Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Juliet of the Hatfields

In the midst of the decades-long, post-Civil War feud between the affluent and largely Confederate Hatfields from what is now West Virginia, and the rustic and largely pro-Union McCoys from Pike County, Kentucky, dashing ladies’ man Johnse Hatfield invited beautiful but naive Roseanna McCoy back to his family’s cabin after her brother left the 1880 Election Day festivities without her. Roseanna was ninth of “Old Ran’l” McCoy’s 16 children, and Johnse was the oldest son of Confederate veteran “Devil Anse” Hatfield, and so their budding courtship was not taken well by either side. After several of Roseanna’s brothers captured Johnse, she borrowed a neighbor’s horse and rode, saddleless, coatless, and in the dead of night, to Devil Anse Hatfield’s land to warn him of Johnse’s capture; the Hatfields immediately formed a party and rescued Johnse without a fight. Johnse then repaid Roseanna for her devotion and bravery by abandoning her, after which she was shunned by her family, contracted measles, and miscarried their baby. Johnse then marrying Roseanna’s cousin Nancy only a few months later.

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