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Hatfield Cemetery

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Early 20th century West side of WV 44, at southern outskirts of Sarah Ann
  • Statue of Captain Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield

This tiny hillside cemetery, the more recent of two Hatfield cemeteries in the area, contains the most evocative funerary monument in southern West Virginia. A Carrara marble statue of Captain Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield (1839–1921), patriarch of the clan, guards the graveyard and his solid-steel coffin, buried deep below. The life-sized statue stands atop a tall granite pedestal inscribed with the names of Hatfield's children. Commissioned after his death and erected in 1926, the statue was sculpted from photographs and physical descriptions that the family provided. Hatfield is shown fully bearded, decked out in an open frock coat, vest, leggings, and riding boots.

The Hatfield-McCoy feud began on election day (August 7, 1882) in Pike County, Kentucky, when a fight erupted between members of the West Virginia Hatfields and the Kentucky McCoys. Ellison, Anse's brother, was wounded. In retaliation, Anse and his followers kidnapped the three McCoy brothers responsible and, when Ellison died of his wounds, executed them in revenge. Kentucky's governor attempted to extradite the Hatfields to stand trial, but West Virginia's governor refused. The feud, which festered for half a dozen years, resulted in several killings and attracted national attention. It forever established the stereotypic image of mountaineers as fierce, vengeful hillbillies, a type that has been vilified as being “dull when sober, dangerous when drunk.” Ironically, the feud began just when traditional “hillbilly” living patterns were ending in the southern mountains. The Hatfields were among the earliest settlers of the area and were one of the region's leading families. They count among their number Henry D. Hatfield, nephew of Devil Anse, who served as West Virginia's governor from 1913 to 1917.

The cemetery is marked by a state historical marker on the highway and by one of Rev. Bernard Coffindaffer's “cross clusters” (see the introduction to Central West Virginia). It is well worth the short climb up the steep hill to see Devil Anse, whose statue bears comparison with the contemporary statue of Rev. W. H. H. Cook on the steps of the Wyoming County Courthouse in Pineville ( WY1).

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.
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Citation

S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Hatfield Cemetery", [Omar, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WV-01-LO7.

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