Review of Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 by Altina L. Waller
Altina Waller’s investigation into the events in the Tug Valley region of the Kentucky and West Virginia boarder discounted all of the myths and stereotypes brought about by the Hatfield and McCoy feud. First and foremost, the feud was definitely not tied to the Civil War. Yes, Asa McCoy was killed for his involvement in the Union Army, but Waller insisted that that had no influence in the historical feud. This work put all previous stories and accounts of the feud in the fictional section of the metaphorical library of Hatfield and McCoy works. This review of Waller’s piece consists of four sections: the purpose of her work, her accounts on the events between 1860 and 1900, her organization and research, and her book’s strengths and weaknesses.
Altina Waller's research revealed that the feud between the two families was far from the stereotype fabricated by the media. She stated that the feud was caused originally by the "internal social and cultural dynamics of the Tug Valley community"(12). Waller aimed to deconstruct the assumptions placed on the feud. There were three categories that she discredited that are typical associated with causing the feud and were spread by the media after the feud was reinitiated by powerful men from the region. Those three causes were family, law and justice, and violence. Waller first undermines the stereotype that an unnaturally high feeling of family loyalty led to violence between the McCoys and the Hatfields. Waller dismissed that assertion with an example of Selkirk McCoy who was part of the jury that sat on the hog theft case between Randolf "Old Ranel" McCoy and William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield. This case was the first bad-blood between the two patriarchs of the feud. Ranel claimed that Devil Anse stole of his hogs and in order to settle the case fairly, six jurors were chosen to judge the case. There were three...
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