PARKERSBURG-Author Anne Black Gray's look at a member of her family is one of the source materials for an upcoming History Channel program on the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
Gray has written a book titled "The Devil's Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud." She will be in Wood County today for a book signing from 5-8 p.m. at the Gallery in Grand Central Mall.
Gray grew up in Parkersburg but has spent most of her life in California.
The cover of Anne Black Gray’s book about the Hatfield and McCoy family feud features the image of Cap Hatfield.
"I grew up here and went off to college and then to California with a degree in physics from Carnegie Tech and worked in aerospace engineering for 35 years," she said.
Gray attended Parkersburg High School but did not graduate from PHS as she went to Carnegie Tech as part of a Ford Foundation experiment for early admission after the 10th grade.
Gray said later she learned some people considered Cap Hatfield to be possibly the most savage killer in feud.
Parkersburg native Anne Black Gray has written a novel on a family member who was part of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud.
Gray said her book on Cap Hatfield, son of Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield, was inspired by stories told by her grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Her book is titled "The Devil's Son: Cap Hatfield and the End of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud."
Gray will sign copies of the book from 5-8 p.m. today at the Gallery in Grand Central Mall.
In researching her book, Gray said she read newspapers from the era, books, memoirs and a graduate thesis on the subject to put together a picture of Cap and what happened.
"I was trying to map out a river I have never seen and never will see and get it pinned down," she said in writing about Hatfield. "I know how it has to flow and can connect the points that made it flow."
Gray said her work includes other members of the family who are often ignored in works about the feud, involving two families living in West Virginia and Kentucky along the Tug River.
"I put the family in; nothing else tells us of the wives and children; they speak in this book as well," she said.
Gray said her venture into writing was to focus on Cap Hatfield.
Gray's book and others were used as source material in the making of the History Channel documentary on the Hatfield and McCoy feud, by Emmy-nominated Director Mark Cowen, to air nationwide at 4 p.m. June 2. The documentary airs just before the repeat showing of the Kevin Costner mini-series on the feud that will air May 28-30, and repeats for a marathon airing on June 2.
"Basically, I wanted to write this story I heard as a child," she said. "My grandparents, aunts and uncles from Logan County would tell stories of Uncle Cap. Granddaddy was a lawyer, and later a judge. I always assumed Cap was like him."
Gray said those she has met at book signings seem interested in her book. At recent signing in South Williamson, Ky., and Logan, W.Va., many people dropped by and several were related to the Hatfields or McCoys or both.
Most of the famous feud took place in the border area between Pike County, Ky., and Mingo County, W.Va., near present day Matewan, W.Va.
"Mostly they are interested and remember things that are portrayed and don't want it portrayed wrong," Gray said. "One woman got testy over a name spelling, but I told her that was how the documents I used spelled that name."
Gray said she is interested in seeing how the programs on the History Channel will portray the feud.
Gray said in Parkersburg she lived in two different houses on Market Street at 1716 and 1904. The only family still living here are her brother Robert Black and his wife and their two daughters Inge Chenoweth and her husband and Erika Sturm and her son. There are a few second and third cousins here.
In her recent trip to Logan County, Gray said she did not get a chance to go to the Hatfield cemetery that features a statue of Cap's father, Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield.
"I remember picking walnuts at the cemetery at Sarah Ann; we decorated the graves and kept up the cemetery," she said. "Today I'm told it is not in good shape, but people are trying to get more interest in that area. I understand Gov. Tomblin has said he would like to see it in good repair."
Gray said she met with a couple who live across the road from the site. They said the road has washed out and it is difficult to reach the site at the top of a steep hill.
"They said they see many people from out of state stop by but they don't try to walk up to the grave," Gray said.
For additional information about her novel and the book launch celebration, call the Gallery at 304-428-4268.
In addition to the documentary and mini-series, there are other nationally televised programs that focus on the famous vendetta. For example, History Channel's popular "American Pickers" hosts Mike Wolf and Frank Ritz recently visited and filmed an episode in Mingo County, checking out feud memorabilia in the Matewan and Williamson area.
"Pawn Stars" also has an upcoming show that includes a possible Winchester rifle once owned by Cap Hatfield. The weapon came into the possession of Alex Bone Presence, of Mingo County, in the early 1900s and was later handed down to his descendants. Presence supposedly obtained the rifle in a "horse trade" with Hatfield, while the feudist was on the run.
"How the States Got Their Shapes" will tape a show in June that will focus on the state and discuss the feud.