“Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning”

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but our friend we were caring for (lung cancer) passed away, and to be completely honest, I just didn’t feel like writing on the blog until a very nice fella by the name of “Jim” left a comment, and asked me if I have a comment on the TV show “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning”.  As a matter of fact (as you all probably figured) I certainly do.  I originally wrote this about a week or so ago, but I just realized that for some reason it didn’t post, so here we go again…

First of all, let me point out once again that the Hatfields and McCoys are no longer feuding – far from it, in fact, no matter what anyone may say on this “reality” television show.  We get along just fine, and many Hatfields and McCoys are good friends.  No “reality” TV show is ever going to change that, no matter how much they try.  And boy, does that show try to give the impression that we’re still feuding.  In fact, they come right out and say that the Hatfields and McCoys have been “feuding for over 100 years”.  That is an out-and-out lie, and anybody with an internet connection knows it.  In real reality, the feud ended over 100 years ago.

Now, let me also point out that while there are still very real feuds in West Virginia, especially in the southern part of the state where the family clans live in close proximity, none of those feuds involve the Hatfields and McCoys.  Sure, sometimes Hatfields or McCoys might disagree, with each other or with another family, and they might even cuss each other or get into a fist fight, but that’s not a feud.  That’s an argument, or at worst, a fight.  A feud is a full-out armed war between families, and if our families were feuding, believe me, I’d definitely know about it.  So I can say for an absolute fact that there is no feuding going on between the two families, regardless of how many times this television show states otherwise.

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Hatfield/McCoy Feud

I finally (at long last) finished my post comparing the Hatfield/McCoy feud as I know it, having heard the oral family history, with the miniseries starring Kevin Costner.

It is significantly more detailed than the original relatively short post, and it also answers many questions which were asked repeatedly in comments on the prior posts about the feud.

If you have an interest in the subject matter, feel free to check it out here.

Hatfields & McCoys: Could genetics have contributed to the feud?

I ran across this article years ago, and thought those watching the Hatfields & McCoys may find it interesting.

The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited disease that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other “fight or flight” stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan’s notorious behavior.

You can read the article in its entirety at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-04-05-hatfield-mccloy-disease_N.htm

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.

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The true story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy

Roseanna McCoy

The story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy has been romanticized for years, and it is indeed a tragic love story akin to something Shakespeare might have devised.  However, the story as it is usually told is far from the truth, and since the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys is currently being aired on The History Channel and seems to be repeating those stories, now is as good a time as any to clear it up for those interested in the feud.

The story as it is usually told is that Johnse and Roseanna fell in love at first sight, and were kept apart by their families.

Bear in mind, I am descended from Devil Anse Hatfield.  I therefore heard various feud stories directly from elderly Hatfields many times while growing up, but the story of Johnse and Roseanna was never even once relayed to me as a love story.  This is not because they were painting Johnse in a better light, either – far from it, in fact.

I absolutely believe the story I have always been told, especially since it does not reflect at all well on Johnse.  As far as I am aware, the truth about the relationship between Johnse and Roseanna has never before been spoken outside the Hatfield family.

So what follows is the true story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, as it was told to me many times over many years, by several different elderly family members.  If you prefer to believe the oft-repeated love story between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, however, you probably want to stop reading now.

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Devil Annz? No, Devil Ants.

Dear Mr. Costner,

Thank you for making the documentary miniseries Hatfields & McCoys for The History Channel.  As a direct descendant of Devil Anse Hatfield, and as a fan of your work as an actor (I especially enjoyed A Perfect World), I am very pleased that you chose to make this film, and I am hoping it fulfills its promise of historical accuracy.

The reason I am writing is for the purposes of historical accuracy, in fact.  While watching the trailer for Hatfields & McCoys, I noticed that you are mispronouncing the name Devil Anse.  It is not pronounced Devil Annz.  It is pronounced Devil Ants.  His given first name was Anderson, so it was a play on that name, intended to be a reference to the oldtime name for fire ants.  Just as fire ants attack without mercy, so would Devil Anse during the Civil War.

My concern is this, simply stated.  Since you produced the series and play the part of Devil Anse, I fear that the mispronunciation is in the miniseries itself, and will annoy me to no end while I am watching it.  Worse, it will cause all of America (and eventually the world as well) to start mispronouncing his name, though no one mispronounced it before.

I sincerely hope that will not be the case.  While I realize that you may have made an assumption about the pronunciation based upon what you have heard elsewhere, you must always remember (if in fact you ever even knew) that people in these parts tok uh lil difernt.

(And I can write that completely without humor or insult, since I freely admit that I talk like that as well.)

At any rate, I look forward to watching.

UPDATE:  After watching the program, I am happy to note that my fears were unfounded.  Not only did they pronounce Devil Anse correctly, they also pronounced Randall correctly (it is pronounced as Ranol, and he was also called Ole Ranol).

Now if only all the characters spoke with an authentic accent for this region, that would be great, since it is hard for even us to understand some of them.  I can therefore only imagine how difficult they are for others to understand.

Devil Anse and Vigilantism in West Virginia [Television]

The History Channel will be airing a three-episode historical miniseries on the Hatfield/McCoy feud starting tonight, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.  I have a unique interest in the miniseries, since it is actually reenacting part of my family history.

As a direct descendant of Devil Anse Hatfield (my great-great-great grandfather), of course I have heard stories about the feud for my entire life. It will be especially interesting to see to what extent the miniseries corresponds with that oral family history.

My great-grandmother remembered Devil Anse fondly. She said that he had a great sense of humor and loved to play practical jokes, that he always had a twinkle in his eye, and that he absolutely doted on his children and grandchildren.  She also said that he was fiercely protective of his family, as history is very well aware.

She once told me that no one was surprised when Anse kidnapped the McCoy boys and ordered their execution after they murdered his brother Ellison, and that no one really cared that he did it because they considered it justice done. This does not surprise me at all, even today.

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