Question of the Week: Have you uncovered any feuds in your family history?

+14 votes
Most of us are familiar with the Hatfield and McCoy feud. Have you found any feuds in your lineage?
asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
reshown by Chris Whitten


Two years' feud ends in murder

This newspaper article In The Philadelphia Inquirer 05 Jul 1897, Mon,Page 1 is how I was able to actually find my father's mothers family.

Antony Diodato was my 2nd Great Grandfather on my paternal side of the family. He was from Spezzano Albanese, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy who moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He left behind his wife with 4 small children.

Most definitely and yes, ended in death.  My Hamilton family spent generations living along side the Twigg family on Warrior Mountain in western Maryland.  The two families intermarried several times, in fact, my GGGM was a Twigg.  But there was also conflict.  Property rights and right-of-way resulted sabotage, physical conflict, and even manslaughter.
lol, the closest I come to a feud was in the naming of children in my family.  My paternal grandparents had 6 children, 5 boys and 1 girl.  They all married.  Between the various families there is no child who bears the same name as another in my generation.  There were 48 of us grandchildren total, 8 being my aunt's children and therefore not really in the contest, having a different last name.  

Certain names got reserved early.  My own name was reserved by my mother for the first girl she might have.  Took 4 tries to get to me, and meanwhile my aunts were having lots of kids, and there was a bit of a contest to keep my name reserved.

22 Answers

+10 votes
My Philpot family was known for feuding in Kentucky.  At one time it was stated the governor of Kentucky was afraid of them because they were "like grasshoppers."  Several members were killed in feuds.
My gr-gr-grandpa, James Philpot (1833-1912) was engaged to a girl last name Baker.  He broke up with her and married my gr-gr-gr-grandma, Nancy Rhea.  The Bakers were mad for years. 28 years later my gr-grandpa, Joseph and his brother, Samuel went to vote.  One of the Bakers met Joseph and told him not to comeout yelling yahoo for one of the candidates.  Of course he did.  And as he walked off Baker shot him in the back and emptied the gun at his head.  Samuel killed him. They called a true as they thought Joseph was dead too.  They took him to a relative's house till he recovered.  He went West and met my gr-gr-grandma in MO.
answered by Kenny Melton G2G Crew (500 points)
+9 votes
A cousin of mine, Braxton D. Cox, Jr., was gunned down on the way home from his physician's office in 1902 in part and parcel of a feud. The murderer was a hired gun.

== Details of His Death ==
"The Breathitt Kentucky Newspaper covered the story of the assasination quite extinsively and copies of the newspapers may be found online. Here are some of the details of the unfortunate assassination of Dr. Braxton D. Cox.--

"Dr. Braxton D. Cox was the innocent victim of what has been dubbed the Hargis-Cockrill feud. At the age of 36 years old, the doctor was ambushed in the heart of Jackson, KY by hired men believed to be members of the Hargis-Callahan clan.

"The tragic assassination occurred on a Sunday night, April 13, 1902. According to witnesses, Dr. Cox was at his office in the Crawford Building located at the corner of Court and Main streets on the same side of Main as the courthouse. At about 8:15 p.m. the Doctor had left his office and was walking on Main Street to go down Court Street where he lived near the corner of Cherry and Court.
Apparently the cowardly assassins were awaiting the Doctor inside a nearby stable building owned by James Hargis. Town rumors pointed to these three men: Curtis Jett, Tom White, and William Britton who ambushed the
Doctor as he strolled by.

"The thundering sounds of their shotguns were quickly followed by the ghastly sounds of the fallen Doctor which witnesses Judge Hargis and Ed Callahan claimed they had heard.

"In spite of rumors and witnesses, justice was elusive as no assassins were ever convicted. But the memories and sadness of this unfortunate event remained firm in the hearts of the hundreds who attended the funeral of the fallen
Doctor who was put to rest at Marcum Heights Cemetery in Jackson, KY.
answered by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (283k points)
+7 votes
My wife's grandmother, Filipina Stefancic and her sister Paulina were Croatian immigrants and they lived on the same street (3 houses apart) in Lincoln Illinois for over 60 years! Yet for most of that time they both refused to visit each other. While many people are still alive who remember them, no one can recall what the feud was about.
answered by Bart Triesch G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
edited by Bart Triesch
+5 votes

Although I can’t immediately think of any specific ancestor feuds, I was doing some research today and found what must have been some family disagreement...

In his will, Deacon George Cornish specifically granted four of his daughters use of specific rooms in his house, specifying which stairs to use for access upstairs and to the basement, granting kitchen privileges and access to parts of the yard. He left the other half of the house to his other four daughters. Any of them would forfeit their inheritance if they went to illegible Mitchelson (surname of his second wife) for assistance. Certainly not your typical bed, bedding and cow will!

answered by Kay Sands G2G6 Pilot (188k points)
+6 votes

That is easy.

The feud between the Gunns and the Keiths lasted for over 500 years, from the early 1400s to 1978, when they signed a formal peace treaty.

The profile for George "the Crowner" (King's representative) Gunn (1405 - abt. 1464) ( ) lists a number of sources, and there is also a Wikipedia page ( ).

No one seem to know exactly how the feud started, except that the Gunns and the Keiths were two belligerant clans occupying the same territrory in the far north of Scotland.  

Things got worse when one of the Keiths abducted a Gunn bride on the eve of her wedding (to a Gunn).  He imprisoned her in the tower of the Keith's castle, and she committed suicide  by throwing herself off the tower.  The fighting between them got worse.

Eventually the chiefs of the Gunns and the Keiths decided to settle things once and for all by having a "battle of champions" between twelve horsemen on each side.  There are differences of opinion on the exact year (1464 or 1478) and the exact location (St Tears or Strathmore) but all accounts agree that the Keiths showed up with 24 men (2 on each horse), while the Gunns had 12 men.  Literally, the Gaelic word for "horseman" is "horse with a man on it", so the Keiths claimed they were complying with the terms  of the battle.

Needless to say, most of the Gunns were slaughtered, and the intensity of the feud increased.  Two generations later, a grandson of George "the Crowner" killed the  then-chief of the Keiths.  And so on.

In 1978 the Chief of Clan Keith and the Commander (now Chief) of Clan Gunn signed a formal peace (or friendship) treaty at St Tears.  This was not a purely academic exercise, as some aspects of the feud did continue into the 20th century.  I certainly grew up knowing that we were in a feud with the Keiths, though we regarded it with some humor.  My father said that his paternal aunts, Sybil Margery Mary Kenward Gunn (1887 - abt. 1961) ( and  Mary Pleasance (Gunn) O'Brien  (1893 - 1948)  ( ) were "not on speaking terms" with anyone named Keith. I have also heard anecdotes of a legal case in Canada in the 1960s, where the Gunn lawyer had a very straightforward  ("open and shut") case, but the Keith judge ruled against him, just because he was a Gunn.


answered by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 5 (59.2k points)
+4 votes
My 4th great uncle Walter B Weaver was murdered


Hopkinsville Kentuckian/2 Dec 1892

Killed in Sight of his Home. A brutal assassination occurred near Sinking Fork Wednesday afternoon. A young man was shot from his horse and instantly killed by an unknown assassin. Walter Weaver was a young farmer about 25 years of age. A year ago he married a daughter of M.M. Cavanaugh, who lived one and a half miles from his own home. His young wife was at her father's last Wednesday and at 2 o'clock Weaver mounted his horse and started down the country road leading to his father-in-law to bring his wife home. This was the last seen of him alive. About 3 o'clock Wilson Woosley, a neighbor who passed, found Weaver's prostrate body, bloody and lifeless on the ground. His horse was missing and turned up at home later. Weaver had been shot twice with buckshot, 31 of which entered his body. One charge took effect in the back and the other in his right side. His horse had evidently wheeled and the assassin to make sure of his body work fired a second time before the victim fell from his horse. Either shot was sufficient to cause instant death. Weaver was shot and slightly wounded about three years ago, near the same place, by a man who escaped recognition. Nothing is know to fix the crim upon anyone. The body of the victim was buried at Cavanaugh's grave-yard yesterday. He leaves no family excepting his young and grief-stricken wife. The assassination was without any sort of provocation. Weaver was entirely unarmed and there could have been no fight, with any show of violence on his part. the young man bore a good reputation and was a peaceable and well disposed citizen. His untimely fate has filled the neighborhood with indignation. At noon yesterday Geo. W Weaver, father of Walter Weaver, came to town and swore out a warrant charging D. B. Wiles and his son, Will Wiles, with the murder, and Deputy Sheriff Cravens and Officer Davis went to Sinking Fork to execute it. It is rumored that D.B. Wiles has left the country. G.W. Weaver says Wiles was gathering cord over the fence from where his son was killed and that his team and two children were still there when the body was found and that the children were crying. Wiles himself was gone. There has been bad blood between the Wiles and Weaver families for several years. Of course the evidence will be entirely circumstantial. Wiles is a giant in stature, being nearly seven feet tall. He is about 50 years old and has a family. His sone is not yet of age.


Hopkinsville Kentuckian/2 Dec 1892


He Waives Examination and is Hurried Off to Henderson

Officers CRAVENS and DAVIS who went to Sinking Fork Thursday evening to arrest D.B. WILES and his son, William, for the murder of Walter B. WEAVER, failed to get the elder WILES. The son, a simple-minded young fellow who probably had nothing to do with the killing, was brought in and put in jail, where he now is, in default of a $500 bond. D.B. WILES spent the night at Hon. H.B. CLARK's near Belleview, and Mr. Clark came to town the next day and arranged for his surrender, as he claimed to be afraid of a mob. Mr. CLARK employed Mr. C.H. BUSH as his attorney and late that night the officers met WILES at Mr. BUSH's house and he surrendered and remained in jail that night, waiving examination. The next day he was taken to Henderson and will remain in jail there until the grand jury meets.

WILES confesses that he killed WEAVER, but his attorney is not ready yet to lay down the line of defense. It will be that the shots were fired in his own defense, while WEAVER was trying to ride over him.

Public sentiment is greatly against WILES. It is claimed that he stood in ambush and deliberately shot WEAVER from his horse, that his victim died clutching his riding switch in his hand, probably ignorant of what hit him. He was unarmed and entirely unprepared for trouble with his armed enemy. Great indignation prevails over the bloody deed and the people would not hesitate to my  WILES if he could be gotten hold of. He was right in wanting to get out of the county as soon as possible. In the light of the evidence now at hand, WILES is a brutal assassin who deserves the severest penalty of the law.
answered by Jluv Taylor G2G6 Mach 1 (10.8k points)
+5 votes
This is a sad thing. There are the squabbles over inheritance that are all too common. It leads to losing contact with family members.
answered by Sue Hall G2G6 Mach 8 (86.3k points)
+5 votes

Funny you mention this because I was just discussing the Hatfields with a friend the other day.  My 5th cousin is ol' William Anderson 'Devil Anse' Hatfield He descends from the Vance family who descend from my Howard ancestry from Maryland.

answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 6 (61.8k points)
edited by James Stratman
+4 votes
No feuds in my line, but in my "Clan", There was a curse placed on McCallum of Colgin by Lady McDougall due to lack of hospitality. The curse was that if his sons stayed in Colgin they would all die and that most of them did. The last three set off to other places and the clan seat is now in Poltalloch with Colgin in ruins. I don't remember the date, but the curse was formally lifted about 10 years ago.
answered by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (242k points)
+3 votes
My great uncle ran off with his brother's wife.  Pretty much the entire family took sides over it.
answered by Jim Parsons G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
+3 votes
With Scottish ancestry (Cameron), of course there are the traditional Clan feuds. My Canadian son, at age 18 was in Aberdeen holidaying with a Scottish cousin, and watching a pretty girl coming down the road. He asked Isobel who she was. Her answer: "Nay, nay Harley - she's a Campbell." In Canada we think its funny, but in Scotland I guess they still mean it!

We have different incidents of cousins not liking cousins, siblings not getting along - usual family stuff. My Mom never quite trusted some of her cousins, and wouldn't be pleased that I've met some of the current generation - and liked them!

My Grandfather Wilkinson apparently hated his stepfather, and promised to beat him within an inch of his life once he was grown. The stepfather, Henry Cardoza, according to the story, hung Grandpa's rat terrier on the door without proof that the dog had attacked someone on their street. I don't know if Grandpa ever beat his stepfather. He did list him as next of kin on some of his Military documents.
answered by Linda Hockley G2G5 (5.3k points)
For those who are not aware of the reasons for dislike/distrust of the Campbells, see
You're absolutely right, Janet Gunn - that and they sided with the English at the Battle of Culloden Moor. I made a stab a t diplomacy by not mentioning the history behind the hatred. Glencoe has to be one of the worst massacres in Highland history, and I certainly have no desire to belittle that fact!
The Massacre of Glencoe was a good reason for not trusting the particular Campbells involved in it, but I would hope we'd all agree it's not a good reason for distrust of their descendants over 400 years later.  And the same with Culloden.  Feuds make for exciting stories but terrible realities.
Absolutely, Corinne - and that's why we treat it with amusement here in Canada. We don't forget, of course, but its unreasonable to hold a grudge for 400 years! In fact, a niece married a Campbell, and his father went to the wedding kilted. They are a fine, hard working farm family, and the niece's husband is a wonderful man! I had no intent to start a feud - just stating a fact that we found amusing. I sure hope no one is insulted!!!
+3 votes

The French–Eversole feud occurred primarily from 1887–1894. The events occurred in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky and were mainly situated in Hazard, Perry County. The two instigators of this feud were Joseph C. Eversole and Benjamin Fulton French, who were both merchants and lawyers and at one time were friendly. The war or Feud was a media sensation and was covered by many US papers at the time. The First report was in the Louisville Courier-Journal on June 30, 1886 on Page 1.[1] A listing of the various media reports is included at the end of this article. Ultimately, those media reports became the basis for various books written about the French-Eversole War.

Based on a report by General Sam Hill to Governor Simon Bolivar Buckner, the feud killed more than 20 men.[2] Other historians exaggerated the numbers killed to about 74 deaths attributed to the feud.[3][4]

answered by William Lunsford G2G2 (2.8k points)
+4 votes

The SUTTON TAYLOR Feud was the longest running feud in the state of Texas. There are books, Newspaper and Magazine Articles written about the feud. Here are a few:

The Sutton-Taylor Feud: Lt. Col. Robert C. Sutton Jr.: 9781439219942: Books



SUTTON-TAYLOR FEUD | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)

The Sutton-Taylor Feud: The Deadliest Blood Feud in Texas | University of North Texas Press



Creed Tayolr—A Texas Giant


THE TAYLOR-SUTTON FEUD | Texas History and genealogy, written by those who lived it. | Frontier Times Magazine

Sutton-Taylor Feud - The Bloodiest Fued in Texas


Feud That Wasn’t - Texas A&M University Consortium Press,619.aspx

answered by
+3 votes

While William Anderson 'Devil Anse' Hatfield is only my sixth cousin six times removed, I have much closer cousins with the Hatfield name. My father was born in the Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee, and I am frequently surprised to encounter deaths by gun violence in the family.

answered by Karen Tobo G2G6 Pilot (112k points)
+3 votes

Yes, apparently Sampson luna, luny, Looney’s (b 1806 ) son may have killed him because of different views during the war- son James Washington Looney. Also, further up that same tree- Robert Looney Sr. Sold the land of his murdered son Peter Grancer Looney -brithers fought father in court case after 1863 death of Peter Sr. Land for Peter Looney Jr. sampsons father! 


answered by Jeannie Helms G2G1 (1.7k points)
+3 votes
My great-great-grandfather George Rodney Snipes pursued my gggrandmother, Martha Imbler, from Iowa to Oregon Territory in 1853. Her father didn't want their relationship to continue, so abruptly took his family west. George actually got ahead of them; some approving friends helped Martha steal out of the wagon train at night; and located a preacher to immediately marry them, the second marriage in Wasco County.

There were several accounts written of their love story; this one is slightly embellished...she was actually 18 and George 21 when they married. The feud involved was between her unforgiving father, David Pater Imbler, and George Snipes. Apparently the furious father Imbler did not speak to George for years, until finally he recognized his son-in-law's family had become quite prosperous and he needed a loan. Then he forgave my gggrandfather (and got the loan).
answered by Kathleen Hilliard G2G Crew (450 points)
+3 votes
450 years ago a longstanding multi-faceted feud between the Johnstones and Moffats in Scotland ended when all of the Senior Moffats were wiped out at a family gathering. The Moffats remained 'heidless' for 400 years until c50 years ago when Francis Moffat proved that he was the senior surviving member of the family. Thus he became Moffat of that Ilk. The tartan had been lost, but because of the Moffat associations with Douglas, he was able to use their Royal Douglas Tartan with an extra colour stripe through it to indicate family bonds. Wish I knew more about  it. Source - 'The Moffats' by Francis Moffat
answered by
+3 votes
I've got Hatfields and McCoys in my family tree, but they were generations before and after the ones that shot at each other.
answered by
+3 votes
The Hatfields & the McCoys,

William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield and I are both direct descendants of Joseph Hatfield 1735-1832. Of his sons, Valentine is my 6th great grandfather & Ephraim is Devil Anse's great grandfather.

And there isn't even a remote mention of this connection in our family lore!

Oh, and my sympathies always lay with the McCoy's.
answered by
My husband is a Hatfield from northeast Tennessee near Cumberland Gap. His mom was a Hatfield who married a Hatfield.  I am still researching.  Was told his grandfather was related to Anderson Hatfield.
+3 votes

My 1st cousins 5x removed William and John Moore was killed by their brother-in-law over their dads land.

TRAGEDY IN KENTUCKY - The Frankfort Commonwealth gives an account of a tragic affair at Booneville, Owsley County, Kentucky on the 12th of May last. There had been some difficulty between Wm. Moore, John Moore and John Reece, brothers-in-law in relation to the division of some property. On that day they met in the open street and had some conversation which resulted in blows. The two Moores attacked Reece with sticks and stones, and he defended himself with a large butcher knife with which he stabbed his assailants in such a manner that they died in about ten hours. The deceased each left a wife and family. - Reece was severely beaten, but is expected to recover. 

answered by Dallace Moore G2G6 Mach 3 (32.8k points)

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