Hatfield and McCoy: Was it Truly Over a Hog or Something More?


Susan Fleshman

A story of brotherhood, abandonment, hatred, stealing, falling in love, betrayal, and death.  The Hatfield and McCoy feud is an event that is a big part of West Virginia and Kentucky history. In most cases people think that the whole feud was over a hog. Randolph Mccoy accused Floyed Hatfield of stealing a McCoy hog in 1878. They went to court and after that distruction broke loose. Sixty Hatfield and McCoy individuals died, but a lot of people think it wasn’t over a hog at all that the hog was just the spark of the flame that started the mayhem. But what turned a little spark to an explosion was when two teenagers, each from the other family, fell in love. 


William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield’s Background:


Devil Anse was born on September 9th, 1893, in Western Virginia (Now known as Logan county, WV). He was the son of Ephraim and Nancy (Vance) Hatfield, Devil Ansen was one of 3 children: Valentine Hatfield, Ellison Hatfield, Martha Hatfield. Once he got older he fell in love with and married Levica “Levicy” Chafin, in 1861, Devil Anse would be 21 years old and Levicy would have been 18, born in 1842. They went on to have 11 children: Johnse Hatfield, William Anderson Hatfield ll, Emmanuel Wilson Hatfield, Elias M. Hatfield, Elliott Rutherford Hatfield, Tennyson Samuel Hatfield, Joseph Davis Hatfield, Detroit W. Hatfield, Mary Hatfield Hensley Simpkins Howes, Elizabeth “Betty” Hatfield Caldwell, Rose Lee “Rosie” Hatfield Browning. He was the leader of the Hatfield family during the famous Feud. Devil Anse fought for the Southern Conservatives during the Civil war. 


Randolph “Randall” McCoy’s Background:


Randall McCoy was born on October 30th, 1825, in Tug River Valley Kentucky. He was a son of Daniel and Margaret “Taylor” McCoy.  Randall was one of 7 children: Asa Harmon McCoy, Nancy McCoy Dempsey, Maryetta McCoy Roberts, Sam McCoy, Ruth McCoy Farley, Paris McCoy, Levisa McCoy Stone White. After Randall had gotten older he married his first cousin Sarah “Sally” McCoy on December 9th, 1894. Randall would have been 24 and Sally would have been 20. They went on to have 17 children: Tolbert McCoy, Pharmer McCoy Calvin McCoy, Roseanna McCoy, Alifair McCoy, Fannie McCoy, Floyd McCoy, Marry Katherine McCoy, Josephine McCoy, Lilburn McCoy, Samuel Mcoy, James H. McCOy, Adelaide McCoy, Randolph “Bud” McCoy, Trinvilla “Trinnie” McCoy,  William “Billy” McCoy. He was the leader of the McCoy family during the feud. Randolph McCoy fought for the Southern Conservatives during the civil war alongside Devil Anse. 


Hog Trial: 


Floyd Hatfield drove a hog into pens for fattening on the Kentucky side of the Tug Fork River. Randall McCoy was in his field when he crossed paths with Floyd and accused Floyd of stealing one of his hogs, saying the hog had a “McCoy mark” on its ear. The accusation was brought to court, the judge being Reverend Anderson Hatfield. Who got a jury of 6 Hatfield and 6 McCoy to adjudicate the situation. The key testimony was from William Staton, who was related to the McCoy’s, but had 2 Hatfields as brother in laws. Stanton said the hog had a Hatfield mark, that alone persuaded Selkirk McCoy, who was the person who acquitted Floyd Hatifeld. William Stanton was eventually killed by Sam and Paris McCoy, who were Randall McCoy’s nephews. Stanton’s body was in the woods after the 2 boys shot him while hunting. Sam McCoy was tried for murder but a “Hatfield- picked” jury said it was self defense. 


What May Have Really Happened:


Many who research about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, truly can’t believe that it was all over a hog, all of the destruction, death and hatred over a single hog. But what if that hatred had a deeper meaning between Devil Anse and Randall McCoy? Both of the men served in the Civil war together on the Southern Conservative side. Something Randall McCoy truly believed in was honor, and he hated anyone who didn’t put faith in that honor. Devil Anse Hatfield actually abandoned his place in the civil war in 1863.  He snuck out on horseback in the middle of the night. Some including myself truly think this is where the hatred started. Devil Anse abandoned his honor of the war and Randall McCoy hated him for it. 


Lovers Lane, Piece Treaty or Flame Starter?:


At the age of 18 Johnse Hatfield met a woman named Roseanna McCoy who was around 19. They fell in love, and did not hide it. Later on Roseanne had gotten pregnant with Johnse’s baby. Riots started between the families, Roseanna’s brothers had kidnapped Johnse and planned to kill him which the plane did not succeed because of Johnse Hatfield’s father stepping in. Roseanna was kicked out and banned until she gave birth in her aunt’s home but Roseanna’s baby didn’t make it after birth, their baby girl died. Not long after in 1889, it’s said she died of a broken heart. That in itself started more hatred then there had been before. 


How Many Died?:


By the end of the feud 60 people had died. Over dozens of people from both sides of the families died. They were either murdered or died from the stress and heartbreak. Both Randall and Devil Anse lost children, and siblings. 


New Life After Death:


Devil Anse ended the feud between families after the deadliest battle of it all. He wrote a letter to be put in the newspaper to bring peace between them. There was still hatred especially on the McCoy end but the feud had ended and would not continue. 




Devil Anse later died in 1921, from pneumonia at the age of 81. He was buried in Hatfield cemetery Omar WV. Levicy Hatfield died in 1929 March 15, from pneumonia as well at the age of 86.  Randall McCy died on March 28th, 1914 He passed away lighting a fire and he burned to death, he was 88 years old Randall is buried in Dils Cemetery, Pikeville KY. Sally McCoy past away January 1st, 1890, she contracted measles and pneumonia She was 61 when she passed