Hatfield-McCoy feud

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The Hatfield-McCoy Feud was a bloody conflict between two extended families that took place in a remote Appalachian valley between 1878 and 1891, in which more than a dozen people died. The names of the warring family clans Hatfield and McCoy literally stand for long-lasting hostility in the United States today .


The Hatfield Clan 1897
Scene of the feud: the valley of the Tug Fork

The feud took place in the valley of the Tug Fork River, which marks the border between the states of West Virginia and Kentucky . Both families were among the pioneers in the settlement of this area and had developed into widely ramified clans over time . The Hatfields settled to the right of the river in West Virginia, the McCoys to the left of it in Kentucky. Marriages were certainly made between the two families, even during the "hot" phase of the feud. When the conflict, which had probably been simmering since the Civil War escalated in 1878, the fate of the families was monitored by their patriarchs , Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy on the one hand, William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield on the other. The former had sixteen, the latter thirteen children, including nine male sons each.

The feud started with a pig that was roaming a pasture by Floyd Hatfield, which Randolph McCoy claimed had escaped from its sty. In court, Bill Staton, who was related to both clans, gave testimony in favor of the Hatfields. In June 1880 Staton was killed by the brothers Sam and Paris McCoy.

In the spring of that year, a short-lived romance between Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield led to further escalation. The two had amused themselves in the bushes on election day. Upon her return, Roseanna found that her brother Tolbert had gone home without her, so she spent the night at the Hatfield house and later fled to her aunt Betty McCoy out of fear of her father. In a later affair , the two lovers were surrounded by the McCoy brothers, who captured Johnse, presumably in order to murder him on occasion. Roseanna then rode on a borrowed horse to Devil Anse Hatfield, who intercepted the McCoys with his sons and freed Johnse. Johnse in turn left the pregnant Roseanna and instead married her cousin Nancy McCoy; Roseanna contracted measles and suffered a miscarriage.

In 1882 the feud reached another climax when Ellison Hatfield, a brother of the Devil Anse Hatfield, was brutally murdered by the three McCoy brothers Tolbert, Pharmer and Bud. In the Hatfields' campaign of revenge, the three were killed themselves soon afterwards. On New Year's Day 1888, the Hatfields raided the McCoy family home, burned it down, killing Alifair and Calvin McCoy. Seven Kentucky Hatfields were later sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Alifair, and another was sentenced to death and publicly hanged.

Between 1880 and 1891, more than a dozen people died in the conflict. The press reported the incidents across the nation. The governors of Kentucky and West Virginia were forced to send the National Guard to the Tug Fork Valley in order to restore internal peace - but these operations were quite partial and were initiated in part by the Hatfields and McCoys themselves. At the instigation of the clans, the governors put bounties on wanted Hatfields and McCoys; the valley was then inundated by professional bounty hunters . Even the Supreme Court dealt with the case at times. In 1891, the families reluctantly agreed to a ceasefire .

On July 14, 2003, the families - again - signed a truce in Pikeville , Kentucky, even though the conflict had ended a hundred years earlier.


In 2012, the events in the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys were processed on film. The director took Kevin Reynolds , in leading roles have included Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton to see. As early as 1923, the incidents were comedically processed in the Buster Keaton film Verflixte Gastfreundschaft . The Lucky Luke Band family war in Painful Gulch is based on the Hatfield-McCoy feud. In addition, the film Decision on the River was made in 1949 .

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