Saturday, December 28, 2002

Hatfields, McCoys take feud to court

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Descendants of the nation's most famous feuding families will face off in court next month in a trial to settle a dispute over access to an eastern Kentucky cemetery.

"I really hate that we have to go to the court system to settle this," said Bo McCoy of Waycross, Ga., one of the plaintiffs in the suit against a Hatfield descendant and his wife who have blocked access to the family cemetery. "We wanted to be gentlemen about it. We felt like we had no other choice."

The cemetery, which holds remains of three McCoy boys who were tied to pawpaw trees and executed by the Hatfields in 1882, is too important historically to remain closed to the public, Mr. McCoy contends.

He and his cousin, Ron McCoy of Durham, N.C., filed the suit against John and Barbara Vance of Hardy, whose property stands between the cemetery and the nearest road. Mr. Vance, a Hatfield descendant, had posted "no trespassing" signs to keep people out of the cemetery until a judge granted an injunction earlier this year giving temporary access until a jury can decide the issue.

Bo and Ron McCoy, organizers of the annual Hatfield-McCoy Reunion Festival in Pikeville, want the cemetery to be part of a tour that would highlight points of interest related to the bloody Hatfield-McCoy feud. Economic development officials in Pikeville hope the feud sites and cemeteries will attract tourists.

Pike County Circuit Judge Charles E. Lowe Jr. has scheduled the trial to begin Jan. 22.

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