William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (September 9, 1839 – January 6, 1921)
Scott sent me a story today:
One of my high school buds had a very colorful grandfather named Golden Land who lived in Oroville. We went over and stayed with him on a fishing trip about 1970. He was in his 80s by then. We were in his office in what would have been a very opulent stucco home about 1935, and on his desk was a Colt revolver cylinder that he used as a pencil holder.
When the old gent saw my interest in it, he told this story:
When a boy in West Virginia, he was riding a train one day when none other than Devil Anse Hatfield boarded and took a seat across from him. The conductor -- and most folks in those parts -- knew him by sight. As the train got under way, the conductor walked up and said, "Now Devil Anse, I know you are carrying a Colt pistol. I must ask you for the cylinder to your gun while you are aboard this train." At this, Devil Anse reached into his suitcoat and produced a Colt Single Action Army, in caliber .38-40, and proceeded to pull out the cylinder pin, remove the cylinder, empty the cartridges into his coat pocket and hand the cylinder to the conductor, who then left, satisfied that he had defanged the famous Hatfield patriarch.
When the conductor had left the car, Devil Anse produced a second, loaded cylinder, replaced it in his Colt, slid the Colt back inside his suit coat and winked at young Golden, who saw the whole play.
Hatfield held his finger up to his lips to signal this was their secret. When it came time for Devil Anse to disembark, the conductor handed him his empty cylinder, and Devil Anse handed it to Golden Land as a memento of their shared friendly conspiracy.
I sure wish I had a tape of Golden Land telling this story, and the one about the train wreck that spilled several carloads of peanuts. People came from miles around with whellbarrows ...