Updated: Nov 4
Five years! Wow! I can't believe it's been five years already! Has 2018 really been five years ago already? Sometimes it's like it was forever ago, but as I sit here today it's like it was just yesterday!
I was pastoring in West Virginia right on the Kentucky state line in the very heart of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud hot zone! In fact, the property of the church used to be owned by Devil Anse Hatfield, the main character of the Hatfield family! There's a lot of speculation of how he ended up with that particular 5000 acres, but down through the years it ended up being sold off in tracts and lots until ultimately our little church obtained part of it at the river crossing at Edgarton, WV into Freeburn, KY.
I had been in that area eight years already by that time and would regularly pass the old Ran'l McCoy property near Hardy, KY (he's the main character on the McCoy side). Some of the other Feud sites we'd see all the time were the Hog Farm and Hog Trial spots on Blackberry in McCarr, KY. Sometimes we'd even go through Matewan, WV where we passed the place of the paw paw tree incident at the river crossing leading over to Matewan from Buskirk, KY. We even had regular trips to the cemetery on Phillips Branch near Phelps, KY with visiting friends after it became a "real" tourist spot on the list for the Feud. The Hatfield and McCoy Feud is a fantastic story of two families involved in an epic tale of bitter blood that in some minds, still exists today.
Then Shereena got sick. Bad! Her kidneys failed. She's fought diabetes her whole life, but this was really bad! We had a doctor's appointment with her kidney doctor in Lexington, KY in November that year and he did a double take when he walked into the room! We had to immediately go across the road to the emergency room and before dark that evening, Shereena was having her first dialysis treatment! Everything changed! All of a sudden now we do dialysis. That's what I told her, "this is what we do now, this is our job." Within a few days, we got set up back home in eastern Kentucky with a clinic and started the constant trek three days a week for dialysis.
Then in December, we were talking about Christmas and what each of us wanted for gifts. I laughed and said, "I want another Harley!" Her immediate shocked response was, "You can't leave me!" And I just laughed and said, "well I want to start making wallets and belts. I want to work with leather." And so that was it! A couple of tools and a piece of leather and Feud Country Leather was born!
The name just fit! I'd used "Feud Country" to advertise meetings at church and in social media posts. We even hosted the Annual Hatfield & McCoy Area Revival each year. I was trying then to connect with the ATV trail system visitors and local folks in the area of the church, but it just fit perfectly for the leather "HOBBY" I had just started. I literally made the logo before the leather was delivered!
By the time December 2019 came, we'd been doing the dialysis thing a full year, priorities were changing at church, and after much prayer, I resigned and we moved our membership back to Pikeville, KY in January 2020. Pastor McKinney at Victory Baptist asked if I could do Wednesday nights and I said definitely. He responded by saying, "well, just do the work of an evangelist." We had never made a physical move to West Virginia, so being back home with church only 12 miles away instead of 40 was a huge blessing!
Over Christmas in 2018, my brother-in-law wanted a knife sheath made for his retirement knife he recently received. Talk about a game changer! I hadn't done anything like that before, so it was definitely a learning experience. Looking back on it now, there's quite a few things I would do differently to make it more presentable, but he still likes it today because it was from me and from the heart!
I show that picture here because it's important to see how much progress can be made by somebody with interest and passion and a desire to improve. Compare that to these two I did last summer in 2022. All three hand dyed, only the black one was stitched on a machine! Now, there's still plenty of growth to be done, but I've been super happy with where I'm going with the craft!
I've done a lot of ministry in barbershops over the years. I say that because my barber in Phelps, KY was an expert on the Feud! We'd talk about church, about Jesus, and the Feud! It was great! To this day, it's probably the best place I've been in for ministry to make connections, invite folks to church, and just talk to folks in a great environment. One of the guys I met there turned out to be my barber today! That's a longer story for another time, but Mike Lowe was working at a coal mine back then who retrained to be a barber much later in life than many folks care to try to learn a new skill and make a full career change! American Vintage Barbershop is across US23 from Victory Baptist Church and I've been going to Mike for a few years now here in Pikeville.
One of our conversations one day was about wallets. I was interested in trying to make him a wallet like he'd seen somewhere else. That's where the Mountain Man long wallet was born and Mike got the second one I ever made...I got the first!
This wallet is Mike's and It's still in service today, only his son had absconded with it pretty quick after Mike took it home! He did get another one later on. Christmas 2021 I did this next one for him and my buddy Jody Hamilton from Archangel Armory did the laser engraving on the cover.
All of the Feud Country Leather products have gotten better over time. We've added a bunch over these five years too. I'm not sure where we'll go yet with these posts. Hopefully, in the coming months, I'll be able to do more and show off some of our progress and products. I want you guys to see the heart behind the hype that is Feud Country Leather. What makes it tick. What drives it. What inspires it.
What I can say is that I want to assure you that the main mission is Jesus Christ. I've got a link on the website to a presentation of the Gospel. I'll link it here too as I feel like it's the most important decision you'll ever make in your lifetime. The job of a preacher is to bring you to the point of making a decision of what you'll do with Jesus. In five years, a lot of things have changed with Feud Country Leather, my leather crafting talent, and our business. But what hasn't changed is the world's need for Christ. So with that said, what will you do with Jesus?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of Feud Country!
Steve Spurlock, owner
Demand better! Take a stand with Feud Country!
Ephesians 6:13 STAND!