Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ellison Mounts & Pike County

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Jay Shepherd of the Pike County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau regarding making a post about Pike County, Kentucky. I am always amenable to promoting the positive aspects of Appalachia, so after a few emails back and forth, I was excited to help promote Pike County. Jay then solicited the assistance of local historian, Jessica Forsyth, to write about an aspect of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud that took place in Pike County, Kentucky. Jessica also serves as the Director of Activities and Events for the Big Sandy Heritage Center, a local historical museum located on Hambley Blvd. in Pikeville, Kentucky.

"Ellison Mounts was Pike County’s biggest scapegoat, but also one of the lesser known roles of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Supposedly the illegitimate son of Ellison Hatfield, Mounts was with the Hatfield boys Johnse and Calvin when they went to the McCoy home on January 1, 1888 and set the house ablaze with McCoy family members still inside. Sarah McCoy and her children ran outside to escape their burning home and chaos erupted. Johnse fired a shot before the signal was given to fire on the McCoys and a gunfight ensued between him, Calvin, Ellison, and the McCoy boys."

"In the panic that ensued, Calvin fired a shot, killing Alifair McCoy. The blame was not directed at him however. Instead, all eyes turned to Ellison Mounts. Mounts, being somewhat dimwitted, probably did not realize the severity of the charges or what would happen to him next."

Ellison Mounts (photo courtesy of Pike County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau).

"At trial, Ellison was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. He and his lawyer tried to appeal the case, but were unable to do so with a jury that had already made up their minds, as most of the county had. On February 18, 1890, Ellison Mounts was hanged on the site of the present day University of Pikeville classroom building. Thousands of onlookers turned out to witness the hanging, but laws stated that executions could no longer be public. Workers constructed a fence around the scaffold to hide the sight from prying eyes. His last words would attempt to point the blame again to the Hatfields. No one had been sent to the gallows in Pike County for forty years, and after Ellison, no one ever would be again. All the other Hatfield prisoners received life sentences in prison."

"The University of Pikeville, then named Pikeville College, erected residence halls and classroom buildings on the site where the makeshift gallows had stood. Today, visitors can read a marker placed by the historical society on the site. It tells of the life and trial of Ellison Mounts, and how the nation’s most famous feud claimed yet another young life well before its time."

The Hanging of Ellison Mounts (photo courtesy of Pike County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau).

I hope everyone enjoyed reading about some of the interesting history that took place in Pike County, Kentucky. I encourage everyone to plan a visit to Pike County in the very near future. Pike County truly offers something for everyone. If you have any questions regarding your visit to Pike County, I'm sure Jay over at the Pike County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau would be more than happy to assist you.


David Mounts said...

Im David Mounts and was born in Pike county. My mother has talked about the feud through our family. Im am intrigued to find out more since the Movie came on the History channel.

Kelly Majchszak said...

Hi!!! I was watching the Hatfields and McCoys mini series on history and was actually wondering if Ellison killed the McCoy daughter or if it was her brother Calvin??? The show on history and in Wikipedia said that Ellison did do it but you were saying it was Calvin!! I was just wondering!! My husband and I are very interested in the two families since watching the shows!! Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey David my name is Cleve Joyner and I was just speaking with my grandmother and she told me that we had an Uncle From Pike County named Arnold Mounts and he married a Missourri Mounts and their daughter was Georgeanne Mounts. He owned a coal mine in Pike County. Although they are related by marriage it would be interesting to know that Ellison is related by marriage and you would be too. You can just Blog me back or email me at

timothy mounts said...

Im Timothy Mounts,born and raised in Battle Ground Indiana Ive always wondered if I am related to the Mounts' from Pike County.If anyone knows please Email me @

K Hurst said...

Thanks for sharing. My great great great grandfather was Calvin Hatfield; and many of my folks are still deep in the mountains of KY. You don't want to mess with them for sure.

I hope that the new History Channel show on some members of the old family don't get things stirred up among some of the other family members. Many in my family have died savagely because of ambushes, etc. over the years and still today many in the family in those mountains seem to still be ready to fight, etc.

Katherine Spence said...

My great grandmother is Mauda mounts from pike county ky.

Lorene said...

I enjoyed reading this post! My mother and her siblings went to Pikeville College, and then she and my dad were married in a little church in downtown Pikeville. Their first home was in Belfry. It's a great town! - Lorene,

Sam Mounts said...

Sam Mounts checking in - our branch of the family was from West Virginia, later moved to southern then central Indiana. I've often wondered if we were related to Anson Mounts. All my older relatives passed away before I got the chance to ask.