PIKEVILLE, Ky. (July 10, 2012) — Tourism officials say the May airing of the “Hatfields & McCoys” on The History Channel continues to boost interest in Pike County, home of the McCoys.
Since the airing, there have been about 250 brochure requests a day on the Pike County tourism website, tourpikecounty.com, according to Tony Tackett, county tourism director. There has been an average of 125 visitors a day to the county’s tourism office, seven days a week; and the website had 319,000 hits in the month that ended June 27, up from an average of 5,000 a month, he told the Lexington Herald Leader.
Escorted tours of the feud sites of the Hatfields and McCoys have sold out during the past six weeks, with the proceeds going toward building a statue of Randolph McCoy, patriarch of the Kentucky side of the feuders.
“These tours give visitors an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the feud while seeing many of the significant feud locations,” the website reads. “Pike County is the only place visitors can still see historic buildings from the feud.”
A big part of Pike County history
From 1863 to 1891, the Hatfield-McCoy Feud played a huge part in Pike County’s history, according to tourpikecounty.com.
The feud involved two families of the Kentucky and West Virginia mountains along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River. The bitter conflict stemmed from many causes, but the origins have been traced to divided loyalties during the Civil War and even a Romeo-Juliet romance between members of the rival clans.
The McCoys, who lived in Pike County, Ky., mostly sided with the Union during the Civil War, while the Hatfields, from neighboring Mingo County, W.Va., were aligned with the Confederates. The first real violence in the feud was the 1865 slaying of returning Union soldier Asa Harmon McCoy, generally believed to have been committed by members of the Hatfield family.
Between 1880 and 1891, the feud claimed a dozen members of the two families, becoming headline news around the country and compelling the governors of both Kentucky and West Virginia to call up their state militias to restore order. The governor of West Virginia once even threatened to have his militia invade Kentucky. Kentucky’s governor responded by sending his chief military aide to Pike County to investigate the situation. Besides a dozen who died, at least 10 persons were wounded in that decade.
See the feud sites
Many tourists each year travel to eastern Kentucky to see the areas and historic relics that remain from the days of the feud. Improvements to various feud sites have been completed, and historical markers commemorate many key locales.
“Each site features a marker telling tragic stories from the feud, serving as a reminder of past mistakes and the price of a grudge,” tourpikecounty.com reads.
Research by local historians has been compiled in an audio compact disc called the “Hatfield–McCoy Feud Driving Tour.” The CD provides a self-guided driving tour of the restored feud sites. It includes maps and pictures as well as the audio CD.
More information, including a free driving tour brochure of the feud sites, is available at tourpikecounty.com or by calling 1-606-432-5063.