Hatfield (Polk County)

Latitude and Longitude: 34°29’08″N 094°22’43″W
Elevation: 984 feet
Area: 1.33 square miles (2020 Census)
Population: 345 (2020 Census)
Incorporation Date: March 18, 1901

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:


































Hatfield is a town on U.S. Highway 71 in Polk County. Although it originated earlier than the Civil War, its survival is due to the railroad, now the Kansas City Southern, that was built at the end of the nineteenth century.

White settlers from Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky first began to arrive in the vicinity of Hatfield in the 1840s. Thomas Adams, Edward Read, and Berry Ward each received patents from the land office in 1855. A sawmill was built near the location where the Old Line Road crossed Six Mile Creek, and a community called Clayton Spur developed. The community had a blacksmith shop, a lodge hall, and several shops connected with the lumber industry. No schools or churches are known to have been established at this time. Area farmers grew cotton and various fruits and vegetables; most of the farms were small and dedicated to subsistence crops.

When the Civil War began, most of the residents of Polk County supported the Confederate cause, and many Polk County men joined the Confederate army. Saltpeter was mined from some of the hills in the area. Several skirmishes were fought in Polk County in 1863 and 1864, including one near the Clayton Spur spring. Townspeople established a cemetery for the Confederate troops who died in the skirmish.

Both during and after the war, the region was troubled by lawlessness as bands of men equipped with guns seized whatever food, money, and goods they could locate. Groups of law-abiding citizens banded together to resist the brigands, since Polk County was not one of the counties placed under martial law by governor Powell Clayton. Eventually, order was reestablished in the area.

In 1896, the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad surveyed the county and began building a line through the timber area. Although the planned line went through Clayton Spur, the terrain was not suitable for a railroad depot. Led by T. M. Dover, citizens relocated to a more favorable site a short distance to the north. The land chosen by Dover belonged to Edward White, who sold lots to Dover’s town site company, which began taking bids in 1897.

That same year, the U.S. post office was moved from Cove (Polk County)—where it had opened in 1850—to the new community. (Residents of Cove had also relocated due to the railroad, establishing a depot about five miles from Dover’s settlement.) The community was briefly called Morley, but it was named Hatfield as a remembrance to a railroad construction worker who died in an explosion while working on the railroad. The cause of the explosion was undetermined, but it followed a period of strife among foreign railroad workers from Ireland, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and China, as well as local workers.

Hatfield was incorporated as a town in 1901. The new town had several businesses, including mills, hotels, stores, saloons, doctors’ offices, a drugstore, a lodge hall, a blacksmith shop, a cotton gin, and a livery station. A public school was also established. Dover’s son opened a mercantile exchange. A Methodist church was started after 1897, with a Baptist church following in 1901. A Church of Christ, which had been meeting in the countryside, also moved into town.

A bank opened in Hatfield in 1912. The town of Hatfield sponsored an annual fair, held first in an oak grove south of town, later on the school grounds, and still later in a field north of town. As the highway through town became more traveled, several service stations opened in or near Hatfield.

Hatfield prospered until 1938, when a fire in January destroyed most of the businesses on Main Street, including a barbershop, a doctor’s office, the post office, a variety store, a drugstore, and the Masonic lodge. Although the post office was rebuilt, most of the other businesses ceased operation.

By this time, automobile and truck traffic were cutting into the business of the railroad, which had been renamed the Kansas City Southern Railroad. U.S. Highway 71, passing through the town, became the preferred means of transportation for Hatfield’s residents.

The school district was consolidated in 2004 into that of Mena (Polk County), which operated an elementary school in Hatfield for a time following a 2009 tornado that damaged Mena’s middle school. The Hatfield school property was later sold to a private citizen.

The town is home to the Christian Motorcyclists’ Association. The town also has a number of churches, several restaurants, a bank, and an assortment of lumber businesses, agricultural businesses, and automotive concerns.

For additional information:
Martin, Eva R. Some History of Polk County, Arkansas, and History of Hatfield. Hatfield, AR: Polk County Genealogical Society, 1980

Steven Teske
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies


    Many people have written that the town of Hatfield was named for a man named Hatfield who was killed in an explosion while the railroad was being built through the area. This is totally false, and has been proven so. The problem is, history has been written down by people who did not do research but picked up the information from others who did not know. Once the story is out there, it is continually picked up and passed around and written as “history” when in fact there is no basis for it at all. This is the case of how Hatfield was named.

    Seven people were killed in that explosion, called the Kennedy cut–named for the supervisor named Kennedy–and the story is well documented in the Mena Star. No one named Hatfield is even listed. All were buried locally except Kennedy who was sent back to his home in Fort Smith, Texas, for burial.

    Shirley Manning