Elizabeth Betsy Alley (Hatfield)

 

 As with most American lineages, there is some point of origin, which, if it has English origins, was likely to have been a medieval village or hamlet.  Back in those times, surnames did not exist.  A person who was born in a location was named after that place; i,e, William born in the hamlet of Hatfield would have been called William de Hatfield or William of Hatfield.  Around the year 1200 we begin to see a trend toward surnames.  It didnít happen all at once, it took more than a century. 

 

There are people who think about the multitude of American name origins. For example; Carol Hatfield White in response to a question in January 2000, said this about one lineage of Hatfields: "At about age 23, Matthias escaped from Yorkshire, England to Leyden, Holland (a historic Pilgrim route), where he married Valentine Cox. He was running from the Catholic King who assumed power after James I left the throne. It was the same King James who authorized the King James Version of the Bible and who chartered Virginia as a colony. (Around 1611) Eventually Matthias came to America through New Amsterdam, received several historical land grants, married again and settled in Elizabethtown, New Jersey." And the American Matthias line had begun.

 

She continues; "William Hatfield, born 1702 in Haversfordwest, Wales, came to Amercia in 1731 and settled in the Welsh Baptist Tract established by William Penn for those fleeing religious persecution in England." Another line had begun.

 

She also offered this; "Hatfield was a place by the year 589 when Eadwine, the founder of Edinborough, Scotland, was killed at the battle of Hatfield Chase. The village of Hatfield lay about 15 miles from London and had three heads of families in 1086 when William the Conqueror took his final Domesday Book census of England.  He enumerated heads of households, tools, livestock and weapons. The men named as family heads were Adam, William and Robert of Hatfield. Each held one "hyde", a measure of land roughly 40 acres in size."

 

So, we begin with still another line of Hatfields, the George "Goff" Hatfield line. From George Hatfield, b. 1715 through Jeremiah Hatfield born 1780, the genealogy is documented.

 

From Charles Harvey Hatfield born 1803 and his descendants, we also have documentation.

 

The problem is connecting these two portions of the lineage.  We have solid circumstantial evidence; opportunity, circumstance, the correctness of time, place, and the names involved. Some who have contacted us want "proof", paper-trails. Where does one find those on the Illinois prairie and in the green Kentucky hills of the frontier when the territory was not a state and no civil government existed? Keep in mind that the Lewis & Clark expedition launched itself about 50 miles south of the Bainbridge Township a year after Charles Harvey Hatfield was born and 25 years after Jeremiah Hatfield was born. These were frontier people.

 

Let us take a moment and consider the context of these events. In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sponsored an act of Congress to encourage settlement of public lands. This act lowered the actual cash a settler had to put down to acquire 160 acres to $80. This measure was designed to speed up the settlement of the Northwest Territories. Kentucky was a state having been admitted to the Union in 1792, Tennessee followed in 1796, but Illinois was still a territory and was considered frontier since it bordered the land of a foreign country, the future Louisiana Purchase.

 

Spain owned this territory, called Orleans back then, but sold it to France in 1800; all except the port and city of New Orleans itself - and Florida. Then France found it had problems trying to cope with a slave revolution in Santo Domingo/Haiti while conducting a large European War campaign. Napoleon managed to find 20,000 troops and sent them to Santa Domingo and crushed this revolution and then planned to send them on to New Orleans. Jefferson threatened war with France.  Napoleon knew he couldn't handle his European War and another with the United States at the same time.

 

In 1802 Jefferson sent a delegation to France (Livingston and Monroe) with $2 million as a down payment to purchase the port of New Orleans and Florida (actually France did not own Florida) for $10 million. By the time this delegation reached Paris, Napoleon had grown tired of the problem and responded to Jefferson's offer by proposing to sell the entire area now known as the Louisiana Purchase for a flat $15 million. The offer was accepted and on April 30, 1803 Jefferson signed the agreement to purchase.

 

The people living in the "Indiana Territories" next to the Louisiana Purchase, which was once considered Virginia - an area that included Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, were living a true pioneering existence. There were no states, governments or offices requiring permits. A person acquired their land and lived on it; no more, no less.

 

The Lewis & Clark expedition left St Louis, just downstream from Bainbridge Township, in 1804.

 

At some point probably around 1800, Jeremiah and his father Joseph Hatfield, and possibly two brothers, crossed the Tug River into Kentucky looking for fresh hunting grounds and property on which to homestead and claim. We find general references to this crossing, so the date is vague but is correct within two years. These Hatfields find themselves in what was then, Pike County, Kentucky. Depending on who you read, this group broke up and went in different directions; some to Tennessee, back into Virginia and other unidentified locations. But Jeremiah is known to have stayed. He liked the country and the plentiful game, although there is some record of his commuting across the Emery River to visit and conduct commerce (and even own land in Tennessee) with a brother, Ale Hatfield and father Joseph Hatfield.

 

Next we find that in 1801 Jeremiah marries an Elizabeth (nicknamed Betsy) (according to unverified assertions from several sources). This may have been a common-law marriage which was not uncommon in this region at this time. The names of the children vary as do the numbers, from six to ten. Generally, there is agreement on seven children; William, Celia, Joseph, Ericus, Fannie, David, Jeremiah Jr. 1802 to 1828. The keepers of this family history are truly uncertain about the makeup of this family. In our exhaustive records search, which included Hatfield branches from Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia, we have found only one Elizabeth around this time and a variety of suggestions as to the number of children.

 

Charles Harvey Hatfield was born in 1803, Mercer County, Kentucky. His mother was known to be "Elizabeth". A cemetery in Bainbridge Township, Illinois was named after her and credits Elizabeth as the mother of Charles but fails to mention her maiden name. Another source identifies her as Elizabeth Alley but offers no backup information other than to say it came "from family". Circumstances suggest that Charles Harvey Hatfield could be the second child of Jeremiah and Elizabeth, born in Mercer County, Kentucky.

 

In those days, Mercer County was huge. Other counties have since been formed from the old boundaries rendering Mercer County to what it is today, small. A record search was nearly impossible. The 1810 census was unreadable. The next census we could find was 1850, much too late. Besides, they probably didn't live in Mercer County, instead it is likely they lived in Pike County, a real wilderness or possibly they lived in Tennessee.

 

Tragedy struck in 1840 when Jeremiah was attempting to cross the Emery River by canoe at a time when the river was in flood stage. He drowned. His body was found days later in the fork of a tree/river snag. The Emery River borders Roane County, Tennessee and Kentucky.

 

Elizabeth was left with at least two teenaged boys, 13 and 14. Then we hear no more until we discover that the Bainbridge Township in Illinois named a cemetery, the Elizabeth Hatfield Cemetery, after the mother of Charles Harvey Hatfield who was living in the township by then (1826 Schuyler County). Elizabeth died in 1850 at age 66. It is unknown if she is actually buried in the cemetery named after her.

 

Larkin B. Hatfield wrote in 1930 (Hatfield Clan Newsletter) about Jeremiah and his brothers, their crossing of the Tug and Emery Rivers, and of Jeremiah's drowning. He talks of Jeremiah's children, at least some of them, but he makes no direct mention of Jeremiah's spouse. He did describe an incident about Eric Hatfield's young family, a son of Jeremiah. The story goes like this: ". . . Eric Hatfield went to Montgomery, intending to return the same day but while there he was summoned on jury and could not come home. This left his wife and babies there alone. It was a dark rainy evening and when he did not come, his wife, knowing the sheep must be lotted, left the two little children in the house; the oldest two years old and the younger, one year old. . . . darkness came suddenly and she got lost in the mountains. Wolves, bears and panthers were quite plentiful then. She climbed a tree and began to scream as loud as she could. . . finally she heard a voice of a man answer. She continued to scream until the man approached her on horseback. He was Major David Alley, an uncle of her husband . . ."

 

Two points here; (1) Uncle means brother of father, (2) his name was Alley.

 

He wasn't a Hatfield. He had to have been Elizabeth's father, or restated, his mother's brother.

 

 

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