Last week, I watched some of the History Channel’s miniseries based on the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. I’m pretty sure three-fourths of America was watching with me (well, maybe it was just three-fourths of my Twitter feed). But anyway, I watched some of the miniseries and the only words that can describe me reaction are: utterly horrified and absolutely transfixed.
I’ve yet to see the final installment, but the first two horrified me by the violence (and there were at least a few moments when I fast forwarded or covered my eyes or left the room). At the same time, I had to know what happened and how everything would play out. Last Friday afternoon, I was talking with a friend about the show and finally voiced the question that had been running through my head since I’d watched the first few moments of the miniseries: Did people really live like that?
The answer, I know, is yes. People did. More than that, there are people in the world who do now. I was relieved that there were no Hatfields or McCoys hanging out in my family tree.
I’m actually kind of a genealogy nerd. I like that show “Who Do You Think You Are?” and I’ve downloaded the Ancestry.com app on my iPad. When I’m bored or don’t have much to do, I sometimes do a little family research. And on Saturday morning, when I was still fresh from my musings that my family was NOT like the Hatfields or McCoys, I ran across a story that told me my family tree might have a little more in common with them than I thought.
I haven’t done the verification (YET) to check out the validity of this story, but it basically goes like this:
My great great grandfather James Levi was a pretty interesting guy. It appears, if the things I’ve found on the Internet are correct, that he served in the Civil War. He also married three times. He had several kids with his first wife, but she passed away at some point before 1881 because that’s when Great Great Grandpa married her sister. They had several kids together, then she passed away. James Levi married for the third time, a woman named Mary Ann, who was my great great grandmother. They had five kids together before he passed away in 1896, after which she remarried. (Are you following? I know that’s a lot of info. It might help to draw a picture!)
Apparently the dude my great great grandmother remarried wasn’t very nice. He didn’t treat Mary Ann well and wasn’t nice to the kids (my great grandfather included). Finally after this had gone on for awhile, some of Mary Ann’s stepsons (children from one of James Levi’s previous marriages) decided enough was enough. So they ambushed her husband while he was out driving cattle or something and killed him. There was an arrest, but it was found there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, so charges were dropped. I haven’t done the research to see if any of this is true, but it does appear that Mary Ann’s second husband did die somewhat mysteriously from the research I have done.
So, that, my friends, is the sordid tale from my family tree.
But I’m still somewhat relieved NOT to be related to the Hatfields or McCoys.