The world famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud has created a lot of myths and legends....So much so that sometimes the actual history of the feud participants gets lost....
Lets have a little fun with an installment of Feud Trivia!
Did you know the world famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud was NOT caused over a pig, or a star crossed Romance???
Yes, because of television shows, bad books and folklore lots of people come to Hatfield-McCoy Country thinking the fued was caused over a lawsuit over a pig, or the waaay too similar to Shakespeare story of Johnse Hatfield and Rosanna McCoy and I have even heard people claim it was over a dispute over a fiddle. But the reality is far more grounded in the grim reality of the 1860s....
Was it caused by?
A. A Civil War assassination attempt on a general.
B. A lawsuit over timber rights.
C. A gun battle on election day.
Guess which one????
It was "A". Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy's brother were Confederate snipers who shot a Union General (William France) that Randall admired. Randall was so angry he never forgave Anse and blamed him for his brother being involved.
Randall apparently nursed this grudge for many years eventually leading to the lawsuit over the pig. Which he lost, leading to even greater animosity. Still later of course there was a fight on election day which lead to some "vigilante justice" which indeed did spark the actual interfamily violence of the feud.
BUT - it all began with the death of Gen. France, who was releiving his bladder ont he back porch of his cabin when shot by a Hatfield and a McCoy who were working together!
The lawsuit with Perry Cline came later, and set off a lot of the actual gunplay.
Cline was distantly related to Randall McCoy and used that animosity to his advantage.Cline had lost a timber rights lawsuit in court to Devil Anse, which got his goat, considering that Cline was an attorney and Anderson Hatfield was not. When Devil Anse proceeded to do well in the lumber trade, Perry Cline filed a lawsuit in court in Pike County, and he also got ahold of his political contacts in Frankfort and got warrants for the arrest of several Hatfield family members - as well as hired Bounty Hunters to go into West Virginia and bring them back. This was the actual peak of the feud.
Later, when Devil Anse agreed to give in to Cline's lawsuit, the Bounty Hunters were called off and the warrants for the Hatfields were dropped.
The election day shootout referred to was later still when Cap Hatfield got into a gun battle on election day. In those days, shootings between Union sympathizers - who were generally Republicans- and Confederate sympathizers- who were generally Democrats, were common. Right into the 1920s!
Cap Hatfield was one of the last of the old timey gunfighters,(very much like Wild Bill Hickock or Clay Allison) but few movies ever focused on him. He even lived in the West for awhile (peacefully under an assumed name) when he left WV following one shooting scrape.
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