A big time in Logan tonight with Hatfields and McCoys from all around the area. Thanks, Debrina, Frankie, Donna and Keith for making it all happen in a big way at the Chief Logan State Park Museum, which now houses indoors the timbers of Wall Hatfield’s cabin.Read More
One of the knowledgeable guys in the hills, up Mate Creek, is Elmer Hatfield. And I’m sure glad THE FEUD meets his approval. I will be seeing Elmer again soon as I am heading to the West Virginia-Kentucky borderland this weekend.
Here’s what he says:
“Being the great grandson of Hogfloyd Hatfield, and having read most of Dean’s Book, I must say that I am impressed at it’s accuracy. Many events are described exactly the way my Dad and Grandpa told me as a youth.”
This plate will look a little gritter when I get there!
photo of car by me. photo of tracks in Matewan by Gordon Stettinius.Read More
I would like to thank all the family members for the outpouring of appreciation for The Feud. I am looking forward to seeing many of you in the near future as I continue on my book tour, which will take me to West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and back to Virginia again all in the next month.
So far, I have met family members in Concord, North Carolina (Thanks Pam Sipple, descendant of Jim Vance, for a wonderful dinner party!); at my launch party in Richmond (John O’Dell, originally from Mate Creek, and others); and at the Library of Virginia, also in Richmond (Jon C. Hatfield, executive director of the Virginia War Memorial).
Among the nice–and deeply meaningful to me–communications I have received is an endorsement from John Vance, the great, great grandson of both Jim Vance and Wall Hatfield. I met with him several times and corresponded with him as part of my research. John sent me this:
Being a direct descendant of three major Feud fighters I have grown up hearing many different tales of what went on during Feud years and have read many books on the subject, I think Mr. King has gone to great trouble to tell the story as accurately as possible.
The fierce family loyalty’s still exist in all the Mountain’s residents today.
I urge you to read Mr. King’s book.
That put a big smile on my face, because I know how much this history means to many people, especially the family members on both sides.
Please keep writing to me, whether you are part of the greater Hatfield and McCoy families or not. I appreciate hearing from everyone, even those who do not agree with my versions of certain episodes or my conclusions. And I especially appreciate new evidence and/or corrections to the record, which I will discuss here as soon as I can confirm the information. In one case, a reader has written in to identify people in a photograph that the family member who provided the picture could not identify. I want to collect all that information for future generations.
To all you who continue to write in or post on Facebook and other places, thanks for reading The Feud so carefully. Please check out my tour schedule, under “appearances” on this website and come out and see me.
More soon!Read More
Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of reading from The Feud at the Village Exxon in Richmond, Virginia. This much-loved and trusted Exxon station has served families through multiple generations in our community, and last year, the owner, Jim McKenna, decided he wanted to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The station’s clerk, Hope Whitby, is a poet, and she suggested having arts events in the shop. This quirky idea turned out to be a great success. The trio of grease bays cleans up smartly, and one day last spring, I found myself listening to a poet read his work with my feet propped up on the hydraulic jacks. I was immediately won over and volunteered to do a reading of The Feud. All of my research trips back to West Virginia and Kentucky began at the station. I’d take in my ’93 Volvo wagon and simply tell them what I was doing and to make sure that the car would get me there and back. (I have since traded in the Volvo for a third-hand, 2000 Mercedes wagon and will ask them to do the same with it, before I head off on my upcoming 2,000-mile driving book tour of the South.) Schedule to be pub’d here soon. Hope and the McKenna family provide refreshments and amazing dessert pastries.
One passage that I read was about the New York City journalist John R. Spears, who traveled to the Tug River in 1888:
“Two miles up the road, Spears ran into three men. Much to his relief, they were surveyors working for the Norfolk and Western Railroad, who were laying out the line that was about to be built along the Tug. The three wore heavy leather leggings for bushwhacking on the snake-ridden riverbank. The rattlers sometimes bit the leggings so hard that their teeth stuck in the leather, and their heads remained attached even after the railroad men cut off their bodies.
“You’ll find this the devil’s own country, but they won’t disturb you,” one of the surveyors told Spears. “You’re all right if they don’t mistake you for a detective. They are suspicious of strangers though.” They were not what he would call overly reassuring.
“After you’ve learned all about these mountain bushwhackers you’ll feel like shaking hands with the next rattler you meet,” said another. “The rattler never strikes without first warning his victim.”
In the next post, I will give the locals’ riposte to the sarcastic outsiders.
This is me on the marquis. I was up there for a whole month, and it was lit up at night. (All photos in this post courtesy of Gordon Valentine.)
Here I am with the owner of the Village Exxon, Jim McKenna.
Anne and Kerry, getting their books signed. And, below, Andrew, of Chop Suey, selling books.