McCoy Interpretative Tour
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
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
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
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.
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.
"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.
"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
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.
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.
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
Timeline of the Hatfield &
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.
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.
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
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.
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
River in West Virginia to await the outcome of Ellison's wounds
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
court issues indictments for Devil Anse and 20 supporters. No
action for five years.
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
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.
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.
Hatfield Supporters Captured
Frank Phillips conducts raids, capturing nine Hatfield supporters.
Valentine Hatfield surrenders to Phillips, but Devil Anse eludes
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
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.