Sept. 15, 1875 – Governor Henry Hatfield Born Near Matewan

Henry Hatfield

Governor Henry Hatfield was born near Matewan on September 15, 1875.

While his Hatfield relatives were fighting their famous feud against the McCoys, Henry was away at college. He eventually became a coal-camp physician in McDowell County. Appalled by the lack of medical facilities, he fought to have three miners’ hospitals established in the state and served as director of the Welch hospital for 13 years.

Hatfield was elected to the state senate in 1908. Four years later, the 37-year-old Republican was elected governor. He pushed for progressive reforms, including the establishment of a Public Service Commission and a workers’ compensation program. He began his term in the middle of the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike, the deadliest conflict of the mine wars. He granted a pardon to labor activist “Mother” Jones and striking miners who had been convicted in military courts. He also chaired a board that essentially ended the strike.

After leaving office, he enlisted in the Army as a chief surgeon during World War I and later served one term as a U.S. senator.

Henry Hatfield died in Huntington in 1962 at age 87.