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Artifacts help pinpoint key Hatfield-McCoy battle
“It was kind of a coming together of all the pieces of evidence,” McBride said.
The discoveries come amid a surge of interest in the feud that spanned much of the last half of the 19th century. The fighting claimed at least a dozen lives by 1888 and catapulted both families into the American vernacular, becoming shorthand to describe bitter rivalries.
The History Channel aired a three-night miniseries about the feud that set basic cable viewing records. The drama starred Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs _ William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield in West Virginia and Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy in Kentucky.
The New Year’s attack was one of the bloodiest episodes in the feud.
“It was a turning point,” Richardson said. “The feud had lasted 23 years up until this battle. And then 20 days later it’s virtually over.”
Now, descendants of both families live peacefully among each other in the Appalachian region. And officials in both states see the potential to reap a financial windfall because of the public’s fascination.
Attendance was up last June at a three-day Hatfield and McCoy festival held in Matewan and Williamson in West Virginia and in Pike County in Kentucky. The event featured tours, re-enactments, book signings, arts and crafts, and a marathon run. Descendants showed their allegiance by wearing ribbons _ red for Hatfields, blue for McCoys.
Many believe the feud was rooted in the Civil War, but the bitterness was perpetuated by disputes over timber rights and even a pig.
Historical markers describe other pivotal events in the feud, including the spot where three McCoys _ all sons of Randolph McCoy _ were tied to pawpaw trees and shot to death by an unofficial posse organized by Devil Anse Hatfield. He was avenging the death of his brother Elliston at the hands of the McCoys.
Scott counts descendants from both families as friends.
“It’s very unique to stand here on New Year’s Eve and realize what happened,” he said. “It’s sad that that occurred, but that was a way of life.”
Although the artifacts were uncovered a few months ago, the discoveries weren’t announced until Monday. The new National Geographic Channel series, called “Diggers,” premieres Tuesday. The episode detailing the McCoy homestead discovery airs on Jan. 29.
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