Marker Text: House was located on Blackberry Fork of Pond Creek. It burned Jan. 1, 1888, during a Hatfield raid. Two of Randolph's children, Alifair and Calvin, were killed in attack; their mother Sally was badly injured. Randolph and other children escaped. Site is part of Hatfield-McCoy Feud Historic Dist. Presented by Pikeville-Pike County Tourism.
Location: Four and one-half miles east of Toler, KY, east of Hardy, KY on State Route 319. Erected by the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Department of Highways in 2001. This marker is not easy to stop and read, since there is no pull-off for it.
I believe the creek mentioned in the marker is the creek to the left of the marker. Click any photo to enlarge.
Following the Pawpaw Tree incident in 1882. The Kentucky Governor appointed a special officer, Frank Phillips to arrest the Hatfield's responsible for the death of the McCoy brothers. Phillips was given the job to serve warrants and arrest 20 men, including Devil Anse Hatfield. Phillips carried out his duties even if he needed to cross the state border into West Virginia.
Despite the charges, the Hatfield’s eluded arrest, leaving the McCoy’s boiling with anger about the murders and outraged that the Hatfield’s walked free. The McCoy's turned to Perry Cline, an attorney who was married to Martha McCoy, the widow of Randolph’s brother Asa Harmon to seek legal avenues. Years earlier Cline had lost a lawsuit against Devil Anse over the deed for thousands of acres of land and many believe Cline was seeking his own form of revenge. Using his political connections, Cline had the charges against the Hatfield’s reinstated. He announced rewards for the arrest of the Hatfield’s, including Devil Anse.
Photo taken looking west on Route 319 toward Hardy, KY.
The potential for financial rewards for the Hatfield’s unleashed an army of bounty hunters entering into West Virginia. This angered the West Virginia Governor who believed this would inflame a civil war between the two states.
With the tensions escalating between 1882-87 beyond these small communities along the Tug River the feud captured the attention of the national media. The media started to report on the feud in 1887. In their accounts, the Hatfield’s were often portrayed as violent backwoods hillbillies who roamed the mountains stirring up violence. The sensationalist coverage planted the seed for the rivalry to become cemented in the American imagination. What had been a local story was becoming a national legend.
This photo is looking east, opposite direction of the two above along Route 319.
The Hatfield’s may or may not have been paying attention to these stories, but they were certainly paying attention to the bounty on their heads. In an attempt to end the issue, a group of the Hatfield’s and their supporters believed a direct attack on Randolph McCoy and his family would bring about a resolution. Led by Devil Anse’s son Cap and Jim Vance, a group of Hatfield men ambushed the McCoy’s home on New Year’s Day in 1888.
The Hatfield raiders feared the outcome of impending trials connected to feud violence and planned to kill those who might testify against them. They set fire to the McCoy home burning it to the ground near the location of this marker. The Hatfield's killed two of Randolph's children, Alifair and Calvin; and severely injured his wife Sarah. Randolph managed to escape unharmed with this other children.
Although more deadly feuds occurred in other regions of the U.S. in the late 1800s, the national media made the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s the model feud in the American memory and the most famous. One year after the New Year's incident, New York reporter T. C. Crawford used the Hatfield-McCoy feud to brand Appalachians as barbaric.