This scene has played itself over several times in our county’s history.
A farmer invests in a bull with a good bloodline. He advertises to his neighbors that – for a fee – the bull is available for breeding purposes.
Down in Wilberton Township, Mr. Schaefer bought a bull. His neighbor’s fence just happened to collapse and, wouldn’t you know it, the next crop of calves had the unmistakable markings of Mr. Schaefer’s bull.
When this happened not once, but several times, the bull’s owner got a little hot under the collar.
This is how a feud begins. The neighbors began to refer to this area of the township as “Bulltown”… not a happy reminder for the owner of the bull.
In Seminary Township, this was repeated with tragic results. For a farmer raising cattle, one of your best assets, other than the land, is the breed of your cattle.
Once again, a neighbor lowered his fence and, as you may guess, the next season, a bunch of little calves were born that made him proud. The only problem was that he had not asked Farmer Jones for permission to breed with his bull, nor did he pay him for the service.
Words were exchanged – these became more heated, and the outcome was that a man ended up dead, leaving behind a wife and small children.
Near Brownstown, the Millers kept a fine bull for breeding purposes. Son, Durward, had the job of delivering the bull to its next appointment. This arrangement worked out fine, everyone was happy, and the young man got plenty of exercise.
It was in the 1870s that a Sefton Township farmer began to miss milk. This happened time and again over the course of several months. The farmer decided to lay in wait and see if he could find who his nighttime raider was. Armed with his shotgun, he lay in wait, and one night was rewarded for his vigilance when the thief returned – from across the Kaskaskia River.
After receiving a load of buckshot, the thief ended his freeloading – or else transferred it to another farmer.
We have all heard of the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud that started about the time of the Civil War. Anderson Hatfield, his wife and 13 children, lived on the east bank of the Tug River and sided with the Union.
Randolph McCoy, his wife and 13 children, lived on its west bank – the Confederate side. Their families intermarried and a shaky peace ensued.
This all heated up in 1873 when Randall McCoy visited his brother-in-law and neighbor Floyd Hatfield, and claimed that one of the pigs in Floyd’s sty was his – he could tell by the earmark.
A trial was convened, with six Hatfields and six McCoys on the jury. A Hatfield kinsman, Bill Staton, swore he had watched Floyd mark the ear of "exhibit A,” and a McCoy juror, whose wife was a Hatfield, sided with Floyd.
Bill Staton was found with his head blown off two weeks later, and the Hatfields and McCoys started packing heat wherever they went. Their feud lasted a number of years, with Hatfields killing McCoys and McCoys killing Hatfields.
In the mid-1960s, Randolph McCoy’s grandson purchased a marker to be set over the graves of five of his relatives who had died when the feud was at its height. They celebrated with a hog roast, somewhat ironic since the original feud began over a hog.
This hog roast had become an annual event with Hatfields and McCoys breaking bread together – their feud a faded memory.