HATFIELD AND MCCOY FEUD
"Devil" Anse Hatfield
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"
A TERRIBLE RECORD.
"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.