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Just Who Were the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s?

Jeff Dorsey

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the beginning of the feud between two families on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia. Those families were the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.

Whenever there is a dispute between two parties it is sometimes referred to as the “Hatfield’s and McCoy’s” going at it.  That’s a reference to the family feud between those two families in the 1800’s. The Hatfield’s of West Virginia were led by William Anderson “Devil Ande” Hatfield while the McCoy’s of Kentucky were under the leadership of Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy.

The first event in the decades-long feud was the 1865 murder of Randolph’s brother, Asa Harmon McCoy, by the Logan Wildcats, a local militia group that counted “Devil Anse” and other Hatfield’s among its members.

Relations between the two families continued to sour over the next decade before flaring again over a seemingly small matter. An apparent dispute developed over one hog. In 1878 Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield, a cousin of Devil Anse, of stealing one of his pigs, which was a valuable commodity in a very poor region of the country. This was one of many flare-ups between the two families.

The ferocity of the conflict is evidenced by the fact that approximately 100 men, women and children were either killed or wounded over several generations of conflict between the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.  As the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story!”


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