Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Hatfields, McCoys take feud to ball field

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The Hatfields and McCoys, Appalachia's famous feuding families, are content to settle their differences nowadays with games of softball and tug-of-war.

        The Hatfields have demanded a rematch after being beaten in both events at last year's inaugural reunion of the two families.

        “I have not slept one wink, without taking something, because those McCoys irritated the heck out of me,” said Bucky Hatfield, carefully choosing his facetious fighting words. “You can expect a different outcome this year. We've got a lot more Hatfields coming from across the United States, Canada and Mexi co.”

        Tourism promoters in Kentucky and West Virginia say the Hatfield-McCoy reunions, which are expected to become annual affairs, will pay huge financial dividends from people coming to see the descendants square off in friendly competitions.

        Last year, 3,500 people showed up — about 1,000 of those actual descendants — and every hotel within 30 miles of Pikeville was filled.

        Bo McCoy, a Waycross, Ga., minister who is helping to organize this year's event, said he doesn't expect his family to have such an easy go of it when the two families come together June 7-10 for what's being billed as the Hatfield-McCoy Reunion Festival.

        “We as McCoys know the Hatfields are looking for some pay back, especially after being beaten 15-1 in the softball game,” Bo McCoy said. “Rumor has it, the Hatfields don't do anything without a plan. They've had a whole year to get their plan together. The rematch ought to be something to see.”

        The feud between the McCoys of Kentucky and the Hatfields of West Virginia — believed to have stemmed from a dispute over a pig — brought national attention to the region. By 1888, at least 12 lives were lost as a result of the feud.

        In both Kentucky and West Virginia, a push is under way to restore feud landmarks and to build a museum. Plans are to designate sites such as the place where three McCoys were tied to pawpaw trees and shot to death, or the cemetery where two Mc Coys killed in a New Year's Day 1888 raid are buried.

        The campus of the present day Blackberry Elementary School is another landmark because it is in the area where Asa Harmon McCoy is believed to have been killed in January 1865 by patriarch “Devil Anse” Hatfield.

        The Dils Cemetery in Pikeville — where patriarch Randolph McCoy, his wife, Sara, and daughter Roseanna are buried — already has been restored.

        “We hope that what we're doing is setting peace in the valley,” said Bo McCoy. “I somehow believe in my mind that Randolph McCoy and "Devil Anse' Hatfield and all those involved in the bitter fight would be saying it's time for some real healing.”


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