Wayne County News - February 24, 1891 a letter from Cap Hatfield was
printed that read:
"I ask your valuable paper for these few lines. A general amnesty has been declared in the famous
Hatfield & McCoy feud, and I wish to say something of the old and the new. I do not wish to keep the
old feud alive and I suppose that everybody, like myself, is tired of the names of Hatfield and McCoy,
and the "Border Warfare" in time of peace. The war spirit in me has abated and I sincerely rejoice at
the prospect of peace. I have devoted my life to arms. We have undergone a fearful loss of noble lives
and valuable property in the struggle. We being, like adam, not the first transgressors. Now I propose
to rest in a spirit of peace."
Feudist’s Illness Is Giving Concern
“Cap” Hatfield is Seriously Ill at Family Home on Island Creek
Logan, Aug. 1 – Concern is felt for William Anderson “Cap” Hatfield, most famous living figure in the
famed Hatfield-McCoy feud of the last century, who is ill at his home on Main Island Creek. He is
suffering stomach malady and complications, according to physicians. Among those visiting his bedside
during the week were Senator Henry D. Hatfield, of Huntington, United States senator and cousin of the
sick man. He will likely visit here again during the week-end. “Cap” Hatfield is the oldest son of
“Devil Anse” Hatfield, outstanding figure in the feud. He is an elder brother of Sheriff Joe Hatfield of
this county and Tennis S. Hatfield, former Logan sheriff, and the father of Police Judge Coleman
Hatfield, Magistrate L. W. Hatfield and Deputy Sheriff Bob Hatfield, all of this county.
Special to the New York Times Associated Press Photo
New York Times - August 23, 1930, Page 8
“Cap” Hatfield Dies; Famed as Feudist
Was Leader in Kentucky – West Virginia Clan Fights That Lasted Half
More Than 100 Lives Lost
Central Figure in Mountain Wars
Spent Last Years In Peace – Succumbs in Baltimore
Baltimore, MD, Aug. 22 – “Cap” William Anderson Hatfield of Loan, WV, who with others of the
Hatfield family figured in the notorious Hatfield - McCoy mountaineers’ feud which raged in
Southwestern West Virginia for half a century, died today at the age of 68 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital
from a brain ailment. Accompanied by his wife, a son and a daughter, the mountaineer arrived in
Baltimore Sunday and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, for he had been ill for two months at
home. In more recent years the younger members of the family came out of the mountains, forgot their
interfamily troubles and attended Southern schools. “Cap Hatfield was called the most dangerous of his
clan.” Born in 1862, the year after the famous McCoy-Hatfield vendetta commenced, he was the eldest
of the thirteen children of Anderson (Devil Anse) Hatfield, chief of the clan and its leader throughout the
forty-eight years of the feud. More than 100 men, women and children of the two families were slain in
the battles, which raged in Logan and Mingo Counties, West Virginia, and Pike County, Kentucky. It
was said in those days that whenever a McCoy head showed out of a window a Hatfield gun would bark;
whenever a Hatfield gazed from his home at the surrounding hill country a McCoy gun would bark.
Before the Civil War the two families, large landowners – the McCoys in Kentucky and the Hatfields in
West Virginia – were friendly. They had been brought together by business and intermarriage. The
sons of both families joined the home guards and took part in raids into the bordering States. Thus their
relations became strained.
Trouble Began Over Stolen Hogs.
In 1863, the year of the Battle of Gettysburg, according to the McCoy story, the McCoys turned loose
some hogs which were stolen by the Hatfields. The Hatfields indignantly denied the allegation and a
trial followed. Whatever its outcome, it was unsatisfactory to both sides. The first bloodshed occurred
soon after, when Devil Anse killed Harmon McCoy. Occasional killings followed, and in 1882 began a
romance which fanned the quiescent embers of the feudists’ hates. Jonce Hatfield and Rosanna McCoy
fell in love! She was a daughter of Randolph McCoy; the chieftain of the McCoy clan, and Jonce had
already been married. They lived together and their families became increasingly embittered, so that
killings recurred with new vigor. Rosanna returned to her family in Pike County during the height of the
fray, but Jonce, like a true lover, continued to visit her. He was finally captured by the men of her
family, who turned him over to Sheriff’s men to be arrested for carrying a concealed gun, although they
themselves were always armed. Fearing her relatives would murder Jonce, Rosanna hastened to the
Hatfields and aroused them.
Three Brothers Killed at Once
“Devil Anse” and his son “Cap” headed a band which rescued Jonce and renewed warfare which
followed resulted in the stabbing of Ellison Hatfield, one of “Devil Anse’s” sons, by four McCoys. As
Ellison lay dying Elias and Val Hatfield arrived and, finding what had happened, headed a troop of
kinsmen who seized Tolbert, Pharmer and Randolph McCoy. The Hatfields took the McCoys back to
Logan County and there decided that if Ellison died their prisoners must. Ellison died and the Hatfields
killed the three brothers. A Hatfield, sitting as coroner, pronounced the murders to have been committed
by unidentified persons and the Pike County grand jury indicted twenty-three Hatfields. No one,
however would serve the warrants. The enmity that followed resulted in an expedition to the McCoy
homestead led by “Cap” Hatfield. The home was set afire. As Mrs. McCoy, wife of Randolph, ran out,
she was knocked senseless. Her 16-year-old daughter was shot dead and Randolph shot his way to
freedom. Calvin McCoy also was killed and victory belonged to the Hatfields. Reprisals followed, with
more deaths on both sides, and at last “Cap” and his step-son were lodged in the Mingo County jail.
“Devil Anse” tried to effect a jail delivery but failed. Soon afterward “Cat,” [sic] with the aid of a smuggled
hatchet, chopped his way out.
The Fight of “Devil’s Backbone.”
There was fight left in the Hatfields. A dozen of the clan, herded together, were pursued by a posse
headed by Randolph McCoy and the battle which followed ended the lives of half dozen on each side,
but the Hatfields, led by the valiant “Cap,” fled into the heart of their own country, where they took
refuge in the “Devil’s Backbone,” a hugh crag. The deputies closed in and opened fire, finally bringing
up dynamite to blast the crag. The blast went off and the handful of Hatfields charged their greatly
outnumbered enemy. Down toppled the “Devil’s Backbone” with a second blast but “Cap” and a few of
his followers escaped. After 1887 the feud died down. In 1898 many of the youths of both sides went to
the Spanish-American War and returned with the knowledge that the world was a larger place than they
“Cap” Hatfield Becomes Peaceful.
“Cap,” once described as “six feet of devil and 180 pounds of hell,” became peaceful, later serving as a
deputy she5riff of Logan County under J. D. Hatfield, present sheriff, his brother, and Tennis Hatfield,
another brother. “Cap,” who studied law by correspondence in his middle age, and had been an
indefatigable reader, even in the early fighting days, was admitted to the bar. He did not practice,
however. He never indulged much in reminiscence and could not be persuaded to recount his early
experiences. He once did confide to friends that many of his old-time foes believed he had a charmed
life. He said he “guessed” he was shot at about 300 times during the mountain warfare and was
wounded but once.
- Actually "Devil Anse" was called “six feet of
devil and 180 pounds of hell”, not "Cap." Also, at the time of this
item "Cap" was the eldest LIVING son of "Devil Anse." Johnson Hatfield
was the eldest son but he died in 1922.
- Ellison Hatfield was Devil Anse's brother, not his
- The hog trial was in 1878, not 1863.
Bloodshed over the hog trial did not begin soon
after. It wasn't until 1880 that Bill Staton was killed.
Harmon McCoy was killed in 1865 (before the hog trial) and
not by Devil Anse.
- The romance between Johnse and Roseanne began in
1880, not 1882. Johnse had not already been married at that time.
- The feud did not die down in 1887. As a
matter of fact, the raid on the McCoy home did not occur until 1888.
- The misrepresentation of the sequence of events
and the spacing between them gives a completely different perception
into the nature of the feud than was actually true.