This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Hatfield family was the 9th of the series.
The U.S. Navy destroyer Hatfield is a good and sturdy ship but it would seem a strange craft, indeed, to eighteen-year-old Mid. John H. Hatfield, the Navy hero in whose honor the Hatfield is named. For John gave his life for his country in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
He lies today, as do many other Hatfields of other generations, in the old White Plains Rural Cemetery. In the Hatfields, seemingly more than any other old Westchester family, the love of the old home soil runs strong and no matter where they die, they want to rest at last at home in White Plains.
And so one finds one of the greatest Methodist preachers of the 1800s, Robert Miller Hatfield, (1819-1891) who was born in Mount Pleasant, resting in the Rural Cemetery among his kin. From the year 1864 he lived in Chicago and Evanston, Ill., where he was a trustee of Northwestern University from 1878 until his death. His son, Robert Taft Hatfield, whose mother was one of the Ohio Tafts, has just retired after a brilliant career as professor of languages at Northwestern.
Fought In All Wars
Hatfields in American descend from Thomas Hatfield of Mamaroneck and his brother, Matthias, who settled in Massachusetts. Hatfields have served and died in every American war. Every generation has had at least one preacher and a check of jury lists since 1600's would indicate that no Hatfield ever avoided his jury duty. It is interesting to note that Thomas Hatfield of Mamaroneck is listed on the Westchester Surrogates jury for 1695. His descendant, Edouard L. Hatfield of High View Place on Hatfield Hill, White Plains, is acting foreman of the present Westchester County Grand Jury.
From Nottinghamshire in England, the family seat, Thomas Hatfield fled with the Pilgrims to Leyden, Holland. He married a Dutch girl and did not sail on the Mayflower but his son, Thomas, came to America in 1665 as a soldier in the employ of the Dutch East Indies Co. His brother, Matthias, went to Massachusetts and from this brother stem the New England Hatfields and those who migrated West, including the famous Hatfields of the Tennessee Mountains.
Thomas met John Rachel, founder of the Mamaroneck Plantation, while fighting the Esopus Indians and his friendship with Rachel drew him to Mamaroneck where he is on record as the accountant of the Rachel estate for the widow Rachel. He also inventoried the Caleb Heathcote estate. Thomas was part owner of the first sawmill in Mamaroneck, located at the falls in the river near the present Tompkins Avenue bridge and his house was on Union Avenue. An Indian deed shows his son, Thomas, as owner of land in White Plains in 1683. Another son Peter Hatfield, is listed as a White Plains landowner in 1722. From that date Hatfields have centered in White Plains. Their Colonial cemetery is part of the burying ground in South Broadway, a few feet south of the White Plains Post Road.
A Pro-English Hatfield
Near here stood the little Hatfield Tavern in 1778 which was run by a former captain in the King's Army who could not sign papers against his King and so fled to Nova Scotia after the Revolution. The other Hatfields were patriots, fighting in the American Army.
Edouard Hatfield of White Plains has the saber his great great grandfather, Gilbert Hatfield, used against Gen. Heath's British troops on Purdy Hill, west of Broadway, during the battle of White Plains. This Gilbert is also the ancestor of Louis Hatfield, Edouard's brother, of Valhalla, and their other brother, State Senator Ernest L. Hatfield of Hyde Park whose 400-acre farm is a Dutchess County show place. Louis is a builder, Edouard has retired after more than 30 years with the Title Guarantee and Trust Co. Another prized possession of Edouard Hatfield is a letter from Gen. Douglas MacArthur to whose staff he was attached during the first World War.
Cemetery Once A Farm
Until Gilbert Joshua Hatfield, father of Edouard, Louis and Ernest, sold off the farmlands, the land now occupied by the cemeteries north of Valhalla was Hatfield farmland for three generations and the homestead stood near the Kensico Cemetery railroad station. Prior to that, for 100 years Hatfield farms extended from Broadway east to Silver Lake. A Hatfield farmhouse more than 150 years old stands on Buckhout Road Hatfield Hill. Another Hatfield farmhouse of ancient vintage faces Lake Street at the east end of the bridge over the Central Westchester Parkway.
Richest modern Hatfield is Abraham Hatfield, of New Caanan, wholesale grocer, whose stone mansion, a showplace of New Caanan, was sold last year for a monastery for the Holy Ghost Fathers. His father, Abraham, who was a Tammany Senator after the Civil War, retired to his farm in Scarsdale, became a County Supervisor and was chairman of the board when the "new wing," now occupied by the Automobile Bureau, was added to the Court House. His portrait hangs in the Supervisors' chambers.
Richard Hatfield, who is buried in the Presbyterian churchyard in White Plains, was secretary of the Committee of Safety in 1778 while his father, Joshua, was chairman. Richard was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, a Commissioner of Forfeiture in 1786, County Clerk and Surrogate and then secretary to Governor Clinton, first Governor of the State.
Henry Hatfield, in the 1890's, was Governor of West Virginia at thirty-five, served 12 years as US Senator, built the great surgical hospital at Huntington, W. Va.
Missioner Slain by Bandits
Emily, daughter of the great preacher, Robert Miller Hatfield, and sister of Prof. Robert Taft Hatfield of Northwestern, was killed by Chinese bandits at Taian Fu in 1928 while attached to the Methodist mission at Pekin.
Hurd Hatfield of the movies is one of the Yonkers Hatfields who are descended from Gilbert Hatfield of White Plains.
The Rev. Stephen Hatfield is memorialized in the Methodist Memorial Church on Main Street, White Plains. Harold and William Hatfield of Tarrytown, owners of the planing mill, are descendants of another great Methodist preacher, William F. Hatfield, pastor in Tarrytown in the '80s.
Two sons of a Rev. John Hatfield of 1800, David and William, who lie in the White Plains Rural Cemetery, were surgeons in the War of 1812 and died in service. When Joshua Hatfield of Hawthorne died in 1820 his will freed his slaves who took the family name of Hatfield. Henry Hatfield, who died in World War I, was a descendant of one of those slaves. His name is on the White Plains honor roll.
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