Hatfield and McCoys
And sometimes, Americans just like to take sides in a feud.
The real McCoy—spoiler alert: How real was the miniseries? Liberties, as they say, were taken:
Historians and educators were also brought in to vet the story, according to the show’s producers, though writers “took such traditional liberties as compressing characters and the timing of events.” (May 29, Christian Science Monitor)
Then again, the real story will probably never be known: Among other things, talking about oneself wasn’t as popular back then as it is now. The Hatfields, headed by timber merchant William Anderson (aka Devil Anse), and the McCoys, whose patriarch Randolph “Old Randall” McCoy owned land and livestock, lived in Tug Valley within Kentucky and West Virginia. The two families shared kin, which made tracking who was on whose side difficult.
A rough timeline of the blood feud, according to the History Channel, Biography and other sources:
1865: The militia group Logan Wildcats, which include Devil Anse, his uncle Jim Vance and other Hatfields, kills Asa Harmon McCoy, Randolph McCoy’s brother. Since Asa served on the “wrong side” of the Civil War, his death doesn’t start the feud, but animosities may be kindled. 1878: If there’s a beginning, this would be it: Randolph McCoy accuses Devil Anse’s cousin, Floyd Hatfield, of porcine theft. Stealing valuable pigs was a pretty rare and therefore grievous offense in the farming valley. Favorable testimony by Bill Staton—a McCoy married to a Hatfield—clears Floyd. 1880: Two McCoys kill Staton a couple years later. One successfully claims self-defense in a murder trial. The same year, Johnse Hatfield, son of Devil Anse, gets it on with Roseanna McCoy, daughter of Randolph. She stays with the Hatfields, but Johnse dumps the pregnant girlfriend and marries her cousin, Nancy McCoy. (The baby died and a descendant claims Roseanna died of a broken heart before she was 30.) 1882: In August, Randolph McCoy’s three sons fight with Devil Anse’s two brothers and inflict heavy injury on Ellison. The Hatfields take the sons from the authorities. When Ellison Hatfield, stabbed and shot in the back, dies from his wounds, all three brothers, tied to pawpaw bushes, are shot in a hail of bullets. The Hatfields are indicted, but not arrested. 1887: Lawyer Perry Cline convinces the Kentucky governor to get a bounty on the Hatfields’ heads. He also hires bounty hunter “Bad” Frank Phillips. Newspapers cover the feud, publicizing the bounty on their heads. (The University of Kentucky has digitized coverage here.) New Year’s massacre, 1888: Devil Anse’s son Cap and friend Jim Vance ambush the McCoy’s home. Randolph McCoy hides in a pigpen, but son Calvin and daughter Alifair are killed, and wife Sarah is beaten. Within days, bounty hunter Phillips kills Jim Vance and captures nine Hatfields. 1889: The Supreme Court rules that the Hatfields can be tried, and the trial ends with eight Hatfields and friends sentenced to life in prison. One man is hanged. 1892: A railroad comes through Tug Valley, changing the mountainous culture forever into a coal-mining community. 1914: Randolph McCoy, a ferry operator, dies at age 88 from cooking fire injuries. He had lost five out of 16 children to the feud. 1922: Devin Anse Hatfield, 11 years after being baptized, dies of pneumonia at age 73. June 13, 2003: The Hatfields and the McCoys sign a peace agreement.
American law and the Supreme Court: The acrimony wasn’t as lawless as contemporary accounts made it out to be: The clans also battled in court, be it over theft or murder—although they were inclined to disagree with the verdicts with gunfire. Lawyer Cline, a distant cousin to Randolph McCoy, had lost 5,000 acres to his neighbor Devil Anse in court battles over the years. Plans to build a railroad now made that lost Tug Valley property even more valuable, so Cline’s motives for rounding up the Hatfields have been suspected as more a financial grudge than a real penchant for justice. Litigiousness went to the highest court in the land in Mahon v. Justice (1888), when the Hatfields protested their arrest-by-posse, which dragged them across state lines into Kentucky. The case was really about state sovereignty and symbolized a battle between Kentucky and West Virginia.
(Related: The Supreme Court in the Hatfield-McCoy feud)
The Hatfields vs. the McCoys, in social media: Before Team Edward and Team Jacob, there were #teamhatfield and #teammccoy. While some tweets side with the “underdog,” some couldn’t help admire the Hatfield’s “Murder Inc. Style.” Then again, some dismiss a pig as a legitimate instigator—even though in 19th century America, a pig is your livelihood.
Searches about the feud escalated on Yahoo, becoming the most-searched (non-navigational) term in May. People searched online for “battle of grapevine,” “hatfield and mccoys history,” “hatfields and mccoys trails,” “hatfield and mccoys pictures,” “hatfield and mccoys family tree,” “what started the hatfield and mccoy feud.” Sorry, Team McCoy: Hatfields had double the look-ups.
Most popular Hatfields and McCoys (Yahoo! Search)
William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield (played by Kevin Costner) Johnse Hatfield (Matt Barr)—the cad died in April 1922. Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton) Roseanna McCoy (actress Lindsay Pulsipher) has also been trending big) “Bad” Frank Phillips (Andrew Howard) Cotton Top Ellison Mounts (Noel Fisher) Nancy McCoy (Jena Malone) Cap Hatfield (Boyd Holbrook) Perry Cline (Ronan Vibert) Jim Vance (Tom Berenger)
Repeating history: HBO had been the cable kingmaker, but now the History Channel may be able to lay claim to that.
With all the success we have had at HISTORY, we felt strongly for some time that we should own historical drama, and in true HISTORY fashion, we have done it, with — pardon the pun — guns ablazin! (Nancy Dubuc, President & General Manager, HISTORY)
Hatfield-McCoy Feud on History Channel (ABC News)
Kevin Costner Talks About His ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ Character, ‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield
Bill Paxton Talks About His ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ Character, Randall McCoy
d Added by: Hank Cox Birth: Jan. 30, 1844 Morgantown Butler County Kentucky, USA Death: May 30, 1904 Lexington Fayette County Kentucky, USA Adjutant General of Kentucky: 1887 – 1891. He was assigned to this position on October 1, 1887 and served under Governor Simon Bolivar Buckner. What in Sam Hill … [...]
Believe it or not there is an Arkansas connection to the Hatfield McCoy feud. Take a look at this article from 501 Life Magazine of Conway: Greenbrier family details fact/fiction in Hatfield-McCoy Feud | Print | by Renee HunterThe Hatfield-McCoy Feud captured the public imagination, resulting in newspaper stories, books and movies.All of these treatments have been [...]
Kevin Costner interview on the set of ” Hatfields and McCoys” ,Romania I have always wondered how the feud got started and it seemed that it started over the ownership of a pig. Below is an interesting article on the Hatfield McCoy fued: Close Me! The Hatfield McCoy Feud Mine Wars The largest armed conflict [...]
Hatfield and McCoys Here is an article from Yahoo on the Hatfield and McCoy film series: Y! Big Story: The real story behind the Hatfields and the McCoys Trending Now – Fri, 1st Jun 2012 09:20 PM Everything you need to know to get up to speed on the story of the day The History [...]
Kevin Costner interview on the set of ” Hatfields and McCoys” ,Romania ____________ I have really enjoyed watching the film series on the History Channel about this feud. It appears to me that the movie did follow the historical details pretty close. How much of History Channel’s ‘Hatfields and McCoys’ is fiction? Gloria Goodale [...]
The Hatfields and McCoys_ Extended Version – CBN.com Hatfield and McCoys I used to travel to Pikeville, Kentucky on a regular basis and I was amazed at the rugged people that lived in that coalmining area. It is the back drop of the Hatfield and Mccoy feud. However, it was filmed in Europe. I have [...]
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