Welcome to West Virginia Genealogy Trails



Hatfield Family of Logan County, WV
"Devil" Anse Hatfield
and the
Hatfield-McCoy Feud
Picture courtesy of West Virginia State Archives


"The Story of the Border War in Logan County"

Published by "Wheeling Register", 17 Jan 1888

transcribed by Pam Rathbone


Hatfields Declared Innocent.

An Interesting Interview With Hon. John B. Floyd

History of The Whole Case

The Kentucky Gang Said to be the Aggressors---The Trouble Stirred Up for Mercenary Motives---The Hatfield's Innocent, Law-Abiding People

Special Telegram to the Register. 

Charleston, W. Va., January 16, State Senator John B. Floyd, of Logan County, was interviewed today in regard to the McCoy-Hatfield vendetta that has been ragging between members of rival gangs living in Logan County, W. Va., and Pike County, Ky. Mr. Floyd lives within a few miles of the Hatfield settlement and is intimately acquainted with the history of the difficulty from its origin up to the present time.
In response to your correspondent's inquires, Mr. Floyd said:

"Yes, I saw that report in the REGISTER and INTELLIGENCER about the killing of James Vance and some of the Hatfield's over in Logan County. I also saw the report of the killing of some of the McCoy's and the burning of McCoy's house on the first of January published in the ENQUIRER, which was charged to the Hatfield's. Both of these accounts make the Hatfield's appear to be outlaws and murderers. Now since you have mentioned this I want to tell you that I have known all of the Hatfield's for fifteen or twenty years, and lived within eighteen miles of them the greater part of that time, and I never regarded them in the light of criminals or desperadoes, and they are not so regarded by the people of Logan County. On the contrary some of these Hatfield's are regarded as being of the very best and law-abiding citizens of that County, and they are.
The history of the trouble which has brought about the present state of affairs in Logan County, W. Va., and Pike County, Ky., began during the war of secession. However, when the war ceased the differences between the Hatfield's and McCoy's seemed also to have practically come to an end. But in 1882 Eilison Hatfield went form his home in West Virginia across Tug river into Kentucky, only a few miles from his home, to an election over there. During that day three of the McCoy's deliberately laid their plans "to assassinate Hatfield", and they carried them out by cutting and shooting him to pieces. Before the McCoy's could get out of reach they were themselves killed by some of the relations of Hatfield's. This having taken place in Kentucky the Hatfield's and a great many other citizens of Logan County were indicted in Pike County, Ky., for the killing of the McCoy's. This was in 1882, the same year of the killing. After the indictments were made no further steps were taken in the matter by the Kentucky authorities, and the matter rested for five years. This was because the authorities of Pike County evidently regarded the McCoy's as the aggressors; and they knew that the McCoy's were just about as bad as men get to be. Every one thought the trouble was over with. But a few months ago a man by the name of P. A. Cline, who is a lawyer, and who is also, I am told, the jailer of Pike County, concluded that he would stir up the thing again and make some money out of it, knowing that the Hatfield's owned some good property in Logan County, W. Va. So Cline got copies of the old indictments to which I referred a while ago, and went over to Frankfort, Ky., about three months ago, and made, God and the Governor of Kentucky only know what kind of representations as to the desperate character of the Hatfield's, and succeeded in getting the Governor to offer a reward of $2,700 for the Hatfield's and grant a requisition for them. This done he let the Hatfield's know of the fact by some of his co-workers in the case of Boodle, and at the same time intimated that if he could get some four or five thousand dollars he would have the proceedings put to an end. Well, he agreed to take $225, and the money was placed in the hands of A. J. Auxier, a prominent lawyer of Pike C. H., for Cline, according to his agreement, and Cline made a pretense of trying to have the reward and requisition recalled, but in the meantime his co-workers, John Rite and Frank Phillips, have been making efforts to get hold of the Hatfield's and secure the reward. They got old Randal McCoy in with them and that gang with their followers have been bullying everybody along the border for the last tow or three months. The Hatfield's kept out of the way so as to avoid trouble. The result of this marauding was the burning of McCoy's house and the killing of his son and daughter on the 1st of January, and an effort to kill Old Randal McCoy himself. Everybody know that McCoy had been waylaying the houses of the Hatfield's, trying to kill them, and when this occurrence took place it was once placed to the credit of the Hatfield's by these men who were after them to better enable them to capture the Hatfield's. The circumstances surrounding the Hatfield's may have been sufficient to justify them to try and kill McCoy, but they did not, and knew nothing of the burning of McCoy's house and the killing of his son and daughter, as can and has been shown beyond all question.
But this is not the end of this terrible history. It runs down to more recent date and the tragedies connected with it are more shocking than anything that has occurred in our State in recent years; and it shows beyond all question that the pursuers of the Hatfield's are desperate characters who have no regard for life or property. Let me read form the letter just received by me from a lawyer and good citizen of Logan County"

"On the 6th of this month thirty men came from Kentucky with Frank Phillips and John Rite as the head, took charge of Anderson Hatfield's family, drove the women and children before them down the river to the mouth of Grapevine Creek, where they took L. P. Smith and every member of his family and Cap. Hatfield's wife and children and drove them like beasts before them some four or five miles down the river to William Ferrell's. There they made Ferrell and another man go with them as guides and started for where old man James Vance lived, telling the women and children all the time that they would leave them at Ferrell's and if one of them told of their being in the country they would kill them as they returned to Pike. Then with the guides above referred to, they proceeded up Thacker's Creek to Vance's, where they found old man Jim Vance and pursuant to a threat made some time before that old Randal McCoy fired on him and that was followed by repeated shots until the body of the old man was torn into shreds. And as I understand, with no earthly provocation. All that they could say, I suppose, was that he was a relative of and friend to the Hatfield's.

From there they came to the head of Island Creek and we can't tell what they will do next. The reward offered by Governor Buckner has put on the trail of the Hatfield's a set of lawless man, but brute-like will destroy women and children. The country is alarmed, and every one feels that there is no security to life or property. we are listening all the time to hear of other terrible deeds.
Later news just from the scene, and it is true, says that Vance's wife and Cap Hatfield were with old man Vance when he was killed. They told Vance and Cap to throw up their hands and fired simultaneously. Cap made his escape with a slight wound in the head. Frank Phillips, the officer, walked up and crowed, while two of the McCoy's shook hands over the dead body of Vance. They then turned and went back to Vance's house, broke his trunk open, took what money he had and a box of cartridges, together with his pistol and gun. They threw his beds into the yard, cursed his daughter, the only person in the house, and told her if she offered to raise her hand they would kill her; and from there they went back to Kentucky.
The men they made guide them through the mountains say that old Randal McCoy intended to kill Cap, cut a slice of meat form his body and eat it. This trouble is ruining this county. I tell you that good, quiet men are growing desperate over the brutal murder of old man Vance.

I said perjured robbers, murderers and villains. You see for yourself that they are robbers and murderers. Now that man Phillips is the man who made the affidavit required to obtain a requisition of the Governor of Kentucky that would be honored by the Governor of West Virginia, and that affidavit must state that the party asked for is wanted to sub serve the ends of justice and for no other purpose. His conduct has shown him to be a most terrible creature. The people of Logan county are alarmed and indignant. They have a right to be when one of their best citizens, as Vance was, is murdered without cause or provocation by a band of heathens."

"Upon what authority do you state that the Hatfield's are innocent of the charge of burning McCoy's house and killing his son and daughter, and upon what authority do you state that Cline, of Kentucky, has revived the trouble and set the McCoy crowd in pursuit of the Hatfield's?"
"Why, upon the ground of several affidavits sent me, embracing all the chargers made by the Logan people against the Kentucky crowd. One of the affidavits shows where each of the Hatfield's were at the time of the burning of McCoy's house. The affiants in every case I personally know to be good and reliable citizens of Logan."
"I suppose there is no truth in the Catlettsburg special to Chicago, published Friday."
"None except the statement that old man Vance was brutally murdered by the McCoy band as stated above in the letter I read to you. Johnson Hatfield was not present and the fight was entirely a one sided affair."

Logan county will stand by the Hatfield's to a man. You may look for interesting news from Logan within a few days. 


Visit our National G.T. Site
Genealogy Trails