Appalachia, attorney general, Betty Caldwell, Cap Hatfield, cemeteries, Devil Anse Hatfield, feuds, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Howard B. Lee, Jim Comstock, Logan, Logan County, Nancy Hatfield, politics, Republican Party, Robert Elliott Hatfield, Sarah Ann, Tennis Hatfield, West Virginia, West Virginia Women, Willis Hatfield
Howard B. Lee, former Attorney General of West Virginia, provided this account of Nancy Hatfield (widow of Cap) in the early 1970s:
Over the years, much has been written about the male members of the Hatfield clan who took part in that early orgy of blood-letting–the Hatfield-McCoy feud. But nothing has been said concerning the indomitable wives of that stalwart breed of men.
My purpose is to pay a richly deserved tribute to one of those pioneer women–the late Nancy Elizabeth, wife of William Anderson Hatfield, common known “Cap,” second son of Devil Anse, and the most deadly killer of the feud.
More than 30 years have passed since I last talked with her; but I still regard Nancy Elizabeth Hatfield as the most remarkable and unforgettable woman of the mountains.
In the spring of 1924, I was a candidate in the primary election for the Republican nomination for attorney general, and I wanted the Hatfield influence. Devil Anse had died in 1921, and his mantle of leadership of the clan had fallen to his oldest living son, Cap–a power in Logan County politics.
I had met Cap, casually, in 1912, but I had not seen him since that meeting. But his sister, Mrs. Betty Caldwell, and her husband, lived in my county of Mercer, and were among my political supporters. To pave the way for my later meeting with Cap, I had Mrs. Caldwell write and ask him to support me.
Later, when campaigning in the City of Logan, I engaged a taxi to take me the few miles up Island Creek to Cap’s home. The car stopped suddenly and the driver pointed to a comfortable-looking farm house on the other side of the creek and said:
“That’s Cap’s home, and that’s Cap out there by the barn.”
I told him to return for me in two hours.
Cap saw me get out of the car, and, as I crossed the creek on an old-fashioned footlog. I saw him fold his arms across his chest and slip his right hand under his coat. Later, I noticed a large pistol holstered under his left arm. Even in that late day, Cap took no chances with strangers. When I got within speaking distance, I told him my name, and that I had come to solicit his support in my campaign for attorney general. He gave me a hearty handclasp, and said:
“My sister, Mrs. Caldwell, wrote us about you. But, let’s go to the house, my wife is the politician in our family.”
Cap was reluctant to commit himself “so early.” But Nancy Elizabeth thought otherwise. Finally, Cap agreed to support me; and, with that point settled, we visited until my taxi returned.
Meanwhile, with Cap’s approval, Nancy Elizabeth gave me the accompanying, heretofore unpublished photograph of the Devil Anse Clan. In 1963 I rephotographed it and sent a print to Willis Hatfield (number 22 in picture), only survivor of Devil Anse, who made the identification. Nancy Elizabeth is number 16, and the baby in her lap is her son, Robert Elliott, born April 29, 1897. Therefore, the photograph must have been made late in 1897, or early in 1898.
A few months after Cap’s death (August 22, 1930), the West Virginia newspaper publishers and editors held their annual convention in Logan. I was invited to address the group at a morning session. That same day, Sheriff Joe Hatfield and his brother, Tennis, younger brothers of Cap, gave an ox-roast dinner for the visiting newsmen and their guests. The picnic was held on a narrow strip of bottom land, on Island Creek, a half-mile below the old home of Devil Anse.
I ate lunch with Nancy Elizabeth and her sister-in-law, Betty Caldwell. After lunch, at the suggestion of Mrs. Caldwell, we three drove up the creek to the old home of her father–Devil Anse. It was a large, two-story, frame structure (since destroyed by fire, then occupied by Tennis Hatfield, youngest son of Devil Anse).
The most interesting feature in the old home was Devil Anse’s gun-room. Hanging along its walls were a dozen, or more, high-powered rifles, and a number of large caliber pistols, ranging from teh earliest to the latest models. “The older guns,” said Nancy Elizabeth, “were used in the feud.”
As we returned, we stopped at the family cemetery that clings uncertainly to the steep mountainside, overlooking the picnic grounds. There, among the mountains he loved and ruled, old Devil Anse found peace. A life-size statue of the old man, carved in Italy (from a photograph) of the finest Carrara marble, stands in majestic solitude above his grave. On its four-foot high granite base are carved the names of his wife and their thirteen children.
Source: West Virginia Women (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 149-151
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Logan Memorial Park was a “perpetual care” cemetery established in the late 1920s in McConnell, Logan County, WV. The cemetery contains the final remains of many noteworthy Loganites, including Mamie Thurman, whose 1932 murder continues to tantalize regional residents. The Logan Banner reported on the cemetery’s beginnings on September 7, 1928:
Work Rapidly In Developing Burial Park
With Brush Cut and Loose Rock Being Hauled for Surface, Road Work Starts Soon
BEAUTIFYING COMES SOON
Plans Call for Use of Skilled Landscape Gardeners to Aid in Placing Shrubbery
Conclusive proof that Logan is soon to have a modern burial part embodying all the improvements found in the highest type institutions of this kind anywhere was afforded a reporter of The Logan Banner in an inspection of the work being done near McConnell by the Logan Memorial Park company.
Much work was found to have been done already. Brush and undergrowth has been cleaned off the entire 20 acre tract. This will finally include the grubbing of stumps and raking up the trash until the entire tract can be mowed with a lawnmower. Several hundred sled loads of loose rock have already been hauled to the banks of the small stream that flows through the central part of the tract, where a rubble stone embankment will be built near the water course to be covered with vines and shrubbery.
All surface rocks will be removed, blasting being resorted to loosen the larger ones. Several hundred holes were drilled in the surface of the entire plot of ground before it was decided that it would be a suitable place for burial purposes. It was found that there was no ledge rock on the entire tract except at one small spot.
Work is now in progress in preparation for the concrete road to be built from the state road into the park. A ditch suitable for the placing of 26-inch tile to carry the small stream out of the park is being dug. The C. & O. had two steam shovels at work Wednesday cleaning off a sidetrack, unused for several years and submerged by silt from the roadside, preparatory to setting out a carload of tile. It will be laid at once and then the making of a grade for the concrete will follow.
This entrance is between the residence of Burgess and Aldridge. Options have already been secured on property adjacent so that a large stone and iron entrance can be built just off the state road. From that point the hard surfaced road passes up the hollow to where a natural amphitheater provides several acres of smooth land where the first section of the park will be developed. The improved road will entirely encircle this plot so that easy access will be afforded and each lot will be reached by either the roadway or paths.
At the lower end of the natural amphitheater stand several houses that were formerly the property of the Aldridge Coal Company. The present tenants have been ordered to vacate these and they will be torn down.
Water will be supplied to the entire section now being developed and in the spring the entire tract will be plowed and seeded to the best grass obtainable. At that time much shrubbery, from the best nursery stock, will be planted under the direction of competent landscape gardeners.
The Bannerman was in doubt as to the closeness of this tract to the Courthouse, so it was metered and clocked. It proved to be 2 1/2 miles in distance and it was driven easily in traffic in six minutes. Thus there will be the dual advantages of the great natural and enhanced beauty of the Logan Memorial Park site and proximity to the town.
The earnest desire of the company to get this memorial park ready for those desiring to use it is shown in the rush that characterizes the work of cleaning it of brush and rock and in getting in a permanent road. More than a dozen men have been at work ever since the charter was granted and others will be added as more projects get under way simultaneously. The permanent road is to be laid immediately. The rubble stone wall along the stream will come later, but every bit of the work is to be pushed as rapidly as men can do it.
The perpetual care which the charter confirms to the lot owner will no doubt be a great inducement. Already interested parties are inquiring about when it will be open for inspection. Q.L. Stewart, the manager, assures them that no avoidable delay will be allowed to intervene.
Here’s a WPA map of the cemetery dating from the 1930s:
This 1938 map of the cemetery is located in the Logan County Clerk’s office:
Here are photographs of the cemetery in 2020:
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