Virginian I Tug - History

Virginian I Tug - History


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Virginian I

(Tug: t. 179 (reg.), 1. 90'0", b. 21'0'', dr. 7'9" (mean), s. 8.0 k.; cpl. 15)

Virginian—a steamer built in 1904 at Camden, N.J., as Blue Belle—was acquired by the Navy at Philadelphia from the Southern Transportation Co., probably late in 1917. Apparently commissioned in January 1918, she served as a tug in the 5th Naval District— probably at Norfolk, Va.—through the end of World War. I. On 12 May 1919, she was returned to her owner, and her name was struck from the Navy list.


Virginian I Tug - History



(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)

By Paul Salstrom

Volume 51 (1992), pp. 45-54

Local "subsistence-barter-and-borrow" systems, based mostly on voluntary reciprocity, were brought to West Virginia by its earliest white settlers. When heavy industrialization began in West Virginia (about one hundred years ago), these traditional economic systems did not cease to function. Their continuation subsidized the state's industrialization. These systems have been called "household economy," however, they may more accurately be described as systems of exchange or distribution rather than simply systems of production. These local systems have carried on production largely through labor-intensive subsistence farming, and their methods of exchange have consisted mainly of barter and borrowing.

By 1726, white settlers began filtering into the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, including West Virginia's eastern panhandle. The overall population of the thirteen colonies burgeoned from a mere 630,000 in 1730 to about 2,150,000 by 1770, and this unprecedented growth propelled many thousands of settlers into the Shenandoah Valley.1 By the 1740s, the eastern panhandle supported the minor industries of blacksmithing and grist milling, as well as an iron furnace which produced pig iron.2

In the 1730s, settlement began along the South Branch of the Potomac River and in the next decades proceeded into the southeast, into the Greenbrier River Valley and other fertile valleys which somewhat resembled the Shenandoah.3 Pioneers also settled along West Virginia's north-central boundary with Pennsylvania, which was then ill marked and disputed, and finally, in the 1760s, settlers reached its northwestern boundary along the Ohio River and some of its tributaries, such as the Kanawha.

In all of these frontier zones confusion reigned, particularly in the Ohio Valley. Despite the founding of the ambitious Ohio Company of Virginia in 1748 and the departure of French troops by 1759, it was not until almost 1770 that George Washington and other speculators gained secure ownership of any Ohio Valley lands.4 Then in 1774, Virginians narrowly defeated Shawnees at Point Pleasant and this victory helped open the way for white settlement along the Ohio River. The immediate onset of the Revolutionary War distracted George Washington and some of his fellow speculators from their western affairs, but it did not deter the westward push of thousands of settlers.

Many of these pioneers achieved their livelihoods through a combination of stock-raising and farming. Before the Revolution, cattle farmers along the South Branch of the Potomac River were also growing corn to fatten their cattle before driving them to markets in eastern cities such as Alexandria, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. A consignment of such stall-fed South Branch cattle was sold near Pittsburgh as early as 1761 to help provision British and American troops during the French and Indian War. Most cattle at that time evidently weighed less than four hundred pounds, but by 1785, the weight of South Branch cattle began increasing due to the importation of several breeding bulls from Britain.5

Regardless of how much of their output they were able to sell, most early settlers were dependent for their economic security on what they called a "competency," the use of sufficient productive property and access to sufficient land or other natural resources, to allow a family to enjoy a comfortable living standard.6 Trapping or hunting deer and other fur-bearing animals contributed to many families' competency. Although major exports of skins and pelts from West Virginia's far northern counties such as Preston ended during the 1820s, they continued strong through the 1850s from Braxton and other central counties. In the southwest, pelts were still being exported in bulk from Huntington as late as the 1870s.7 Ginseng also continued to be a major export from many parts of West Virginia well into, and from some parts throughout, the 1800s.8

Pioneer families certainly did not object to exporting their farm or forest products to help them maintain their competency. Prior to the 1840s, terms of trade were balanced between West Virginia and the rest of the United States. Until productivity rates elsewhere in the nation began to outstrip West Virginia's productivity rates, the exportation of West Virginia products was not the cause of impoverishment. Since the 1840s, the North's productivity rates have increasingly surpassed West Virginia's, resulting in an "unequal exchange" between the two. This was particularly true after the expansion of railroads. Between 1850 and 1880, railroad mileage in West Virginia increased from less than two hundred to almost seven hundred miles. Railroads made it easier to export heavy and bulky goods such as timber and coal out of West Virginia, and more feasible to import food and finished manufactured products. By the 1870s, according to one scholar, Midwestern farm products were pouring into West Virginia by rail "in such huge amounts and at such low prices that local producers were often forced out of their own [local] markets."9

Among the state's manufacturing enterprises that were doomed by the arrival of railroads was north-central West Virginia's iron industry. The more highly capitalized outside iron makers, who in the 1850s began to use strip-mined iron ore brought by boat from Michigan's upper peninsula, captured the local markets. Thanks to the Great Lakes water route, Ohio and Pennsylvania iron makers could import Michigan, and later Minnesota, iron ore cheaper than could north-central West Virginia's iron makers.

This unequal exchange is measured in the amount of time and work required to produce the same amount of market value, to produce an equivalent axe, for example, or an equivalent bushel of corn. Economist Donald R. Adams in a major new statistical study finds that, even before the Civil War, West Virginia's farm productivity was probably already growing more slowly than farm productivity in the rest of the United States.10 Less work-time was required in the North's industrial centers and on midwestern farms to produce the same market value that in West Virginia still entailed a great deal of work-time to produce. When transportation into West Virginia became sufficiently streamlined to deliver outside products cheaply to West Virginia's markets, the work-time of West Virginia laborers was automatically cheapened in average market value.

The disparity between the cost of West Virginia and midwestern farm products occurred dramatically. Between 1850 and 1880, mechanization leapt forward on midwestern farms while on West Virginia farms it did not. In 1850, the average value of farm implements and machinery per farm stood at $82.53 in the Midwest and at $65.24 in West Virginia. By 1880, the Midwest value had risen to $121.60, while the West Virginia figure fell to $43.07.11 That translated directly into a widening productivity gap between midwestern and West Virginia farms, which in turn lowered the income of West Virginia farm families competing with Midwestern farm families to supply West Virginia's food markets. As the price of corn from the Midwest fell, for example, West Virginia's corn growers had to sell their produce cheaper or fail to sell it. This also lowered the "transfer wage" that induced West Virginia farmers to accept part- or full-time work, which in turn led to lower wages for many of West Virginia's wage workers (lower than the wages of Midwestern workers).12

Despite West Virginia's increasingly lagging productivity rates after 1840, there nonetheless remained at least two ways for West Virginians to avoid impoverishment. One was to make the state a financial center, a sort of Switzerland of North America. No analytic financial history of West Virginia has ever been published, so only in a general way do we know how the state failed to become financially independent.13

The second means to avoid impoverishment was to maintain a competency by keeping family farms of sufficient size to sustain themselves without much recourse to buying or selling in the market. Families supported themselves through a mixture of self-sufficiency and moneyless exchange within local neighborhoods. In fact, rural West Virginia has always been pervaded with local bartering and borrowing networks operating outside both the market and money economies. Economic anthropologist Rhoda H. Halperin, studying similar networks in present-day Kentucky, describes the system as an "informal economy."14 Throughout West Virginia's history, rural families have practiced a give-and-take with each other that was not based on legal contracts or even steadfast agreements, but on voluntary reciprocity. In practice, families performed favors for neighboring families which were generally not repaid until a time of mutual convenience for both. Usually no money changed hands, although rough monetary values were generally assigned, at least in people's private calculations, to keep track of the value of the goods and services exchanged. Until the early 1900s, money was so scarce in most of West Virginia that an attitude of voluntary reciprocity perforce had to undergird almost everyone's economic well-being.

Moneyless bartering and borrowing networks helped many West Virginians maintain their competency. Subsistence farming, bartering, and borrowing have composed the fabric of thousands of local economic systems in rural West Virginia, systems that still exist in many areas. A historical examination of these local systems reveals that the outside context within which they operated changed over time. In the numerous cases where families took wage- earning jobs while continuing subsistence farming, as well as bartering and borrowing, the combined income sources helped them only temporarily. In time, it tended to impoverish them.

Subsistence-barter-and-borrow systems didn't require a family to own land or resources, but both had to be readily available, for sharecropping perhaps, or as part of some other exchange. However, as West Virginia's population increased, arable land grew scarce and an ever-increasing population had to supplement its subsistence-barter-borrow income with other sources. Until the 1880s, major new farming frontiers further west drew many farm families out of the state.15 Yet West Virginia's population continued to swell, growing 39.9 percent in the 1870s and 23.3 percent in the 1880s.16

By the end of the 1880s, thousands of West Virginians began turning for income to the state's newly opening coal mines. Most of the miners' families could still partially support themselves from the land or from land-based networking. Therefore, West Virginians were willing to accept lower wages than northern miners demanded. Between 1897 and 1909, West Virginia's average coal miner earned only two-thirds to three-quarters as much as the average coal miner in the United States as a whole for working at least the same number of hours.17 The subsistence farming and informal networking which the families of most West Virginia coal miners continued to practice added up to an immense grassroots agricultural subsidy to the state's coal industry. Without this local subsistence economy, far less mining would have been economically feasible.

Looking back over this sequence of events it is evident that, two hundred years ago, most West Virginians were relatively prosperous farmers, and many were entrepreneurs. One hundred years ago, however, many West Virginians became coal miners or adopted other wage work in an effort to forestall impoverishment. The trend toward wage labor did not bring an end to rural grassroots economic systems. Instead, the rising capitalist relations of exchange meshed with the traditional practices of subsistence farming, bartering, and borrowing. Capitalistic relations were characterized by contracts, such as labor contracted in exchange for wages, while the traditional community relations continued to be based on voluntary reciprocity.

The pace of industrialization in West Virginia accelerated in the 1880S and increasing numbers of farm families who found themselves growing poorer chose to stay in West Virginia rather than migrate west, where enticing opportunities were fast diminishing. Their primary option was to supplement their income through wage work. The wages offered by coal operators were usually low in West Virginia, but were still attractive because they could be combined with farming income to increase temporarily the living standard of farm families.

Many of the mountain miners' families did not initially relocate to the coal camps, but those who did generally continued to garden and raise stock. Writing of Kanawha County in 1896, a touring organizer for the United Mine Workers reported,

"there does not exist the hunger and suffering here that is found in [other coal fields]. . . . Every spot of ground seems to have received attention from the plow or spade, the houses resemble the homes of the market gardener. . . . This explains their comparatively comfortable position. They raise all the vegetables that they require and this assures them that the wolf shall be kept from the door."18

As they entered the mines, West Virginia farmers probably reflected little about their new dependence on outside forces beyond their control. Many of them viewed mining as a temporary expedient, a mere phase in their progression toward a state of landed competency which they hoped to someday maintain without the need for further wage work.

Gradually, however, the economic system of the employers prevailed, trapping many "temporary" industrial workers into a cycle of wage dependency. This cycle resulted from a ruthlessness inherent in capitalism, and the self- defeating factors within the local subsistence-barter-borrow systems. Engrossment of land and resources by capitalists cannot be denied, but such engrossment merely hastened a decline many farm families inflicted upon themselves by combining their traditional subsistence farming with wage labor. The labor-intensive nature of farming necessitated large families with more children than the land could support. Eventually, insufficient land remained to provide a competency for all those adults whose labor on the land as children had been required. The continuation of this natural cycle resulted in ever-increasing population juxtaposed with ever-decreasing acres of arable land.

Given adequate land, however, West Virginia families engaged in subsistence farming full time could have remained virtually independent of economic forces beyond the region. While these full-time subsistence farm families were rarely self-sufficient as separate households, they had access to more than the animals and produce they raised. The family household got by, and often quite prosperously so, through a combination of subsistence farming and a prodigious amount of barter and borrowing of both objects and labor.

These exchange activities did not happen with equal frequency between all residents of a locality. Instead, they flourished primarily within what Appalachian sociologists call "family groups." As defined by an eastern Kentucky study, a family group consisted "of two, three, or more family- households that were particularly solidary and bonded together by strong ties of mutual friendship, and frequent visiting exchanges, as well as by ties of kinship. These were primary groups of siblings' families or of siblings and their parental families." Beyond these family groups, there existed "little cooperation in common tasks for the good of the whole neighborhood. Few interfamily economic relationships, such as borrowing farm implements or exchanging labor, existed."19 A similar organization of family groups, accompanied by a comparable lack of community-wide cooperation, was documented by a study of Pendleton County.20 Nonetheless, some of the bartering and borrowing did extend beyond family groups.

Folkways can tell us much about the non-monetized economic exchanges of rural West Virginia. If someone possessed an implement that was not in use, another person could arrange to borrow it or request help with the work he or she intended to do. It was implied that the borrower would later repay the favor by lending something in return, volunteering labor when necessary, or contributing other goods at some mutually convenient time. Within this context, a relatively poor farmer might contribute mostly labor while a relatively prosperous farmer might more readily lend equipment.

Urbanites might suppose that the workings of such subsistence-barter-and- borrow systems were sustained merely by custom or tradition. However, the sustaining factor was short-term economic benefits. Within this framework, several households had access to every tool possessed by any one of them. Today, tools, farm implements, and other productive goods are still heavily borrowed and traded throughout most of rural West Virginia. Within that exchange context, a tool or implement is valuable over and above its productive value it also holds exchange value. In financial terms, this can be viewed as a system of leasing. It could also be described as selling objects piecemeal to people who, through their return favors, share in paying amortized attrition costs which otherwise would prove too costly for an object's nominal owner.

Voluntary reciprocity has not been studied as an economic phenomenon in West Virginia. Money and money-equivalents, "in-kind" values, cannot accurately measure wealth or income in a money-poor but barter-and-borrow-rich environment. Until a method is devised that can render subsistence-barter-and- borrow systems quantitatively comparable to the money system, there is little ability to estimate the real income or wealth of a state like West Virginia, even at the present day. Ethnographic comparisons can be made but meaningful economic comparisons between voluntary reciprocity and monetized exchanges remain questionable. Sociologists will doubtlessly continue puzzling over the supposedly "self-limiting" attributes of rural West Virginians' behavior.

Evaluations of this "self-limiting," or perhaps "selfless," behavior have accentuated the negative. A nineteenth-century mining engineer described the Appalachian mountaineers as "supremely unconscious of their own misery."21 Likewise, a socialist economist declared in 1940 that "extreme poverty comparable to that of the poorest sharecropper, is all that the `self- sufficing' farm can provide."22 No less a scholar than Rupert Vance has similarly confused ways of life with standards of living. Writing in 1962, Vance noted that during the 1930s, the New Deal's "standards made at least half the population in certain Appalachian areas eligible for relief" and that this "introduced the people to the money economy and increased their wants. The depression, then," he continued, "actually served to raise standards for many families in the region who lacked contact with the American standard of living." Vance hastened to add that the Depression "left the region with a high rate of relief [welfare payments] and a low basis for economic security," but let stand his implicit equation of "the American standard" with a raised standard and not merely with "the money economy."23

A recent judgement by Jack Temple Kirby seems equally uncritical. By 1960, Kirby says, "millions of acres of [Appalachian] land were abandoned. The shabby remains of semisubsistence life on remote family farms were abandoned, too, or mercifully executed at last by the manifold outside forces of the commercial world, its demands of efficiency and specialization, and the cash nexus." Yet Kirby mentions no viable alternative to such "semisubsistence life on remote family farms." He explicitly disqualifies the most chosen alternative: "Tantalizing hopes of stable work in industries old and new were dimmed, if not dashed, by the vagaries of the world marketplace."24

In two crucial respects, West Virginia's local subsistence-barter-and-borrow systems depend upon the monetized economy. First, their barter aspect is related to the market price levels. As Karl Polanyi points out, "unless [a market] pattern is present, at least in patches, the propensity to barter will find insufficient scope: it cannot produce prices. . . . The principle of barter depends for its effectiveness on the market pattern."25 Secondly, West Virginia's local systems rely on the market for an often small but nonetheless crucial infusion of money with which farm families purchase some of their implements and other productive goods, or buy the few consumptive goods that are not native to their neighborhoods.

Today's scale of dependence on corporate employers and government subsidies in rural West Virginia has weakened but not obliterated the state's subsistence- barter-and-borrow systems. The many social and cultural consequences of this phenomenon have been studied by other writers.26 The fact that voluntary reciprocity no longer saturates rural life can be expressed in social and cultural terms, but only an economic analysis will explain why it has waned.

By analyzing this economic transition from the West Virginia perspective (the micro) and then proceeding outward to the larger United States market economy (the macro), one may better understand the effects of corporate and government intrusion on local subsistence-barter-and-borrow economies. Unfortunately, few writers have adopted this in-state perspective, even when studying West Virginia as an economic unit. There remains the tendency to ask how West Virginia has affected the rest of the United States, rather than ask how the United States has affected West Virginia. Only when the latter question is posed can policies be formulated that will allow the state to benefit rather than suffer from the national context surrounding it.

1. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, two parts, bicentennial edition (Washington, DC: GPO, 1975), II: 1068.

2. Millard Kessler Bushong, Historic Jefferson County (Boyce, VA: Carr Publishing Co., 1972), 82 and ff. Further details on economic life appear in Robert L. Skidmore, "A Social History of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to 1810" (Master's thesis, West Virginia University, 1953), and William D. Theriault, A History of Eastern Jefferson County, West Virginia (Bakerton: Jefferson County Oral and Visual History Association, 1988).

3. Albert H. Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk: Political Culture on a Virginia Frontier, 1740-1790 (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1991), 5-17, 25, 33.

4. Also active in western Virginia were the Greenbrier Company, Indiana Company, and Vandalia Company.

5. Richard K. McMaster, "The Cattle Trade in Western Virginia, 1760-1830," in Appalachian Frontiers: Settlement, Society, and Development in the Preindustrial Era, ed. by Robert D. Mitchell (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1991). For other details see Richard K. McMaster, The History of Hardy County, 1786-1986 (Salem: Walsworth Printing, 1986), chs. 3 and 6.

6. For an in-depth look at rural "competency" see Daniel Vickers, "Competency and Competition: Economic Culture in Early America," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 47(January 1990): 3-4, 13-29.

7. On Preston County see Reardon S. Cuppett, "Harrison Hagans and His Times" (Master's thesis, West Virginia University, 1933), 16. Hagans owned a network of stores in early Preston County. The prices he paid for various pelts are also listed on page 16. On Braxton County see Festus P. Summers, Johnson Newlon Camden: A Study in Individualism (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1973), 59-62. On pelts being shipped still later from Huntington see Charles Henry Ambler, West Virginia: The Mountain State (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1940), 453. Most pelts shipped from Huntington were no doubt gathered further south in the Guyandot River and Big Sandy River watersheds.

8. On the seventeenth-century ginseng trade in southwestern West Virginia see Edwin Albert Cubby, "The Transformation of the Tug and Guyandot Valleys: Economic Development and Social Change in West Virginia, 1888-1921" (Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University, 1962), 127-31.

9. James Morton Callahan, History of West Virginia, 3 vols. (Chicago: The American Historical Society, 1923), 1:197 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Report on the Agencies of Transportation in the United States, 1880 (Washington: GPO, 1883), 307 William D. Barns, The West Virginia State Grange: The First Century, 1873-1973 (Morgantown: Morgantown Printing and Binding, 1973), 19. See also Nat T. Frame, "West Virginia Agricultural and Rural Life," (unpublished ms., West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia Univ.), part 1:15. This crucial question of food imports into West Virginia invites more research to determine its extent in each decade since it began.

10. Donald R. Adams, Jr. "Prices, Wages and the Standard of Living in West Virginia," Journal of Economic History 52(March 1992): 206-16.

11. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, 273-74 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Compendium of the Seventh Census, 1850, 169, 322, 328 and U.S. Bureau of the Census, Report on the Productions of Agriculture, 1880 (Washington: GPO, 1883), 4. Between 1850 and 1880, consumer prices inflated 16 percent, making a real fall of 47 percent in the value of farm implements and machinery on West Virginia farms.

12. See Jerry Bruce Thomas, "Coal Country: The Rise of the Southern Smokeless Coal Industry and Its Effect on Area Development, 1872-1910" (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1971), 200.

13. Basic sources for a financial history of West Virginia include the annual reports of the state's Bank Examiner, which began in 1891. In 1901, they became the annual reports of the state's Commissioner of Banking. For the national context see Louis A. Ruffner, Money and Banking in the United States (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1930). Ruffner was a West Virginia University economics professor.

14. See Rhoda H. Halperin, The Livelihood of Kin: Making Ends Meet "The Kentucky Way" (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1990). For a summary see Halperin, "The Kentucky Way: Resistance to Dependency upon Capitalism in an Appalachian Region," in Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present (Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 1991). For West Virginia examples see Kate Long, "Barter Economy Serves Cash-Poor Residents Well," Charleston Gazette, 21 October 1991.

15. In the 1870s and 1880s, according to William D. Barns, "as many as twelve or even thirty families might depart in a single month" from some West Virginia counties. Their primary destinations were Kansas and Nebraska, but many others went to Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. Some went to California and Oregon. Yet, Barns added, "West Virginia's total population continued to increase." Barns, The West Virginia State Grange, 21.

16. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Compendium of the Eleventh Census, 1890, I: Population, 45. Population figures county-by-county are also given there for 1790-1890. The county-by-county population figures for 1890-1930 are given in the Compendium of the Fifteenth Census, 1930, I: Population, 1165. Later editions of the census give later county-by- county population figures. The boundary lines for all U.S. counties in each census year from 1840-1980 are drawn in Thomas D. Rabenhorst, Historical U.S. County Outline Map Collection, 1840-1980 (Baltimore: Dept. of Geography, Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1984).

17. Thomas, "Coal Country," 200, table.

18. P. M. McBride, letter to the editor, United Mine Workers Journal, 28 May 1896, quoted in David Alan Corbin, Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880-1922 (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1981), 34.

19. Harry K. Schwarzweller, James S. Brown, and J. J. Mangalam, Mountain Families in Transition: A Case Study of Appalachian Migration (University Park: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1971), 40.

20. John Craft Taylor, "Depression and New Deal in Pendleton: A History of a West Virginia County from the Great Crash to Pearl Harbor, 1929-1941" (Ph.D. diss., Pennsylvania State University, 1980), 124-27, 133. 21. George Fowler, "Social and Industrial Conditions in the Pocahontas Coal Field," Engineering Magazine 27(June 1904): 386-87, quoted in Ronald D Eller, Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880-1930 (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1982), 166.

22. Anna Rochester, Why Farmers Are Poor: The Agricultural Crisis in the United States (New York: International Publishers, 1940), 68-69.

23. Rupert B. Vance, "The Region: A New Survey," in The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey, ed. by Thomas R. Ford (Lexington: Univ. of Kentucky Press, 1962), 5.

24. Jack Temple Kirby, Rural Worlds Lost: The American South, 1920-1960 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1987), 111.

25. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), 56.

26. For a summary of this ethnological literature see Dwight Billings, Kathleen Blee, and Louis Swanson, "Culture, Family, and Community in Preindustrial Appalachia," Appalachian Journal 13 (Winter 1986): 154- 57, 161-67.


This Week in West Virginia History

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary.

West Virginia Humanities Council | Courtesy

The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

May 9, 1800: Abolitionist John Brown was born in Torrington, Connecticut. His 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry galvanized the nation, further alienating the North and South.

May 9, 1843: Confederate spy ‘‘Belle’’ Boyd was born in Martinsburg. On July 4, 1861, Belle shot a Yankee soldier and started her spy career.

May 9, 1863: Confederate raiders arrived at Burning Springs, Wirt County. There they set fire to 150,000 barrels of oil, oil tanks, engines for pumping, engine houses, wagons, and oil-laden boats.

May 10, 1863, Stonewall Jackson died after uttering the words: ‘‘Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.’’ He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

May 10, 1908: The first official observance of Mother’s Day was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton and simultaneously in Philadelphia. The holiday resulted from a vigorous campaign by Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorate the spirit of her mother’s work as a social activist.

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary. It dispelled the widely held belief that being a Roman Catholic was a crippling handicap for a presidential candidate.

May 11, 1909: Filmmaker Ellis Dungan was born. After years of working in the feature film industry in India, he settled in Wheeling, where he shot documentaries and produced films for the state and the region.

May 11, 1930: Physician John C. Norman, Jr. was born in Charleston. A noted thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and researcher, he was best known for his work toward creating an artificial heart.

May 12󈝺, 1921: Bullets peppered down on about a dozen mining towns in the Matewan-Williamson area, and nonunion miners fired back, in what became known as the Battle of the Tug. Three people were shot and killed.

May 13, 1962: Editorial cartoonist Henry Payne was born in Charleston. In 1989, Payne was the first editorial cartoonist in the country to make his work available via computer.

May 14, 1878: Photographer Rufus “Red” Ribble was born in Blacksburg, Virginia. For nearly 40 years he traveled the coalfields making panoramic photographs of miners, towns, family reunions, church congregations and school groups.

May 14, 1906: Social reformer Mary Behner was born in Xenia, Ohio. From 1928 until 1937, Behner worked in the coal camps along Scotts Run near Morgantown, fighting poverty and creating social and educational outlets for families.

May 14, 1943: Alan Mollohan was born in Fairmont. Mollohan served in the U.S. Congress from 1982 to 2010.

May 15, 1880: The state’s first telephone exchange was placed in service in Wheeling with about 25 subscribers.

May 15, 1886: Minnie Buckingham Harper was born in Winfield. She was the first African-American woman to serve as a member of a state legislative body in the United States. She was appointed by Governor Howard Gore on January 10, 1928, to fill the unexpired term of her husband, E. Howard Harper.

May 15, 1893: Albert Sidney ‘‘Sid’’ Hatfield, controversial police chief of Matewan and martyred hero to union coal miners, was born near Matewan, on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork.

May 15, 1953: George Brett, the Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, was born in Glen Dale in Marshall County. He is one of only four players in baseball history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a career batting average of .300.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301 (304) 346-8500 or visit e-WV at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary.


2002 to Today

The Legacy of the Mosquito Fleet Continues

The Virginia V has remained in service on local waters almost nonstop since 2002. As the last vessel of her kind and a National Historic Landmark, the ship does require regular maintenance. The Foundation must raise $250,000 every two years for maintenance, periodic upgrades, and a fresh coat of gleaming white and black paint.

Keeping her in great condition allows us to maintain a busy calendar of public excursions, schedule private charters for weddings and other celebrations, and visit maritime festivals around Puget Sound as a living, working piece of local history.

Today, the charming, wood-hull Steamer Virginia V is an active part of Seattle’s vibrant South Lake Union community, docked behind the Museum of History and Industry and the Center for Wooden Boats.


This Week in West Virginia History: May 9 – May 15

Charleston, W.Va. – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

May 9, 1800: Abolitionist John Brown was born in Torrington, Connecticut. His 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry galvanized the nation, further alienating the North and South.

May 9, 1843: Confederate spy ‘‘Belle’’ Boyd was born in Martinsburg. On July 4, 1861, Belle shot a Yankee soldier and started her spy career.

May 9, 1863: Confederate raiders arrived at Burning Springs, Wirt County. There they set fire to 150,000 barrels of oil, oil tanks, engines for pumping, engine houses, wagons, and oil-laden boats.

May 10, 1863, Stonewall Jackson died after uttering the words: ‘‘Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.’’ He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

May 10, 1908: The first official observance of Mother’s Day was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton and simultaneously in Philadelphia. The holiday resulted from a vigorous campaign by Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorate the spirit of her mother’s work as a social activist.

May 10, 1960: John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary. It dispelled the widely held belief that being a Roman Catholic was a crippling handicap for a presidential candidate.

May 11, 1909: Filmmaker Ellis Dungan was born. After years of working in the feature film industry in India, he settled in Wheeling, where he shot documentaries and produced films for the state and the region.

May 11, 1930: Physician John C. Norman, Jr. was born in Charleston. A noted thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and researcher, he was best known for his work toward creating an artificial heart.

May 12–14, 1921: Bullets peppered down on about a dozen mining towns in the Matewan-Williamson area, and nonunion miners fired back, in what became known as the Battle of the Tug. Three people were shot and killed.

May 13, 1962: Editorial cartoonist Henry Payne was born in Charleston. In 1989, Payne was the first editorial cartoonist in the country to make his work available via computer.

May 14, 1878: Photographer Rufus “Red” Ribble was born in Blacksburg, Virginia. For nearly 40 years he traveled the coalfields making panoramic photographs of miners, towns, family reunions, church congregations and school groups.

May 14, 1906: Social reformer Mary Behner was born in Xenia, Ohio. From 1928 until 1937, Behner worked in the coal camps along Scotts Run near Morgantown, fighting poverty and creating social and educational outlets for families.

May 14, 1943: Alan Mollohan was born in Fairmont. Mollohan served in the U.S. Congress from 1982 to 2010.

May 15, 1880: The state’s first telephone exchange was placed in service in Wheeling with about 25 subscribers.

May 15, 1886: Minnie Buckingham Harper was born in Winfield. She was the first African-American woman to serve as a member of a state legislative body in the United States. She was appointed by Governor Howard Gore on January 10, 1928, to fill the unexpired term of her husband, E. Howard Harper.

May 15, 1893: Albert Sidney ‘‘Sid’’ Hatfield, controversial police chief of Matewan and martyred hero to union coal miners, was born near Matewan, on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork.

May 15, 1953: George Brett, the Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, was born in Glen Dale in Marshall County. He is one of only four players in baseball history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a career batting average of .300.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301 (304) 346-8500 or visit e-WV at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

  • Sid Hatfield
  • Belle Boyd
  • Kansas City Royals player George Brett at bat during a 1990 game at Royals Stadium
  • Dr. John C. Norman, Jr.
  • Mary Behner
  • Minnie Buckingham Harper
  • Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church

Virginian I Tug - History

Built in 1979, by Rayco Shipbuilders and Repair Incorporated of Bourg, Louisiana (H-67) as the Bayou Babe for Misener Marine Incorporated of Tampa, Florida.

In 1988, the tug was acquired by the Great Point Towing Company of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Where she was renamed as the Wauwinet.

In 1996, she was acquired by Weeks Marine Incorporated of Cranford, New Jersey. Where the tug was renamed as the Virginia.

Originally powered by two, GM12V149 diesel engines. With MG540 7:1 gears. Turning two, 72(in) by 62(in), fixed pitch propellers. She is a twin screw tug, originally rated at 1,400 horsepower.

In 1996, the tug was re powered with two, Caterpillar 3412E diesel engines. With Twin Disc MG-540 reduction gears, at a ratio of 7.0:1. Turning two, 72(in) by 62(in, stainless steel, fixed pitch propellers. She is a twin screw tug, rated at 1,440 horsepower.

Her original electrical service was provided by two, 40kW generator sets. Driven by two, GM 3-71 diesel engines. When the tug was re powered, two new 44kW generator sets where installed. Driven by two, John Deere diesel engines. The tug's capacities are 25,200 gallons of fuel, 215 gallons of lube oil, and 2,600 gallons of water.

The towing equipment consists of a single drum, Smatco 44-DPS-75 towing winch. Outfitted with 1,200(ft) of 1.25(in) towing wire.


7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Hatfields and McCoys

1. Hollywood has always loved the Hatfields and McCoys.
The Hatfields and McCoys saga has been reflected in various forms of entertainment, including books, songs and Hollywood films. Some of the most memorable portrayals of the feud include a 1952 Abbot and Costello feature a Hatfield- and McCoy-themed episode of the animated series “Scooby-Doo” and Warner Bros.’ 1950 “Merrie Melodies” cartoon “Hillbilly Hare,” in which Bugs Bunny finds himself ensnared in a dispute between the rival Martin and Coy families.

Frankie McCoy and Shirley Hatfield pose together in a photograph that appeared in Life magazine in May 1944. (Credit: Walter Sanders//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

2. The Hatfields and McCoys inspired a famous game show.
The conflict is believed to have been the primary inspiration for the popular game show �mily Feud,” which premiered in 1976. In 1979 members of both families appeared on the show during a special Hatfields and McCoys theme week to battle it out for the usual cash rewards—with one unique twist. Also included in the prize package was a pig, symbolizing the origins of the feud. (It was the rumored theft of a valuable pig by a Hatfield ancestor that had served as a catalyst for the eruption of hostilities more than 100 years earlier.) The Hatfields won the contest.

3. The formerly feuding families were featured in Life magazine in the 1940s.
In May 1944, an issue of Life magazine revisited the Hatfields and McCoys nearly 50 years after violence among them rocked the Tug Valley area between Kentucky and West Virginia. The article was meant to show how the two �mous families now live together in peace,” and interviewed a number of descendants about the rivalry and relations between the two families five decades after the conflict. Among the photographs was a shot of two young women, Shirley Hatfield and Frankie McCoy, working together in a local factory that produced military uniforms. It was meant to symbolize the unifying effect of America’s war efforts at the height of World War II.

4. The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1888 several Hatfields were arrested and stood trial for the murder of two of Randall McCoy’s children. West Virginia sued for the men’s release, arguing that they had been illegally extradited across state lines. The Supreme Court eventually became involved in the case, known as Mahon v. Justice. In its 7-2 decision, the court ruled in favor of Kentucky, allowing for the trials and subsequent convictions of all the Hatfield men. Seven of them received life sentences, and one, Ellison 𠇌otton Top” Mounts, was executed for his crimes.

5. A rare medical condition may be partly to blame for the violence of the notorious clash of clans.
In a 2007 study, a team of doctors and geneticists who had studied dozens of McCoy descendants noted an unusually high rate of Von Hippel-Lindau disease, a rare, inherited condition that produces tumors of the eyes, ears, pancreas and adrenal glands as well as high blood pressure, a racing heartbeat and increased 𠇏ight or flight” stress hormones. The researchers also collected numerous oral histories from family members detailing the combative and often violent nature of the McCoy family dating back to the feud’s roots.

6. The Tug Valley witnessed another violent clash nearly 30 years after the Hatfields and McCoys feud.
On May 19, 1920, detectives working for the anti-union Baldwin-Felts Agency evicted the families of workers who had attempted to unionize the Stone Mountain Coal Company mines outside Matewan, West Virginia. After Sid Hatfield, the Matewan chief of police and a Hatfield descendant, intervened on the miners’ behalf, a violent clash broke out that left seven detectives and four locals dead. The Matewan Massacre became a rallying cry for union activists across the country, with Sid Hatfield garnering fame for his defense of the miners. A year later, however, Hatfield was assassinated, purportedly by Baldwin-Felts agents. The events surrounding the Matewan Massacre and Sid Hatfield’s murder were depicted in the acclaimed 1987 film “Matewan.”

7. There are thousands of Hatfield and McCoy descendants𠅋ut not all of them are real.
Sid Hatfield is just one of many notable Hatfield and McCoy descendants. Others include Henry D. Hatfield, nephew of family patriarch Devil Anse, who served as a senator and governor of West Virginia 1930s jazz musician Clyde McCoy and basketball coach Mike D𠆚ntoni. There have even been fictional descendants, including Leonard 𠇋ones” McCoy from the television and film series “Star Trek,” who was supposedly dozens of generations removed from his McCoy family roots.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.


In 1951, Ray Hickey got a job as a deck hand on a Tidewater tugboat. After spending his first four years on the Leland James, Ray transferred to the ocean division and became the chief engineer on the Tillamook, Tidewater's first ocean-going tugboat. In 1967, Ray became the operations manager of the ocean division and then was promoted to general manager in 1970, overseeing both ocean and river operations. He became president of Tidewater in 1977.


Important Dates in West Virginia’s Mining History

1742 First discovery of coal by John Peter Salley in the area now comprising West Virginia.

1770 George Washington noted “a cole hill on fire” near West Columbia in current Mason County.

1800 Pittsburgh Coal Seam was discovered in northern Kanawha County.

1810 First commercial coal mine opened near Wheeling by Conrad Cotts for blacksmithing and domestic use.

1817 A coal mine opened in the upper Kanawha Valley to supply coal to the salt industry.

1830 Development of Clay industry in Hancock County.

1834 First commercial coal mining company in Kanawha Valley incorporated.

1843 Baltimore and Ohio railroad reached Piedmont and coal was shipped to Baltimore.

1847 Coal shipped by river from Mason County.

1853 The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was opened to Wheeling.

1855 Mines opened on Big Coal River near Peytona and coal shipped by way of Kanawha River.

1863 West Virginia becomes a state (June 20).

1873 Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad completed lines to Huntington.

1875 A bill was introduced in the WV Legislature to provide for better ventilation in coal mines.

1880 The Hawk’s Nest Coal Co. strike.

1881 The Western Maryland Railway reached the upper Potomac.

1883 First state mine inspector, Oscar A. Veazey hired.

1883 First Annual Report Prepared.

1884 The state mine inspector proposed the first comprehensive mine safety laws.

1885 H. J. Tucker appointed as State Mine Inspector

1886 First recorded mine disaster in West Virginia Mt. Brook Mine (Newburg) 39 victims.

1887 Legislature passed first significant mine safety laws.

1887 Henry Cunningham appointed as State Mine Inspector.

1888 Annual Report data is based on fiscal year.

1890 David M. Barr and M. F. Spruce appointed as State Mine Inspectors.

1893 H. A. Robson appointed as State Mine Inspector.

1894 UMWA miners strike in WV.

1896 P.L. Brannon appointed a State Mine Inspector.

1897 Office of Chief Mine Inspector created, James W. Paul named Chief. Mining laws first published.

1900 Red Ash Mine disaster claims 46 victims.

1905 West Virginia Department of Mines created.

1905 Six Disasters occurred this year, the greatest number in any one year.

1906 Explosion at the Parral Mine in Fayette County killed 23 miners.

1907 Mine explosion at Monongah claims 361 miners, worst US mine disaster.

1907 Mine explosion at the Stuart mine in Fayette County killed 85 miners.

1907 Mining Commission appointed to propose new legislation.

1907 Mining laws were printed in the languages of the miners.

(West Virginia Mining Laws published in Hungarian)

1908 The position of “Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines” created.

1908 Explosion at the Bachman (Hawk’s Nest) mine in Fayette County killed 9 miners.

1908 An explosion at the Lick Branch Colliery in McDowell County killed 50 miners (Dec. 29).

1909 An explosion at the Lick Branch Colliery in McDowell County killed 67 miners (Jan. 12).

1909 Creation of the Mine Inspectors Examining Board.

1909 First use of photos in Department of Mines’ Annual Reports.

1909 John Laing appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1910 First mine foreman certification examinations.

1910 Peak year for Coke production 4,217,381 tons.

1912 Union strikes in Paint Creek, Martial law imposed.

1913 Clash between miners and mine guards on Paint Creek.

1913 Governor issues Martial Law proclamation (Feb.).

1914 Eccles mine explosion kills 183.

1914 Earl A. Henry appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1915 Explosion at Layland Fayette County killed 112 miners. (View a Map of the Layland mine)

1915 Enoch Carver – WV Mine Inspector was killed while on the job. He was crushed between a mine rib and a trip of cars at the Sunday Creek No. 14 mine.

1917 First Inspections of Quarry Operations by state inspectors.

1918 W. J. Heatherman appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1919 First investigations of individual mine fatalities by WV Department of Mines.

1920 “Battle of the Tug” between union miners and mine guards.

1920 Matewan Massacre occurred.

1920 John L. Lewis becomes president of the UMWA.

1920 R. M. Lambie appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1922 Nationwide strike was called by the UMWA.

1924 WV Department of Mines’ Annual Report is published for an 18 month period.

1924 Explosion at Benwood mines killed 119 employees.

1925 WV Department of Mines’ Annual Report Collected data is published on calendar year basis.

1925 Highest number of mine fatalities for any year 686.

1925 Last year names of fatal accident victims were published in the WV Department of Mines’ Annual Report.

1931 West Virginia overtakes Pennsylvania as the leading producer of bituminous coal.

1932 The Norris-La Guardia Act was signed, limiting federal involvement in labor disputes.

1933 N. P. Rhinehart appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1934 West Virginia Coal Reserves first calculated.

1935 Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act.

1937 Highest number of lost time accidents reported 14,862.

1939 Miner certifications first issued.

1940 peak employment in West Virginia mines 130,457.

1942 Jesse Redyardappointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1942 Explosion at Christopher No. 3 mine killed 56 miners.

1942 Surface Mining Operations first recorded in Annual Reports.

1944 Explosion at the Katherine Coal Co. No. 4 mine killed 16 miners.

1945 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement was signed.

1945 G. R. Spindler appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1946 Arch J. Alexamder appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1948 The first practical usage of roofbolts as a roof support method.
(example of roofbolting from 1950 Annual Report)

1951 Explosion at Bunker Mine killed 10 miners.

1952 Joseph Bierer appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1953 Federal Mine Safety Code for Bituminous and Lignite Coal Mines was published.

1954 Frank B. King appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1955 Julius C. Olzer appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1957 Pocahontas Fuel Co. No. 31 explosion, 37 victims.

1957 Crawford L. Wilson appointed as Chief of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1958 Title “Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines” created.

1960 Coal seam fire killed 18 miners by asphyxiation at the Holden No. 22 mine.

1961 Leonard J. Timms appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1961 Classification of Mine Disaster changed. (Accidents fatally injuring three or more victims are now termed “disaster” previously five or more deaths were considered a disaster).

1963 Wilbur F. Eigenbrod appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1966 Elmer C. Workman appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1968 Mine Disaster at Hominy Falls four miners died but eight miners rescued after being trapped underground for 11 days (mine inundation by water from an adjacent abandoned mine).

1968 Farmington No. 9 mine disaster claims 78 victims

1968 John Ashcraft appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1969 Black Lung March was held by miners in Charleston.

1969 Following the Farmington disaster, major revisions to both State and Federal Mining laws.

1969 As a result of the Hominy Falls entrapment, Mine Map Archives is established. (go to mine map archives page)

1972 Buffalo Creek Flood disaster (mine dam burst) 118 deaths.

1975 First computerization of Department of Mines records (mine permit files)

1976 Walter N. Miller appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1980 Gas explosion at Ferrell No. 17 mine kills 5 miners.

1982 Comprehensive Mine Safety Programs required for all mining operations in WV.

1981 Implementation of Automated Temporary Roof Control Regulations (ATRS).

1984 Barton B. Lay appointed as Director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.

1985 WV Department of Energy is created by merging Department of Mines with other state regulatory agencies.

1986 Coal Storage Entrapment at the Loveridge No. 22 mine resulting in 5 fatals.

1991 West Virginia Division of Energy is reorganized, West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training created.

1991 Stephen F. Webber appointed as Director of the Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

1992 Mine explosion in shaft, claims 4 employees at the Blacksville No. 1 mine.

1996 Ronald L Harris appointed as Director of the Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

1997 First Agency website.

1997 Greatest total coal production in WV, 181,914,000 tons.

1999 Federal Court Action regarding Mountain Top Removal Surface Mines.

2000 Doug Conaway appointed as Director of the Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

2002 Coal Truck weight controversy.

2003 Explosion in Shaft – 3 victims, McElroy Mine, Central Cambria Drilling Co. (contractor)

2003 Independent Contractor reporting required.

2004 Regulations allow use of Diesel Equipment in WV underground mines.

2006 Mine explosion at Sago mine claims 12 lives.

2006 James M. Dean appointed as Acting Director.

2006 Ronald L. Wooten appointed as Director.

2006 Miner’s Day created by virtue of a Joint Resolution of the WV Legislature (Commemorated on Dec. 6, 2006)

2009 Fewest Fatal mine accidents – 3

2010 Mine explosion at Performance UBBMC Montcoal Eagle Mine claims 29 lives. (April 5, 2010 – Upper Big Branch)

2010 Director Ronald Wooten resigned effective November 3, 2010.

2010 C.A. Phillips appointed as Acting Director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training by Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (November)

2011 C.A. Phillips appointed as Director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on August 29, 2011

2012 Director C. A. Phillips retired from the State of West Virginia with nearly 12 years service effective December 31, 2012

2013 Eugene White appointed as Director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on January 1, 2013

2017 Greg Norman appointed as Director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training by Governor Jim Justice on January 25, 2017.

2018 Eugene White appointed as Director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training by Governor Jim Justice on November 2, 2018


Land of the Hatfields and McCoys

Meet the patriarchs from each side of the infamous feud: "Devil Anse" Hatfield (left) and "Randall" McCoy (right). Devil Anse would lose a brother and nephew to the violence, Randall would lose five children. Numerous other kin died on both sides. The root cause of the conflict was money, jealousy -- and a desire for revenge.

Tug River Valley

The Tug River separated the Hatfields from the McCoys, as well as West Virginia from Kentucky. Hatfield (of West Virginia) built one of the most successful timber businesses in the valley. McCoy (of Kentucky) was not as lucky. Animosities grew in 1872 when Devil Anse Hatfield won 5,000 acres of land in court that had previously belonged to Randall McCoy&rsquos cousin. McCoy was furious.

Floodwall, Tug Fork River

This floodwall in Matewan, WV, notes the years of the feud: 1878-1890. The first real violence between the families was the murder of a veteran Union soldier, Asa Harmon McCoy. Initially, Devil Anse Hatfield&rsquos uncle was a suspect. Thirteen years later, in 1878, tensions between the Hatfields and McCoys grew over the disputed ownership of a hog. The McCoys lost based on the testimony of a local man, Bill Staton -- he was later killed by two McCoy boys.

Hatfield-McCoy Love Match

This feud wouldn&rsquot be complete without a tragic love story. Randall McCoy&rsquos daughter, Roseanna, fell in love with Devil Anse Hatfield&rsquos son, Johnse, at an Election Day event in 1881. Soon after, Roseanna became pregnant with Johnse&rsquos child. But Johnse didn&rsquot stick around for long. Roseanna&rsquos baby died of measles at 8 months 6 months later Johnse married Roseanna&rsquos first cousin. Roseanna died several years later -- no one knows of what -- but some say she died of a broken heart. Here, a shot of the baby's gravesite in Pike County, Kentucky.

Election Day Fight

Tensions between the families exploded in August 1882 on this spot -- in Pike County, KY, at the intersection of Rt. 1056 and Rt. 319. On Election Day, Ellison Hatfield (brother of Devil Anse) was stabbed 26 times by 3 McCoy boys, then finished off with a bullet to the back. More blood would soon be spilled.

Pawpaw Massacre

Ellison Hatfield died an agonizing death after three long days -- and soon the three McCoy boys would pay the price here, along the Tug River, off Route 1056 in Buskirk, Kentucky. They were tied by Hatfield kin to pawpaw trees and shot multiple times. Witnesses described their bodies as "bullet-riddled." The Hatfields weren't through with the McCoys.

New Year's Night Massacre

In the dark, remaining hours of 1887, members of the Hatfield clan surrounded Randall McCoy&rsquos cabin in Hardy, Kentucky, and set it on fire. Randall escaped, but two of his children were murdered and his wife was beaten with a rifle butt. (All that remains of the cabin is this well.) The horror of that night led Randall&rsquos cousin (the guy who lost 5,000 acres to the Hatfields years before) to hire a posse led by "Bad" Frank Phillips -- and bring the Hatfields to justice in Kentucky.

Old Courthouse and Jail

In 1888, seven Hatfields stood trial in this courthouse on Main Street in Pikeville, Kentucky. All were sentenced to life imprisonment. But someone had to pay the ultimate price. That scapegoat turned out to be an 8th Hatfield, Ellison Mounts. Despite a mental impairment, he was hanged before a crowd of thousands in Pikeville. The year was 1890, and the Hatfield-McCoy feud had finally ended, leaving 12 people dead.

Hatfield Cemetery Entrance

So, which family won the feud? That question was settled -- once and for all -- nearly a century later, in 1979, when both sides appeared on the game show Family Feud. the Hatfields beat the McCoys 301-227. Later, in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, both families symbolically authored an official truce. Today, an annual reunion is held the second weekend in June in Pikeville, Kentucky, Matewan and Williamson, W.V. Pictured here is the Hatfield Cemetery, located along West Virginia Route 44.

Devil Anse Hatfield Statue

The centerpiece of the Hatfield Cemetery is this life-size statue of Devil Anse, who died of pneumonia at the age of 81. The statue was commissioned by his 13 children shortly after his death in 1921, and erected in 1926. It&rsquos made of Carrara marble from Italy, with Devil Anse&rsquos likeness based on old photographs and physical descriptions of the patriarch's 5-foot-9-inch frame.

Matewan Historic District

This street sign in Matewan, W.V., bears the names of the two families. In the decades following the famous family feud, Matewan&rsquos historic district was the site of another violent chapter: the Matewan Massacre, a 1920 shootout between local miners and the law. This time, a Hatfield was on the side of the law: Matewan&rsquos police chief was Sid Hatfield. The district also includes the Matewan Depot, where you'll find old photographs of the Hatfields and McCoys.

The Matewan Depot

Explore the Hatfield-McCoy feud at the Matewan Depot. The small museum showcases various photographs from both families, as well as other key figures from the conflict such as "Bad" Frank Phillips -- the leader of the posse that brought the Hatfields to justice. The museum also includes a miniature replica of the cabin where the hog trial was held.

Coal House

Also get your bearings at the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce (about 20 miles from Matewan). It's housed inside the Coal House, a black building in Williamson, W.V., built out of West Virginia coal. Inside, you&rsquoll find an original legal summons once issued against Devil Anse Hatfield. Across the street, spend the night at the historic Mountaineer Hotel, where icons past and present, from JFK to Loretta Lynn, have stayed.

Pikeville Historic Mansion

While touring Hatfield-McCoy sites on the Kentucky side, spend the night at Pikeville Historic Mansion Bed & Breakfast. Nearby attractions include Dils Cemetery, which is the final resting place for several members of the McCoy clan, including family patriarch Randall, his wife Sarah and daughter Roseanna.

Hatfield-McCoy Trails

Channel your inner Hatfield-and-McCoy rage on an ATV and rip across one of the largest off-highway vehicle trail systems in the world. The Hatfield-McCoy Trails cut through nine West Virginia counties, across 500 miles.


Watch the video: The Colony of Virginia Founded in 1607


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