Appalachia, Cap Hatfield, civil war, Devil Anse Hatfield, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Howard B. Lee, Island Creek, Kentucky, Logan, Logan County, Nancy E. Hatfield, Pikeville, Randolph McCoy, Tennis Hatfield, West Virginia
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
Abe C. Ferrell, Appalachia, civil war, Devil Anse Hatfield, farming, genealogy, Greenville Taylor, history, Kentucky, Lewis Sowards, Logan County, M.C.W. Sowards, Peach Orchard, Peter Creek, Pike County, R.M. Ferrell, Thomas J. Sowards, West Virginia
The deposition of Anderson Hatfield taken on the 20th day of August 1869 at the house of Greenville Taylor near the mouth of Peter Creek in Pike County Ky. To be read as evidence in behalf of the defendant (Jacob Cline) in the suit of M.C.W. Sowards, Lewis Sowards, and Thos. J. Sowards, plantiff, against Jacob Cline, defendant, pending in Pike Circuit Court.
The deponent Anderson Hatfield of lawful age and being by me first sworn deposeth and says:
Question: State your age residence and occupation.
Ans. I am 30 years old my residence in Logan Co., West Virginia. My occupation is farmer.
Question by same: Are you acquainted with the defendant Jacob Cline?
Ans. Yes sir.
Question by : Do you or not know how deft Cline happened to go with the squad to take Sowards goods at Peach Orchard Ky.?
Ans. He had come back from the Federal army and give up to the rebels and they were talking around that if he did not join the rebels that they would kill him and he joined the rebels under these circumstances and went to Peach Orchard. He made several excuses to get out of going but none of them were availing and he had to go.
Question by same. Did he go willingly or unwillingly?
Ans. He went unwillingly.
Question by same. State if you know where defendant Cline was at the time Sowards goods were taken.
Ans. He was on the point this side of the store of Sowards. Something near half a mile distant. He was placed there as a _____.
Question by same. Do you or not know who got the goods after they were taken from Sowards?
Ans. I do not know who all did get goods.
Question by same. Did Jacob Cline get any of the goods taken?
Ans. If he did I do not know it. He did not take any from the store. I was with him and come out with him from there and if he had any goods I did not see them. If he had any goods I think I would have certainly seen them.
Question by same. Would he not have endangered his life by refusing to go, taking everything into consideration that is all the surrounding circumstances of the case?
Ans. He was threatened that if he did not join the company and go he would be killed and this was by men who did kill sometimes.
Question by same. State as near as you can the amount of goods taken from Sowards also how much they had in store at the time of the robbery.
Ans. I don’t think there was exceeding $500.00 worth of goods in Sowards store at the time and I think $300.00 would be the greatest possible amount of the goods taken. And further this deponent saith not.
Attest. Abe C. Ferrell, Ex Anderson (his mark) Hatfield
1 days attendance 26 miles $2.04
State of Kentucky
I Abe C. Ferrell Examiner for County and state aforesaid do certify that the foregoing deposition of Anderson Hatfield was taken before me and was read to and subscribed by him in my presence at the time and place and in the action mentioned in the caption the said Anderson Hatfield having been by me first sworn that the evidence he should give in the action should be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and his statement reduced to writing by me in his presence the defendant Jacob Cline being above present at the examination. Given under my hand this 20th day of August 1869.
Abe C. Ferrell, Examiner
Examiners Fee 1 Deposition $1.00
Entering 1 witness 25 80 miles $4.00 $4.25
1 witness claim $7.29
[On the reverse side of the last paper:]
Jacob Cline & C
Ans: Deposition of Anderson Hatfield
M.C.W. Sowards & C
Filed Aug 24th 1869.
Abe C. Ferrell, D. for R.M. Ferrell, CPC
attorney general, Battle of Gravepine, Battle of Scary Creek, Cap Hatfield, Charleston, civil war, Confederate Army, crime, Dan Cunningham, detective, Devil Anse Hatfield, Ellison Mounts, feuds, Frank Phillips, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Howard B. Lee, Jim Comstock, Johnse Hatfeild, Kentucky, Logan Wildcats, Nancy Hatfield, Roseanna McCoy, Tug Fork, Union Army, West Virginia, West Virginia Women
Howard B. Lee, former Attorney General of West Virginia, provided this account of Nancy Hatfield (widow of Cap) in the early 1970s:
Our next stop was at the home of Nancy Elizabeth, the same home where I visited with her and Cap during my campaign. For nearly three hours I asked questions and listened to that remarkable woman recount many of her experiences as the wife of America’s most celebrated feudist.
Nancy Elizabeth’s home also held a number of guns, pistols, and other relics of the feud days. But the most interesting item was Cap’s bullet-proof, steel breastplate, designed to cover the entire front half of his body from his beck to his lower abdomen.
“Mrs. Hatfield,” I said, “judging from the three bullet marks on it, this breastplate was a great protection to Cap; but what was to prevent an enemy from shooting him in the back?” Her eyes flashed as she replied: “Mr. Lee, Cap Hatfield never turned his back on an enemy or a friend.”
“I have read two stories, Mrs. Hatfield, each purporting to give the true cause of the feud: One book stated that it was the result of a dispute between a McCoy and a Hatfield over the ownership of a hog. Another book said that it grew out of the seduction of a McCoy girl by Johnson Hatfield, oldest son of Devil Anse. Is either one of these stories true?”
“No, neither story is true,” she replied. “The McCoys lived on the Kentucky side of Tug River, and the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side. Hogs don’t swim rivers. I never heard the girl story until I read it in a book, written long after the feud was over. Both stories are pure fiction.”
“The truth is,” she continued, “in the fall of 1882, in an election-day fight between Ellison Hatfield, a younger brother of Devil Anse, and three McCoy brothers, Ellison was shot and knifed. He died two days later. In retaliation, Devil Anse and his clan captured and shot the three McCoy brothers. It was these four senseless killings that started the feud.”
In answer to my inquiry, Nancy Elizabeth said: “Yes, there had been ‘bad blood’ between the two families since the Civil War. In that struggle the Hatfields were ‘rebels’,–loyal to their State, Virginia. Devil Anse organized and was the captain of a company of Confederate sympathizers called the ‘Logan Wildcats’. They were recruited for local defense; but they left the county long enough to take part in the battle of Scary, fought along the banks of the Kanawha River, a few miles below Charleston.
“The McCoys, and their mountain neighbors, were pro-Union; and to protect their region against invasion by ‘Virginia rebels’, they organized a military company called ‘Home Guards’. There were occasional border clashes between the two forces, with casualties on both sides. The war ended only seventeen years before the feud began, and the bitterness still existed in the minds of the older generation, and they passed it on to their children. It was the old sectional and political hatreds that sparked the fight between Ellison Hatfield and the McCoy brothers.”
Nancy Elizabeth declined to estimate the number killed on either side of the feud.
“It was a horrible nightmare to me,” she said. “Sometimes, for months, Cap never spent a night in our house. He and Devil Anse, with others, slept in the nearby woods to guard our homes against surprise attacks. At times, too, we women and our children slept in hidden shelters in the forests.
“But these assaults were not one-sided affairs. The Hatfields crossed the Tug and killed McCoys. It was a savage war of extermination, regardless of age or sex. Finally, to get our children to a safer locality, we Hatfields left Tug River, crossed the mountains, and settled here on Island Creek, a tributary of the Guyandotte River.
“No, there was no formal truce ending hostilities. After a decade or more of fighting and killing, both sides grew tired and quit. The McCoys stayed in Kentucky and the Hatfields kept to West Virginia. The feud was really over a long time before either side realized it.
“Yes, Kentucky offered a large reward for the capture of Devil Anse and Cap. The governor of West Virginia refused to extradite them because, said he, ‘their trials in Kentucky would be nothing more than legalized lynchings’. It was then that Kentucky’s governor offered the reward for their capture–‘dead or alive’. Three attempts were made by reward seekers to capture them.
“Dan Cunningham, a Charleston detective, with two Cincinnati detectives, made the first attempt. They came through Kentucky, and crossed Tug River in the night; but the Hatfields soon captured them. A justice of the peace sentenced them to 90 days in Logan County jail for disturbing hte peace. When released, they were told to follow the Guyandotte River to Huntington, a distance of 60 miles, and ‘not to come back’.
“Next, a man named Phillips led two raids from Kentucky into Hatfield territory. In the first, he captured ‘Cottontop’ Mounts, a relative and supporter of the Hatfields, and took him to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he was hanged. But the second foray met with disaster at the ‘Battle of the Grapevine’. Phillips, and some of his followers escaped into Kentucky, but some where buried where they fell.
“This was the last attempt of the reward seekers. However, Kentucky never withdrew the reward offer, and that is why Devil Anse and Cap were always alarmed and on the alert.”
Source: West Virginia Women (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1974), p. 151-152
Anna Meadows, Appalachia, Chapmanville, Charles S. Whited, Charleston, civil war, Craneco, deputy clerk, Ella Godby, Ewell Deskins, genealogy, George W. McClintock, H.A. Callahan, Harriet Totten, Harts Creek, Hattie Rothrock, history, Huntington, J. Green McNeely, J.C. Cush Avis, John A. Totten, John W. Buskirk, Logan, Logan Banner, Mud Fork, poetry, preacher, Raleigh County, Robert Whited, Russell County, Slagle, Southern Methodist Church, T.C. Whited, teacher, Thomas Harvey Whited, U.S. Commissioner, Virginia, W.B. Johnson, W.G. Whited, W.W. Beddow, West Virginia
From the Logan Banner we find this entry for Thomas C. Whited, who resided at Logan, West Virginia:
“Uncle Tom” Whited, United States commissioner, one of the county’s oldest citizens, and poet, came to Logan, or the present site of Logan, on October 11, 1877.
He was born on a Russell county, Virginia, farm in a one-room log cabin on November 25, 1854, the son of Robert and Anna Meadows Whited, who reared a family of ten children, nine boys and one girl.
“Uncle Tom” has only one brother living, the Rev. Charles S. Whited, a preacher in Raleigh county. His sister is dead.
His home was broken up by the Civil War, and Mr. Whited began the life of a vagabond, wandering about over the country seeking happiness, but never finding it until he came to Logan. He discovered the little frontier settlement as he was making his way on foot back to his Virginia home to take a job in a store.
“I just dropped in here, tired and sore-footed and decided to attend a teacher’s examination that was advertised for the town–mostly just to see what kind of a certificate I could get among strangers,” Mr. Whited said.
He received his certificate and taught his first term of school at the mouth of Mud Fork in 1877. Then followed terms at Chapmanville, Craneco, Logan and Hart’s Creek until 1883 when he was asked to take a position in the clerk’s office as deputy clerk.
Among the well-known citizens that “Uncle Tom” taught in his educational forays in Logan county were the Rev. J. Green McNeely; Ewell Deskins; Mrs. Ella Godby of Huntington, mother of Mrs. W.W. Beddow of Slagle; J.C. (Cush) Avis, and several of the Conley family.
From the position as deputy clerk, Mr. Whited rose in succession to circuit clerk, county superintendent of schools, city councilman, and United States Commissioner. He served a total of 18 years as circuit clerk of Logan county.
In 1930 Federal Judge George W. McClintic appointed “Uncle Tom” United States Commissioner which office he will hold for life unless removed by the judge on charges of misconduct.
“Uncle Tom” is a poet of no mean ability. His poetry is recognized throughout the county and some think his best work was a poem dedicated to the old elm tree in the court house square which was recently cut down.
He was instrumental in saving the tree when it was just a sprout and John W. Buskirk was about to dig it up to plant a locust orchard near the site of the present courthouse. “Uncle Tom” requested that the sprout be left to grow. It was not moved from the original spot where it sprouted until it was cut down in 1931, Mr. Whited said.
Mr. Whited married Miss Harriet Totten, daughter of the Rev. John A. Totten, pastor of the Southern Methodist Church in Logan, on March 4, 1887.
The couple reared a family of five children–two boys and three girls. All are still living. They are Mrs. W.B. Johnson, W.G. Whited, and Mrs. H.A. Callahan, all of Logan; Mrs. Hattie Rothrock, Charleston; and Thomas Harvey Whited whose residence is unknown.
Though 81 years old, “Uncle Tom” still manages the affairs of U.S. Commissioner and finds time to dash off a line or so of poetry now and then.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 17 April 1937.