Old Ranel McCoy felt need to settle scores
By 12/28/2000 00:00:00
Ellis County Press
Continuing with our account of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, we learned the McCoy family and their allies rallied around their patriarchal leader, ‘Old Ranel' McCoy, as participants on both sides issued threats and prepared for action.
Old Ranel McCoy was beginning to carry the weight of old age on his shoulders, and at such a time of life bitter memories often take over one's thoughts. Old Ranel began to reflect on what he believed was the unfairness of many things that happened in the past, and felt he had some scores to settle.
Ranel was convinced the Hatfield's had prospered at the expense of the McCoys. More especially, he felt a bitterness toward Devil Anse Hatfield, who had gained huge grants of timber in a court settlement with Perry Cline, Ranel's brother-in-law.
Ranel reflected on other Hatfield offenses that stuck in his craw. For one thing, he was still upset about Rosanna McCoy, his love struck daughter who once ran away with a Hatfield. And then there was that little matter of the theft of a hog.
Across the Tug River on the West Virginia side, Devil Anse Hatfield reflected on many of the same concerns as old Ranel. Years later, Devil Anse gave an account of these issues to a reporter, supposedly in his own words:
'When the war ended we all went home and were good friends, until in 1873 or '74, when a difficulty arose between my cousin Floyd Hatfield and Randolph McCoy, who had married sisters, over a sow and pigs.
'A law suit followed. McCoy was the loser, and accused his brother-in-law of swearing falsely, for which (Floyd) struck McCoy with a stone.
'Soon after, Staton was waylaid by Paris and Sam McCoy. His brains were shot out. My brother Ellison prosecuted them for murder. He swore out a warrant for their arrest and asked me to execute it. I refused to do it because the McCoys and I had always been good friends.
'Some time later my son Johnson and Rosanna McCoy, a daughter of Randolph McCoy, ran away from home to get married. The McCoys headed off the fleeing couple, and Rosanna, barefooted, bareheaded, riding a barebacked horse, made her way to the Hatfields under cover of darkness and informed them Johnse had been scooped in by the McCoys.
'We formed an armed posse and went a near way through the woods and rescued Johnse, returning home with him. They were happily married. In a few years, however, Rosanna deserted Johnse and is now living with Frank Phillips, the leader of the McCoy outlaws, in Pike County, Ky.'