From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 493-495
Like many of the leading attorneys of the country, James M. Hatfield comes from the farm. And it is the sturdy training of those years of strenuous life spent among the fertile fields of Indiana which gave him the extraordinary energy that has placed Mr. Hatfield in the front rank of the lawyers of Huntington.
Though Mr. Hatfield is an Indiana man by birth, he comes of Buckeye descent, his father, Albert Hatfield, being a native of Montgomery county, Ohio. Albert was but two years old when his father migrated to Rush county, Indiana, where he was reared a farmer and remained one for the greater part of his life. Brought up on a farm and educated at the district schools, he married and settled down to the steady life of an agriculturist. For three years he was engaged in clearing a farm in Allen county. He then purchased a farm of eighty acres in Whitley county, where he dwelt for fifteen years, improving the land until he was able to get a good price for it. His next home was at Roanoke, this county, where for six years he was engaged in the mercantile business. Then came the Chicago & Erie Railway, and, being associated more or less with that project, came to Huntington, where he now resides.
His wife, whose maiden name was Jane Dyer, was also born in Montgomery county, Ohio. She died at the age of forty, leaving four children, the subject of this sketch being the oldest and the only son. Born February 3, 1849, at Lewisville, Indiana, the early days of James M. Hatfield were spent on the farm. He attended the country schools until the age of eighteen and received a certificate to teach, beginning as an instructor in the same township where he learned his lessons from others. For eight years he was a school teacher, part of the time being an instructor at the Roanoke public schools, the balance of the time in the commercial and business college. Two years were then devoted as a student in the Hillsdale College, Michigan, although a special course was taken at the normal of Lebanon, Ohio, preparatory to taking the collegiate course. In 1872 his popularity was easily demonstrated when the people elected him county surveyor, an office he held for two years. During his leisure moments while teaching school Mr. Hatfield had studied law, and while in the surveyor's office was admitted to the bar.
In 1875 he hung out his shingle in Huntington, and in a short time thereafter was in the front rank of the legal profession. As a legal adviser and as an attorney at the bar Mr. Hatfield has a very enviable reputation. For about fifteen years he was a partner of J. T. Alexander, but for the past eight years he has been alone.
A Republican, with the best interests of his party always at heart, Mr. Hatfield has taken a very active part in politics and has been an important factor in the party politics of Huntington county. Several times he has yielded to the persuasions of his friends and consented to make the race for office. In 1886 he was a candidate for prosecuting attorney of Wells and Huntington counties. Though he led his ticket by nearly four hundred votes he went down to defeat. Two years later he run (sic) against Judge Dailey, of Wells county, for circuit judge, and was again defeated. In each instance the odds were very much against him.
Mr. Hatfield is a charter member of Huntington Lodge, No. 93, Knights of Pythias, and takes great interest in that benevolent and distinctly social organization. In 1894-5 he served as grand chancellor; for eighteen years was an attendant at the sessions of the grand lodge, and in 1896 was admitted to the supreme lodge.
On September 14, 1873, Mr. Hatfield was married to Miss Thursy J. Murray, of Roanoke, and they are the parents of two children: One died in infancy; the other, Harvey D. Hatfield, has been a clerk in the postoffice for several years.
Mr. Hatfield is an earnest and faithful worker in the United Brethren church. In 1893 he was a member of the general conference of his church, was president of the lay delegates for that year and re-elected in 1896. Mrs. Hatfield is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.