Hatfield Brothers Killed in Shootout

Charleston Daily Mail
February 15, 1952

Recalls Slaying Of Hatfield Boys

By Charles Connor

Those of you who read Don Seagle's interesting story on "Devis Anse" Hatfield in last Sunday's Daily Mail probably remember the statement that not one of his 11 children died in the blazing Hatfield- McCoy feud of the late 1800's.

Going further than that, only two of the famed chieftain's 11 children have died anything other than natural deaths thus far. Those two - Elias and Troy - met death violently some 30 miles upriver from Charleston outside a little house at Harewood.

The man who supplies this information is 79-year-old Enoch Shamblin of Pocataligo, who was tending bar for the Hatfield boys at Boomer in 1911 when they were shot and killed by an immigrant Italian laborer.

"I closed the bar, which was the longest in the state at that time," said Shamblin the other day while sunning himself outside Goff's grocery. "Within 10 minutes, I was at the side of Troy who told me, 'Enoch, I won't be here long.' The shooting occurred at 11 o'clock that morning. Troy died at 4 p. m. His brother lay dead in the yard, as did the Italian who shot them.

"The Italian was a big man, 240 pounds I reckon, and he had been hauling beer into Boomer from Kanawha county. The Hatfield boys considered this an infringement on their territory and took him out and whipped him one time. He told them that wouldn't stop him, and it didn't.

"He fetched up another load of beer a few days later to sell to all the Italians living up Boomer hollow. The Hatfield boys heard about it and tracked him up there. He made it to this house at Harewood, though. They followed him there, and he shot both of them.

"He must have figured he had killed them, because he left the house and was going out the gate when Troy, who was laying beside the house, raised up and shot him in the back of the head. He dropped and filled up the gate - he was that big."

Enoch, a Kanawha farm boy who went to Smithers to become stable boss for a mining company, took a job as bartender when he found he could make $100 a month. He had been making only $65 at the stable.

"They paid well because they could hardly get anyone to tend bar," he said. "In the six years I worked there, I had 57 fights. I weighed about 190 pounds then, was 6-1 in height, and strong as a bull because of the farm work I had done before going there.

The Sims boys owned the bar when I started work, but Troy and Elias bought into it later and came over from Logan county. Joe and Tennis, two of Devil Anse's other sons, helped run it from time to time, too.

"Even then, the Hatfield boys didn't want to talk about the feud in which their father had been a leader. I remember a lot of the men who came into our place asked them about it, but they shrugged it off and went about their business.

"Both Troy and Elias were the best fellows you'd want to meet, mister. Good as I ever saw. They respected me and I respected them."

In those rip-roaring days before the state adopted its prohibition amendment in 1912, Enoch recalls it was nothing for the bar to take in $3,000 on a pay day. Business through the week never fell below $300 a day either.

"I guess there were some of the meanest fellows alive living around there in those days," he said, "and a lot of them came there to whip me. They used to take bets on who could whip the bartender. I soon learned them, though. I never fought any of them more than once.

"One big 200-pound fellow standing 6-4 came down from Gauley Bridge one Saturday night. I remember the showboat was tied up at the river bank and Elias told me to stay and tend bar and that I could go see the show Monday night. This big man came in and tried to chase people out of the bar, just aiming for a fight. It was about 8 o'clock. We squared off and I hauled back and hit him so hard he was killed for five hours. Yessir, Elias Hatfield came back from the showboat to find him lying in the floor. He finally came to about 1 a. m. when we tossed a bucket of beer over him."

Shamblin says he also had to whip a man named "Fighting Bill" from Montgomery who had whipped everyone in that town and was looking for new fields to conquer.

"The boys warned me he was coming and I told them that 'I ain't gonna bother anyone but I ain't gonna be bothered, either.' Sure enough, he stormed through the door, turned over some tables, and I had to come around the bar and kill him for an hour or two."

When the state went dry, Enoch came back to Kanawha with his hard-earned cash and bought a 100- acre farm near Pocataligo where he still lives.

Strange, though is the fact that "Devil Anse" and all his sons successfully dodged the hail of bullets which erupted periodically on the West Virginia-Kentucky border during their feuding with the McCoys, and then, in "peaceful" Kanawha valley, two of them met violent death at the business end of a blazing pistol.

"I saw them ship the bodies of Troy and Elias back to Logan county," said Shamblin. "It was a sad day at Boomer and we closed the bar out of respect. The Hatfield boys were well-liked."

"Devil Anse," who said he always felt he would die a natural death, passed away Jan. 8, 1921. To the right of his grave are those of his sons, Troy and Elias.

Crime and Punishment

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