Valentine’s Day is filled with stories of love. The first date, the proposal, the wedding, and the happily ever after. That’s how it goes if you’re watching a movie anyway. Not all love stories come with the happily ever after. Some love stories become the stuff that tragic legends are made of.
Love Despite Hate
The love story of Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield is one part of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy Feud. In 1880, as the feud was raging, Roseanna McCoy fell in love with Johnse Hatfield.
The pair ignored the consequences of falling in love with one another. Legend says, Johnse convinced Roseanna to cross the river from Kentucky into West Virginia and live with him. With promises of marriage, Roseanna disobeyed the wishes of her father, Randall McCoy and went to Johnse. Ignoring the disapproval of his father, Devil Anse Hatfield, Johnse took Roseanna into his home. The story goes that Roseanna continued to be torn between her family and her lover,
Johnse. After an alleged infidelity on his part, Roseanna briefly returned to her McCoy home.
When a pregnant Roseanna attempted to resume her relationship with Johnse, he would not be with her again. In 1881, their daughter was born and lived only one day. In 1889, Roseanna was said to have died from a broken heart.
This love story is often viewed as a type of Romeo and Juliet story, even though it had many more twists and turns. Still, it is a legend of love among the terrible feud.
Locks of Love
As a tribute to this love story, a small sign and several locks hang on the Harvey Street Bridge (aka Pete Dillon Bridge). The bridge is just off Route 119, leading traffic from Kentucky, across the Tug Fork River, and into downtown Williamson, West Virginia.
The sign reads, “The story is that Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield were divided by the River of Blood that lie between them and the bitter battle between their families kept them apart. Since that time lovers have stood on the bridge and vowed their forever love for one another and symbolized that by placing a lock on the fence to never be opened again.”
Thankfully, all love stories aren’t tragic. Have you placed a lock on the bridge to symbolize your everlasting love? Tell us your story!