Altina L. Waller: The Hatfield-McCoy Feud

Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900, by Altina Waller

We welcome a guest post from Altina L. Waller, author of Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900. The famous family feud was the subject of the recent History Channel miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys”. Waller was interviewed extensively for the accompanying documentary to the miniseries. We asked her what she thought of the dramatic portrayal, and this is her response.

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Almost twenty-five years ago I finished writing my book on the violent conflict in Appalachia that came to define feuds everywhere. After ten years of research I thought I had clearly laid out what happened and why, at least as far as the historical documents allowed. I tried to cut through the myths and legends associated with this iconic event and bring it into the realm of a documentable historical event. Somewhat self-satisfied I went on to other projects, gratified by many reviewers’ comments that the book actually did reveal social roots of the violence in understandable if not condonable conflict over land, timber rights, and a changing way of life. Alas, the latest incarnation of the famous feud as portrayed in the Kevin Costner-produced made-for-TV movie has brought me down to earth with a resounding thump, for here are the old myths and legends fully intact.

What caused the feud? Costner implies that it was the Civil War. Although he avoids the old myth that the McCoys were Unionists and the Hatfields Confederates, he tells us that Anse Hatfield and Randal McCoy fought together for the South, but when Anse decided to go home and deserted, Randal never forgave him. Home after the War, Randal still regarded Anse with suspicion and hatred, accusing a Hatfield cousin of stealing his hog and Anse himself of a lack of Christian behavior (not clear what that was). Soon, according to Costner, violence escalates way out of proportion to the original disagreement, lending credence to the myth of Appalachians being inherently violent. Even though Anse makes some attempts to stop it, the film gives the impression that the entire Hatfield clan was lined up on the West Virginia side of the river ready to annihilate all McCoys on the Kentucky side of the river. 

In the film, the term “blood lust” is employed to explain why the violence continued, the implication being that causes no longer mattered once the killing began. The movie takes on the Johnse Hatfield/Roseanna McCoy romance by casting it in the familiar Romeo and Juliette framework—star-crossed lovers—ignoring all evidence to the contrary. So despite the effort to make a modern version of the feud which tries to realistically re-create the mountain setting (even though it was filmed in Romania) and use real events, these are put together in such a way as to reinforce the old myths of a backward mountain people who instinctively turned to violence for little or no reason. Discouraging.

Despite the film’s attempt to incorporate real events, it falls very short of putting them together in even an approximation of known facts. Although most McCoys and Hatfields were confederates, there is no evidence that I have found which supports a contention that Randal McCoy hated Anse Hatfield because of desertion from the army. Even after Randal’s brother Harmon was killed by a confederate guerrilla group, there is no evidence to suggest that the feud began at that moment. His brother, after all, was a Union soldier and thus considered by just about everyone in the Tug Valley to be a traitor. Yet the film proceeds from this erroneous foundation to show total war between Hatfields and McCoys. It does not explain why there is absolutely no feud activity between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the traditional beginning of feud events in 1878, a long thirteen years later. 

At that point Randal accuses Floyd Hatfield, only a distant cousin of Anse’s, of stealing his hog. A trial was held. Here the movie is correct; a trial, not a shootout occurred! But the movie shows that Devil Anse’s older brother Valentine, or Wall, was the judge, so of course the Hatfields won. But this is incorrect. The judge was Preacher Anse Hatfield, who lived on the Kentucky side of the river and was related to and friends with Randal McCoy. And the juror who tipped the balance voting for Hatfield ownership of the pig was a McCoy, Selkirk McCoy! What this demonstrates is something that is not at all clear in the film, that there were McCoys supporting Anse Hatfield and Hatfields supporting Randal McCoy. That brings into question the entire premise of a family war.

The next event, the romance between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy is presented in a way to reinforce the family war theme when the reality undermines it. When Roseanna spends the night with Johnse, her father refuses to let her come home so she goes to live with Johnse in Devil Anse Hatfield’s home. Legend, reinforced in the film, says that Devil Anse let her live there but refused to allow them to marry. The film also portrays Johnse as a steadfast lover but in fact he began flirting with other women very soon after he and Roseanna began living together. Some evidence suggests that it was her decision to leave him even though she was pregnant. Soon thereafter, Johnse married Nancy McCoy, daughter of the traitor, Harmon McCoy. Devil Anse did not object to that marriage so it seems unlikely he would have objected to marriage between his son and Roseanna.

Some subsequent events are close to accurate. For example, the 1882 election day murder of Anse’s brother Ellison by three of Randal’s sons. Ellison was unarmed and actually trying to stop a fight when he was attacked by the three McCoy boys, stabbed multiple times, and then shot. Anse and Wall Hatfield then took the McCoys out of the custody of the Pike County Sheriff and crossed the river to West Virgina where they all waited to see whether or not Ellison would die of his wounds. When Ellison died, Anse and several followers killed the three McCoys execution style. These events are portrayed in lurid detail in all their brutality but no attempt is made to explain just why this next generation of young men were so out of control.

In the final episode of the film the last events are compressed together in such a way as to give the impression that all the battles and killings took place in rapid succession within days or weeks of each other in a blood bath that simply washed over the participants like a tidal wave. Only after the trial and hanging of one of Anse Hatfield’s nephews does Anse retreat, renounce violence, and eventually get himself baptized. At the end of the film, we are left with a tragedy allegedly set in motion by the Civil War but sustained by nothing more than ignorance, excessive family loyalty, and “blood lust,” resulting in completely unnecessary violence.

What is missing here is any social and economic context. True, the Civil War is the film’s encompassing social explanation, but it leaves me wondering why the set of social and economic circumstances that confronted folks in postwar Appalachia is completely ignored. In the Tug Valley, as in all Appalachia and even the entire South, economic decline was a serious threat to almost everyone. Agricultural families need lots of children to work the land and take care of household tasks; in this regard both Hatfield and McCoy families were typical in the large number of children—13 in both Randal’s family and Devil Anse’s family. As essential as children were, they also contributed to an economic crisis in a region where there was not enough land to support the burgeoning population. Statistics bear this out for the Tug Valley, where farm size was rapidly decreasing in the postwar years and many young men were unable to become independent farmers. Randal’s sons stayed home with him or worked as farm hands. Devil Anse’s sons worked on their father’s timber operation. In some ways this is a familiar pattern today with this lack of opportunity for young people, the fact that many cannot expect to do better economically than their parents. The problem of declining economic and social opportunity is more than just an economic issue; it fuels feelings of insecurity, frustration, and anger.

This background explains a lot about the feud. After the War, the United States went into rapid economic development mode that meant a huge demand for timber for building cities, houses, businesses. The Tug Valley, like most of Appalachia, had a lot of timber, but the land on which it stood had never had been highly valued because it wasn’t productive agricultural land. Almost overnight the demand for timber increased land values. Many small farmers attempted to take advantage of the market for timber. Randal McCoy worked with his father on a small timbering operation that ended badly because they did not own enough land. They made the mistake of cutting timber on someone else’s property. They were sued and not only lost everything, but the stress caused Randal’s parents to divorce. 

By contrast, Devil Anse started a very successful large timbering operation. He was able to do this because he discovered that his neighbor, Perry Cline (the slick mustached lawyer in the film) had cut timber on Hatfield land and sued him. As damages, the Court awarded Anse Hatfield 5,000 acres—all of Cline’s West Virginia land. Cline was forced to leave the Tug Valley. He went to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he became a druggist and a lawyer but, most significant for the future of the feud, made some important political connections. Cline’s hatred of Devil Anse only reinforced Randal’s obsessive resentment of Hatfield.

The so-called pig trial illustrates the connection between personal animosity and economic circumstances. Randal McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing his pig not because he was still angry about his brother’s death thirteen years before but because Floyd worked on Devil Anse’s timber crew. In fact, Floyd lived on the Kentucky side of the river and was related to the McCoys as much as to the Hatfields. What becomes very clear is that what, in Randal McCoy’s eyes, identified a member of the Hatfield group was not the Hatfield name but rather an affiliation with Devil Anse’s timber operation. Selkirk McCoy, the McCoy who voted against Randal in the pig trial, worked on Anse’s timber crew along with his two sons. Further, analysis of the 35-40 members of Anse’s work crew shows that many of them were not related to Devil Anse at all. What is significant is that Devil Anse was so successful that he was able to provide his partners and employees with economic rewards and social status that most Tug Valley farmers were actually losing. So the Hatfields were not a family group but rather an economic and social group that was defending its newly won prosperity. The inability of Randal to provide this kind of opportunity to his sons helps explain their drunken attack on the unarmed Ellison Hatfield. The economic crisis and declining opportunity in the Tug Valley and Appalachia created a situation ripe for resentment, aggression, and violence. Not old Civil War hatreds, not mountain culture, but very real economic and social threats created this conflict.

But it is also important to remember that not everyone, not even all Hatfields and McCoys, participated in the feud. There were only about 30 feudists on each side and many, many Hatfields and McCoys were horrified at the violence and tried to distance themselves from it. They, too, were feeling the effects of the economic crisis, but they did not resort to violence. This may have been why, after Devil Anse avenged the killing of his brother by executing the three McCoy boys, the feud went into remission. The state of Kentucky did indict Anse and several of his supporters but no attempt was made to extradite them to Kentucky; it seemed that local residents wanted to put the entire thing in the past. Many, after all, had witnessed the three McCoys attack and kill the unarmed Ellison and they hoped a rough kind of justice had been done. Five years passed with no further violent feud events.

But then, five years after the execution of the three McCoy boys, the feud was revived by Perry Cline. Cline, now an influential figure in Pikeville, used his influence to persuade the Governor of Kentucky to reissue indictments against the Hatfields and hired Frank Philips to lead a posse in order to capture Devil Anse and his supporters. This is what actually precipitated the most violent and notorious events of the feud. Private detectives flooded the valley to collect bounties by capturing or killing Hatfields, and the only pitched battle of the feud at Grapevine Creek took place. 

But the real question is how was Cline able to persuade the leaders of Pikeville and the Governor of the state to restart the feud? That is the crux of the matter. The film claims it was simply that Cline had the ear of the Governor who owed him a favor. But it is unbelievable that the Governor of Kentucky would restart a five year old violent conflict just to return a favor. So the crucial question is: What happened between the 1882 execution of the McCoy boys and 1887 when Cline managed to recast the feud into the Kentucky vs West Virginia feud?

What happened was that in the interim, politicians and businessmen in Kentucky learned that the Tug Valley, up until then considered the backwater of the state, contained valuable resources. A government commission reported that the region was rich in coal, another resource now in great demand by industrializing America, such great demand in fact, that the Norfolk & Western Railroad was proposing to build a railroad right smack through the Tug Valley. If timber had increased land values, the imminent building of a railroad made them instantly skyrocket. The mountain region of Kentucky had been a quaint backwater; now overnight it became Kentucky’s economic salvation. So Cline, harboring his own motives of revenge and hopes to get his land back, happened to be in the right place at the right time. He was able to convince the Governor that the barbaric Hatfields stood in the way of economic development. Only this potential economic bonanza can explain why the Governor would respond to Perry Cline’s rants against the Hatfields and his demands for revenge.

This second phase of the feud, the Cline-Hatfield phase, brought about the worst violence along with national notoriety. Eight of the desperate Hatfields attacked the McCoy cabin, killing two children. Both Governors authorized posses to do battle on the border and bounty hunters appeared in great numbers. Most of the initial newspaper reports came from Perry Cline, who was able to portray the Hatfields as the uncivilized barbarians. Yet, in the end, all mountaineers came to be tarred with that brush. The civilized capitalists who built railroads and coal mines were delighted to portray all mountaineers as ignorant, immoral, and violent, arguing that economic development—railroads and coal mines—would bring civilization to the region. What it did bring was more violence and more poverty.

Thus, the context that most helps to explain the feud is not the old rivalries of the Civil War but the agricultural crisis and rapid economic exploitation of the region occurring at exactly the same time as the events of the feud. That coincidence of timing alone suggests we take seriously the relationship between them.

Altina L. Waller is professor emerita of history at the University of Connecticut and author of Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900.

20 Comments

  1. Pingback: The History of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud | UNC Press Blog

  2. Pingback: Hatfield vs. McCoy -- the real story | Bookmarks

  3. I wacthed the Mini series. You right, the movies is very compusing. I read your article, and it gave me a clear view of the feud family. Thank you so much .

  4. I think the point of the mini-series was focusing on the brutality and stupidity of it all. The things I couldn’t believe actually happened were confirmed in this article. Analysis of the underlying reasons, I presume, was not the purpose of the film. Frankly, I think trying to weave in a political and social background would have taken too much time and explanation that would detract from the greater story of a bloody feud itself, regardless of the reasons.

    What we need now is the Ken Burns version! That would satisfy the appetite of us that want to dig deeper into the story after seeing the highlight reel. That would be the perfect place for the specific details.

  5. I think Costner did a masterful job in directing this mini series. Most was factual according to what I have read, although it was made for entertainment. I cant imagine two families hating each other the way the series was portrayed, but i guess it could happen. Back in the day the people of that region were not the sharpest klnives in the drawer.

  6. To comment on why Randall McCoys sons were so violent at the stabbing, alcohol probably didnt help, (I would have to question why each scene in the movie had someone drinking), props I guess, but after years of hearing your father blame someone else for his place in life not being to his liking, I guess these boys were shaped and molded in their fathers dislike, and willing to take it to the next step. I enjoyed reading the article that was written here, it makes sense to me.

    • Randolp’s sons being so violent… To begin, on election day Tolbert McCoy was owed money from Ellison Hatfields brother Bad Elias, Elias mad jokes of Tolbert while Tolbert gained the crowds attention as he was a good dancer. Upon Bad Lias making fun plus oweing Tolbert money. Tolbert and Elias got into an even matched and fair fist fight. Tolbert McCoy kicked his ass. THEN app. Big older brother app. 250 plus pounder Ellison decided he wanted a piece of Tolbert and grabbed Tolbert and was holding him down by his neck bending his neck to break it and with a good size was going to bash the young Toberts brains out. THEN Tolbert reached into his pocket and pulled a knife with a 2″ blade and started poking BIG Ellison. ” A 2″ blade was inefective on STOPPING such a Huge Bodied Man. THEN, Tolberts younger brother jumped in to help including a 12 year old. Ellison was shot with a gun by a brother of Tolbert McCoy to save brother Tolberts life. The death of Big Ellison Hatfield was a self defense situation. If Big Ellison had minded his own business other than his young brother Bad Elias busness there would not have been any deaths maybe. TWO SIDES TO THE STORY. My story is the true story. Hatfields leave out the first fight. Imagine fighting 2 fight without a break in between and the 2nd fight with a man 3 times your strength. Also imagine what you would do if you seen that your brother was about to be murderred and you were only a young boy. Most people would cowardly run and hide versus helping there brother in such a situation.

      The Real McCoy

      • Altina Waller’s book was one-sided (Hatfield). The McCoy side was poorly researched and she missed many important points. For instance: She depicted Ran’l as resentful of D. Anse because he had more land. The truth is easy to find in Pike Cty records of land grants obtained by Ran’l which show that he did, indeed, own a great deal of land. These grants are easily referenced on numerous internet sites. If she had researched McCoy genealogy records she would have also found that Perry Cline was not a distant cousin of Ran’l, but connected to the McCoys through marriage. He had 4 siblings who were married to McCoys (Martha, whose husband Harmon was murdered by Jim Vance and the Hatfields, William Trigg Cline married Margaret McCoy, Virginia Jane Cline married John McCoy, and Peter Cline married Elizabeth McCoy. All these families lived within a few miles of each other (see census records). D. Anse stole 5,000 acres of land from Perry Cline, a man half his age (for details about this land see: http://www.theclinefamilyassociation.com) The portrayal of Perry Cline as the villian in the miniseries, for the most part, was pure fabrication.
        In 1870 Ellison Hatfield, along with Riley Sansom, murdered a slave named Mose probably because he once belonged to Perry Cline. This same slave helped Martha McCoy drag the body of Harmon McCoy (my g. g. grandfather) off the mountain after he was killed by the Hatfields. I’ve heard the story of Mose since I was a child. Riley Sansom was later aquitted of this murder after Ellison and D. Anse testified that Mose was killed on the orders of a Confederate officer. Altina Waller did incluide this in her book saying, “Never mind that the war had been over for 5 years”.
        The sons of Harmon McCoy did not retaliate after the murder of their father because the oldest was only 12 in 1865 when he was killed, but they grew up consumed by hatred for Jim Vance and vowed to someday, “see him dead” (as told to my father, J McCoy by his grandfather, Larken McCoy).

        Altina Waller wrote an account of the feud from a purely sociological standpoint. In my opinion, her book lacks historical accuracy, and I feel she has little understanding of the people of central appalachia. With the exception of books written by Hatfields, Altina Waller’s book has been the most favorable depiction of the Hatfield clan thus far, which explains why it is readily accepted by most people in WVA (see Matewan, WVA tourism).
        Lastly, although she was a professor at WVA University, Morgantown is a long way from Mingo County.

        Dmcautry

  7. Historical Revisionism by the History Channel is typical. The problem is people believe it.

    What this scholarly article proves is that Costner’s Hollywood version (he directed it, but did not write the script) and their claimed attempt to be ‘historically accurate’ was at best very superficial (while WVU history professors, who deserve rebuke as such, eagerly gushed about and endorsed it) and far short of the underlying truth about the details behind the conflict and the characters of the men. As with the Civil War, men back in those days were very principled about the fights they picked which they believe had just cause. (The vigilante justice on the three McCoys exemplifies that, upon the death of the fatally wounded Hatfield).

    It is interesting in particular that this qualified historian on the subject gives historical witness to the fact that family lines were broken and for reasons beyond romance (again, just like the Civil War did). To believe that just family blood-lines or a mere pig was responsible for the feud is, as one might say, “just plain ignur’nt” (pfft–spit).

    It was Hollywood (as the industry proves) that wanted the arbitrary “blood lust”, which this article demolishes with hard evidence, to garner ratings and revenues instead of educating the audience. It worked. Hollywood excels at using blood lust and sex to peddle their wares to the public whose attitude seems to be, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. Just entertain me” (as they changed stations for once from WWF for a few nights). The History Channel should be ashamed.

    This article is worth reading to set the historical record straight. You would think in particular that descendants of both clans would desire a more accurate historical portrayal of their families and their characters and principles at stake, and the transgressions involved. That it was shot in Romania instead of Appalachia grates on us too.

    The bottom line is money, as usual, the producers, actors, directors, and even WV Tourism gains from this, while the Myth of “blood lust” is promoted and the Truth of History is sacrificed on the alter of Entertainment, again.

    • Well to insist on accuracy some 100 years after the facts is unrealistic to say the least. I was born and raised in West Virginia and I heard differing accounts of this feud most of my life. My great grandmother and grandfather were alive during this incident and even they had different memories of it. The thing about West Virginia is that they are not keen on talking to outsiders. Never have been and still are not. I have to prove that I am from there every time I go back. Once they know you are one of them, then you are okay. Incidentally the people involved in the feud were back woods farmers and did not have a lot of education so I am sure that they would also have different versions of the story. You understand that the Hatfield version will surely differ from the McCoys. It would be natural. The truth, as you call it, would be hard to come by no matter what.

  8. My wife and I watched this mini-series separately and came to the same conclusions:

    Perry Cline manipulated a past dislike between Randall and Anse in order to profit financially.

    Randall McCoy and his family were not as prosperous as the Hatfields in the post war economy and looked to fall further behind as the modern world came to the hills. This further fueled the resentment.

    Johnse was an immature womanizer and probably had little influence on the fued as his weaknesses were recognized by both sides.

    The political intrigue and involvement in such a rural conflict was evident even from the beginning and stretched from backwater magistrates all the way to the governors of both states. With Frank Phillips swooping in as an opportunist.

    I’d say the picture yielded an accurate representation of the overall story to the viewer even with the dramatized individual details. I was entertained and enjoyed it thoroughly.

  9. Pingback: Jon Hale: If the name is Hatfield or McCoy, there’s plenty to feud, but even more to truth | Our Town Square

  10. Altina waller’s book is a Southern Cofederate sided story. A Northern Union sided story or movie has never been done. The Hatfield McCoy series was Confederate sided way to much. A book has never been written by a McCoy Feudist. There was only one McCoy family that that did NOT side with Hatfields and that was the blood line of Daniel McCoy. Truda Williams McCoy wrote a book called McCoy’s THEIR STORY But Trudas forefathers fought in the feud for Hatfields. Asa Harmon McCoy death along with Devil Anse killing Asbury and his son Fleming when they deserted from the Union/Civil War and caught Devil Anse B.B.Q.ing there cow and Devil Anse killed both of them. Devil Anse was also accused of killing a close friend of Asa Harmon McCoy which was William Bill Francis. All of these killed married into the wealthy Cline land owners. Several other Union men from Peter Creek Ky. had to desert from the Union to come back home after Devil Anse deserted to try and prevent Devil Anse from taking there land, livestock and family’s lives. It is also to be noted that Perry Cline and Asa Harmons children were left as orphans and that Devil Anse was However became thye 1st caretaker of Perry as a child, 2nd caretaker of Perry Cline was his sister Martha Patty Cline and Asa Harmon McCoy and 3rd caretaker was John Dil’s Junior from Pikeville Ky which was also Union. Asa and Randolf chose different lives and lived in different states and neither deserted each other! They only chose different. Could we not also say without a reasonable doubt that Randolf deserted his brother Asa Harmon McCoy. Randolf and his family done nothing to help Asa’s Orphaned Children and wife after his murder. Perry Cline and Asa’s children Ally’s of the Real AND UNION McCoys however did help Randolf and his family after they grew up and in the later part of the feud. It is sorta like there were 2 feuds going on or you can look at it as Devil Anse Hatfield and his allies were trying to take everything the Clines and McCoys owned. However the truth to the beginning of The Real McCoy’s feuding with the Hatfields was due to the killing of Asa Harmon McCoy and his allies and close friends and family members such as Jeff and Bud and also for beating up on the women. It took Perry some growing up from an orphan to a lawyer to gain the power and experience to fight back and when he did get to that poit in liufe book arturs such as Altina Waller staes that phase was political which is rediculous of her to make such a statement although easy understood because her book is a Confederate/ Southern Studies as she staes on the cover of her book. Her and other Confederate book writters fail to stress the fact that Devil Anse’s involvement of the feud was political from the beginning to vertually the end or until Perry Cline grew up! Devil Anses brother Valentine was a judge and once was the president of the courts. If that aint poltical what is it called. Anse also had political power a few miles across the river in Ky but NOT so much in Union territory of Pikeville Ky where where they hung cotton top and sentenced several Hatfields to life in prison which was also when Devil Anse lost HIS political power and moved deep into Logan Wv and built a fort and kept it guarded withy men with rifles.

  11. Hi My Mom is 93 yrs old and is living in OREGON.. She is the Grandaughter of Sarah Mccoy. She has Old Orginal pictures of the mccoys and stories from her mother.. If interested in talking to her call 1~ 541 ~ 941 ~ 1828 also she has the Orignal braids of her mothers over 100 yrs old Signed G Grandaughter of Sarah wolford Mccoy… Pamela

  12. Thanks for the information of Sarah Wolford McCoy. I will do a geneaology search which may help me understand her side of the story!
    Altina stated in her book that My Great Great Grandfather Asa Harmon McCoy was a traitor which is NOT true. The traitors would have been Ole Randolf and Devil Anse Hatfield because the majority of Hatfields and McCoys fought for the North in the civil war including Preacher Anderson Hatfield. Each of there forefathers were also from Kentucky. All of Devil Anse’s forefathers and cousins were from Blackberry creek Kentucky including Big Ephriam the Eph of all and George and George Jr. Blackberry Creek Kentucky and Phelps Kentucky was PRO UNION which is what Pikeville was and was also the county seat. Ole Devil Anse was the deserter and Traitor of his family because Devil Anse moved to Beach Creek WV with his father Big Eaph and sided with the Confederates such is what Ole Randolf did as well although Ole Randolf moved to Hardy/Pond Creek KY after the civil war. Ole Randolf and Devil Anse killed a close friend to Asa Harmon McCoy. Asa Harmon was a great man and loyal to his immediate family and friends which were Union Men. Devil Anse’s family owned the East side of Grapevine and Perry Cline the West side. Perry Cline was app. 10 years old when Devil Anse stole the orphan Perry’s Property. Devil Anse did not legally own the Perry Cline property until 5 years later and Perry was app. 15 years old and yet an orphan. Altina accuses Perry Clines involvement of the feud as being political and thus overlooks the fact that Perry Cline was a kid. Altina evidently overlooked or was not aware of some of the feud related facts.

  13. Bad Lias was not Devil Anse & Ellison Hatfields brother. Good Lias was their brother. Bad Lias was a cousin.

  14. One can go on and on with opinions. So here is mine. I agree with Altina with most of what she writes. What she says is backed up is the records, not family stories. The problem with most books written are that they use newspaper accounts. As well did Altina, but not to the liking of Jones and Rice. And those are highly unreliable once read, as they are full of mistakes. Just as that of who killed Asa Harman McCoy. Asa’s wife said it “Rebels”, never names a sole, not a name, not a regiment. All in her own word per her pension. In fact, not mentioned by Altina Waller to her benefit, because she did not name anyone above. But most blame Jim Vance. This was added only after Frank Phillips murder Jim Vance without a warrant from WV Governor. Jim Vance lived as a neighbor to Asa, their children married. Elizabeth Vance to Jacob McCoy in the home of Jim Vance. Another child of Asa, Mary McCoy Daniels sold land to Jim Vance on a large note, Mary and Wm Daniels even defends Vance against Cline in a suit in court. People don’t research the facts and like to use those front porch tales to explain bad behavior. Bill Staton was having an affair with a Martha McCoy per Pike County Criminal Court records, and he let her face court alone alone, his killing may not have been from the feud, but another story to cover up bad behavior once again. I think most of what happened can be explained up until 1882 when the three McCoy boys stabbed a man 27 times. Following up with 3 McCoy boys being tried in the Hatfield court per-say, and sadly executed. Just not right, none the less. I enjoyed the movie and Altina Wallers book. Dean Kings book is full of the same tales as those of Rice and Jones.

    • Nice front porch story but apparently your story simply explains that you were a Hatfield ally prior to performing your basic research. lol Nice basic research but if you had been a Real McCoy ally or had not pre chosen sides you would have continued your research and would have learned that there were more to the story than 3 small McCoy Boys simply stabbing monster man Ellison Hatfield. You would have learned that Tolbert McCoy first whipped Elias Hatfield in a fair fight and that huge Ellison got pissed off, jumped on Talbert and in return the 3 McCoys did what it took to get Ellison off Tolbert’s back and to prevent Ellison from killing Tolbert. Would that not be considered self defense? Did you hear a front porch story or was it a court document that stated Martha said it a “Rebel”. My opinion of your statement outlined above is that you have mixed your opinion with someones front porch story in with possibly some very basic research that does not even pertain to the feud to try and bash McCoy’s. Frank Phillips may have murdered Jim Vance without permission from a West Virginia Governor lol Do you not realize that a feud was going on and neither did Devil Anse Hatfield get any permission from a Kentucky Governor to execute the 3 McCoy boys, Burn the McCoys home and kill the children in that house nor did Devil Anse get permission to steal Perry Clines property. If you would do some more research you will find a court document that proves Devil Anse stole the Cline property. It is sad and evil when people do there research by hand picking out documents to help them with favoritism and ignore the true facts.

  15. The only folks who know the true reasons behind the fued are long dead. Everything else is speculation. The mini-series was entertaining, as it should be.

  16. Altina Waller could have written the perfect book if she had not have been bias and if she had spent more time in the Kentucky court house as she spent in the West Virginia court house.. The first chapter of her book proves she was bias as she stated she spent the majority of her time in the Logan court house. She also stated in first chapter that some of the feudist she liked and some she disliked. The remaining 300 plus pages explains the ones she disliked which is McCoys. The back of her book simple explains that she was bias as well because her book was a Southern Studies/Confederate/Hatfield opinion. lol Due to Altina being bias prior to writing her book turned out as a book to simply bash McCoys and uplift and hide the cruel crimes committed by Hatfields

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