I'd been anticipating the Hatfields and McCoys mini-series on the History Channel for a month or two now. Phil has been on vacation, at home or "stay-cation" as I've heard it called, since May 21. I was on pins and needles worrying that we wouldn't get home in time to watch the show or that the DVR would not record or even that the electricity would go out again as it did on Sunday! Talk about freaking out! Happily we were home and the planets aligned correctly so we could watch it.
All of my family is from WV so I've heard the stories about the feuding Hatfield and McCoy clans. My family has been in that area since before the Revolutionary War. Quite a few of my ancestors were patriots and soldiers during the Revolutionary War fighting for independence from Britain.
WV became a state in 1863 after splitting away from VA during the Civil War aka War Between The States. My Lilly ancestors fought on the side of the Confederacy during the WBTS. In fact, General (and later U.S. President) Rutherford B. Hayes in his diary mentions my ancestor, Pleasant Lilly, as being a bushwacker, and the Union Army burnt his cabin.
I can certainly understand how people after the war held grudges against neighbors or even family members who fought for the other side. It's so sad to read letters or wills where parents leave something to a son who went away to war and never returned. The will of David Cook, husband of Nancy Farley, reads: "In the event of my son Squire Cook’s return home, I desire that all of my children shall contribute until he have an equal portion of my estate." Squire Cook died at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. He was 29 years old. He was in Captain Robert Richardson's Company G of the 24th Regiment of Virginia Infantry. His cousin Madison Farley was the last to see him. Squire was fatally wounded and lying on a pile of burning rails. I tried to find where he was buried when I visited Gettysburg Battlefield in April 2011 but I had no luck.
A Cook cousin, Lisa Odom, was kind enough to transcribe a few of Squire's letters home to family. I am thankful to Lisa for saving valuable documents which otherwise would have been destroyed.
Fairfax County Virginia - Aug 26th 1861
Mr David Cook and family
Pipe Stem Virginia
Dear father, Mother, brothers & Sisters
I received a letter from you a few days ago, which found me in good health, and doing as well as I could expect considering the hardships of a soldiers life, and I hope this communication will find you all in good health. Our camps moved last Friday (together with the whole regiment and two other regiments belonging to the same brigade) to this place, a distance of about 12 miles from where we were stationed for over one month since the battle of Manassas. We are now about 14 miles from Manassas and 18 from Alexandria but how long we will stay here is unknown to us. We may stay here a month of leave in a day. As it is generally believed there will be another big battle in the County before long. Our post office will be the same let us go where we will on this vicinity as Manassas Junction is our head quarters. Give my best respects to all. (Can't read) to believe me to be yours
October the 26th 1861
Fairfax County Virginia
Dear father and sisters i take my pen in hand to rite you all to let you now that i am well at this time hoping few lines may find you all i have not receive a letter from you since the fiftant of sept i have rote two letters to you sence i got the last one now something a bout the times we are exspect a fight heare every day and i think it will be a bout the 28th of this month they was a fight a few day ago at leesburg and they was 500 hundred and 30 prisons taking of the yankees and we sent them to richmond i don't now how many was kill i reckon they was a few kill and if they come again they git the same that they got at Bull run it will be another Bull run fight we ar fortified this place we as a bout done the work so nothing more at this time send your letters at same place
Squire Cook to D Cook
i have not time to rite much this time i would like to see you all once more
if god let me
November the 17th 1861
Dear father i take my pen in hand to inform you all that i am well at this time hoping those few lines may find you all well i received your letter the 15th of No and i was glad to hear from you all i am in hope that i will come home again if i could see you all i would tell you a heep a bout the times and soldiers life hope to live to git back home next spring and then i can tell more than i can know for i will see and hear more by that time i wood love to be at home a bout chrismas to take chrismas with you all and with my girl i wood love to see to see my girl again it was hard for me to part with her but we will meet again i have no news to rite at this time so i must come to a close give my best respect to the girl
Squire Cook to David Cook and Rutha
Dear Cousin i take my pen in hand to inform you that i am well at this time hoping those few line come to hand they may you and your mother the same mary i received the 15 of No i was glad to hear that you was well mary you rote that you had to give up your and Sweet heart two mary don't grieve after your Sweet heart far he will return back again So i must bring my letter to a close rite to me as soon as you git this
to Mary Farley
Dear Sisters i take my pen in hand to inform you that i have not fargotten you yet you rote that the boys talk like coming a bout Christmas and you wanted me to git a ferlow and come two you said that you had about three pecks of chestnuts a saving for us boys when we come home
Squire Cook to Mary Cook
(There was no date on this letter)
Dear father and all the rest
I received your kind letter and was more then glad to hear from you all and to hear that you was all well. I was not well when I received your letter I had the measles but I am getting about well now. I would Be glad to see you all if I could and hope it will not be long before I can for I think we will soon whip out the yankees and come back we havent Been in any Battle yet But we have heard of several little Brushes not very far from hear we belong to Colonel Earlys Ridgament the 24th Ridgement we are at the same place we was was when I wrote before But the main Body of the Ridgement is about two miles from hear. Drewry I would like for you to be with me as you wrote that you like to fight by my side.
Dear Sisters I will write afew lines to you in answer to you little (peace?) I would a liked to be at the muster when them 32 ladies marched tell Riley and manda Emily and the rest of the famly that I would like to see them a few lines to William Hughes in answer to his few lines Chapman is not with me now Captain frenches company left our Ridgement thay are in about 6 mils from here. I hope we will git to see each other again you must writ to me for it is a satisfaction to me get from get a letter from there I am yours true friend until death.
Dear cousins I will write you a few lines. I you must tell all the girls to not forget me for I have not forgot others nor never will. you must write to me again and tell all the other girls to write I cant get time to write as often as I would like to paper and envelopes is hard to get for those is may to write so nothing more at this time but Remains your true and affectionate cousin until death.
Squire Cook to Mary Farley
A few words to Hannen I have not forgot you nor forgot the last night stayed with you and hope I will stay with you again you must write to me soon direct your letters to Squire Cook case Captain Richardson Manassas Junction Prince William County VA 24th Rigement. So I will wind up By saying I will remember you all and fight for our Country.
The thing which most surprised me during the movie last night was how lawless the area was portrayed! I had always thought the "wild west" meant Nevada, Montana, Arizona, California and such. I never expected that to mean West Virginia. I know the motto is Wild and Wonderful but didn't understand how wild it truly was.
I am looking forward to watching the second episode on tv tonight!
11:21 p.m. and we just finished watching the second episode. SOOOOO disappointed because we had a fast storm move through and it knocked the satellite receiver out for a few minutes and we missed a bit of the show. Phil set up the DVR to record it again at 1 a.m. I plan to watch the second episode again to see what I missed!