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
Appalachia, Cap Hatfield, Coleman Hatfield, Devil Anse Hatfield, genealogy, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Jeff McCoy, Kentucky, Logan County, Mingo County, Nancy E. Hatfield, Perry Cline, Pike County, Pikeville, Preacher Anse Hatfield, Ron Blackburn, Tom Dotson, Tom Wallace, West Virginia, William S. Ferrell
Logan County, W.Va.
December 26, 1886
Mr. P.A. Cline
I had to answer your Letter in regard to the Late Trouble. We are all very sorry that the Trouble occurred but under Somewhat aggravated circumstances it hapened. but I know and solemnly affirm that if such could have been prevented by me I would have stoped the Trouble. but it has gone by & cannot be ___. Cap was away from Home and Jeff went there to his house in the presents of his wife lying on her sick bed and had been under Treatment of the Doctor for three or four weeks and in undertaking to arrest Wallace shot into the House and when Cap came home he went and arrested Jeff to hand him over to a peace officer. & he met with Tom Wallace, and Wallace went with him and at William S. Ferrell’s he Broke loose in the presents of Wallace, and swam the river and Wallace followed shooting at him. I hope that if their is any question Relative to this affair that it will be ___ by a fair statement of the case.
William S. Ferrell statement
At the time Jeff started Cap was of conversing with me some 40 or 50 yds and I never seen Cap Hatfield fire a single shot. You can write to Wm S. Ferrell for now in conclusion I will say to all the relatives of Jeff McCoy that neither one of the Hatfields has any animosity against them and very sorry that such has occurred and sincerely Trust that there will be no more Trouble in regard to the matter. Perry the very Bottom of this crime is nothing more nor less than Mary Daniels and her girls. Now Bill is gone and says he won’t come back. No person is going to Trouble him let him come back.
NOTE: Ron G. Blackburn owns the original letter. A copy can be seen in Thomas Dotson’s The Hatfield & McCoy Feud After Kevin Costner: Rescuing History (2013), p. 232-233. Coleman Hatfield said that Nancy E. Hatfield, wife of Cap, wrote the letter, while Tom Dotson feels that Preacher Anse Hatfield wrote the letter.
Altina Waller, Appalachia, Brandon Kirk, Cap Hatfield, Coleman Hatfield, Democratic Party, Devil Anse Hatfield, Dyke Garrett, feuds, Frank Phillips, genealogy, Hatfield Cemetery, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Henry Hatfield, history, Jean Hatfield, Jim Vance, Joe Hatfield, John Ed Pearce, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Levisa Hatfield, Logan Banner, Logan County, Otis Rice, Pikeville, Republican Party, Rosa Browning, Roseanne McCoy, Sarah Ann, Tennis Hatfield, The Hatfield and McCoy Feud After Kevin Costner, The McCoys: Their Story, The Tale of the Devil, Thomas Dotson, Truda Williams McCoy, West Virginia
In 2001-2002, I wrote a series of popular stories for the Logan Banner that merged aspects of well-known Hatfield-McCoy books written by Otis Rice and Altina Waller in the 1980s. I had previously enjoyed Rice’s narrative and Waller’s analysis; I did not conduct any new research. Even though I believed the definitive Hatfield-McCoy Feud book remained unwritten, my purpose in writing these stories was not a step toward writing a book; my purpose in writing these stories was to revisit the narrative with some analysis for Banner readers. My hope was that readers would see what I saw: first, fascinating history (or folk story) for its own sake; second, the power of history to create a popular type of tourism.
I was fortunate during this time to meet Jean Hatfield. Jean, born in 1936, operated a Hatfield family museum at Sarah Ann, WV. Jean was not a native of West Virginia but had lived her entire adult life locally and had personally known several of Anderson Hatfield’s children. I really appreciated her desire to promote regional history. She “got it.” She inspired me. Anytime that I drove up Route 44, I stopped to visit Jean at the museum. She was always welcoming. Knowing her reminded me that every Hatfield (and McCoy) descendant is a source of information–-and that for the most part they have yet to tell the story in their own words. Three notable exceptions include The McCoys: Their Story by Truda Williams McCoy (1976), The Tale of the Devil (2003) by Coleman Hatfield and Bob Spence, and The Hatfield and McCoy Feud After Kevin Costner: Rescuing History (2013) by Thomas Dotson.
What follows is Part 3 of my interview with Jean, which occurred on August 7, 2001:
What kind of shape is the [Hatfield] cemetery in?
Pretty rough right now because Henry’s been gone two years and he was sick two years before so he didn’t get to take care of it the way he normally did. It’s pretty well growed up. The main part of the cemetery, the family part, is pretty good. It’s just where the hill’s growed up.
There are unmarked graves in there.
There’s a bunch in there. Well, the main part of the cemetery is just the Hatfield people. And there’s a lot of graves up there, neighborhood people that couldn’t afford to buy grave plots and things like that. They just let them be buried up in there. So they’re not all Hatfields. I think all of the Hatfields now are marked up there, because we put Aunt Rosie’s up last fall and she was the last one in the family not to be marked. And we got that done. But there’s a lot of neighborhood people up in there and a lot of friends that Tennis and Joe made and they died off and they wanted to be buried close to the family.
What about Devil Anse’s politics?
Well, Henry’s father [Tennis] changed. Grandpa [Devil Anse] was a Democrat. The way I can understand it, the Democrat Party was so closed they wouldn’t let Tennis in when he wanted to run for sheriff so he ran for sheriff on the Republican ticket and won. Surprised the heck out of them, I imagine. And then Joe carried on as a Republican. But my husband was a Republican until he died. Me, I vote for both sides. Depends on the person that’s running. You know how politics is. Once you’re out of favor then you live a pretty rough life. And that happened in the family, too. Kind of wild back in those days. Even back 30-40 years ago, it was wild. I think we’re about to get civilized.
I don’t know. If they don’t get a handle on these drugs there’s not going to be much hope. We’ve got problems here with the drugs. I just wish they could get them settled so people could get back to normal. When we built our house up there… We went on vacation we left the house wide open. Nobody bothered anything. Neighbor went in and let my little dogs run for a while, fed ‘em, put ‘em back in the house. Never even thought of locking the door. But you wouldn’t do that now. I think there’s been like five break-ins up here in the last couple of weeks. I think you can probably trace it right back to drugs. People trying to get stuff to sell for drugs. Which is pitiful.
What about Dyke Garrett?
Uncle Dyke? He was with the family most of the time, off and on. He done the burying and the marrying. Of course, the picture back there shows him baptizing Grandpa. He was a circuit preacher. He traveled everywhere.
Do you have a favorite character in the story? Anyone you feel attached to?
Well, all of them.
Even on the McCoy side?
Well, I think Roseanne is my favorite on the McCoy side, of course. And I think Grandma. Because think of what she went through. How many nights did she set up worrying about those reckless boys of hers? And every picture you see of them together, they look like love. Their body language shows it. They care for each other. And I think he took a lot of her advice and things like that. And if he was half the man that the people he helped and things like that, I think he must have been a pretty great person, too. There’s one of the pictures there… There was a Chafins boy that they just took in and raised. He didn’t have no family. Evidently his mother and father died when he was young and they took him in and raised him. They done several people that way. If they didn’t have a job, he’d work them, timbering and things like that so they could have a little bit of money along. That’s another thing about Altina Waller’s book I liked because she told the people who worked for him. There was a lot of McCoys who worked for him, too.
Have you read John Ed Pearce’s book about feuds in eastern Kentucky? I think he was unfair to Devil Anse.
Well, maybe he had ties to the McCoys or something.
I think Cap and Uncle Jim Vance are the two who…
They were the instigators.
Devil Anse, he really didn’t…
He wasn’t in the major things. If you notice, all the incidents that happen, he wasn’t there. But Uncle Jim and Cap were. So I think they kind of pushed it and Frank Phillips pushed it on the other side. Frank Phillips was the type of man who would kill you for fifty cents bounty. He was a bounty hunter. Back at that time, five dollars was a big bounty. They had a five-hundred-dollar bounty on Grandpa and Johnse’s head back in 1887. Usually like Jesse James and them, theirs didn’t go over one hundred dollars.
Was that in Kentucky?
Uh huh, right.
I’m hoping someone will link all of these historical sites together…
Well, that’s what they’re trying to do out in Pikeville but Logan County is not interested in it. There’s no driving force behind it, more or less. I was reading in the paper where the county commission was talking about taking over the cemetery, but it won’t do no good unless they clean it up and fix it so people can get up there. There’s a lot of people who can’t walk up the hill. And we need a road and a bridge up through there so people can get up there.
I was told the Cap Hatfield cemetery is not supposed to be visited. Is that true?
I don’t know. Neighborhood people go up in there so I really don’t know.
How would you describe his ‘set’ of the family?
They were more private people. They didn’t mix with the public like… Well now, Henry’s father [Tennis] was always in the public so I think it just come naturally for his children to be that way, too.
Alex Messer, Anderson Hatfield, Appalachia, Blackberry Creek, Bud McCoy, Cap Hatfield, Charley Carpenter, Chuck Murphy, constable, crime, Devil Anse Hatfield, Doc Mayhon, Elias Hatfield, Floyd Hatfield, Floyd McCoy, genealogy, Hatfield-McCoy Feud, history, Jerry Hatfield, John Hatfield, Johnson Hatfield, Kentucky, Pharmer McCoy, Pike County, Pikeville, Plyant Mayhon, Tolbert McCoy, Tug River, Valentine Wall Hatfield, West Virginia
The killing of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Bud McCoy by a Hatfield-led gang on August 8, 1882 represented one of the most sensational events of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. What follows is Randolph McCoy’s deposition regarding the affair:
The Court of Ky
Anderson Hatfield & other Defts.
Pltffs Bill of Exceptions
Be it remembered that on the trial of Doc Mayhorn and Plyant Mahon under the above styled prosecution the following proceedings was had.
The Commonwealth introduced and has worn as a witness Randolp McCoy, who proves that he is 63 years old that he is the father of Tolbert, Pharmer, and Randolp McCoy, they are now dead, was on Blackberry Creek in Pike County Ky at the August Election 1882 says that the boys in custody about 2 oclock on that day staid on the Election grounds about two hours they then went up to Floyd McCoys and staid until nearly night and then went to John Hatfields house and staid all night. They were in custody of Tolbert Hatfield a Justice of the Peace and Floyd Hatfield special Constable. Defents Doc and Plyant Mayhon are sons in law of Wall Hatfield. My boys was next morning started toward Pikeville in Pike County under a guard of six or seven men and was taken by Wall and Elias Hatfield and then turned back down [page torn] stopped at the mouth of Dial [page torn] his boys was then placed in a large corn sled while there. Anse Hatfield and his squad come up. Defendants was with them when they come up. they had with them country Rifle guns. Dials branch is from a ¼ to ½ miles from where Wall Hatfield came to them. Defendants were there all the time from the time they come to the corn sled. the crowd stopped at old Jerry Hatfield and Charley Carpenter got a rope and tied my three boys together. then went down the creek to Rev. Anderson Hatfields and defendants and all stopped there and got dinner. Knows Ance, Cap & Johnson Hatfield. they was there. Alex Messer was there. After Dinner Devil Ance stepped out and said “all of Hatfields frirends form a line” Ance Cap Jonce two Defts. Alex Messer Chuck Murphy was all in the line. Defts had arms (Guns I think). this was Aug 8 1882. My boys was then by this squad marched down the creek toward the river. This is the last time I ever saw them alive. I was on the road from Pikeville home they day my boys was buried. There was quite a crowd at the corn sled. There were a great many persons who were not interested several had guns. If I am not mistaken the first time I saw defendants was at the mouth of Dials branch. I may be mistaken but do not think I am. I saw no one catching horses in pasture at Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s. If I did I do not know who they were. The defts. were present when my boys were tied at Jerry Hatfield’s above Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s. When Devil Ance at the Rev. Anderson Hatfield’s called for the Hatfield friends to fall into the line the defts. went into the line and they were I think both armed with rifles and guns. The boys were then taken down the creek toward Tug river still tied together. I never saw them alive again.