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Hatfields & McCoys

 

Last updated 11/14/2015 at 4:59pm

wikitree.com

Life was good until that day when Randolph McCoy accused Devil Anse's cousin Floyd Hatfield of stealing some hogs. The case went to trial and a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys found Floyd Hatfield innocent. The fighting escalated and as many as fifteen lives were lost in the feud. At the age of 72, Devil Anse put his trust in Jesus Christ and was baptized in the waters of Island Creek.

My wife and I were in Oregon sitting around a campfire with some fabulous people. They asked what's the difference between Canadians and Americans? I said that Canadians are always apologizing and that I'm very sorry we apologize so much.

Canadians are sort of like the people living above a tavern, I said. Americans are making a lot of noise down below and every once in awhile we poke our heads out windows and say, "Hey! Keep it down!"

They laughed. One handed me a laser light so bright you could point out the canyons on Pluto. Another brought out a taser-a stun gun-and zapped his brother in the ear.

Now, that's another difference. Canadians cannot buy stun guns. If you are caught with one you are jailed. After everyone apologizes to you for locking you up.

As we left, hoping no one was following us about to tase my right ear, my wife said, "Women did not invent those things." And she's right.

The most notorious family feud in America was not started by a laser or a taser but by a pig. During the Civil War, the wealthy pro-Confederate Hatfield family made no secret of their disdain for the pro-Union McCoys. The conflict escalated into an all-out war, with both sides regularly perpetrating killings, beatings, and kidnappings. The feud reached its bloody peak in 1888 when a group of Hatfields attacked the McCoy cabin in the middle of the night. After opening fire and taking two lives, the men burned the house down, prompting the governors of Kentucky and West Virginia to deploy state militias to get the situation under control. After a manhunt, several Hatfields were arrested. At least seven were given life sentences.

Many know this story. But few know the rest of it.

The leader of the Hatfield clan was nicknamed "Devil Anse." He loved to hunt black bears, even keeping some as pets, which my own mother never allowed. He owned considerable land, ran a lucrative timber business, and helped his wife raise thirteen kids. Life was good until that day when Randolph McCoy accused Devil Anse's cousin Floyd Hatfield of stealing some hogs. The case went to trial and a jury of six Hatfields and six McCoys found Floyd Hatfield innocent.

I'll skip the gory details. Let's just say that the fighting escalated and as many as fifteen lives were lost in the feud.

At the age of 72, at the advice of his friend and preacher Dyke Garrett, Devil Anse put his trust in Jesus Christ and was baptized in the waters of Island Creek. A photo from September 1911 shows him on the banks of the river surrounded by witnesses. For Garrett, it was a baptism he'd been waiting his whole life to perform. In fact, he would tell people, "I am the man who baptized the devil," and they knew exactly what he meant.

en.wikipedia.org

The most notorious family feud in America was not started by a laser or a taser but by a pig. During the Civil War, the wealthy pro-Confederate Hatfield family made no secret of their disdain for the pro-Union McCoys. The feud reached its bloody peak in 1888 when a group of Hatfields attacked the McCoy cabin in the middle of the night.

According to neighbors and friends, Devil Anse spent the last ten years of his life knowing he was forgiven, his sins washed away in the cool mountain stream. His funeral was the largest ever held in Logan county, drawing several thousand. There were Hatfields there, of course. And some of the mourners even bore the name McCoy.

Their descendants regularly get together now for friendly reunions. Isn't that amazing? In perhaps the most bizarre meeting of all, the two groups even appeared as rival contestants on the TV game show Family Feud. Clyde McCoy is now a professor at the University of Miami. He said, that in a symbolic gesture, the families raised their right hands, "as if catching our sins," and "threw them all into the river to be buried and no longer remembered." Such is the power of our risen Savior to change, redeem, and set free. Talk about a reason for joy.

He'll even do that for my Oregonian friends. After they throw those lasers and tasers into the creek. I'm sorry, that was highly insensitive.

Phil Callaway is a speaker, best-selling author, and host of Laugh Again Radio. Check it out at laughagain.org

 
 

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