Friday, April 18, 2003

Hatfield-McCoy feud ends. And the winner is ...

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Descendants of both the Hatfields and McCoys are claiming victory in a sequel to their clash of the late 1800s.

The feuding families were at odds over access to a hillside cemetery in eastern Kentucky that holds the remains of six McCoys, including three who were tied to pawpaw trees and executed by the Hatfields in 1882.

A judge has ruled that McCoy descendants have a right to visit the cemetery, despite the objections of a Hatfield descendant who owns the land around it.

McCoy descendants claimed they hadn't been able to visit the cemetery in more than three years because it is on land owned by John Vance, a Hatfield heir. Vance had "No Trespassing" signs on the driveway leading to the graves.

But the Hatfields also claimed victory because the judge's ruling barred the cemetery from being opened to commercial exploitation. McCoy descendants who want to visit the cemetery will be required to prove to the court that they are indeed descendants.

Vance said he was also pleased the judge ruled the road leading up to the cemetery belongs to him.

The feud between the McCoys of Kentucky and the Hatfields of West Virginia is believed to have stemmed from a dispute over a pig. A battle over timber rights escalated the tension in the 1870s. By 1888, as many as 12 lives were lost.

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