Sunday, September 28, 2008


The feud between two Appalachian families, the Hatfields and McCoys is one of the most famous battles in history. These two mountain families fought for years. The McCoys lived on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork, a tributary of the Big Sandy River and the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side.

Most members of both families fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War but Harman McCoy of Kentucky fought on the Union side. Some say his murder was the first violence in the feud. Harmon was actually killed by some ex-confederates but the McCoys suspected Devil Hatfield. Devil was actually innocent of the crime. He owned a timber operation during this period and even employed several McCoys.

Devil Hatfield

The Hatfields were affluent people for their time and well connected politically.

Then, there are those that say the violence really started over the ownership of a hog. Floyd Hatfield had it and Randolph McCoy said it belonged to him.

In truth, the dispute was over property lines. The pig was in the fight because one family believed because the pig was on their land it was theirs. They went to a local Justice of the Peace (who by the way was a preacher and a Hatfield) and the McCoys lost due to the testimony of a relative of both families, Bill Staton.

The feud escalated when Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield began having an affair and Roseanna went to West Virginia to live. Johnse abandoned her when she became pregnant and married her cousin, Nancy McCoy.

Jonse Hatfield

The feuding continued and between 1880 and 1891 more than a dozen members of the two families were shot, stabbed, hung or murdered. To try and restore order both the Kentucky and West Virginia militias had to be called up.

The U.S. Supreme Court became involved in 1888 due to the murder of Alifair McCoy. Alifair was shot running from a burning building set aflame by eight Hatfield men. The men were all found guilty. One was executed by hanging and seven received terms of life in prison. The hanging took place in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Finally, in 1891 the Hatfields and McCoys agreed to stop fighting.

An actual peace treaty was signed in June 2003 in Pikeville by members of both families.

Since I was born and raised in Kentucky, I have heard about this feud all my life. I don't think I am related to any of these people but the names are common in Kentucky. The descendants of the two families even appeared on the t.v. game show Family Feud several years ago and they had a live pig on stage during the entire show.


Linda said...

My father would have fit right in with this bunch. He loved feuding.

If you'd like to get rid of that crazy letters hoop we have to jump to leave comments on some blogs this is the way to do it. I see your blog has one.

Go to the "Settings" page on your blogger dashboard.

At the top of the page click the "Comments" tab.

Scroll down to "Show word verification for comments" and click "No"

I got rid of it on my blog several weeks ago and could not remember how I did it.

Today I found the directions again so every blog that I visit with A "Word Verification" hoop to jump I'm leaving the instructions for getting rid of it.


Hi, I did so enjoy reading your most interesting blog whilst listening to the music.

Also thanks for the instructions, I did mangae to do it, the award looks grand, Thanks again much appreciated.


Linda said...

I was advised by dogmusings that the crazy letter word verification is there to discourage Spammers, that supposedly they won't take the time to do the crazy letter word verification.

I don't want to be responsible for poblems on anyone's blog so I'm passing her message along and you can decide what you want to do about it.

Jeannie said...

Wow- as much as I love history, especially our own, and I've heard of the Hatfields and McCoys about a billion times, I never knew the real story behind the feud. Thanks for enlightening me. And I'm so glad that FINALLY, a peace treaty was signed.

Jeannie said...

BTW, have you ever researched your own family tree? That is kind of what I do. I'd be glad to trace your tree if you'd like.

Beth said...

As always, Judy, a very interesting post! Like most folks, I had heard of the Hatfields and McCoys, but had never heard the full story behind it. I never knew it started over a pig! Thanks for a most enlightening post.

And, by the way, I love your new picture in the sidebar. Very pretty!

LOM said...

I love these bits of history

Pearl said...

I love this kind of history and loved the pictures.

I'll be back!


Leigh said...

Such an interesting story. I worked with a Hatfield at USEF! He told me quite a bit about the fued.


patsy said...

about the bull in the car this a email we got supposly this guy went to kansas bought the bull and brought it home to oklahoma. i don'y know if this is true or just a lot of bull.

Grannyann said...

I loved the "funny" about in the Grandparent section on the side.
This was a neat article also.

Jamie Dawn said...

I'd heard of the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, but I did not know any details.
What a soap opera!!!
I enjoyed this read very much.
Thanks for the history lesson, Teacher Judy.


Nancy said...

I, too, have heard of the Hatfields and McCoys for a long time. I think it's sad that people let small things balloon into huge issues and then fester. Life's too short for that stuff!

bobbie said...

I've heard about this fued all my life. Isn't that what the Disney cartoon about the Martins and the Coys was based on? My brother taught me that song when I was about 5 or 6, and I can still sing it.

Boy! You're really decked out for Halloween! Love the music.