Thanks for your questions about the Hatfields

Thanks for your interest in my posts about the Hatfield family, and our oral history of the circumstances surrounding the feud.  I am really very honored that you are taking such an interest in my family history, and since you took the time out of your day to ask questions, I believe that each of you deserve the respect of a real response, and not just a few words thrown onto the page.  Unfortunately, due to the number of comments and the fact that the circumstances surrounding the feud are so complex, it is taking a lot more time than I ever expected.  

However, I promise that I will indeed respond to each and every question to the best of my ability.  Just remember, I am answering from the perspective of what I was told by the Hatfields many years ago, so in some cases my friends the McCoys may disagree.  Of course, I welcome their responses as well.  🙂

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69 thoughts on “Thanks for your questions about the Hatfields

  1. This further informations was great. My wife and I knew very little about the Hatfields and McCoys Feud but we most definitely knew about them and their battles in general. Two questions we have. It seems many Hatfields and McCoys die/get murdered during the feud and that one huge range war. Not counting non family members, how many combined deaths due to the feud do you know there were in the total period of it? Also, was the account of the desertion of Devil from the Civil War true? The series makes it plainly clear and also seems to keep the McCoys bitter throughout the feud because of it. STan

    • I honestly could not tell you how many died, because I have read widely varying accounts, and numbers were really not discussed in the family. I would have to sit down and figure that out, because I never even really thought about it in terms of numbers before.

      It is pretty well accepted that Anse left early, but I am not sure that most accept that he deserted, given his extraordinary war record. That also was not discussed with me except in terms of him being a war hero, probably because the Hatfields do not care one way or the other if he deserted. My general sense, just knowing my family, is that they figured even if he deserted, he must have had a good reason for doing so. We are just not particularly judgmental on things of that nature, to be honest.

      For example, if a young family member even today goes into the military and is discharged only a year later for behavior of some type, we just kind of chuckle about it, because we expected it. Hatfields as a general rule are very hardheaded, we very much keep our own counsel, we will defend ourselves if challenged, and while those traits may lead to success in some fields, they do not mesh well with a military environment.

      However, now that I think about it, I bet that our laissez faire attitude on that subject was a big part of the reason why the desertion issue stuck in Randall’s craw so much. He outed Anse as a deserter, expecting that it would have an extremely negative effect on him, but discovered that no one really cared whether Anse deserted, and they still viewed him as a war hero. That had to have eaten at Randall given what he went through in the war, I am sure, but I am also sure that was never the intention.

      Very interesting, thanks for bringing that up.

      • Hey, welcome to your new full-time job, Appalachian Lady! *LOL* Seriously though, we’re deeply indebted to you for the time and care with which you’re taking to answer our questions. I just hope you didn’t have a whole lot of other things you needed to do this weekend! 😉

      • Hi Appalachian Lady I have bn talking with a young Mack McCoy (30) and he has a deal of inf. He is a Hatfield McCoy! I’m gonna type wut he just posted on his Facebook page.this is wut he posted I’m gonna use word for word…..” I was digging in my family History and found out My Granny Gertrude Louise Hatfield, Roscoe Lee Hatfield 1905-1981 was the of Anderson’s Hatfield 1877-1956 and Betty Varney 1882-1951, Anderson’s parents were Flyod Hatfield 1847-1926 and Esther Staton 1847-1940 Flyod was the son John Hatfield 1821-1880 and Isabella Vance 1810-1860 Flyod and Ephriam Hatfield were Brothers Ephriam was “Devil Anse” Father! So my Great,Great,Great,Great Grandpa Flyod was Devil Anse’s Uncle

        • Thanks! I have just made a new post here, asking for input from McCoys who might have some oral family history to share. Since you are Facebook friends with him, feel free to ask if he would be interested. 🙂

    • Posts. You have made this part of history even more real for all of us. Sometimes we forget what a hard life our ancestors indured and I think it is good for us to be reminded .

    • He was a grandson of Devil Anse (son of Cap), and I am pretty sure he wrote an autobiography of Devil Anse (published by his son) called Tale of the Devil. As I recall, it was a pretty interesting book.

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for the thoughtfulness you’ve displayed in addressing the questions by all of us whose interest in the feud has now hit a fever-pitch in the wake of the History Channel miniseries.

    Going in, despite the fact that my father’s entire family hails from Kentucky, I didn’t know much more than the average person about the historical particulars of the Hatfields & McCoys story, save for its unfortunate contemporary rendering by pop culture.

    So thank you again for your willingness to go this extra mile; we’re all the richer for it.

    Also, I had a late series of questions for you myself, that I inserted in the comments of your post (Hatfields & McCoys: A comparison with the oral family history) from Thursday. Please, if you would, add that to your docket of responses.

    Thanks again!

    • Thank you very much, and consider it done. I am trying to go through and answer questions one by one, but I will definitely answer all of them to the best of my ability. 🙂

  3. what happened to Randall McCoys younger childern after he had his wife commited ?

    • There is no record that Sarah was ever committed! I have never heard that before the movie and I have never found no records of that happening. They both moved into Pikeville town if you want to call it that and Randell ran a ferry for awhile and did several other odd jobs.

  4. Fascinating.
    Personally I have always wondered about the accuracy of the ‘Historical Dramas’ on T.V. Even when dealing with the History Channel, I wonder what they have embellished and what things they made more appealing to the T.V. audience. Having the opportunity to read your viewpoint and comments to the questions gives an insight that I think is often overlooked. I thank you for taking the time to not only give your personal history of the events, and personal photos, but to answer questions from us, the general public, as we seem to be enchanted with the chance to learn the inside story from someone such as yourself.
    My question: Did anyone from the History Channel contact you or any of your family with questions about your knowledge of events?
    Bob D.

    • That is a VERY good question! I was never contacted by anyone, but there are much better people to contact than me, LOL. So I am not sure if they contacted anyone, but I will see what I can find out 🙂

  5. I hope you can help me with something. My Mother came from a large family in Kentucky there were 10 children and only 2 are still living as we speak, One aunt in her 70’s and another in her 80’s. They both said the Hatfields are their cousins on my Grandpa’s side his name was Marion Earls. They speak of visiting an Aunt Sarry Hatfield and an Uncle Johnson or Johnse Hatfield they said they remember going to visit them at their house and that they lived right on the Ohio River their home was on stilts and they both smoked corn cob pipes. I’m trying to do some research and keep hitting dead-ends. Do you know if the names have been passed down through the generations or where i can search to find out more?? Thank you so much for your time, Jackie M

    • Hi, Jackie! The Ohio River and corncob pipe details sound very familiar. Did they live in the Huntington area, and what time period are we talking about? The well-known Johnse lived in the mid to late 1800s, obviously, but his given name was Johnson, and there were Hatfield descendants named after him.

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me, i called my aunt and she said it was near Aberdeen Ohio because she lived in Lawshe Ohio at the time and i also recall them talking about an Uncle Ezra Hatfield that would come visit them he had a handlebar moustache and always carried his spitoon. It would be around the 1940’s she said. Thanks for you help and time.Jackie

  6. I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog. As many others on here I was curious about the whole Roseanna/Johnse relationship, I am not a person who generally cries at movies, but I was boo hooing by the end of the mini-series and as weird as it sounds it makes me feel better to know that he was actually just more of a player than the movie put on. I was heartbroken at the idea of the star crossed lovers forbidden to see his child etc. I hope that you keep telling stories of the family on here. I LOVE history and Love hearing re-tellings of family tails. Still part of me wonders if he did love her in some way and just never got over her….with all the other marriages…..but that is something none of us will know I guess. Like I told my husband “leave it to a creepy, pedafile, cousin lawyer and a nasty old drunk uncle to cause all the problems they did”..

    • He was young and hormonal, but if he didn’t have real feelings for her, why would he have risked so much to spend time with her? And not just once, but several times.

      Sometimes people assume that if a man treats a woman poorly it means he doesn’t love her or was just using her. In my career I work with these types of men sometimes. They’ve done terrible things to women, but they did love some of them. In the way they knew how. Not to mention, people fall out of love. He was only 18. My guess, knowing 18 year old boys is that he loved her in the way 18 year old boys do. At least for a while 🙂

      • I agree with that maybe he just didn’t know how to really love someone, but we also have to remember that in that time period that 18 was considered a Grown man, not like in today’s standards where 18yrs old is just becoming a man and just beginning to be held accountable for their actions. In my heart of hearts I hope he really did care for her at least in some way, but it would explain a lot more of why they were forbidden and why they didn’t worry as much about the “skanky” Nancy. But, as I said before all of the people who knew the first hand of this story being Johnse and Roseanna are long gone, so we just don’t know…..

  7. The eye injury to Cap….was it accurate and was he as good a marksman as they protray him as being?

    • He actually was blinded in a percussion cap accident.

      Percussion caps are what they showed on the miniseries, where you put gunpowder on a surface, put a heavy piece of metal on it, then strike the metal with a sledgehammer and it causes an explosion.

      His eye did not look like that at all, though. After he was blinded, his eye looked normal but he had what we call wall-eye. That means when he focused, his good eye would look in one direction, and his bad eye would look somewhere else.

      He was a very good marksman, though. Most Hatfields are, it just runs in the family.

  8. The special on the research into the production is now at 4pm. On KET one of the professors at Pikeville College is said to have participated. Are you going to check it out?

  9. Hi Appalachian Lady –

    Thanks for all of your history and comments. No questions at this time, but as my wife and I sit and watch the miniseries after the documentary this afternoon, the thing that strikes us is how fact is actually more fascinating than the poetic license taken in the miniseries. Yes, we realize they are compressing a lot of years into six hours, but the truth of Johnse and Rosanna (?) explains more than spinning of the ‘love story’. The story of Nancy McCoy and Bad Frank Phillips could probably spurn it’s own movie!

    My wife’s family is also of Irish and Melungeon descent from the same KY/WV area – although there is no family lore of any relation to either the Hatfields or the McCoys, they were all timbermen and coal miners – no doubt her family worked for the Hatfields or timbered the same areas. Her grandmother’s maiden name was Cryan – another family name was Mick.

    Thank you for sharing your family stories!

    • Hi Chris,
      I read a very interesting article recently on Melungeons and where they come from. There was a comprehensive Dna study done where the Family line remained intact. I know previously that some folks believed that they may have come from Portugese settlers and or other explanations. The Dna study concluded that they were a mix of African Americans and others such as Irish Indentured servants . If you like post ur email and I will send you the article, it was a very interesting read to say the least. God Bless.

      • Thanks, Joe. She has already participated in two DNA studies with very interesting results. One of her relatives has written a good book on the history and lineage of Melungeons. ‘Melungeon’ is a pretty catch-all phrase as it refers to numerous groups of people who share similar backgrounds with ‘local’ lineage thrown in – her DNA results found Cherokee-identifying DNA traits as well. Even in the relatively-isolated, back-hills area of KY/VW, the Melungeons were not necessarily identified as a specific group, but were considered people of color, and therefore, lower class. Fascinating history, IMHO.

  10. Appalachian Lady,
    If I were you I would reach out to Family on Both sides in regards to starting a tour guide business. There will be people coming in droves down there. I am sure there are some in place but if you could start a joint venture with the McCoy clan you guys would make a healthy profit, as people would tend to flock to a tour where actual family members are involved. Picture if you had a Hatfield and a McCoy descendant giving tours together with their own points of view. Trust me the families could turn a healthy profit, and it would be a fitting end to the feud.(which I know ended but the Family in Heaven would be quite proud I would think) Just a FYI.

  11. Thanks for the info posted on your blog. I have enjoyed reading it!

    I have a question: Did Perry Cline really offer to marry Roseanna?

    • I am not sure about that, since I only have the Hatfield side. It would not surprise me, however, since that would put him in even better with Randall McCoy. He was quite a snake.

  12. I found this article and thought I would share: http://blueridgecountry.com/archive/hatfields-and-mccoys.html The article had some nice pictures also.

    Most of my adult life I had been told by my mom that her dad, who was born in Pike County in 1872 and later moved to Scioto County Ohio, had performed the funeral service for Devil Anse. Her father was a traveling preacher as well as a school teacher. I never really knew a lot about the feud, so was glad to have the opportunity to watch the mini-series which led me to search and find your blog.

    I have most of the cast straight in my mind except for Preacher Anse and Wall Hatfield. I know one was a brother and one was a cousin from what I have read here, but which was which? I know the mini-series combined the two into one, which is why I guess I am confused.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your family history with us. Like one other person said, I am spending more time here reading than I am on facebook!

  13. Pictured is Ock Damron as listed in the picture on the back row….do you know how he was kin or if he was kin to the Hatfields?

    • Ock Damron was employed by Devil Anse in his timber business, and was an extremely loyal Hatfield supporter. Like Selkirk McCoy, he was considered to be a Hatfield even though he was not a blood relation.

  14. Ms. Appalachian Lady wut is ur full name if u don’t mind me asking? Iv bn talking with Mack McCoy a McCoy Hatfield. He’s on my facebook page and has lots of info. I post on one of ur blogs just a few mins ago about wut he posted. If u have a facebookd page please let me kno so ic an friend request u. his facebook name is Mack McCoy you should look him up

    • I have gotten some threats on this blog from people claiming to be McCoys (but I know they are not McCoys, because McCoys do not act like that). For that reason, just in case the threats are real, I have decided not to release my identity. Sorry. 😦

  15. Appalachian Lady,

    I too would like to thank you for all of your amazing information. Being a History buff myself, I have really enjoyed all of the additional information that you have added. Your family history is so interesting. I have always been interested in this part of American history. Unfortunately it always seems like the facts are distorted to make for a more interesting story. Another thing that draws my attention to this feud is the fact that a lot of my ancestors came from Rainelle and Beckley West Virginia. I have never had the honor to meet my extended family still there and hope to change that in the near future.

    As a result of this miniseries on the History Channel, I have kind of started my own research on your family as well as the McCoy’s. I have some additional qestions to ask if you don’t mind. First, I kind of get the impression that the McCoys were pretty well off prior to the Civil War, is this true? I also am under the understanding that Anse was forced to sell off a lot of his land to defend his family members in court, is this true?

    I get the feeling that Anse and Randolph both regretted the feud. Did they ever have the chance to meet after the feud had cooled off? It seems that they had a relationship prior to the Civil War. I would think that there was a relaitonship between most of the family members as well even though they were from different states they were still part of the same community?

    Another thing that has always interested me are the relics that come from a major event in American history such as this feud. For example, my great, great, great uncle broght his rifle back with him from the Civil War and we still have it to this day. Does your family retain some of the fire arms from the feud?

    Thank you so much for your willingness to share your family experiences. I appreciate it so much!

    Thanks again,

    Mark from Indiana

    • The McCoys owned hundreds of acres, which they had inherited from Sally’s family (which was also Randall’s family, since she and Randall were first cousins). I cannot speak to whether they still have that land, or what happened to it, but maybe one of my McCoy friends who are commenting here can enlighten us on that issue.

      Anse did indeed sell off land, because much of his family moved to a neighboring county to put some distance between themselves and the McCoys and thus put the feud behind them, but there was still a lot of land left. Most of the remaining land was sold to coal companies back in the 1950s.

      Anse and Randall did have a relationship prior to the war, and as I understand it, they were good friends prior to Randall returning from the war. Pike County and Matewan are just a stone’s throw away, so it was indeed one community even though they were in separate states. To my knowledge, they did not meet after the feud, and that is understandable considering the tragic loss of younger family members, especially on the McCoy side. In all honesty, if I were a McCoy, I would not have met with Anse either.

      I know Anse regretted the feud, because he stated as much, and I suspect Randall did as well (but again, I would ask that my McCoy friends are far better qualified to answer that question). I actually think Anse regretted the feud even while it was going on, but was helpless to stop it if he also wanted to protect his family.

      Yes, there still are some firearms from the feud, including Anse’s personal sidearm. However, I cannot publicly state where they are located.

      Thanks for the questions!

      • All I know personally about the land in Pike is where Sarah and Randell’s children are buried across from where the house burnt down is owned by John Vance. There is currently a problem about getting back to those graves. if you go to this web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield%E2%80%93McCoy_feud…..go almost down to the bottom you will find this: In 2002, Bo and Ron McCoy brought a lawsuit to acquire access to the McCoy Cemetery which holds the graves of six family members, including five slain during the feud. The McCoys took on a private property owner, John Vance, who was restricting access to the cemetery. While the McCoys claimed victory in the suit, as of 2003 the cemetery was still not open to the general public.[25]. I find it very curious that the land is owned by a Vance. Not trying to start anything here but just interesting.

  16. I think Anse was a very smart man and knew to save his family he would have to leave the confed. army in a timely way. I wonder how much he knew the Bible. particularly the belief in kinsman redeemer. If one was a strict believer in the old testament a surviving brother would be required to avenge his murdered brother and that was an accepted principle in God’s and people’s eyes.

    • Interesting comment! Anse was indeed a very smart man. I am sure he had heard the Biblical stories of vengeance, and while it may have influenced him subconsciously, I doubt it had any direct influence on his actions. His actions in the feud were not about vengeance, you see, even in the case of the three McCoy boys he executed. It was all about eliminating the most serious threats to his family once and for all.

  17. Hello,
    My name is Kim Hatfield. My grandfather Curly Hatfield was born in Louisiana on the way to Texas. He was the youngest of the family. All of the records I had were lost when I lost my aunt. His father was Riley Hatfield. My grandfather was born in about 1902-1906 I think. I signed up for your e-mails. My grand parents actually went back to Virginia and visited devil Anse’s statue. I also have a photo of him not long before Anse died. I would love to hear back from you.

    • Very interesting! Are you aware of the Hatfield DNA project? It traces the various Hatfield lineages, and you can see information on the Hatfield family trees, including the DNA results, online via ghat.com. 🙂

  18. I simply want to add my thanks. Yours is the most interesting personal blog I have experienced. Of course, you benefit from having an absolutely fascinating family history to write about and you have a lucid writing style and a realy flair for story-telling — but in addition, I find appealing your open-minded, open-hearted discussion of some potentially rancorous topics. I have no connection to either family, have never even been to eastern Kentucky or West Virginia – but this online conversation has been fascinating. Thanks again.

  19. I just want to say again that this blog is soooooo addictive…LOL I catch myself coming back everyday several times a day and I’m now looking into my own family history.

  20. hi! i just recently found out that my great aunt was a mccoy. i’ve been searching the family tree sights but can’t seem to find anything on her. her name was jane windom and her parents were robert and vene mccoy. they were from west virginia. jane married my great uncle wip robinson III and they had one daughter named bliss. my great uncle wip was a very well known radio personality all over that part of the country. can you give me any advice on how to research this further?

    • I would check on ancestry.com. As for sites specific to the McCoy family (and there may be some, since there are some specific to the Hatfields) you might want to google mccoy family tree.

      Perhaps some of my McCoy friends commenting here will recognize those names, or be able to give you better advice. 🙂

  21. Watching the mini series on History has my family and I wanting to do a trip to West Virginia and Kentucky. One question I have is about Roseanne McKoy. How did Roseanne die? I know in the series it said that she was sick, but what disease did she have?

    • The Hatfields always said she “died of a broken heart”, but a McCoy family member left a comment here stating that she died of heart disease (I think that’s what they said).

      Please do come visit the area when you can, I think you’d truly enjoy it since you have an interest in history. 🙂

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