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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


In 1887, Perry Cline moved to settle his own score with Hatfield.

After losing his land, Cline had moved to Kentucky where he had become a prosperous lawyer and sheriff of Pike County. After Cline campaigned for him, Kentucky Governor Simon Bolliver Buckner promised he would bring the Hatfields to justice.

Tired of waiting for official results, Perry Cline hired 25-year-old Frank Phillips to arrest the Hatfields. Fearless and explosive, Phillips was known as “Bad Frank” for his fighting, womanizing and public drunkenness.

In December of 1887, Phillips led a posse of twenty armed men into West Virginia, taking one prisoner and threatening more arrests. Devil Anse’s son, Cap, claimed Randolph McCoy was behind the raid and proposed kidnapping him.

At dawn on New Year’s Day, 1888, Cap Hatfield and his men crossed the river into Kentucky and surrounded Randolph McCoy’s log house. Cap called out for McCoy to surrender. Suddenly, Johnse Hatfield began shooting and two others set the house on fire. As they fled the flames, two of Randolph’s children were shot and killed. Their mother, Sally McCoy, ran to them, but Johnse knocked her unconscious with his rifle. Randolph and two other daughters escaped through a window and hid safely in the pigpen.

The Hatfields withdrew, dejected over the botched raid. “We have made a bad job of it,” remarked Ellison Mounts, who was said to be Ellison Hatfield’s illegitimate son. “There will be trouble over this.”

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