|From the third page of the Los Angeles Daily Herald, October 5, 1889|
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy feud, the Hatfields and the McCoys were two rival families who waged a bitter and bloody war with each other in the West Virginia and Kentucky area from the 1860s through 1891. If you'd like more information, Wikipedia has a relatively accurate summary of it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield%E2%80%93McCoy_feud#Feud.
What's fascinating about this crime is that it may not have actually happened. A number of newspapers reported the incident in 1889 when it was supposed to have occurred, but I've never seen Julia Ann McCoy or John Hand listed with the other casualties of the feud. Furthermore, the historian Otis K. Rice (author of the nonfiction book The Hatfields And The McCoys, and the only modern scholar I've found so far who discusses the incident) claims that the murder never actually occurred:
"Reports that Julia Ann McCoy and John Hand, a relative of the Hatfields, had been shot at their own wedding proved patently untrue" (The Hatfields And The McCoys, page 109).
Tomorrow I hope to dig a little deeper and learn what Rice's sources are. In the meantime, I'm fascinated by this story. If Rice is correct, then this article says something about the hysteria and tall tales that surrounded the Hatfield-McCoy feud as it escalated.
I love stories like this. I love discrepancies that keep me humble and remind me that no source is 100% reliable.
What do you think? Had you heard of this incident before?