America's Biggest Feud Hatfields and McCoys Part 7

About the history of America's biggest feud between the Hatfield and the McCoys in the southern United States


When requisition for the nine Haftfield clansmen was refused, the West Virginia governor instituted legal proceedings to have them released by habeas corpus. The case moved swiftly from U.S. District Court to the U.S. Supreme Court. In May the highest court of the land handed down its opinion: No legal way had been provided for compulsory restoration of parties wrongfully abducted from one state by parties of another state.

Trial of the Hatfields for the murder of the McCoys came in the fall of 1889. Ellison Mounts was sentenced to death by hanging and four members of the clan, including Wall, were given life terms. Charges against the others were continued.

Devil Anse and the other militant members of his clan still were at large, and it was learned that he had taken precautions to see that matters remained that way. He had deserted his home on the Tug and bought land in an isolated area midway between that point and Logan Court House, the county seat. In addition to a two-room cabin like the one he had left, he built a log fort for protection against the day when the McCoys might come after him in force or the law might close in in overwhelming numbers.

Mounts was publicly hanged on Feb. 18, 1890. His death seemed to mark the windup of the feud. In the ensuing months, not a shot could be traced to either the Hatfields or the McCoys, and early in 1891 Cap Hatfield wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper announcing that a general amnesty had been declared and that "the war spirit in me has abated."

The feud in effect was at an end. Much of the hatred and resentment would pass with the death of Randolph McCoy, fatally burned when he fell into an open fire at his home around the time of W.W.I. Devil Anse died of pneumonia in 1921. Nine years later, Cap's end came of brain tumor in a Baltimore hospital.

In the decades since 1888, the two families have intermingled freely, and there have been intermarriages, resulting in numerous children. The guns are definitely stacked. If hatred still exists in the older generations, it is buried in the heart and never openly revealed.

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