I’m currently working on a story idea that involves a feud. One of my goals in writing stories set in my beloved Appalachians is taking some of the stereotypes and clichés and either debunking them or shedding new light on them.
So. Feuding. In the style of the Hatfields & McCoys.
Except theirs was not the only historic feud. A friend who is a Kentucky native lent me her copy of–brace yourself for this title–A history of the feud between the Hill and Evans parties of Garrard County, Ky. The most exciting tragedy ever enacted on the bloody grounds of Kentucky.
Well, count me in!
Written in 1854 by Lieut. J.J. Thompson, this book is priceless. Never mind the feud, the writing is captivating. In Chapter IV, he tells of false accusations spread about Dr. Evans by Mrs. Rus Hill. Here’s an excerpt:
“She took her child into her arms, and with the sincere affectation of an expert actress, set out from her lone cabin of rudeness, and made the welkin ring with lamentations for her miserable fate. The proud hills, disdaining to listen to such airy wailings, repulsed the empty sounds and with reproof echoed them from their rock-ribbed sides to the ear of their degenerate mistress . . .”
This continues as a spectacular run-on sentence, but you get the gist. Apparently even the landscape took a side in this feud. And I am determined to work “welkin” into my next novel. (It means the sky or the vault of heaven. Of course it does.)
I’m only five chapters in and no one has died yet, but they are certainly whaling on one another. The whole thing started one winter when Dr. Evans hired Dr. Hill’s “negro woman.” Then, in the spring, Dr. Hill decided he wanted use of her services and, “thought of no better way of securing them than by inducing her to run away.” He sent his niece to do the inducing and when Dr. Evans took issue much head whacking ensued. I mean that literally. Dr. Hill hit Dr. Evans in the back of the head with a “large hickory stick.”
Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up. Then there’s a set-to at a BBQ, false accusations, doctors undermining one another’s diagnoses . . . good stuff. I’m not sure if anything will make it into my story but I’m having a grand time learning about this “most exciting tragedy.”
You just can’t beat real-life. But you CAN read this treasure for yourself. It’s on-line HERE.