West Virginia December 24, 2017
The Famous Family Feud In West Virginia That’s Lasted Over 100 Years
Family feuds can be nasty things. It is bad enough when two people are at odds, but when entire families are pitted against each other, the differing personalities and temperaments of many people get thrown into the mix, multiplying the possibility of additional disagreements. That is why feuds can last for so long, even longer than a century. Just ask the Hatfields and McCoys.
The Hatfield-McCoy Feud began in 1865 between two rural families living in the West Virginia/Kentucky region along the Tug Fork River.
In West Virginia, the Hatfield clan was led by William Anderson Hatfield, better known as Devil Anse. The McCoy family of Kentucky was led by Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy. The feud between their families began, unsurprisingly, via the Civil War.
Several members of both families fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Except for one - Asa Harmon McCoy, a Union soldier in the 45th Kentucky Infantry.
On his return home from the war, Asa was killed by the Logan Wildcats, a group of Confederate Home Guards. Though never definitively proven, it is widely believed that Devil Anse's uncle, Jim Vance, was the murderer. The next incident occurred in 1878. This one did not involve a murder, but a pig. The ownership of said animal was in dispute, so it went to court. The testimony of Bill Stanton, a member of both families, led the judge to rule in favor of the Hatfields. Stanton was later killed by two McCoy brothers, both of whom were acquitted.
The feud continued when a Hatfield fell in love with a McCoy, in true Romeo and Juliet style.
The woman, Roseanna McCoy, left her family to live with Johnse Hatfield, Devil Anse's son. Roseanna later returned to Kentucky. When Johnse followed, the McCoys arrested him for a Kentucky bootlegging warrant. Devil Anse formed a posse and retrieved Johnse, who ultimately left Roseanna for her cousin. The next conflict began when three of Roseanna's brothers stabbed Devil Anse's brother, Ellison, 26 times. Eventually, Ellison died and the three brothers were each killed in retaliation.
The height of the feud occurred between 1880 and 1891, when the two families waged an all out war on each other.
During that period, more than a dozen members of both families were killed. The situation became so violent that the Governor of Kentucky dispatched Adjutant General Sam Hill to investigate, which led to a bloody confrontation that left more than twelve dead and ten wounded. In response, deputy sheriff Frank Phillips led a posse to find the Hatfields, which eventually led to the Battle of Grapevine Creek and ended with the arrest of many Hatfields, including Devil Anse. This event led to a series of trials, resulting in several convictions and prison sentences. The feud was never that violent again, and no more members of either clan were killed after Grapevine Creek.
Today, the two families are no longer at odds.
The families put an official end to their feud on June 14, 2003, during the fourth annual Hatfield-McCoy festival. More than 60 members of both families signed a declaration of peace in an effort to set an example for others during a time of social disharmony in the wake of 9/11.
Today, even though not a single trace of animosity exists between the modern day members of the two families, their famous feud will never be forgotten.
What do you think of the Hatfield-McCoy feud? Are you a member of either family, or friends with one of them? Feel free to tell us your story in the comments below.
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