Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

The Hatfields vs. the McCoys

The Hatfields and the McCoys practically invented the family feud. Today their names are often used in jest, but in the 1880s and '90s, their rivalry was deadly serious. No one has firmly traced the origins of the two Appalachian families' dispute — some say it started because of leftover hostilities from the Civil War, while others say it began with a stolen hog. But for the families and their allies, who lived on the opposite sides of a Kentucky–West Virginia border stream, the conflict soon spiraled out of control. In 1882, Ellison Hatfield was shot and killed in a brawl by some of the McCoys, leading the Hatfields to kidnap and execute three McCoy brothers. The families repeatedly exacted revenge on one another for years, and the feud became a national news story and even made its way to the Supreme Court after a handful of Hatfields were detained across the border in Kentucky. By the 1890s, the dispute died down. Since then the two families have signed a truce ending their dispute and have even appeared on — you guessed it — Family Feud.