The Devil's Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud

The Devil's Son
By: Anne Black Gray
Softcover, 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9852640-0-0

Nominated for the prestigious IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award.

A new book from Woodland Press breathes new life into the famous story of the fueding Hatfields and McCoys. You've watched the miniseries. You think you know who they were, why they fought, why they died. You know only the legend—now experience the real feud. The Devil’s Son is a vast historical epic that breathes life into the individuals and families on either side of the Tug River. At the center of the tale is Cap Hatfield, son of Devil Anse, the seminal figure in the feud. While the battle rages, Cap wrestles with coming of age in the shadow of the Devil.

The Devil’s Son, a powerful novel, takes the reader on a journey alongside Cap, son of the feared Devil Anse Hatfield who raises his children illiterate and unguided in an isolated region of late nineteenth century southern West Virginia. The family earns a living at timbering, but is frequently forced to halt work to engage in deadly battles with McCoys and posses marauding from across the border in Kentucky. Wealthy and powerful, land and mineral-hungry coal and railroad interests enter the region. The lives and fortunes of Cap and his family are now simultaneously threatened by armed marauders and wealthy men adept at using courtrooms and political power to their advantage. Leading the family’s efforts to survive, hampered by his illiteracy, ignorance of modern business practices and ethics, and refusal to adapt to the changing times, Devil Anse loses too many battles. The Hatfields are descending into poverty and defeat. Armed with only his intelligence, determination and the reading and writing his wife has taught him, Cap sets out to save his family, but must contest his father’s will every step of the way.

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The exciting story told by a family friend of the Hatfield clan who brought about the end of America’s greatest feud. The Devil’s Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud has received a “WOW! +” Rating. —Lone Star Book Review (April 2014)

“Never before has an author so vividly captured the drama, action and character of what stands as America's most famous feud. Anne Black Gray has dared to step beyond the "legend" surrounding the Hatfields & McCoys. THE DEVIL'S SON now stands as the benchmark book on this subject.” —Mark Cowen, director/producer, Emmy®-nominated HBO documentary, BAND OF BROTHERS: We Stand Alone Together, and AMERICA'S GREATEST FEUD: Hatfields and McCoys.

“A vividly imagined and engrossing novel that ably fills the gaps of history, like chinks in a cabin wall, and brings the mountain wilderness, the Tug Fork, and the Hatfield-McCoy feud boldly to life.” —Dean King, author of the national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara and The Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys: The True Story.

“I grew up in southern West Virginia, and heard about the Hatfields and McCoys all my life. I thought I knew the story. Until I read THE DEVIL'S SON, I’d never thought of Devil Anse and Cap Hatfield as real people, with thoughts and dreams beyond revenge and killing. Their lives weren’t just brutal, but vital and heroic, and this book about them is truly engrossing.” —Karin Fuller, award-winning author and syndicated newspaper columnist.

“Anne Black Gray combines extensive historical research and compelling storytelling to make THE DEVIL'S SON a historical thriller of the highest order.” —Brian J. Hatcher, author and editor of Mountain Magic: Spellbinding Tales of Appalachia.

“Anne Black Gray brings lots of color and excitement to the saga of America's most infamous feud. Her attention to detail makes the story of the latter days of the battle between these clans a riveting read.” —Brad Crouser, author of Arch. The Life of Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr.

“THE DEVIL'S SON. Accurate history that is an absolute joy to read! I would have taken keener interest in American history had every book under that category been written with such narrative flair!” —Michael Knost, author and editor, winner of the 2009 Bram Stoker Award for Writers Workshop of Horror.

“Riveting. Anne Black Gray skillfully brings to life one of the great stories of Appalachian history. THE DEVIL'S SON is a very powerful and entertaining story.” —F. Keith Davis, co-author of The Feuding Hatfields & McCoys, and author of The Secret Life and Brutal Death of Mamie Thurman.

“Anne Black Gray’s book, THE DEVIL'S SON, and her startling rendition of America’s most historic family blood feud is the real McCoy. It’s family values on steroids.” —Raamie Barker, senior advisor to West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and descendant of Uncle Dyke Garrett.



Anne Black Gray grew up in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She graduated with a degree in physics from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, then went on to spend thirty-five years as an engineer and manager in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles.

She has now added a writing career to her engineering experience.

"When I was a child, my mother and her sisters often spoke fondly of their Uncle Cap," Anne explained. "One Easter, when they were children, he gave my aunts baby ducks and my mother a baby rabbit, by far the nicer gift in her estimation. Mother told me Cap was 'your Granddaddy’s friend.' Since Granddaddy was a reserved, well spoken man, a West Virginia mayor, state senator, and judge of the circuit court at one time or another, I pictured my mother’s uncle as a man with similar traits and disposition. Cap died six years before I was born, denying me any opportunity to know him personally."

Years later, as an adult, Anne came to learn that “Uncle Cap” was Cap Hatfield, notorious killer and right hand man to his father Devil Anse Hatfield, during the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feuds. It seemed altogether impossible to her that Uncle Cap and Cap the killer could be one and the same. The book, The Devil’s Son, is the result of her efforts, long after her mother’s and aunts’ deaths, to discover how Cap made the great transition he seemed to have made and, concomitantly, how the Hatfield-McCoy feud ended.

"After reading histories, memoirs, two master’s degree theses, and numerous old newspaper articles, I began to put a story together, a story that was never totally clear because information was sparse about many of Cap’s adventures, sources conflicted concerning names of sparring parties and dates of events, and very little was written about motives and interpersonal relationships. In fact, some tales and films portrayed the Hatfields and McCoys as cartoonish, irrational figures. To put together a coherent story, I had to re-create motives and conversations and provide scenes of life inside the Hatfield family. When data were sparse or conflicting, I chose words and actions that fit the flow of lives and the changes in them. That is, I have written a novel, not a history. The characters, events, and settings in southern West Virginia and northern Kentucky in the 1880s are actual, but conversations and details of some events are fictional.

"I have traced the flow of Cap’s life as though mapping the course of a river I have never seen and never can see. There are good, detailed maps of some portions of the river and stretches where no information at all is available or where sources conflict. Because a river is prevented from excursions that defy physical laws, such as gravity, one can draw a reasonable likeness of its course between known points. I have mapped some of Cap’s life in just such a way, making informed guesses about its flow between known events," she said.

Anne Black Gray is married, lives in Los Angeles, and has two grown daughters and two baby grandsons.



“The Devil’s Son”: Another Hatfield-McCoy Tale

June 6, 2012 by Phyllis Wilson Moore
Charleston Gazette

When I learned of “The Devil’s Son,” a 2012 novel regarding the Hatfield McCoy feud, I wasn’t keen on reading it. After all, just how many feud rehashes do we need? But I’m a Hatfield fan and so I read it. It was a relief to see it provides a unique and exciting slant on an important Appalachian topic. Author Anne Black Gray, a Parkersburg native and Hatfield descendant, did her homework.

This is the first fiction, to my knowledge, to address the effects of the feud on the children (both the grown and the toddler) of the feudists, as well as on neighbors, friends, and extended family members. In addition, it details the economic impact and the legal and political wrangling resulting from the feud.

The protagonist, William Anderson “Cap” Hatfield, the most military and capable son of Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, is a rugged but sensitive young man with a yen for a life of his own. Taught to kill when necessary, he respects his father and is loyal to his kin. But Cap has talents and a dream. He wants to learn to cipher and read. He realizes lawyers are having a major impact on what is happening in the mountains. He wants to be one so he can read and understand contracts his father is asked to sign.

The novel’s cinematic opening depicts Cap astride his horse, Traveller, on New Year’s Day, 1888. Deep in a blustery winter snow, he scans the landscape for marauding McCoys and considers the option of leading an attack against them. Killing Randall McCoy might end the feud and finally win Cap his father’s approval. If he can end the feud, he will be the next in line to command.

The strong plot of the novel moves rapidly. The events and settings are portrayed realistically and the characters are well drawn with understandable attributes and emotions. The sights and sounds in the mountains and the towns shimmer and crunch.

The story reflects folkways: the new found wonders of town life (soup in a can, store-bought bread, and houses with glass in their windows). The women are shown as strong but silent partners. Mothers, daughters, and daughters-in-law are all of child-bearing age and sometime pregnant at the same time. Frequent pregnancies lead to large families and interesting naming practices. The story shows the effects of the lack of early mountain schools, as well as the damage done by the onslaught of coal barons, land grabbers, and timber merchants.

The novel rings true and provides an interesting and more complete picture of the people and their era. “The Devil’s Son” adds a distinctly new dimension to feud literature.


"A vividly imagined and engrossing novel that ably fills the gaps of history ... and brings the mountain wilderness, the Tug Fork, and the Hatfield-McCoy feud boldly to life."

— Dean King, Appalachian Heritage (Summer 2012 issue), Berea College


The Hatfield McCoy feud is legendary, as two families gained their own spot in history. "The Devil's Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud" discusses the twilight of the family feud. Anne Black Gray analyzes the impact of the feud that spilled into the courtroom, had much blood spilled, and raged through generations. Following Cap Hatfield and the resolution of the feud following the failure of former family patriarch Devil Anse in leading the war. "The Devil's Son" is a strong analysis of this conflict and why it matters, a strong and much recommended addition to American history collections.

--Midwest Book Review