Editor’s note: The 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting this November in the heart of Appalachia. This article is part of a series looking at some of the things Kentucky Baptists might want to see and experience in the days before and after the annual meeting.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Curious tourists continue to pour into the Appalachians to get a first-hand look at the place where America’s most notorious feud took place more than 100 years ago.
The Hatfield and McCoy families fought bloody battles in various locations along the Kentucky-West Virginia border in the late 1800s, earning a place of infamy in American lore that has survived through the years.
"People come from across the country and literally around the world to visit these feud sites,” said Jason Lowe, director of missions for the Pike County Association of Southern Baptists. “It's a sad saga in our history, but I understand the intense interest. However, visitors quickly discover there's much more to Pike County than just the feud. When they come, they know that our area has a dark past. When they leave, they know that it also has a bright future."
Many believe the feud to have stemmed from a series of disputes, including one that involved ownership of a pig and another involving timber rights. By 1888, at least 12 lives had been lost in the feud. National newspapers and magazines sent writers to the Tug Fork to report developments.
Tourist sites include Dils Cemetery in Pikeville, where patriarch Randolph McCoy, his wife, Sara, and daughter Roseanna are buried. Visitors can see the site where a trial was held to settle the pig dispute or the hillside where three McCoys were tied to pawpaw trees and shot to death in 1882 by a posse organized by Denvil Anse Hatfield.
The McCoy boys were wanted for killing Ellison Hatfield in an Election Day fight on Aug. 7, 1882. Tourists can visit the site where they were killed in what has been dubbed "PawPaw Incident.” It’s located just off Route 1056 at Buskirk, Ky.
The History Channel fanned interest in the Hatfield-McCoy feud with a miniseries in 2012 that starred Kevin Kostner as Devil Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randolph McCoy.
In the wake of that miniseries, McCoy descendant Jessica Hackney saw a business boom at the Hatfield McCoy House Inn in nearby Williamson, W.Va.
“It was just such a famous feud,” Hackney said. “Everyone has heard of the Hatfields and McCoys and they want to come here to see where it played out.”
Hackney is capitalizing on the feud’s infamy with the five-room in with a historic theme showcasing the Hatfield and McCoys who were involved.
Other feud sites that have been preserved through the years include:
Dils Cemetery, where Randolph and Sara McCoy are buried, along with daughter Roseanna and son Sam. Location: Chloe Road in Pikeville.
The spot where Ellison Mounts was hanged after being convicted of murder for a raid on the McCoy home in which two people were killed. Location: Kentucky Avenue in Pikeville.
Site of the so-called “hog trial” that escalated the feud between the families. Location: Route 319 in McCarr, Ky.
Site of the murder of Asa Harman McCoy, a Union Army veteran and the first person killed in the feud. Location: Route 1056 in Blackberry, Ky.
Old courthouse and jail, where murder trials were held and where combatants were incarcerated. Location: Main Street in Pikeville.
Site of grave of baby daughter of Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield. They were lovers from the feuding families. Location: Route 292 in Burnwell, Ky.