New Year’s Raid (1888): Randolph McCoy’s Testimony

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Randolph McCoy’s testimony in the Johnse Hatfield murder trial provides one version of the Hatfield raid upon McCoy’s home on January 1, 1888:

Q. “How old are you?”

A. “I was born in 1825.”

Q. “Begin in your own way, and tell all about the case that you know.”

A. “The first thing I knew about it the dogs woke me up. My boy came to the bed and said, ‘Pa, they are coming. Get up.’ And by that time I was up on the floor, and they had surrounded the house and 1 heard one of them say, ‘God damn ye, come out and surrender yourselves, prisoners of war.’ We never spoke. By that time, they had come past the upper house as we called it. We got behind that door that broke. They fired a volley each way in the house and I moved for I saw that I could not stay there. Next, I went to the fireplace. Calvin went to the back of the house. They shot cross shots from each side of the door, through the doors. I stayed there a good while. They kept shooting and, finally, I went into the loft. The firing kept up a long time. I thought it a long time. Finally, they fired the house, the room that I was in, me and my wife, Calvin, and Melvin was in the same room. I took a cup and when the blaze would come through the house I would throw water on it and it out. Finally, the water gave out. The boy had gone up in the loft and I went up where he was. We stayed in the house until three of the joists had burned and the end of the joists had fell down before we had attempted to leave the house. The boy then came to me and said, ‘Pa, ye stay here, I can out-run you and I will go to the barn and try to attract their attention in that direction and maybe I can save you.’ He started and got past the corner of the house when they began firing again. He never got to the barn. The little boy hung onto me but I shoved him loose at the door and went out among them. I stepped out of the house and saw Johnson Hatfield standing eight or ten steps from the rest of them, and just as I stepped out of the house and looked up his gun fired in the direction of Calvin. I discovered that his gun had caught fowl and he was humped down working on it. I fired into the crowd then turned and fired at Johnson. I aimed to shoot him in the neck, but I aimed too low and shot him in the shoulder. The burning house made it as light as day and I know that it was Johnson.”

Q. “What did you do when you shot Johnson, the defendant?”

A. “I ran down the creek.”

Q. “Where did you go then?”

A. “I crawled into the shuck pen.”

Q. “Did you have on your night clothes?”

A. “Yes sir.”

Q. “Where was Alafair McCoy?”

A. “She was in the upper part of the house. They did not fire that until the shots were fired at the other—the room we were in.”

Q. “What did you hear at that time?”

A. “I heard Alafair say, ‘Cap Hatfield and Hence Chambers, you would not shoot a poor innocent woman, would you?’ Then they said, ‘Shoot her, God damit, shoot her down. Spare neither men nor woman,’ and they shot her in the left breast. I heard her fall and struggle near the door. This was all before I came out of the house.”

Q. “Where did you stay that night?”

A. “In the shuck pen, I went back at daylight.”

Q. “What did you find?”

A. “I found my son lying there dead. My daughter dead with her hair froze in her blood to her heart.”

Q. “Was the house there?”

A. “No sir, it was burned up. The little girl had dragged her sister off from the house.”

Q. “How far from the house?”

A. “About thirty yards.”

Q. “How many shots did they fire?”

A. “No man could count them. They came in volleys and platoons.”

Q. “Did you have a gun too?”

A. “Yes sir.”

Q. “Was your wife in her night clothes?”

A. “Yes sir, they thought they had killed her, no doubt, or I think they would have done so.”

Nancy E. Hatfield Memories, Part 3 (1974)

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Howard B. Lee, former Attorney General of West Virginia, provided this account of Nancy Hatfield (widow of Cap) in the early 1970s:

“Mrs. Hatfield, your husband and his father bore the same given names: ‘William Anderson’. How did they get the nicknames of ‘Cap’ and ‘Devil Anse’?”

“It is very simple,” she replied. “Early in life Devil Anse’s name was shortened to ‘Anse.’ During and after the Civil War he was called ‘Captain Anse’. The son, because he had the same name as his father, was called ‘Little Cap’. As the boy grew larger, the word ‘Little’ was dropped. Also, because of their fierceness in feud combats, the McCoys called the father ‘Devil Anse’ and the son ‘Bad Cap’. The newspapers took up the names and they stuck. Devil Anse liked and cultivated the title; but eventually the word ‘Bad’ was dropped from Cap’s nickname.

“Was I afraid? For years, day and night, I lived in fear. Afraid for my own safety, and for the safety of my loved ones. Constant fear is a terrible emotion. It takes a heavy toll, mentally and physically.

“I now think that my most anxious moments, as well as my greatest thrill, came years after the feud was over. In 1922, Tennis Hatfield and another deputy sheriff went over to Pikeville, Kentucky, to return a prisoner wanted in Logan County. While there, Tennis visited the aged Randolph McCoy1, surviving leader of his clan during the feud. (Tennis was born long after the feud was over.) The old man was delighted to see Devil Anse’s youngest son’, and Tennis spent the night with him.

“The next morning, Randolph told Tennis that he was going home with him. ‘I want to see Cap,’ he said, ‘and tell him how glad I am that I didn’t kill him. I am sorry Devil Anse is gone. I would like to see him, too.’ Tennis was worried. He didn’t know how Cap would receive his old enemy. So he left Randolph in Logan while he acme up to our place to consult Cap.

“Cap listened to Tennis’ story, and said: ‘Does he come in peace?’ ‘Yes,’ said Tennis. ‘He comes in peace.’ ‘Does he come unarmed?’ ‘Yes, he comes unarmed.’ ‘Then I shall be happy to greet him in the same way. Bring him up for supper and he shall spend the night with us.

“My anxious moments were just before these two strong-willed men met. I knew how they had hated each other, that each had tried to kill the other, more than once, that each had killed relatives and friends of the other, and I was afraid of what they might do when they stood face to face.

“My thrill came when I saw them clasp hands, and heard each one tell the other how happy he was to see him. They talked far into the night, and bother were up early the next morning, eager to continue their talks. Tennis came about one o’clock to drive Randolph back to his Kentucky home. Cap watched them until they passed out of sight up the creek, and then remarked, ‘You know, I always did like that cantankerous old cuss.’

“Cap and Randolph never saw each other again.”

1Should be Jim McCoy, son of Randolph.

Source: West Virginia Women (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 152-153

Albert G. McCoy Property in Magnolia District (1881-1887)

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The following land information is derived from Land Book 1880-1886 and Land Book 1887-1892 at the Logan County Clerk’s Office in Logan, WV:

Albert G. McCoy (of Logan County)1

[On April 15, 1880, Asa and Nellie McCoy deeded 75 acres to A.G. McCoy for $200. References the first hollow below the forks of Sulphur Creek. A.W. Ferrell was a justice of the peace. Deed Book __, page 189-190.]

[On April 15, 1880, Asa and Nellie McCoy deeded 50 acres to Albert G. McCoy for $50. References the first hollow on the right hand side of Sulphur. Deed Book __, page __.]

1881: Magnolia District

75 acres Sulphur Creek Sandy River $1.75 per acre no building $131.25 total

[transferred from Asa McCoy]

1882: Magnolia District

Pages missing.

1883: Magnolia District

Pages are mostly blank

1884-1885 Magnolia District

75 acres Sulphur Creek Sandy River $2 per acre no building $150 total

50 acres Sulphur Creek Sandy River $2 per acre $20 building $100 total

1886-1887: Magnolia District

125 acres Sulphur Creek Sandy River $2 per acre $20 building $250 total

***

1Son of Asa McCoy, brother of Selkirk McCoy.

Sarah Ann McCoy Property in Magnolia District (1873-1887)

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The following land information is derived from Land Book 1873-1874 and Land Book 1880-1886 at the Logan County Clerk’s Office in Logan, WV:

Sally McCoy (of Logan County)

No property listed in 1865-1872.

[Note: Her name is given as Sally McCoy in 1873-1874, then as Sarah Ann McCoy in 1875-1876.]

1873-1874: Magnolia District

200 acres John Ferrell Farm and Vance &c $2.50 per acre no building $500 total

[Transferred from E. Rutherford.]

1875-1876: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $2.50 per acre $25 building $500 total

1877: Magnolia District

No records for this year for Magnolia District

1878: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $2.50 per acre $25 building $500 total

[Note: Her name is listed as Sary Ann McCoy of Logan County.]

1879: Magnolia District

No records for this year for Magnolia District

1880: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $2.50 per acre $25 building $500 total

1881: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $3 per acre $30 building $350 total

1882: Magnolia District

Missing pages.

1883: Magnolia District

Pages are mostly blank.

1884: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $3.50 per acre $30 building $790 total

1885: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $3.50 per acre $30 building $700 total

1886-1887: Magnolia District

200 acres Sandy River $3.50 per acre no building $700 total

William McCoy Property in Magnolia District (1878-1887)

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The following land information is derived from Land Book 1873-1874Land Book 1880-1886, and Land Book 1887-1892 at the Logan County Clerk’s Office in Logan, WV:

William McCoy (of Logan County)

No property listed in 1865-1877.

1878: Magnolia District

[On February 11, 1878, Asa and Nellie McCoy deeded 150 acres to William McCoy for $500. References the mouth of Mate Creek and the land occupied by William McCoy. Ephraim Hatfield was justice of the peace. Deed Book __, page 484-485.]

150 acres Sandy River $1.75 per acre no building $262.50 total

[Transferred from Asa McCoy.]

1879: Magnolia District

No records for this year for Magnolia District

1880: Magnolia District

150 acres Sandy River $1.75 per acre no building $262

1881: Magnolia District

150 acres Sandy River $2.50 per acre $25 building $500 total

[100 acres to S. Simpkins and M.B. Lawson]

1882: Magnolia District

Pages missing.

1883: Magnolia District

Pages are mostly blank

1884-1885: Magnolia District

50 acres Sandy River $4 per acre $25 building $200 total

1886-1887: Magnolia District

50 acres Sandy River $4 per acre no building $200 total