On August 7, 1882, an election day in Kentucky, residents of the Tug Valley gathered at polls in Pike County. Late in the afternoon, Randolph McCoy’s son, Tolbert, attacked Ellison Hatfield, Devil Anse’s brother, with a knife. Two of McCoy’s brothers joined in stabbing Hatfield twenty times before shooting him in the back.
Friends carried Hatfield back to West Virginia and laid him in a cabin near Mate Creek. Devil Anse captured the three McCoys and told them their fate depended on whether his brother lived. Two days later Ellison died.
At dusk, a band of Hatfields, led by Devil Anse, took the McCoys to the Kentucky side of the river where they were blindfolded and tied to pawpaw bushes. Then the Hatfields opened fire.
Pike County indicted Devil Anse and nineteen others for murder but made no other effort to have the Hatfields extradited to Kentucky.
Randolph McCoy badgered officials to arrest Devil Anse to no avail. McCoy’s family urged him to drop the matter. In a way, they said, justice had been served.