The Hatfield and McCoy Feud is one of the most famous feuds that was publicized back in the late 19th century. This feud lasted from 1863 to 1891, and both families were severely impacted. Many say this feud did not start in 1863, which to some truth it did. Asa McCoy, brother of the McCoy clan leader Randolph McCoy, arrived home from the Civil War after serving for the Union. Although Kentucky was a Confederate state, Asa Harmon served for the Union due to his beliefs. Asa Harmon was murdered by Devil Anse Hatfield and a group of Logan Wildcat Militia who served for Confederates. Although the McCoy family supported the Confederacy, Asa Harmon was still Randolph’s brother.
After Asa Harmon’s murder, the feud remained quiet until 1878 when Floyd Hatfield stole one of Randolph’s Hogs. Stealing a hog during this period was a serious offense since a hog could feed a family for almost an entire winter. When this was taken to court, Judge Valentine Hatfield ruled over the case with twelve Hatfield and McCoy evenly place on the Jury. This case was already in the Hatfield’s favor with Judge Hatfield and Selkirk McCoy who worked for Devil Anse. During this trial, Randolph’s nephew Bill Staton was a witness for Floyd Hatfield, and he stated Floyd never stole a hog from the McCoy family. This statement helped Selkirk decide Floyd’s fate by finding him not guilty. After the trial was over Selkirk was gifted a large amount of land from Devil Anse for being a loyal employee and did not have a happy ending. Two years after the hog trial, Bill was killed by his own cousins Sam and Paris McCoy. Both brothers were found not guilty due to there being no evidence and their lawyer Perry Cline arguing it was self-defense. Another murder between the two families.
In 1881, this feud only kept boiling, and a romance was about to erupt between the families again. Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy fall in love but only stay together for six months. After Devil Anse forced Johnse to leave her, she went home to be with her father Randolph, and he shunned her away from the family. Roseanna’s mother Sally McCoy learned she was pregnant with a Johnse’s baby, and she was sent to live with Sally’s sister. Roseanna’s baby would die of measles, and shortly after the child’s death Johnse Married Nancy McCoy. Nancy McCoy was the daughter of Asa McCoy, and this caused both families to be fired up with both romances that occurred.
In 1882, both families were pushed passed the limits causing war to break out between both families. At the yearly festival, both families attended with the knowledge of staying out of each other’s way. The only person who could not follow this small concept was Tolbert McCoy who was still angered at the Hatfield family. He was still embarrassed about the Hog trial and not being able to arrest Johnse when he became a special deputy. During the festival, Tolbert kept picking on Bad Lia’s Hatfield, and Ellison Hatfield grew tired of the young man. Ellison tried to stop Tolbert from picking on Bad Lias, but it led to a different situation. Tolbert and Ellison began to fight with Tolbert throwing the first swing. After the two shared swings, Tolbert’s brothers Bud and Pharmer joined the fight. The three boys stabbed Ellison over twenty times and shot him. The brothers began to flee on foot until they were captured by the Hatfield family. Devil Anse told Sally McCoy, that if his brothers live, they can have a fair trial, but if he dies, they will die as well. The following day Ellison died of his wounds and the three boys were tied to trees and executed. Months after this incident, Jeff McCoy, son of Asa McCoy was murdered by Cap Hatfield for being on the wrong side of the Tug River that represented the two territories.
In 1888, Randolph’s home was ambushed by the Hatfield clan. The house was caught on fire, and the family tried to escape. Randolph’s son Calvin gave his mother and sister time to flee. Calvin was killed on sight, and his sister Alifair was also murdered. Sally was beaten nearly to death, and the Hatfield clan left. The following year, Deputy Phillips along with a posse fought the Hatfield clan at Grapevine. The Hatfield clan retreated, and Cottontop Hatfield was arrested. Cottontop was found guilty in trial for murdering Alifair and was hung for his actions. In 1891, Kentucky and West Virginia Governors stepped in to end the war, but it was too late. Both families lost everything they had in the war, which was escalated by stealing a pig.