Hatfields and McCoys Quilt Preserved at the Ohio Historical Society

Are you watching the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries? The television series starring Kevin Costner as William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Bill Paxton as Randolph “Old Ranel” McCoy is sparking renewed interest in this legendery story of a violent family rivalry.

The Hatfields, lead by William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, lived on the West Virgina side of the Tug Fork branch of the Big Sandy River. The McCoys, lead by Randolph “Old Ranel” McCoy, dwelled on the Kentucky side. The feud began during the Civil War and actively continued until the 1890s. In the 1900s the violence ended, but tension remained.

Victory quilt made in 1943 by sisters-in-law America Hatfield McCoy and Rhoda McCoy, catalog number H 6525.

In the Ohio Historical Society’s quilt collection is a patriotic “Victory” quilt made in 1943 by sisters-in-law America Hatfield McCoy and Rhoda McCoy in Kentucky. The quilt honors the military service of members of both families in the Civil War and of both their sons World War II.

Stiched in the upper left star are the words “DEVIL ANSE / Cpt. Anderson / HATFIELD / Logan Wildats [sic] / 1863.” In the upper right star is stitched “Pvt Harmon McCoy / UNION ARMY / 1863.” The lower left-hand star has the embroidered words “PVT / Woodrow McCoy / SON OF / America Hatfield McCoy / ’43.” The lower right-hand star is stitched “Pvt / CHARLES D. HATFIELD / SON OF / Toland McCoy Hatfield / 1943.” The white boxes have the names “Asa McCoy” and “Willie Hatfield” stitched in them. These embroidered names were originally written in pencil by Rhoda McCoy and then women of both families stitched in the names.

The quilt was donated to the Ohio Historical Society by Jean Bell Thomas. She came in contact with the two families during the course of her work collecting and transcribing Appalachian ballads. She founded the American Folk Song Society in 1931. The Society began sponsoring an annual music festival near Ashland, Kentucky. A group of Hatfields and McCoys performed on stage together at the American Folk Song Festival. One of the quilters, Rhoda McCoy, was in the group and reported to say “When singin’ comes in, fightin’ goes out.”

Thomas wrote an article titled “How Music Ended a Famous Feud, War Ballads of Today in the Mountains of Kentucky” published in the February 1944 issue of The Etude music magazine. A portion of the lyrics from a ballad about the end of the feud are recorded:

I’ve been down to the quiltin’, folks,
A Victory quilt, they say;
‘Twas down at Granny Pridemore’s house,
That lives o’er Brushy Way

And Bud McCoy’s wife, Rhoda,
Melissy Hatfield helpin’ her
Put service stars on our quilt,
For to stand for both their sons.

Their boys j’ined the same battalion
From old grudge they are set free;
They’ve forgot Devil Anse, the Hatfield leader
Killed Harmon McCoy back in sixty-three.

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One Response to Hatfields and McCoys Quilt Preserved at the Ohio Historical Society

  1. Don says:

    America Hatfield McCoy was my Grand Mother. The house it was made in was handed down to my father Joseph F. “Tiny” and Delores McCoy. I grew up in that house. Woodrow mentioned on the blanket was my uncle. I have copies of other documents concerning the quilt. One document states that it was the womens way of burying the hatchet of the Hatfield McCoy feud. If you notice close the blanket describes a huge untold of story about the feud! It DOES NOT mention Ole Randolf McCoy! It only mentions Asa Harmon McCoy which was Randolfs brother and Devil Anse Hatfield. One reason may be due to Ole brother Randolf and Devil Anse together killed General William Bill Francis which was a close friend to Asa Harmon McCoy during the civil war. Asa Harmon McCoy was my Great Great Grandfather. The killing of Asa Harmon McCoy WAS the first incident of the feud which was several years before ole Randolf and Devil Anse split and had there feud related issues.

    The Real McCoy

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