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.
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.
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.