The Hatfield & McCoy Feud

Posted May 30, 2012 by Amanda | 9 Comments

Tonight, the History Channel airs part 3 of their record breaking miniseries, Hatsfields & McCoys. Have you been watching the series about the vicious and violent clash between the Hatfield and McCoy families? The bitter feud between the Hatfields, headed by Devil Anse Hatfield, and the McCoys, whose head patriarch was Randolph “Ole Ran” McCoy, has made a lasting impression in American folklore.

 The Hatfield Clan

The origins of the feud can be traced back to the murder of Harmon McCoy, who was killed on January 7, 1865. Jim Vance, uncle to Devil Anse Hatfield, despised Harmon for joining the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although Jim was suspected in Harmon’s murder, no one was ever brought to trial.

Randall McCoy

In 1878, the feud was brought into the courtroom over the ownership of a pig. Floyd Hatfield believed it belonged to him since the pig was on their land. However, Randolph McCoy stood firm that the pig belonged to him. The McCoys lost the case due to the testimony of Bill Staton, a relative of both families. A couple of years later, Bill was killed by two McCoy brothers, Sam and Paris, who were later acquitted.

The feud escalated after Roseanna McCoy began a relationship with Johnse Hatfield, Devil Anse’s son. She briefly left her family to live with the Hatfields, but returned soon afterwards. However, when the couple tried to resume their relationship, Johnse was captured by the McCoys. He was rescued by Devil Anse after being alerted by Roseanna. Johnse eventually abandoned a pregnant Roseanna and married her cousin Nancy McCoy in 1881.

In 1888, Ellison Hatfield, brother to Devil Anse, was killed by Randolph McCoy’s sons, Tolbert, Pharmer and Randolph “Bud” Jr. The McCoy brothers were then murdered in turn. The feud’s violence peaked with the 1888 New Years Night Massacre. Several members of the Hatfield gang opened fire on the McCoy home and set it ablaze. Two of McCoy’s children were murdered.

The families ultimately agreed to stop fighting in 1891, ending the vicious feud. Check out the Hatfield McCoy Feud project on Geni to learn more about the members of the feuding families, from their earliest known roots to their present day descendants. Are you related to the Hatfields or McCoys?

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View the Hatfield McCoy Feud Project


Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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  • Bailie staton

    Im related to bill staton:)

    • geniblog

      That’s great! How are you related?

  • 11nieber

    In Ewell Hatfield’s SAR application he shows Joseph Hatfield, b. 1740, as his ancestor and states that Joseph was an Indian fighter and spy during the American Revolution. Ewell was the son of Elliot Hatfield.

  • Wtmm

    I love the show and I favor the Hatfields!

  • Margaret

    I’m related to the Hatfields and the McCoy. My Great Grandma Ruth 5x”s Great Grandpa was Lee Hatfield I know he was a Doctor who was shot in the back.

  • DAR

    My fathers mothers surname was Cline. Her family as far as I know was from Rural Retreat Virginia She married a Richard G Love around 1916. I would like to know if they are related to the Hatfields and or McCoys

    • geniblog

      Hi! The best way to see if you’re related is to build your family tree on Geni . It’s fast, free and easy. Once you are connected to the World Family Tree, you can easily see how you’re related to the Hatfields, McCoys and over 70 million others connected to the tree.

  • Thomas Dotson

    The Hatfield-McCoy
    feud is a story that has become an industry.
    The participants in the industry, like their counterparts in other industries,
    seek growth. The growth needed to expand
    the revenue of the industry cannot occur unless the story itself grows. This
    growth is possible—and is occurring as I write–only because the feud is a story and not history.

    The “feud story,” like
    the Phillips posse, was “made in Pikeville.” With the exception of a few modern
    inventions, such as Dean King’s tale of a bounty hunter reading his rights to
    Devil Anse in the woods in Logan County, almost all the unsubstantiated tales
    of feud violence can be traced to the 1888 writings of big city newspaper

    It is noteworthy that none of the reporters attributes a
    single one of the stories to a person who was involved in the purported
    activities. None of the stories is attributed to a person who even lived in Tug
    Valley at the time. As it is not
    reasonable to believe that the reporters concocted the stories out of whole
    cloth, then the necessary conclusion is that they heard them from someone in
    Pikeville, or copied them from another reporter who heard them in Pikeville.

    Every feud writer since 1888, from Mutzenberg in 1899 to
    King in 2013 has had access to those 1888 newspaper articles. When you trace
    the citations in feud books back to the original source, you almost always end
    up with one of the reporters who wrote in 1888.

    Leave a message…

  • Randy Blair

    My fiancee is a descendant of Asa Harmon McCoy.