America Goff, Appalachia, California, Collins Cemetery, Frozen Creek, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Kansas, Kentucky, Leonard Roberts, Missouri, Orville McCoy, Pikeville College, Raccoon Creek, Rebecca Bailey, Sam McCoy, St. Louis
On July 24, 1990, scholar Rebecca Bailey interviewed Orville McCoy (b.1922) of Raccoon Creek, Kentucky. What follows here is an excerpt of Mr. McCoy’s memories of his grandfather “Squirrel Huntin'” Sam McCoy and his book.
RB: Okay. What kind of stories did you hear about the feud when you were growing up?
OM: Well, about such materials you’ll find in my book. I recorded just about everything I knew about it.
RB: Do you know how your grandfather came to write his manuscript?
OM: Yes, he wrote in the year, I believe it was, 1931 while he was in St. Louis, Missouri. We all also got that information recorded in the book.
RB: How come him to be in St. Louis? Do you know?
OM: Well, he went west in the year about nineteen and ten and I think he first went to California and then back to Kansas and…and then to St. Louis.
RB: Did he take his wife and children with him?
OM: Yes. He took his whole family except my dad. He was the only one stayed here at Racoon.
RB: Was he the oldest? Is that why he stayed?
OM: No, he wasn’t the oldest. Yeah. I guess he was the oldest. He was the only child by him and his first wife, America Goff.
RB: Did she die or did they divorce?
OM: Well, yeah. She died young.
RB: How old was your father when his father left to go out west?
OM: That would be pretty hard for me to figure, I don’t bet. You could go to my book and deduct and subtract a little there and come up with an answer.
RB: He was probably a young man, though, because he had twelve children by the time you were born so he was probably a young man and married.
OM: Yeah. I’d say he should have been around thirty, something like that.
RB: Did your father remember any of the events of the feud or hear about them?
OM: No, he couldn’t remember any of the incidents, I don’t think except what was told to him.
RB: Alright. Do you have much contact with any of your McCoy cousins?
OM: Oh, yeah. I correspond with them. I got some in Kansas. Joshua Tree, California, and Tacoma, Washington, Remington, Washington, Pennsylvania.
RB: We were talking off tape. You said that a lot of McCoys didn’t stay in this area.
OM: No, they was quite a few of them went out west.
RB: Did they go looking for work or…?
OM: I guess they was seeking adventure.
RB: How did you come to have the manuscript that “Squirrel Huntin'” Sam wrote?
OM: Well, I obtained it from Sam when he was out here to pay us a visit in 1937.
RB: What kind of person was he?
OM: Oh, he was quite a tall man. About six foot or better.
RB: What do you remember about him?
OM: Well, when he visited us, he came out here to visit us about three times in the thirties. First come in ’36. ’38. Maybe ’39. He died in ’40. They shipped him back here.
RB: Do you know where he’s buried?
RB: Where’s he buried?
OM: He’s buried in Collins Cemetery in the head of Frozen Creek.
RB: Okay. Were you always interested as a child in in your family history?
OM: Well, not in the early years. I always held on to that book though and preserved it. I guess I was around fifty-eight years when I let them publish it.
RB: Would you tell me on tape again who published it for you?
OM: Dr. Leonard Roberts of Pikeville College.
RB: Why was he interested in it? Do you know?
OM: Dr. Roberts?
OM: Well, he was working for the college and that’s how he… Well, it benefited the college, you know, doing Appalachian study centers, they called it. He published books and so on for them.