Two Appalachian families despised each other in the 1800s. No one really knows how the neighbors and in-laws’ feud began, but there are many theories of how it escalated.
During the Civil War, the Hatfields of West Virginia, sided with the Confederates, while the McCoys of Kentucky, fought on the Union side. The first death in the feud was recorded in 1875. Harmon McCoy, who had been discharged from the Union army because of a broken leg, was killed; no suspects were found.
In 1878, an interfamily romance, competition for timber resources and a dispute over a pig created more hard feelings. The McCoys claimed the Hatfield stole a pig. The case went to court where the Hatfield’s won.
Later, a Hatfield boy supposedly romanced and impregnated a McCoy girl. The Hatfield boy was nearly killed and the McCoy had a miscarriage.
The last confrontation between the two families was a 2000 dispute over access to a cemetery. It led to a court battle in which both sides claimed a partial victory in 2003.
But here’s the rest of the story…
The September 11, 2001, bombing of the Twin Towers triggered a desire to release an official statement of peace between the two families. The suggestion being that if these two families could forgive, unite and mend past hurts, the United States could unite in a renewed commitment to protect our freedom.
Reo Hatfield and Bo McCoy drafted a treaty that proclaims the families “do hereby and formally declare an official end to all hostilities, implied, inferred and real, between the families, now and forevermore.”
My favorite part of the proclamation? “Implied, inferred and real” are words that would suggest that once engaged in a hostile, unforgiving situation, our radar for offense becomes over active and we incorrectly create our own scenario of hurt and resentment.
The beauty is that this peace treaty has been upheld! So go make peace with someone and end all hostilities whether implied, inferred or real.