125 years ago on January 1, 1888 members of the Hatfield clan and their allies attacked Randall McCoy's Kentucky cabin in the wee hours of the morning. In the ensuing battle his daughter Alifair and son Calvin were killed and his wife Sally was severely beaten. The McCoy cabin was burned to the ground. The ensuing publicity and public outcry led Kentucky officials to sanction illegal cross-border raids into West Virginia by posses led by the infamous "Bad" Frank Phillips. He was able to track down and murder raid leader Uncle Jim Vance and capture several others involved in the New Years Day attack. The McCoy Cabin stood between the well in the center and the trees behind. This photo was taken during our October Hatfield & McCoy tour.
Roseanna McCoy, daughter of Randall and Sarah McCoy. Roseanna and Johnse Hatfield, eldest son of Devil Anse and Levicy, initiated their ill-fated romance on election day in August of 1880 when Roseanna was 21 years old and Johnse, 18. Popular legend holds that she was an innocent girl of 16 but in fact, at 21, she was unusual for not having already married. The romance failed more likely due to Johnse's wandering eye and not because of any objections by Devil Anse. Before they parted, Roseanna became pregnant but her unlucky baby died in infancy. Between the loss of her baby and Johnse, Roseanna sank into a deep depression and died a young woman.
Perhaps the most famous image of the Hatfield family and one that reinforces the stereotype of violent, feuding hillbillies, this photo was actually staged and the guns displayed at the suggestion of the photographer. Devil Anse sits at the front left next to his wife Levicy, center. His son cap sits at the front, right holding a Winchester rifle and sons Elliot and Troy stand behind their parents.
Randall "Ole Ran'l" McCoy, patriarch of the McCoy family and nemesis of Devil Anse. Randal's obsessive resentment of Devil Anse did much to instigate the feud and keep it boiling. Particularly harmful was the fact that he instilled his resentments in his sons, three of whom acted on their feelings when they attacked and killed Anse's brother Ellison. In the end Randall took the brunt of the feud losing four sons and a daughter.
Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield on horseback in Logan, WV. Anse lived with his wife Levicy and several children near current day Delorme, WV on the Tug River bordering Kentucky. The Tug River watershed was more isolated and located to the south and west of the Guyandotte watershed where Logan was located. Logan was the county seat and Anse had to travel thirty plus miles through the mountains in order to tend to legal, political, or property matters at the Logan Courthouse.
Johnson "Johnse" Hatfield, Devil Anse and Levicy's oldest son born in 1862. Johnse was a willing participant in the feud but is most famously known for his ill-conceived romance with Roseanna McCoy, daughter of Randall McCoy. Johnse was a well-known ladies man and it is more likely that this was the cause of his breakup with Roseanna and not the objections of his father as is so often claimed. Nevertheless he met his match when he married Roseanna's cousin Nancy McCoy as he was famously hen-pecked thereafter to the extent that he became absent from the feud during his time with her.
As industrialization swept America in the second half of the 19th century natural resources including timber became more valuable and soon Appalachia's vast virgin forests began to be exploited, first by locals and then later by outside interests. Devil Anse Hatfield became one of these early entrepreneurs and was quite successful eventually employing a large timber cutting crew. Logs were dragged out of the mountains as is shown in this scene from Stollings, WV and rafted down river to mills in Catlettsburg, KY. This practice proved controversial to the local population however, generating suspicions and resentments toward those who were accumulating wealth. This proved to be particularly true in the case of Randall McCoy's view of Devil Anse.
Feudists in the hills. This photo shows left to right Ock Damron, Devil Anse Hatfield, Uncle Jim Vance ("bad Jim"), and W. B. Borden. Jim Vance was the brother of Anse's mother Nancy and along with Anse's son "Cap" one the most violent and aggressive participant in the feud. Jim participated in the execution of the three McCoy boys and led the botched New Year's Day raid on the McCoy cabin that claimed the lives of Calvin and Alafair McCoy. Vance himself met a bad end when he was first wounded and then executed in a cross border raid by "Bad" Frank Phillips and his posse from Pike County, KY.
Members of the Hatfield clan gather for an early photograph, likely at Anse's cabin at present day Delorme, WV on the banks of the Tug River. As can be seen from their clothes, the Hatfileds were far from the rag muffin hillbillies they are often portrayed. Although perhaps not as sophisticated as their neighbors in Pikeville or Logan, they had access to the latest fashions and goods. Once successful in the timbering business Anse in particular liked to purchase finer things for his family. His son Johnse, ever the ladies man, showed up at one event in a store bought suit and yellow shoes.
Asa Harmon McCoy, elder brother of Randall McCoy defied local sentiment and that of his family including Randall when he joined the Union army. The Tug Valley was strongly pro-confederate as was most of southern (West) Virginia but there were pockets of Union sympathizers in and around Pikeville, KY. After suffering a broken leg, Harmon returned to the Tug Valley in late 1864 and was promptly warned that he was a marked man. He hid out in a cave for a time but members of the Logan Wildcats, a confederate guerrilla outfit commanded by Devil Anse, tracked him down and murdered him on January 7, 1865. Although Hatfield was initially blamed for his killing it appears more likely that his uncle Jim Vance was responsible.
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