PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Bo McCoy is the real McCoy, the great-great-grandson of Randolph McCoy, whose feud with the Hatfields dating to the 1870s made both clans famous.
Bo is looking to pit the McCoys against the Hatfields again, but this time on a softball diamond.
Bo and second cousin Ron McCoy are planning a family reunion in June next year in Pikeville, site of the legendary Appalachian feud. Even the Hatfields are invited.
The reunion is called M2K for "McCoys 2000." Already, the reunion's Web site has received more than 14,000 hits. The McCoys are selling T-shirts. About 500 to 1,000 people are expected to attend.
"The legend and myth of the feud is there, but the truth about what really happened is fading," Ron McCoy said. "Part of our vision here is to bring the reality of the feud back into the forefront."
The feud itself took place during most of the 1870s and 1880s and resulted in the deaths of 12 people.
Like the McCoy cousins, Ron Eller, director of the Appalachian Center at the University of Kentucky, said the feud is widely misunderstood--primarily because of exaggerated media accounts that many say created negative stereotypes of Appalachia that still exist.
Rather than being poor hillbillies, in reality both the McCoys and the Hatfields were prominent families living along the Kentucky-West Virginia border. And their battle wasn't a mere feud arising from a dispute over a pig, as some storytellers have recalled, but was instead a severe local economic struggle over resources such as timber, Eller said.
Randolph McCoy lost five sons as a result of the feud and a daughter, Roseanna, to measles during that time. In contrast, Hatfield family patriarch "Devil Anse" Hatfield didn't lose any of his children and went on to live a prosperous life, Ron McCoy said.
But Hatfields suffered losses, including the 1882 death of Ellison Hatfield on Election Day.
Both McCoys set out on a personal quest to learn about their family's past. Along the way, they met over the Internet and began planning the reunion.
"We don't want future generations to look back at the Hatfield and McCoy feud and laugh at it," Bo McCoy said. "It's a tragedy that should never have happened, but these people fought and died for what they believed in, and they were our family members."
If all goes according to plan, the McCoys will take on the Hatfields in a softball tournament.
The McCoys' Web site is at www.real- mccoys.com.