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Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce

Phone 304-235-5240
Fax 304-235-4509

Hatfield McCoy Interpretative Tour

The Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River traces portions of three states in its 130 mile journey through the region's deep valleys. History and a proud spirit of independence define the region and its people. The Tug Valley not only played an important role in the development of the region and the nation by contributing rich resources of coal and timber to the country's industrial growth over the last century, but also left an indelible perception of Appalachia on the nation's people. Home of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy families, this region was chronicled in the national press even as the railroad began to move into the area. Glamorized by Hollywood, the Hatfield-McCoy Feud has lived on, and helped put the Tug Valley region on the map. We cannot judge whether the Feud was justified or not. It is an American and West Virginia historical portrait of hard times in the mountains, of isolation and self-reliance; a time when West Virginia was emerging as a state and Mingo as a county, separate from Logan. Many of the feud's participants and their descendants have gone on to make significant contributions to the area, the state and the nation.

Before the building of the railroad in 1889, the Tug Valley was rural and isolated. Subsisting on farming, gathering ginseng, and rudimentary timbering, the people relied on no one but their families (clans). No Towns existed, and even the county seats (Logan
Courthouse for Logan County and Pikeville for Pike County, Kentucky) were located beyond the mountain ridges which surrounded and defined the valley. The Hatfield and McCoy feud emerged as a conflict of progress and change--between traditional Appalachia and its
town-dwelling neighbors. Years of bloodshed and heartache for both families led to the grim public hanging in 1890 of Ellison Mounts. This last public hanging in Pike County marked the end of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy. However, the national publicity created an enduring hillbilly stereotype that played a major role in the subsequent economic and cultural exploitation of Appalachia.

The Beginning
Some historians believe the beginning of the Feud dates back to the Civil War in 1865 When Asa Harmon McCoy, Randolph"Ranel" McCoy's brother and a Union sympathizer was shot. It is unclear as to whether he was shot by "Devil Anse" Hatfield or Hatfield's uncle, Jim Vance, both leaders of a Confederate guerilla unit. Other historians say the Feud actually sparked in the Fall of 1878, when Ranel McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield, a cousin of Devil Anse, of stealing his hogs, Ranel filed a complaint against Floyd Hatfield, who also lived in Kentucky. The case was tried in the state of Kentucky and heard by a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys. One McCoy voted not guilty and Floyd Hatfield was acquitted.

The Patriarchs
Anderson Hatfield
"Devil Anse" Hatfield lived on the West Virginia side of the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River.His physical appearance contributed to his reputation as a "devil". He was tall, stooped shouldered, with a black beard and a prominent hook nose, and had the reputation in the community as being a formidable figure. A guerilla leader in the Civil War, he was the best horseman and marksman in the valley. Respected along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River, "Devil Anse" was an entrepreneur. Though illiterate, he owned considerable land and ran a successful limbering operation. Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield of West Virginia was in his prime (forties) when the Feud was at i's height
.

Randolph McCoy
Randolph "Old Ranel" McCoy was fifty-three years old and lived on the Kentucky side of the Tug River near the banks of the Blackberry Fork of Pond Creek. Ranel served under Devil Anse Hatfield in the Logan Wildcats, a guerilla band supporting the Confederate cause. The McCoys lived on 300 acres of mountainous land inherited by Ranel's wife, Sally, known to all as "Aunt Sally". They lost much of their land in timber disputes and were therefore suspicious and resentful of those in the timber business.

Fused Location
It has been said that mountains know no state boundaries, and this was particularly true during the early period of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud. The confrontations crisscrossed state lines. It was only toward its end when state governments and entrepreneurs saw value in the economic resources of the area that the Feud gained national attention.
Leader Randolph "Old Ranel" McCoy (1839-1921) dominated the Kentucky side of the Tug River, putting Pike County on the Kentucky map. Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (1825-1909) ruled the West Virginia side of the Tug in the area of Matewan and Mate Creek which was then known as Logan County. Mingo County was formed from Logan County in
1895.

 

 

Fall 1878
The Incident of the Stolen Hogs
"Ranel" McCoy was convinced that Floyd Hatfield, a cousin of "Devil Anse" who lived on the Kentucky side, stole some of his hogs. Ranel filed a complaint with the justice of the peace which led to a trial. Attempting to insure an impartial trial, a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys was selected. William Stanton, nephew of Ranel McCoy, swore that he saw Floyd Hatfield mark the pig's ear himself, so it could not be Ranel's hog. One of the McCoy jurors, Selkirk McCoy, a cousin of Ranel McCoy, voted for acquittal. Floyd Hatfield was acquitted.
From then on, Selkirk was known as a traitor. There was no neutral ground between the families. "You are for us or against us," was the patriarchs' cry . "You should support your family and clan." It was this switching of sides that may have created the animosity.

 

 

Shooting of William Stanton by the McCoys
As a result of the hog trial, Ranel's nephews Sam and Paris McCoy, who were still angry about the outcome, sparred verbally with William Stanton and Selkirk McCoy.
One version goes that while out hunting, Stanton ran into San and Paris McCoy, who were hunting him, and he shot Paris, shattering his hip. Sam then shot Stanton, first wounding him and then shot him again, killing him. Warrants were issued for the McCoy's arrest. They were tried in West Virginia,w ith Devil Anse's own brother, Valentine "wall" Hatfield, as judge, and a Hatfield jury. They were acquitted on grounds of self defence.

Timeline of the Hatfield & McCoys

1865
January 7, 1865:
Asa Harmon McCoy Shot Asa,
Randolph "Ranel" McCoy's brother and a Union sympathizer is shot. His body is found in a cave and his death attributed to a Confederate guerilla unit led by "Devil Anse" Hatfield or his Uncle, Jim Vance.

1878
Fall 1878:
Stolen Hogs"
Ranel McCoy accuses Floyd Hatfield, cousin of Devil Anse, of stealing his hogs and files a complaint. Floyd Hatfield is acquitted by a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys in the Kentucky Trial.

1879:
Death of Bill Stanton
a witness Sam and Paris McCoy, still angry over the outcome of the trial, fight with one of the witnesses, Bill Stanton. Stanton dies in the fight. Warrants are issued for the arrest of Sam and Paris. They are tried in West Virginia with Devil Anse's own brother serving as judge, and acquitted on grounds of self
defense.

1880:
Johnse and Roseanna's Romance
Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy meet and fall in love. She moves in with the Hatfields, but Devil Anse refuses permission fir Johnse to marry her. Pregnant and unwelcome at home, Roseanna goes to live with her aunt and learns of her brothers' plans to ambush Johnse. She races on horseback to warn the Hatfields. Her baby dies of measles. Johnse marries one of Roseanna's cousins.

August 7, 1882:
Election Day
Tolbert McCoy, son of Ranel, Fights with Devil Anse's brother, Ellison. Tolbert stabs Ellison several times while other McCoys shoot and critically wound Ellsion. Warrants are issued and McCoys are arrested in Kentucky. Devil Anse forms his own posse and overtakes them, forcing them to an empty school house across the Tug
River in West Virginia to await the outcome of Ellison's wounds

 

 

 

 

August 9, 1882:
Papaw Incident Ellsion Hatfield dies.
The McCoys are taken to Kentucky, tied to a Paw Paw bush and executed Ellison is buried at the Ellison Hatfield Cemetery

September 18, 1882:
Kentucky court issues indictments for Devil Anse and 20 supporters. No action for five years.

1887:
Perry Cline enlisted
Ranel McCoy pursues the case
persuading Perry Cline to influence the governor of Kentucky to reactivate the indictments against the Hatfields for killing the McCoy brothers and begin extradition proceedings. Frank Phillips is appointed deputy and later dismissed, but continues raids.

1888
January 1, 1888:
McCoy's homestead burned
West Virginia offers rewards for the McCoy "invaders". Hatfields plan revenge. They burn the McCoy home, beat Ranel's wife, Aunt Sally, and kill two adult children, Alifair and Calvin. They are buried at the McCoy cemetery. Frank Phillips' posse pursues the Hatfield supporters and West Virginia's Logan County Court forms a posse to stop the raids of the Kentucky posse.

January 8, 1888:
Jim Vance Killed
An Article on the raid appears in the Louisville Courier-Journal. Frank Phillips kills Jim Vance,
Devil Anse's uncle, the same day.

January 9-19, 1888:
Hatfield Supporters Captured
Frank Phillips conducts raids, capturing nine Hatfield supporters. Valentine Hatfield surrenders to Phillips, but Devil Anse eludes him.

January 19, 1888:
Battle of Grapevine Creek
A Pitched battle rages near Grapevine Creek between the two posses, resulting in the death of one of the West Virginia deputy Sheriffs

September 1889:
Conviction & Hanging
Hatfield supporters are tried in Pike county and convicted of murder. Eight are sentenced to life. Ellison Mounts is convicted of murdering Alifair McCoy and is hung the following February.