Cap Hatfield led one very interesting life

Dwight Williamson - Guest Columnist

Dwight Williamson Bits and Pieces

Some of the most renowned residents ever in Logan County have never really left from here. In fact, though their spirit’s may have long ago vanished, their human remains still belong to the people of the county in which they chose as their final resting places. I am speaking of the mighty Devil Anse Hatfield clan, nearly all of whom are buried at the Hatfield Cemetery at Sarah Ann. However, one widely known member of the feuding Hatfield’s, Cap Hatfield, who led a rather picturesque life, is buried a short distance from the rest of his clan at Stirrat on what was the home of his stepson, Joe Glenn.

Named after his infamous father, William Anderson “Cap” Hatfield II is buried alongside his wife, Nancy Elizabeth, in what is known today as the “Cap Hatfield Cemetery.” Although some reportedly considered him as a “lawless murderer” during the Hatfield-McCoy feudal period, there is much more to the life of Cap Hatfield than most people know. Like most of the clan, especially Cap’s brothers (Joe and Tennis) Cap Hatfield led one very interesting life.

Cap has been described as the most dangerous of the Hatfield clan, particularly during the feud, and was a key figure in the New Year’s Eve assault on the McCoy’s Kentucky homestead in which the home was set on fire and a 16-year old McCoy daughter was shot dead trying to escape, while her brother was killed, and Mrs. McCoy knocked “senseless” as she tried escaping the burning home. Her husband, Randall, did escape the scene and would live on to continue a feud that lasted nearly a half century.

Many stories, books and even the award winning television mini-series about the feud have been presented, but the story of Cap Hatfield has never been told; mainly, because he regretted some of his actions and he never agreed to anyone writing a story about his life, despite requests, the last one in 1928, just two years before his death. However, in a 1929 front page Logan Banner story celebrating his 65th birthday, there was some interesting information printed that helps define Hatfield’s life. About 18 months later, Cap Hatfield would die from what was described as a brain tumor. At the time prior to his death, he was the oldest living Hatfield participant of the feud.

The Banner described Cap as “the most active figure in the Hatfield-McCoy feud,” and that “his name was familiar to newspaper readers throughout the country before he was out of his teens.” As one of 13 children raised by Devil Anse and Levisa Hatfield, there was no time for any formal education, therefore, at the time of his marriage when he was 18 to Nancy (Smith) Glenn, he could not read or write, but under her tutelage he not only learned to read, but became an extensive reader. To round out his education, The Banner reported that Cap studied law, taking a correspondence course, and was admitted to the bar association in 1905.

Hatfield reportedly helped in liberal measures to encourage the education of his children, “to provide for them the advantages that were denied to him.” His oldest son, Coleman Hatfield, became a lawyer after attending what was then known as “Normal College” in Athens, Ohio, and West Virginia University. Another son, L.W. “Elba” Hatfield was elected Justice of the Peace and was the presiding judge in the preliminary hearing of Clarence Stephenson, who was later convicted of the murder of Mamie Thurman in 1932.

Another son, Robert Hatfield, who served as deputy and county jailer under back-to-back Logan sheriffs Joe and Tennis Hatfield, was described as a civil and mining engineer, who was educated at Tri-State College in Indiana. Levisa, Cap’s oldest daughter, no doubt after Cap’s mother, lived in Philadelphia in 1929, while another daughter, Louise, (Mrs. Charles A. Carter) at the time lived in Miami, Fla. The Banner reported that the younger daughters, Flossie and Muriel, resided with their parents, but “had been teachers in the county for the past few years.”

In 1925, Cap Hatfield was still a respected deputy even at his advanced age, according to the local newspaper, which reported, “Today, and for several years past, as a deputy sheriff “Cap” has been an effective agent in preserving peace and good order in his community. His mere presence is a powerful deterrent to those who at times are inclined to give free reign to their wild impulses.”

It is interesting to note that although thousands of visitors have been to the legendary Hatfield Cemetery at Sarah Ann to look in amazement at the life-sized statue of the patriarch leader of the clan, who is surrounded by his family at the old cemetery on the hill, few even know how to get to Cap Hatfield’s gravesite.

It is also interesting to report that after Cap’s wife died twelve years after him in 1942, there was a property dispute among the immediate family that led to a chancery lawsuit that, according to Logan County Clerk records, was entered Nov. 7, 1946. The lawsuit, which was styled “Louise Hatfield Carver vs. John M. Glenn, and others,” was not officially placed in the deed books or partitioned out and divided into separate parcels of land until July 18, 1953. Legendary Judge C.C. Chambers was the presiding official who oversaw the properties that were partitioned to Robert and Mary Hatfield, Muriel Hatfield Beres, L.W. “Elba” Hatfield, and Joe and Georgia Glenn. The property consisted of 79.124 acres and was originally surveyed for Nancy Hatfield in 1923. The official cemetery, which has a right-of-way leading to it across some of these properties, is on record as the “Nancy and Cap Hatfield Cemetery.” A concrete bridge across Island Creek to Cap and Nancy’s old home place still bears the name of the widely known and well-respected, William Anderson “Cap” Hatfield. The vacant land now stands as a beacon to those few people who know of its whereabouts on a lonesome portion of a highway named after a NBA basketball great—Jerry West. Route 44 up Island Creek is so named because the Los Angeles Lakers star wore the number “44” during his playing days.

The following letter was reportedly published in the Feb. 24, 1891 Wayne County News. It shows that long before his death Cap Hatfield was ready to stop the bitter fighting, and just how far he had come from being an 18-year-old killer, who could not read or write. Here’s the letter:

“I ask your valuable paper for these few lines. A general amnesty has been declared in the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud, and I wish to say something of the old and the new. I do not wish to keep the old feud alive and I suppose that everybody, like myself, is tired of the names of Hatfield and McCoy, and the “Border Warfare” in time of peace. The war spirit in me has abated and I sincerely rejoice at the prospect of peace. I have devoted my life to arms. We have undergone a fearful loss of noble lives and valuable property in the struggle. We being, like Adam, not the first transgressors. Now I propose to rest in a spirit of peace.”


Congratulations goes out to former Logan basketball star Ross Scaggs…..for those who may not know, Ross is the head coach of the Huntington St. Joseph basketball squad that recently won the Class “A” championship…..still on the subject of basketball, the major upset win by Middle Tennessee State over Michigan State was a huge shocker to about everybody, but me…..since Marshall’s team lost to them in the Conference USA tournament, and defeated them earlier in the year, that just might show how improved the Thundering Herd team really was this season… is some names for some of you older readers to match up with all of the political candidates that are seeking office on the national, state and local level…..younger readers probably will not identify these characters, who include Heckle and Jeckle, Popeye, Pixie and Dixie, Quick Draw McGraw, Bugs Bunny, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester and Tweety, Tom and Jerry, Casper The Friendly Ghost, and Touché Turtle and Dum Dum…..feel free to classify me as one of these comical characters, as well; after all, politics can be hilarious…..last week, I mentioned a comment that Ernestine Sutherland had told me in regard to former Logan High basketball star Toddy Porter… so doing, I misspelled Ernestine’s last name… so happened that I ran into Ernestine at Kroger the same day, and apologized…..Ernestine, who had not yet seen The Banner that day, told me to forget about it, but since I really like the lady who is Logan Middle School’s principal, I am making the apology “official”….. Logan County has not had a bail bondsman since shortly after the death of Don Muncy, who I liked and respected…..however, the good news is that I hear his son, Keno, and wife, Takara, have applied for their licenses to provide a needed service to alleviate county jail bills…..QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “He who throws dirt, loses ground.”—said to be seen on a church announcement board at Mill Creek, according to Martha Sparks, who adds that the saying is accredited as a “Texas political proverb” ……we’ve all heard the term “political mud-slinging”, I’m sure…..with the arrival of springtime, the good thing is that soon the green vegetation will mask all the garbage left over from winter…..for the life of me, I can’t understand why jail inmates are not made to clean places like the hill at Fountain Place Mall, or our streams in Logan County…..though the County Commission provides clean-up sites each summer, people just do not get the message: “Quit Littering!”…..the Washington Post reports that legal marijuana may be doing something that a decades-long drug war couldn’t: taking a bite out of Mexican drug cartel’s profits…..the U.S. Border patrol reported marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled some 3 million pounds from the past few years…..DID YOU KNOW…..that the breakdown on Logan County voters is now 20,038 Democrats; 1,357 Independents; 15 Mount Party; 2,576 no party affiliation, and 3,049 Republicans for a total county voter registration of 27,035…..if you combine all of the parties’ registered voters, except the Democratic, that means there are 6,995 voters other than the Dems… prediction for the switching is because so many voters want to vote for Donald Trump, and not for either of the Democratic candidates, who oppose coal… this switching will affect the local Democratic races might be vital to certain candidates in tight races…..FINAL NOTE: I’ve been involved with politics of some sort since I was in fourth grade, and I can tell you that there is a great deal of stuff associated with campaigning. Though things have changed dramatically over the years (mostly for the betterment of the county and its people), there is still one thing that rings out true—“Signs do not vote. PEOPLE DO.”

Dwight Williamson Bits and Pieces Williamson Bits and Pieces

Dwight Williamson

Guest Columnist

Dwight Williamson is a contributing writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner. He currently serves as a Logan County Magistrate.

Dwight Williamson is a contributing writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner. He currently serves as a Logan County Magistrate.

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