The true story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy

Roseanna McCoy

The story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy has been romanticized for years, and it is indeed a tragic love story akin to something Shakespeare might have devised.  However, the story as it is usually told is far from the truth, and since the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys is currently being aired on The History Channel and seems to be repeating those stories, now is as good a time as any to clear it up for those interested in the feud.

The story as it is usually told is that Johnse and Roseanna fell in love at first sight, and were kept apart by their families.

Bear in mind, I am descended from Devil Anse Hatfield.  I therefore heard various feud stories directly from elderly Hatfields many times while growing up, but the story of Johnse and Roseanna was never even once relayed to me as a love story.  This is not because they were painting Johnse in a better light, either – far from it, in fact.

I absolutely believe the story I have always been told, especially since it does not reflect at all well on Johnse.  As far as I am aware, the truth about the relationship between Johnse and Roseanna has never before been spoken outside the Hatfield family.

So what follows is the true story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, as it was told to me many times over many years, by several different elderly family members.  If you prefer to believe the oft-repeated love story between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, however, you probably want to stop reading now.

Johnse Hatfield

Johnse was what my family calls “a lover, not a fighter” – in other words, he was more interested in the pursuit of girls, than in anything else.  He was a huge flirt who had lots of girlfriends, and was not above lying to a girl so he could have his way with her.

Roseanna was a very good girl who had lived an extremely sheltered life, and who desperately yearned for love and affection.  She was thus very easily coerced into a sexual relationship through declarations of love, and promises of marriage, by the far more worldly Johnse.  When he told her that he loved her and swore he was going to marry her, though they barely knew one another, she never doubted him.

Johnse, on the other hand, was still seeing other girls the entire time he was seeing Roseanna.  The truth of the matter is that Johnse did not love Roseanna, and certainly had no intention of marrying her.  That had all just been a lie to get her to have sex with him.  However, he continued his lies, and even expanded upon them, just so he could continue his sexual relationship with her.

That of course is a story which plays out every single day all around the world, even today.  However, there were other aspects to the relationship, especially involving the families, which have also not been accurately portrayed.

The Hatfields were strongly opposed to a marriage between Johnse and Roseanna, even after she became pregnant.  Though Randall had by then already disowned his daughter, Devil Anse had daughters too, so he was well aware that Randall still loved Roseanna deeply, and had only disowned her due to the shame her actions brought upon their family.

Despite how the story is usually told, the feud had nothing to do with Anse’s opposition to the marriage.  At that point, Randall hated Anse with a passion, but Anse did not yet hate Randall.  Quite the contrary, in fact, since he felt sympathy for his old friend, up until the murder of his brother Ellison.  He believed that Randall had his spirit and mind broken by his experiences in the Civil War, but that he would eventually come to his senses and allow Anse to help him.

Anse’s opposition to the marriage therefore lay in the fact that he refused to defy (and thus disrespect) Randall with regard to his daughter.  Knowing that Randall would never approve of the marriage is the reason Anse refused to give the young couple his blessing, even after Roseanna became pregnant.

So while a shotgun wedding was the norm during that era when a girl became pregnant outside marriage (meaning that the boy was forced to marry at gunpoint, whether he wanted to marry the girl or not), the Hatfields were opposed to the marriage even when society expected it, and even though they themselves would have demanded it of Johnse, if the girl had been anyone but Randall McCoy’s daughter.

There was also very strong opposition to the marriage by Anse’s wife Vicey, though for different reasons, and she had far more influence in the family than most understand.  In my family, mothers are extremely doting on their sons and have extraordinarily close relationships with them, and they also rarely make demands upon their sons.  When they do make a demand, it is expected that the demand will be honored.  As a result the sons only rarely defy their mothers, even as adults, and especially when it comes to something as important as marriage.  So the women in the Hatfield family were far more powerful and influential within the family, and far more outspoken, than history makes it appear.

Vicey was certainly no exception.  She was a very strong woman, highly respected within the family and the community, and she had a very strong influence on both her husband and her sons, though she wisely used that influence judiciously (which only rendered her more powerful).

Vicey liked the young naive Roseanna, and felt protective of her.  Since she knew that Johnse was continuing to see other girls behind Roseanna’s back, she believed that a marriage between them was doomed to fail.  In that era, a failed marriage meant that the wife and children would suffer greatly, and could even starve without a man in the household to provide, especially without the financial support of their own family.  Furthermore, given that Roseanna was a McCoy, Vicey and Anse would be severely restricted in their ability to help them in the event the marriage failed, if in fact they would be allowed to help them at all.  Roseanna and her children would be completely at the mercy of the McCoy family, and thus become nothing but pawns in the sick game that her father was playing.

For those reasons, to protect the young naive Roseanna from making a terrible mistake by marrying Johnse, Vicey put her foot down about a marriage between them very early in the relationship.  Everyone knew that Johnse would not defy his mother, since he did not love the girl anyway, and never had any intention of actually marrying her.

It is true that the McCoy sons hated and repeatedly tried to kill Johnse.  However, they did that because common sense told them that he was having sex with their sister, and no other reason.  Even today in this region, having sex with a virginal girl can result in violence from the brothers, especially if the brothers believe their sister was coerced.  In this case, they were right to believe that, though of course no one in the Hatfield family (least of all Johnse) was going to admit it.

That is the reason why Devil Anse allowed the McCoy boys go free repeatedly, without even so much as a beating, even though they had repeatedly tried to kill his son.  Anse understood his son, you see.  He knew Johnse was doing Roseanna wrong, and that Johnse had sweet-talked Roseanna into having sex with him though he did not love her and had no intention of ever marrying her; and Anse was both ashamed and embarrassed by this behavior.

The truth is, Devil Anse would have reacted the same way as the McCoys, had it been his sister or daughter being treated like that, so he was not about to kill those boys for reacting in a way he considered understandable.  Instead he told Johnse that he was not to have anything else to do with Roseanna, because the McCoy brothers would kill him for it.

Still, the reality is that Anse would not have killed the McCoy boys even if they had killed Johnse, because Johnse had provoked them into that reaction by sleeping with their sister.  Anse only killed the McCoy boys when they slaughtered his brother Ellison in cold blood, without any provocation.

That reaction to the death of Ellison undoubtedly saved Johnse’s life, because his coercion of Roseanna into a sexual relationship had brought shame upon the McCoy family.  The McCoy boys were therefore not going to stop until Johnse was dead

The interesting thing about that situation is that Johnse’s relationship with Roseanna – and the inability of the McCoy boys to take revenge upon Johnse, due to repeated intervention by Devil Anse – was the underlying motive for the murder of Anse’s beloved brother Ellison.

Despite the betrayals and lies by Johnse, and despite the fact that he was only using her, Roseanna did indeed love Johnse, and the opposition of her family to the relationship – as well as the opportunity to marry into the loving and wealthy Hatfield family – only made her want him more.  Like naive young ladies everywhere, Roseanna equated sex with love and, thinking that her love would change his cheating ways, she fell deeply in love with Johnse despite being treated so badly by him.  When her relationship with Johnse ended and just months later he married her cousin (one of the girls he had been continuously seeing behind her back all along), she pined for him endlessly, not being able to accept that he had never loved her at all.

It is said that Roseanna never got over losing Johnse and their baby, and that she died of a broken heart shortly before her 30th birthday.

Given that there were no real medical records kept back then, we are not privy to the exact cause of Roseanna McCoy’s death. The oldtimers who told me the real story said that she committed suicide, since that is what “died of a broken heart” meant back then.

No matter what actually caused her death, the love story between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy is not a love story at all, except on her part, which only makes her death at such a young age even more tragic.

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280 thoughts on “The true story of Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy

    • Indeed. And neither, it seems, have the naive, deluded women who make it so easy for sleazy predators like Johnse.

    • I belive he loved her, he was just torn between her and his family……so sad. I belive that she was ill…maybe Tuberculosis.

    • Men haven’t changed since then… I knew nothing good was going on with Johnse… And that show on history made it seem like he loved her! What nerve… : (

    • I am related to both sides, Hatfield and McCoy. Devil Anse is my 3rd cousin many times removed, and McCoy 1st cousin many times removed. My mother’s grandmother was a McCoy and my father’s 2nd great grandmother a Hatfield.
      I have often heard both sides of the story and found the mini series entertaining at the very least, I thought that Kevin Costner did a great acting job, but just like you stated, the actors in the series were far “prettier” than in real life. My mother’s family always said the Hatfields were mean and horrible, and my father’s side said the mccoys were just stupid. LOL
      What I found most disappointing about the series was the fact that they made it seem that all the events happened one right after another and during a shorter time span than reality. There were also some events that were left out maybe for the sake of timing, and I felt like the final episode was disappointing because it was rushed.
      I also don’t remember anyone saying anything about both families gathering out in a field and shooting at one another like they were in their own civil war…maybe I just missed that story.

      • Sorry, I have to ask. If you are both Hatfield and McCoy, do you feud with yourself? (Just kidding, of course) ;-D

        There actually were a few battles like they were having their own Civil War, LOL, though I agree that it did not make much sense as presented in the movie. There was one battle called Devils Backbone, where the Hatfields climbed the mountain and were shooting from a crag, and the McCoys were trying to blow up the crag they were standing on.

    • What is this all about. Women have a lot of skill in munipulation which plays a factor always. and yes some guys are like that but thats no secret. you can’t know if someone was in love or just loved someone your not them. and futhermore what is al the hate for men. is this page written by a female Mcoy

    • I couldnt wait to watch this series mainly because of the historical nature I was very sad for Johnse and Rosanna especially when it showed him going to the grave of her and their daughter( I believe). I do feel bad for the families but more for the Hatfields a lot of people feel its wasn’t given its proper review. but from my understanding it all started when Hatfield left the war the way he did.(if that is the way it truly happened) but all in all it will be a memorable version Im looking forward to see more and locked on my DVR for as long as I can have it

    • I have a question regarding one incident in the miniseries and just wanted to know if anyone could answer. At one time in the final episode johnse hatfield was sitting in front of Anse Hatfield they were “fishing” and Johnse asked his father if he would f fallen in the river that day a long time ago would he have saved him or let him drown. But Anse got his gun out and was messing with it, almost like he was about to shoot Johnse in the back, but he ended up not. I just didn’t understand that because although Johnse was a disappointment to Anse, I can’t imagine him shooting a son who obviously loved him and tried to be a good son. I know the times were different, but did Anse really want to kill Johnse? It just seems so messed up.

      • I believe that was just completely made up to create drama for the show, to be honest. From what I know of the family back then, I cannot imagine Devil Anse would ever even think about killing Johnsie, no matter how mad he might get at him. (Of course, even if it did happen exactly as shown on the miniseries – which again, I don’t believe – no one can possibly know what Devil Anse was thinking, except Devil Anse.)

  1. Pingback: Hatfields & McCoys: A comparison with the oral family history « Appalachian Lady

  2. WoW!! very well put…after the Mini Series…I have been reading everything…I have tears for Rosanna right now how sad…no matter what year you live in on this world…when your heart is broken…life sucks!!

    • Me too i have been reading anything i can about this feud and this love story.
      I wish we knew more about it.

  3. i see the family viewpoint coming out here. if we keep in mind that there’s two sides to every story (especially when it comes to the hatfields and mccoys), I would like to hear the mccoy rebuttal.
    regards
    greg

    • I’m with you Greg…This story still seems a bit slanted….the blame for most the violence is shifted towards the McCoy family.

      • It doesn’t seem that slanted… The blame formost of the violence is not shifted twords either. It right down the center. He is just telling from the side of his family.
        Then again… Now that i think about it is seems slanted…

    • If you mean you’d like to hear the McCoy rebuttal concerning Anse’s and Vicey’s motives for keeping Johnse and Roseanna apart, so would I. But with that said, it seems unlikely that the McCoys would be in a positon to really *know* those motives.

    • Just to be completely clear, I am telling it only from the Hatfield viewpoint, since I heard the stories from elderly Hatfields. I am not saying it is completely correct, mind you, because of course there are two sides to every story, and any oral family history does change with retelling over the many years.

      So I, too, would love to see what the McCoys have to say, though I suspect they will agree with me on the Johnse and Roseanna situation since most McCoys I have known did agree that the typical tale is untrue, because Johnse just used Roseanna then threw her away.

      As for the other parts of my oral family history regarding the feud, which I have written elsewhere on this blog (also strictly from the Hatfield point of view), I suspect that the truth is, as usual, somewhere between the two sides. I therefore welcome input from McCoy descendants as to their oral family history, and perhaps we can figure some of it out once and for all. :-)

      I actually know many McCoy descendants, by the way, and they are all fine people who I am proud to call my friends. So the truth, though this may be disappointing to some, is that the Hatfields and McCoys get along great today. However, we do have a running joke about how we are supposed to feud, LOL.

      • You’ve given us all alot to ponder…and I thank you for that…and it would be interesting to say the least, if anyone on the other side of the story, would, or could, give more details, or at least their version, no matter what that may be…

      • Well said…especially how your families, now, get along and joke about the past. Just wish we could move past the slavery issue in the same way. Hate for folks to keep paying for a crime they are no longer a part of. The McCoy/Hatfields should serve as a model for forgiveness by EVERYONE…and let’s just move on.

      • I would only like to state that Appalachian Lady, I believe, is 99% correct in her reply to this comment. The only thing I disagree with is the fact that there are always *three* sides to every story. One side comes from one point of view from people involved, one from the other side of people involved and then somewhere down the middle lies what actually happened. I find that true in most all circumstances in present day life. But when it comes to Historical Facts I think it most probably even more so.

        Thank you for this site Appalachian Lady. After watching “fact based” programs I like to try to find out what is the truth, or as close to it as possible, and what is literary license.

      • Appalachian Lady, yours are the same stories I heard from my grandparents and great-grandparents growing up. I, too, only have the Hatfield side as we are related by marriage to them.

      • Thank you so much for sharing. :) I love history, and that’s what it is, History. Happy to hear, that you all are past something, that didn’t even have anything to do with you. :) We all have history, but not as big as yours, and, or as interesting. :) Thank you for setting somethings strait for me. I have always been interested in your family’s history and you have told it perfect. I’m totally sure the relationship was one way, like a lot of men and young women these days, but today it’s not even frond upon for a young lady or a young man to be suede, or a sawyer. No shame these days. I’m sure she had shame as well as a broken heart. Do you know a book that depicts an accurate history I could read about your family to learn more?
        Thank you again,
        Karen :)

        • There was a book published by Dr. Coleman Hatfield, and written by his father (by the same name) who was the son of Cap. It is called ‘The Tale of the Devil’, and it should be available for purchase online if you are interested. :-)

      • I’m glad you wrote this. And as far as the comments that this is slanted, you gave full disclosure of what side you’ve heard this from. I appreciate that you are sharing your family history as it was told to you, and would love to hear more stories. I find them interesting. Thanks for sharing!!

      • I really enjoyed reading the story that you shared. The tv series has helped us Americans to remember and appriciate our past. Also wanting to educate ourselves because I believe a lot of people have forgotten where we came from and that we should appriciate everything in the present. Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed feeling as though I was there with you listening to the elders share this information. I would like to hear more please =^_^=

      • I APPRECIATED YOUR VIEW THAT JOHNSE USED ROSEANNE . I AM HIS DESCENDANT , AND HAVE BEEN TOLD MY GREATGRANDMOTHER REBECCA SHOT HERSELF BECAUSE HE RAN AROUND ON HER . HE NEVER SEEMED TO QUIT USING WOMEN . IF HE HAD TRULY LOVED ROSEANNE , HE WOULD HAVE DEFIED HIS DAD AND GONE AWAY WITH HER . END OF STORY .

    • I totally agree Greg. I started out reading it, because, being from the area, I’ve always been interested in it. So when I see someone promising the “real story”, how could I not read it? As I read it, yes it does paint Johnse in a far more realistic and unflattering light, yet I did catch the nuances in the writing that showed bias, i.e. “sick game her father was playing”. One could argue that the New Year’s Day massacre wasn’t exactly the actions of mentally stable people. It’s great to write “real stories” but the writing should be unbiased in order to be credible.

      • I never said I was unbiased. Of course I am biased, LOL – you do realize we are talking about a feud in which multiple relatives were murdered in cold blood, right? If you were talking to a McCoy, they would be just as biased as me, if not more so since Devil Anse executed the McCoy boys. The truth is, we are all biased toward our own family. If we were not, there would never have been a feud in the first place, LOL.

        I am just writing the story as it was told to me many years ago by the Hatfield family, as I have made very clear. Other Hatfields have commented that they were told the exact same story, and as far as I am aware, I do not even know them.

        Either way, if you think it lacks credibility, then perhaps you should not be commenting here. I would hate to harm your credibility by some weird internet symbiosis, after all. :-)

    • One must wonder how Devil Anse got his nickname nice he was so conscientious (tic)! I think you may not be completely objective.

      • DEVIL ANSE GOT HIS NICKNAME BECAUSE HE WAS HUNTING A BEAR WHEN VERY YOUNG . HE WOULD NOT GIVE UP TIL HE KILLED HIM , AND ONCE HE KILLED HIM TOLD FAMILY HE COULD FIGHT THE DEVIL . HE ALSO KEPT PET BEARS AFTER THAT .

    • My father-in-law is a direct descendant of Bad Frank Phillips and Nancy McCoy. He says that he was shot by a hatfield, which eventually led to his leg being amputated. 12 days later he bled out and died. My father-in-laws grandfather (Jessie Phillips) watched through a window as his leg was being amputated.

  4. Another angle that you might consider is that it was considered normal for a family to send a woman pregnant out of wedlock or the resulting child to live with far-away relatives to “protect the family honor”. You might recall Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird, who was sent from Mississippi to Alabama during the summers. Because of the relative isolation of the area, with no inroads or railroads at the time, while Rosanna in the mini-series did go to live with an aunt, she did not have the option of maybe going to a more far away location than most girls did at that time, which would have allowed her some privacy and the ability to start life over somewhat. Sadly for her, she remained in the middle of the storm.

  5. Thanks for shedding light on the real truth. I would have been a beautiful love story, but I knew something wasn’t right when Johnse chooses not to marry Roseanna and ends up marrying Nancy. Still would like to know why? Wasn’t it more lust than love with Nancy too? Oh well, so much for the romantic loving Johnse in the movie, and hello to the reality of playboy Johnse. I still feel terrible for Roseanna and the suffering she had to endure with her broken heart and the loss of her baby. If her baby would have lived, it may have healed her broken heart.

  6. The only thing that seems wonky here in the retelling is that by not marrying pregnant Rosanna to their son, is that she had already been disowned by her family, so she had no where to turn but to them for help..and she was pregnant. It sure seems like she was left out in the cold from the get go, and it seems clear they did not spare her or her father’s supposedly precious pride any anguish at all. They made his daughter a pariah all the way around.

    • You are precisely right. The Hatfields turned their backs on Roseanna despite her pregnancy, which is not something my family would normally ever do. It is actually very common in my family for children to be raised by their grandparents, and for the family to take in needy relatives of every imaginable description, including the unwed mothers of future grandchildren. See, we would normally consider a girl like Roseanna to be kin, not only because she lived with the Hatfields for a time, which meant that she was accepted as one of their children; but also because she was carrying a Hatfield baby.

      No one disputed that Johnse was the father, since she was a good girl and not known to go with any other boys; so she and her infant should have been accepted into the family even without a marriage, and received the same help and protection as any other family member. That she did not receive that help and protection is a continuing source of shame for the Hatfield family, regardless of what the McCoys did or did not do.

      That this cruelty was ever even admitted, rather than kept hidden or a story told which reflected better upon the family, is what makes me believe the story as it was told to me is true.

      • Your family indeed took in a bastard child and it was portrayed in the TV movie. Ellison “cotton top” Mounts was called a bastard child in the film and Ellison Hatfield and Anse both declared their love for him.

    • My question is why was it “ok” for Johnse to marry Nancy but forbidden to marry Roseanna,even though she was with child. In the movie he said he wasn’t asking permission this time but, hey lived together in his cabin. Seems he could have done that with Roseanna too. The whole feud is just so sad. Two fine, honorable men whose families try to destroy eachother. Often times it seemed to be more the families then Randall and Anse themselves. I enjoyed the mini series very much and hope that it was as factual as possible. I read that they had some McCoys on set to help with accuracy while filming…..although the actors were waaaay better looking than the real people! No offense :) I have spent alot of time on the computer looking at all the information. You almost become obsessed with it. It’s so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  7. so what happened to Johnse? did he leave and go to Oregon? according to records he married several more times… but nothing about where he lived or ended up

    • At the end it said he moved to Oregon but ended up coming back and being arrested for the death of Alifair McCoy. He was serving time and ended up keeping the warden from being stabbed to death so his sentence was cut short and he was released where he married another 4 times.

    • From what I have read he did go to Oregon but upon his return was arrested and wound up in prison with a life sentence. However, he apparently prevented the warden of the prison from being knifed by another prisoner and was released after 10 years.

  8. My Aunt Mary’s was A Hatfield and in fact her and my Uncle now live down there in WV. This story is so sad and tragic, I feel for poor Roseanna, I would have probably died from a broken heart too, and to have Perry Cline chasing after her didn’t help matters much.

  9. I too have been sucking up all the info i could find since the mini series. My quest has landed me here now. I have found that this feud lasted almost 30 years which was not what I had expected at all. But where Appalachian Lady states that this here story is the first time it has been spoken outside the Hatfield family puzzles me. Somebody obviously has been talking because while the mini series took some liberties with the truth, there remains a lot of truth to the two of them.

  10. tootsie, from what I have read online about Johnse is that he was captured after about 10 years on the run in either KY or WV. He was sentenced to life in jail but served about 13 years and was released and lived another 11 years free before he died in 1922. Appalachian Lady can you help me out with this info please?

    • I DO NOT KNOW WHERE JOHNSE WAS CAPTURED , BUT HE SERVED PRISON TIME AND WAS RELEASED FOR WARNING THE WARDEN OF A PLOT AGAINST HIS LIFE . HE RETURNED HOME AND MARRIED 2-3 MORE TIMES.
      HE HAD A HEART ATTACK WHILE RIDING HIS HORSE HOME TO WHARNCLIFF , WV . THIS IS THE STORY , MY
      GRANDMOTHER HAZEL , HIS GRANDDAUGHTER , TOLD ME .

  11. http://books.google.com/books?id=eLkGAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA417&dq=Bill+Dempsey+killed+in+Hatfield-McCoy+Feud&hl=en&ei=cbGETaOTGcaY0QG2ouTWCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Bill%20Dempsey%20killed%20in%20Hatfield-McCoy%20Feud&f=false

    While scouring the net for info, I came upon this. It is an actual article from 1888. The story we are interested in starts on page 409. I invite all to read and then we can chat. Appalachian Lady let us know anything you can from this please.

    • WOW! Very interesting! One of the subplots/real life stories I find fascinating in all of this is the Nancy McCoy/Frank Phillips relationship. She bore him four children, so the letter writing didn’t seem a big issue if in fact was true…

    • WOW!!!! This claims Rosanna and Johnse had a son who was 8 years old!! WHAT?!?! There were jokes made about Johnse nearly shooting his own son in the New Year’s Day raid?!?! Please Hatfield or McCoy, tell us this is nonsense!!!

      Thanks BSA for posting this link. That is a very intriguing account.

      Thank you Appalachian Lady for the blog. Being as you are family it’s so nice to get that perspective. This story seems to maybe confirm your account that Anse may not have know of the New Year’s Day attack on the McCoy home. So, how do you figure that could be?!? For a man who was considered so smart and so well connected how could this get past him?

      McCoy family, please continue to share your perspective also!!

  12. I wonder if Roseanna’s broken heart had more to do with her father continuing to reject her. Even if Johnse did hurt her, she was still young and should have been able to recover and move on as she matured, as most people do.

  13. yes, they said in the series that Johnse came back from Oregon and was sentenced to go to prison. While he was in prison he prevented the warden from being hurt in an attack, and he was released from prison. He married 3 more times after his marriage to Nancy McCoy. It seems like he could not be faithful to any woman, and left Nancy for another woman.

    But did he continue his career as a bootlegger in West Virginia then? Was he a good father to all his children, or did he leave them in his parent’s care? Also, do you know if it was true that Anse wanted to kill Johnse when they went on that fishing trip (and Johnse had told Nancy where Cap and Uncle Jim were). How did Cap avoid prison, after all he was there during that New Year’s Day raid on the McCoy home.

    I’m finding your family’s oral history must enlightening!

    • The Hatfields were involved in bootlegging pretty heavily, so I think Johnse probably returned to bootlegging.

      I honestly am not sure whether he was a good father, or whether he left his children with his parents. I do not recall that ever being discussed.

      Everything Anse did was for his family, so I do not believe he wanted to kill Johnse.

      Cap avoided prison by escaping from the Mingo County (WV) jail, by chopping his way out with a hatchet smuggled into the jail. He just managed to not be captured, and eventually a general pardon for feud participants was issued.

  14. This is a tragic story and I know the truth lies somewhere in the middle. So much can be learned from the history of the Hatfields and McCoys at so many levels. I have learned a lot and thank you for your blog regarding the true story of Roseanna and Johnse. It is apparant that both families suffered greatly as a result of this feud, and so much learned by descendants from each family about redemption.

  15. where can i find out information on johnse other wifes and about his childs name and birth info, also im wondering about ellison mounts which was hung to death on feb 18 1890 even thou randalmccoy went into the jail and tried to get them to let elison go because he was innocent/aka-cotton top/ why was he a mounts if he was ellison hatfields son shouldent it be a hatfield, anyone know where i can find death certificates for william anderson ” devil anse” hatfield family on all his 13 children ,i have there names but nothning more, my poppie is a hatfield and grandmother is a mccoy from beach creek in mingo county wv.
    any help is appericiated.
    thanks AJ

    • Sorry for the lateness of my response, as I just explained to someone else, I am pretty new to blogging and was accidentally responding to questions in reverse chronological order. :-(

      Johnse was married four times, to Nancy (2 children, Ansie and Stella), Rebecca (1 child, Moss), Roxie and Nettie. You can probably find their birth and death dates on the master index at ghat.com.

      Ellison Mounts was a Mounts rather than a Hatfield because he was born out of wedlock. Of course, he was accepted as a Hatfield, regardless of his last name.

      I am not sure where you can find death certificates for all of them, or even if they are online. However, if you have kin from Mingo County with those names, they are likely related in some way. You might want to check on the Hatfield master index at ghat.com for the name of your poppie, it may be on there as an established relation. :-)

      • If anyone is interested in seeing the graves who can not actually go to them, and a few of the pages have pictures of some of them. Go to Findagrave.com and type in Devil Anse’s info or McCoy’s they will have links to pages of other members of each family the website is free.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed your article; thank you for making the clarification. To be honest, I saw the truth (as you tell it, and I believe every word you said) in the miniseries. Johnse was never really committed to Roseanna, as proven by his marriage to Nancy…..I think that the performances were pretty close to what really happened, now that I’ve seen all 3 parts of the miniseries, as well as having read your article. Thank you again. :)

  17. Poor Roseanna. Looking at her pic I think she was beautiful, but very sad. My family came from the backwoods of Tennessee so I fully understand how these families work.

  18. Thank you for writing this story. I was thinking last night, while watching the mini-series, I bet this aint the way it reallyhappened! Lol! I think they attempted to soften the blow of such a heart-breaking history. I feel so badly for the McCoy family. It seemed no justice was ever done for them. I guess only God knows.

  19. Maybe not. If she was sheltered all her life, she may not have been able to recover. And remember,not only was she disowned from her family, she lost her baby and her cousin married the man she loved. I think it is very sad…

  20. It’s pretty clear that Johnse was a womanizer. The fact that he was married 4 more times after Nancy pretty much speaks for itself. And Roseanna knew this about him. She told Johnse that she knew he had many girlfriends and told them all that they were the most beautiful sight in West Virginia. Despite knowing this, she connected sex with love, like many other women do, and even if she was older that Johnse, he was her first, and seems only love. And tootie, in the finale they said Johnse went to Oregon, returned to West Virginia and went to jail for life for the attack on the McCoy home. He recieved a pardon after he saved the Warden from being stabbed.

  21. i watched the mini-series, and it seemed 2 me, that the hatfields had the advantage, mccoys were out numbered, i was intrigued[fascinated], i knew the story, but it was a tragic, oh well, all is fair in luv and war!

  22. oh yea, and johnse, was my main man, i was pullin 4 him, not 2 get killed!……………he aint want all that blood shed, and did devil[his dad], really wanted 2 kill him, 4 telling his wife, where that other hatfield, was hiding out at?………..dam, he really was a devil than!

    • Anse never wanted to kill Johnse, as he was not only very devoted to his children, everything he did was intended to protect them. You seem to have forgotten that his father saved him from the very same McCoys who killed several Hatfields, and that is actually documented.

      That scene about his father wanting to kill him was just nonsense added to the movie for dramatic effect.

  23. I LOVED THE MOVIE BUT AM SURE IT WAS ALOT DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE…. I DO HAVE TO SAY I’M GLAD I WASNT A HATFIELD OR A MCCOY BACK THEN… GLAD THE FEUD GOT OVEF WITH AND YALL GET ALONG…

  24. yes, I too would like to know what happened to Johnse afterwards as far as where he moved to and what he did with his life and the other women he married. Did he have children and what were they like? I want to know “the rest of the story” I guess you could say. I am also curious as to what became of Nancy after she and Johnse broke up.

    • As far as I am aware, Johnse did not go anywhere. He was married four times. His wives were Nancy (2 children, Ansie and Stella), Rebecca (1 child, Moss/Mass, not sure of name), Roxie and Jannette. Bear in mind, I am not sure if those were all legal marriages, or if he just said he was married to the last two He died in his 60s, I think, and is buried out in the Hatfield family cemetery.

      As for what his kids were like, I could not really say. That was long before my time, and while their names came up over the years, not much was said about them. I think Ansie was in the military and died fairly young, Stella died as a teenager, I think from tuberculosis, and I am not sure about Moss/Mass but I do not think he lived to be old either.

      Nancy married and had kids with Johnse, obviously, and she did later marry Bad Frank and had four kids with him. She died pretty young, before her 40th birthday I think, but I am not sure what happened to her.

      • My grandmother was Johnse’s daughter by Rebecca Browning. Her name was Midgie McCarthy Hatfield and she was born January 24, 1892. Her mother died when she was 4 years old and she went to live with Devil Anse and Levicy until she was 10 years old. She then lived with Dr Elliott Hatfield and his wife Margaret until 1911 when she married. She had a sister, Levicy, who may have been a year or so younger.

      • I AM REPLYING TO PATTY JOHNSTON ‘S COMMENT . JOHNSE’S DAUGHTER LEVICY IS MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER . I HAVE BEEN TOLD HER MOTHER WAS REBECCA. REBECCA KILLED HERSELF WHEN SHE DISCOVERED JOHNSE WAS BE UNFAITHFUL . THEY HAD A DAUGHTER MIDGE , LEVICY AND A SON MOSS . LEVICY LIVED WITH ANSE .
        SHE MARRIED JIM FIELDS AND THEY HAD A DAUGHTER HAZEL WHO MARRIED TONY BROWNING AND THEY HAD A SON ROSCOE BROWNING , MY DAD . HE INVENDTED THE DUST COLLECTOR USED TO HELP , OBVIOUSLY , COLLECT DUST IN THE COAL MINES . I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY INFO FROM ANYONE RELATED . SEND TO MMADHOLLEY@YAHOO.COM

    • She and Johnse had two children, then they divorced. She married Bad Frank Phillips years later, and they had (I think) four children. She died before the age of 40, when some of her children were still very young. I am not sure what caused her death, sorry I cannot answer that part.

      • Found new infomation. Nancy McCoy Hatfield and Bad Frank Phillips had 2 children together, a boy named Jessie J. and a girl named Golda. The 4 children probably came up as he was the stepfather to the 1st 2 children she had with Johnse. I got the link. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mccoy-572

      • Dismiss the link. I found other websites that claimed that Bad Frank and Nancy had 9 kids, and the 4 that has been previously mentioned. Don’t know which is more accurate, though all seem to confirm the 2 kids she had with Johnse.

      • I have the info on Bad Frank Phillips, as he is my Great Great Grandpa (and great great uncle) :) He had 4 wives : He married Matilda J Phillips (no kids); Mary Francis Rowe: 5 kids, john, elizabeth (my great grandmother), franklin, pearlie, and roy; Nancy McCoy: 4 kids, elsie, jessie james, flora, and goldy; Eva McCoy: 1 child, Robert Lee. So as it showed in the minseries, he did not die right away because he remarried again and had more children. All my info says, is he died July 12th 1898 in Pike County.

  25. I’ve watched the mini series and before that I read up a bit. The two people who I really could compare were Nancy McCoy (I did not like her) and “Cap” Hatfield. I was very happy to find that Cap became a lawyer? I think that is what happened. And Nancy who died after marrying a guy that was nicknamed “Bad.”
    I mean, WOW.

  26. Like alot of people I have spent the last few nights looking up the Hatfield-McCoy fued on the intrnet, wanting to get to really know these families. The emotional, spiritual, and physical pain and suffering by both families had to have been so intense!!! I feel so sad for Roseanne and the shame that the Hatfield decendants still carry for not giving her aide. If the miniseries was accurate, there were many pawns being played by men/women with their own aganda…..Lawyer Cline used Randall McCoy’s anger and sense of justice for political gain, Jim Hatfield stirred Devil Anse indignation, Roseanne’s cousin used both Johnse Hatfield and Bad Frank Phillips for revenge of her own. Thank you for your words StoryLady. Your family’s heartache is part of the history of our country.

  27. The story you tell is very much as it was depicted in the movie. It appears they did alot of research and must have had many consultants, like yourself, to weave the story, of course with some creative license. At the end of movie, it said Johnse moved away, and upon returning, was sentenced to life in prison like the others, but was pardoned for saving the wardon’s life. Not sure how many years he was in prison, but he died the year after his father, 1922, at age 60. By the way, he did not look like the actor in movie…………Sorry ladies.

    Sidenote-Prior to this movie, I had done some family research. My father being from SW West Virginia, I had stumbled onto a book of the 45th Virginia Battalion, and a roster that shows my G-G-Grandfather served with both Devil Anse and Randall McCoy in the same Confederate battalion during the Civil War. Battalion was formed in that Appalachian region in support of the southern war effort. Many soldiers did like Anse did, deserted the army to go home, mostly because in the border states like WV (though officially a union state) and KY (and Missouri), neighboring people might have supported different sides in the war, and hostilities abounded including many opportunists surfacing, like the lawyer and bad Frank in the movie. Many local “Homeguards” were formed to protect their families and their political alliances, but as turbulent as times were, came terror and skirmishes with the opposite side in those communities, caught in the middle were the helpless families whose patriarchs were off at war. Many soldiers, upon finding out about the unrest at home, would choose to abandon the war effort and return to their families.

    • That is absolutely fascinating information about Civil War deserters – thanks for your comment!

      Yes, Johnse went to prison for about 13 years before he was pardoned. I seem to recall that it was the Lt. Governor that he saved?

      And you are right, he looked absolutely nothing like the actor who played him in the movie, LOL

    • That comment made me laugh about Johnse not looking like the actor in the movie…sorry ladies! That guy was a cutie!

  28. My husband is a McCoy but not sure if he is any relations to the McCoy Family. I watched the mini series on the History Channel. It was disturbing to me how lives were taking because of 2 men having there differences with each other (Randell and Anderson) I was bothered by how the families wanted to continue the feud the Hatfield side and the McCoy. I am interested in seeing if my husband is related to any of the McCoy’s do you know where I can find more info to help me. I am so glad the the later generation of both families have matured and came together to stop all the rumors of the families still feuding. I believe there will always be people including myself that are fascinated with The Hatfield and McCoy’s. It was nice to read your story and it not being one sided. thank you

    • Yes, the Hatfields and McCoys get along great now, and have for a long time. I actually have many friends who are McCoys, and we tease each other about how we are supposed to be feuding rather than getting along, LOL.

      I would suggest that you check the various genealogy websites, because you can trace his family line very easily that way.

      If his McCoys are from that area, though, they are probably related in some way. :-)

    • I don’t think it was a matter of them not being grown up. I think that over the years, things happened that just grew out of control and both Randall and Anse seemed to have a huge amount of family honor. I’m not from that region, nor are my ancestors. However, Randall and Anse didn’t seem to me to be just a couple of hillbillies who wanted to fight and kill. It all seemed to have to do with honor. The things they fought about then may seem trivial to us now but back then, anywhere, those things were hugely important. Just an obversation from a Coloradoan!

  29. i read this story and have never heard it quite this way. but that doesn’t mean anything though my family and the hatfields tie in way before the feud and since distancted themselves. by that fact i am related to the McCoys only by marriage through the jackson line, again before the fued.

    but my reply to this is simply becasue teh story you just told here is pretty much exact to the way the history channle tells it in it’s 2012 miniseries. i just watched the show and read this right after and the story of these two acording to you is the same as acording to the history channle.

  30. thanks for the info , I found this very interesting. I always enjoy reading about infamous incidents in history.

  31. I looked up information on what happened to Johnse, but don’t know how correct it is. Supposedly, he came back to the Tug River area about ten years after the hanging of Ellison Mounts. At that time, Johnse was arrested and convicted for the murder of Alifair McCoy during the New Years Massacre at the McCoy cabin, and went to prison for life. He was pardoned after 13 years because he saved the warden from a knife attack. He died in 1922, and is buried in the Hatfield family cemetery – there is a monument there. The information about his arrest and conviction came from newspaper transcriptions from a West Virginia newspaper and the New York Times of the period.

    • Johnse did go to to prison about ten years after Cotton was hanged, and he was released early (but it was the Lieutenant Governor he saved, not the warden).

      However, I am unsure where he was in the interim. As far as what I have been told, he may have been in that area all along because I do not recall ever being told that he left (though obviously, that does not mean he did not leave).

      He knew the woods like the back of his hand, as did all the boys, and was very used to that kind of living – and the Hatfields would have made sure he had whatever he needed – so it would have been extremely easy for him to hide there for a very long period of time, to avoid being arrested. Heck, there are probably people living in the woods here even now, who no one knows are there, LOL

      • Based on all the research I have done, I to believe he stayed in the area and hid out for 10 yrs with help from his family as Appalachian Lady stated. Yes it was in fact the Lt Governor whose life he saved after being attacked. Keep up the great work Appalachian Lady, it is greatly appreciated. Now lets get some more McCoys point of views in here. I see one or two have checked in and that is Great! God Bless, have a great day on this Beautiful Sunday..

  32. I wonder if he did love her, but was just a dog. I have a hard time believing that a tragic love story would have endured all these years if it was completely one sided.

    Maybe I’m just a romantic, but being a scoundrel doesn’t mean he didn’t love her. Even using her doesn’t mean she wasn’t special to him.

    He was a dog. That seems sure. :)

    • P.s. I don’t mean to imply his treatment of her was ok. He didn’t deserve her. But it doesn’t mean he didn’t have feelings of love for her

      • What sparks my curiosity is I wonder what was the motivation to MARRY Nancy?? In the midst of all this hullaballoo over the pregnant Roseanna he marries Nancy just a few months later. Did he really love Nancy and thought he could tame her?

        • I was told that he found Nancy very exciting, but was too young to realize that you cannot tame a whore (or as they say these days, turn a whore into a housewife).

    • If he found Nancy exciting, maybe she really did seduce him. Maybe he did love Roseanna but let his hormones away him.

  33. Thank you so much for writing about your family’s history. As I watched the miniseries, my heart broke for Rosanna. I didn’t believe that Johnse loved her, or he would have done anything in his power to be with her, and when they showed him visiting her grave, it didn’t ring true for me. I also believe that she probably committed suicide. She lost her baby and much of her immediate family and was betrayed by her lover and her cousin. She probably felt she had nothing else to live for. What a sad and tragic life.

    • Do you mean if the children of his children are still living? If so, they are all deceased a very long time ago. There are lots of direct descendants still living, though. Most today are great-great-great grandchildren, or further down the line.

  34. I’m amazed at this story of the two families. My son has family from his paternal great grandparents from this region, so of course I’m very interested. Thanks for telling your story.. I look forward to reading more of this history..

  35. I agree with you Appalachian Lady, they painted a love story! I did think it was a little wonky that he didn’t run off with her, but later married her cousin, eithor he was a coward, or like you said, he didn’t really love her. Thanks for telling us a little bit of your family history. May I ask, I’m just extremely curious for some odd reason, after reading this, are you a decendant of one of the “major players” in the feud?

      • Now I see you say that Rosanna was a good girl, but I have read that she was pretty, but did get around..and even had gonorrhea….sounds like she was sheltered and that she wanted Johnse b/c he was from an affluent family…plus not much of a selection of men.

        • She was a good girl in the eyes of the Hatfields. Remember, I am telling this as I was told it many years ago by my grandmothers.

          I guess I should explain that my family does not look down on girls for sleeping with boys, as long as there is a romance involved. We consider it normal human nature if a girl has feelings for a boy, no matter what she has been taught at home.

          For that reason, the girls in our family are very sheltered, not for religious reasons since we are not a religious family, but simply to save them from their own hormones (and I am no exception, as I was not even allowed to date until I was in college).

          You can get gonorrhea if there is a romantic relationship too, and it only takes one encounter, so even that does not mean she was not a good girl. As long as she was not known to have sex with men when there was no romantic relationship at all, and as long as she did not go around flaunting her body or acting provocatively, my family would still view her as a good girl.

          Perhaps there were things about her they did not know, but if she were a whore, they would have known that since it is such a small area. Furthermore, they would never have allowed a whore to stay with them. We may not be religious, but we are also not about to bring whores into the house to corrupt our own daughters.

          Either way, as long as she was not a flat-out whore, they would not blame her for her behavior. They would instead blame her parents, for allowing her to ever be in the position where her hormones could take over.

  36. Well, who is to say what is in the heart of anyone (especially a man :)? However, after a lifetime of living and knowing my own “Johnse” (from Logan Co., too). I believe that he did “love” her in his own way, in as much as it was possible for him to love anyone. So, to me it is a sad and tragic LOVE story. Thanks for the insight into this sad and terrible time for these families in our Appalachian Mountains.

    • Helena:

      I agree with you. I think he cared for her maybe not our version of love. I believe it was a tragic love story because Roseanna did love him and she was rejected by him.

    • That is how I feel. Of course I don’t know, but I know men who love their ‘women’ but don’t treat them right. Sure, it’s not enough and love means nothing if it isn’t shown. But still, I was once married to a sweet, charming scoundrel. He loved me. But he didn’t deserve me.

      But who knows? It’s fascinating either way!

  37. Johnse did go to Oregon and came back to receive a life sentence for the killing of the McCoy children. However, he saved a prison official (perhaps the wardon) from being killed by another inmate and was paroled. He died in 1922 at age 60.

  38. As a man I have no compunction in telling the truth about men. We have what I call dog logic if we cant eat it bury it or sleep with it, pee on it

  39. Wow!!! This was amazingly well put together.. I have friends who are Hatfields and I have friends who are McCoys… I look forward to hearing what they have been told… The movie was great and it opened my eyes ALOT… My heart breaks for Roseanna and her baby… Thank you for taking the time to de-romanticize the “love” story and opening people’s eyes… Thank you again :-)

  40. Appalachin lady- thank you for providing this information. Very interesting to know the past. What about Cotton top Hatfield, Ellison’s son was he really a handicap person? Do you think his true story was correct in the mini series? I feel so bad for him, poor boy. He lost his daddy and then hung for murder. I know he was hung in real life for the murder of Alfair McCoy. Do you know more details about him?

    • Cotton was not mentally retarded and childlike as it was shown in the miniseries, so they took a lot of dramatic license with him. He was dimwitted, which means he was not smart, but he was not mentally retarded. However, he was mentally ill.

      He was described to me as “crazy as hell”, and there is actually documentation of this When he was in jail, there was discussion about bringing in a psychiatrist to examine him (which obviously was rare in those days) not because he was mentally retarded or childlike (because in real life he was not), but because they were concerned that they were executing an insane person. Others opposed it, saying they thought he was just faking in an attempt to delay his execution.

      He was not faking it at all, though, because Cotton was nuts.

      Also, you should know that Devil Anse did not use Cotton as a sacrificial lamb, despite what was shown in the miniseries. Quite the contrary, in fact, because Anse believed Cotton had murdered that McCoy child in cold blood. Just as he had executed the McCoy boys for the coldblooded murder of Ellison, Anse strongly believed in blood for blood, and that murderers had to pay with their own life. That is the real reason why Cotton was executed without intervention from the Hatfields.

      • I had a hard time understanding WHY they would hang a mentally handicapped person, it really bothered me. You did shed a litlle light on this matter, by say he was not retarded. Still it is bothersome and a shame it had to happen.

  41. Was cotton mentally challenged? And if Cap was involved how come he was never charged with the crimes. Thank you for writing about the story I think the love affair was one sided on Roseanna’s part. Im wondering Did Devil Anse ever feel guilty of what happened to the three McCoy boys? Wouldn’t have been easier to let justice take its course?

    Thank you,

    • Cap was charged, but he escaped from the Mingo County (WV) jail by breaking out with a hatchet that had been smuggled in. Eventually a general pardon was issued, after which he did not have to worry about being arrested again.

      Cotton was what we call dimwitted, which means simply that he was not smart, but he was not mentally retarded, nor was he childlike. He was more mentally ill, than anything. In fact – and this is actually documented – when he was in jail, they discussed bringing in a psychiatrist (which was not something normally done back then) because his behavior was so bizarre. This was not because he was mentally retarded, or because he was childlike. It was because they were uncomfortable with executing an insane person. It was argued that he was faking to delay the execution, so it ultimately was not done, but they were wrong. Cotton was actually crazy.

      Anse never to my knowledge felt guilty about killing the three McCoy boys. They were coldblooded murderers, their guilt was never in doubt since there were so many witnesses, and he very strongly believed in blood for blood. He also did not trust the justice system, after his own kin had already let those boys walk free for murder once before. He believed the law would do nothing to stop them from murdering again and again, so their deaths were a matter of survival, not only for him, but for his family. So Anse became judge, jury, and executioner, and he made sure they never murdered again.

      I seriously doubt he ever even lost a second of sleep over killing them; quite the contrary, since he probably slept better after they were dead. Anse was a man who had killed many, many times before during the Civil War, so killing was not exactly a foreign concept to him. As long as he believed it necessary for his survival or that of his family, he could kill you without any remorse at all.

      His blood for blood belief is actually the real reason why he let Cotton be executed without intervention too, by the way. The miniseries showed him using Cotton as their sacrificial lamb. In reality, Cotton and Johnse had planned and executed the bloody New Years raid without telling Anse, and Anse believed that Cotton really had murdered the McCoy girl in cold blood. Remember, despite what was on the miniseries, Cotton was not childlike or mentally retarded to the point that he was not responsible for his actions, but he was crazy enough to do it again. So Anse believed that Cotton had to pay with his own blood, even though he was family, and even though Anse loved him dearly.

      He probably lost a lot of sleep over that one, I should think.

      • You say johnse and cotton planned the new years attack?.. The miniseries shows the uncle being a major part.. Was he as cruel add they portrayed in the series??.. Also, was nancy just with johnse for vengeance??.. I know she had his children, it seems like the series made johnse seem kind of slow minded in the fact he feed allot of info to her about his family.. (I’m watching the series again since my husband missed it the first time around, I’m catching allot of little tidbits here and there)

      • Thanks Applalachian lady. You accounts answered a lot of my questions. Did Cap ever feel any quilt? It seemed that he was more of a marksman and a cold blooded killer. Is this true? Also was it ever said why Nancy married Johnse since he rejected Roseanna. I just can’t believe that she would betray the family and especially since the Hatfields killed her father. Did Randall disowned Nancy has his kin? Was Randall crazy has he was portrayed in the movie? What happened to her brother and what happened to the two McCoy cousins that did kill Staton? Thank you for everything. I think The history channel was close to the accounts. Is the areas where the feud takes place visited by a lot of tourists?

  42. Thank you so much for sharing this information! My heart also breaks for poor Rosanna. She clearly never got over her feelings for Johnse and I also think her father’s treatment of her made the situation so much worse. She was obviously a very naive and sensitive soul.

  43. I’m interested in the hatfield and mccoy’s…my family Parrigan ..which was spelled several different ways came from that same region ..My great grandfather Irish imagrent ..
    great grandmother blackfoot Indian
    last name of Stanley ..
    George Parrigan was a southern Baptist preacher …if you know of any Parrigan family reference please share them …thanks for sharing your story makes complete since and rings true …and your right family is a center …and moms and sisters protected at all cost

  44. This is very interesting and thanks for telling your side of the story! We have ridden our ATV’s on the Hatfield-McCoy trail system. Have even met some of the Hatfield’s at the little diner in Gilbert. (Some that were on the game show “Family Fued”.) Can you tell me approximately what town the Hatfield’s lived around? My vision is Matewan because of it’s proximaty to Pikeville, KY. I can’t wait to come back to W. Va to check out some of the new trails and follow up on some of this history. Maybe even check out the statue and see where the cemetary is out off of 44!

    • The Hatfield side is now Matewan, so you are correct about that. You should definitely go back, because there is a lot of history in the area, and it will be a lot more interesting, I should think, now that you have watched the miniseries and have a pretty good background on the families. :-)

  45. Appalachian Lady,
    What a great read! We really enjoyed the miniseries and are seriously considering taking a little vacation and visiting the area.
    Do you know if Nancy is buried in the area too?
    Thank you for your blog!

    • I am honestly not sure where Nancy is buried. She is definitely not in the Hatfield Cemetery, because she had remarried long before she died. I think she died in Pike County (Kentucky, same area where she grew up) though, so she is probably buried there. I bet if you contacted a local historical society, they could tell you exactly where she is laid to rest.

      There are tours in the area which will point out all the famous sites, both on the West Virginia and Kentucky sides, and you can see the life-size statue of Devil Anse on his grave in the Hatfield Cemetery. Visiting there, and soaking in all the history, is definitely an experience those interested in the feud should not miss. Also, you will see for yourself that the Hatfields and McCoys get along just fine now. :-)

  46. I so enjoyed this story from Appalachian Lady. Great to read some truths, and for some of us die hard romantics, the hard truths! But facts are facts and that is how it must be presented.
    I would like to input something here, and it is that I have been fascinated for years about both of these families, ever since that I have been researching my husbands stepfather, who was raised in and around War WV. Actually back then I’ve discovered it as Warrior Mines WV. I have been searching the “Find a Grave” records, amongst others, and I’m going to post a link on here as well. I will tell you that any one of these links will take you further in your search for the families and what happened to them, according to apparently another Hatfield direct descendant. Someone has to know this information to post it on here. Hopefully it was someone who knew, from accounts with relatives of yesteryear, such as Appalachian Lady. I’m sure grateful for her posting this information. I to, have watched the series, and stayed glued to the tv for 3 days like everyone else. Here is the link to get any one of you started searching: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13790202 this link will take you straight to Johnse.
    Again, thanks for clearing up some things for all of us history seeking folks out here.

  47. I think the minieries was great. I have read a lot about the Hatfields and MCCoys since and believe both sides we to blame for the feud!!

  48. Do some of the McCoys and Hatfields still live in the area the feud took place? Also, is the morality much the same as back in the days of the feuds in the

    Appalachia

    Nearby Words

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    appalachian mou…

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    Did you know:Someone yells “stop being stertorous right now!” What does he or she mean?
    Do any of the McCoys and Hatfields still live in the same area as the feud took place? Also, what is the nearest town to the area. When it comes to morality is it much as the same in the Appalachian Mountains.

    • Oh sure, lots of Hatfields and McCoys still live in that same area, but they get along great now.

      The town of Matewan sits right there on Tug Fork. Matewan is also known for the Matewan Massacre, incidentally, which happened in the 1920s.

      The morality question is a very complex one, however. Can you be more specific in your question?

      Oh, and stertorous means noisy. :-)

  49. Thanks for the great insight. I have been reading up on the true story a lot and according to what I have read, there were a few other items that were false. The first is in the min-series there are a lot of scenes in what almost seem like Western Movie Set towns. I read that the area was so rural at the time that there weren’t any real towns like the mini-series depict and Matewan didn’t even exist at the time. The second is that the mini-series seems to blend “Uncle Wall” and “Preacher Anse” into one character.

    • You are correct, they did indeed combine Preacher Anse and Wall into one character.

      Rural West Virginia is extremely rural, even today. At that time, there was not much there but a few buildings, if I understand correctly.

  50. I wish the miniseries would have stayed more true to the actual story. It seems to me to be an interesting enough story without taking poetic license with what facts are available. Through the whole series I waited for Anse Hatfield to turn on Jim Vance (given this is due to my reaction to the story that was told) If any of the Hatfields deserved to be shot it was him. Do you know if it was a fairly accurate depiction of him? Also the lawyer character on the McCoy side was portrayed to be nothing more that an instigator to keep the friction going.

    • Jim Vance was a vile, violent man. So yes, it was a pretty accurate portrayal of him.

      Perry Cline was a snake, and he manipulated the McCoys; they were nothing but pawns in his sick game, so to him, they were all completely expendable. The miniseries therefore did paint Cline accurately, but it severely underplayed the true extent to which he instigated the feud.

    • I was wondering this about Jim Vance myself…he seemed very violent and he was a hard character to watch.

  51. I find this story very interesting and know that this really happened, blew my mind. Stories are always altered along the way. Was Jim Vance really a loose cannon? IT seems to me he started all this, killng Harmon and all.

    • Jim Vance really was a loose cannon and an extremely violent man, but – and this may seem strange – we do not think he started the feud, because the death of Asa Harmon was not the real reason Randall hated Devil Anse. It was just another excuse he used to hate Anse. He even tried to blame Anse for that murder (Anse actually was back from the war when it happened), but Anse was home sick in bed at the time, and no one else doubted it had been Jim Vance.

      You must understand, a feud requires both families to actively participate. So as long as Anse felt sorry for Randall, and kept turning the other cheek, there was no feud.

      That changed the very minute they murdered his brother Ellison in cold blood, because Anse knew Ellison had done nothing to provoke them into murder. The shock of that crime finally hardened his heart against Randall McCoy.

      So after years of being pushed, Anse finally pushed back, and pushed back very hard. That was when the feud really started.

      • after having watch the movie i find myself primarily siding with the hatfields but i can see where federal law would have stepped in. its these situations that required government intervention.
        that aside im sure things had been abit skewed in the movie but there may have been a start by one person but overall there were several transgressions on both sides. moments where justice in a court room would have been the smartest route but given there was no real law at that time it could be surmised they had good stand legally given this was law that preceded law blood for blood as it was and sometimes still is.
        at that time that was the law as it was all they had i honestly cant describe how i feel the movie was very moving and i enjoyed it alot not just for the movie but for the history behind it and think more history films should be like this.
        i will say that above all else im glad to find a place where i can gain more knowledge of events at that time as i subscribe to the knowledge of our past keeps us from repeating our mistakes so please as much info as can be given i love reading it all and hope to hear more from you regarding this topic
        thank you and good trails

      • I believe Anse tried to at least to delay the fued. I sided more with the Hatfields also. It seemed to me in the mini series that the McCoys kept instigating it. I have a friend who also watched the mini series and saw it completely different. As for as the love story………I couldn’t believe the series depicted that part as a love story when they turned around and showed Johnse whoring around. I noticed that right away and thought it was a strange thing to do.

  52. I do feel badly for Roseanne, I have known a lot of men who can convince a girl they love them (I had my first child at 15, her father was 19) and even if common sense and knowledge of the guy tells you he’s feeding you a line you still fall in love. After all, someone has to catch him right? My husband was a BIG player in our younger years who slept with more than his fair share of young women but knowing him now and then I believe that some part of him really did care about most of them. However when 1 ended up pregnant he did the same thig as Johnse and had nothing more to do with her. Again, I think he just was too big a player and had his ego boosted too often to settle down. We all love attention and when you’re getting it as much as Johnse apparantly was (or my husband) it is hard to let go and seetle down with one person who will eventually stop treating you like the world revolves around you…. then you go looking for that utopia feeling again. it’s like a drug, you just can’t have enough. Then you get old and the pretty girls stop paying attention and …. you get married and settle down. So I guess I am saying, I see both sides of their story. What I do not understand is his family turning their back on their grandchild. I come from an extremely large family (64 first cousins) and there is no way a child of one of our own would be denied all the love every family member had to give. In fact, when I had my daughter so young, and this was 1979, my parents brought up the idea of adoption and my 79 year old grandfather said “Bullshit!, no grandbaby of mine is going to go live with strangers, me and mommy (my grandmother) will take care of her. Obviously, I kept her and raised her with the help of my family and I am proud to say she is a great person who knows only love.

  53. I very much enjoyed the mini-series and thank you for the oral history from the Hatfield side. I’m confused by the fact of Roseanna living in the Hatfield house out of wedlock while dating Johnse. I know that she had been abandoned by her father, but surely she had other family to live with (like aunt betty)…? Also, towards the end of the series it shows Johnse visiting the grave of Roseanna and crying over her. Did this really happen?

    • I doubt he cried over the grave of Roseanna, based upon what I was told, but I hope I am wrong about that. I hope he felt at least some remorse for how badly he had treated her.

      The Hatfields took her in to live with them because Roseanna wanted to live with them (and of course Johnse had his own reasons for wanting her there), so she and Johnse told them she had nowhere else to go. Anse and Vicey took the two of them at their word.

  54. I have been on the West Virginia Culture website and for birth, marriage and death certificates for many, many members of your family. Even found “Johnse’s” marriage license for his last 3 wives. Have you even researched this site? http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_select.aspx It has a ton of information about your family history.

      • Appalacian Lady…when you saw the movie what did you think about the movie initially. And what is the truest part in your eyes? Does anything stick out for you?

  55. what happened to Cotton’s mother? Any background information on her? Also, what is the background on Vincy? Where was she born and raised? how did she and Anse meet? what did her family of origin think of all the feuding going on?

    • I also wonder about Cotton’s mom. He did say he was a bastard in the mini series. What did he mean by that?

  56. A great look into the past. I have been reading up on the Hatfield and McCoy fued ever since watching the mini-series this week. I loved the story Costner told, but have found that the truth is not always told in the stories that Hollywood tells. That is why I love researching myself. Thanks for this.

    Tim from Scottsville, Ky. Not too far away.

      • Downtown Scottsville hasn’t changed a great deal in my entire lifetime. I hope it never does. I do hope to get up to your part of the world one of these days. I know I’d love it.

        Tim

  57. My husband and I watched the miniseries on the History Channel and did enjoy the tale. However, I did keep asking my husband, how did they know this all happened? Same tales are documented in historical records, but many tales are not. To me it was very clear that others had the ears of Raymond MCCoy and Devil Anse Hatfield with their own agendas and the feud was not about just one incident but several. The end of the miniseries would have been better if the real pictures of the individual where shown with wives, descendants and date of death.
    Our question is, has any of the living Hatfield’s or MCCoy’s thought about getting together and making a true documentary? There is just such a great learning experience with the tale. Not just how things can escalate and get out of control but the importance of leadership and placing egos aside. This was done at the end…after many lives were taken.
    Vanessa & Chuck

    • You are very perceptive, because there were indeed complex agendas at work behind the feud.

      West Virginians are not great at recording our own history, unfortunately, and were even less likely to do it back then, when most people of that region were illiterate. So while I did hear some rumblings about a family-produced documentary years ago when the Jesco White documentary made a splash, nothing came of it. (I know Jesco personally, by the way, and he really is a very, um, interesting fellow, LOL) Perhaps it will come to fruition now, since so many are interested in the family history. It is even possible that students from Marshall University will be interested in interviewing family for a real documentary, just as they did many years ago with Catfish Man of the Woods (who I also knew, and he was just a great guy – RIP, Catfish).

      I do have lots of Hatfield photos on this blog, and I am sure I will add more. If you want to see them, just go to the main blog at http://appalachianlady.wordpress.com and scroll down.

      In fact, my header at the top of the blog is actually the Hatfields. That is Devil Anse near the left holding a gun, and his wife Vicey is the short plump lady beside him (on his other side, holding the baby, is his daughter Mary). My hubby just laughed about my old header of the Hatfields, by the way, and told me to tell you that I claimed the Hatfields even before it was cool to do that. ;-)

      Needless to say, they look absolutely nothing like Kevin Costner and the actress who portrayed his wife, LOL. If you are interested, on one of my posts I also have the full uncropped family photo from the header, along with a list of who is in it. :-)

      • Thank you for your reply. I have viewed most of the family photos and find them very interesting. I do hope the true documentary does come about with interviews from both families with the stories they have been told. My husband and I are hoping to make the trip to see the area of Pikeville KY and West Virginia from Virginia sometime in Sept.
        Many Blessings
        Vanessa & Chuck

  58. Thank you for giving an insiders point of view. I appreciate the foot work you are and have done to give us all who saw the mini-series and want to know more about this piece of American history a new insight.

  59. Did anyone keep a journal during the feud? That would be something very interesting to read! If not, maybe you should write a book with what you’ve been told. I’ve really enjoyed following all the questions & answers – thank you!!

  60. Appalachian Lady, what can you tell us about Cap Hatfield? The mini series portrays him as very involved in all of the feud but I don’t find anything about him being tried

    • Cap was never tried, because he escaped from the Mingo County (West Virginia) jail. From what I was told, he chopped his way out of the jail with a smuggled hatchet.

  61. Appalachian Lady, Thanks for writing this. Your description was written in a “matter of fact” way that did not glorify either family or state that one was right and the other wrong. Of course you get the story through your own family ties, so it really would be interesting to read a similar family story passed down through the McCoy family. We have to remember that the story of an unwed mother in the 1800s is far different than is played out today. Rosanna’s pregnancy was a disgrace to the family. Most likely normally she would have been sent to the relatives home, and came home with a fake wedding ring with a child and a story of a deceased husband…..It seems that the story of Johnse and Rosanna was public knowledge and no way to “cover up” the truth. The story is very sad, no matter if the details are as they were in the mini series or as happened in your family story….

  62. What a sad story. I can understand why people wanted to believe over the years the “made up” love story but I’m kind of surprised that a movie of such proportions on the History Channel was not made to reflect the true story.

    • I have to agree, I kept telling my husband..”but this is the History channel, surely they will portray this to the BEST accuracy of the real story”….hmmm…..

  63. My wife and I live in stokes county nc and actually visited pike county and wv 2 weeks ago. We swung over to Beckley area for a wedding that took place between my childhood buddy who is attending Appalachian bible college. The hatfield & mccoy story has so intrigued me. I don’t understand how two good men as it would seem let that situation get out of control like that. I wish there had been a good tour operation going that we could have used while we were there. Were the churches in that area of much influence during that time period? It was very sad to me that Randall McCoy lost what I guess was all 4 of his sons (not counting the others) and that he remained bitter the rest of his life. Take care.

    • I think there probably was some sort of small church in the area. This is the Bible Belt, after all. However, I cannot say for sure.

      The church may have had an influence on Randall McCoy, and probably had a major influence on him, but I cannot imagine it had any influence at all on Devil Anse, since he really was an avowed atheist as portrayed, until he was baptized in his 70s.

      • I find it crazy that nobody attributes how much drinking and drunkeness played into everyone’s behavior!! Alcohol and guns are usually an excuse for a hot temper or misunderstandings – and can change in a flash, no pun intended.

  64. As a viewer of the mini series I was left wondering what became of each of the family members, both Hatfields and McCoys.
    There was some info at the end of part 3 but it went by so quickly I wasn’t able to make it all out, and haven’t yet been able
    to find that kind of info on the internet. Your blog makes for some very interesting reading. Thanks so much for telling the
    story your family has handed down, and for your own unique perspective.

    • Let’s see … Devil Anse changed his atheist views very late in life, and was baptized as a Baptist while in his 70s. His wife Vicey outlived him by about eight years. They are both buried in the Hatfield Family Cemetery.

      Johnse disappeared, but came back about 10 years after Cotton was executed. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. He served about 13 years before being pardoned, after he saved the life of the Lt Governor, who was attacked with a knife while visiting the prison. He was married four times, and had seven children including his daughter with Roseanna, though that baby died as an infant. Two of those children were with Nancy McCoy, though the series never touches on that.

      Cap was arrested and held for murder in the Mingo County (WV) jail, but escaped by chopping his way out with a hatchet smuggled into the jail. He became a fugitive, though he still fought with the Hatfields, but was never rearrested because a general amnesty was eventually issued for the feud.

      Wall died shortly after he was sent to prison.

      Am I missing anyone?

  65. I would like to know if you know what happen to Nancy McCoy’s mom. In the miniseries she looks pregnant as Hermon leaves and when she goes to Anes to ask for help and that is the last we see or hear from her. Also, is there a book out that gives true facts about the real story? It is troublesome for me to have watched the miniseries and then read all of this other information that I am finding on the internet. I would like to know what is true and what isn’t. Thank you!

    • Sorry, but I have no information about Nancys mom.

      There actually is a book called ‘Tale of the Devil’, written by Devil Anse’s grandson (Cap’s son) Coleman Hatfield, and published by his son, Dr. Coleman Hatfield. It should be available for purchase online.

      • Thank you so much. I will look into the book. I am so very interested in this and knowing what really happen. It is disappointing when the movie doesn’t tell the true story. I can’t wait to be able to go visit the area sometime and see the historical landmarks and such. My great grandmother was from West Virginia and I remember as a young child going into the backwoods of West Virginia to visit her realatives and I would love to go back again. Thanks again.

    • While watching the mini series, I read a book by Otis K. Rice called the Hatfield and McCoys. It seemed to me that alot of what was in the miniseries was in the book, although there were differences also. It seems the author did alot of research. Word of mouth passed down for years and years may not be all truth either as the author of this blog has stated. She is reporting what she has been told. I even has some stories in my own family that seem a little hard to believe but yet I have heard them as facts just the same. Any one know that old game where someone makes a statement and is repeated to alot of people. In the end it sounds completely different?

  66. I agree with Appalachian Lady’s story very much. And in fact that is also the impression I got from History’s show, yes it did pro trey him as being in love with Roseanna, but you could very much tell he was a womanizer and from the way he was never man enough to run away with her or to go see his baby or marry the mother of his child showed how he did not care for her as much as they lead you to believe.
    Your story is more along the lines of the truth.

    I will say this though…..If this version of the story has never been told outside of your family, how in the world can you expect History to correctly tell it?

    • Great point. Honestly, I had no idea they were even making a documentary about the feud, until after it was done and they were advertising it. Had I known, I would definitely have made them aware of the story I had been told (and have since learned from comments that other Hatfields were also told).

      I am not sure they would have used it, though, because it did not really fit in with the story they wanted to tell, so it would have thrown the storyline itself completely out of whack.

      It is fine as it is, though. I am not mad about it – far from it, in fact, since I am very pleased that they took such an interest in the family. I just thought since it was on The History Channel, and thus was presented as historically accurate, I should make the information available for those with an interest in the subject matter, and they can draw their own conclusions as to which version is correct. :-)

      • Thank you so much for contributing to the facts of this very intriguing part of American history. I love getting real eye witness type of information to fill in the gaps. I appreciate your time! After watching the miniseries I really gained a lot of respect for our ancestors. I feel that it was mostly all related to the Civil War, the feud I mean. God Bless America! – Nicole (not a H or a M but with Southern roots)

  67. I knew it wasn’t a love story when I found out he married her cousin….I hope that she gave it back to him in another life…LOL…It would be nice if she could have the chance to break his heart in pieces like he did hers:)

    Did their child die at birth or later? And if not, did the Jose have anything to do with it?

    • You know, that is a very good question. I was always under the impression that their baby was stillborn, because Roseanna contracted measles while pregnant, but someone here said they found something which said the baby lived to age eight months. It is possible I was told the baby was stillborn because Johnse never went to see the baby. It is also possible that I misunderstood what I was told, of course. So I honestly cannot say for sure.

  68. but I do totally agree with your story about Johse and Roseanna :)

    Could you clear up some confusion I have about Cotton Top please? In history channels story they give the impression that he was….uh, well…ya know….special. Was this true? Was he as kind & innocent as they made him seem? And was he really Elliosn?
    And what where to details behind Kentucky hanging him? This is one part of the story I just don’t understand……why on earth would they hang a guy like Cotton Top.

    Sorry for all the questions, I am just really interested in your family’s colorful history :) And would love it if you clear up the details about the hanging of CottonTop.

    • Cotton was the son of Ellison, and he was also named Ellison (Mounts).

      But no, he was not at all like he was portrayed on The History Channel. He was what we call dimwitted, which means he was not smart but not mentally retarded. He was mostly just mentally ill, though. When he was in jail, they even talked about bringing in a psychiatrist, because they were concerned about executing an insane person. They should have been concerned, because it was not just an act to delay execution like some argued. Cotton was, as we say in these parts, crazy as hell.

      • AP Lady – it seems everyone knew Cottontop to be an illegitimate child, and the mother’s husband was part of a relatively well-to-do family in the area (the Mounts). How was his existence treated at that time? Did the mother and husband stay together even though Cotton was know to be a ‘bastard’ son?

        BTW, awesome job of keeping up with the questions!

      • I too watch and was fascinated by the mini series and went out to find a book with more info. The book I read said Cottontop’s mother was Ellison’s first cousin. Something Hatfield Mounts. If this is true due to genetics Cottontop could have suffered from some form of mental retardation.

  69. Appalachian Lady, This is some great information! I have read quite a bit about the H&M feud and apparently the mini-series was entertaining it was very inaccurate on quite a few of the stories. My Grandpa was born and raised in Hazard KY and his father (great grandfather) sister married into the Hatfield family from the Whitakers from Hazard. My Grandmother was born in Orenton KY and raised in a holler in Breathitt County called ‘Bloody breathitt holler’. Her family married into the the McCoy family and from there our family tree is inner-twined with H&M’s. I had always heard the stories of the H&M’s when I was younger but didn’t pay much attention to them until this mini-series stirred conversation amongst our family. We still own property outside of Hazard up big creek to Whitaker fork.

  70. I have found that direct family can sometimes be more judgmental than outsiders when something is happening inside the family they don’t like as may have been the case in how the Hatfield family and descendants viewed Johnse’s relationship with Roseanna. I have also found many times family members simply cannot believe what they do not want to be true about an individual family member. In this case since the relationship did not work out for them it would be far easier to believe Johnse did not really love Roseanna since this seemed to be very complicated all the way around. Johnse obviously chased a lot of skirts but that does not mean he did not love her. Even the most hardened players can and do fall in love. Only Johnse would really be qualified to say if he really loved Roseanna or not. All the complications probably didn’t make for the easiest decisions as the relationship progressed and then unwound for probably a variety of reasons (brothers threatening to really kill you can tend to make someone think twice about what they are doing). Perhaps Johnse thought as in the miniseries it would just be easier to marry her cousin who probably had a fair amount of similarities to Roseanna because there wouldn’t be any resistance from the McCoys. Or maybe he loved them both and just went with what he felt was the easier path? Regardless the whole story is tragic and a cautionary tale about holding grudges, anger, revenge not being able to forgive and people getting overly set in their ways along with an interesting semi sordid forbidden love story of some kind thrown in the mix.

    • Maybe it was an easier path. He married Roseanna and her brother Jeff was a witness and signed for them. Perhaps Jeff didn’t harbor the same hate for the Hatfields that the the other McCoys, and possibly his sister, had for them. Even though he knew Jim Vance was of the Hatfield family and believed his killed his father, and the other Hatfields killed his cousins, maybe he didn’t harbor that hate towards Johnse, based on the fact that he believed him when he said he fired into the air when they executed his cousins. After all, they took him in when he killed that mailman.

  71. I agree that johnse did love roseanna. But yes he did sleep around. I think that he wanted to be with her too but he still would have slept around. I also think that he loved his family so dearly that he couldn’t walk away from them for anyone. I’ve read books that talk about journals where things were wrote that make you truly believe he loved her but like I said he was basically a man whore lol.

  72. Great blog; very interesting reading :) I do believe that if Uncle Jim Vance was anything like the portrayal by Tom Berenger in the History Channel’s miniseries, then he was a sociopath. It is also very curious that Cap Hatfield was able to become a lawyer, then a deputy sheriff, after years of being involved in the feud—very curious that he was not tried for murder himself…

    • Cap was charged but never tried because after he was arrested, he escaped from the Mingo County (WV) jail, by chopping his way out with a hatchet which had been smuggled into the jail. He fought with the Hatfields after his escape, but eventually a general pardon was issued for the feud participants, and he no longer had to worry about being arrested again.

      • Hi, Appalachian Lady—Thank you for your response! That general pardon being issued is an amazing turn of events, isn’t it? The entire history of the Hatfield family is so intriguing…it seems that Cap & Johnse both led somewhat charmed lives, considering the length of the feud, etc.

      • By the way, it was so romantic a notion—as portrayed by the History Channel’s miniseries—to think that Johnse & Roseanna were star-crossed lovers, like Romeo & Juliet; Thank you for being so honest & enlightening us that Johnse was no Romeo–it’s terribly sad for Roseanna & her baby, however—-but a painfully truthful tale to learn from, certainly.

  73. i think if the Hatfield s and McCoy s descendants got togather and put the storys you all herd in a book with storys from both sides it would be a great read and best seller

  74. i also wanted to say i reside in missouri and there is a jay hatfield its an auto car dealership but im sure the guy who started it was named jay hatfield so i have also wondered to the relationship or if just random chance

    • There are several groups of Hatfields which have been verified, and they are not all related. It is hard to say which one he belongs to, especially today when people are spread far and wide.

  75. Thank you for all the information you have given. The show was good but confusing ,with you filling in some blanks helped alot. My family did not come here to america until the 20’s and 30’s. I am very interested in the history of america . My husband’s family came from the blue ridge mountain area many years ago. He loves that part of the country.

  76. My take on all this is this, every guy I know who is only looking to “use” a girl for sex never goes back for seconds or thirds, let alone promises marriage. 9 times out of 10 times its a one time encounter and then he’s done with her. The fact that Johnse continued having an affair and seeing Roseanna means that he enjoyed her company and enjoyed being around her. He may not been in full blown love to the extent of Roseanna at the time, but my gut feeling on all this is that Johnse had strong feelings for Roseanna. You have to remember Johnse wasn’t able to see Roseanna on his terms, there is information left out that Johnse would go long periods of time without being able to be with her since he was barred from seeing her. In those times, the Roseanna was not free to travel at will and Johnse was not allowed to go over the Tug river in pursuit of her, so where does that leave them if they cannot connect and see each other regularly? Also, being at the age of 18 when they met, he was all hormones and testosterone as well, and since he was kept from seeing Roseanna, what are his options?? Whether its true or not that he was unfaithful no one knows, perhaps, but if he was he could have been unfaithful as an 18 year old male would be. What does one know about life and love and living at age 18? The Hatfields say Johnse was unfaithful to Roseanna, but look at all the opposition that Johnse faced trying to be with Roseanna and the long periods of time he was separated from her. Members of the McCoy family could have been telling Johnse she didn’t want him no more, and vise versa for the Hatfield brothers to Roseanna. I feel there was something tangible there between the two of them, my gut tells me so. It was the feud and all the nay saying on both sides that messed with and influenced the outcome. Too many people had a hand in the demise of the relationship and back then if you were told to do something by your family, you do it or be disowned. Another thing to keep in mind, Johnse didn’t get anyone else pregnant that I am aware of. Back then it was common place to “spill your seed” outside to avoid any unwanted pregnancy. He purposely did not with Roseanna and continued seeing her. My heart tells me he had intentions of honoring his word to marry her, but too much opposition helped cause the fallout. When you’re young and impressionable, as Johnse and Roseanna, it was easy for them to be manipulated told lies about the other one either moving on in the case of Roseanna or being a womanizer in the case of Johnse. It seemed that both families had everything to gain to break this relationship apart, and by any means necessary based on the feud. Maybe Roseanna really was Johnse real true love, maybe he was too young to really understand it yet, or maybe he did, but their love wasn’t really given a chance to survive. All I know is that if Johnse really did love and want to marry Roseanna and Roseanna loved and wanted Johnse, I hope they are together in heaven. There’s two sides to every story, but one thing is clear, both families had every reason to try and break up this union between Johnse and Roseanna, and understandably so considering the circumstances of the times back then.

    • Johnse was 17 when he and Roseanna hooked up in 1880. He had to have permission to marry Roseanna. His parents would not give that permission but allowed Roseanna to live under their roof. Johnse kept promising marriage to her, but once he was 18 and could marry without his parents permission he did not. So eventually Roseanna returned home because he would not marry her.

      Johnse loved her on some level or he would never have taken her home like that. But his parents cooled his jets and he then refused to marry her once he was able. When she came up pregnant Devil Anse was wrong not to insist on marriage as he normally would have. He was wrong to let her live under his roof and should have taken her home the very night that she showed up on his porch with Johnse. (however Bill Staton was killed a few months prior to the 1880 election and the Killers were on the lamb. This may have given Devil Anse pause.)

      This is the major event that angered Randal McCoy in the fued. He was upset about Harmon being murder but not enough to push the issue. He understood why it happened but he didn’t like it. He was upset about Perry Cline losing 5000 Acres to Devil Anse Hatfield. He felt the Hatfields threw their wealth in other people’s faces. Wealth he considered ill-gotten.

      He knew he was cheated out of his hogs when he went to court because Bill Staton lied. Bill was a McCoy in-law but some of his children married Hatfields including, Floyd Hatfield who took Randal’s hogs. Selkirk McCoy, who worked for Devil Anse sided with the Hatfields at the pig trial after Bill Staton lied in court. Everyone knew Randal’s marks so he would most likely have prevailed had it not been for Staton’s lie. At this point most of Randal’s anger was directed at Floyd Hatfield and McCoy relatives over this trial.

  77. While I appreciate the writer’s insight, some of which was stated was presented in the History Channel show.. Vicey
    was shown as a strong, vocal woman. Wherein the romance part was no doubt over blown, that was not why the Hatfields and
    McCoys fought and that was clearly detailed.. The first death came at the hands of the Hatfields, Jim Vance killed a McCoy
    coming home from the war, dressed in a union uniform.. The Hatfields fought on the side of the south and the McCoy the north and you can see perhaps where that might have not set well with either side.

    • Randall McCoy fought for the South as did many of the McCoy clan. One brother absconded and fought for the Union and was most likely killed by Jim Vance.

      • Several of Randal’s brothers had moved to IL and actually fought for the North. Harmon married into a family that was for the North and some of his closest friends were for the North.

        The Hatfields did not kill him over wearing a union coat. It had to do with his relationship to William Francis, “Bill France”. Bill France was bushwacked by Devil Anse Hatfield during the war when he stepped out to pee off his porch in the morning. Dr. Coleman Hatfield stated that the Hatfields believed that Harmon was going to seek revenge on Devil Anse so they beat him to the punch.

        However their is more. Devil Anse Hatfield swore to Mose Christian Cline that he would kill everyone that was involved in a raid on his house during the war. At the time Anse thought Cline would die from wounds but he recovered. It was believed by Hatfields that Bill France and Asa Harmon McCoy were both involved as well as Harmon’s slave. I am still studying this as Bill France’s daughter was married to a Cline and Harmon was married to a Cline. It is questionable that they participated in such a raid, but they were clearly believed to have been there by the Hatfields.

  78. I suspect that what fed that long terrible feud more than anything else was moonshine. Jonse was a bootlegger and faced numerous indictments in Kentucky for trafficking in it. It seems likely that those indictments are what drove him temporarily out of the country. He returned when those indictments expired, or when he got into further trouble wherever he disappeared to. Moonshine may very well be what caused Cotton to go nuts from time to time.

    In any event what I tend to believe is that Cap and Jonse were every bit as vicious as Jim Vance was and that moonshine is what made them mean. Moonshine might also be what made the McCoys seem so stupid.

    Sure wish I could my hands on a jug of it. Don’t want to ever mix apple with corn though.

  79. Thanks Appalachian Lady and commentators — really interesting info. and insights into the story. I might have missed something along the way, but what initially caused Randall McCoy to hate Anse Hatfield with such obsession? Was it really just Anse’s desertion from confederates?

    • I cannot speak for the McCoy family – and hopefully one of my McCoy friends commenting here can answer your question from their perspective – but I have been under the impression that the obsession existed due to a number of factors, but was fueled by the fact that Randall came back from the war a broken man. It is really quite sad, because as we all know, war veterans many times suffer from post-traumatic stress, and find it very difficult to adjust back to the civilian world. If treatment existed (and was available) for war-related psychological injuries back then, perhaps we would not even be having this conversation. :-(

  80. Thank you, Appalachian Lady for your insight and everyone’s contributing comments. It made a nice diversion to cleaning :-)

  81. I wonder if Nancy McCoy, Harmon’s daughter, was not also misrepresented somewhat. She was probably a lusty girl and that is what attracted Jonhse to her, but I doubt she was really quite the harlot that the show makes her seem. Dunno.

  82. I appreciate your telling the events as passed to you through family stories. As interesting as the events are portrayed in the media, it is duely noted that it is for entertainment purposes. Thank you for allowing myself and others who are interested in the story as it is known by those who are within its geneology, to have the opportunity to know it as well.

  83. Was “Cap” really blinded as a young man? He was an excellent shot in the movie and that seemed to have something to do with the way his gun was made (which would make sense if he had no depth perception. I also find it interesting that even after his escape, no one pursued him or arrested him years later as they did Johnse.

    • They did pursue him after he escaped, they just did not catch him, LOL. There was one battle in particular after he escaped, known as Devils Backbone, wherein the Hatfields (including Cap) climbed the mountain and were perched on a crag, and the McCoys were trying to blow up the crag. He managed to escape again.

      He was blinded in one eye, but it happened in a percussion cap accident, not a logging accident.

      • Do you know anything about Vincey Hatfield’s background? where was she born and raised? How did she and Devil Anse meet? what did her family of origin (parents, siblings,ect ) think of the feud she was part of?

  84. i know hollywood changes a lot of stuff to make a movie more appealing. however, they do seem to leave in basic facts so they can tell a story. i was just wondering, from the little bit i’ve read, and from the series too, its portrayed that the hatfields fought their own battles with out the help of outside sources, it just seems as if it was the hatfields and the Mc Coys/bounty hunters feud. not the hatfield and the Mc Coys feud. if thats the case the hatfields seems like they were the better warriors because they had to fight not only the mc coys but the bounty hunters as well, without the re-enforcments that the mc coys had.

    • The fighting took place in Hatfield territory. They knew the land far better and almost always had more numbers. They were however not free to move around well and the bountys changed their lives drastically.

  85. no one knows the truth to the real story of johnse and roseanna. an if you think you know the truth then that is you…no one alive today lived back then and it has been over a century since all of this came about..an if you know matewan and blackberry good you also know that within a hour talk can start at the head of a holler that a person got a splinter in their finger and by the time it reaches the mouth of the holler they lost a arm..i honestly done think that history channel or no one for that matter knows the true story. did any of us live in that time no. you can not set and say you know the true story to johnse and roseanna cause unless you are a witch and can live forever or do time travel you can not set and say you know the truth…sorry

    • While it is not available to know all the nuances of the truth, there are very many facts that can absolutely be known. First there is no question that Johnse and Roseanna hooked up at the 1880 election. There is no question that they went off together and ended up at Devil Anse’s house where she lived for many months before returning to her home. No question that both Devil Anse and Levicy Hatfield were against a marriage.

      There is no question that when Roseanna returned home home pregnant after Johnse would not marry her. No question that Johnse was the father. No question Roseanna’s father would not speak to her and it was unbearable so she went to stay with her aunt Betty Blankenship-McCoy, who was a widow. There is no question that she loved Johnse and that he continued to meet her in the woods near aunt Betty’s.

      There is no question that some of McCoy’s boys captured Johnse when he met with Roseanna in the woods and hauled him off toward Pikeville. There is no question that Roseanna rode off to Devil Anse’s and that he brought a troop of armed men with him and cut off the McCoys on the road to pikeville. In fact anytime that you find strong support for a specific fact from members of both families you can not be far from the truth on that specific point.

      Much can be told about the motivation of various people involved by looking at all the known facts, considering clear actions against the norms of the society of the time. Story after story may be different, but some often small bits and pieces of the story are repeated the same way in the vast majority of these stories.

      Such as Johnse took Roseanna home with him. That is a very serious step. It is something that is absolutely not normally done in that society. Clearly he had strong feelings for her right when they hooked up. Feelings that either faded completely or in the end were never strong enough to keep them together.

      • It’s not at all uncommon in Appalachia for sons to bring their girlfriend to their parents’ house to live, especially when the girl has problems with her own family. They usually aren’t allowed to sleep in the same bed in the parents’ house, obviously, but the boy’s family will indeed take them in, in order to protect them. This is true today, and it was true back then as well.

        In a situation like that, the greater concern is the safety of the girl. She’s much safer living in her boyfriend’s parents’ house, than she would be living in an abusive household (much less being homeless).

        When it comes to issues of that nature, we’re realists. We know that realistically speaking, young people are going to have sex, no matter how much we drill it into their heads to wait until marriage, because that’s just nature and the reproductive imperative. We also are realistic enough to know they’ll do that whether she’s staying at our house or not.

        So I’ve allowed a couple of my sons’ girlfriends to live at my house over the years, because the girl either had nowhere else to go, or had been abused at home. They weren’t allowed to sleep in the same room, nor were they allowed to be alone behind closed doors, but I took them in and treated them as my own daughter. None of them ended up pregnant, either.

        That’s just how my family operates, it’s really very common around here.

  86. an yes i was born and raised in the blackberry area (aka Ransom)..an still reside here today

  87. i am a decident to both hatfields and mccoys. so please spare the nonsense that you know the truth.. if you do know it all then you need to rewrite the story and present it to the history channel and tell them to remake the movie..

  88. So fascinated by this whole thing and glad I found your blog. My entire family is from WV — though mostly in Clarksburg and Charleston, and my mom and I are planning a weekend to Mingo Co. to delve into some of the history.

  89. Appalachian Lady, are you related in some way to Sid Hatfield? In that whole large family Sid might well be the big dog with the brass collar in those parts. I think he certainly has a more valid legacy to celebrate, than any of the feudists do. The silly feud is over with, but the miners live better lives now because of Sid.

    • I think sid hatfield wqas a far relatrion to the original hatfields. I am also lucky in being related to both sides. Mother=Harfield and father-Mccoy. I liked the movie but I, too, saw some untruth in relating the storyl. burt for the research the writing committee looked intop, thewy just messed with a few major secure and true signhts. I knew the Jonsde was a “womanizer” but marrying Roseanna’s cousin, was a low down trip to me. I think all along she was just an implant into the Hatfield family.

  90. I believe Roseanna did loved Johnse & maybe Johnse had some feelings for her but ultimately I believe he was a womanizer. The Hatfield probably had the my son can do no harm syndrome. How low of a family both Hatfield & McCoy to leave a single mother to fend for herself. Was the feud and prideful ignorance that strong that these people resorted to such cruelty and bloodshed. What an interesting story .

  91. As far as I know, I have no relation to either family but for some reason, this miniseries threw me into a real depression. Having southern roots and growing up in a turn-of-the century house on 10 acres of woods, I guess there were multiple images and “things” in the story that resonated with me, and I found the whole thing just plain sad. I also saw a documentary on History and some of the facts were completely different from the miniseries, which irritates me that they had side by side two different “true stories” and on the same channel no less! For example the documentary said that Johnse was the one who hit the Mccoy mother in the back of the head, not Jim Vance. I find the romanticism of the Johnse character a little upsetting too. It was made to purposely make the viewers feel the way I did, sucked into the “love story” and sad. Damn tear-jerkers. I love true stories related to history but it irritates me when Hollywood glorifies aspects to manipulate the viewer. I prefer facts.

  92. i hate when TV doesn’t tell it accurately. Women today are still naive and falling for men’s line and dying of broken hearts, because they refuse to see they are being used. Sad
    “Love is surrender, Sex is conquest.”

    • The baby died of measles. There is some question as to what age the baby died. I had been told the baby was stillborn, but someone corrected me and said the baby lived to be about eight months old. I accept that information as correct, since my only source was elderly relatives, and oral family histories can make significant errors as they are being retold over the years. :-)

  93. I can tell you exactly where Johnse Hatfield wound up. Today I was 6 feet from him . I visited his gravesite at the Hatfield cemetery at Sarah Ann, West Virginia. He is buried in a grave beside his mom and his dad and several other immediate Hatfield family members. There was really a crowd of folks at the cemetery today due to the history channel showing. I also visited the graves of Randal McCoy and his daughter Roseanna who are buried in the Dils Cemetery in Pikeville, Kentucky with other McCoy family members. A lot of people were at that cemetery today too.

  94. WOW ! LoV this blog. Please keep it going. I have learned so much from App. Wo. Thank-you for taking the time to help us out with the truth. I am so tired of all the crap Hollywood makes up when the truth can be far more interesting. I also wish they would be real about how the people of which the histories are made actually looked. I was a 70’s child and Hollywood always trys to make the “hippies” look so clean…not…most were filthy. It would be fantastic to get some McCoys on this blog. Ms.App. Wo. since the H/M’s are now at peace and friendly, do you have a friend on the other side that may want to share their side, with promises from all not to pick sides but, to be so lucky, as to hear real history and not the falsehoods that Hollywood has wrttten. It is obvious from the comments on this blog people that love history are hungrey for the truth,according to the teller of the story. This feud is to historically important not to hear bothside. It would helps us as human beings not to repeat history and learn how to be better custodians of our own histories.

    • If you read through the comments (which is quite a task, I have to admit), there actually are some McCoys commenting here and telling their side. As soon as I finish responding to questions (which may take a while, LOL, since there are a LOT more than I ever expected) I will have to contact some of them, and ask if they want to tell their side of the story for the main blog, to make the McCoy side infinitely easier to find. :-)

  95. I enjoyed the miniseries. not being related to either family, I don’t know how much is real and how much is hollywood, but I thought it showed Johnse as the rat he was. leaving her when she was pregnant. in the show she even says she knows he’s got girlfriends but he says”yeah, but no one special” or something to that efect. I believe she loved him and he didn’t love her. in the show, when she fell dead, she was bleeding at her nose and mouth, now i know it’s just a show, but could it have been hemmoraging(sp?) or something like that? anyway, it’s very sad all those people dead. by the way, looking at her picture, I think Roseanna was a very pretty girl.

  96. Applacian Lady:after Randall McCoy;s cabin was burned and the guys hit his wife. later on , she was sent “away”. in the show she didn’t appear to have physical wounds or mental for that matter. is that try and if so , do you know exactly what was wrong? the 3 most moving moments for me in that movie was the burning cabin, ans and johnse at the lake fishing, and Ellisons murder. (I guess they were portrayed truthfully.) one more question :) what was wrong with Cotton? and why was Cotton allowed to take all of the blam? that was cruesl. I don’t even think, according to the movie, he knew what or why.SAD

    • From what I was told and have read, she had some sort of brain injury, combined with the stress she had been under for so long. I may be completely wrong about that, though, so hopefully some McCoys reading here can fill us in on what happened to her.

      The murder of Ellison seemed pretty accurate, but they did not show the real extent of the stabbing (though that may have been too graphic for television). He was stabbed something like 30+ times, if I recall correctly. The burning of the McCoy home was actually much more dramatic in real life, with a Hatfield supporter being on the roof to set fire, and Randall McCoy shooting through the roof with a shotgun, blowing off several of his fingers.

      I honestly do not know if the fishing part ever happened, but if it did, there is no doubt in my mind that Anse never planned or even thought about killing Johnse. Everything he did was to protect his family, after all. He did at some point tell Johnse that the McCoy girls were still McCoys and therefore would always be loyal to the McCoys, and that he was never to discuss Hatfield family business in front of them. I think that conversation probably happened after it became clear he was talking out of school, because even today, we would just assume that no one is discussing family business outside the family.

      Cotton was what we call in these parts dimwitted. That means he was not smart, but he was not mentally retarded or childlike, either. He was mostly just mentally ill, as is supported by the official records. At one point while he was awaiting execution, they even considered calling in a psychiatrist (which was really not done back then) because they were concerned about executing an insane person. They ultimately did not do that, though, because some believed he was faking to delay the execution. However, he was not faking at all. He really was mentally ill, sadly enough.

  97. Absolutely fascinated by the topic especially after watching the series on the HC. I admire your ability to relay your stories as fairly and diplomaticaly as possible given the natural bias that comes from oral history by your ancestors.

    I look forward to reading more on the topic and will be following the comments closely as they too, are filled with interesting information.

    Thanks for the great read!

      • That is an extremely good question. I just looked, and I guess you can follow responses to your comments by checking a box when you make the comment. I do not see anything which allows you to follow all the comments, though. Let me see if I can figure out how to do that, or if you even can, and I will respond back to you again. :-)

        • You have to do it by individual blog. Once you make a comment you can chose to follow and it does follow all comments for that particular blog. I had no comment to make on the other blog so I just commented ‘follow” so I could check the box to follow all comments.

          I hope that was clear…I dont feel like I did a very good job explaining it lol

  98. Random question. Do you know why Johnse Hatfield and his wife are not in the Hatfield family photo that is the header of your blog? He was still alive then, and not in prison. Just wondering — maybe as simple as “he was somewhere else that day,” but it is just interesting that he was one of the most controversial figures in the family and he’s not in it. Love the blog!

    • Back then, family photos were taken by traveling salesmen. This is how that one was taken, and it was the idea of the photographer for the men to hold their firearms in the photo. Of course there were no phones, so there was no way to contact anyone else for the photo. They just took a photo with whoever was there at the time.

  99. Hi Appalachian Lady,
    I think the story is told as a love story because it’s more interesting.My take is the feud started over a lot of little things, Devil Anse deserting and Randal staying and coming home to see that Anse had made a lot of money logging.I heard an interesting tale today from a gentlemen who’sgrandfather was a Constable in that area.He said Devil Anse had an affair with Roseanna and that she was not a good girl.That was a rumor I’m sure but I found it interesting.Back then people married a lot, it was not a big deal to be married 3 or 4 times.I notice these old pictures, everyone looks angry and supposedly the people in the feud that were supposed be attractive arent very in these old pics.LOL!!Must be the lighting.

    • Back then, from what I was told, it was considered improper to smile in photos. I am honestly not sure why, though. I remember asking about that when I was a kid, but no one could ever really tell me why it was improper to smile, LOL.

      I have never heard of Devil Anse having an affair with Roseanna. However, that does not mean it did not happen, so who knows what the truth may be.

      So if it happened, it happened, and I have no problem with the truth being told. :-)

      • The reason people weren’t smiling in photos back then was two fold. One, there wasn’t the access to dental care that we have now so people’s mouths were in pretty bad shape, (missing teeth, rotted teeth, ect) so they were reluctant to smile.
        The other reason is that it took awhile for the photographer to set up his shot so the people would have to sit very still for quite a long time and by the time he was ready to snap the picture, they were tired of the whole thing and probably didn’t feel like smiling very much.

  100. Thank you Appalachian Lady for posting your accounting from your family’s stories. I found the mini-series fascinating but it also encouraged me to learn more about the truth of what really happened. I figured the portrayal of Johnse’s personality in the HC mini-series was much sweeter and innocent than it actually was and your post confirmed that. Your description seems much truer to how people behave in the real world. What I got out of the mini-series version was how some grudges and resentments between two men which did seem to begin with their Civil War experiences, escalated and magnified when passed down to their children and exploded in to violence, loss and grief for both families. Randall McCoy and Anse Hatfield seemed to be at the very least tolerant of each other. It would definitely be interesting to hear the stories from the McCoy side too. But I’m so glad to know that both families are past the feud, have intermarried and acknowledge rather than hide this colorful part of American history and culture. I also found your comments about the importance of the mother & son relationships and the power that women had interesting too. As my Dad came from the midwest, I found this to be true with his family as well.

  101. Thank you for providing so much inside information! I have always had an interest in the Appalachian region and the characters associated with it, since I am related to the Clark’s, Miller’s, and (WV founding family) Morgans. Frankly, I see through the various geneologies where all three families have intermingled with the Hatfields through marriage, but I have suspicions that all the long-standing families in West Virginia are related to each other anyway. ;) I am good friends with Sonya and Melissa (Missy) Hatfield and find the history of all parties involved to be fascinating. Missy and I are going out for drinks later this week to talk about the series and family lore…but I just wanted to thank you for the information and photos you’ve shared. :)

  102. Hi Applalachian Lady: Awesome job you posted here. I have a question for you and for Tammy Daniels. They said Sarah went to a mental institution. Is that where she died or did she die at home with Randall? Also How many McCoy children were left after the three boys died and Roseanna? So Wall was the one who judged over the the McCoys cousins trial when they killed Staton? Was Wall the one who was the judge over the pig trial? Did he ride with Devil Anse to get the McCoys that killed Ellison? Who went to Jail, was it Preacher or Wall? Who married Johnse to Nancy? Thank you again. Cant wait to here more stories.

  103. Agree with everyone, love this site. May well end up being the end all for H/M history. so…my question(s) are I thought one of the more intriguing characters was Nancy; what was her deal? did she really marry Johnse out of revenge? ditto that for “Bad Frank”? and she had kids with them both too?

    Some McCoy folks may need to jump in here but I thought the series seemed to clearly favor the Hatfields; is this how it really turned out? Randall McCoy was obviously seriously “broken” by the war but the series made it seem like he was like a cult leader or something, and sort of oblivious to what was happening around him/how to deal with it. Seemed like he should of been doing more. Or less. Depending on how you look at it. Once the house burned though, it was over…
    His sons, uncles, cousins, “kin” etc would, in real life, maybe stepped in to help him run the family and deal with the feud, given his recent return home and instability?
    I don’t think there was any good guy or bad guy; just a situation that got out of hand and everyone was to blame.

    Also agree with the guy who commented about moonshine; could of made them all crazy, drinking that stuff every day…even that much whiskey will throw you off a bit.

    One more thing, the battle; the series made it anti climatic – didn’t last long and didn’t seem to accomplish anything; looked as if the Hatfield’s lost or at least withdrew from the field. Is this what really went down?

    Thanks for setting us straight.

    • Those armed battles went on and on and on, and the miniseries didn’t really show an accurate picture of how bad it really was; the National Guard even had to be called in, just to give you an idea.

      I think that Randall was terribly affected by the war, especially having been a prisoner of war. I personally view him as a very tragic figure, despite all that happened. It wasn’t his fault that he ended up that way, anymore than it’s the fault of an Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD.

      In my opinion as a Hatfield, the series unfairly painted the Hatfields in a much better light than the McCoys, which surprised me quite a bit. In reality, as you noted, both families were to blame. There was nothing stopping the Hatfields from just avoiding from the McCoys (and vice versa), especially since Devil Anse knew that Randall was no longer right in his mind, and they used to be good friends.

      So placing pretty much all the blame on the McCoys was dramatic license, I think. The feud was never fair, and never could be. Devil Anse was a natural-born soldier and strategist, whereas the McCoys lacked that skill, so once it came down to an actual war between the families, it became an extremely dangerous situation.

      Devil Anse should have just walked away from the situation altogether, ignored Randall’s insane behavior since it was obvious that he was mentally affected by the war and no longer thinking clearly; and ordered his family to avoid the McCoys at all costs. It wouldn’t have been easy, since they lived close and many McCoys worked for Devil Anse, but it could have been done because people here do it every day.

      Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.

  104. There is only one area of your family’s oral history that I feel unfairly softens one’s view of the Hatfields. In an era of shotgun marriages, I don’t believe that Anse Hatfield was respecting the McCoy’s by not allowing a marriage of Johnse and Roseanne due to lack of McCoy parental approval. That could possibly have been true until her pregnancy. At that point any marriage, even to a Hatfield would have better served Roseanne’s , and, therefore, McCoy, honor given the culture and time.

    I am sure that Johnse’s mother felt empathy and pity for Roseanne. But, she wasn’t being kind saving Roseanne from a bad marriage and a resultant divorce & poverty. She simply was not forcing her son to marry and/or not going against her husband. At that time, any woman with a child and no husband would have a difficult time surviving. But the child of the divorced woman would be considered legitimate. The never-married mom and her bastard child would be lower on the social scale and she would probably have less chances of remarrying.
    From the way the Hatfield family history has a soft view of Roseanne, one can sense the shame.

    • Thanks for a very interesting viewpoint on the Johnsie/Roseanna relationship. Since I just got the stories from my grandmother, it’s possible that you’re right.

      You’re definitely right that there is a sense of shame for the way Roseanna was treated, which even I feel. Perhaps that shame colored the stories I was told, especially since I heard them from a very elderly woman who, now that I think about it, undoubtedly had considered what it would be like to be treated that way herself.

  105. Hi all,

    I, too, am a Hatfield descendant, although I have no clue how far or close down the line I am. My great grandmother, Josephine Hatfield Pagan, had pics of the Hatfield clan in her home when I was growing up. They were black/white and no one smiled, which I found odd as a child; there weren’t any black/white pics in my house, or my grandmother’s, and I thought you were required to smile for a photo :) I remember a pic of Devil Anse with a baby on his knee and I can’t recall now whether the baby was my great grandmother or if I just assumed this. I was always told that the bloodshed started with the pig, although the stories were watered down to the G-rated version since I was just a kid.

    Thanks so much for this blog. I will be visiting here often and would love to read the McCoy perspective.

  106. Applalachian Lady well told story I did’nt read all the chat “too long” but being from the area it sounds right in the thinking about how kin folk and friends are treated. You better look out if your a outsider we stick tight around here.

  107. Appalalachian Lady, you did a magnificant job with this blog, I have been reading since May 31, after watching the History Channel mini series. I had been looking forward to the mini series for weeks, and loved it, but I want more. Your writing is spectacular, and your willing to answer so many questions is honorable.
    Do you recommend any books that may have accurate information?

  108. Loved the mini-series on History Channel. By part 3 I found myself online, researching the feud, to see how close to reality it was. I found numerous newspaper articles, including a New York article on Cotton Top’s hanging. They probably could have done a Part 4, because Part 3 did seem a bit rushed. It was interesting to read your account, as told to you by your grandmothers. I will assume as it is as close to a fact that we’re going to find these days. It may be possible that somewhere out there are newspaper articles from 1888-1890, that tell each family’s version of events, especially since each state’s governor was involved in some way. Thanks for putting the story online “Appalachian Lady”.

  109. I have researched the feud for many years. The mini-series is in fact very inaccurate. So very many points had no truth to them at all. There is no reason for taking poetic license when in so many ways the truth is much more interesting than the story they told.

    Perry Cline is maligned in the mini-series. So lets set the record straight about him. Perry was 13 when his father died. His father was very rich holding thousands and thousands of acres. He gave all his children about 2500 acres or so. He gave a parcel of 5,000 acres to his youngest sons Jacob and Perry. He gave stewardship of some of their holdings to their oldest brother and he assigned an attorney as guardian. Shortly afterward the attorney resigned his position and Col. John Dils became guardian of Perry. Frank Phillips, also an orphan, was taken in by John Dils when his attorney resigned. So Perry Cline and Frank Phillips were both raised together as foster children under the same roof. (The mini-series sets them up as strangers)

    As for him being a snake I hardly believe that characterization is fair at all. But it is understandable that Hatfield’s would hate him because he sought the capture of Hatfield’s. Until the mini-series, I never heard of any such claim that Perry Cline trying to defraud Devil Anse. In all of my research the only thing that I have ever found was Devil Anse accused young Perry of cutting some timber on his 50 acres of land that sat next to Perry and Jacob’s 5000 acres. Devil Anse sued and after several years was awarded Perry’s 5,000 acres as compensation for supposedly, accidentally cutting a small portion of trees from Devil Anse’s 50 acres. I would like to see evidence, if any exists, that Perry tried to defraud Devil Anse.

    If anyone thinks that Perry Cline was the main instigator of the feud and then believes the murder of Asa Harmon McCoy had little to do with the feud they are either foolish or simply do not know who Perry Cline is. The mini-series calls him a cousin of ‘old Randal, well by marriage this is true as he was married to Martha McCoy one of Randal and Sarah’s cousins. His sister Martha Cline was married to Asa Harmon McCoy. So he is the brother-in-law of Asa Harmon McCoy. Harmon’s death had serious impact on Perry’s sister. Perry was 20 years old when his sister’s husband was murdered. According to Lark McCoy, Perry’s nephew the son of Asa Harmon, Perry’s sister Martha found her husband after she ran into Devil Anse Hatfield. (the account does not state who else if anyone was with Devil Anse at the time) Martha followed Devil Anse’s tracks in the snow to Harmon’s dead body. So they believed, with good reason, that Devil Anse was involved. She believed that Harmon had been tied up before being shot. Dr. Coleman Hatfield supports the story in his book, when he says that Harmon was tied when Jim Vance accidentally shot Harmon in the head.

    Also consider, Asbury and Flemming Hurley were murdered while being held as prisoners of war by Devil Anse Hatfield during the Civil War. Asbury was married to a Cline cousin of Perry’s. It is also alleged that Devil Anse and Wall Hatfield killed another Cline cousin, Riley Sansom, for helping Asbury and Fleming by bringing them food while they were in hiding. All this leaves a lot of honest motivations for Cline to seek revenge on the Hatfield’s.

    Motivations that went into overdrive once Devil Anse rode into KY with an armed troop of men and took the McCoy boys from the legal custody of his Hatfield cousins that were escorting the McCoys to Pike County Jail under charges of murder. Devil Anse short changed the law, when his brother died they held a mock trial with Wall Hatfield as judge, found them guilty and then murdered the McCoys without a fair trial. It has been admitted by several Hatfield members that Bud McCoy, the youngest, was not involved in the murder of Ellison Hatfield and he would most probably have been found innocent in court. It is suspected that Calvin McCoy was actually the third McCoy involved, he and bud looked very similar.

    I will leave you with just a few of the many inaccuracies:

    Phamer McCoy shot Ellison Hatfield in the back. He did it because Ellison Hatfield, was about to smash Tolbert McCoy’s head in with a rock.

    The fact is Ellison provoked a fight with Tolbert McCoy who was quite drunk at the time. He was unhappy about the death of Bill Staton, his brother-in-law, and the fact that Tolbert had just thrashed his cousin “Bad Lias” Hatfield into a fight over not paying $1.84 he owed on a fiddle Tolbert sold him.

    The series showed, Preacher Anse’s brother, Elias, “Bad Lias” as if he were Devil Anse’s brother “Good Lias”.

    Perry Cline was married and was not chasing Roseanna McCoy.

    Jim Vance was married and his wife ran and hollered to Jim and Cap Hatfield when she saw the McCoy posse coming. They were not ambushed in the woods, a gunfight took place at Jim’s house. Vance was killed and Cap got away. I do not remember ever hearing anything about Cap being shot.

    The McCoys were not holding Johnse Hatfield in Harmon’s old cabin to kill him. They were taking him to Pikeville Jail on warrants for bootlegging, something one would not normally be arrested for in the mountains by other mountain folk. But the boys had heard about Johnse and Roseanna in the woods near aunt Betty’s house still carrying on a relationship. So they got the warrants and laid in wait for the two to meet. Roseanna rode hard to Devil Anse who gathered his armed troop and headed the McCoys off on the road to Pikeville. There is no evidence they were planning to kill Johnse.

    I have never heard of the McCoy boys trying to kill Johnse, nor have I ever heard a story about him being shot that I remember. If there are stories about this I would love to hear about them.

    Also since it has become a big question what happened to Johnse. He did move out west for a while and then came back, was arrested, served time, saved the Lt. Governor who pardoned him when he became governor. At least 2 of the 4 additional marriages attributed to Johnse was just shacking up. He died from a heart attack while riding his horse to his girlfriend’s house with flowers in his hand. He was still a mountain playboy at 60.

  110. I’m sorry but you make this story sound like this whole argument was because the McCoy family was dumb and playing games.. However if you remember the hatfields started all that crap. Also Anses wife being a strong lady has nothing to do with mothers in your family being strong women. None of you knew her so you can’t say just because she was strong you’re all strong or vice versa. Biased x 1000.

    • Actually, I made it abundantly clear that I’m biased on this issue, because as I stated repeatedly, I’m just repeating the oral family history as told to me when I was a child. I never claimed or even suggested otherwise.

      Insofar as women in the family being strong, you do realize that women learn how to be women by being raised by other women, right? Female strength is taught through example. As such, as a general rule, strong women beget strong women, while weak women beget weak women. Did I get my strength directly from Vicey? Of course not. I got it from my grandmother, who got it from her mother, and so on and so forth. There were strong women before Vicey too, so the same goes for her. Many women on both sides of my family passed down strength to their daughters over many, many years, for that strength to be passed down to me, and to other women in the family.

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