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Photos courtesy of Pike County KY Tourism Commission ("Devil Anse" Hatfield photo courtesy West Virginia State Archives)
Pictured from left to right: Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy, Johnse Hatfield, Roseanna McCoy and Capt. William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield.
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The Samaria Primitive Baptist Church
The Samaria Primitive Baptist Church, located at Blackberry Creek, Kentucky, has a direct tradition from the church where Preacher Anse Hatfield preached in the 1880s. At that time, the local church was on Pond Creek, but by the early 1900s the Samaria Church had been started on Blackberry Creek, which Preacher Anse took over as lead minister. The Samaria Church was part of the Mates Creek Association, which dates back to 1849.
Regular Baptist Mates Creek Association
This small fraternity of Antimissionary Baptists is located in the eastern extremity of the State. It was constituted at Mates Creek meeting house in Virginia, in 1849, at which time most of its churches were in that State. It extended its operations into Kentucky, and subsequently dismissed most of its original churches to form a new Association. At present, most or all of its churches are in Pike county, Kentucky, except Sulphur Spring, which is in Buchanan county, West Virginia. It had considerable growth for a time, and, in 1878, numbered 16 churches with 729 members. Since that date, it appears to have declined. In 1880, it numbered 14 churches with 503 members.
In the list of the ministers appear the names of Gabriel Riffe, W.W. Fields and Basil Hatfield. The first named acted as moderator of the body a number of years. He was called to his reward, about 1878. Basil Hatfield has acted as moderator since 1877.
Quote from A History of Kentucky Baptists By J. H. Spencer Volume II, 1885
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Photo courtesy of Bunia Gaye Short
Association meeting, circa 1950
Association meeting, circa 1950, at the James Ferrell Hatfield cemetery, Blackberry Creek, KY.
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Photo courtesy of Adina Hatfield
New Samaria Church, Blackberry Creek, KY.
This church, but not this building, was the church headed in the 1880s by Preacher Anse Hatfield.
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Photo courtesy of Ron G. Blackburn
John Baptist Ferrell and Jenny Taylor Ferrell.
John Baptist Ferrell was one of the first preachers of the Mates Creek Church, one of the early spiritual leaders of the Tug Valley. His wife, Jenny Taylor, was the sister of Randolph McCoy's mother Margaret Taylor. Thus John and Jenny were Randolph McCoy's uncle and aunt. John was also a first cousin of Nancy Vance and James Vance, Devil Anse Hatfield's mother and uncle, respectively.
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Photo and information courtesy of Brandon Wolford
Sylvania "Vain" (Wolford) Francis Bryant (1857-1929)
Sylvania was married to John C. Francis, son of Bill Francis (reputed to have been killed during the Civil War by Anse Hatfield and Randolph McCoy). Sylvania and John C. had four boys, David Julian, John Thomas "Uncle Thomps", William J. "Bill" and Frank. Sylvania had a child, Vesta, who was reputedly fathered by Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield during her marriage to John C. Francis. After John C. was killed in 1891, Sylvania married Sylvester "Ves" Bryant. Ves was very close to Sylvania's son Frank (pictured above in casket). One day in the late 1890's Ves and Frank were riding through Pounding Mill with a wagon full of wood when the wagon overturned, killing Frank. Sylvania outlived Ves, along with two other husbands. Sylvania was asked on her deathbed if she had any wishes she wanted carried out and she replied "just get me a pine coffin so I can go through hell cracking and popping". She died soon after and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Francis Cemetery at Pounding Mill.
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Photo courtesy of Reta Runyon-Medford
Baptism in Blackberry Creek, 1966.
Elder Charlie Whitt and Elder Arthur Coon performing the Baptism. Some churches felt that baptisms must take place in running water. Some did not and used ponds or even indoor pools.
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Photo courtesy of Bernie at the Mates Creek Association
Mates Creek Association Elders, circa 1925.
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Photo courtesy of Bernie at the Mates Creek Association
Mates Creek Association Elders, circa 1900
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Photo courtesy of the Hatfield McCoy Feud Facebook Group
A photo of a clipping that was in a Bible presented to Levicy Hatfield by Reverend and Mrs. Lockwood of Man, WV.
It was presented to Levicy Chafin Hatfield in 1928 on her 86th birthday. From the collection of Margaret Trump, who is a direct descendant of Anderson "Devil Anse" and Levicy Chafin Hatfield, being their great-granddaughter. Note the addition of the words "I am" handwritten at the top.
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Photo courtesy of Eugenia Dotson Whitt
Homeplace of Amos and Vicey May, Blackberry Creek, KY.
According to Thomas Dotson, a descendent of Preacher Anse Hatfield, one belief of the Old Regular Baptists of the Tug Valley region was that they would be physically resurrected and that heaven would not be a place in the sky, but rather heaven would be right there on Blackberry Creek. So, this lovely photo, taken by Eugenia Dotson Whitt, serves as a wonderful example of what the men and women of feud times, and afterwards, would have imagined heaven to look like.
About the author: Randy Marcum has lived most of his life in West Virginia and his family has lived in the Tug River Valley since the early 1800’s. A direct descendant of Alexander Messer and a cousin to the Hatfield family, Randy has heard stories about the feud all of his life. He is presently a historian at the West Virginia Archives in Charleston, West Virginia.
The beginnings of a stereotypical view of the West Virginia “hillbilly” and the perceived godlessness and lawlessness can be discerned in the book An American Vendetta by Theron Clark Crawford. After returning from Victorian England in August of 1888, Crawford undertook a journey to southern West Virginia in September and October of 1888. His book was completed in November and published in 1889.
Chapter One begins with a frank, if somewhat loaded, statement about the area: “I have been away in Murderland for nearly ten days…” Later in the book, Crawford says of Levicy Hatfield, wife of Devil Anse Hatfield, that she didn't have the morals of a mastiff dog!
Depicting Logan County and the bordering counties as godless and lawless is a statement not borne out by Logan County Circuit Court records. The records do not show an unusually large amount of violent crime for the time period. Records that are available do, however, indicate a robust religious presence in the area.
Describing the absence of churches, Crawford writes:
“There is not in the county of Logan a single church built by popular effort. In fact, there is only one church throughout this great county. ..[T]he building in its incomplete state is now used by ignorant itinerant preachers...”
Coming to Logan County, West Virginia after traveling throughout Europe may have been a letdown; the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and the people were quite different when compared to London, England, and other European cities during the same time period. Of course there were no churches to rival Europe’s grand places of worship: Saint Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, or Saint James Cathedral in London, England.
What is the evidence, then, from primary sources of the existence of various Christian churches in Logan and surrounding counties?
1. Church of Christ; Christian Church; Disciples of Christ – Alexander M. Lunsford, a disciple of Alexander Campell, came to the area around 1867. Another preacher that came to the area was William Powell. Later, in the mid-1870s, Lunsford converted William Dyke “Uncle Dyke” Garrett to the faith.
Garrett began his ministry near Crooked Creek in Logan County on December 14, 1878. By September 24, 1879, he was authorized by the Logan County Court to perform weddings. A few years later William Powell wrote regarding church activities:
“Through Brother W. D. Garrett I learned that there have been 90 additions to the churches in Logan and Boone County since the last annual meeting…Brother Lunsford preaches occasionally at Logan Court House. ” (Christian Standard, May 1, 1881)
From 1867 to 1889, growth was steady. New congregations were formed; cooperation between congregations throughout the area increased and membership grew.
2. Episcopal Church – George W. Peterkin, the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia, visited Logan County in October 1882 preaching to local Episcopalians and performing missionary work. During this trip he was accompanied by Reverend Dr. Lacy. The trip they made, on horseback, started at Hinton and continued through Princeton, McDowell Courthouse, Wyoming Courthouse, Logan Courthouse, Boone Courthouse and Raleigh. They preached at each location and held services.
3. Methodist Church – Ulysses Hinchman petitioned the Virginia legislature that the marriages he had officiated be recognized. Hinchman
“…respectfully represents that at the March term of the County Court of Logan County, 1845, he was appointed by said court to solemnize the rights of matrimony in said county…as an itinerant preacher in the Methodist Convention, riding a circuit under an appointment from the presiding Elder of the district, and was understood and believed that he would remain in that connection.” (Virginia Legislative Petitions, Court [of Logan County, Virginia] to Hinchman, 1845.)
Hinchman performed many weddings and ministered to many of the Methodist faith throughout the Tug and Guyandotte valleys for many years.
4. Regular, United and Missionary Baptist – The history of the Regular, or Hardshell, branch in the Tug Valley is typified by the Mates Creek Association.
“It was constituted at Mates Creek meeting house in Virginia, in 1849, at which time most of its churches were in that State. It extended its operations into Kentucky, and subsequently dismissed most of its original churches to form a new association. At present, most or all of its churches are in Pike County, Kentucky… It had considerable growth for a time, and, in 1878 numbered 16 churches with 726 members… In 1880, it numbered 14 churches with 503 members.” (A History of Kentucky Baptists, From 1769 to 1885, J. H. Spencer, 1886.)
[For more details, see the 1905 minutes of the Mates Creek Association annual meeting.]
This was the home association of Anderson “Preacher Anse” and Basil Hatfield, cousins of “Devil Anse” and Ellison Hatfield, the brother of “Devil Anse” that was killed by the three McCoy brothers in 1882.
Was the Logan County area devoid of religion? The records clearly show this to be untrue. Were there fine stone and wood places of worship in the Logan County area? Of course not. The population of the area and the faiths could not support the cost of those displays of faith. Apparently Crawford’s view of religion was materially measured rather than typified by the verse from the Bible that says,
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20, KJV.