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The “Other” History of the Hatfields & McCoys

Most people think they know a lot of the history of the Hatfields and McCoys, those two quarreling families from Kentucky several generations back. But what folks don’t know about this famous feud is the lesser-known saga between a branch of the family tree that fought most about who was better in certain aspects of entertainment, although there was some pig stealing involved, too, so I’ve heard!

A decade ago, way back in 2011, one Pa Hatfield packed up his belongings and his three pretty daughters and headed to the Smokies to seek his fame and fortune and to settle away from that dreaded McCoy family. Unbeknownst to Mr. Hatfield was the fact that Ma McCoy had the same idea that same spring! She loaded up her three boys and their musical instruments and decided that they’d start over in that mecca of music and more – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Ma McCoy figured since that’s where Dolly’s Dollywood was, it had to be the best option for her family’s many talents!

Clogging and Kinfolk

Also, it seems this generation’s feud is about more modern things – like who’s the best at country cookin’ (more on that later!), who can do the best and most creative dives into the Swimming Hole (situated conveniently between the two families’ land!) and competitions involving singing, dancing, playing tunes on a variety of instruments, and just general silliness. The history of the Hatfields and McCoys in the Smoky Mountains is a milder and merrier version than the tales about their kinfolk – these two families threaten each other with a shotgun that’s just for show and the most dramatic turn in their story involves practical jokes, a barn, some dynamite and the sheriff!

As feuds go, the history of the Hatfields and McCoys in the East Tennessee mountains is pretty tame – more fussin’ than actual fightin’, more harmonies than harm, more clogging than clobbering each other. The two families kept bumping into each other with every one of the things to do in Pigeon Forge that they ended up realizing that together, their talents are enough to fill up a show – what with the Hatfield girls’ dancing up a storm, especially paired up with those McCoy brothers, the splash they make at the Swimming Hole with their fancy dives, duets between Pa Hatfield and Ma McCoy (who turn out to actually be sweet on each other – that’s mountain talk for a romantic crush!), pickin’ and grinnin’ on the fiddle and banjo, and playing tricks on that new Sheriff.

A Mountain Of Fun

So in April 2011, they made it official and opened up a show in Pigeon Forge and then told anyone who would listen – or that they could drag in – that they should buy to ticket. To really make it worthwhile, they looked into their grandma’s old recipe book and told folks if they’d come see the show, they’d get served up an all-you-can-eat mountain feast before the show started at the Hatfields and McCoys dinner feud. Goodness, it’s more supper than you can shake a stick at – crispy and delicious fried chicken, homemade mashed potatoes, the best tasting slaw you’ve ever put in your mouth, buttery corn on the cob straight from Pa Hatfield’s garden, and pulled pork so you can say you are living high on the hog! Ma McCoy even tries to sweeten everyone up in the end by bringing out her soon-to-be world-famous chocolate and banana puddings. And did I mention it’s all you can eat? I think they did that so you are so full that you won’t be able to get up and leave your table and have to stay for the show!

So if you’re trying to make people think that you’re taking one of those educational vacations this year, you can say you’re headed to the Smoky Mountains and are going to learn all about the history of the Hatfields and McCoys. What’s really going to happen is that you’re going to have mountains of fun making memories – laughin’ at these two crazy crews and their family feud and then eating your fill of the most delicious dinner this side of Gatlinburg. While you’re here you may even want to check out our other great dinner shows.

By | 2021-05-25T17:07:12+00:00 May 25th, 2021|Area Entertainment|0 Comments

About the Author:

If it has anything to do with East Tennessee, this Dollywood blogger loves it. Ellen Liston was born in Kingsport and grew up in a rural environment that she says has many similarities to the Sevier County area and the beautiful Smoky Mountains here. When she’s not at Dollywood or enjoying the multitude of activities and attractions in these mountains, Ellen can usually be found cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers, particularly at football and Lady Vols basketball games, or hanging out with her family – sometimes cheering on the Vols together! Some of her favorite things are reading almost any kind of book imaginable, history, crime dramas (especially Perry Mason and Forensic Files), old movies, ‘80s music, and most anything to do with her Scottish heritage, including kilts and bagpipes. She and her husband Scott live in South Knoxville on 6 acres with their yellow labs, Charlie and Rudy, and a Maine Coon cat with a major attitude, Sam.
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