James Madison Hatfield biography

JAMES MADISON HATFIELD. This state of Alabama has performed a conspicuous part in the settlement of the Lone Star state and its contribution of the latter’s population has in the main been from the industrious, thrifty and substantial element of society. They are everywhere represented in the industries of our great western commonwealth, and whether in the shops, the stores, the counting houses or the range and field we find them coping successfully and shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries from other states. We present in this review a gentleman whose natural equipment for a successful rural life was endowed in his native Alabama and a glance at his achievements in his adopted home reveal him to have been at all times abreast of the marchers to financial independence.

Cleburne county, Alabama, gave birth to James M. Hatfield, May 7, 1850, and in April, 1883, contributed him out of her citizenship to become a settler of Texas. His father, Hansford Hatfield, a farmer, modest and unassuming for his day, was born in Kentucky and reared in that state and in Tennessee. His birth occurred in 1807 and his death in December, 1885. As a citizen he was of manner quiet and reserved, and was many times chosen to be justice of the peace where he lived. He was opposed to the secession war and was a quiet agency for Democratic success in his county. He was a son of James Hatfield, also of Kentucky origin and a farmer. The latter died in Tennessee at about ninety years of age, his birth occurring about 1778. His life was spent in the frontier settlements of Kentucky and Tennessee and he was the father of eight children by his two marriages.

Hansford Hatfield moved to Alabama about 1840 and settled in what was then Benton county, Cleburne county being afterward carved out of a portion of it. He married Ellen Smith, a Tennessee lady, who died in 1882, aged sixty- three years. Of their family were the following: Polly Ann, widow of Elijah Maner of Alabama City; Eliza J., who died as the wife of M. B. Camp; Arminta, of Jackson county, Alabama, wife of Albert Moore; William, who died when quite small; Eli, died aged forty- five; Mark, who died aged forty-three; George, who died when quite small; James M., and Peggy, deceased.

The major portion of our subject’s education was obtained after the war and then it was of a limited character. He remained about the parental hearthstone until his twenty-second year when he pursued the occupation of a farmer independently and when he started for Texas his accumulations amounted to only a few hundred dollars. He rented a farm in Montague county for a couple of years, after spending one year with his sister in Ellis county as a farm hand, and when he drove into Clay county his team of ponies and eleven head of cattle constituted his chief earthly assets. He drove in west of Henrietta and “squatted” on a piece of Rains county school land, not yet on the market, and his home now marks the spot where his first permanent home in Texas was established. He began farming and as time passed he purchased three hundred and one acres of land and it exhausted his funds to fence the tract. He had one neighbor about a miles distant and no others nearer than the settlements about Wichita Falls. As time wore on and his stock of cattle multiplied and the products of his daily toil were gathered and marketed he found his confines too limited and a series of land purchases had to be made. He bought tracts of one hundred and forty-six, one hundred and ninety-six and finally three hundred and twenty acres, which totals him more than a thousand acres, all fenced, much of it under plow and the whole comfortably improved. for some seven years he was without school facilities, but this was during the growing age of his children and a school house from his residence in time for the early training of his little ones.

March 11, 1883, Mr. Hatfield married Mary, a daughter of John M. and Josephine (Laster) Gilley, formerly of Carroll county, Georgia. Mr. Gilley was born December 24, 1834, and his wife was born October 23, 1840. Their children were: Amanda, of Cullman county, Alabama, married William Harris; John M., of Hopkins, Alabama; James, of Clay county, Texas; William, of Ardmore, Indian Territory; Thomas, of Heflin, Alabama; Mrs. Hatfield, born May 23, 1868; Lue, wife of Oliver Daniel, of Randolph county, Alabama, and Cheed, Quillion and Wiley, of the last named county. Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield ahve children as follows: Vernie, born December 11, 1886; Virgie J., born April 22, 1888; Aulice H., born March 4, 1890; James Arthur, born December 17, 1891; Ollie, born April 13, 1894, and Homer E., born January 8, 1898.

As regards politics, Mr. Hatfield is probably as little interested as any one. While he owns allegiance to Democratic tendencies he has had no aspirations for the public battles. He is a member of the Christian church and strives for the performance of his whole duty toward his Maker and his fellow men.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 699-701.