The location of the home of Randall McCoy, the patriarch of the McCoy family that famously feuded with the Hatfield family, has now been confirmed in rural Hardy, Kentucky.
“We have never had science before,” Historian Bill Richardson, a West Virginia University extension professor, says of the discovery which was made through the work of those with the National Geographic Channel series, Diggers.
“We’ve had stories handed down through the family. We’ve had a few court documents, but we’ve never been able to scientifically look at this story. This is the first time we’ve have evidence, the first time we’ve had tangible artifacts.”
Randall McCoy’s home was the site of the deadly 1888 New Year’s Day showdown between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
To find the site, the Diggers team approached the private owners of the property where the home was believed to have been located in rural Kentucky.
Diggers Co-Host Tim “Ringy” Saylor says they started with what would have been the family well and worked off of that to determine the site of the McCoy home. “They turned us loose out there,” he said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
After many failed digs in a number of locations, Saylor says they started finding some things. “Up came burned wood, square nails, broken pieces of pottery and we knew we were on to something,” he said.
Once the cabin location was determined, “We went up on the opposite hillside and dug through all the poison ivy and the underbrush and, after hours and hours of searching, we actually stumbled on to a string of bullets from that time period,” Saylor says.
Richardson says it was a huge find. “What they found were bullets, return fire, from the McCoy cabin at the Hatfields.”
Some of those bullets are now among the retrieved items, dating back 125 years, that are on display in Williamson in Mingo County. They were unveiled there on Monday morning.
The discoveries, which were verified through the Kentucky Archaeological Society, will be the focus of Diggers: Hatfields & McCoys this week. It airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel.
In Diggers, Saylor and George “KG” Wyant scour the country for lost pieces of American history. Saylor says the Kentucky site posed a number of challenges.
“It was a tough place to do,” he said. “It’s not like we just walked in and it just magically happened. We had to work for it.”
Richardson agrees. “Those guys worked for 12 and 14 hours a day, coming up with dry hole, dry hole and it was only very late in the shoot when we actually started getting those hits,” he said.
“We weren’t sure we were going to find anything and then, suddenly, the flood gates opened.”