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Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield led his family in their notorious and bloody feud with the McCoys during the late 1800s along the Kentucky-West Virginia border.
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Born in 1839, "Devil Anse" Hatfield grew up in what is now Logan County, West Virginia. He took a leading role in his family's feud with the McCoys. In 1882, Hatfield's brother was murdered and he had the three McCoys responsible killed. He was indicted for his role in these crimes, but never was tried. Hatfield may have also been involved in 1888 attack on Randall McCoy and his family. He died in 1921.
William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield, one of the main figures in the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud of the late 1800s, was born and raised in Logan County, West Virginia, in the Tug River Valley. His family had been some of the early settlers in this region, and the river served as the boundary between Kentucky and West Virginia. Most of the Hatfields lived on the West Virginia side.
One of 18 children born to Ephraim and Nancy Hatfield, Devil Anse Hatfield was known to be an excellent marksman and rider. It was said that he was so strong and fierce that he could take on the devil himself, which is supposedly where his nickname came from. In 1861, Hatfield married Levicy Chafin, the daughter of a neighboring farmer. But he spent little time with his new bride, quickly signing up to support the Confederacy during the Civil War. A natural-born leader, he headed up a local militia with his uncle Jim Vance, which was known as the Logan Wildcats.
After the war ended, Hatfield settled down with Levicy and turned to farming, cutting timber and buying real estate. The couple eventually had 13 children together. Ambitious and aggressive, Hatfield had one of the most successful timber businesses in the area. He vigorously defended his interests, even taking a man to court because he reportedly cut timber from Hatfield's lands. Hatfield won his suit against Perry Cline, a friend of and relative-by-marriage to Randolph "Randall" McCoy, his future nemesis. Like the Hatfields, the McCoys had been early settlers in the area, but mostly lived on the Kentucky side of the river.
Most experts agree that the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud began with another court case. In 1878, Hatfield's cousin Floyd was accused of stealing a hog from Randall McCoy. Another cousin, Preacher Anse Hatfield, the local justice of the peace, presided over the trial. In the interest of fairness, he created a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys. The jury found Floyd Hatfield not guilty, and Randall McCoy and some of his family blamed the Hatfields for this defeat.
Hatfield-McCoy tensions flared again two years later. In an Appalachian version of Romeo and Juliet, Devil Anse's son Johnse became involved with Randall McCoy's daughter Roseanna. The two met on Election Day in 1880 at the Kentucky polling place near Blackberry Creek, and Roseanna ran off with Johnse to live with the Hatfields in West Virginia. She refused to come back for several months, but she finally gave up when she figured out that Johnse was never going to marry her. According to some reports, Devil Anse objected to the couple marrying.
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