The famous Hatfields – 1897

The Hatfields and McCoys are feuding again, this time in a History Channel movie airing on May 31, 2012, starring Kevin Costner. The infamous Kentucky and West Virginia clans known for their bloody discord lasting from 1882 to 1888 have captured the imaginations of millions of Americans and have now been revived in what will no doubt be an appropriately violent rendition of their 1880s scuffle.

On August 15, 1946, 58 years after the famous fracas ended, Walt Disney released a charming animated film called Make Mine Music which contained ten short clips, including The Martins and the Coys, based on the Ted Weems and Al Cameron song of the same name. This short film portrayed two families (the Martins and Coys), engaged in a fatal gun fight that ends when each family has one survivor left. This gentle caricature, based on the Hatfields and McCoys, is what most people born between 1940 and today picture when they think of a feud.

For those of you that read yesterday’s post, Family Reunions – Part 1: Location, location, location, and worried that a reunion would stir up old family quarrels, you’ll be comforted to hear that the Hatfields and McCoys have made peace and for the past 13 years have held annual family reunions. According to a CBS News story, “Official End of Legendary Feud” by Rome Neal, on Saturday, June 14, 2003 the acrimony officially ended when representatives from both families signed a truce. I suspect that a Hatfield/McCoy family reunion has a fairly low bar for success – as long as no one dies, everyone leaves happy. For those of you with higher expectations, check back for my continuing series on how to pull off the perfect family reunion.