matewan


MATEWAN in Mingo County, West Virginia, has intrigued visitors and inspired folklore for over one hundred years. In the 1880s, the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys raged near Matewan. Forty years later, the town was the scene of a fatal conflict between mine workers and coal operators.

The critically acclaimed movie "Matewan", released in 1987 by filmmaker John Sayles, has brought nationwide attention of the town's facinating story, promoting understanding of West Virginia's turbulent past.

Located in the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River, Matewan was founded in 1897 when Norfolk and Western Railroad entered the valley to open the Williamson Coalfield. As a stop on the N & W's main line, the town supplied goods to the surrounding mining communities. Miners, railroad workers, and locals caroused and gambled in Matewan's saloons.

Matewan is well known as the site of a bloody confrontation between townspeople, miners, and mine company detectives on May 19, 1920. At that time, the United Mine Workers of America was attempting to organize the area's coal miners, but those who joined were fired and evicted from their company-owned homes.

In town, near the railroad tracks, Chief of Police Sid Hatfield and Mayor Cable Testerman encountered Baldwin-Felts detective who had been hired to evict miners. After an argument, shots were fired, leaving the mayor, seven detectives, and two miners dead. Sid Hatfield emerged as a hero for the miners, but was gunned down by retaliating detectives a year later, in the McDowell County Courthouse steps in Welch, West Virginia. Union activist Ed Chambers was killed along with Sid Hatfield. Their deaths touched off many disturbances, including the armed march on miners through the southern coalfields, culminating in the showdown at Blair Mountain in Logan County between miners, operators and federal forces. Participants in the Matewan Massacre are buried at The Hatfield Cemetery at Buskirk, Ky, including Mayor Testerman, Sid Hatfield, and Ed Chambers. Over 2000 people attended graveside services for Hatfield and Chambers on a rainy August day in 1921.



~ Birth of Mingo County ~

(My Birthplace)

Thomas Condit Miller and Hu Maxwell, in their West Virginia and It's People-1913; Lewis Historical Publishing Co, had this to say about the birth of Mingo Co: Mingo County was formed from a part of Logan County, and gets it's name from the Mingo Tribe of Indians...of which Logan was the famous Chieftain. It was the last county to be formed in West Virginia. Tug River forms it's southern boundary. Williamson, the county seat, is the metropolis of the Big Sandy region. Mingo County was formed in 1895 from Logan County.


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STOMPIN' GROUNDS OF THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS


On Election Day, August 7, 1882, three sons of the Randolph McCoy brutally stabbed and shot Ellison Hatfield, brother of Devil Anse Hatfield, in Pike County, Kentucky. Ellison was carried across the Tug Fork River, and died at the Anderson Ferrell House. After Ellison died, Devil Anse executed the three McCoys across the Tug River in Kentucky, near present day-Matewan.

No one knows what triggered the murder of Ellison, but these tragic events brought a notoriety to the Tug Fork Valley which made national headlines, and created a violent image of Appalachian West Virginia and Kentucky.

Kentucky bounty hunters made raids into West Virginia to capture the Hatfields during the 1880s, and the Hatfields retaliated in 1888 by attacking the McCoy homestead in Kentucky, killing a son and daughter, and seriously wounding Randolph's wife. By 1890 the killings had ended, but the feud continued to be sensationalized by journalists for years to come.

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~ RELATIVISM ~


I have a vivid memory of living in an area called "Blue Goose" Kentucky on the banks of Tug River, directly across from the City of Matewan.

Since we had no bridges in 1937, there were "boat landings" at various locations for accessing Matewan...my father being one who also strung a cable across the river. Instead of using oars (paddles), we had the cable to pull our boats across the water. I remember being paid 5 a few times - when someone needed to get across the river to Matewan. As I look back on those years, I think I must have been very brave.....because it sounds scary to me now.

I attended Buskirk Elementary School which was located 1/2 mile from the Hatfield Cemetery aka Buskirk Cemetery. We visited the cemetery quite often and would reminisce the "fued".

In 1939, my father also died as result of a brutal attack in the same manner, but at another one of our residences. This happened just outside our gate, due to a heated argument regarding stolen goods from my uncle's truck while he was visiting us. Of course, this was a ploy to get my dad out of the house to check them out.

Dad was Sheriff of Pike County, Kentucky just prior to the killing, and had made a couple arrests involving the attackers. He had also been deputized to watch the next door residence where the attacker's sister lived - due to present illicit activities being performed. Dad was unaware of the grudge being held against him, and was unarmed at the time of the attack.

Back in the middle 40s (Oops! I'm telling my age), my first boyfriend was a Hatfield whose father, the City Police, fatally shot the brother of one of my best girlfriends whose name was McCoy. Of course, this is now a part of history that we would like to forget.

In 1954, I moved into the McCoy apartments above our family restaurant business - The Chatterbox...also in the McCoy Building.....in the heart of Matewan.

I left Matewan in 1958, and my beautiful West Virginia state - to settle in Ohio. I lived in Dayton, Ohio 14 years before moving to my present address. I was a room clerk/cashier at the Pick Miami Hotel in Dayton until 1962 when I joined The Travelers Insurance Company where I retired after 27 years. I now live near the Wright Patterson Airforce Base, in a small town - suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. I have been here since 1972, and expect to spend the remainder of my life here.

I hope you will take the time to check out this beautiful State of West Virginia to learn why I am so proud of my heritage. Thank you ~ and I hope you will also sign my "guestbook" to let me know you were here.

All About West Virginia

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