PARDON FOR A FEUDIST
Kentucky Governor Releases One of the Hatfields from Prison
Frankfort, Kentucky July 11,1904
Giving as one of his reasons that the Hatfields and the McCoys, the famous Kentucky and West Virginia feudists,
are now at peace and anxious to forget old scores. Acting Gov. Thorne last night pardoned Johnson Hatfield, one
of the survivors of the deadly mountain vendetta.
Hatfield had served four years of a life sentence for killing McCoy. He was granted clemency for all his crimes.
The McCoys joined in the petition asking for the pardon of ther old foe. They claimed, with his kinsmen, that he
was not a member of the Hatfield party in the midnight August raid in 1888, in which many McCoys, men, women, and
children, were shot to death, and others cruelly wounded. Both said he was miles away sick in bed. On the petition
for the pardon Acting Gov. Thorne wrote the following:
"The McCoy and Hatfield people, parties to this feud, after twenty-six years desire peace. Both sides of the old
scores and settle their differences, and every law-abiding man should be only too glad to render whatever assistance
he can to bring these results about. Besides this man has agreed to go where his family now resides, Virginia, and not
again reside in Kentucky. His wife has died since he has been confined, and left him tow little children that need his
care and attention. Believing this man, who is yet a young man, if spared from the ravages of Bright's disease, may yet
make a useful citzen, I do my part toward, redeeming him, pardon him of the crime for which he stands convicted, and
all charges growing out of said feud and killing of Altfair McCoy, Tolbert McCoy, Farmer McCoy, Randolph McCoy Jr. and
About three years after the beginning of the feud Johnson Hatfield, who was commonly known as Jonce, was an outlaw in
Kentucky, and he again started the bad feeling between the two families. He was the sweetheart of Rose Ann McCoy. Two
of the McCoy men took advantage of the woman's intimacy with the outlaw to follow her in the hope of capturing Jonce
and getting the reward offered for him. "Devil" Anse Hatfield, who was the leader of all the Hatfield raids, heard
of the McCoy plans and in heading them off caused the death of several persons.
Death followed death then for a time in the raids which the Hatfields made. Once one of the number was wounded and
the rest at once captured three McCoys, whom they held as prisoners until their own relative died. Then the McCoys
were tied together and shot in cold blood.
On another occasion Johnson Hatfield went to the home of two women of the McCoy family and so badly horsewhipped
them that one of them died. On another occasion Johnson Hatfield went to the house of one of the McCoy families
where lived one man and a number of women, including Rose Ann McCoy. The party arrived at the house at night, and
in response to their knock one of the women appeared. Johnson Hatfield ordered her to get a light, and because she
could not do so quickly enough he raised his gun to kill her, but before he could fire another of his party shot
her through the heart.
On election day, 1896, Johnson Hatfield, after drinking too much moonshine, killed Rutherford McCoy, Jr. He was
captured and sentenced to serve three months for this last killing, but he escaped before he had been in jail
for a week. He was captured again later, and on that occasion he was tried for several other murders he had
committed, and was found guilty of murder of the first degree.
For more information
about the Hatfields and McCoys
Visit Libby's Genealogy
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