PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Descendants of one of the nation's most famous pairs of feuding families, the Hatfields and McCoys, will face off in court to settle a dispute over access to a cemetery where three slain boys were buried.
``I really hate that we have to go to the court system to settle this,'' said Bo McCoy of Waycross, Ga., a plaintiff in the lawsuit against a Hatfield descendant who blocked access to the family cemetery.
``We wanted to be gentlemen about it,'' McCoy said. ``We felt like we had no other choice.''
The cemetery, which holds remains of three McCoy boys who were tied to pawpaw trees and executed by the Hatfields in 1882, is too important historically to remain closed to the public, McCoy contends.
Larry Webster, an attorney for Hatfield descendant John Vance, whose property stands between the cemetery and the nearest road, said the case pits an individual family that wants some privacy against the interests of tourism and economic development officials.
Vance had posted ``no trespassing'' signs on the property before a judge granted an injunction this year giving temporary access until a jury decides the issue. The trial is set to begin Jan. 22.
``This was designed to get national headlines, and designed as a way to get free advertising for people who hope to make a profit from these things,'' Webster said.
The feud between the McCoys of Kentucky and the Hatfields of West Virginia is believed to have stemmed from a dispute over a pig. A court battle over timber rights escalated the tension in the 1870s. By 1888, at least 12 people had died.
Bo and his cousin Ron McCoy, organizers of the annual Hatfield-McCoy Reunion Festival in Pikeville, want the cemetery to be part of a tour highlighting points of interest in the bloody feud. Economic development officials hope the feud sites and cemeteries will draw tourists to the mountain communities.
12/28/02 09:06 EST
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.