Feuding in Appalachia

The definition of feuding from Websters Dictionary is a mutual enmity or quarrel that is often prolonged or inveterate. In Appalachia there have been many famous feuds. I would say the most famous feud has been between the two families the Hatfields and Mccoys.

But when I think about feuding in Appalachia I think about my mothers mom who grew up on a dairy farm on bent mountain in southwest VA. My grandmother, Gaynelle Simpson, was the youngest of eight and they lived in a three bed room farm house on about one hundred and sixty acres which is still in the family today. Down the road at the bottom of the mountain lived another family. I don’t even know there last name all I know is that Russel was the dad and or head of the family. The Simpsons and Russel’s family absolutely hated each other and no one really knew why. My mom has told me stories before of them getting into fights at the market and stuff like that, the feud was so intense physical altercations happened often. The feud between the two families runs deep and never really got resolved. I remember a time when I was about seven or eight years old. We were at a big family reunion and one of Russel’s relatives drove past in his car. I heard my great uncle Nelson say, “Well there goes one of those idiots.”

Above is a picture of the Hatfield’s armed and ready. Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield%E2%80%93McCoy_feud

After thinking about it for awhile I think that most feuds like this in Appalachia are probably caused by something minor. Then it would grow into something bigger because typically the men involved were never interested in working things out. In some ways I am sure feuds like this sort of helped the region. I say this because it brought families together, all those Simpson’s had at least one thing in common and that was they hated Russel’s family. They also had extremely hard lives back then, I mean they basically woke up and busted there backs in the sun all day. Feuds gave those people something to hate other then there daily lives.

To me long standing feuds like this seem sort of ridiculous, especially if no one can even remember the origin. But hey I guess that was just a way of life back then.


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