Written by Ron McCoy
Eastern Kentucky is a land of history and heritage. Beyond the beauty of its rugged hills and pristine forests, it is home to an area rich in a culture of faith and strong family ties. While stories of the Hatfields and McCoys once brought notoriety to the region, interest in feud history continues to bring thousands of visitors to the region annually.
For eight generations, Eastern Kentucky has been the ancestral home of the McCoy family. Since William McCoy, the grandson of Scottish immigrants, first brought his family to Floyd and Pike counties in 1804, the region has been an integral part of McCoy family history. The McCoys, like many of the region’s first settlers, were self-sufficient pioneers who worked hard to make a life for themselves in Appalachia. They became, as someone once said, “men (and women) who matched the mountains.” The influence of the land became a vital part of their own nature and that of their families, a trait that resonates to this day.
The importance of Eastern Kentucky to the McCoy family cannot be understated. Although many of us no longer live in the area, it remains a vital part of our heritage and our connection to the past. My grandfather was born in his parent’s home on Ferguson Creek, just north of Pikeville, in 1919. With the onset of World War II, he and his brothers were drafted into military service. After the War, like many other members of the Hatfield and McCoy families, the men found work, married and settled in areas across the country. Yet, they held on to their memories of growing up in Eastern Kentucky. Although my grandfather lived in North Carolina for nearly forty years, he always considered Eastern Kentucky “home.”
My father was the first generation of my family not born in Pike County. As an Air Force veteran, he served on bases in Japan, Holland and Italy. Living abroad for most of my childhood, I grew up knowing little about my family history. My grandfather and father passed away when I was a teenager and I found myself disconnected from my heritage. It was twenty years later as an adult that I began researching my family history and rediscovered a connection to Eastern Kentucky that changed my life.
I made my first trip to Pikeville in 1998. Although I was the first member of my family to make the trip in 50 years, I felt an immediate affinity for the land and people of Eastern Kentucky. When my cousin Bo and I began organizing the first national reunion of the Hatfield and McCoy families in 2000, we felt that Pikeville was the perfect place to host the event. Thousands of family members from all over the country came to Pike County that year, many for the first time.
In the past 15 years, I have made more than 30 trips to Pike County. Each visit is a homecoming, a time to reconnect with the land of my ancestors. Likewise, other Hatfield and McCoy family members from across the country continue to make the journey to Eastern Kentucky year after year. The bond of family knows no borders or limitations of geography. As it has for more than two hundred years, the area and its people remains a vital part of my family’s history. We are proud to consider Eastern Kentucky “home.”
Hatfields & McCoys Reunion
Ron McCoy is the great-great-great-grandson of Randolph McCoy. His improbable discovery of his family heritage led to his involvement in key events that added new chapters to the feud story. He helped organize the first national reunion of the Hatfields and McCoys in 2000. He was one of the principal signers of the historic Hatfield-McCoy truce in 2003. In June 2014, he wrote a book, “Reunion,” chronicling his 15 years of experiences with the “Hatfields and McCoys.”
Click here to order: http://www.hatfieldsandmccoys-reunion.com