Randolph McCoy

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Randall McCoy
Born Randolph McCoy
October 30, 1825
Tug River Valley, Kentucky
Died March 28, 1914 (aged 88)
Pikeville, Kentucky
Other names Ole Ran'l

Randolph "Randall" or "Ole Ran'l" McCoy (October 30, 1825 – March 28, 1914) was the patriarch of the McCoy clan involved in the infamous American Hatfield–McCoy feud. He was born the fourth of thirteen children to Daniel McCoy (1790–1885) and Margaret Taylor McCoy (1800–1868) and lived mostly on the Kentucky side of Tug Fork, a tributary of the Big Sandy River.

During the almost thirty-year feud with the Hatfield clan under their patriarch Devil Anse Hatfield, Randolph would lose five of his children to the violence and another to what most considered "a broken heart."

Marriage, family and children[edit]

Randolph McCoy married his first cousin, Sarah "Sally" McCoy (born 1829; died in the 1890s), daughter of Samuel McCoy and Elizabeth Davis, on December 9, 1849 in Pike County, Kentucky. They had 16 children together. Their children were:

  • Josephine McCoy, daughter (1848–?)
  • James H. "Uncle Jim" McCoy, son (1849–1929)
  • Floyd McCoy, son (1853–1928)
  • Tolbert McCoy, son (1854–1882)
  • Lilburn McCoy, son (1855–?)
  • Samuel McCoy, son (1856–1921)
  • Alifair McCoy, daughter (1858–1888)
  • Roseanna McCoy, daughter (1859–1888)
  • Calvin McCoy, son (1862–1888)
  • Pharmer McCoy, son (1863–1882)
  • Randolph "Bud" McCoy, son (1864–1882)
  • William "Bill" McCoy, son (1868–?)
  • Trinvilla "Trinnie" McCoy, daughter (1868–?)
  • Adelaide McCoy, daughter (1870–?)
  • Fannie McCoy, daughter (1873–1943)
  • Mary Katherine McCoy, daughter (1875–?)


A section of the floodwall along the Tug Fork in Matewan, West Virginia, constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, depicts the Hatfield–McCoy feud.

During the American Civil War, the feud leaders from both families were staunchly pro-Confederate, and Randolph himself served in the Confederate Army during the opening years of the war and was a POW from 1863 to 1865.[1] However, Randolph's younger brother, Asa Harmon McCoy, enlisted in the Union Army as "Asa H McCay" in Co E of the 45th Kentucky Infantry USA.[2] He was discharged from the Union Army on December 24, 1864 after suffering a broken leg, and returned home. Soon after his return, Jim Vance, uncle of Devil Anse Hatfield, and a member of the "Logan Wildcats" (a Confederate home guard organized by Hatfield) put Asa Harmon on notice that they (the Wildcats) would soon be paying him, "a visit." Asa Harmon McCoy tried to escape by hiding out in a local cave, but was tracked to his hideout and killed. No charges were ever filed but it was widely known that Vance and members of Hatfield's Wildcats were directly responsible for his death.

In the late 1870s, Devil Anse Hatfield was involved in a land dispute with Randolph McCoy's cousin, Perry Cline, over a 5,000 acre tract of land that both held title to. Hatfield eventually brought a civil suit against Cline. Hatfield won in what was seen by the McCoys as a Hatfield-friendly court.

In the fall of 1878, Randolph "Randall" McCoy brought charges against Floyd Hatfield for stealing one of his hogs. This allegation was a very serious offense at the time, as hogs were extremely valuable to the farming economy. Due to the statements made by Bill Staton, who was related to both families, the case was decided in favor of the Hatfields. The ruling further inflamed the feud, as Randolph McCoy viewed the outcome as unfair. Later, brothers Sam and Paris McCoy were accused, tried, and acquitted of the death of Staton when the judge ruled Staton's death an act of self-defense by the McCoy brothers.

Randall's daughter Roseanna (b. 1859 - d. 1888) McCoy romanced "Johnse" Hatfield and later became pregnant with Johnse's child. Upon learning of the affair, Randolph became extremely upset and disowned her. Roseanna, unwanted by both families, moved in with her aunt Betty Blankenship. Johnse later married Roseanna's cousin, Nancy McCoy. Roseanna's baby died before her first birthday and the abandoned Roseanna died at the age of 29.

The peak of the feuding occurred when three of Randolph's sons (Roseanna's brothers) killed Ellison Hatfield, brother of Devil Anse, on election day in 1882. Devil Anse retaliated for the killing of his brother by executing, without trial, Tolbert (b. 1854), Pharmer (b. 1863) and Randolph Jr. (b. 1864), three sons of Randolph McCoy near present day Matewan, West Virginia.

On January 1, 1888, Randolph's house was burned to the ground and numerous family members were slain by the Hatfields, including two of Randolph's children. His son Calvin was killed in the shootout as was his daughter, Alifair, who was shot to death as she tried to flee the burning house. Randolph's wife Sally was badly injured when she attempted to comfort Alifair, suffering several broken ribs and skull fractures. With his house burning, Randolph and his remaining family members were able to escape to the woods; unfortunately, his children, unprepared for the elements, suffered frostbite. He moved his family to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he lived out the remainder of his life in bitterness and grieving. He operated a ferry in Pikeville for some time. By the end of the feud, he had lost seven of his children and his wife.

Shortly after the New Year's massacre, Kentucky deputy Frank Phillips and a posse of McCoys chased down Jim Vance and Cap Hatfield, killing Vance. Phillips' posse rounded up nine Hatfield family members and supporters and hauled them off to jail.


Randolph McCoy died at the age of 88 after catching fire over a cook stove/fire. He is buried in the Dils Cemetery in Pikeville, next to his wife who died in the 1890s.


Hatfield–McCoy feud site along the Tug Fork tributary (right) in the Big Sandy River watershed

In 1888, Wall Hatfield and eight others were arrested by a posse led by Frank Phillips and brought to Kentucky to stand trial for the murder of Alifair McCoy, who was killed during the New Year's Massacre.

The feuding and warfare brought in political leaders of Kentucky and West Virginia. The Governor of West Virginia, E. Willis Wilson, accused Kentucky of violating the extradition process and appealed the matter to the Supreme Court of the United States. Kentucky Governor Simon Bolivar Buckner sent his Adjutant General to Pike County to investigate the situation. In May 1889, the Supreme Court decided against West Virginia (Mahon v. Justice); the nine Hatfields would be tried in Pikeville. Private detectives hunted down many Hatfields, though Devil Anse was never tried nor jailed. In 1890, Ellison Mounts was executed in Kentucky for his part in the McCoy killings. He was one of the men captured along with Mahon. The feud started to wind down with Mounts' execution.

On June 14, 2003, the McCoy cousins partnered with Reo Hatfield of Waynesboro, Virginia, to author an official truce between the families. The idea was symbolic: to show that Americans could bury their differences and unite in times of crisis.

Perry Cline was not a cousin of Randolph McCoy. His relationship to the McCoys was through marriage. He had four siblings married to McCoys. Most importantly, his sister, Martha "Patty" Cline was married to Asa Harmon McCoy. Asa Harmon was killed in 1865, by Devil Anse's uncle, Jim Vance. In 1886, Martha and Harmon's son, Lewis Jefferson "Jeff", was killed by Cap Hatfield.


  1. ^ Randolph McCoy service record
  2. ^ Union soldiers and sailors monument association, Louisville, Ky; Thomas Speed; Alfred Pirtle; Robert Morrow Kelly (1897). The Union regiments of Kentucky. Courier-journal job printing co. p. 637. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 

External links[edit]