Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:31PM - 616 Views
Ralph B. Davis

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Rachel Dove-Baldwin

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSON — The only recovered archeological artifacts from the Hatfield McCoy Feud will be placed on public display for the first time on January 28th at the Coal House in Williamson.

These items have been buried underground for 125 years and can be seen by the public for the first time next Monday, during a ceremony to unveil the items at 10:30 a.m. The public is cordially invited to attend and join in the celebration of this historical finds.

These recently discovered items include bullets fired when the Hatfield’s attacked the McCoy cabin on New Year’s Day 1888; pieces of the McCoy cabin which was burned down during the attack, and fragments of household items used by the McCoy clan that include parts of a cooking stove and a wash tub, among others.

The raid on January 1st 1888 was a turning point in the Hatfield McCoy Feud. The conflict had ensued for 23 years, but 20 days after the now infamous raid that claimed the life of members of the McCoy family, the Hatfield’s were arrested and jailed. The fact that the items are from such a key event with the feud makes them even more significant. WVU Extension Professor Bill Richardson participated in the discovery.

“These are world class artifacts that can only be seen here. We can’t wait to share them with the world,” stated Richardson.

The items were found at Hardy, Ky. on the property of local businessman, Bob Scott, during filming of a television show called ‘Diggers”, a new show about two men who search for historic artifacts using metal detectors. The episode of the show featuring the local discovery will air on January 29th at 10 p.m., on the National Geographic Channel, the day after they are publically displayed at the Coal House.

As a follow up to the show, the University of Kentucky sent Kim McBride to do further excavation on the site. McBride, co-director of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, confirmed the find and also uncovered window glass, several pieces of ceramic and other items from the McCoy home.

“We are thrilled to have these items,” Richardson said. “No one has ever discovered bullets that were fired by Jesse James or from the OK Corral. It is so rare to find something so significant from such an iconic event in American history.”

There were three different calibers of bullets uncovered including shotgun pellets. The bullets were 4-6 inches underground and spread out over an area of about 30 feet wide by 20 feet high.

This is the first scientific research that has been done on the feud. To date, most of what is known came from oral histories, wildly exaggerated newspaper accounts and a few trial transcripts. Many of the facts of the story have been under debate for 125 years. Now - for the first time, there is hard evidence that can be used to understand these events.

Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Natalie Young, is excited to have these artifacts in the Coal House. She wishes to extend an invitation to both locals and tourists from across the nation to come inside the Coal House and view this actual piece of history.

“We can’t thank Bob Scott enough for allowing us to showcase these finds and promote tourism to the Tug Valley,” remarked Young. “We want everyone that can to attend the unveiling and share in our excitement that national attention will once again, cast its eyes on the Tug Valley area.”

“We are proud of our heritage and we hope that everyone realizes what these finds mean for the tourism industry of Mingo and Pike Counties.”

If you are interested in more information about this event or the artifacts, you may contact Bill Richardson via the Coal House at 304-235-5240 or 606-237-4487. You may also email him at bill.richardson@mail.wvu.edu.

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