right there so he was uneducated but not stupid Oh up until the feud broke out these men and their families had more in common than not they were both born and raised in the same area with similar.
Values their families knew and liked each other some even married and the patriarchs both fought formally and informally on the same side in the Civil War as Confederates all records indicate that both were Confederate in sympathies Randolph.
McCoy did serve in some of what you would call the guerrilla bands that did exist or the Home Guard units for the Confederacy devil Anse Hatfield was captain for the Wildcats the Wildcats were a Confederate militia group Logan County Wildcats was it was a unit made up of mountain people and Logan Logan County people of course Logan County was much bigger then they had a mission and that was to defend the honor of the south in the honor of.
Virginia Hatfields loyalty stayed with Virginia.
Even though he lived in West Virginia a union breakaway state this is the battle realm this isn’t a southern area it’s not a northern area it’s split right down the middle the soldiers actually.
Joined in a ratio of about two to one for the north in Pike County most the southern West Virginia were inclined toward the Confederate calls more so than the Union calls it wasn’t that they went away to fight and some distant war and then came back home and joined their neighbors and start raising for crops is that they were fighting right here when devil Anse joined the war you’ve got to remember that he was from what was then Virginia and he was one of the.
Very early people who volunteered for the Civil War devil Anse and his brothers and his father all fought in legitimate Confederate armies he got to the point where he was in northern.
West Virginia and he was hearing about all these raids that were happening in his homeland where he was from it was really.
Nothing he could do about it when the Confederate.
Armies moved out of their territory they wouldn’t go because they had to protect their homes their wives.
Were there and they knew that if they went away at a crucial time in the farm cycle they weren’t get any food it.
Was a horrible time where the Home Guard were not invaders from up north were from down south they were your neighbors and they’re.
Coming in here and doing these horrible things to you that’s that starving your children to death so in June of 1863 the part of Virginia that he was a part of seceded from Virginia and joined the northern army and so.
Here’s a guy that was suddenly a traitor and not only that that some of the Marauders from the other side just across the river you know not a mile or two would come over and potentially burn their houses steal their livestock so they wouldn’t go they continually deserted whenever the Confederate forces.
System’s broken down I mean County government’s broken down there are no local governments so basically it’s ruled by no law just total lawlessness here there is no civil authority there’s.
No court records because there’s no court taking place.
There’s no sheriff there’s no state police it’s imagine living in a remote area where every week they just.
Depends on which group ran through if it was devil Anse and his group that came through of Home Guard that was a law that day on the West Virginia side you.
Had the Wildcats on the Kentucky side of the river you had the home guard the home guard was a union militia group headed.
By General Bell France historians don’t agree on the role the civil war played in the few but there is one credible account that has devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy working together against the Union the mission was to assassinate a Union General Bill France who was terrorizing the local populace randal basically said to devil ANSYS I live in Pike County I know Bill Francis ins-and-outs I know where he can be found I will lead.
Information Hatfield devised a plan to ambush General France he formed a group of Confederate Home Guard troops and hid them along the road McCoy said he would travel as General France approached the rogue hat Phil’s.
Troops opened fire although wounded Hatfield was said to have extracted some information from the general this successful mission was the last time devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy would be allied there’s a lot of debate there’s a lot of disagreement as to whether or not that.
Is true but that seems to be the place where most discussions of the feud start is a friendship or a relationship between the two of them from the Civil War time but what actually started the feud has been a subject of debate for decades trying to say when the feud start is is kind of like trying to determine when a hurricane starts you know is that when the the low-pressure system you know it creates a storm is that when the hurricane hits the land is that you know when it devastates an.
Urban region or where is that beginning where is.
The end for me it’s obvious it started at the end of the Civil War.
If you look back at Eastern Kentucky history and the history of this region there were no feuds that we can find anywhere there’s no mention of a feud for the first 50 years it was only after the Civil War that all the great feuds break out it’s where.
The seeds of future strife were planted while the debate continues over the exact role of the Civil War and the feud it was in 1865 when the first death attributed to the conflict between the Hatfields and McCoys came it involved ASA Harman McCoy the younger brother of Randall McCoy and the one member of the.
Family who joined the Union Army by whose story we don’t know for sure but he goes home to.
His wife to find out that his life is in danger because he’s gone with the Union calls and these Confederate sympathizers they decide that Harmon should no longer exist because he had served the Union calls ASA Harman soon found himself.
Facing the scrutiny of devil Anse Hatfield and the Logan Wildcats Devil Anse Hatfield and a guy named crazy Jim Vance came in and they killed Harmon McCoy it’s complicated Harmon McCoy was on the Union side and he lived in that region but he was one of the very few people who was a union supporter and so some people.
Have jumped on that to say okay he’s a McCoy he was on the Union side so all and look who’s on the inside which is far from the truth.
One or one of the very few now subsequent historians for some reason have written that off they say that Harmon McCoy fought for the Union unlike the other people of Eastern Kentucky that he was an anomaly and that everybody wanted him killed because they didn’t like.
Him patently untrue the McCoys on the Kentucky side of the river all fought for the.
Union there was an area called Peter Creek.
Where Harmon McQuade lived and they all fought for the Union you know the fact that that the few didn’t heat up again until you know until 14 years later in a little bit after that it is not evidence that the feud didn’t start in the Civil War this was the beginning the act that.
Somebody murdering your brother family against family man.
Against man from deadly encounters with only the voice of a single bullet to be heard two large-scale attacks lost in a volley of a massive gunfire the feud.
Between the Hatfields and the McCoys only grows louder and deadlier in 1865 ASA Harman McCoy brother of Randall.