HMGT #07 PawPaw Tree Incident

According to most historical accounts, the real turning point in the Hatfield & McCoy feud, occurred on the local election day in August 1882.Three of Randall McCoy’s sons—Tolbert, Pharmer, and Randall Jr.—ended up in a dispute with two brothers of Devil Anse. The Hatfield brothers, Elias (also known as “Bad Lias”) and Ellison, had gone to the election site to socialize.Men on both sides were reported to have been drinking heavily.


 Tolbert McCoy confronted Bad Lias over a small amount of money he said Lias owed him for a fiddle.The confrontation turned into a brawl—the three McCoy brothers and Lias and Ellison Hatfield ended up in a blood-soaked clash. The election-day fight snowballed into chaos as one of the McCoy brothers stabbed Ellison Hatfield multiple times and then shot him in the back. All three McCoy brothers ran from the scene.The Hatfields rushed to try to save Ellison, who was taken on a makeshift stretcher to the home of a local man and then later back to Logan County.


Meanwhile, Kentucky authorities apprehended the McCoys. Devil Anse called together a group of supporters who found the McCoys and captured them from the guards. After reportedly threatening to kill the brothers if any of the other McCoys intervened, the Hatfields forced the brothers into a skiff and took them across the Tug River into West Virginia.Sally (Sarah) McCoy, mother of the McCoy boys, arrived at the schoolhouse and begged the Hatfields for mercy. The Hatfields allowed her to see her sons, and she and her daughter-in-law Mary Butcher (Tolbert’s wife) sobbed and pleaded with the Hatfields for their release. Devil Anse Hatfield assured Sarah, that he would return her boys to Kentucky alive.Shortly thereafter, the Hatfields received word that Ellison had succumbed to his wounds. Incensed and seeking revenge, the Hatfields transported the McCoy boys back to Kentucky, alive as promised, but then bound them to some pawpaw bushes near the river bank. Within minutes, they fired more than 50 shots, killing all three brothers.


Though the Hatfields might have felt their revenge was warranted, Judge George Brown of the Pike County Circuit Court on the Kentucky side of the river assembled a grand jury that returned indictments against 20 men, including Devil Anse Hatfield, two of his brothers, his sons Johnse and Cap, Selkirk McCoy (a Hatfield friend), and several other men.Despite the charges, the Hatfields eluded arrest. They usually traveled in well-armed bands if and when they entered Kentucky. At the time, the authorities had little interest in over-stepping their jurisdiction to hunt down the Hatfields on their home turf.Perry Cline, a Pikeville attorney, and Kentucky State Legislator, who was brother to Martha McCoy, the widow of Randall’s brother Asa Harmon, decided to pursue the case against the Hatfields in 1886 after the Hatfields killed his nephew Jeff McCoy. He was joined in his mission by Pike County Deputy Sheriff “Bad” Frank Phillips, a volatile local private detective who had a reputation for being a heavy drinker with a violent streak.Using his political connections with Kentucky Gov. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Cline pursued the charges against the Hatfields; he announced rewards for the arrest of the Hatfields, including Devil Anse. Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. E. Willis Wilson wavered on whether to cooperate with Kentucky authorities and allow them to hunt down and arrest the Hatfields in West Virginia based on their original indictments.He finally decided against allowing them to invade his state, claiming they did not have proper extradition papers, but by that time Phillips and other bounty hunters were even m­ore determined to jail the Hatfields.This angered the West Virginia Governor so much, some thought there was going to be a civil war between the two states, as both states called up their military to intervene. 

HMGT #07 PawPaw Tree Incident

The Geocache

 HMGT #07 PawPaw Tree Incident

A cache by HMGT 

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Hidden : 09/01/2012


Difficulty:1.5

Terrain:1.5

Size:  (regular)


GC3QER5 

N 37° 37.123 W 082° 09.921 

Visiting this Site

This location is just off the road. They have a nice exit spot where you can park at this location. You can walk down to the edge of the Tug River here on a pier and see across the river into West Virginia only a few feet away. 


There are stairs here if you want to go down to the pier by the river but someone in a wheelchair could see the area from the parking location without having to ascend or descend any steps. 

Driving Directions

Driving Directions shown on a Google map can quickly be found by clicking the button below.  

(Factual But Fictional) Tolbert McCoy Obituary

Tolbert McCoy (1854 - 1882)


Tolbert McCoy, 28, has been found dead in Buskirk, Kentucky across the river from Matewan West Virginia. Tolbert McCoy was eldest son of Randolph McCoy, who is leader of the McCoy clan in what has become known as the Hatfield McCoy Feud.

Tolbert is said to have been killed in retribution for the murder of Hatfield clan leader Devil Anse Hatfield’s brother Ellison. Days earlier Tolbert and his brothers Pharmer and Bud became involved in a fight with Ellison Hatfield at the election grounds in Blackberry Kentucky.

During that fight Ellison was stabbed 26 times and shot. He later died of his wounds. Tolbert and his brothers were subsequently taken across the river into Kentucky, tied to a stand of Paw Paw trees and executed by a group of Hatfield loyalists.

One witness indicated Tolbert was shot twice in the head and four times in the body. Tolbert was said to have been involved in a number of altercations with Hatfield family members in recent years.

Tolbert’s parents are Randolph McCoy and Sarah Elizabeth McCoy.

A small graveside ceremony will be held on the family’s land across from his parent’s home.


~ Obituary written by Bill Richardson

(Factual But Fictional) Pharmer McCoy Obituary

Pharmer McCoy (1863 - 1882)


Pharmer McCoy, 19, was found dead in Buskirk, Kentucky across the river from Matewan West Virginia. Pharmer McCoy was the son of Randolph McCoy who is leader of the McCoy clan in what has come to be known as the Hatfield McCoy Feud.

Pharmer was killed in retribution for the murder of Hatfield clan leader Devil Anse Hatfield’s brother Ellison. Pharmer and his brothers Tolbert and Bud were tied to a stand of Paw Paw trees and executed by a group of Hatfield loyalists. One witness said Pharmer had one bullet wound in the head and ten in his body.

Pharmer is survived by his parents Randolph McCoy and Sarah Elizabeth McCoy and his brothers and sisters – Roseanna, Calvin, Alifair, James, Samuel,William,Trinvilla, Adlade, Fannie and Floyd.

A small graveside ceremony will be held on the family’s land across from his parent’s home.


~ Obituary written by Bill Richardson




(Factual But Fictional) Bud McCoy Obituary

Randolph "Bud" McCoy, Jr (1865 - 1882)


Randolph McCoy Jr., known in the family as Bud, was found dead in Buskirk Kentucky across the river from Matewan West Virginia.

Bud McCoy was the son of Randolph McCoy Sr. who is leader of the McCoy clan in what has come to be known as the Hatfield McCoy Feud. Bud was killed in retribution for the murder of Hatfield clan leader Devil Anse Hatfield’s brother Ellison.

Bud and his brothers were involved in a fight with Ellison Hatfield that resulted in his death. The three McCoy brothers were subsequently tied to a stand of Paw Paw trees and executed by a group of Hatfield loyalists. One witness said that when Bud’s body was found the top of his head was shot off. He was 17.

Bud is survived by his parents Randolph McCoy and Sarah Elizabeth McCoy and brothers and sisters – Roseanna, Calvin, Alifair, James, Samuel, William,Trinvilla, Adlade, Fannie and Floyd.

A small graveside ceremony will be held on the family’s land across from his parent’s home.






~ Obituary written by Bill Richardson

Hatfield McCoy Country Museum Pathtag Coins

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These adorable metal coins are about the size of a nickel and you get both the Team Hatfield and Team McCoy tags for 10.00 shipped to you. Order yours today before they are gone and display on your key chain, a necklace or add to your collection of Pathtags :) 

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If you have a class or group that would like to visit the museum on a field trip please contact us to make arrangements for your visit with a custom tour from Bill Richardson designed just for your group.  

Hatfield McCoy Country

801 Alderson St, Williamson, West Virginia 25661, United States

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