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.

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading