Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hog Trial/Election Fight

Hog Trial marker 2066 in McCarr, Kentucky reverse side Election FightPike County, KY
Marker Number: 2066

Marker Text: In 1873 Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing his hog. A trial followed, presided over by Reverend Anderson Hatfield, justice of the peace. To be fair, the jury consisted of six Hatfields and six McCoys. One witness, William Staton, stated he had seen Floyd mark the hog's ear. This resulted in Floyd's acquittal. Presented by Pikeville-Pike County Tourism.

Election Fight marker 2066 in McCarr, KentuckyElection Fight (reverse) - In August 1882 an election was held near Jerry Hatfield's house. A fight broke out between Tolbert McCoy and Elias Hatfield. Tolbert's brothers joined in the fight as did Ellison Hatfield, who was stabbed and shot. He later died in West Virginia. The McCoy brothers were captured and killed in the "pawpaw tree" incident. Presented by Pikeville-Pike County Tourism.

Location:  In McCarr, Kentucky next to McCarr Post Office, KY Route 319 (Toler Road) west of KY Route 1056, the McCoy Cemetery Marker is located on the same lot. Erected by the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Department of Highways in 2001.

Election Fight and Hog Trial marker 2066 in McCarr, KY  After the killing of Asa Harmon McCoy in 1865, an uneasy peace reigned for a few years in the Tug Valley. Then one day in 1873, Randolph McCoy stopped to visit Floyd Hatfield, a cousin of Devil Anse Hatfield. Floyd lived in Stringtown on the Kentucky side of the Tug River. Randolph McCoy happened to see a hog which he said bore the McCoy marking on its ear. McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of penning up one of his hogs. Floyd Hatfield denied stealing the hog. Randolph went to Preacher Anderson Hatfield (Preacher Anse), a Baptist minister and a justice of the peace. There he brought suit against Floyd for the recovery of his hog.

Site of the Hog Trial marker with state marker in background.

Another Hog Trial marker is at the site.  Text and close up photo is below.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  The pig was only in the fight because some of the Hatfields believed that since the pig was on their land, it was theirs. Some of the McCoys objected, saying the "notches" (markings) on the pig's ears were McCoy marks, not Hatfield marks.

  On the day of the trial at the home of Preacher Hatfield, both McCoys and Hatfields served as jurors. Bill Staton, a nephew of Randolph McCoy and brother-in-law of Elison Hatfield swore to Floyd Hatfield's ownership of the hog. Floyd Hatfield won! Within months, Staton was killed by Paris and Sam McCoy as a result of a shootout. The conflict between the families escalated and the feud grew.

  The matter was taken to the local Justice of the Peace, and the McCoys lost because of the testimony of Bill Staton, a relative of both families. Presiding over the case was Anderson "Preacher Anse" Hatfield. In June 1880, Staton was killed by two McCoy brothers, Sam and Paris, who were later acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.

Hog Trial Site Historic Sign in McCarr, KYHog Trial Site

Marker Text: In the fall of 1878, Randolph McCoy brought charges against Floyd Hatfield for stealing one of his hogs. The resulting trial occurred here and was presided over by the local justice of the peace, Preacher Anderson Hatfield. Preacher Anderson was Devil Anse Hatfield's cousin and did not want to appear biased so he gathered a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys to hear the case. When the jury reached its verdict. Selkirk McCoy, nephew of Sarah McCoy and a veteran of the Virginia Confederacy, sided with the six Hatfields in favor of Floyd. The McCoys felt betrayed and open hostilities soon erupted between the Hatfield and McCoy families. Later Bill Staton, who testified in favor of his brother-in-law Floyd Hatfield was killed by two of Randolph McCoy's nephews while he was hunting. They were tried and acquitted in a trial presided over by Valentine Hatfield, uncle of Devil Anse. After this, violence between the families continued and the resulting conflict eventually escalated into the most famous family feud in American history.

  The above marker states the event occurred in 1878, but other state markers and sources make the date 1873.

Three Historical markers can be found at this site with a replica cabin for Hog Trial.Election Fight

  The other side of the marker is related to the Election Day Fight on August 7, 1882 which intensified the feud and increase the death toll. In 1882 Mingo County, WV was still a part of Logan County, WV and home of the Hatfields. Across the Tug River was Pike County, Kentucky the home of the McCoys, but both families had members of each family that lived in the other states as well.

  In 1882, election day was not just a day for citizens to cast their vote, but election days took on community importance to gather together to visit neighbors and families and make a day full of activities. On Blackberry Creek, a tributary of the Tug, the polls in Kentucky were open at sunrise. This particular polling place was on Hatfield Branch, a small run that empties into Blackberry just above Matewan, WV. Jerry Hatfield's home was there.

Hog Trial and Election Fight markers, Route 319 is on ther right of photo.

On this same site on the other side of the cabin at the far corner is another marker related to the McCoy Cemetery. The road on the left of the photo is the road where Randolph McCoy lived if you traveled going to the right a few miles.

  On this particular election day, emotions between the families were high. The McCoy family hated the Hatfields because Johnson ("Johnse”) Hatfield, handsome son of Devil Anse, had enjoyed a clandestine affair with Rose Anne McCoy, comely mountain lassie, the daughter of Randolph McCoy.

  Preacher Anderson Hatfield was one of the election officials and thought to be one of the more reasonable Hatfields. He had a brother they called "Bad" Lias who was a heavy drinker and mean. Devil Anse had a brother named Elias but he wasn't as bad as "Bad 'Lias." Both "Bad" 'Lias and Devil Anse's brother Elias were at the Kentucky election to watch political trends and pass the time of day. Among the Hatfields present, but not voting, was Ellison Hatfield, a Lieutenant in Pickett's Division and one who was in Pickett's immortal charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, 19 years before this election day.

  Ellison Hatfield was a handsome and powerful man and father of eleven children. He was wearing a big broad straw hat which they called a "Sundown" hat and everyone was kidding him about. Insults and alcohol use combined with old grudges made for a bad mood that only got worse. Everyone was looking for trouble, it seemed.

  Suddenly an open quarrel flared up near the polling spot. Tolbert McCoy, 31, son of Randolph McCoy, had bounced "Bad 'Lias" Hatfield to pay him the $1.75 which Tolbert claimed was due him on a fiddle he had recently sold "Bad 'Lias."

  Tolbert's two brothers, Phamer, 19, and Randolph McCoy Jr., 15, joined in the quarrel and backed up their brother Tolbert. At this juncture, up came Ellison Hatfield, drunk, and in a foul mood. A fight ensued and Ellison Hatfield was stabbed and shot. Guns leaped from pockets and other shots were fired in anger. Those three McCoy boys were subsequently arrested and were being taken to Pikeville jail when Devil Anse and his friends took them away from the law officers.

  After being taken to the home of Anderson Ferrel in Warm Hollow, just back of the depot at Matewan, Ellison Hatfield expired the afternoon of Aug. 9, 1882. Ellison death lead to the Pawpaw tree incident.

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