Hatfields & McCoys: A comparison with the oral family history [Updated]

As previously stated, I hail from the Hatfield clan, of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud, and have heard the oral family history since I was a young child.  I thought it might be interesting for viewers of the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries if I compared the series to the family oral history, as well as history in general.

Devil Anse was a very tough character, that much is undeniable.  There is a reason they called him six foot of the devil and 180 pounds of hell, after all.  What they did not show at all is that he had a great sense of humor, and loved to play practical jokes.  He also looked absolutely nothing like Kevin Costner in the miniseries, as you can see in the photo at left.

The actors portraying the family are far more attractive than the actual Hatfield family (naturally, since they are actors), which is something my family finds endlessly amusing.  Not only did Anse look absolutely nothing like Kevin Costner, but Vicey was actually short and plump, and Johnse did not look like the dreamboat he is portrayed as being.  Roseanna McCoy was not even a blonde.  The offensive thing about that is, there is nothing wrong with not looking like a Hollywood actor, and in fact most people do not look like a Hollywood actor, so why did the actors not look anything like the actual people involved?  You can see individual photos of Johnse and Roseanna by clicking the link below to my post about their relationship.  The following is a photo of Devil Anse and his wife Levicey, to show you just how much they did not look like the actors in the miniseries.

In fact, for anyone interested, here is the uncropped photo from my header, and a list of who is in that photo:

Front row, left to right: Tennyson (Tennis) Hatfield (son of Devil Anse), Levicy Hatfield (daughter of Johnse),Willis Hatfield (son of Devil Anse), and “Watch” or “Yellow Watch,” Devil Anse’s coon and bear dog.

Second row: Mrs. Mary Hensley-Simpkins-Howes, (daughter of Devil Anse) with daughter Vici Simpkins, William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, Levicy Chafin Hatfield (aka Vicey, wife of Devil Anse), Nancy Elizabeth Hatfield (wife of Cap) with son Robert Elliott Hatfield, Louise Hatfield (daughter of Cap), Cap Hatfield, and Coleman Hatfield (son of Cap).

Top row: Rosa Lee Hatfield (daughter of Devil Anse), Detroit (Troy) Hatfield (son of Devil Anse), Betty Hatfield (Caldwell) (daughter of Devil Anse), Elias Hatfield (son of Devil Anse), Tom Chafin (nephew of William Anderson), Joe D. Hatfield (son of Devil Anse), Ock Damron, Shephard Hatfield (son of Cap), Levicy Emma Hatfield (daughter of Cap), and off to the side is Bill Border, some store clerk who happened to get into the photo (LOL).

The Hatfields were always posed with guns by photographers passing through (which is how family portraits were taken back then), due to the feud.  So they were exploited in that respect, and it never even occurred to them how history would view them in light of those photos.  They did not ask to be famous, nor did they ever aspire to be famous, so they just did not think that way.

There is far more to the feud itself than is being portrayed on television.  You must remember, what you are watching is a feud spanning many years, compressed into only six hours and sanitized for a viewing audience, so much of the inaccuracy is in the little details.  However, there were some major inaccuracies as well, and of course they are far more troubling.

An underlying theme to the real feud, which was barely touched upon in the miniseries, was the attempts by some McCoy relatives, and powerful people connected to those relatives, to steal the Hatfield timber rights.  You must remember, Devil Anse worked that land himself for many years, cutting trees by hand which was very hard labor in the days before chainsaws or railroads, and he scrimped and saved to buy the vast majority of his land, rather than inheriting it.  He was not a fool, and he was certainly not going to sit back and allow people to steal his land from him, but that is exactly what they were trying to do.

The McCoy attorney/cousin Perry Cline shown in the series was related to some state authorities in Kentucky, and they had sent him to Tug Fork for the specific purpose of stealing timber rights from Devil Anse.  When Anse saw through the ruse and called him on his lies, and took the Cline timber rights in exchange for not filing criminal charges for fraud of official documents, they were all enraged, and they were determined to get revenge against Devil Anse, who they had incorrectly assumed to be just a dumb hillbilly.

To that end, Cline stayed close to the McCoys.  He fed the McCoy children a steady diet of hatred and lies about the Hatfields, and continuously fed into Randall’s hatred and paranoia of Anse, which is really horrific behavior given that Randall clearly suffered from what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (back then, it was called shell shock).  If not for that highly manipulative and deceitful behavior, intended to fuel violence against the Hatfields, it is possible and even probable that the McCoy sons would never have gone so far as murder, and Devil Anse would never have felt the need to take revenge; ergo, rather than a feud, it would have been at most an ongoing argument between families which occasionally resulted in a fistfight, and nothing more.  Needless to say, Perry Cline was every bit the slimey snake he was portrayed in the series, and more.

When the feud first started on the series with the death of Asa Harmon (a McCoy cousin), some McCoys (including Randall) accused Devil Anse of the murder, though that accusation is not covered at all in the miniseries.

In reality, Anse was home from the war when the murder occurred, but was in bed sick at the time of the murder.  His uncle (on his mother’s side) Jim Vance had become enraged because Harmon had come home from the Civil War still wearing a Union jacket, when most in that area – including Devil Anse and Randall McCoy – had fought for the Confederacy. Harmon was murdered because he was an unrepentant Union supporter – meaning that he was viewed as a traitor, and had been on the side which had killed some of the Hatfields – and not because Harmon accused Jim of having sex with his dog.  It does make for good television, however, to not delve into the true motives for the first murder or the accusation against Anse, and attribute it instead to a grudge over a drunken statement, since that is a recurring theme.

Jim Vance was, in the words of my family, “mean as a damn snake”.  He had not only killed Asa Harmon among others, he also had the ear of Anse when it came to how to react to the McCoys.  Anse very much kept his own counsel, but it is undeniable that he was influenced, at least to some degree, by his uncle.

The story of Johnse and Roseanna is yet another recurring theme in the miniseries, but it is based more on well-known fable than fact.  You can read the Hatfield family oral history of Johnse and Roseanna on this blog by clicking here.  Roseanna did not die dramatically as shown on the miniseries, while caring for her mother, right after finally confronting her father.  She relocated to Pikeville years before her death and died, it is said, of a broken heart at about age 29 (as covered at the link, my elders told me that dying of a broken heart was a term back then for committing suicide, but a McCoy commenter kindly informed me that she died of a heart attack, and they would know the McCoy family history far better than I, so I and my ancestors stand corrected on that).

The New Years Eve attack upon the McCoy household was neither planned nor perpetrated by Devil Anse, though the miniseries shows otherwise.  In fact, he did not even know anything about it until after it was done, nor would he have agreed to it.  He knew there was a woman and children in the house, and he was not a murderer; nor did he have any interest in harming women and children.  His plan was to end the feud by cutting it off at its head, which meant killing Randall McCoy, but his plan was to catch Randall away from his home, so as not to endanger the McCoy wife and children.  To do otherwise would be to rain hellfire and brimstone upon his own home, where his wife and younger children still resided, and Anse was, simply stated, not that stupid.  The fact that the Hatfield home was never raided or burned as revenge by McCoys or their agents/supporters is proof that the McCoys knew Devil Anse was not behind that fatal raid.

The feud is portrayed as having started with the death of Asa Harmon, and common folklore is that the feud started with the theft of a pig.  In reality, however, the feud started with the coldblooded murder of Ellison Hatfield, because it was only then that Devil Anse struck back.  Prior to that time, Anse had great empathy for his old friend Randall, due to his understanding that Randall was extremely traumatized by the war, and not in his right mind anymore.  Anse even employed many McCoys in his timber business, so any bad blood was on Randalls side only up to that point.  Once the McCoy boys viciously murdered his brother for no reason, however, Devil Anse struck back very hard by personally executing the McCoy sons – which he did mostly because they had already been set free without punishment for one murder, so he understandably did not trust the justice system to stop them from murdering again – and the feud was on.

A question which came up in comments repeatedly was the miniseries portraying McCoys as being on the Hatfield side of the feud.  That part of the miniseries was very accurate.  The Hatfields and the McCoys were actually all friends prior to the feud, some Hatfields were married to McCoys, and as stated, many McCoys were employed by Devil Anse in his timber business.  Several McCoys who worked for Anse continued to show allegiance to the Hatfields during the feud, and they were considered Hatfields even though there was no blood relation.  Claiming them as Hatfields had nothing to do with the feud, however.

Claiming someone as a relative when they are not really related to you is not at all unusual in West Virginia, since we tend to take in what we call strays (people who are estranged from their own family).  I have taken in many strays myself over the years, all friends of my now-grown son, and I took them into my home at various times during their childhood, and cared and provided for them as if they were my own children.  As a result, though I have only one child, I have about a half dozen young men who call me Mom to this day, and several young ladies who dated my son over the years do the same, since I treated them like daughters, and cared and provided for them as well.  These young men and women, now grown and most moved away, will come visit me first when they are in town, even before they visit their own families, and they usually stay with me during their visit as well.  It is a kind of extralegal adoption, basically, meaning that I never legally adopted them, but they view me as their mother and I view them as my children.  They are always welcome in my home, and always will be, because they are family though there is no blood relation.  In fact, most friends of my son call me Mom, because I treat them all like my own children whether they ever lived with me or not.  So McCoys being viewed as Hatfields (or Smiths being viewed as Joneses) is not unusual at all, even to this very day in West Virginia.

The miniseries shows Nancy McCoy leaving Johnse to marry Bad Frank Phillips, but there is no mention of any children, and it makes it seem like Nancy and Johnse were married for an extremely short period of time.  In reality, Johnse and Nancy were married for years and had two children, Ancie and Stella; Ancie was born about four years after they were married, while they were married five years before Stella came along.  So they were married and lived as husband and wife for far longer than was portrayed in the miniseries.  Insofar as Nancy leaving him for Bad Frank, as portrayed in the series, I was always told that Johnse left Nancy for another woman.  Nancy did indeed eventually marry Bad Frank Phillips, though.

I got a lot of questions about what happened to Cap with regard to his eye, and whether he was really blind.  Cap was portrayed as having lost his eye in a timber cutting accident, which was very dramatic of course.  However, he actually lost his sight in one eye due to a percussion cap accident.  Percussion caps were shown on the miniseries, when they showed people putting an anvil over gunpowder, then hitting it with a sledgehammer in order to cause a small explosion.  Obviously that is extremely dangerous, but it is not an unusual activity even today in some parts of rural West Virginia (and yes, people get seriously injured that way all the time).  However, most of us who want to cause an explosion for fun now use Tannerite and shoot it from a distance with a high-powered rifle, which is both far safer and makes a much bigger explosion.  Either way, though he was indeed blinded in one eye, his eye did not look all white like on the miniseries.  His eye looked normal but he had what we call wall-eye, meaning that his bad eye did not track with his good eye when he looked at something.

The miniseries showed only Wall Hatfield as a judge.  In reality, there were two Hatfield judges.  The other one was Preacher Anse Hatfield, so named because he was a minister, and to differentiate between the Anses in the family.  Preacher Anse actually presided over the famous pig trial, not Wall.  Wall presided over the murder hearing of the three McCoy boys, and set them free (though he later regretted doing so, for obvious reasons).  This is very important to understand about the feud, and a very important (and completely unnecessary) error in the miniseries, because the fact that multiple Hatfields were judges is the very reason why the McCoys felt they could not get justice in West Virginia for the execution of the McCoy sons.

I got lots and lots of questions about Cottontop Mounts as well.  The miniseries portrays Cotton as mentally retarded and very childlike, and that was a major part of the storyline.  In reality, though, he was neither.  Cotton was, however, what we call in these parts crazy as hell, meaning that he was mentally ill in a dangerous way.  In fact, when he was in jail awaiting execution, there was discussion (which is well documented) about bringing in a psychiatrist to examine him, because he appeared to be insane and they were very concerned about the moral implications of executing an insane person.  Note that there was no concern stated about him being childlike or mentally retarded, but if he were either, or especially both, obviously that would be an even bigger concern.  Needless to say, in the 1800s, psychiatrists were not brought in to examine the condemned, so that was extraordinary in and of itself.  Some believed that he was faking insanity to avoid execution, though, so ultimately a psychiatrist did not examine him.  However, he was not faking.  Cotton was indeed severely mentally ill, and had been for long before his arrest.  The miniseries also misquoted his final words.  He did not praise the Hatfields for loving him.  Instead, he blamed the Hatfields.  I am not sure why they felt the need to change something like that, since his final words are very well documented, except that they built the entire storyline around the idea that Cotton was mentally retarded and childlike.

What I found most disturbing about the miniseries is that Devil Anse was portrayed as someone monstrous enough to sacrifice his own mentally retarded and childlike nephew.  That could not be further from the truth.  In reality, he allowed Cotton to hang without even trying to intervene because he believed Cotton killed the McCoy child in cold blood, and Anse believed in blood for blood.  Remember, Cotton was neither mentally retarded nor childlike, but he was crazy.  Cotton had actually been in on the planning of that bloody raid with Johnse, so there was no reason for anyone in their right mind to believe he shot that poor child by accident.  Anse could not very well execute the McCoy boys for the murder of his brother then help Cotton get away with the murder of an innocent McCoy child, after all.  In fact, he would not have done that, because his sense of justice was very well defined.  Like I said, he believed in blood for blood, meaning that he strongly believed that coldblooded murderers had to pay with their lives (which is a belief still extremely common in West Virginia, though we no longer have the death penalty).  So I found it extremely disturbing that the series portrayed Cotton as having been sacrificed by Devil Anse, just for the sake of making a neat little drama to end the feud.  The truth is, the feud continued after Cotton was executed.

The National Guard was brought in to control the feud at one point, just to give you an idea of how bad it really got.  It was actually far more disturbing than what was portrayed on the miniseries, and there are even names for their battles, just as if it were an actual war.  There were shootouts in the mountains, with the McCoys using explosives in an attempt to blow up the Hatfields while they were shooting from a crag.  It was really the sort of violence one would never expect to see outside an actual war.

The truth is, neither family was completely innocent, neither family was completely guilty, and both sides were being manipulated by the people who wanted to steal the Hatfield timberland.  So it became a full-on war between the two clans, which became particularly bad because the McCoys brought in mercenaries with promise of payment for killing the Hatfields, which the Hatfields predictably picked off for target practice.  I say predictably because, to this day, many Hatfield descendants are known for their marksmanship ability, including me; it is just a natural ability we inherited.  Of course, nowadays we are shooting only at game and targets (targets only for me), and not human beings.  Then again, we do not have people trying to kill us these days, either.   The Hatfields and the McCoys have been friends now for many, many years, and I personally think they are wonderful people.

So while I do very much appreciate the attempt to humanize the feuding families, because that is something which really needed to be done since neither Anse nor Randall were evil men, there is no neat little story to be made for such senseless loss of life, no matter how hard Hollywood may try.  If they wanted to tell the story in a documentary manner, they should have examined far more closely the conspiracy by powerful third parties to steal the Hatfield timberland.  It is not as if this is unknown, after all, since multiple scholars have discussed it in detail as the true underlying cause of the feud.

Last, but certainly not least, many people in comments asked about Johnse and Cap, specifically what happened to Johnse and why Cap was never arrested.   Though not shown on the series, they were both arrested.

Johnse went into hiding but was arrested about ten years later when he returned.  He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but was later pardoned after an inmate tried to kill the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky with a homemade knife during a prison visit, and Johnse saved his life.  Ever the Lothario, Johnse married several more times after his release from prison.

Cap was arrested and held in the Mingo County (WV) jail, but he hacked his way out of the jail with a hatchet which was smuggled in to him.  Needless to say, it was not a very secure jail, LOL.  He continued to fight with the Hatfields for a time after his escape, including in some of the more well-known battles of the feud (including the one where the McCoys tried to blow up the Hatfields on the crag), and he was never recaptured.  Eventually a general pardon was issued for all feud participants, so Cap no longer needed to worry about being re-arrested.  He went on to become an attorney and a sheriff.

All in all, the miniseries was interesting even to me, but it was historically inaccurate in many ways, some far more serious than others.  So while I do appreciate the miniseries and especially its attempt to humanize the feud participants, the real story of the Hatfield/McCoy feud, as usual with historical dramas, is far more interesting than anything which might come from Hollywood.


236 thoughts on “Hatfields & McCoys: A comparison with the oral family history [Updated]

  1. Seeing the series makes me realize I really didnt know much about the feud. Just wondering how the Nancy union came about in the middle of the feud and after Roseanna. Did she go to Oregon with him? How did the family receive her? Curious…fascinating story!

    • Kim,
      It is unknown if Johnse went to Oregon at all, he very well may have hid in the Mountains of West Virginia and his Family would have helped him. Nancy married Frank Phillips and had nothing to do with Johnse after that based on what I have read here .

  2. These are great posts; thank you for your insights into the miniseries, as well as the underlying story. I’m really enjoying the minseries, even if the story is (as you say, and as I had guessed) being dumbed-down and romanticized to fit the format and to appeal to a wider audience. Most of all, it’s encouraging to me to see Appalachian folk depicted as something other than toothless, cackling half-wits, which was the stereotype for so long — and which, I’m sorry to say, I bought into for a long time. Appalachian culture still isn’t exactly my culture (although James Webb would argue that it’s *America’s* culture, in many ways), but I have come to understand and respect it much more over the years, and I’m glad to see it being depicted in a somewhat more balanced light in popular media. That seems to be happening more these days.

    Your point about Hollywood’s version of these people being much better-looking than reality made me chuckle; I was making the same point to some co-workers this morning.

  3. Thank you for sharing the true story of your family’s history. I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts! I haven’t been able to find much on the web on the latter years. Who did Johnse marry after Nancy? Did he live to a ripe old age? And how did his children fare? (I confess I didn’t see the third episode of the mini series, but I’m full of curiosity nonetheless!) I look forward to more posts from you.

  4. I am also glad that you have written this. I know Hollywood likes to change facts in actual stories so to hear from you is awesome. Thank you!

  5. How did the Johnse and Nancey marriage even come about? In the series it just shows one minute the two talking…the next they are running to the Justice of the peace? I was confused by the jump from one McCoy to the next! And also what was Nancey’s reason for doing this to her cousin?

  6. Just wondering who did spearhead the midnight massacre at the McCoy household, you said it wasn’t Devil Anse, but never specify who the family says was behind it. That has me wondering! Also wondering how William turned into Devil Anse, I would think a nickname like that has a story to it, unless he gained the handle after gaining a reputation because of the feuding. To the far right in the group photo, the little girl looks like she might have been a little person..but maybe it is the wide angle of the photo.

    one more thing,

    How does one pronounce Levicy?

      • To be honest the more reading I do the more confused I get…:) There are so many different stories, I read all the news paper articles and they just about all conflict about who was where, who participated, etc etc. The confession says that Devil knew they were going after the McCoy House(confession by a Hatfield), but decided not to go as he did not want to be involved in the murder of women and children. He then went Coon hunting so he would have a alibi. So I dont think any1 will ever really know the truth.(other stories label him being at home) I have read hours upon hours of newspaper articles from the time period, confessions, family lore, and anything I can get my hands/eyes on.
        I do believe that once it started Family Honor kicked in and they just could not stop on both sides. I dont think any1 will ever know what truly took place.

  7. I am curious as to the religious beliefs aspects of both the Hatfields and the McCoys. In the movie, it was shown that both families worshipped at the same church (“Tug Fork church of Christ” according to the sign on the building). Randall McCoy was shown as a christian man while Anse Hatfield was shown as not as christian as McCoy, yet at the end of the movie series, McCoy lost his faith while Hatfield was baptized as an old man. Did that really happen? Did they really worship at the same church? Can you shine some light on this? I was really moved by the showing Hatfield’s baptism at the end of the movie. Thank you.

    • I know that it is a fact that Devil Anse was baptized late in life, as far as Randall losing his faith, I never heard anything other than he died due to burns in an accidental fire (not while burning his family photos)

      • I am related to Randolph McCoy and no he did not lose his faith nor was he the drinker that the movie showed. The other person was right about it was accidental fire and the fire itself did not kill him but the burns he received.

    • Devil Anse became a devote Christian later in life – one account by CBN states that his commitment to Christianity helped end the feud.

  8. All the guys looked pretty grungy in the mini-series, so I disagree with your assessment of the programs despiction of their hygine.

  9. I was sad to read that there really wasn’t a love story between Roseanna and Johnse at all. But then again, everything I read told me otherwise. I appreciate a descedant telling the story of what really was? But is it really? Stories may have been told by descendants one way and even they get everything mis constructed cause it was always told one way through family, but sometimes even family gets it wrong, not to discredit what is being said, we will probably never know what really happened because we were not there at that time. I still was amazed at the mini series and although we all know it is the Hollywood version, there are still many things unanswered. Everything I have read on the Internet is not consistant, so I can only imagine what really happened. I do not think Roseanna was an unattractive woman, as a matter of fact, one of her pictures that is out there, to me she is a very pretty young lady. I myself would still like to know all the facts, but I think that is something that will never be fully answered. Where can I go to find more pictures and information?

    • Hi, Cheryl, and thanks for taking the time to wait for me to find your lost comment – I hope this one is it? 🙂

      You are absolutely right, there is no way to know exactly what happened since we only have the stories passed down through generations, and those stories can become embellished or changed, either by the storyteller who told it to us, or by the person who told it to them, and so on and so forth. There are even people who will change an oral history just because they do not like how the story went, unfortunately. Of course, some of those stories are more credible than others, and you can also judge credibility based upon who told it, and whether others told the same story. For example, I have an aunt who told the most incredible stories, but no one else told the stories the same way she did. Therein lay the problem, though. Her stories contained a little bit too much detail for them to be true. There are also problems with translation – when you tell me a story, I do not necessarily hear you correctly. As such, when I repeat it, it will have been changed, even if only a little. Over time, little changes can become big changes.

      The stories I am telling here came from grandmothers who were not prone to exaggeration or embellishments, so I believe they are true, at least from their perspective. Through all the years that I have been reading up on the stories they told me, from the perspective of others, I never once caught them in a lie. For that reason, I believe they are true, or at least as true as they can be, but I also expect that others will come to their own conclusions.

      So no, it is certainly not a perfect system, but it is really the only one we have for that time period.

      If you want to research the family history, I would suggest starting with the West Virginia Culture website, since they have maintained some records and also written about the feud quite extensively (but bear in mind, they were told the stories in the same way I was told them, and without knowing the actual source or whether they are credible, you have to be very careful what you believe in a situation of this nature). Outside the internet, I would suggest you start with with Marshall University, since they are very good about keeping records pertinent to our particular culture.

      I hope that helps, and again, sorry for the delay in responding! 🙂

      • I just looked up, and realized I’ve been reading you posts for two hours. Amazing!! Thank you! One question; where did “devil” come from?

        • He got that nickname during the Civil War. Due to his fierceness in battle, he was said to be ‘six feet of the devil, and 180 pounds of hell’, LOL. The name Anse is a nickname for Anderson, and together, the names make a play on the oldtime name for Fire ants, which was devil ants. Just as you cannot escape the wrath of the devil ants, you could not escape the wrath of Devil Anse. 🙂

    • I am related to the McCoy and YES their was a relationship between Roseanna and Johnse. I hate to disagree with this author and YES a child was born but died.

      • I would suggest you go to Pikeville College and read the McCoy papers they have wrote by actually members of the McCoy family including a few letters by Sarah “Sally” McCoy and it will confirm the affair and child. They will not allow you to copy any of the material. However you can go through many boxes of items they have.

      • I am not saying there was not a relationship. I am just saying that Johnse did not love her and pine for her the way it was portrayed in the miniseries. 🙂

        It is okay to disagree with me, by the way. 🙂

  10. I was confused about the Judge (Justice of the Peace) in the movie the History Channel made. I thought the Judge was Anderson Preacher Anse Hatfield. Movie had Valentine Wall Hatfield as the Judge (Justice of the Peace). I also thought that Devil and Wall were brothers as Devil and Anderson Preacher Anse were cousins. I was disappointed in this as my husband’s family is related to Anderson Preacher Anse Hatfield.

    • You are correct, the Justice of the Peace at the pig trial was Preacher Anse. I am not exactly sure why they portrayed Wall being that judge, except that maybe it fit better into the flow of their storyline? I can certainly understand your disappointment though, because there is no doubt that part was historically inaccurate.

      • Thanks for clearing that up. My husband’s side is related to Pricy Hatfield & Benjamin Alley.

      • I was troubled about the inconsistency of that myself, so thanks for addressing it, and thanks to Ruth for asking the question! And if you wouldn’t mind helping me understand a couple of other things about ‘Uncle Wall’, I’d really appreciate it, as there seems to be frustratingly little written about him that isn’t directly related to the miniseries.

        I just need to understand a couple of things that I’ve been unable to find the answers to anywhere else. I hope you can help me. Given that Devil Anse’s elder brother Valentine ‘Wall’ Hatfield was NOT the judge involved in the Pig Trial, I’m wondering now whether the historical figure was even a judge (or Justice of the Peace) at all; I’ve been unable to substantiate that point in my research — and it’s bugging the heck out of me! It is the one and only point of confusion I experienced while watching the series. If Wall indeed was a judge and as depicted in the series, the one Hatfield who attempted to keep his nose clean and stay out of direct involvement in the feud, was he indeed the one who ruled the two McCoys who murdered Bill Staton innocent? And if not, who did? Was that Preacher Anse as well? And also as indicated in the TV story, if he was not involved in the New Years assault on the McCoy home (which is something ELSE I’ll have a question for you about after this), then why did he receive a life sentence as part of the group allegedly involved in Alifair McCoy’s murder? Why did he even need to “turn himself in” in the first place? Confused minds need to know! Did I miss something there?

        My obvious conclusion at this point is that the historical Wall Hatfield was NOT a judge, and accordingly, the assignment of Powers Booth’s character in the H&M dramatization is IMO the most glaring of all its historical inaccuracies. While I really don’t mind the artistic license that the producers took with some of the more minor historical points in the story, this one could only have been done for the purpose of giving the actor in question a more substantial role throughout the six-hour series. And due to the fact that I LOVE Boothe as an actor, that wouldn’t have been a problem for me, were it not for the circumstances in which he was reinserted into the story at the end, and the resolution of his character’s fate, which made no sense to me at all, unless there’s just something that I flat-out missed.

        Oh, and re: the raid on the McCoy home on New Years Day 1888. It’s referred to everywhere as the ‘New Years Night Massacre” yet the miniseries depicted it as happening on New Years Day morning, going so far as to have Devil Anse (who may or may not have actually planned it) predicating the effectiveness of the attacking party as having “the sun at our backs,” as to indicate the bright light of sunrise, low on the horizon, would make them difficult to see coming as they entered from the east. I just wondered if you noticed that and if you have any opinion on why the producers would go to so much trouble to create that inaccuracy of the historical event, which no doubt occurred in the darkness of the wee hours, or at midnight, as some descriptions dubbed it the “Midnight Massacre.”

        Sorry for the long post, but any opinions you might have in regard to these questions would be very much appreciated.

        All of we, whose thirst for info about the H&M story was ignited by the History Channel miniseries, thank you for your willingness to share your family’s history with us. 🙂

        • Wall was the judge who presided over the trial of the McCoys who killed Staton. Preacher Anse was the judge who presided over the pig trial. So yes, they were both judges. Combining the two into one character really bothers me, from the viewpoint that it fails to show just how powerful the Hatfields were in that region, and why the McCoys felt they could not get justice in West Virginia.

          I have no idea why the producers did anything, LOL. Honestly, I am not even sure at what time of night the raid took place. I just know that it really happened, and that the outcome was horrifying.

          Wall turned himself in because there was a warrant for his arrest in Kentucky, and he believed in the justice system. Obviously, that was a bad idea.

      • I am still very confussed. Who was Preacher Anse? Is that Devil Anse Hatfield? Was Wall not a judge at all ever? Was Devil Anse and Wall brothers or cousins?

      • i have read several things about preacher anse, and it also says he was a local judge, not just a preacher, so thats why he presided over the hog incident. it was in his juridiction

  11. I’m glad I saw the miniseries, and your insights as well. I had a feeling the feud between your family and the McCoys would go deeper than somebody stealing a pig. As far as that trial went, even though Bill Staton testified for the Hatfields, the series seems to intend Selkirk McCoy, who was also married to a Hatfield and sided with them, was the reason why Floyd Hatfield was found innocent. I like to know which Hatfields were Selkirk McCoy and Bill Staton married to. Thank you in advance.

    • Selkirk worked for Devil Anse (as did many McCoys prior to the feud), and he was considered a Hatfield (we tend to accept people into the family even without a blood relation sometimes), but as far as I recall he was never married to a Hatfield;

      Bill Staton (I think) was married to Devil Anses daughter Elizabeth.

      • My bad. I checked the History Channel website again, and IT said Selkirk was married to a Hatfield. However, since you are a Hatfield, I’ll take your word for it. I know you must be busy trying to answer everybody’s questions. No need to get back to me about Lark Varney and French Ellis. I found out that Lark is nephew to Devil Anse through Martha Matilda, and French was Anse’s brother-in-law through Emma.

      • Arch T. McCoy was my great grandfather, on his death certificate, it shows Selkirk McCoy listed as Father and it shows Louise Willimason as Mother. I don’t think Selkirk was married to a Hatfield, but could be wrong. All I have for now is the death certificate info

  12. All very fascinating and makes one want to learn more of the truth. My question is a simple one at this time. The miniseries show Roseanna’s baby girl as being just under a year old when she died but I have read many accounts that it was a misscarriage – which is true? Did the baby survive and live to nearly a year or was it born already dead? I hope this doesn’t sound morbid but I would like to hear the truth. Thank you
    Cheryl R

    • It is my recollection (and this is only from oral history passed down through generations, and I was told this almost 50 years ago, so I cannot guarantee its correctness), that Roseanna contracted measles while pregnant, it passed to her baby while still in the womb, and her baby was stillborn.

      She did name the baby, though, because it is in family records somewhere. I believe she chose the name Elizabeth, but I will have to check to be sure.

  13. Thank you so much for posting about all of this. I have read most of it and really enjoyed everything you had to say. All though this mini-series, I was really worried about how the families from both sides were going to react to this series being aired.

    I wanted to watch this series because my mom had told me that her dad had been called upon to do the funeral service for Anse Hatfield after he passed away. So I really had no “background” as to what had gone on with the dispute between the families, but came away from the series with most of the same feelings that you have posted about in your blogs.

    I had also wondered how much “poetic license” they had taken with some of the stories but was able to search and find most of what I wanted to know online. I am thankful that I found your blog today and have enjoyed reading the posts that I have read so far. I really came away from the series feeling sad for both sides and if the “outside” parties had stayed out of it, then it perhaps would never have escalated to the point that it did.

    I guess my question is about Cottontop as he was referred to in the series. I think I read he also had a brother named George which was not shown in the movie. I really felt bad that Cottontop was hanged at the end… I don’t think he ever meant to hurt anyone. Oh one more question… why did Walt (I think that is how it is spelled), Anse’s brother, even go to prison as he was not involved in the 1888 event?

    Thank you for your time and graciousness in answering our questions. I am thankful that you are willing to share with us.

    • Hello, and sorry for the amount of time it took me to respond – I did not realize until just a few minutes ago that I was responding to questions in reverse chronological order – yikes!

      It was indeed sad that Cottontop was hanged, but the truth is, he was not childlike or severely retarded as portrayed. He was what we call dimwitted, which means he was not smart, but he was not mentally retarded. He was, however, mentally ill. This is documented, as there was a call for a psychiatrist to examine him (which, as you can imagine, was not normal back then) due to his bizarre behavior, because they were concerned about executing an insane person. Ultimately the psychiatrist was not called, because some believed he was faking to delay the execution. He was not faking, though. Cotton really was mentally ill.

      Wall turned himself in on the Kentucky warrant because, as a judge, he believed in the justice system, and believed he would be found innocent. Obviously, that was not a good idea. However, I was told that he really was there that night. Of course, he may not have been there at all, just as portrayed on the miniseries.

      Oral family histories are funny that way, in that sometimes the story changes as it is retold, either because someone thought it would make for a better story, or (more likely) because their memory of the story they were told is incorrect. 🙂

      • That is perfectly fine. Most of my questions have been answered through your other posts. I am just thankful that you are willing to take your time to help us understand the parts of the miniseries that were inaccurate.

        My mom said she had seen a show on PBS (she did not say when) about the feud. But knowing what I know about PBS, I doubt that one was anymore accurate than what was shown on the History Channel.. LOL I am sure they took some poetic license with that one as well.

        You are a kind lady to take time to help us understand and explain some of what happened. I can understand that there are stories that should never be spoken of outside of the family and would never expect any of those to be told. I bet if Hollywood could have gotten hold of some of those they would have tried to tell them though ;-(

        I can say that from watching the series several times now, (and Lifetime is going to show it again starting Wed. night), it has taken me almost that long to get most of the persons straight in my mind. For those of us not as familiar with all of the persons involved, we almost needed name tags on people to keep them straight 😉

        I remember hearing back in 2000 about the first family reunion for both sides getting together and I thought that was wonderful. I am glad to see that those are still going on today and from what I have read, looks like they are getting bigger every year. Anyone going should have a wonderful time, even the “outsiders” 😉 Have you ever been to one of these combined reunions?

  14. We should be careful not to judge attractiveness by today’s standards. The concept of beauty changes with the times, as well as clothing and hair styles (facial hair too.) There’s no doubt Johnse had success with the ladies in life, so he definately had something going for him in the looks department. I also don’t think photographs from the period, which were grainey, were particularly flattering for anybody.

  15. THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! Thoroughly enjoyed your blog …. very well written.

  16. What was Ock Damron’s relation or connection to the Hatfields. Just wondering cause I am a Damron.

      • Ock was my grandfather Floyd’s younger brother. I have also wondered about the connection. He appears in most of the group pictures of the Hatfield clan. I do know he had a son named Anse Hatfield Damron.

  17. I noticed in the miniseries both families walking out if the Tug Fork Church of Christ. I was interested to know if that was true. Were they members at all of the church of Christ? Very interesting story and oral account you personally convey.

    • All I really know about Hatfields and church is that Devil Anse was an avowed atheist, until he was baptized in his 70s as a Baptist. Today, most Hatfields still are not churchgoers, but the ones who do go to church are usually also Baptists.

      However, it is possible that the very religious McCoys attended the Church of Christ. That said, I honestly cannot tell you if the Tug Fork Church of Christ even ever existed outside the film. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

  18. I felt the miniseries was so sympathetic to the McCoys. It made them seem like loyal, God-fearing, poor mountain-folk who never stood a chance against the richer more well-connected Hatfields. Was there any proof that Devil Anse deserted? I enjoyed watching it as I love history, but reading this balances the scales. Was “Cotton” really mentally challenged? Was this due to the fact that his biological parents were 1st cousins?

    • It is pretty well accepted within the family that Devil Anse left the Confederate Army before expected, but it is not well accepted that he deserted since his exploits during the war are well known even to this day. I have never looked it up though, since I am not really into Civil War stuff, nor do I even know if there are still records of Civil War deserters, so I honestly do not know the truth surrounding him leaving the Confederate Army.

      It is my understanding that Cotton was not childlike or severely retarded like the miniseries made him appear. From what I have been told, he was dimwitted (meaning not smart, but certainly not mentally disabled to the degree portrayed), but mostly he was mentally ill.

      When he was awaiting trial, there was even talk of bringing in a psychiatrist (something never normally done in that period, obviously) not because he was so mentally retarded and childlike, but because his behavior was so bizarre that they wondered if he was too insane to execute. However, some thought he was just acting crazy to delay the execution, so it was never done. He was not just acting crazy, though, because in reality, Cotton was crazy as hell.

      Along those same lines, now is as good a time as any to point out that Cotton was actually in on the planning of the New Years Eve raid, and Devil Anse knew nothing about it until afterward. Anse also did not let Cotton hang because they wanted to make him a sacrificial lamb, like the series states. Anse believed Cotton had intentionally murdered the innocent Alifair McCoy, so Anse believed justice had to be done, blood for blood, just as he had executed the three McCoy boys for killing Ellison. Obviously, Anse would not have thought that way if Cotton was severely retarded and childlike.

      I had to LOL at your question about inbreeding. Being born and bred in West Virginia, but having lived and worked elsewhere as well, I hear inbreeding questions all the time.

      I have to admit that those kinds of problems can indeed be caused by inbreeding, but I do not think that was the case with Cotton. You can actually tell at a glance if someone has problems due to inbreeding, because it is really, really obvious from their facial features – I do not know how to describe it, except that their face just looks off, but I know it when I see it – and Cotton did not have that appearance. Besides, the truth is that some mental illnesses run in our family, and there are always a few dimwits as well, so he really did not stand out in that regard, based upon what I have been told about him.

      Thanks for an interesting (and funny) question, though.

      • I agree with Amie comment with the except of the McCoy’s had money same as the Hatfield so money was not a problem. If you ask my opinion it was all over land. I agree with Appalachian Lady Cotton Top was not mentally challenge but probably did have a mental problem. As far as inbreeding I hate to say it but Randolph did marry his cousin Sarah (Sally)…lol.

      • Just take a quick look at the series American Colony: Meet the Hutterites. That i do strongly believe shows at least some evidence of inbreeding as they all marry within the colony, does it not? Thats the best current example i can think of, as far as an inbred person looking “off” as you say, which i would have to agree with. Its just wrong, and i believe that there should be some strange and distinguishing characteristics of those who practice such filth.

        • I have never seen that series. There are now laws in place restricting families from intermarriage, obviously, but back then, it was pretty common for cousins to marry. The distinction is in how closely they are related – the further apart they are in relation, the less likely that there will be genetic abnormalities. I agree, it is very wrong for first cousins to marry, because there is too much of a chance that their children will suffer as a result.

          As for distinguishing characteristics, they do exist, but that would not be helpful information. You would only be discriminating against the children of those who did it, and not against the people who are doing it. It is not the fault of the children, after all. 😦

      • I feel it’s also important to note, back then, and in that area, people were somewhat secluded. It wasn’t seen as weird to marry your cousin, because your cousins were some of the only people around your age that you knew. I’m not saying I advocate for it now, I think it’s gross even at 3rd cousins (or 4th…or 5th…) but I don’t think they should be looked down on in that time period (especially in secluded, mountainous areas) because they didn’t have many other options. 🙂

      • Many people who are a product of interbreeding have birth defects. They can be born blind, have missing fingernails, have undersized heads; etc. Given that Randall and Sally were first cousins and have that rare genetic disease, might explains why some of their children seemed even more aggressive. Tolbert was a hothead. He shot Johnse once, and was gonna kill him had not Roseanna alerted the Hatfields who intervened just in time. Also, Tolbert got into a fight with two of the Hatfields and played a big part in killing Ellison along with his other 2 brothers Pharmer and Bud, even though Ellison was trying to just diffuse the situation.

  19. Thank you, I really enjoyed enjoyed this mini-series also. I had always found the Hatfield – McCoy feud stories interesting, it is nice to learn some “family” stories. Thanks again.


  20. Wow, great site. Thanks for your insight. I was hoping for a decendant that heard the oral history would post their thoughts on the internet about the miniseries. This Blog is great. By the way have done a bit of internet research and can answer a previous question about Johnse. He had a warrant for his arrest for the 1888 New Years incident. He remained free for 10 years untill caught and arrested. His trial was the last of the feud trials. He was convicted and given life and served 13 yeras and was released. He died in 1922 at his mountain cabin.

      • I believe Frank died in 1898. I would have to look at my family tree to get the exact date. He was shot. Which isnt surprising because of the life he led and the type of person he was.

  21. my question is about cap hatfield. in the series it shows him injuring his eye in a logging accident, and having the milky white eye throughout the rest of the series. in the few pictures i have seen, if they are in fact pictures of him, show him as having both eyes looking healthy. did they just throw that in for the sake of the show or was there really an accident of some sort? being from ky the story has fascinated me for some time, and i thank you for a real oral account passed down from generations of real hatfields. i enjoyed the mini series but enjoyed the family accounts much more.

    • Cap was blind in one eye, but I think it was from some kind of explosives accident, and not a timber accident. For some reason I am thinking it was a percussion cap accident – percussion caps were what they showed on the miniseries, where you would explode gunpowder by hitting it with a sledgehammer or some other really heavy object.

      As I was told, he was wall-eyed, meaning that his bad eye looked normal but when he looked at something, his good eye would focus but his bad eye would kind of do its own thing.

      So no, his eye was not all white like in the miniseries. They probably threw that in there to remind us all that he was blind, LOL

      • lol, thank you very much for clearing that up for me 🙂 and thank you very much for this blog, i’ve really enjoyed it 🙂

  22. Hi, I was curious about the scene where Nancy is selling books called Bad Frank, I think it was at the saloon and then he and Perry Cline get into it after the new bride introduction and Frank gets shot by his deputy, and Nancy declares he was the best at killing Hatfileds and she would miss him. I wonder if Frank Phillips was actually killed that way and why he and Perry Cline were arguing? and did he really write a book called Bad Frank? Thanks!

    • Bad Frank actually did write a book about his bad self, LOL. I honestly am not sure why he and Perry Cline got into it, since that is the McCoy side of the story, but I do not doubt they did because most people just did not like, and certainly did not trust, Perry Cline. He was a real snake, just like in the miniseries, but he actually did far more to provoke the feud than was covered (of course, they had to cover other things as well, so they were limited in time).

      We Hatfields (and I suspect the McCoys as well) are very pleased that the miniseries covered the Perry Cline behavior, since his manipulation of the McCoy boys was the primary reason why the feud turned bloody. Without him whispering in their ears, it would probably have been more along the lines of a typical feud one might see in West Virginia today. There might have been some pretty nasty fights, but no one would have been murdered by either side.

      I am honestly not sure what really happened to Bad Frank. It would not surprise me one little bit if he was shot to death, though, because most people did not like him at all. Even today, he would probably be shot in West Virginia.

      As one example which was not covered in the miniseries, Bad Frank showed up drunk at the Cottontop execution, had his guns drawn, and was yelling like a maniac about how he had taken down the Hatfields and would take down the rest of them as well. He caused a riot which had to be brought under control by the militia.

      I do not believe Bad Frank was killed at that point, but I would not be surprised if someone shot him when he was drunk and running his mouth. A LOT of people on both sides really hated that guy.

      • I am a Phillips and McCoy decendent. My family history as I remember it talked about Frank. He was not a nice or good man. He was a mean drunk. Before the feud he ran with Fank and Jesse James when they were robbing in the area. According to my papaw, his uncle Jesse (who was named after Jesse James) remembered Frank and the James brothers coming home under the cover of darknes, shooing the horses away and sneaking into the house to visit.

        BTW – frank had 11 kids – 4 from Nancy McCoy.

  23. I knewn on my father’s side I was related to Wall “Valentine’ Hatfield through my great grandmother,Sarah “Sally”, who was the daughter of Ferrell Hatfield.. I am surprised now to find I am also related to Johnse and Nancy McCoy . My great grandfather was Ancie, her huband,( who died pretty young.) My grandfather was Lee Anderson”Anse”. His wife,my grandmother, was related to the Vances,Clines, and Hatfields. . Wow! They never went over the mountain once they all settled there! Blackberry Creek was far enough! I am related to all the main characters! What a life! It was the first Western Frontier! I remember Horsepen Creek…. I was born in Logan!

  24. Apparently Bad Frank Phillips lived a long life if he had that many kids with his wife Nancy. It showed him being killed by his deputy in the history channel show.. How did Frank really die?

    • That is a very good question, but I do not have the answer since he was aligned with McCoys. I was told that he was shot for “running his mouth”, which would not surprise me since you can get shot for that here even now, but I have no idea who shot him, or if that is really what happened. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

      • No problem..I have really enjoyed reading your blog and the effort you put into it.

    • Found some new information: Nancy had 2 kids with Bad Frank Phillips. a boy named Jessie J. and a girl named Golda.

        • Yeah, I later found that link and that one is probably more accurate than the one I found, because Appalachian Lady and other mentioned that Ban Frank and Nancy had 4 children together, and I found a picture of her with a mini-biography below that said the same thing. That is why I told the others to disregard the link I posted.

    • Just realized u already answered that….but I am curious to know which family or who owns naming rights or royalty rights?

      • I do not own any rights related to the family history or the feud, beyond the common-law copyright for what I have written here (which obviously gets no royalties, since it is free to read for anyone with an internet connection).

        However, it is possible that others in the families do own rights of some sort, since there has always been a lot of tourism related to the feud. Honestly, it is something we have never discussed, since I am not at all involved in that kind of activity.

        I do know that Dr. Coleman Hatfield (grandson of Cap, son of Coleman) published a book about Devil Anse years ago, which I believe was originally written by his father. Obviously he would have a copyright on the book, and he could have expanded his rights to other things as well.

        If you are asking if someone received proceeds from the documentary, to my knowledge, none of the Hatfields did. However, I could be wrong about that. As for the McCoys, I would not know.

        If there are proceeds from the documentary, however – and I do not know that there are, or even would be – in my opinion they should not go to any individual in either family. They should instead go into a fund intended to help the many Hatfield and McCoy descendants who are living in abject poverty to this very day.

        So it is a very good question, but it is just one I have never asked (or even thought about) before now.

    • Cap did not have an eye all white like that, and I am not really sure why they portrayed it that way, except that they wanted to continuously remind us that he was blind, and it would be impossible for an actor to accurately reproduce what it did look like. He had what we call “wall-eye”, which is where if you look at something with one eye, the other eye does its own thing (no idea why they call it wall eye, though).

      He really did lose his sight in one eye due to an accident, but it was not in a logging accident. He actually lost it in a percussion cap accident, so he is very lucky he was not completely blinded, or even killed.

      A percussion cap was shown in the miniseries. That is where you put a bunch of gunpowder under a heavy piece of metal, then strike the piece of metal with a sledgehammer, and it makes a big explosion. It is extremely dangerous, obviously, but even today people here enjoy doing that. I would not suggest anyone do it, though, unless they really, really, really know exactly what they are doing. Use too much gunpowder, and you could very easily get killed because you are standing so close to it.

      There are also percussion caps made for target shooting, and I enjoy those since they are much safer and make a much bigger explosion. They are basically small metal containers filled with gunpowder, and when you shoot them (preferably with a large-caliber rifle), it is like a stick of dynamite going off. It can even blow a hole into the ground, depending upon how much gunpowder is in it, and you can hear it echoing for miles and miles in the mountains around here, and probably further in the valleys. You have to be careful to put them at least 100 yards downrange (maybe further, depending upon how much gunpowder is in it) and wear ear protection, because otherwise you could rupture your eardrums, or get seriously injured or even killed by flying debris.

  25. My grandpa’s grandpa (John Grimmett) is said to have married a Hanna Hatfield in 1870 in Logan County. Any relation to Devil Anse?

    • Sorry for the lateness of this reply, I was accidentally replying to comments in reverse chronological order. 😦

      There certainly is a connection to Devil Anse. Hannah Hatfield was (I think) the daughter of Ellison Hatfield, and thus niece to Devil Anse; she married a Grimmett for certain, so it is definitely a relation. You can confirm this on the family tree at http://ghat.com/hatftrea.htm

  26. Selkirk McCoy? Other than siding with the Hatfields over the pig controversy why does he continue to fight on the side of the Hatfields. The mini-series never really explained it. Did Selkirk McCoy really play a part in the excretion of the McCoy brothers? I’ve tried to research more about him and have found nothing that suggests a reason why he fought on the side of the Hatfields.

    • Selkirk worked for Anse for a long time, and was considered a Hatfield. That may seem strange to outsiders, but it is really not at all unusual in this region.

      To explain, we tend to take in strays (meaning people who do not get along with their own family, so they become social orphans).

      I personally have several young men (all friends with my son) who I claim as my children, not only privately, but publicly as well. They were all kicked out of their homes as teenagers, and I took them in and mothered them when they had nowhere else to go. Over time, we became family.

      So although I call them my sons and treat them as I do my own children, and they call me mom and treat me as their mother – and they and my son tell everyone they are brothers – in reality, they are not related to us in any way, shape, or form. I view it as a form of informal adoption, since I adopted them, and they adopted us.

      Selkirk was one of those strays taken in by the Hatfields and treated as their own. He was therefore considered a Hatfield even though he was not one legally, and as such, his loyalties would always lie with the Hatfields.

  27. To Caren: Bad Frank Phillips and Perry Cline got into it because after Cline introduced his new bride, who you can see was very young, Phillips said “You like ’em young, dont you Cline? You cradle robbing snake”. Cline then insults his book, and you pretty much covered the rest. Also, another question: Were Frank Ellis and Lark Varney relatives to the Hatfields, are were they just employees and friends?

  28. Amie, what series were you watching? I didn’t think it was at all sympathetic at all toward the McCoys, at least as far as the men were concerned, save for Nancy. Randall was always angry at Devil Anse for deserting, his sons tried to kill Johnse twice and 3 of them did kill Anse’s brother Ellison, and 3 other McCoy family members also killed people, 4 if you include Selkirk, though he was on the side of the Hatfields. However, the series was sympathetic to some of the Hatfields. Both Ellison and Wall seemed like peacemakers and wanted to diffuse the conflict. Ellison even told his family members to stay of the fight he had with the McCoys, and even after they stabbed and shit him, told Devil Anse to let the law take care of it. They made Johnse look like a nice guy for the most part. Married Nancy hoping it would end the conflict. Even Anse himself looked like a decent guy till Johnse hooked up with Roseanna. Also, I thought it was the McCoys that were inbred. Randall and Sally were 1st cousins. Lethal combination even more so considering that they had that disease that made them more prone to violence.

  29. I agree with you on the mini series it is a good show and all but I do believe that some parts were added and some parts left out being a McCoy myself I love hearing it from both sides and I have to say that when I found your site I was very pleased.. 🙂 I do believe having hearing oral stories for years about the feud and somethings get added and some dont tell the whole truth. I do have a few questions for ya tho maybe you can help me out my husband has been told that his great grandmother is the daughter of “Johnse” or Johnson and I was wondering what the names of his children were the only ones I can find are Nancys 2 children and their names are Ancie and Stella but on other websites they said they ( Johnse and Nancy) had 3 children. Thank You!!!

    • Hello, and it is great to see a McCoy here!

      I believe Johnse had two children with Nancy (Ancie and Stella), three children with his second wife Rebecca (Moss, Midgie and Levicey) and one child with his fourth wife Nettie (Robert). I will ask the family, to see if they know of any others, and if so, I will respond again.

      Sometimes people include the baby he had with Roseanna (Sarah Elizabeth) as one of the children he had with Nancy, and that may be why some sites make it look like he had three children with Nancy.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  30. My family is from the same area, their name is Chambers. At the end of the series, a man named Tom Chambers is arrested in the church. Do you know anything about Tom Chambers?

    • Tom Chambers helped set fire to the McCoy home, and was up on the roof when a shotgun blast from inside the house blew off several of his fingers. As far as I know, he was a Hatfield supporter, not a family member. He probably worked for Devil Anse in his timber business, but that is just a guess.

      • Tom Chambers AKA Tom Mitchell was my great grandfather. He was married to Nancy Varney, daughter of Martha Hatfield Varney, Devil Anse’s sister. Tom’s son, Haven “Buck” Mitchell was my grandfather on my mother’s side.

  31. I was very interested to read your account of the Hatfield story since I am also related to the Vances and Hatfields. I watched the mini-series but had trouble with their “reality” and totally agree with you on what that area of WV/KY is like. My Grandmother in Logan County never had an indoor toilet and only got running water (kitchen only) in the early 70’s. I kept thinking that the countryside didn’t look like that area at all. I was shocked to see on the web that it was filmed in Romania.

    My GGGG-Grandmother was Tabitha “Tabby” Vance who was Jim Vance’s sister and Devil Anse’s Aunt. I’ve never lived near WV/VA/KY so I did not know this until I started researching family history. Your comment that Jim Vance was “mean as a snake” is interesting to me since I recently discovered that his father was Abner Vance. He was hung in 1819 for shooting a man who had, as I understand it, kidnapped and sexually assaulted his daughter. Do you have any information on this incident or even the accuracy of my genealogy?

    • I cannot be sure, but I seem to recall that the father of Jim Vance was in a lot of trouble for something pretty unspeakable. Let me finish answering these zillions of comments, LOL, and I will see if I can find anything on that. 🙂

  32. THANK YOU! I just heard this morning the miniseries broke ratings records for cable television. I really appreciate you taking the time answering these questions, and sharing the oral history with us strangers. Though I was raised in Southern California, my mother was born and raised in Arkansas, where her father was a moonshiner in Yale. So, I know your description of mountain ways, so to speak, is accurate. I also spent a great deal of time with my Grandparents as a child and was privy to their way of handling boys and girls!

    I did find some Civil War records on Fold3 if you’d like to have them? Thanks again for adding this treasured accounting. It’s hard to fault the creators of the miniseries for embellishing/enhancing; dramatic license usually is taken when historical events are offered up for our enjoyment (the Wyatt Earp/Tombstone saga is but one example of glorified retelling in movies.)

  33. Thank you for the most accurate (for me) account of your familys history. I look forward to updates! My mothers family(Williams) are from Mcdowell county.

  34. Holy Cow Appalachian Lady, you are one of the most interesting people on the internet. I keep waiting to know more. I find the time frame between the civil war and the advent of the automobile and system of roads across America fascinating. People knew not only the ancestry of their own families but by nature if living in the same town and even home for their entire lives. When traveling got easier we lost a lot of that familiarity. It is my understanding that during the height of this feud, there were no real gathering places like a saloon or a brothel as depicted in the mini series. Is that true? touching on what you said about looks of the actors compared to the real people, I wish they would have used more realistic actors, truer to the characters features and stature as well as really understanding the inconveniences of grooming during the time period in that part of the world. I also wish they would have filmed it in the actual region, where they could have provided some hard working people in that area an opportunity to be a part of their own history and a chance to earn some income. I have one more question for you about how far apart were the McCoy and Hatfield homesteads? I can’t imagine them riding too far on horseback to carry out these raids. Thank you for all your information

    • Wow, thanks! I bet my family would disagree with me being that interesting though, LOL.

      They were not far from each other at all. It was basically just a horseback ride over the Tug, which is a narrow and shallow fork of the Big Sandy River. I am going to guess that it took about 30-45 minutes on horseback to go between the two homesteads. This was farm country, though, so it was very close by those standards.

      Rural West Virginia is extremely rural, even to this day. So I am honestly not sure if there was a saloon, but there was definitely not much in Matewan (West Virginia) at that time. I am not even sure that Matewan actually existed at that time, LOL. Getting drunk was a very common pastime back then, though, so there may have been something since there was money to be made, especially for the people with their own still (which is how bootleg whiskey was made back then). If there was not a small saloon, perhaps there was a back area of a home or business which was made into a makeshift bar, or maybe a business which served liquor in addition to selling other things.

      There were probably saloons and brothels in Pikeville (Kentucky) at that time, though. If you had a fast horse and took shortcuts, you could get there in a couple of hours.

  35. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and love having the opportunity to read some oral history. Thank you! The History Channel miniseries was excellent I thought and has sparked an interest for me in reading some history books about the families. I suspected there were some inaccuracies in the series and your addressing those especially in regards to the Johnse and Roseanna “love story” is appreciated. One thing not addressed that I could find in the comments was how the series portrayed Nancy as never having loved Johnse and her marriage to him as part of a revenge plot on her part. Obviously they were married longer than the series made it seem and had two children together. I also saw in your oral history that he left her rather than she left him. Also the miniseries has Jim Vance beating her while articles I have read say it was her sister that was beaten. Did the Hatfield family regard her as a traitor? What were their feelings toward her? I am making an assumption from your blog post about Anse’s objection to Johnse and Roseanna marrying that maybe there weren’t similar objections with Nancy because her father was dead.

    • In all honesty, and I do not mean to be crude, but mostly the Hatfields regarded her as a whore. For that reason, Anse and Vicey were not happy about the marriage, but as we say in these parts, “what’s done is done “, so they made the best of it.

      I am not sure that anyone considered her a traitor. It was understood that, as a McCoy, she was going to watch out for McCoy interests, so they would be far more likely to just watch what they said around her.

      However, I think they did wonder if she had an ulterior motive for marrying a Hatfield, though since women in that very closed society had no power outside their own family, I doubt those suspicions had anything to do with a revenge plot. I think they suspected she was after the Hatfield money, and she probably was.

      However, I suspect she just liked the idea of stealing Roseanna’s boyfriend, since she was the type to compete with other women for the affections of men; so if not for the Hatfield money, it would not have mattered whether he was a Hatfield or not. He was the forbidden fruit, so to speak.

  36. Just wanted to thank you for your post. You may find a serious escalation in interest in your history thanks to the miniseries. The show did take liberties with the truth,however,compaired to other productions it seems they were closer to accurate than usual.

  37. what happened to the Hatfield family land ? …did the coal company get it, and if so how ?

    • Yes, the coal company got most of it, and what family is left there now lives out in the holler.

      I am honestly not sure how that came about, since it was before I was born. I will see if any of my older relatives remember, and if so, I will update my response. 🙂

  38. Thanks so much for sharing your oral family history, and for being so open and honest about it. It is much more interesting than the Hollywood version. My question is about Jim Vance; I know that you said he did not kill Harmon McCoy because of the drunken accusation of having sex with his dog, but were there any rumors that he actually was doing that? Why would the producers put something like that in the film otherwise? Sickening question, I know; but thanks in advance for answering.

    • Hahahaha! Nah, I never heard any rumors like that, but that does not mean it did not happen, obviously. However, it did not surprise me when I heard it, simply because it is a typical insult for this area, if you really want to make someone mad. 🙂

  39. I didn’t see an answer to the question about the church of Christ shown in the series. Can you shed some light on that.

    • I am so sorry, I have answered what seems like a zillion questions, and each time I do, a zillion more come in, LOL, so they are getting backed up. Can you ask the question again? 🙂

  40. Hello while I agree about the relationships johnsie was involved in not being covered well . The rest of what you say about Jim Vance and Perry cline being the main instigators and the attempted land grab leading to the hatred of the hatfields by cline is exactly what I got from the series . Tom w phx az

  41. Good day,

    My name is Lawrence Dillard. I am a descendant of Abner VANCE and Susannah HOWARD, Anderson HATFIELD’s grandparents on his mother’s (Betty VANCE) side. While I am not directly related to Anderson HATFIELD, I am fascinated by the story. Most of my family came out of Logan county West Virginia nee Virginia. I have a website, located at http://www.genfan.com If you have some time, please visit. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Please email me on the site as I do want to ask a few questions.

  42. The guy in the 3rd row is not Ock Damron – this is a common mistake. He is actually a Chafin – married to Devil Anse’s sister. Thanks for posting this – my great, great uncle went to his grave swearing that Devil Anse never killed anyone outside of his war years. That said, it takes two sides to keep things like this going, which are always about money and pride. My relatives are buried in New Town in the Hatfield cemetery on the hill. Another thing that bothered me was the series showing people riding their wagons into town over flat open fields. This is not the terrain of the area, and there was not really a “town” that was frequented by the clan. It was 9-12 miles from where they lived into “town” and it was, and still is, steep hilly country with dense timber and no real roads. It was this way when I spent my childhood summers there in the 60s and 70s, must have been much worse way back then. Thanks again for your post!

    • Very interesting, thanks for that information!

      I read somewhere that they said it was filmed overseas, and not even in West Virginia. I am not surprised about that, because for those of us who grew up in West Virginia, it did not really look like West Virginia, LOL

      I will find the Chafin first name – for some reason, I am thinking Tom? – and correct the photo. 🙂

      Thanks again!

  43. One other thing – lots of talk about “desertion” of Devil Anse during the civil war. We can’t judge his actions by today’s standards. He left under whatever circumstances he did in order to preserve the lives and livelihood of his clan/family in a very rugged, rural part of the country. Their very livelihood and existence was contingent upon his return. Had he not done so, I quite likely would not be here now posting this reply. I am very proud of my heritage and can tell you that the people of this area of the country are some of the most wonderful, generous people in the world. As to their “looks”, I can tell you there is a WHOLE lot of pretty in the women who descended from Hatfields – as with the men. Lots of tall, dark and handsome people in the lineage. Now that they don’t spend 18 hours a day just trying to feed themselves, they don’t look quite so rugged! And they are still some seriously hard workers. Most are soft-spoken with an ascerbic wit – very funny people. If you haven’t been to the area – go there – great people, beautiful terrain – white water rafting, 4 wheeling, hiking – just gorgeous. I am homesick as I think of the WV/KY area.

  44. My great grandfather was Auxier “Ock” Damron, who was in several of the more famous Hatfield photographs. I was wondering if you have any information on his relationship with the family and if he was involved in the feud? By the way, I just learned today that my grandfather was actually named Anse Hatfield Damron and simply went by the nickname “Ted”.

  45. I just finished watching the series and found myself searching for certain facts as the show went along just to see if it matched the “real life” accounts and I found this blog! Very interesting stuff! I think most of my questions have been answered however I am curious if Cap really was such a good marksman as portrayed in the show? Thank you for keeping up with all of us!

    • Oh yes, Cap was quite a good shot, and very well known for that skill. Then again, the entire family tends to be very skilled with firearms, including little old me, though my eyesight is terrible; I am not blind, but my distance vision is 20/300, which is legally blind without glasses. Yet I can obliterate a one-inch center circle with a .22 at 100 yards. In case that is a foreign language to you, hahaha, it means that I can way out-shoot the vast majority of cops, and anybody who breaks into my house is in very serious trouble. Yet I am pretty much an old woman, LOL, and I have always been able to do that. It is just one of those skills we are born with, I guess, just like other people are born to be musicians or artists.

      • That’s BS!…I’m a Navy seal!…a 22cal is only acceract up to 50 yards ….after reading your post…I’m thinking your BS’ing all these people!!….Really!!…that’s sad!!P

        • Just because you think it cannot be done, does not actually mean that it cannot be done. Of course it can. I just did it about a month ago, and have the target and no less than six witnesses to prove it.

          No one in their right mind believes you are really a Navy Seal, by the way.

      • Yup he is a navy seal and I am one of those fired secret service members!!! lol..What is sad is that people want to take time out of their days to try and make someone else feel bad about theirselves. What a waste of time and energy. Believe me the vast majority of the posters are here to read your great blog about life up in the hills…

  46. Wow! Thank you Appalachian Lady, for your blog and conversation here about your family. I just finished the series tonight and like many here, started researching due to curiosity. It was interesting reading newspapers from 1880 but having the real back story is awesome. Thank you!

  47. Hello,

    Since the mini-series aired, in my area of Scioto County, Ohio we had a claim that really raised my interest and maybe you can help (I surely hope so! LoL). A man by the last name of Phillips has laid claim to being kin to both sides via one of Johnse’s and Nancy’s children that was adopted by ‘Bad’ Frank Phillips. He was upset and even got a story printed in the paper about how the show didn’t include the kids that Johnse and Nancy had! Do you have any information pertaining to the adoption of the Hatfield children by Frank Phillips? He said and I quote, “How else do you explain me being here if these children didn’t exist” LoL! I doubt it to be true due to the fact that any claim to fame seems to happen that is possible here in rural Ohio! We have a lot of Perry Clines here, LoL! I loved your insight and greatly appreciate you for doing so. I told my wife that Devil Anse was my father had he lived back in those days! He is a lot like Anse in a lot of ways. Having spent some time in Lincoln County WV I know a little about the backwoods life experienced in WV, and I loved it while I was there. I stayed on Upper Mud River just down from the strip mine and enjoyed going mudding at 10 mile mudhole! Have a blessed day. Thank You very much ahead of time!

    • I have been to Scioto County, do you still have that huge shoe store there which sells lots of boots? I have spent hours in that place, LOL.

      Was this an article, or just a letter to the editor? I would very much like to see it, if you can post a link or tell me which paper and when it was printed.

      I am not aware of their children being adopted by Bad Frank, but Nancy and Johnse did indeed have two children. However, their daughter Stella died as a young teenager of tuberculosis, and of course she had no children. So he would have to be descended from their son Ancie, if he is claiming to be a grandchild of Johnse and Nancy.

      Now, Ancie did have a lot of kids, and he does have descendants in the Huntington/Ashland/Ironton area – most of whom have surnames which obscure the fact that they are descendants, due to marriages over the years – so I would not dismiss that sort of claim offhand, since Scioto County is so close to that area.

      The problem, however, is that I am unaware of Ancie ever being adopted or even using the name Phillips. His children were all named Hatfield too, and that also suggests he never used the name Phillips.

      So while there are people who are related to both the Hatfields and the McCoys, I have never heard a claim that someone named Phillips is claiming to be related to both families through Johnse and Nancy, by way of an adoption by Bad Frank. Very curious.

      Of course, living as close as you do to West Virginia, you are probably well aware that lots of people falsely claim ancestry from the Hatfields or McCoys. Most times, they got that information from grandparents who claimed to be descendants, back when there were no genealogy records unless you manually searched the courthouse. So they are not lying per se, but merely repeating what they had been told by trusted older relatives, and what they had always believed. Those older relatives may not have been lying either, because they may actually have believed it based upon what they were told.

      This guy may be just looking for attention, though, because it is unlike either family to make such a stink as what you have described. Yes, the miniseries was inaccurate in that regard, but really, it is nothing to get that upset over, LOL.

  48. Thank you very much for taking the time to write down what you know for us, and answer so many questions! I don’t have a particular question, I just wanted to tell you that I have greatly enjoyed reading your stories on your family and the feud, and really appreciate you doing so!

  49. I am absolutely fascinated by this story. I was born in ohio but am of German/Irish descent, (sad to say I don’t have any hillbilly in me ) but am a history nut. Loved the mini-series on the history channel, but wondered what’s true and not true. And I was totally thrilled to find out one of the girls I graduated with is a Hatfield descendant. Her great grandmother was a Hatfield and she still has alot of family in Tug. Anyway, thank you very much for answering questions. I wanted to say I thought Randall McCoy and Anderson Hatfield were actually good men. It seemed like the fued was out of their control and alot of horrible things happened that neither of them meant to happen. I was very impressed with Anderson, aka Devil Anse. From what I have read about him, he seems to have been very intelligent. And was very devoted to his family. I really like how he protected his family (his wife and children) during the fued. I felt very sorry for Mrs. McCoy. What her sons did to Ellison Hatfield was horrible, but I can’t imagine her pain as a mother to know her boys were executed like they were. How many of the McCoy children were killed on the New Years day raid of the McCoy home? I was actually surprised the McCoy family was staying in their home. Why didn’t they hide? During the mini-series I would go back and forth from being on the Hatfield side and then on the McCoy side. But in the end, I just think they all lost, because so many family members and loved ones were killed. I felt sad for both sides. And I no longer looked at this family or that family, but looked at individuals. Both sides had good people and both sides had some bad people. I would love to visit the area as a tourist.

    • During the New Years raid, two of the McCoy children were tragically killed.

      I have no idea why they did not hide. Perhaps they thought the Hatfields would not attack them in their home, but I really cannot say for sure. Perhaps one of my McCoy friends commenting here can shed some light on that question.

  50. I just want to say my Great Grandmother was a McCoy-Roseanna. He father Addison (Who’s parents were Samuel and Elizabeth McCoy) who was a nephew of Sarah (Sally) McCoy (Samuel was her brother) named her after Sarah’s daughter Roseanna. After the hog trial my Great Great Grandmother Phoebe-Addison’s wife was afraid her family would get hurt so she begged her husband Addison to leave so they burnt down their house on the mouth of Pond Creek and came down the Tug and Big Sandy and settle on Big Hurricane Creek in Wayne Co. WV. I know from oral family history and papers at the Pikeville College their was a real affair and a child conceived between Roseanna and Johnse. Roseanna did contract measle and passed it to her baby which lived about 8 months after it was born. Her name was Sarah Elizabeth-Sarah after Roseanna mother and Elizabeth after Roseanna grandmother. I know both sides were equally to blame and I feel it was all over land and timber with each thing fueling it more. Randolph was a very very Christian man and always wanted to do things by the law and by the law of God. He did not drink. Now that is not to say that his son’s were the Christian he was but the whole family was very religious. Again I am not saying the sons of Randolph did not drink. I don’t think they were drunks like it showed in the movie. I have always been told Devil Anses did not carry for anything. He was not religious until later years and again I don’t believe he drunk like it was showed in the movie. However like the sons of the McCoys I am sure the sons of the Hatfields were the same. As far as a disease in the McCoy family that caused violent has that not been proven nor does it seems to exist now and if it was genetic it should show up in some form. For anyone wanting to know more they should go to the Pikeville College and read the McCoy papers as well as the Hatfield Papers there. I would also look at the the WV archives. Oral History is very tricky and you have to be very careful. We were original told my Great Grandparents left WV and went to OK and this came from their daughter my grandmother but in my research and backing it up with census, newspapers articles, concrete materials they actually went to Mingo Junction, Ohio for about 10 years before going to OK. Please back up things with concrete materials. Don’t ever take what someone says or movie, etc.at face value. Everything I have said in the paragraph and I can back up with Bible records, census, and newspaper articles. By the way Fold3 does list Hatfield as a Deserted. However you have to understand that a lot of soldiers were listed as this and show up again in another company. It is my understand he came home and form a sorta of militia Logan Wildcats so that would of still been concerned helping the cause.

      • Although I love your insight on the story. I believe your information is highly misguided. Ranel “McCoy” is what they called him. His name was Randolph. They didn’t call him Randall.

        • You are absolutely correct, his name was Randolph and they called him Ranol or Ole Ranol (the unique pronunciation of names in this region was covered in another post). I kept it as Randall for the purposes of this blog beyond that one post, simply because that is what it was on the series, and I did not want to confuse people into thinking they were two different people. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for sharing your family history and impressions. 🙂

      There actually is a genetic disease which runs in the McCoy family, unfortunately, and it has been verified by many doctors. I posted a link to a news story about it elsewhere on the blog.

  51. Just read what Appalachian Lady wrote about Johnse and Roseanna and I would have to agree with her on a McCoy point of view that Johnse used Roseanna for sex and Roseanna having the shelter life she had she believed his lies. I can not say anything more beyond the point because it would be only my opinion and no one would know. Did they fall in love later? Did he actually cry when she died and want her back when she went to her Aunt Betty’s? Only God and Johnse and Roseanna know what they felt during that time. I do not think it was a romance like the History Channel portrayed period. As far as suicide -Roseanna I have nothing in our records to prove this or to disprove it. We were told she died of a broken heart. You have to realize she was disowned when all this started and sent to her Aunt Betty’s. It could of been a broken heart over all that or Johnse or both. A lot of this no one can tell for sure because it is only their opinion based on what they have been told by others. However to say she died of suicide based on she had a broken heart and that meant suicide back then I would say it going a little far. I personally had never heard that…usually it meant a heart attack…i.e. google it by putting broken heart in the 1800’s. According the the Mayo Clinic the term broken heart back then meant and I copied and pasted it from their web site: .
    Broken heart is a temporary heart condition brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they’re having a heart attack. These broken heart syndrome symptoms may be brought on by the heart’s reaction to a surge of stress hormones. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.

    The condition was originally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Today, it’s also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.

    The symptoms of broken heart syndrome are treatable, and the condition usually reverses itself in about a week.

    It is listed in family papers as a broken heart. So you draw your own conclusions.

    • Thank you VERY much! This is exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote this blog – a McCoy viewpoint. Perhaps if we compare notes on our oral family histories, we can finally come to understand why and how this tragedy really happened.

    • Thank you Tammy and Appalachian Lady; I am so happy that you both are on here to answer questions. Its seems a lot of people like me is truly fascinated with the feud. Im still stuck on the Roseanna and Johnse “affair” . Is it true she left her family to go live with johns and his family? If so how long was she there for. Did she go back before or after she was with child? If Anse and Vincey allowed her to stay then why didn’t they make him do right by her? Do you think the motive is that anise wanted to Randall to be ashamed? I see that there are some books out there on the feud. Which one do you think is more accurate.
      Tammy i know that Roseanna loved Johnse that much is true. Do you think that your family thought he loved her too? It was said the Randall died broken man. Did he ever show guilt and sadness on the loss from either side? Did he attend Roseanna funeral? And am i saying her name correctly? I think i believe in love stories even if it was one sided.

      • Jennifer she did live with the Hatfield’s for some time but it wasn’t her choice. She knew she couldn’t go home because of her relationship with Johnse-Randall had disowned her and continued until close to her death. She stayed at the Hatfield’s until she seen that Johnse wasn’t very true to her (he was a lady’s man) and then went to live with Aunt Betty. I feel from what I was told Devil Anse wasn’t happy about her being in his home either so I don’t think it had anything to deal with trying to shed Randell in a poor light. I don’t think she ever took her baby Sarah Elizabeth to her parent’s home. That doesn’t mean that Sarah- Roseanna mother didn’t go there but if she did I feel that it was kept from Randell because you did has your husband told you back then. They were the head of the home. Speaking only for the Mccoy’s I feel like The McCoys : their story as told to the author by eye witnesses and descendants is a very good book to read.

  52. Very interesting, I have been reading everything I can get my eyes on since I heard about the mini series.. Hours and hours, I appreciate your input, excellent! It would be great if we could get some Mccoys in here as well just to see how the stories(families oral history) may be quite similar or differentiate. ThankYou Very Much for the thoughtful insight and time you have put into this, it is appreciated. I have always wondered about this feud for the last 40 yrs, finally I am getting some real meat on the bone so to say. Thanks Again!

    • You are very welcome! I would definitely welcome the input of McCoys – maybe if we compare our oral family histories, we can finally figure out what the heck really happened, and more importantly, why it really happened. 🙂

  53. I had always heard that I was related to Jim Vance in some way but not sure in what manner. I too enjoyed the miniseries but as it seems with everyone else it sparked more questions and there is frustrating little info on the internet which is understandable due to the lack of records. I have really enjoyed reading your perspective. Have you ever though of co rauthoring a book with the McCoys? It would be fascinating to get both perspectives. Maybe you tell yout side followed by the McCoy’s

  54. “In fact, the miniseries makes it appear that Anse was not even home from the Civil War yet when Harmon was murdered.” Actually I am pretty sure the miniseries did in fact show that Anse was home before the murder of Harmon. There was even a scene just before Harmon’s murder in which his wife and children went to see Anse and plead for him to speak with his uncle Jim to which Anse agreed but noted his uncle had a tendency to go his own way. The miniseries however did not show Anse as being ill at the time of the murder which has been widely reported. I also agree with the reply that the characters did not really appear neat and clean. I think the miniseries was done very well personally. It did indeed have to have a condensed timeline but I expected that. I actually believe the miniseries could have been much longer and lasted a week or two. I bet if they would have known the response to this series it would have indeed been much longer (-;p

  55. I’d have to agree with those that find your refreshingly interesting & thankful that you’ve been willing to share your family history with us. Which is a very brave under taking judging by the response you’ve gotten in this blog alone. I will bet that the family got a kick out of the actress playing Levicey…
    There was a Church of Christ in that area,during the period of the feud. Whether or not the family attended,is another story. What I can’t get a straight answer on is how many children each family had? My other question is what happened to Sarah McCoy? There is no mention of her passing. Thanks again for all your effort to keep the facts straight:)

    • Oh, we laughed our rear ends off about Vicey suddenly becoming tall and willowy, LOL. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with what Vicey looked like, especially since her appearance is typical for that region, so there was no reason to change her appearance if accuracy is the goal.

      Anse and Vicey had 13 children, believe it or not. Just a few more, and today they would have their own reality show on TLC, hahaha

      Randall and Sally had 16 children, so they could get a reality show even quicker. Randall and Sally were first cousins, by the way.

      I am honestly not sure what ultimately happened to Sally, or even exactly when she passed away. However, I looked it up, and she is buried in Dils Cemetery (Pike County) next to Randall, seems to have died quite some time before he did, and seems to have died in the 1890s (but the last numeral for the year is not filled in?) You can take a look at this link. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=mccoy&GSfn=sarah&GSby=1900&GSbyrel=before&GSdy=1950&GSdyrel=before&GSst=19&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=5089945&df=all&

      • Maybe the McCoys would know better what happened to Sally. According the miniseries, they don’t know exactly when she died. They only said that she most likely died in a mental hospital. They actually showed her possible nervous breakdown when she exited her burning house, just walking with 2 guns in her hand, totally non-responsive when Jim Vance hit her over the head with his rifle.

      • As a McCoy descent I do not know myself and the fact she was sent to a Mental hospital was never spoken in our oral history in our family.

  56. Thank you so much for sharing your family history. You are so entertaining and interesting. Your writing style is just so enjoyable to read.

  57. Wow-I honestly didn’t expect to get a reply so quick. Let alone from both sides, thank you: Tammy Daniels & Appalachian Lady:) Now that I think about it-no family during that period would have discussed any form of mental illness-as it would have been something the family would have been ashamed of. Even Rose Kennedy didn’t inquire too deeply when Joseph Kennedy took their oldest daughter, who was mentally disabled (by today’s standards). And I believe that happened sometime in the 1940’s. It just wouldn’t have been something the family would have discussed! Although,, I did find one site that says she passed in 1900-so why would it say 189? on her Head Stone?
    As for Vicey’s height,or lack of it. I think the majority of women of the south were on the short side! My Grandma, from Tenn. born 1880, was barely over 5′ & passed it on to the women of the family! As it seems passing along the ability to be a good shot even for the women was a matter of survival in those days. Although I can’t imagine them pairing Kevin Costner with any one short n plump…… ha ha That would have made it too close to reality!!

    • No one on my side of the McCoy’s knew when Sarah died. Most of them on my side were living in Wayne Co. WV at that time. I would say it was 1898/1899 though.

  58. I know beggars can’t be choosers, Appalachian Lady, but I’m thinkin’ you lost my question about ‘Uncle Wall,’ as my comment from Friday June 1st is still awaiting moderation(?). I know you’re swamped, but could you take a look and see if you might be able to answer it? I think someone else had a similar question about him. Thanks!

  59. Thank you so much for all the information!! If I was both families I would dig deep to find out about that land!! Would not leave no rock unturned. I bet you all are owed a lot of money. Dig deep!! Thanks again

  60. just want to say my Great Grandmother was a McCoy-Roseanna. He father Addison (Who’s parents were Samuel and Elizabeth McCoy) who was a nephew of Sarah (Sally) McCoy (Samuel was her brother) named her after Sarah’s daughter Roseanna. After the hog trial my Great Great Grandmother Phoebe-Addison’s wife was afraid her family would get hurt so she begged her husband Addison to leave so they burnt down their house on the mouth of Pond Creek and came down the Tug and Big Sandy and settle on Big Hurricane Creek in Wayne Co. WV. I know from oral family history and papers at the Pikeville College their was a real affair and a child conceived between Roseanna and Johnse. Roseanna did contract measle and passed it to her baby which lived about 8 months after it was born. Her name was Sarah Elizabeth-Sarah after Roseanna mother and Elizabeth after Roseanna grandmother. I know both sides were equally to blame and I feel it was all over land and timber with each thing fueling it more. Randolph was a very very Christian man and always wanted to do things by the law and by the law of God. He did not drink. Now that is not to say that his son’s were the Christian he was but the whole family was very religious. Again I am not saying the sons of Randolph did not drink. I don’t think they were drunks like it showed in the movie. I have always been told Devil Anses did not care for anything. He was not religious until later years and again I don’t believe he drunk like it was showed in the movie. However like the sons of the McCoys I am sure the sons of the Hatfields were the same. As far as a disease in the McCoy family that caused violent has that not been proven nor does it seems to exist now and if it was genetic it should show up in some form. For anyone wanting to know more they should go to the Pikeville College and read the McCoy papers as well as the Hatfield Papers there. I would also look at the the WV archives. Oral History is very tricky and you have to be very careful. We were original told my Great Grandparents left WV and went to OK and this came from their daughter my grandmother but in my research and backing it up with census, newspapers articles, concrete materials they actually went to Mingo Junction, Ohio for about 10 years before going to OK. Please back up things with concrete materials. Don’t ever take what someone says or movie, etc.at face value. Everything I have said in the paragraph and I can back up with Bible records, census, and newspaper articles. By the way Fold3 does list Hatfield as a Deserted. However you have to understand that a lot of soldiers were listed as this and show up again in another company. It is my understand he came home and form a sorta of militia Logan Wildcats so that would of still been concerned helping the cause.

    • Desertion from the confederate army at that time is very complicated. Some men took what was called “French leave”. This meant that they would return to their homes during the fall or spring harvest or during the winter months. Also, many men after being wounded, may go back to their homes to recover from their wounds. Many of these men did participate with the home guard units of the areas they were from. The home guard units could be very brutal towards deserters, union stragglers and foragers. This could explain Jim Vance’s reputation and the killing of the two union foragers in the mini series.

  61. Appalachain Lady, I am a West Virginian by birth and very proud of it. I throughly enjoyed reading what you have written and wonder if you have ever thought of writing the “true history”? It would be a fascinating read and I for one would like to know the truth and not the hollywood spin.

    • That is a very complicated question. Even writing what I have written here, in rebuttal to the miniseries, has resulted in backlash from some Hatfields. See, we usually do not speak of the feud at all. Even I never spoke of it except to my children, until I saw the miniseries and felt some things needed to be corrected, for the sake of historical accuracy.

      The truth is, to tell the true history would mean to dig up old bones long buried, some of which are unrelated to the famous feud and which are not really known outside the family. So no, I would not write something like that, out of respect for the family. Thanks for asking, though. 🙂

      • I agree with Appalachian Lady sometimes some things are better left buried. I know with this miniseries it has cause some tempers to flare with people who are not even Hatfields or McCoys. .

    • I realize there may be some disagreements from the families and we certainly do not wish to see any more feuding. It’s just that by not telling your stories we only have what is out there currently to go by. And I doubt that the Hollywood (and the many book) versions tell the story as accurately as the direct family members can.

      If the Hatfield and the McCoy descendants really have put the fighting behind them, would it be so feud-invoking to tell us some more of the history? Doesn’t everyone understand that it’s okay to have different perspectives?

      I am sure you guys don’t want to stir up the dust and I don’t want that either. I just want more of these fascinating stories!! I can understand that it seems like we are peering into your families’ lives with eyes wide open and that may be uncomfortable for some of you ….. could be for me too, I suppose, if my family stirred so much curiosity.

      So, please, don’t leave us wondering now!! At the very least, please tell us anything that won’t stir up bad feelings.

      • Oh no, no one’s ever going to feud over this blog. There was a slight disagreement with a cousin over the way I worded something, but I just changed it because it wasn’t important anyway. 🙂

        There are LOTS of family stories I could tell which I haven’t, and some of those stories are just as fascinating as the feud. I’ve pretty much stuck to what was on the miniseries and side issues related to it though, because that’s so well known that it won’t upset anyone for me to talk about it.

        I may toss an additional story or two out there, but only after I talk to a few people to make sure they have no objection. I’ll only write about Hatfields who are long-ago deceased, though, because it’s not my place to discuss anyone else’s personal business.

  62. Couldn’t help but notice that you have some Simpkins in your above photo. That is not a very common name as I am a Simpkins. How do they fit in?

  63. Modify my request, Appalachian Lady and Tammy Daniels should get together and pen something.

    • Well if you read the above comment we both agree somethings are better left unsaid but thank you and I am sure Appalachian Lady thanks you too.

  64. i read somewhere that cap devil anse son had a store at glen alum on wharncliffe known as ben creek….and johnse wife nettie was from ben creek did her and johnse live on ben creek

  65. Great Website!
    My grandfather (Charles Chauncey Mangus) was from Logan County and used to tell me stories about this feud, inferring that the violence in the neighborhood was partially the reason why his mother took her large brood of kids and moved out to Wyoming. His mother was Melinda Jane Chambers, and I noted in the miniseries that a guy by the name of Chambers was arrested in the church by Phillips as a member of the Hatfield gang. I’m suddenly curious to know if my own family is more intertwined in this feud than I supposed (Our family history has at least three of my granddad’s brothers as members of the Logan Wildcats in the war). Is there a good historical reference with lists, etc?

  66. Ok I am a real close descendant also. There was a few things wrong but not much. My great great grandfather was valentine hatfield or wall as referred too. And the comment about poor hygiene even today is wrong. I live in area and know better. I dont know who told you the crap but thats what it is. I have alot of very old pictures that isnt on the internet and nor will ever be on it. I myself and few other family members are offended by this. All the mini series was trying to show was that it wasnt a bunch of dumb hillbillies (even if anse was illiterate) like the media back then tried to say. Let it die already like the feud.

    • Nice to see you here, Ellis. I got the poor hygiene crap, as you call it, from actually visiting that area over the years. I also have many old photos which are not on the internet, and they certainly do not show good hygiene, at least not as I know good hygiene to be. I am very sorry that you are offended by what I said, however, because that was never my intention.

      I was never trying to say that everyone in that area has poor hygiene, because obviously that is not true; so if I gave that impression, I need to correct that immediately. However, there are many in the area, especially out in the hollers, who do not practice good hygiene; and since you live there, you know that as well as I do. Does that make them dumb hillbillies? Of course not. It makes them people who do not practice good hygiene, and that is a problem seen around the world, including in large cities.

      Of course, I am operating on the assumption that those who would read this are viewers of The History Channel, and therefore smart enough to figure that out. However, since you are offended by it, I am more than happy to remove what I said about that subject.

      It is also not my intention to portray anyone as dumb hillbillies, because I definitely do not consider myself to be a dumb hillbilly; quite the contrary, in fact, since it is obvious from my writing that I am far from dumb, or a hillbilly. I do not consider anyone to be dumb just because they are illiterate either, even in the modern day; and I do not think Anse was dumb at all; again, quite the contrary. I think he was extraordinarily intelligent, as are many Hatfields. I have repeatedly taken great pains to make that clear throughout.

      So I think you have misread my intentions. I am only trying to point out that the series is not really accurate, despite the fact that it was on The History Channel. The story as I heard it may not have made a nicely constructed little miniseries, but at least it was the truth as it was handed down through the family, and relayed to me. I have not added to what I was told, nor have I taken away from what I was told. When I am unsure of something when asked a question, I say I do not know. When I am answering based upon an amalgamation of what I was told, I make that clear as well.

      As for whether it should die like the feud, I agree. See, I never said a word about the feud or the families to anyone outside the family, until the series aired and I saw some troubling discrepancies. Had the series been historically accurate, or had it played anywhere but on The History Channel where people would assume its historical accuracy, I would still have not said a word. So perhaps you should take up the issue of letting it die like the feud with Mr. Kevin Costner. He is the one who brought it up again and made it a major issue of discussion, not me. All I did was comment upon the miniseries he created. I have not even discussed any feud stories which are unrelated to the famous feud portrayed on the miniseries, though since you are also a descendant, you know as well as I do that I could. Had I done that, I could see why you would be upset and telling me to let it die. However, as it is, I have taken pains not to resurrect anything not already in the public consciousness, thanks to the miniseries.

      Either way, unlike Mr. Costner, I am not profiting from the family history in any way, shape, or form, and I never have profited from it. It is not my intention to ever profit from it, either; if it were, I would have put the information here on a website which is supported by advertising, rather than on a free blog. In my opinion – and you may disagree with this – profiting from the feud would be to accept blood money, and that is something I absolutely will not do.

      So I honestly do not understand why anyone should be offended, beyond the issue which I have agreed to remove. The truth is still the truth, and history is still history; but it is wrong to portray it as anything except what it really was. It is therefore also wrong to sit aside and allow such glaring inaccuracies to go unchallenged, and thus allow Hollywood to alter history for the sake of a neat little storyline. I am actually quite surprised that anyone disagrees with that.

      At any rate, today I will remove that specific part which offended you, as promised. Thanks for your input.

      • I love the way you write! And I agree with you 100%! The reason Im letting my 11 yr old follow this blog is because you are a person to admire! You are not trying to mislead anyone and I greatly appreciate it. I again (see earlier comment) thank you for this wonderful blog! Please dont let anyone discourage you from continuing this blog! God bless you! =)

      • Ellis, I can appreciate you being a little thin skinned about the hygiene comments. But Anyone that has been camping can image how hard it is to keep clean, cool, shaving and haircuts weren’t part of a daily regime of hygiene either. Not in the hills of WV or the big cities unless you had plenty of money. So I don’t think anything Appalachian Lady said was meant to offend or even infer that people were hillbillies or dumb. Heck perfume was invented to hide the body odor of Kings and Queens, Wigs were worn to cover dirty hair. In France they emptied bodily fluids in the streets. At least they had privies/ out houses in the hills. I think everyone on this blog appreciates what your ancestors had to go through just to survive everyday life. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would call them dumb or hillbillies. They were hard working god fearing Americans, salt of the earth. Keep spreading the word, I can’t get enough Appalachian Lady.

      • My understanding of mini series was some was right but what was different was only because of controversy. For instance caps eye no one knows for a fact how he did it. They just know it happened while he was suppose to be logging. He mighta been doing target practice while suppose to be workin. Conflicting stories so they picked best story to them. And johnsie did love roseanna but he was the type who wanted all skirts. No he didnt pine like movie but he mourned in his way from what was told to me. And about Randolphs burns well I was told a Hatfield or supporter burned his house. Idk how true it is and no anse nor his sons was involved. And at the end when they told what happened to my grandfather valentine wall hatfield they didnt tell how he died in pikeville jail. The truth is that he was starved to death in his cell. thank you for reading

  67. Did Devil Anse really deny Johnse and Roseanna’s marriage? And On the miniseries when Devil Anse and Johnse go fishing do they really encounter a bear?

    • Yes, Devil Anse really did deny them his blessing to marry, because he refused to disrespect Randall McCoy when it came to his daughter.

      I am not sure if they encountered a bear while fishing, but I am sure they did at some point since bears are very common in that region. If they did encounter one, Anse may have tamed it, LOL. He actually had a couple of pet bears, believe it or not.

      • Wow thank you i just really didnt know lol and thats interesting i have never heard of pet bears.

      • Speaking for the Mccoy side yes the marriage was denied for the reason of not disrespecting Randell nor his self.

  68. I very much appreciate your comments on the mini-series. I am a graduate of Marshall University. I very much enjoyed my time there and took West Virginia History while I was there. Professor Lutz taught my class and he was very thorough in explaining to the class the nature of the feud, it’s origins and repercussions. You may know or have heard of Dr. Lutz. He would portray Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield in the schools near Huntington. I have two questions for you. How did Anderson Hatfield get the nickname ” Devil Anse” and was he as fierce a fighter as he was portrayed in the opening scenes of the movie? Was there a confrontation between Randall and Anderson when Anderson deserted?

    • Whether there was a confrontation between them at time of his desertion is lost to history, unfortunately, so I cannot say whether that was true or false.

      He got the name Devil Anse during the Civil War. Anse is short for Anderson, so he had that name since childhood. The Devil part was added later, and was a play on the oldtime name for fire ants (or at least I assume they were fire ants), which was Devil Ants. Of course, we do not have fire ants in West Virginia, thank goodness, but apparently someone was aware of the existence of those creatures. Just as fire ants are small and fierce, and you cannot escape their fury, so it was with Devil Anse in battle. He was not a big man, you see, despite most assumptions to the contrary. The old saying went, “he was six foot of the devil, and 180 pounds of hell”, LOL, but he was actually only about 5 feet 10.

      I attended Marshall as well, so welcome to a fellow alumnus! Dr. Lutz actually appeared as Devil Anse at the Hatfield family reunion in Matewan, which I attended around ten years ago. He was a very nice man, and just full of love for the history of the Hatfield family. I was very impressed by him. 🙂

      • I am from the McCoy side and also a graduate of Marshall University both ungrad and grad. I love Dr. Lutz and had him for WV history. He always told me it had to do with Devil Anse never back down from a fight or anyone.

  69. One more question. How in the world did this mini series get shot in Romania? I knew when I was watching it that it didn’t look like the Kentucky or West Virginia I know!

    • I honestly have no idea why they shot it in Romania – it was probably for financial reasons, I would guess – but we all knew it was not shot in West Virginia or Kentucky just at a glance.

      • It was on the morning show it was because of all the taxes here in the United States. It was low budget.

  70. i was wondering about the scene in the mini series when it showed them in court what states where they held in ? being that hatfields were in kentucky and torysand not the movie version .. could you tell me about thhe mccoys in vw.also im born and breed in texas and i remember learning about the feud in our history books but they never covered the story in our books very well . i mean so much was not covered so i wonder why that was but on to another topic im a real history buff and love to get into the real story and not so much the hollywood versition . what and who decided to sighn the treaty between two famileys in 2003? as the movie said that 30 decendents from both familys signed it. do you know anything about that and can you tell me how and who got that ball rolling

    • By the time the treaty was signed, the families had been good friends for a very, very long time. Hatfields do still get people asking if we hate McCoys, though, and McCoys get asked if they still hate the Hatfields, so it just seemed to make sense to make it official, that there is no longer a feud between us. 🙂

      The pig trial was held in West Virginia, but the actual judge in that trial was Preacher Anse Hatfield, not Wall Hatfield as portrayed. They seem to have rolled Preacher Anse and Wall into one character, probably to make the story more dramatic and easier to follow, but it has made some descendants of Preacher Anse very unhappy, and understandably so. The Hatfield murder trials were held in Kentucky.

      • So then, was the real Wall Hatfield ever a lawyer at all, or was Powers Boothe’s aggregate character of both men portrayed in the miniseries as such just to sew (homophonic-rhymey-like pun intended) it all together? 😉

        • Wall and Preacher Anse were both a Justice of the Peace (which is what we called Magistrates here even during my lifetime). Preacher Anse presided over the pig trial, while Wall presided over the situation involving the McCoy boys killing Bill Staton (which was a bench trial, basically).

          They combined the two characters to make it easier to tell the story, I guess, but I disagree with that decision, as do many Hatfields and probably many McCoys as well (though I will let them speak for themselves on that issue). It was actually important to point out that more than one Hatfield was a judge, because that fact no doubt contributed to the McCoy family feeling they could not get justice unless they got the Hatfields to Kentucky.

      • Thanks so much for clearing that up for me! And so sorry for whatever troll issues you might have encountered. (Can you say, “GAWKER”? *LOL*). Here’s hoping things go smoothly from here on out, because this is a tremendous service you’re providing, and we DO appreciate it. 🙂

  71. also can you tell us a story about anse and randell that has not been talked about and i can find alot of hatfield family pictures but have yet to find any of randelht into the feud l im hopeing someone can point me in the right direction ..some of the mccoy ancesters have also joined into the blog it pleasess me because it gives us another view point and even more insigt regarding the feud tyvm for the blogs hatfields and mccoys

    • I do indeed have stories which are unknown in the present day beyond the families, but so far I have been so busy trying to answer questions, I have not had time to write them, LOL. I promise, I will be adding more to the blog.

      I also very much appreciate the input of my friends the McCoys. 🙂

      • I am having that problem right now speaking from the McCoy side about pictures. There are a few of Randell but not many they can be found on various web sites about the feud. I don’t know if they were not taken or what has happened. I would appreciate anyone that reads this if they have old McCoy pictures to please contact me and I will prove to you who I am and that I am related to the McCoy’s and I am not interested in money or publishing a book but would like some of my direct line.

  72. Does anyone know anything about Jim vances descendants? I know I am one from my great grandma. None of my family members could tell me exact relation so I started doing research and from what I found i’m jims great great great great great grandson. But can’t verify for 2 generations so might be nephew.. i’m running into dead ends at jims daughter. Anyone know jims grandkids and great grandkids and who they married? I’m trying to get the connection between vances and my grandma that was a Vance but married a waters

    • I am also related to the Vances, as are many most Hatfields, but honestly, I have never delved into their family tree much. I do have a Vance/Hatfield story to tell which you might find very interesting, and I am going to try to post it to the blog today. 🙂

      • Appalachian Lady….. I have posted a post on a blog but some of the info was a lil off. It came from Mack McCoy he dad told me this morning his info was in correct. I have a blog page on this site. My user name is Towtrux. Please try to respond

        • Sorry, I am behind on reviewing the comments (I had to put them all on moderation, though it was set up to allow free posting after I approved one comment – just to make sure no one was posting spam – because I was getting threats from people pretending to be McCoys and do not want to release that kind of idiocy on my blog).

          I remember responding to the one about your friend and his Facebook, though, so it should be on the blog.

    • I found on facebook the Hatfield Mccoy trails link. There are Vances great great great grandchildren on Facebook. One was a Jim Vance I think.

  73. Oh sorry! I almost forgot.. When my dad was younger and still living in West Virginia he can remember playing with the Hatfields (our cousins) but never would cross the rope bridge to there house over the river. But its been so long he cant remember any of there names 😦

  74. I was curious what was the meaning behind William Anderson Hatfields nickname “Devil Anse”. Is Anse short for Anderson? It does not seem to be a term of endearment, like the other nicknames of the family. I have really enjoyed reading your account and would love to know the meaning behind this nickname.

    • Anse is short for Anderson, and it is common in the family for men named Anderson to be called Anse, or Ansie. The Devil part came about as a nickname when he was in the Civil War. Due to his fierceness in battle, they said he was “six feet of the devil, and 180 pounds of hell”, LOL. He was beloved by the family, though. He had a great sense of humor, I am told, and even liked to play practical jokes. 🙂

      • Thank you so much for your quick reply. I was facinated by the miniseries and your blog has brought me a renewed energy to do more research into my own family history. You should be proud of who you are, even though these skeletons so to speak are being exposed; it is a testimony to the All Mighty that he is a just and loving Father in Heaven. That your fathers sins are not yours and that through the Lords Atonement all men can be saved. We all travel a different road in life it is our choices that determine where that road leads. I too was inspired by Devil Anse’s decision to be baptized. It shows the unconditional love that the Lord has for us when we come to him. Your family story speaks to this end and it is a great lesson to learn. Thanks again and God Bless you and yours

  75. i read somewhere that cap devil anse son had a store at glen alum on wharncliffe known as ben creek….and johnse wife nettie was from ben creek did her and johnse live on ben creek

    • Todd,
      I must digress with your comments in regards to Fathers sins not being yours etc etc. On both sides the Hatfields and The McCoys they believed what they were doing was the right thing to do on both sides. Sure people were killed and in their eyes rightfully so. The same could be said for men that have fought in combat against a enemy, they have nothing to be sorry for. What I am trying to convey is I believe most killed believing they were doing the right thing in regards to their family honor. Sure things went on that were wrong on both sides, and I am sure you understand this, or I hope you do. Different Era, different Justice back then , the law tended not to get involved to a degree. I am not criticizing your comment just making a clarification on what I believed happened as far as Family Honor gos. My Family did not arrive here till the 1800’s from Ireland, they left Ireland due to the tyranny and oppression they suffered under British Rule. They fought the Brits and I am sure they killed some rightfully so in their eyes. Randall McCoys Family arrived from ireland as well from the North from what I have read. I do not know if they were Scot-Irish, which is a good possibility but not for definite. The Brits Populated the North of Ireland with Scotts to breed out the Catholics. That is a fact. I dont know if this is the case in regards to the McCoys but a educated guess on my part. Hopefully a McCoy can chime in and let me know. God Bless.

  76. My maiden name is Hensley. How did Mary Hensley come about, if she was William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield’s Daughter?

    • She was born a Hatfield, and her first husband was George Hensley. She then became Mary Hensley because, back then, women did not retain their maiden name. They were not married long, but I am honestly unsure how the marriage ended. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

      • Nancy McCoy retained her last name. Is there any good website you can send me to, to prove marraiges and such, or good genealogy website’s of the Hatfield’s? Thanks, I appreciate it!!! ❤

  77. I appreciate your candor and insight into your family history. Most of my family is from WV as well, and I have found much amusement in some of your comments relating to people of the region as I can relate to much of it. I have many kin who live a very different way of life to this day, many in poverty, still in the mountains of WV.
    My question concerns the execution of the McCoy brothers…I was wondering if the details of the execution were ever discussed amongst the family, and if so how accurate or not the mini series portrayed it. It appeared to me that they crossed the tug into KY to carry out the execution, that Johnse purposefully missed, that Vance shot each brother again, and that Randolph and family were within earshot of the execution. I would be very interested to hear anything you may know about this. I have thus far been unable to locate anything on the internet, yet I suspect those details would be something relegated to oral history rather than record. Thank you again for your postings.

    • I doubt Johnse really missed, since he was actually the one who attacked Sally McCoy during the New Years raid, and not Jim Vance as shown in the miniseries. I suspect he just said that to the McCoys, since he did have a gift of gab and could talk his way out of most anything (which is how he had so many girlfriends too).

      I am not sure if Jim Vance shot them each again, but it would not surprise me if someone did that, to make sure they were dead and not still suffering. It was an execution in the minds of the Hatfields, after all, not murder, and certainly not torture.

      I hope beyond hope that Randall and Sally were not within earshot of their sons being executed. That is absolutely horrific beyond words, and as a parent, I cannot even imagine it. I had never heard that before, so I was in tears when I watched it on the miniseries.

      I honestly do not know if that is true or not, though. Hopefully one of the McCoys commenting here can enlighten us on that issue.

  78. Hi appalachian lady,
    I’ve been trying to figure out my genealogy.My dad says he has relative named Nancy Hatfield King and 2nd cousin Otis Butcher who states we are Hatfield relation.Do any of those names show up on you family?

    • Those names do not ring a bell, but my knowledge of the family is not perfect, either. Nancy is a common name in the Hatfield family though, so it is definitely worth checking into.

      You might want to try some of the genealogy websites, as well as the Hatfield DNA project website at ghat.com. Sorry I could not be of more help.

  79. I was born in W.V. My last name was Hensley. Devil Anse daughter is Mary Hensley-Simpkinks-Howe. How did the Hensley part come about?

    • Her first marriage was to a George Hensley. They were not married long, though, and I do not think they had any children (but that is off the top of my head, so I could be wrong about that). I am not exactly sure what happened with their marriage, whether she divorced or was widowed. Sorry I cannot be of more help.

      • You have sooo much to read. But, I just wanted to say Thank you! Because we were very confused about that and are trying to do some genealogy research…. =)

  80. Appalachian Lady, Hello!
    I just wanted to say Thank you for your blog. I have been keeping up with it since the show on the History Channel.
    I have aslo , like thousands of others have been reading everything I can find on the internet. I did run across a few pictures of Devil Anse house and family that I havent seen yet and thought you might wanted to see them also.

    Again Thanks for your blog, it has been most intresting.

    Here is the link. Pictures are at the bottom of the page.



  81. HI AppalachianLady. Thanks for sharing your story here on your blog on the real McCoys and Hatfields on the TV series. I do have some comments, since I watched the entire mini series this weekend. I hope you can help me out. First of all, thanks for sharing the truth about Johnse and Roseanna’s relationship–it’s more a lust/sex fest than for love. As for his with Nancy, I believe she used him for revenge purposes, which included money, since her father was killed by a Hatfield. I’ve read the previous comments yesterday about Nancy’s children. Correct me if I’m wrong. I remember a scene, when Cap interrupts Johnse and Nancy making love in his room. So a child could be conceived that way–maybe Ancie. As for with Phillips, I believe she made a baby before she married Frank, like when she tells him where to find Vance.

    I want to know, since the real Hatfields and McCoys didn’t want me to become notorious and famous, when they fueded, why they chose to do a classic Family Feud episode with the late Richard Dawson (since he passed away recently, when the Hatfields won? Just curious. In retrospect, I’m so glad there was a peace treaty between both families in 2003, even after post 9/11. I wonder if Anse, who wanted peace with Randall McCoy, right at the same time Ellison Mounts was hung, would smile about this–and Randall too.

    Any thoughts.

    • Hahahaha – I honestly have no idea why they agreed to appear on Family Feud, unless it was to show that they really are friends now, and they could do that by making light of the feud. However, I was not involved in that at all, so maybe some of the other Hatfields commenting here have some better insight on it.

      As for whether the patriarchs would smile about it, I would hope so.

  82. We’re watching the miniseris and i, too, am realizing how little I actually know about this from an historical viewpoint Am totally enjoying your posts–thank you so much for writing them and filling us in on the non-t.v. version of things.

  83. Appalachian Lady,
    Can you clear up for me why Anse was called Preacher Anse since you and others have stated that he was atheists untill he was in his 70`s? It is amazing to me that people lived that long in thoses days.

    Thank you!!!!

    • Holy smokes, Appalachian Lady you are famous in your own right and have quite a following! I think a book deal might be in your future or maybe some spots on talk shows! You need to get an agent, or something. : ) I am loving your accounts. You seriously should write a book at the very least so we can all learn some real true American history. Thank you, and thank you again for all the time you have put into this blog.

  84. This is so awesome that you are sharing the family stories with us to help us sort the truth from Hollywood!! This is amazing and are you writing a book or do you recomend a book that is the Real deal ?? Book of family stories ??

  85. I feel a little more information on my part may be relevant,
    When I was just a youngster age 4,5,6 I recall my grandfather talking of a Frank Phillips who was his father and had crossed the USA border into Canada just ahead of a posse of men and later took up residence in Canada.also this Frank Phillips was a drinker,ruffian,and a rough character as to wether this is a relation to Bad Frank or not I have no idea but have been trying for years to try to find roots to my family and am blocked here

  86. Thank you for answering my post, Appalachian Lady. I just wanted to share my thoughts and guesses.

  87. I have something I have been trying to research but just cannot find. What happen to all the 5000 acres and Hatfield Estate. He only died about 100 years ago so someone must have done something with the estate. Nothing was ever said what happen to the business and all.

  88. I have been enjoying the reading here. Thx for the blog and posts. I am a descendant from the first settlers in Virginia/West Virginia. I’m sure their paths crossed with the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. One thing I noticed is that you don’t want to mess with Mountain people. They can be the sweetest people, but can be mean as snakes and hold grudges. At any rate, I’m always offended by how West Virginia received the reputation of “inbreeding”. Most families of European descent inbreed, especially of noble blood. The entire European Royal family is “inbreed”. The Roosevelt’s were inbred; I think they were from NY. And needless to say, the Middle East is still practicing “inbreeding” by cousins marring cousins is preferred.

    I just want to say that inbreeding is not a West Virginia thing. Thx 🙂

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