Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blood Feud, Or How To Deal With People You Don't Like

"In time we hate that which we often fear" ~ William Shakespeare

“Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”  ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

“He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, and he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Now who's Mom and Dad's favourite kid? Who's da man? Not you, twerp!" ~ Cain, after killing Abel

Blood feuds. They've come down through history and literature, examples of vendettas that by far transcend a minor disagreement. The Capulets and the Montagues. The Earps and the Clanton & MacLaureys. Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.
In recent days, the name Hatfield has come up, which, of course, is one half of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud. We've all heard about it at one point or another, but beyond that, how much do we really know about it? Not much, unless you're a local historian or a member of the Hatfields and the McCoys.

The place: the Kentucky and West Virginia border. The time: 1865-1891. The two families lived along the border, and the Civil War was a dividing factor. The first murder victim was a McCoy who went off to fight for the Union. Years later, ownership of a hog provided the excuse for the next wave of violence. From that point on, with legal fights, political connections, forbidden love, and escalating hatred on both sides tossed into the mix... you had the perfect recipe for trouble.

It became a national story. Governors had to call out the militia to stop the violence. Massacres were committed. People died. Trials were held. The Supreme Court was pulled in. Men were executed or imprisoned. And finally, in 1891, the families called a truce to stop the war. In fact, in 2003, the family descendants signed a peace treaty.

The feud still has its legacy today. It's a strange source of tourism for the area. People come to West Virginia and Kentucky to see feud sites and artifacts. A recreation area has been set aside as the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.

 And the families themselves live on.  The metal band Bobaflex features two McCoys. On the other side of the equation, the singer Julianna Hatfield is, well, you guessed it... a Hatfield.

It's astonishing, that hatred can run that deeply between two families. One wonders if the Hatfield and McCoy descendants were looking at each other during that treaty signing, thinking, your great great uncle killed my great grand daddy.

What might it have taken for the old animosity to rise up to the surface?

"Granny! Jimmy Hatfield pushed me!"

"That damned Hatfield! Get my gun! I always knew you couldn't trust a Hatfield!"

Rumors that fictional character Jack McCoy of Law & Order is a McCoy are entirely unsubstantiated. Though it would explain his self righteous tirades.


  1. See what happens when one can't let go of anger and resentment?

    Good one, William!

    (Love the cat photo!)

  2. Good read and I loved the photos. Julianna is looking good.

  3. She's looking rather pissed off. Makes me think the photographer's a McCoy.

  4. After all these years, some anger management classes should be ordered...

  5. I hesitate to take sides, but Granny's adorable.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Great post, William. And at last, a plausible explanation for Jack McCoy's self righteousness!

  8. This makes me want to start a blood feud! I'm drawing a line in the dirt right now ...

  9. It was either that Granny picture, or a picture of the Queen with a gun.

  10. I've never been able to grasp the idea of an ongong feud since I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to hold a grudge. Maybe that's one advantage of having a bad memory.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  11. Great post.
    The last comment was perfect... there are times I just want to slap Jack and all of them and say wake-up !

    cheers, parsnip

  12. I'm sorry; I'm still laughing at the cat. :)

    Hope you're having a good weekend.

  13. Being a member of the long line of the Hatfields, I used to hear something every week when my name came up in a conversation, a business transaction, etc. In my earlier years I could count on this taking place by Tuesday of almost every week. By the time I reached 40, the occurrence had slipped to Wednesday, but still almost every week. Now in my 60s, it comes up sometimes by Thursday, maybe Friday and then only every other week or so. The younger generation is not as much aware of it as one might think.

  14. The Canadian equivalent would be the Black Donnellys, a family in 19th Century southwestern Ontario that were so despised for their violence, drunkenness, and irritability that a group of their neighbours got together and gunned down the better part of the family.

  15. Hey, I love Jack McCoy's self-righteous tirades.
    Yes, carrying hatred forever. Such a heavy burden. Great blog. Loved it! Loved Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote. he is the unsung hero of American philosophy. Too bad most Americans don't like to read their own classic lit.


Comments and opinions always welcome. If you're a spammer, your messages aren't going to last long here, even if they do make it past the spam filters. Keep it up with the spam, and I'll send Dick Cheney after you.