A fan of 'Hatfields & McCoys'? So are these Lakewood residents; they also are descendants
Leonard and Teddy Haggarty and their mom, Lillian, have spent the past few evenings watching old family movies at their home in Lakewood.
They’ve been hooked on “Hatfields & McCoys,” the History Channel’s three-night epic about Lillian’s great-uncle, William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, and the grandpappy of all family feuds.
To the Haggartys’ amusement, Teddy, who is growing a beard, is a ringer for both Devil Anse and Kevin Costner, who plays him on TV.
The sorry tale began during the Civil War, when Devil Anse Hatfield of West Virginia and Randall McCoy of Kentucky fought together for the Confederacy until Hatfield deserted.
Home again on farms separated by the Tug Fork River, the desertion strained their friendship. Disputes over ownership of a pig and a tract of timber blew it to smithereens. They and their kin built a war of their own.
Lillian’s father, Ben Hatfield, was born into its ashes in Appalachia in 1899. He left the site, but not the story, and reared his family in South Carolina.
“Well, I heard about (the feud),” recalled Lillian, who is 85. “They talked about it quite a bit.”
Mainly, the talk was between the adults, but the kids picked up on it. They knew that if you were a Hatfield, you were someone.
“I think as a kid I felt if you were a McCoy, I was not supposed to like you. But I did know McCoys, and I did like them. Still, I felt a little loyalty to my clan.”
Her clan was dripping with lore.
There were stories of crossed lovers, lawsuits, massacres and hangings in the war between the families.
There was the reason why a great uncle moved to Canada and married a Cherokee woman.
“Our great-great grandfather killed a man over a dog,” Leonard said.
The dog menaced him, and the man refused to call it off.
“He said, ‘It’s my dog or me.’ So he shot the man, and had to go to Canada,” he said.
Old West bandit queen Belle Starr’s mother was a Hatfield.
And then there was Lillian’s mom.
“In the Depression, my mother went to the bank to get her money out,” Lillian said. “The clerk told her, ‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Hatfield, but all our funds are frozen.’ She went home, got her shotgun, went back to the bank, pointed the shotgun at him and said, ‘I’d like my money please.’ He gave it to her.”
Even with all that, the brutal quality of the miniseries surprised Lillian.
“I didn’t realize they were so rough and tough,” she said. “I just knew they were pretty ornery. They didn’t seem to have consciences. They’d just as soon shoot you as look at you straight.”
Spared the orneriness of growing up on the family battlefield, Lillian still grew up tough. She trained as a flight nurse during World War II, married a fighter pilot and raised her boys on the move from one base to another. Their last posting was McChord Air Force Base, so they settled here.
“I think being raised in the military helped form them,” she said of Leonard, 55, and Teddy, 59. “They learned a lot about how other people lived.”
They learned the value of sympathy and empathy, and how to adapt.
“We have never worked for anyone,” Leonard said.
Teddy is an artist known for his art cars, one of which lives in musician Buckwheat Catapillar’s fence in South Tacoma. Another has a spot of honor in the LeMay-America’s Car Museum.
Leonard is a member of The Directors Guild and makes national television commercials.
Together they own Paws & Jaws Productions and Blue Horizon Records. They travel to film and music festivals and count guys such as actors Alec Baldwin and James Woods as buddies.
“Our mom volunteers with our businesses,” Leonard said in their offices in Parkland. “Now that she’s 85, we cut her hours back to half time – 12 hours a day, and every other Sunday off.”
Lillian said her sons are funny, charming, independent, tough and loyal.
They are a vast improvement on their great, great uncle and his family.