Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pike Co. Courthouse and Jail

Pike Co. Courthouse and Jail marker 1866 in Pikeville, KYPike County, KY
Marker Number: 1866

Marker Text: Courthouse erected 1888-89 by McDonald Bros.; later renovated 1932-33. Here was scene of Hatfield clan trials for murders of Tolbert, Randolph, Jr., Pharmer, Alifair, and Calvin McCoy. The defendants lodged in adjacent jail; found guilty and sentenced to life in prison except Ellison Mounts, hanged February 18, 1890. Courthouse and jail part of Hatfield-McCoy Feud Historic Dist.

Location: Main St., Pikeville in front of the Pike County Courthouse. Erected by the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Department of Highways in 1990.

Pike Co. Courthouse and Jail marker in front of the Courthouse in Pikeville, KY

Marker on right in front of the Courthouse.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  After the 1888 New Year's Day raid by the Hatfield's at the home of Randolph McCoy, the trial of the Hatfield clan proceeded on 1889 with the killing at the New Year's Day raid included. While researching the feud, you would have thought information about a trial would have been easy to get. For some reason little information about the actual trial is available.

  Into 1888, public opinion shifted against the Hatfields, Special officer Frank Phillips and a posse rode into West Virginia. They captured Wall Hatfield and eight others to Kentucky to stand trial for the murder of Alifair McCoy, who was killed during the New Year's Day raid. Despite the fact, that Phillips lacked properly executed extradition papers.

  In response, the Governor of West Virginia sued Kentucky for unlawful arrest of the nine prisoners. The suit was based on due process and illegal extradition, the United States Supreme Court became involved (Mahon v. Justice, 127 U.S. 700 (1888). The Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in favor of Kentucky, holding that, even if a fugitive is returned from the asylum state illegally instead of through lawful extradition procedure, no federal law prevents him from being tried. Eventually, the men were tried in Kentucky, and all were found guilty.

Pike Co. Courthouse and Jail marker in front of the Courthouse in Pikeville, KY  Among the men found guilt were Wall Hatfield, Valentine “Uncle Wall” Hatfield, the elder brother of Devil Anse, Doc D. Mahon, son-in-law of Valentine, Pliant Mahon, son-in-law of Valentine and brother of Doc, Johnse Hatfield, Ellison "Cotton Top" Mounts (a suspected illegitimate son of Ellison Hatfield) and Selkirk McCoy. All the men received life sentences, except for Ellison "Cottontop" Mounts, who received a death sentence.


  Above photo of the Hatfield clan from 1897 with Devil Anse Hatfield included, photo from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Valentine "Uncle Wall" Hatfield, died in prison of unknown causes. He petitioned his brothers to assist in his emancipation from jail, but none came for fear of being captured and brought to trial. He was buried in the prison cemetery, which has since been paved over. Doc D. Mahon served 14 years in prison before returning home to live with his son, Melvin. Pliant Mahon served 14 years in prison before returning home. Johnse Hatfield would later be pardoned after he saved the life of the Lt. Governor, William Pryor Thorne. Thorne was at the prison for an inspection and was attacked by an inmate. Johnse slit the throat of the inmate thereby saving the Lt. Governor.

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