PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Officials in Pike County are welcoming archaeologists who have an interest in digging at sites connected to the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
A statement from Pike Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford says a local land owner who lives on a property in Hardy recently invited the National Geographic Channel to scour his land for artifacts.
They explored a piece of property once owned by Randolph McCoy.
A crew from the show "Diggers" found bullets and a piece of the burned cabin while digging on the property.
Rutherford says interest in the famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud continues to grow. He recently sent a letter to the Kentucky Heritage Council, urging it to conduct more digs in the county. He says the county is seeing a "revival in public interest in the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud."
The artifacts unveiled Monday at the Coalhouse in Williamson, W.Va., include bullets from three different caliber guns, as well as burnt pieces of wood from the McCoy cabin. That's what the Hatfields are said to have attacked and burned down on New Year's Day 1888. The attack happened after years of feuding between the two families.
Discovered by National Geographic's "Diggers," the artifacts have been scrutinized by University of Kentucky archaeologists to figure out the layout of the McCoy cabin and the direction from which the Hatfields attacked.
Bob Scott, the current owner of the McCoy property, is a descendant of the Hatfield family. For Scott and other descendants of the family, this discovery lends new life to their ancestry and the origins of the feud.
"Did it start over a pig? I've wondered that myself for years, and I've come to realize it probably did," Scott said.
Cecil Hatfield, a fourth-generation descendant, said he knew the well next to the McCoy home, and he often passed it to go to his grandmother's house.
"I never dreamed we would find bullets up there," Hatfield said.
The Hatfield-McCoy feud is shrouded in legend and lore, and these artifacts are making it a global story, which could lead to economic growth from tourism.
Bill Richardson, an extension professor at West Virginia University, said "feud tourism" has already brought $20 million to eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, and it could bring in much more.
"The great thing about this is that you can't outsource the jobs," Richardson said. "The jobs won't run out. They're clean; they're everything that we need in an industry."
While older generations may have been silent about the feud, these new artifacts and the possibility of economic growth are causing many in the region to embrace their history.
At 10 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic Channel's "Diggers" will feature a special episode about the Hatfield-McCoy artifacts.
The artifacts will remain on display at the Coalhouse through the end of the summer.
"These are world class artifacts; there's never been anything like this found associated with these events," said Bill Richardson, an extension professor for West Virginia University and authority on the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
Bullets fired from guns shot by the Hatfields and McCoys, pieces of a McCoy cabin burned down during a New Year’s Day raid in 1888 that are scattered throughout the land near Hardy, Ky., were uncovered in October.
"To this point, all we had was oral histories related to the feud to tell us what had happened," Richardson said. "This is the first time there's scientific evidence to base some of our findings on."
With the help of National Geographic Channel’s new show “Diggers,” artifacts more than a century old are telling the saga of the famous family feud.
And this is a find that shares little in common with other legendary stories of the era.
"You don't have bullets from the OK Corral, you don't have bullets that Jesse James fired -- these are the type of things that people dream about," Richardson said.
Now those pieces of history are going to be on display, possibly sparking interest from around the globe and rekindling an old fire.
"I want people to be proud of their history," Richardson said. "I want people to be proud of their heritage, and I want people to come and enjoy these artifacts and help tourism for West Virginia and eastern Kentucky."
The episode of “Diggers” that will showcase the archaeological dig and artifacts found will air Jan. 27 on the National Geographic Channel.
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