Hatfield McCoy Feud: What Was the Cause of the Hatfields and McCoys Feud?
All the Dirty Details About the Hatfield-McCoy Feud of the Late Nineteenth Century

All the Dirty Details About the Hatfield-McCoy Feud of the Late Nineteenth Century

Larry Holzwarth - April 23, 2019

All the Dirty Details About the Hatfield-McCoy Feud of the Late Nineteenth Century
Mark Twain was one of the first to satirize the feud nationally, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Wikimedia

19. The feud became a lynchpin of American culture

Throughout the twentieth century, the Hatfield and McCoy feud grew in legend. It became sensationalized in newspapers and magazines, fictionalized in periodicals and film, satirized in vaudeville, and trivialized in cartoons and comics. Portions of the feud were presented as romantic drama, as in the film Roseanna McCoy, released in 1949, which approached the feud from the perspective of star-crossed lovers of the Romeo and Juliet type. Mark Twain was one of the first to use the feud as a basis for one of his tales, describing the feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdson’s in his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Even Betty Boop appeared in the cartoon with a feud as a backdrop.

Abbott and Costello used the feud as a backdrop, though a highly fictionalized version, in their film Comin’ Round the Mountain in 1951. The Flintstones presented a version of the feud, featuring the Hatrocks and the Flintstones, in an episode entitled The Flintstones Hillbillies which originally aired in 1964. Some attempts have been made to present the feud accurately as a historical event, all of which have come under criticism from some quarters due to the variations in the records of the actual event, which were skewed by the viewpoints of the source information, with records coming from Kentucky favoring the McCoy family, and those from what is now Mingo County (formerly part of Logan County, West Virginia) tending to support the Hatfields.

All the Dirty Details About the Hatfield-McCoy Feud of the Late Nineteenth Century
The once bloody and violent feud has become a tourist attraction and cash cow in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and elsewhere in Appalachia. Wikimedia

20. The aftermath of the Hatfield and McCoy feud

By the end of the twentieth century, the Hatfield and McCoy feud was big business. It was referenced in popular music, featured in role-playing games, and video games presented scenarios which were based on extended clans engaging in a similar feud. In the region where the feud took place both West Virginia and Kentucky have established tourist attractions and celebrations which draw thousands of visitors to the area annually. Descendants of the feud’s participants even appeared on the television game show Family Feud, playing against each other in 1979, with part of the prizes going to the winners (the McCoys) being a pig.

The families, with the support of the governors of Kentucky and West Virginia, have declared the feud officially over. June 14 is recognized in both states as Hatfield-McCoy Reconciliation Day. During the annual fun held in the name of the feud, the graves of several of its victims can be viewed, including that of Uncle Jim Vance. Hatfields and McCoys remain a reference for enduring enmity in the American lexicon, despite the celebratory nature of much of the modern remembrances over the battle between and within families that led to multiple deaths, and nearly brought two states to armed conflict in the latter part of the 19th century.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Hatfields and McCoys”. Otis K. Rice. 1982

“Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance”. Lisa Alther. 2012

“The Hatfield and McCoy Feud after Kevin Costner: Rescuing History”. Tom Dotson. 2013

“Days of Darkness: The Feuds of Eastern Kentucky”. John Ed Pearce. 1994

“1882 One Hundred Years Ago”. James C. Simmons, American Heritage Magazine. August/September, 1982

“The Real Reason the Hatfields and McCoys Started Feuding”, By Stacy Conradt, Mental Floss, June 15, 2015

“Hatfield and McCoy: What you didn’t know about the real-life murderous families”, By Alaina O’Neal, The Smokies, Updated: 09/20/2020

“Johnse Hatfield: Ensnared and taken to Pike County”, By F. KEITH DAVIS For HD Media, Williamson Daily News, Sep 24, 2017

“Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1899”. Altina L. Waller. 1988

“What Was the Cause of the Hatfields’ and McCoys’ Feud?”, By Nadia Suleman, September 10, 2019. Time.com

“Simon Bolivar Buckner: Borderland Knight”. Arndt M. Stickles. 1940

“Frank and Nancy McCoy Phillips”. The Explore Kentucky History Team, Kentucky History. Online

“‘Bad Frank’ Phillips of Hatfield – McCoy Fame”. Phillips DNA News. July 2012

“The Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The True Story”. Dean King. 2014

“The True Story of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud”. L.D. Hatfield. Ravenio Books, 2015

“William Anderson ‘Devil Anse’ Hatfield”. Biography, Find a Grave. Online

“5 Things Hatfields and McCoys still feud over: Was ‘Crazy’ Jim Vance Crazy?” Tour Pike County. December 16, 2013. Online

“America is fascinated with ‘Hatfields and McCoys’ feud”. Associated Press, June 19, 2012

“Hatfield & McCoy – The Reunion They Said Would Never Happen”. Kimberly Powell, about.com. April 30, 2000. Online

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