#126: Volentine’s Day


126.1  Hatfields & McCoys…a miniseries that originally aired on The History Channel over a year ago…hugely successful…generally agreed to be extremely well done, even award-worthy…has sparked renewed interest in the history of the feud, and in American history in general, which is a good thing certainly. Still and all, this is a fictionalized account of what happened…it would have been more honest to call it Winfields & McCalls, something like that. Trust me, if a history teacher gave you a test on this stuff, and all you knew was what you saw in those 6 hours, you’d flunk…and miserably.

126.2  Not to pick on this production…deviating from fact to make it a “better story” is a problem that plagues all so-called “historical” drama…TV, movie, or written word. And what drives this point home is the 2-hour documentary The History Channel produced to accompany the miniseries. You may have noticed that in the documentary, they recreate several key events…and things happen differently than they do in the miniseries. Wha–?? Does make it confusing to the casual viewer…and especially to the student who thinks they can “learn” something from watching a TV show…well, it’s a start, kiddo, but that’s all it is!

126.3  Before putting the Hatfields and McCoys to bed…for now anyway…I’d like to take a stab at untangling one more puzzle…that of the multiple Valentine Hatfields. It is widely agreed…in fact, I’ve found nobody to dispute it, not even the creators of the miniseries…that the character played by Powers Boothe is a composite. Devil Anse’s older brother Valentine did not preside over the Hog Trial…that was Anderson “Preacher Anse” Hatfield, son of Devil Anse’s grandfather Valentine’s half-brother George…thus Devil Anse’s father Ephraim’s half-1st cousin. I charted out this relationship back in #122 as Chart 429…below, I have expanded this chart to include a passel more Valentines…removing George and Preacher Anse…simply no room!…but leaving in Devil Anse as a point of reference.

chart 440

126.4  It is my contention that Boothe’s role is a composite of 3 real-life individuals, not 2…and I will say at the outset that I could indeed be proven wrong…but for now, it’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In Chart 440, some of the Valentines have their wives identified to the right in red…this is to further help differentiate one from another. Some have nicknames. And I’ve highlighted 3 of them in yellow. Devil Anse’s older brother Valentine…nicknamed “Wall”…I shall for the sake of convenience refer to as Brother Val. Valentine Wallace Hatfield, Devil Anse’s father Ephraim’s 1st cousin, nicknamed “River Wall,” I’ll call Cousin Val. Both of these are key to understanding the events of the feud.

126.5  The third I’ve highlighted is Devil Anse’s grandfather Valentine, I’ll call him Grandpa Val. He died in 1872, before things really started to heat up, but he’s relevant to sorting out the nicknamesand I believe it’s those nicknames that really fuel the confusion. BTW, in the title of this post, Volentine is the way I wanted to spell it…since this is what appears on several census reports…and we’ll be coming back to that.

chart 440 a

126.6  So…it all turns on the killing of William R. “Bill” Staton, sometimes spelled Stayton and occasionally given incorrectly given as Stanton or Stratten. He was the son of Randall McCoy’s 1st cousin Nancy McCoy Staton, and the brother-in-law of both Floyd “Hog Thief” Hatfield and Devil Anse’s brother Ellison…altho Bill himself did not marry a Hatfield, which you’ll sometimes see stated…2 of his sisters did. He gave crucial evidence at the Hog Trial in favor of the Hatfields and was found dead 2 years later, June 18, 1880. Evidence pointed to Randall’s nephews Paris and Squirrel Hunting Sam McCoy. Ellison, as brother-in-law of the diseased, swore out an arrest warrant for the pair. Paris turned himself in and was freed after a bench trial, which means no jury, only a judge. Sam was taken into custody, tried by a jury, and found not guilty by reason of self-defense.

126.7  Some historians think that this verdict was “ordered” by Devil Anse himself, as a way to end the feud…and that the “second phase” was reignited not by the McCoys but by lawyer Perry Cline. Not sure how that theory jibes with the murder of Ellison Hatfield, but that’s a debate for another day. For now, let’s go to Pikeville, Kentucky, and view the 2 “dueling plaques” the tourist will find there…


126.8   …and yes, one might wonder what other kind of post office there is besides “U.S.”…but we must try to focus! I said “dueling” because, incredibly, these 2 signs give different years for the Hog Trial…1873 and 1878. I tend to think, but am in no way absolutely convinced, that 1878 is correct…this is the type of crap (pardon my French) the earnest researcher has to wade thru. What is of importance here is that the larger monument states, referring to the murder of Bill Staton: “…a trial presided over by Valentine Hatfield, uncle of Devil Anse.” 

sign closeup

126.9  Now if we were to go by the “preponderance of evidence,” we would say this is wrong…several published books, as well every web-site that I’ve found that goes into any detail, claim it was the Valentine I’m calling Brother Val who was the judge…sometimes called “justice of the peace,” but as I understand it, actually called in those parts a “magistrate.” Interestingly, an on-line transcription of an article from the Wheeling Intelligencer newspaper, dated November 23, 1889, and headlined “Devil Anse Tells the True History,” has him stating this: “My brother Ellison prosecuted them [Paris and Sam] for murder. He swore out a warrant for their arrest and asked me to execute it. [Who was the magistrate exactly?] I refused to do it because the McCoys and I had alway been good friends.” 

126.10  I know…grain of salt and all that…especially given that at the beginning of this article, Devil Anse says, or is reported to have said, that 11 children were born to his grandparents Valentine Hatfield and Elizabeth Vance. Not true…Grandpa Val’s wife, Devil Anse’s paternal grandmother, was Martha “Mattie” Weddington. Elizabeth Vance was the name of both Grandpa Val’s own paternal grandmother, and Devil Anse’s maternal grandmother, the mother of his mother Nancy Vance. Is it any wonder we’re all confused?

126.11  But what do we then make of the “Uncle Val” mentioned on the plaque? Either it’s right or it isn’t. Assuming for the moment it is right, did Devil Anse in fact have an Uncle Valentine in the first place? Well, according to Chart 440, he had at least 2…and I should mention that while these Valentines are culled from various sources, all are found on the most comprehensive list I’ve found, here…an index of literally thousands of individuals, Hatfields and allied families…


…and no, there aren’t 176 Valentines…the 15 that I have on Chart 440 are referenced here multiple times…on census records, on the birth records of their children, etc. …plus a few more Valentines that I couldn’t “hook up” to any of these relatives. But you will see on Chart 440  that Devil Anse does have one Uncle Valentine…his father’s youngest sibling, born 19 years after Ephraim in 1831…making him just 7 years older than Devil Anse himself. Very little is known about him…he is believed to have never married…and one census record lists him as living with his parents at age 19, and an “idiot”…feeble-minded, I guess they mean.

126.12  Then there is Valentine Wallace Hatfield, born 1819, the one I’m calling Cousin Val. He is Devil Anse’s father Ephraim’s 1st cousin…and of the right age and generation to be called “uncle” by Ephraim’s children. What’s more, he married Devil Anse’s mother Nancy Vance’s sister, Aunt Mary “Polly” Vance! And most people, then and now, call their blood aunt’s husband “uncle”…an uncle by marriage. So if Devil Anse had an Uncle Valentine who could have functioned as a magistrate, Cousin Val looks like the one.

126.13  On the other hand, what if the Pikeville plaque is wrong? It seems problematic that it would be left that way, for all the world to see…altho the discrepancy in the dates of the Hog Trial is in plain view too, isn’t it? The question is, how could Devil Anse’s brother be mistaken for his uncle? And it is here that we must plumb the profoundly perplexing depths of birth names versus nicknames…and let me simply state what I know to be fact, and see what conclusions can be reasonably drawn from them.

126.14  Grandpa ValBirth name: Valentine Hatfield. Nickname: Wall, or, “later in life” as one web-site puts it, Uncle Walley. No clue from anyone anywhere as to the origin of this nickname. One very tenuous hint is that one Hatfield girl married a man named Valentine Combs, and he was nicknamed Vollie.  Could the “val” of Valentine have been pronounced, by some folks anyway, to rhyme with the word “fall”? Thus from “Vol” (pronounced “vawl”) to “Wall”? I know, very thin…but we’ve got precious little else. And remember “Volentine” on some census forms? Spelled wrong? Heard wrong? Transcribed wrong all these years later?


126.15  Cousin ValBirth name: given variously as Valentine Hatfield and Valentine Wallace Hatfield. Nickname: both Wall and River Wall. Now obviously, that middle name of river allenWallace is a tempting solution to the origin of Wall. And while Wallace isn’t always quoted as his middle name, he had a son who is always called John Wallace Hatfield. There is even a cemetery in Pike County, Kentucky called the John Wallace Hatfield Cemetery. As for River Wall, above you see pictures of actual river walls. I don’t think it’s that tho…my best guess is the nickname was to distinguish him from his uncle, Grandpa Val…why “river”? Because he was born, raised, and died in Buskirk, Kentucky, across the “river” from West Virginia where most, but not all, the Hatfields lived. And…John Wallace Hatfield had a son they called “River Allen,” also from Buskirk…so I think “the guy across the river” is plausible…

126.16 …because these nicknames seem to be given quite often to identify one relative from another…Devil Anse and Preacher Anse…Bad Lias and Good Lias…Devil Anse’s father Big Eaf and Devil Anse’s great grandfather Eaf of All. Would they then turn around and say: But let’s call every Valentine “Wall” and leave it at that?  Now that’s not plausible, at least not to me. For the record, there was considerable chronological overlap: Cousin Val and Grandpa Val were both alive for 53 years…Cousin Val and Brother Val for 56 years…all 3, for 38 years. And I might mention that on that master index, it’s one person per nickname, no double-ups…for what that’s worth.

126.17  Brother ValBirth name: given variously as Valentine Hatfield, Valentine David Hatfield, Valentine D. Hatfield…and yes, even Valentine Wallace Hatfield. Nickname: again, both Wall and River Wall. What’s more, he had a son referred to as Valentine Hatfield, Valentine David Hatfield, and sometimes, tellingly, Valentine David Hatfield Jr.

126.18  And along with these 3 actual Valentines we must consider the mysterious “Uncle Wall.” Was Brother Val called this? By Devil Anse’s many sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces…sure, why not? By Devil Anse himself? No evidence has surfaced that I’ve seen. Accounts of the feud that I’ve read…in books, magazines, and newspapers from the 1940s up to the 1970s, call Brother Val either Wall, Val, or Valentine. Wall is also used in contemporaneous newspaper articles…and in one instance, Walt.

126.19  So we are back to that vexing Pikeville sign…”Valentine Hatfield, uncle of Devil Anse”…mistake or not? If it is a mistake, was it simply a “slip of the pen” in stone…they meant “brother” but they put “uncle”? Or did they really mean to say “uncle,” but intended that this refer to the brother? I have by no means seen all the documented accounts of this famous feud…but my impression is that Brother Val was not, when folks were writing this stuff down, commonly, if ever, referred to as “Uncle Wall.” In first hand accounts…”oral histories”…perhaps…but would this have caused the authors of this sign to feel it appropriate to call his brother his uncle? And further, would they then expect that people would understand who they were talking about?

126.20  Again, I have to question whether Devil Anse himself would have called Brother Val “Uncle Wall,” since he already had not one but two real Uncle Walls…one his father’s brother, and one both his father’s 1st cousin and his mother’s brother-in-law, that is, his aunt’s husband. Taking this to its logical conclusion, is it really credible to think that despite all their supposed knowledge and research, the authors of the sign ended up actually believing that the individuals I’ve been calling Cousin Val and Brother Val were the same person?

126.21  That seems far-fetched to me…altho we must add this interesting fact: Cousin Val and Brother Val died the same year, within 5 months of each other, to the day!  Brother Val on February 18, 1890 in the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Lexington…and Cousin Val on July 18, 1890, in his home town of Buskirk, Kentucky.

126.22  In conclusion, dear friends…considering this lovely mishegoss as a whole…I am for now 3 in 1taking the simplest solution to be the correct one: that the sign must be taken at face value…and “uncle” means uncle, not brother. Thus it was was Cousin Val…Valentine Wallace “River Wall” Hatfield, born 1819 (some say 1820), 1st cousin to Devil Anse’s father…who dealt with Sam and Paris McCoy. Cousin Val is the “uncle of Devil Anse” referred to on the plaque…and as such, it was not he who was arrested, tried, and sentenced for the Pawpaw Tree Incident…that was Brother Val, Devil Anse’s older brother, Valentine David Hatfield, born 1834.

126.23  Which then means that  Powers Boothe’s character is a composite of 3, not 2, actual individuals. But how, you might ask, can I be right and presumably everybody else, other that the authors of the sign, be wrong? Chalk it up to the grandaddy of all the-name’s-the-same genealogical snafus. Stranger things have happened. Let me know if you can point me in the direction of documentation either pro or con. Next week, more Q’s & A’s…be seein’ ya…

wicked ballsy

gun fiddle

This magazine, dated December, 1957, has the story “Guns and Gunners of the Feuding Clans”…a retelling of the tale with special emphasis on their firearms. OK, so I have a thing for vintage cowgirls…sue me…that’s actress Anne Francis. Point is, one of the alleged “guns” is this 2-way fiddle…is such a thing even possible? Could it be played like a normal fiddle? No, they don’t claim this is the instrument about which there was an argument…presumably that was a 1-way fiddle…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#125: Cousin America, By the Numbers


125.1  Back in #123  I showed a chart with 11 different ladies by the name of America Hatfield…and I suggested figuring how each America was related to the others as a useful exercise in kin wrangling. I did this myself by simply comparing the 11 Americas “one by each” as my Grandmother used to say…and putting the results in the form of a grid. This straightforward tack is the “brute force” approach…as opposed to a more analytical approach that might save a little time.

chart 438

125.2  But to double check my results, we will today go thru a more methodical analysis. Well work off Chart 438, which is Chart 437 with the 8 generations clearly marked out…the marriage of Valentine and F is cross-generational…I moved F back to her own generation, Generation 5. And you’ll notice that H is the daughter of 2 Hatfields, Wallace and Melvina. Thus each of the other Americas will be related to H in 2 different ways…once thru Wallace and once thru Melvina. And here’s the grid we’ll use…

grid 1

125.3  I have included separate rows and columns for the double relationship to H…calling them H-mel for her mother and H-wal for her father. Now looking over Chart 438, the closest relationship is between A and B…that of niece and aunt. No America is in the direct line of another…so we’ll find no mother/daughters or grandmother/granddaughters. Every other relationship is some kind of cousin, either straight numbered or removed…thus each square on the grid has been supplied a C for cousin and an R for removed.

125.4  Now with this type of grid…where everyone gets a column along the top and a row along the side…every relationship will appear twice. For example, B‘s relation to E would be in the row-B/column-E square…and also in the row-E/column-B square. You could fill them all in if you liked…I chose to record each relationship just once. As a consequence, there is no need for an A-column…all of A‘s relationships will be found in the A-row…likewise, no K-row, since all of K‘s will be in the K-column.

125.5  Looking at Chart 438, you’ll also notice that F, G, and H-wal are 1st cousins, the daughters of brothers Matt, Ransom, and Wallace. When another America is related to one of them, they are related in the same way to the other 2…so I have colored their rows and columns yellow as a reminder. And finally, since when dealing with relationships at the bottom of the grid you have to scoot over to the right past empty squares, I will flip the chart around to make “getting lost” less likely.

grid 2

125.6  So let’s begin with the removeds. Americas that are in the same generation on Chart 438 are straight numbered cousins, not removed, so we can remove the “R” from their squares.

grid 3

125.7  The removed cousin relationships can be easily seen comparing generations…many are once removed, like J to K…the furthest is J to C, 4 times removed. We’ll fill those in…

grid 4

125.8   With the removeds done, we next find the degree of cousins. And to do that, we needn’t  compare the 2 Americas to each other…we simply stay in the generation of the older one. For example, J is in an older generation than D. We have the removed…to get the degree, we compare J to Joseph B., who is D‘s ancestor in J‘s generation…in this case D‘s grandfather. But there is a complication…2 of the oldest Hatfields, Joseph gen 1 and Ephraim gen 2, each had 2 wives, thus 2 sets of descendants. Since some of these lines are started by half-brothers, all the descending cousins will be half-cousins.

125.9  And right away, we see that J and K are set aside from all the other Americas, being the only 2 descended from Joseph gen 1’s 2nd wife.  Thus, to J and K, all the other Americas are half-cousins…J and K themselves are full 2nd cousins, since J is the 2nd cousin of K‘s father William. (Remember, we’re “ignoring” the removeds since they’ve already been entered into the grid.) Likewise, since Ephraim gen 2 has 2 lines, the descendants of hs son George will be halves to the descendants of his sons Valentine gen 3 and Joseph gen 3.

chart 439

125.10  I’ve boxed these half-brother lines in black in Chart 439. Everybody in Box W is some degree of half-cousins to everyone in Box X. Likewise, one generation down, everybody in Box Y is a half-cousin to everybody in Box Z. But here’s where it’s easy to get tripped up…how are I and Melvina related to all those others in gen 4 to their left? After all, I and Melvina aren’t in Boxes Y or Z. And this is true…but everybody in Boxes Y and Z is also in Box W, along with I and Melvina! Thus I and Melvina are full cousins to all the Y’s and Z’s…in this case, their grandfathers, Ephraim gen 2 and the first Joseph Jr. are full brothers, not half brothers. And you see H right on the border…half cousin to those on the left in Box Y and full cousin to those on the right in Box W.

125.11  I know…you’re thinking: Is this what you meant by “methodical anaylsis”? Sure…absolutely. At any rate, keeping all this in mind…fill in the degrees…and I would suggest doing that after marking off the half cousins.


125.12  Finally, we check my results above with my first go-around, done “by hand”….

by hand

…and I notice 2 discrepancies….which is fine…that’s why we double check in the first place.


125.13  So it’s back to Chart 438…and it turns out in both cases I was right the first time…woo hoo!

chart 438 check

125.14  And we get our final answers in the grid below below. Not for nothing, the name America is the feminine equivalent of Americus, a German version of the Latin Aenrichus….derivative forms include Henry, Heinrich, and Enrique…not to mention Americo in Spanish and Amerigo in Italian…just so you know. Next week, we’ll lay the Hatfields to rest…so to speak…for now anyway…catch ya then… 



Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#124: Poor Horatio!


124.1  One of my favorites moments from The Andy Griffith Show…for a little sprat, Ron Howard plays this scene pretty well. And it’s a fitting introduction to today’s topic…half!

124.2  In English, the word “half” is used in several ways…first, in the purely mathematical sense of dividing by 2, yielding 2 equal parts. Half a foot is 6 inches…50¢ is half of $1…a half-circle, or semicircle, is just that, no more, no less. Second, half can simply mean 2 pieces or parts…thus saying “give me the larger half,” while not literally correct, is plainly understood by a native speaker of English. If something has a front half and a back half, it is not assumed these parts are equal in any mathematical or even physical way.

124.3  Yet another sense of half would be composed of 2 different elements, being 2 things at the same time, or capable of being taken in 2 different ways. Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, could be said to be “half man, half machine”…again, without a precise 50/50 split being implied. Or check out this cool tune by the forgotten man of rock & roll, Nick Lowe…Half a Boy and Half a Man. Then again, if you’re “only half joking,” it means what you say can be taken in one way as a joke, but in another way as quite serious.


124.4  And finally in the loosest sense, half means partly, not fully, not completely…as when one is half asleep, half-hearted, or half crazy with worry. An amusing example is “half-ass”…which comes from the taxonomical name for the Asian Wild Ass, Equus hemionus or literally “half-donkey”…it is more horse-like than the African Wild Ass from which domesticated donkey was developed…thus the African ass was thought of as the “true ass.” But “half-ass” also came to refer to a mule, which is literally half a horse and half a donkey, owing to its parents being one of each. And God Bless Uncle Wiki, who doesn’t let us down…defining hemionus as “half-mule”…LOL…

124.5  It’s in this sense, the mathematical one, that we use “half” when speaking of kinship today…half-siblings share only half the parents that full siblings do, 1 instead of 2. Half-uncles and half-nephews derive from half-siblings…and in all these instances, your mathematical degree of relationship to a “half” is exactly half what it would be to a “full.” But there is also the now obsolete kinship use of half to mean not fully…what we would today call a “step-brother” was once called a “half-brother.” And this older usage lingers today in the confusion some people have between “step-” and “half-“.

124.6  So…I’m researching the Hatfields and McCoys, and find this, relating to Devil Anse’s grandfather Valentine Hatfield, not his brother Valentine and not his father’s 1st cousin Judge Valentine Wallace “Uncle Wall”…

half son thomas

Just when you’d thought you’d seen everything, right? Well, it turns out that in this case “half son” is simply a mistake…they meant to say “half-brother.” Now the exact details are a matter of some debate, but apparently either (A) Ephraim Hatfield married Mary Smith, daughter of Ericus Smith, and she had previously given birth to a bastard named Thomas Smith…or (B) Mary Goff married Ericus Smith and had a son named Thomas Smith, then subsequently married Ephraim Hatfield. Yes, you read that right…Ericus Smith is either Mary’s father or first husband. HOWEVER…one simple fact suggests Ericus was her father and not her husband…and that is that Ephraim and Mary named one of their sons Ericus!

124.7  But what surprised me was that despite never having heard the phrase “half son” that I could recall…and the fact that “half son” is not literally logical, since you are either the biological son of someone or you aren’t…I found “half son” sounded very natural to me in a specific context. Thus, instead of writing Joseph Sr. had 2 sons named Joseph Jr. and these sons were half-brothersI wrote Joseph Sr. had 2 half-sons named Joseph Jr.  In other words, “half son” reflects how 2 half-brothers are related to each other, thru the father they have in common. 

124.8  To simply say Joseph Sr. had 2 sons named Joseph Jr. would I think strike the average person as rather odd. More clarification would be in order, along the lines of These sons were half-brothers…or, under another set of circumstances, One of these sons died in infancy.  But it occurred to me that saying “half-sons” in the first case certainly eliminates the need for clarification. Mind you, one son, a single individual, could not be a half-son to his father…but 2 sons, half-brothers, could. OK…I’m not suggesting that “half-son” be added to the vocabulary list of English language kinship…at the same time, I wouldn’t squawk if it were. Guess I’m sort of half-suggesting…

false alarms

124.9  Still, I thought it would be fun to troll the net and see where else “half-son” pops up.  And to start with, there were several false alarms. I found the use of half as meaning a combination of 2 different things in the title of a book Half Brother, Half Son…about the close friendship of Supreme Court Justices Louis D. Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter. Then there was what looked like “hief zoon” on a Dutch census form…and somebody wondered if this meant half son. Turns out they were mistaking the handwritten “St” for a “H”…it was really “stiefzoon” or step-son. And anyway, the Dutch word for “half” is…”half”…like in the words “halfzoon” and “halfdotcher”…which everybody translates as half-son and half-daugher without saying what that  actually means…big help, thanks.


124.10  This next one…thought I was really onto something…halfs along with 1/4-grandsons and 3/4-daughters…wow! But if you look carefully at what’s going on, they’re tallying the degree to which each person listed has native blood. Notice when a half marries a full, the kids come out 3/4…and a full mother has a half daughter and a half son…obviously the father or fathers were non-natives, thus not listed.


124.11  But halfs do tend to turn up in census data…above, A is Newfoundland, B is England, C is Ireland, and D is New York State.  Now from the description in B, half-son and half-daughter are clearly steps. With C and D there’s no way to tell. And the trouble with A is, half- is used in the listings, but so is step-…as well as adopted and -in-law.


124.12  And above, 2 more halfs…but again, we’re getting nowhere fast. In the blue box are collected various ways Indian tribes referred to a Mètis…Mestizo in Spanish…someone of mixed European/Indian parentage…and half-son is one of many terms. The yellow box is from a list of Swedish kinship terms…half-sons/daughters are grouped with half-brothers/sisters…and there is a different word for steps…altho this doesn’t mean they aren’t the same thing. I struck out trying to find out what the heck they did mean by halfs…altho Swedish kinship terms as a whole are interesting, and I’ll examine them in more detail in a couple of weeks. But for now, half-sons and half-daughters remain a full mystery…I like my way of using them, but that’s just me…

124.13  Next week, we’ll look at how the 11 America Hatfields from last week are related to each other. I considered just giving my answers and leaving it at that, but I think working it thru would be instructive…and it is my blog, nez pah?

wicked ballsy

plastic 1

I always liked the saying: Go to the government for your goat, and lose your cow. With me it seems, I start out with a question, and instead of finding one answer, I end up with two questions. Maybe more poking at the Swedish kinship system will sort it all out, but for now I simply present it to you. Reading the translation above, it appears they take half-daughter and step-daughter to mean the same thing, just don’t know which to use. But then you have plastdotter which does literally translate into “plastic daughter.” My guess is this is a relatively recent term, since it’s mentioned with “bonus mom,” a syndicated columnist’s proprietary neologism for what the rest of us call your good old-fashioned step-mother.


And as you can see in these examples, the term gets used. But it means what again? The bottom one is written in English by a Swede and certainly suggests plastic means step. But in the top one, written in English by who knows who, plastic and step are clearly two different things…and I do know that in Sweden, the doll is spelled Barbie, not Barbey…so for now all I can say is…watch this space…

plastic 3


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#123: God Bless “America”

123.1  In the mood for leftovers? Got some from last week’s look at the McCoys and Hatfields. But one thing you should take away from last week is how easy it is to confuse relatives, especially if they have the same names. Now obviously the History Channel did this on purpose…combining Preacher Anse Hatfield, Judge Wall Hatfield, and Devil Anse’s older brother Valentine Hatfield into one character for the show…that was intentional. Confusing Good Lias with Bad Lias? Could have been a slip-up, who knows?

123.2  As I was researching these 2 clans, it was amazing how many times one relative was thought to be another…and put in the wrong spot in the family genealogy. Only thru comparing multiple trees was I able to come up with some semblance of order…and honestly, if I made any mistakes, it wouldn’t surprise me…and I’ll gladly correct them with the click of a mouse. And I’ve found this to be true when comparing notes with other researchers on my own families…someone confuses a great grandmother’s sister with her niece, a distant relative’s brother is thought to be his cousin, and so forth. Sometimes because the name’s the same, but sometimes not!

123.3  In any event…remember how Devil Anse’s wife Levicy Chafin and 3 of her sisters all married Hatfields? In that case it was 2 brothers, Devil Anse and Good Lias…their half-1st cousin once removed ascending Bad Lias…and Bad Lias’ nephew, the brothers’ half-2nd cousin. But I also happened upon another Chafin/Hatfield alliance, this one a lot simpler…3 Chafin sisters marrying 3 Hatfield brothers. Again it involves George Hatfield…last time, 2 of the husbands were his son and grandson…this time, it’s 3 of his grandsons thru a different son, as you can see in Chart 434. The natural thing to ask: were these Chafin sisters related to Levicy and her sisters?

chart 434

123.4  Study Chart 434 for a moment…did you come up with 1st cousins once removedand2nd cousins once removed? Then I’d say you’re doing it right. Take it step by step…on the Chafin side: Nathan and Pleasant are brothers…their children Levicy and John Lewis are 1st cousins, so Levicy is 1C 1R to John Lewis’ daughters Polly, Parlee, and Yantice Jane…who married respectively James Elva, David Crockett, and Robert E. Lee Hatfield. BTW, the real Robert E. Lee’s middle initial stood for Edward…I’m guessing that Robert E. Lee Hatfield’s “E” was just an E, standing for nothing at all…maybe?…sound reasonable?

123.5  Then we have 3 Varney sisters marrying 3 Chafin brothers. Again, step by step…Andrew and Alex Varney are brothers…their children Matilda and Henry C. are 1st cousins…so Levisa and Mahulda are 2nd cousins…and the Chafin/Hatfield sisters are thus Levicy’s 2C 1R. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a total CR of 1/16 + 1/64 = 5/64, or slightly closer than half-1st cousins.

123.6  Now that name “Yantice” is interesting…it comes from the German surname Yandes…also spelled Yantes, Yantas, and Yantis. The Chafin sister who married Robert E. Lee Hatfield got it from her maternal grandmother…so there was surely a Yantes or Yandes back somewhere in the McNeely line. Trouble is, Yantice Jane Chafin is sometimes given as Levicy Chafin’s sister…which I guarantee you she is not. I might humbly submit that they’re confusing Levicy’s mother Matilda Varney with Yantice Jane’s mother Mahulda Varney… after all, they both married Chafins,  and one of Mahulda’s sisters married a Nathan Chafin, nephew of Levicy’s father Nathan Chafin…which doesn’t really factor into it…but doesn’t help either, if you’re bound and determined to get confused… 😉 😉

life123.7  But what also struck me was that the 3 Hatfield brothers had a sister named America Hatfield…now there’s a grand old moniker…and she married a Valentine Hatfield! This bore investigation on 2 fronts…first, which Valentine? Turns out it was Devil Anse’s nephew, son of his brother Ellison…see Chart 435, in yellow. And second, were there any more Americas? You betcha, a passel of ’em…I even identified the one who married Floyd McCoy and is mentioned in the 1944 LIFE magazine article…and they lived into our era…this America died in 1960, and Floyd in 1969.

chart 435

123.8  As you can see in Chart 435, I stopped at 11 America Hatfields…actually, I found a couple more but couldn’t link them up. And one of those is the “earliest” America Hatfield I found, born in 1832…15 years before the earliest on Chart 435 in 1847, 2nd America from the right. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that Joseph Hatfield at the top of Chart 435  had 2 sons, by different wives, both named Joseph Jr. …both these sons had granddaughters named America…and wouldn’t you know it, which is which is a matter of some dispute, so I flipped a coin.

chart 436

123.9  But Chart 436  sketches out this earliest America Hatfield…how do these Hatfields hook up with the Feudin’ Hatfields, if at all? Good question, for here we get into a mire of confusion, speculation, disagreement, and yes, leaps of faith. There are 2 major lines of Hatfields now living in the US…the New Jersey Line, which originated in England, and the Pennsylvania Line, which comes from Germany.

123.10  The New Jersey Line…begins with Thomas Hatfield, born in England around 1590…and mind you, this was way before the time of standardized spelling, so the name of his family will appear as Hitfield, Heathfield, Hayfield, Haytfield, Hatfeld, Hatful, and other variations. He is described as a “religious dissenter” who fled to Holland, married, and had a son Thomas Jr. who immigrated to New Jersey. Thomas Jr. had a son named Mattias, and it is from him that many believe the Feudin’ Hatifelds are descended.

123.11   The Pennsylvania Line…this is the line of the 1832 America Hatfield. It starts in Germany with a man born around 1640. His name is generally given as Jurian Georgius Hartsfelder…altho occasionally his first name is spelled Jurien…and for his last name, you can either substitute a Z for the S…or a V for the F…or do both. His middle name, which is sometimes given as his first name, can also be found as Georges, Georg, or even Görg…that last one being curious, since in German, ö (pronounced “er”) is transliterated into English as oe, but never eo…for example Joseph Göbbels/Goebbels. At any rate, Jurian immigrated to Pennsylvania, and it is said that his son Adam stabilized the family name as Hatfield…and Adam is believed by some to be the ancestor of the Feudin’ Hatfields.

123.12  There is also the possibility that these 2 lines are connected…either in the Old Country or here. I should mention that DNA testing is proving an invaluable tool in getting to the bottom of all this….altho from what I’m reading on the internet, opinions shift with each new lab report. And there are some Hatfields who appear to be related to neither of these 2 lines …like the ones descended from one Mansfield Hatfield, parents unknown, as you might expect. Yup, ‘field ‘field, the man with 2 fields… 😉 😉  And there’s even an America Hatfield born 1870, daughter of William Thomas, son of Henry, son of Mansfield.

123.13  And that’s why my “earliest” America Hatfield must remain in limbo…well, for now let’s say “unaffiliated.” Still, it might be a valuable exercise to figure how each of my 11 America Hatfields is related to each of the others…to that end I’ve revised Chart 435 as Chart 437giving them alphabetical labels…we can all work on it and see what’s what next week, OK?

chart 437

123.14  But in this swirl of names, I came across an interesting thing…it has to do with siblings who have the same given name. Back when infant mortality was much higher than it is today, it was not uncommon for several siblings to be given the same Christian name…you might have 2 Johns that died in infancy, and finally a third John that didn’t. Or when families had as many as 20 children, ones at “either end” might be given the same name…I’m guessing because the older one had married and moved away by the time the younger one arrived.

123.15  But what I noticed had to do with James Madison Hatfield…he had a brother 4 years younger, who lived to adulthood and raised a family, named…James Hatfield! Not so peculiar, really…because James Madison was known as “Matt”…so in that sense, they didn’t have a James who might be called Jim…because the James they had already was Matt…see?

  One final note…with all the jumbled identities on the miniseries, it’s refreshing to find one they got pretty much right…that being Roseanna’s “Aunt Betty”…listed in the credits as Betty Blankenship, played by actress Joy McBinn. She was indeed a Blankenship, and married Sally McCoy McCoy’s brother Allen…he was dead and gone by the time of the ill-fated Roseanna-Johnse romance…altho not before fathering 11 children. And given that, it seems a little odd that Aunt Betty would go back to using her maiden name…but at this point I choose to gracefully yield to that possibility. Wouldn’t you, dear friends?

wicked ballsy

Part of the fun of all this is figuring out how to present charts in the clearest way possible. Now looking back last week at Chart 431that showed Devil Anse’s wife Levicy Chafin and her 3 sisters all marrying Hatfields…you might not have liked the crooked lines leading from Great Grandpa Efraim Hatfield to his 2 half-sons* Valentine and George. Here’s the problem: the top of a family tree will be determined by the bottom…and along the bottom of Chart 431 there are 4 marriages consisting of 8 people, so that necessarily spreads things out as you move to the top.

chrat 431 x2

I mean, Valentine and George could have been put closer together, but then we’d be back to crooked lines to get to their descendants. And yes, I could have made Valentine and George come straight down from Ephraim and his 2 wives (above, bottom chart) …but that leaves hardly any room for Nathan Chapin, who gets shoved to the side. So its 6 of one, half a dozen of the other…you do it your way, I’m do mine.

* His who?? Half-whats?? Fret not…we’ll also take this up next week…promise.


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