Brought to you by WBIW News and Network Indiana
Last updated on Saturday, June 2, 2012
(OWNESBURG) -Owensburg resident Ann Hirth sat and intently watched each segment of three-night History Channel mini-series “The Hatfields & McCoys” that concluded Wednesday night.
Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World reports, Hirth, a descendant of the feuding Hatfield family, watched the series with great interest and said, "I thought it was very violent. I didn't like how violent it was. I loved that Kevin Costner was a Hatfield," Hirth said with a giggle.
"I always heard and read about how mean they all were, how mean the Hatfields were ... but that's the way they settled things then."
Hirth serves as secretary-treasurer of the Owensburg Improvement Association and works part-time at The Emanuel Hatfield Museum and Library, where some family artifacts, including a muzzleloading gun, are on display.
"There are a lot of Hatfields around and when we started to build the museum it was unbelievable how many people that we heard from that were from different areas. People came who were descendants of Emanuel (Hatfield) and brought us things for the museum," she said.
The nation's most famous feud involved the two families. The Hatfields lived in West Virginia and the McCoys just across the Tug River border in Kentucky
The feud claimed a dozen members of the Hatfield-McCoy clans between 1880 and 1891 and nearly launched a war between Kentucky and West Virginia.
The town founder was Hirth's great-great-great uncle.
She said Emanual Hatfield came to Indiana in 1831 and a year later settled in Greene County with his family because of the spacious hunting territory it supported.
Hirth says there are some gaps in the genealogy lineage so it's hard to prove the family ties, but she believes the link is there.
"There are so many names that are the same through all of the generations and so they've never been sure, but we think we probably are related," Hirth explained.
The feud time period actually took place about 50 years after Emanuel Hatfield came to Owensburg from Kentucky and previously from Cumberland County, Tenn.
Hirth recalled that the possible link to the famous feuding Hatfield was not so frequent topic of conversation among family members as she grew up in Owensburg. She said her grandfather, the Rev. Logan Hatfield, was a respected pastor of the Church of Christ and a man she called a "great story-teller." Rev. Hatfield loved to talk about the "bad" side of the family from eastern Kentucky.
"I knew that we always knew about the feud, but it wasn't discussed that much," she said.
Mere mention of their Hatfield and McCoy names stirs up visions of a lawless and unrelenting family feud. It evokes gun-toting vigilantes hell-bent on defending their kinfolk, igniting bitter grudges that would span generations, according to the History Channel.
Some of that is captured locally if you stroll down to The Emanuel Hatfield Museum and Library at 11431 East Main Street in the tiny southeastern county hamlet of Owensburg. You'll see memorabilia that captures the unique history of this tiny town with some artifacts from the feuding Hatfield relatives that settled the community 180 years ago.
The Emanuel Hatfield Museum and Library, a branch of the Bloomfield-Eastern Greene County Public Library, was created as a bicentennial project for the town, Hirth said.
Hirth is hopeful that the airing "Hatfields & McCoy" series will possibly spark increased tourist interest in the small museum.
"We may get more people coming in. We are pretty busy when we are open," she added.
The biggest tourist day for the museum is always the annual Owensburg Founder's Day Festival - slated this year for Sept. 22.
The Emanuel Hatfield Museum and Public Library is open Monday and Thursday from 3-7 p.m.; Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon.
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