Because of the game show, the term “family feud” is thought to be kind of cutesy, but there’s actually a long history of family feuds that left bodies in their wake. What would inspire people to fight with each other over years or even generations? Who does that? Let’s find out. Here are five of the most famous feuds in history.
1. The Hatfields and McCoys
The Hatfield/McCoy feud may be the most famous American family feud. Beginning in the Civil War, the feud began when Union Soldier Asa Harmon McCoy was murdered by one of the Hatfields on his way home from battle. The two families had land next to each other, and violence erupted again after they couldn’t agree on who owned a particular hog. Naturally, the McCoys murdered a relative of the Hatfields. Then, Roseanna McCoy fell in love with Johnse Hatfield, left the McCoys for the Hatfields, and all hell broke loose (well, even more loose). Johnse Hatfield would eventually leave Roseanna for his own cousin, Nancy McCoy, because this was the mid-1800s and that was normal I guess, leading the McCoys to kill another Hatfield. In 1888, the Hatfields went and basically tried to murder the whole McCoy family in the infamous New Years’ Night Massacre. Then the two families and their supporters had a BATTLE. All in all, about 15 people died, 10 were wounded, and dozens were put on trial over the years for the various murders and attempted murders. In 1979, the families squared off again… on Family Feud.
2. The Punti-Hakka Clan Wars
The Punti and Hakka clans of Guangdong, China fought bitterly between 1855 and 1867, making the Hatfields and McCoys look like some real p*ssy sh*t. Around a MILLION people died in the clan wars. Basically, the two clans lived in close quarters and had a history of peaceful relations, but then took different sides in the Taiping Rebellion and started attacking each other’s villages. They raised their own armies out of their able-bodied men and basically fought each other for a decade until the Imperial Army, having stopped the Taiping Rebellion, came and made the Punti and Hakka stop fighting. The Hakka were then given their own independent sub-prefecture. Damn.
3. The Blood Feuds of Albania
Apparently Albania is really into revenge. There’s a concept called Gjakmarjja, or “blood taking”, which means that it is a person’s moral duty to kill those who have wronged them, and maybe their families, too. The blood feuds are still going on today, picking up steam after the government collapsed in the ‘90s. In 2007, The Telegraph estimated that 20,000 Albanians are still in blood feuds and in 2006, 78 people were murdered because of them. Blood feud murdering is, of course, illegal in Albania, but many rural parts of the country prefer to keep their justice old-school.
4. The Black Donnellys
The Black Donnellys feud raged between the family and the town they lived in and were reviled by — Biddulph. The feud began when James Donnelly murdered his landlord with a spike in 1857 after the landlord sassed him in public (that’s the short version, anyway). James would go to prison while his sons started what was apparently a bomb-ass stagecoach business. That made the other stagecoach businesses in town pretty pissed, so they started fighting with each other, killing each other’s horses and burning each other’s stagecoaches. Probably everyone was to blame, but the Donnellys were the sons of a murderer, so it was easy to blame everything on them.
After that, basically every crime in Biddulph was attributed to the Donnellys, whether they did it or not (to be fair, they oftentimes had done it). Biddulph started a “peace society”, which quickly turned into an arson and murder society. On February 3, 1880, the Vigilance Committee went to the Donnellys house and murdered almost all of them.
5. The Korean Grave Feud
This particular feud is the longest running, but (thank God) least bloody. In the 1600s, a prominent family buried the body of one of their own, a former prime minister named Shim Ji Won, on a lovely hill north of Seoul. This made the family of Yoon Gwan pretty pissed, seeing as Gwan was a famous general of the 12th century and was already buried on that same dang hill. The Yoons and the Shims have been fighting throughout the 400 years since. Today there are one million Yoons and 250,000 Shims in Korea, and their families still strongly discourage inter-marriage. Over the years, the families have vandalized each other’s graves and gotten into fist fights. In 1764, the King ordered the families to stop fighting and gave them official beatings. One Yoon died from his injuries, which only made the families hate each other more. In 2006, the Yoons agreed to donate part of their property on the hill so the Shims could move their grave, but a provincial cultural heritage committee was basically like, “No, this feud is actually a pretty cool part of our culture and the graves have to stay where they are.” I just wonder if Yoon Gwan and Shim Ji Won are duking it out in the afterlife.
What do you think? Are feuds silly, or kinda bad-ass? Did I miss any good ones? Tweet at me and let me know @erikaheidewald!