The Hatfields, McCoys, and Street Car Racing

June 16, 2018

Dear Friends,

While on our way to West Virginia, we detoured south to Pikesville, the main hub for learning about the Hatfield and McCoy Feud. The boys also discovered a couple hours of fun there as well.

The town of Pikesville was the site for the court case that tried several of the Hatfield men for murder as well as a burial ground for some of the McCoy’s. After we briefly walked by a couple token sites in town and read a short pamphlet on the subject, we went to the museum. I started asking the curator some questions I had about the feud. He lit up with excitement to be able to tell me some side stories of the situation. The highlights are described below, but so much intermarrying and other side disputes also existed between the two families that I will not touch on now.

The original dispute began during the Civil War. The McCoys had one of their own suffer a battle injury while siding with the Union. He came home to recover and the Hatfield clan, who supported the Confederacy, decided to take matters into their own hands and kill the injured McCoy soldier. No one ever went to trial for those actions due to the war and the McCoy clan held a grudge for that. Some time later, the McCoys went over to the Hatfield’s area and discovered they stole some pigs with the McCoy markings on it. This time a trial occurred. Unfortunately, the witness and judge were both Hatfields and the McCoys obviously lost their case. After that, several unpleasant interactions happened between the two sides. It all came to a head when a Hatfield pulled a knife on a McCoy. The McCoy killed him with his gun. The Hatfields wanted revenge. They went to a McCoy household and murdered a little girl and her mom while the dad escaped. Finally the court stepped in and sentenced six Hatfields to life in jail and one Hatfield to hang.

Since that time, several symbolic measures have been taken to show peace once more between the two families. However, everyone surrounding the families still have strong opinions as to who was at fault. The curator explained several books detail the longstanding feud, but they all have strong biases. This feud stood out because the States of Kentucky and West Virginia almost went into their own Civil War over these two families.

Though this feud was popularized because the media became involved, many other similar feuds existed in the area as well. Kentucky was a state that attempted to maintain neutrality throughout the Civil War, but strong opinions existed on both sides of the conflict. Being physically in between the two factions, many families and communities were harshly divided.

When I reflect on the feud, I think about the importance of justice. Justice did not exist in the area of the initial death. It did not exist in the case for an unbiased trial over the pig incident. That lead to resentment and unforgiveness. The prideful stubbornness and covetous nature of the men added to the pain felt on both sides for over 30 years. The two men’s animosity towards each other flowed down and affected the rest of their families. I hope that in situations where you do not feel you obtained justice, you can bring yourselves to a point of humility and forgiveness towards the offending party. Be mindful of how your thoughts and actions affect the rest of those in your family. As impossible as it sounds to do, this can be achieved through Jesus’s help. Check out my link ‘Two Ways to Live” to learn how to begin.

After walking the town and talking with the museum curator, the boys’ eyes were glazing over. The day was blistering hot with drenching rainstorms passing through. I knew the boys wanted something on their level to excite them. Coincidentally, they noticed a few decked out street cars. We walked over to where they were grouping together and discovered they were having free street car races later on that night.

We found our way to a set of bleachers to view the races from. Scenes from “Street Outlaws” came to our minds. Many pricy cars as well as back garage types backed their rear wheels into water. At the starting line, they spun their tires until they grabbed, often smoking up the area. The noise of the large engines and sight of purging the nitrous excited my men. Their eyes beamed and when I called their names, they couldn’t help smiling back at me. We watched several different classes of races. A portion of the track still had some wet spots and the races were delayed a couple times as they torched them dry. The mother side of me had adrenaline rushes run through me when I saw a couple of the cars start losing control and fishtailing. I did not feel like being a witness to any kind of accident.

The races run typically until 11pm or later depending upon how many contestants there were for the week. Because we had another 4-5 hours of driving we wanted to put on that night, we decided to leave after it became dark. Though it was a long, hot day, it was a good one. The night was late before we pulled into a West Virginia Walmart parking lot, but that’s a story for another time.

Until we meet again,


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