Hatfield and McCoy

Hatfield and McCoy In American history and folklore the Hatfields and the McCoys symbolize the backwardness and violence most Americans associate with Appalachian mountain culture. Yet an accurate retelling of this famous instance of family conflict reveals a more complex story - - a story involving competition over rich timer resources and the desire of eastern corporations and state government to foster economic development in the region. The feud was more a foreshadowing of the era of the bloody coal mine wars than it was the final gasp of traditional mountain culture.

The first hint of animosity between the Hatfields and McCoys occurred in the fall of 1878 on the Kentucky side of the Tug Fork. This was a time when the Tug Valley was one of the most remote and isolated valleys in the United States; there were no railroads, no coal mines, and no villages or towns. When Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing his hog, it was a very serious offense; hogs were extremely valuable to the farming economy of the valley and court records indicate that any kind of theft was very rare. For the most part, an atmosphere of trust prevailed among neighbors up and down the hollows. But when Randolph McCoy took his complaint to the local judge and that judge took the trouble to assemble a jury evenly divided between Hatfields and McCoys it is obvious that trouble already existed between these two families. by Altina L. Waller

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