Wow! That's my first impression of having watched the "Hatfields and McCoys" on the History Channel this past week.
Feuds are nothing new. They have been going on since the days of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, and Romeo and Juliet. There just doesn't ever seem to be a good outcome.
The Appalachian area was filled in by both Germans and the Scots-Irish. The Scots-Irish, in particular, has been plagued by feuds for centuries and is not uncommon today. These feuds existed over land, religions, romance, etc. - and the element of these feuds came right over to America with them. We've all heard of the 'Fightin' Irish'.
When the area of the Shenandoah Valley was settled, the Germans came southward from the southeastern areas of Pennsylvania and created beautiful farmland. They were renown for keeping their homes and farms neat, clean, and highly functional. They were basically peaceful, but still protective. The Kentucky Rifle was actually fashioned by the Germans.
The Scots-Irish, known for their tempers and their warfare in the old country, were pushed a bit further to settle the frontier. This helped in the protection of homes against the Native Americans that were being edged further to the west. They didn't have a lot of fear in the blood.
Come forward a few years to the Hatfield and McCoy feud. The same pride, stubbornness and sense of justice are coming right along with them.
I won't go back and repeat the story, for it is being re-broadcast again tonight, and you can find the story simply by doing a google search on the subject. It is the most famous of the feuds.
The main story consists of hog-stealing, forbidden love between the families, and killings.
The History Channel's Miniseries was certainly believable, and they were mostly correct. But, in talking with my sisters, it was easy to tell this was not filmed on site. It was filmed in Romania.
First of all - the terrain was much too nice. In West Virginia and Kentucky, the hills are very, very steep and thickly forested. There are few flat areas for running the horses. In the late 1800's, when the story actually was in its heyday, the forestation was so thick that one would be hard-pressed to get through it at all. It's the same today! The hills are at such an incline that it would have been hard to get equipment to stay on them at all.
Second - the cabins were too nice. Back then, they would have been hewn logs with every chiseled mark clearly visible. There were have been mud chinks packed in between the logs. The cabins in the movie were ones I would like to live in today!
Third - the horses. I'm just not too sure about the horses. Most horses were used for plowing. Mules were the preferred mode of getting through the hills. My mother much preferred to ride on a mule than a horse, for mules were more sure-footed. These horses look like they were taken from the Kentucky Derby.
Fourth - the accent. I'm sure it was just the Hollywood version of the Appalachian "twang" - and it's not easily duplicated. There was at least one local in the movie, and I could spot him a mile away.
Fifth - the saloon scenes and the "get on your horse and let's go" reminded me of western movies. This would not be unusual, given Kevin Costner's background in "Dances With Wolves" and others.
But, all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the miniseries, and plan on watching it again. I was happy to hear that a truce had been called and a declaration that the feud had ended, but I'm not so sure that feuds really end. There always seems to be an air of mistrust hanging in the background.
My father liked to relate an incident that happened while living in Logan, Logan County, West Virginia. He and my mother and sisters lived there in the late 1930's and 1940's. Everyone knew of this famous feud. Dad even took my family over to see Devil Anse's grave.
The family's name was McCoy.
Dad told the man on several occasions the problem needed to be solved. Mr. McCoy replied that once it left his yard, it didn't matter to him. It was no longer his problem.
Getting nowhere by talking, Dad took matter into his own hands. He mixed up a batch of concrete and plugged up the pipe. Problem solved.
Mr. McCoy was furious, but eventually the problem was solved. Just think - there could have been another feud...
Little did dad and mom know that our family lines have now been researched back into the McCoy line!
For more info on feuds:
All pictures are from images.google.com