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.