Everyone, I assume, has heard the story of the family feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families back in the late nineteenth century in Kentucky and West Virginia. Some people even know about how the feud started and how it ended or dwindled out. Each side had a leader or patriarch who fanned the flames, or perhaps lit multiple fires.
William Anderson Hatfield, or “Devil Anse,” as he was called was just what you think he would be – a backwoods fellow who lived and worked hard in the mountains. He was a successful timber merchant, who in fact, employed some of the McCoy family. His nemesis on the other side was Randolph “Old Ranel” McCoy. Old Ranel was not as prosperous as Mr. Hatfield, but he did own some land and some livestock.
Some say, the first event that led to the long drawn out feud was actually a murder of Old Ranel’s brother, Asa. It had to do with Asa’s loyalty to the Union during the War Between the States. Historians bicker about whether or not this actually started the feud, many holding to the “Brother Asa Theory,” while more pointing to the “Pig Theory.”