Performed among the very mountains over which Devil Anse Hatfield walked, a new, historically accurate retelling of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud will debut this summer as an outdoor drama at Chief Logan State Park in Logan County.
The new-written play breaks from previous performances of the tale that simplified the story of clans engaged in conflict while industrialism transformed south-central Appalachia.
Diana O’Briant, president of the board of The Aracoma Story, said the play, expected to attract many new visitors to southwestern West Virginia, was long in coming.
“There has always been an interest in us doing a Hatfield-McCoy show at the park: there just hasn’t been the right script—until now,” O’Briant said.
Geoff Allen, who penned the script, said in a press release that the tale is often “sadly reduced to the pig story”—an incident regarding the ownership of a hog over which the Hatfield clan of southwestern West Virginia disagreed with the McCoy clan of Kentucky.
“This script delivers a summation of the entire saga — replete with all the significant milestones — so that audiences can walk away with a full understanding of the big picture,” Allen said.
“This script is the culmination of extensive research, and re-researching, to find corroborating facts to provide the most accurate depiction possible.”
The board has annually produced the story of Native American chieftain Aracoma at the park and teamed up with the Hatfield-McCoys Convention Visitors Bureau to present the performance, titled “Deadly Divide: The Hatfield and McCoy Story.”
Allen was also responsible for co-writing an updated version of “The Aracoma Story: Spirits and Legends,” which recounts the tale of Aracoma, who escaped to the mountains near present-day Logan to escape the Trail of Tears.
The performances are expected to bring significant numbers of tourists to the region, according to Debrina Williams, executive director of the visitors’ bureau.
“In addition to providing local audiences with a history-packed performance, it will also be a major tourist attraction, bringing people in to see all of what Logan County has to offer.”
The show should be an enjoyable experience for audiences and performers alike, Williams said.
“It’s an ensemble play highlighted with dynamic, dramatic scenes that allow for many artists to enjoy a rewarding experience on stage as well as behind the scenes.
It was written to be a “crowd pleaser” with all the elements in place to draw audiences — violence, romance, intrigue, and humor.”
The Hatfield–McCoy feud, or the “Hatfield–McCoy War,” as some newspapers at the time called it, engaged two families living on either side of the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River between 1863 and 1891.
The Hatfields of West Virginia were led by William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield and the McCoys of Kentucky were led by Randolph “Ol’ Ran’l” McCoy.
“The Hatfield and McCoy Story” will be presented at the park’s Liz Spurlock Amphitheater.