Newspaper Clipping, February 10, 1888
West Virginia Wins
The Writ of Habeas Corpus Granted in the Hatfield Case
Louisville, KY, February 10 – Argument was heard today in the United States District Court, on the motion for a writ of habeas corpus in the case of Valentine Hatfield and eight others, citizens of West Virginia, now confined in the jail of Pike County. Hon. Estace Gibson appeared for West Virginia. He said that he believed that the Commonwealth of Kentucky had been the first in the history of this country to seize and enjoy an opportunity for the invasion of a sister State and the seizure of her citizens by a band of outlaws. The petition sets forth that the State of affairs had been brought to the notice of the Governor of Kentucky, who, while admitting that the citizens of West Virginia had been violently and wrongfully captured, yet refused to right the wrong. The right to settle the Inter-State questions was distinctly conferred upon the Federal Government. Gov. Knott said: “If this was a controversy between States, as the argument of his learned brother had indicated then this proceeding should be before the Supreme Court of the United States which alone had jurisdiction in controversies between States. From the fact that the attorney for West Virginia had seen fit to connect the chief magistrate of Kentucky with this ridiculous proceeding and to assail his character in connection with it, he would read a little from Gov. Buckner, defending himself. Mr. Knott then read the letter, which refutes the position taken by the Governor of West Virginia. He said he had complied with every condition which Governor Wilson thought necessary and therefore supposed that steps had been taken to give up the fugitives from justice. He knew nothing to the contrary until early in January. After ex-Gov. Knott, Attorney General Hardin addressed the court, among other things he stated that the United States statute on the issuing of a writ of habeas corpus explicitly requires that the person confined must make and sign the petition for his own release. In this case, the petition was not so made and signed. Further, the petitions are not good because the conditions and facts of confinement are not set forth as the law requires. Judge Barr, in rendering his decision, stated that he felt great hesitancy in the matter. The case was without precedent and he was doubtful, the petitions being obscure. Such being the case, however, and the attorneys for the State of Kentucky having failed to show that the prisoners confined in the Pike County jail had been placed there through due process of law, he inclined to the side claiming relief for the persons unjustly confined and would grant the writ of habeas corpus, returnable next Monday a week.
Newspaper Clipping, February 17, 1888
The Hatfields Safe
The Nine Hatfields Lodged in Louisville Jail
Louisville, KY, February 17 – The nine West Virginians known as the “Hatfields” arrived here last night. The Deputy United States Marshal and jailer of Pike County were their only guards during the journey. They will appear before Judge Barr, of the United States District Court, Monday, when the habeas corpus application of the Governor of West Virginia will be further heard. Valentine Hatfield, the “old man” of the gang, after stating that they had been well treated while in the Pike County jail, gave the following account of the celebrated feud: “The whole trouble, so far as I know, began about six or eight years ago. I had five brothers, Ellison, Elias, Anderson, Smith and Patterson. Ellison was the first one killed. Three of the McCoy boys shot and cut him on Blackberry Creek, on the Kentucky side, and he died the next day. The trouble, I believe, was started by one of the McCoy boys attempting to arrest Anderson Hatfield’s son, Johnson about eight years ago. There was a row then, but I do not remember exactly what it was.” “After Ellison Hatfield was killed, Talbert, Richard and Farmer McCoy, all young men, were killed by a crowd supposed to have come from West Virginia. The killing was done on the bridge between Blackberry and Mates Creeks. The next Pike County grand jury indicted a lot of people in West Virginia. No one was arrested, however, and after that Jeff McCoy, who is Bill Daniels’ brother-in-law heard Daniels and Tom Wallace abusing the Hatfields and a quarrel ensued. McCoy attempted to arrest Wallace and a fight took place. This resulted in Captain Hatfield arresting McCoy, and when McCoy tried to get away he was killed by the men who were guarding him. It was said that Captain Hatfield and Tom Wallace killed him. Some time after this a squad of men went to Randolph McCoy’s house and killed one of his sons and a daughter and beat up his old woman. This was charged to the Hatfields, but I never knew anything about it till sometime after the murders were committed. Shortly after this a company of Pike County men was formed to follow the Hatfields and kill them. They came into West Virginia and found Jim Vance and Captain Hatfield on a bridge near Thacker’s Creek. They shot Vance to death and wounded Captain Hatfield. After that the Kentuckians came in and captured us while we were at work on our farms. None of us resisted and no injury was done us, but if there was any authority for confining us in jail I never heard of it. County Attorney J. Lee Ferguson, of Pike, was questioned concerning the claim of the prisoners that they were innocent. He laughed at the idea, and said that while the worst of the Hatfield crowd had not been captured, the men who are now in the Louisville jail are undoubtedly a part of the gang. He declared that the prisoners had not been unlawfully imprisoned, that after having crossed the border line between West Virginia and Kentucky had been legally arrested and taken to jail by the proper officers. He did not deny that the West Virginians had been forcibly taken from their houses, but held that the Kentuckians were justified by the dangers threatening them in taking the matter into their hands, when the West Virginia authorities refused to assist in restraining and punishing the outlaws, who had only to cross a narrow stream to commit the most serious crimes and then came back again to secure safely from the law.
September 12, 1888, Wheeling Register
They Were Not Tried.
The Hatfields Still in the Pike County Jail.
Catlettsburg, KY, September 11. – The trial of the principals of the McCoy Hatfield murders has ot yet commenced. Reports of their acquittal originated in the dismissal of Andy Varney, Selkirk McCoy and L. D. McCoy, as they were only held for witnesses. Thomas Chambers, Moses Christian and Plyant Mayhorn, were released on bail, while Walt. (sic Wall) Hatfield, chief of the gang, and Doc. Mayhorn, his lieutenant, were refused bail, and remain incarcerated in the Pike county jail. Their trial will not come up for five months.
Wheeler Register, September 6, 1889
Sentenced for Life
Wall Hatfield Convicted of Murdering the Three Mccoys
New York, September 5 – a Pikeville, KY special says: The trial of Wall Hatfield has been concluded. The jury found him guilty of being an accessory to the act of murdering the three McCoys – Tolbert, aged 38 years; Randall, 19 years, and Farmer, 14 years. Alexander Messer confessed to the murder of Farmer, the youngest, and both were sentenced to the penitentiary for life. These trials are a result of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, which has caused so much terror on the line of Kentucky and West Virginia during the two or three years. It would be difficult to ascertain just how many lives have been sacrificed in this famous vendetta.
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