Author Topic: George Washington Hatfield  (Read 2570 times)

Offline Deron Smith

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George Washington Hatfield
« on: September 09, 2020, 08:18:09 PM »
Afternoon, i'm new to the forum...and really to long rifles in general. But, I'm wondering are any of you George Washington Hatfield gun experts? I'm interested in someone who might have one, or know where they are. Thanks so much!

Offline flinchrocket

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 08:46:16 PM »
You might try the Emanual Hatfield Museum in Owensburg,Indiana. I don't think they will want to sell any.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 01:52:55 AM by flinchrocket »

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 11:19:00 PM »
Thanks so much. I'm a descendant of GW Hatfield and have been doing a ton of deep genealogy work. I have that book by Emmanuel, but I'm just looking for more information on GW's work... I found a 2016 story in Muzzle Loader and have it on order. I just figured this group may know more. Thanks again!

Offline flinchrocket

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2020, 11:44:08 PM »
I think there was an article in muzzle blast in 2016 also by Shelby Gallien.

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 12:41:20 AM »
I have published two large articles on George Washington Hatfield in Muzzle Blasts, spread over 4 issues. It covers his growing up, learning gunmaking, and illustrations of most of his known rifles, a couple of which I have owned over the years. First two-part article was in Sept. and Oct. of 2003 "Muzzle Blasts," and last two-part article in "Muzzle Blasts" with an in-depth look at his better rifles was in July and August of 2016.

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 11:08:25 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2020, 07:12:59 PM »
Thank you Shelby. I found the 2016 Muzzle Blast editions on eBay and purchased them. Any idea where I could find the Sept/October 2003 editions?
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 07:21:10 PM by Deron Smith »

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2020, 10:26:35 PM »
Shelby, quick update...I called the magazine earlier today and was able to purchase back copies. Thanks for the lead.

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2020, 11:04:39 PM »
One correction to an above comment. Washington Hatfield is not buried in the same cemetery in Owensburg as his brother Emanuel and father. Washington is actually buried on a hill top behind his old farm a few miles outside of town, in a single grave that is well marked and still there. No other family members are buried there, but it was supposedly his final wish to be buried there, and it was honored.

If you want to see a nice Hatfield rifle, go to the Lawrence County, Indiana, Historical Museum in downtown Bedford, I think on Main Street. They have Washington's personal rifle, the same one illustrated in the old Albert Lindert book, "Gunmakers of Indiana" that's long out of print. There are two life-time photos of Washington Hatfield in existance. One is in the little general store in Owensburg where brother Emanuel used to sit on the porch and spin yarns to kids in the neighborhood. There is also a great old photo in existance of Emanuel sitting on the General Store porch with another brother and holding his original Hatfield rifle.

Finding an original W. Hatfield rifle is difficult; they are seldom seen even among Indiana collectors who watch for them. I have owned the Emanuel Hatfield rifle - made by Washington [technically, restocked by Washington] but have moved it along. I did find another unsigned Washington Hatfield rifle a few years back, with all his "trademark" details including his iron mountings and distinctive cast chevron nose cap with "teeth" on the back edge, but it has also moved on. I have never seen an original Hatfield on a gun show table with a price tag on it. I bought from out-of-state collectors who didn't know what they had, and didn't know much about Tennessee-style rifles.  Hope you can find one, but it takes a lot of looking, mostly outside of Indiana, and a lot of time unless you are really lucky. 

Fellow Hoosier Jeff Jaeger is wrapping up a large reference book on Indiana Gunmakers, hopefully coming out early next year since I've been fortunate to see proofs of some of his pages. Great color photography, and he will provide some great pictures of Hatfield rifles in the book. Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 07:01:43 AM by Tanselman »

Offline vanu

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2020, 11:27:37 PM »

Offline dogbest

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2020, 12:07:33 AM »
Wow, they're proud of that rifle!
It's nice but pricey!

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2020, 02:17:58 AM »
This fine Hatfield rifle is the best one to surface to date. However, it has two small issues. The original pewter nose cap, as mentioned at the bottom of the sales description, has in fact been lost. I had spoken to Rock Island Auction before the sale (they graciously supplied the photos for my article] and asked if they would remove the barrel and check for any indications of an earlier cast nose cap, since the gun appeared, to me at least, of being shortened an inch or slightly more. Rock Island did have someone re-inspect the rifle. and there were indications the rifle originally had a cast nose cap. If I recall correctly, there were traces of the old cuts for the chevron design visible on the wood just at the edge of the current brass nose cap. However, the slighlty shortened barrel does not significantly alter the appearance of the rifle.

Also keep in mind that any attributed rifle, without the maker's name somewhere on the rifle, is always a little less valuable due to the possibility, even if minimal, that the attribution is wrong. One other known Hatfield rifle is not signed by Washington Hatfield, although it is obviously his work. That rifle was owned, used by, and carried the name of his younger brother, Emanuel Hatfield, and is one I owned some years ago and had the opportunity to examine closely. The reason for not being signed by Hatfield, I believe, was that the gun was built using, or more correctly re-using, an earlier barrel. I believe most early gunsmiths would not sign a re-used barrel on a gun they built IF the barrel was signed/initialed by a prior gunsmith. That was the case with Emanuel Hatfield's rifle.  It may be the case with this fine rifle.

The most expensive Hatfield I've seen sell, other than this fine one, was the Emanuel Hatfield rifle, made by Washington Hatfield about 1840. That rifle had a tremendous provenance behind it, including an actual photograph of Emanuel Hatfield holding the exact same rifle, and a long story about all the market hunting done with the rifle. And that rifle went for about half of what this one is listed for.  Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 04:02:45 AM by Tanselman »

Offline dogbest

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2020, 03:58:47 PM »
Shelby,
Thanks for the information! Appreciated.
Dan

Offline flinchrocket

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 02:01:24 AM by flinchrocket »

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2020, 07:01:49 PM »
Everyone, thanks so much for all your thoughtful replies. Shelby, I've purchased the back issues of Muzzle Blasts and am looking forward to reading them. I have also found the History of Greene Indiana. I will check out the museum in Bedford...AND...I'll keep my eyes and ears open for an available gun.

An addendum, GW made a gun that was passed down through the family to the oldest son. It went to my uncle and his son, who fell on hard times when he was young and sold it. I'm going to see if I can track it down, but I expect it's lost to the ages. That said, I'm more interested in the history and stories.

I appreciate you all!

Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2020, 10:47:06 PM »
 :) :)... Mr. Smith,.. I've been enjoying your post and find these rifles interesting,... have found a few views of these rifles on the internet and their resemblance to Tennessee rifles is remarkable,... here is a photo I downloaded off some kind fellow's blog,... I believe it was at the Princeton IL show a dew years back,.... A G.W. Hatfield rifle,.... good luck in your search,.... CCF,... 


Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2020, 11:17:06 PM »
That display was put on by Jeff Jaeger, the Indiana collector/researcher who is putting out a new, all color book on early Indiana rifles early next spring. The rifle in the foreground [actually, Hatfield chevron nosecap] is the Emanuel Hatfield rifle that I have talked about, and the picture in the rear, figure on the left, is Emanuel Hatfield holding that exact rifle on the front porch of the general store in Owensburg. Over on the right side of the picture is the silver medal won at the NRA Annual Show years ago in Louisville, where the rifle was displayed along with the photos, and won one of 10 best guns in show.    Shelby Gallien

Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2020, 12:31:56 AM »
 ;)... Thanx, Shelby,... appreciate the remarks,... I couldn't remember where I got the photo,... just was amazed at the similarity to Tennessee made rifles,....CCF

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2020, 05:59:55 AM »
Well, Washington Hatfield's rifles are basically Fentress County, TN rifles that were made in Indiana by mistake. His rifles never looked like the same period Indiana rifles until later in life when he began using commercial brass furniture. But even then, his stock architecture stayed leaner looking, more like a southern rifle than a typical Indiana rifle. I think that's why Indiana collectors value them so highly, just better looking rifles with some neater details than most IN guns of the same period.
Shelby Gallien

Offline Clear Spring Armory

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2020, 08:38:17 PM »
My memory is horrendous, so I don't exactly remember everything about this, but I got lost up around Greene County some years ago looking for a jobsite. Stumbled in to an old General store in a little town looking for lunch. When I got inside I was suprised to see lots of antiques for sale, including an entire blacksmiths starter kit, anvil, tongs, forge, etc. Got to talking to owner about the tools and it came out that I built guns. If I remember right he told me he was related to GW Hatfield and went into some things about him. And the irony was that I had only recently learned of the man and his guns before this lucky encounter. I aimed to go back sometime and have a ham sandwich and talk with the guy again when I had more time, but never have. Maybe the same old store where the picture was taken? I think it was Owensburg, maybe not. I think a Jeep ride is in my near future.

Shelby: I probably need to go check out this museum. I assume you meant Larwence County Museum, not Bedford County? Just located in the town of Bedford?

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2020, 10:59:50 PM »
Yup.... Bedford in Lawrence County, the center of Indiana's limestone business.  Shelby Gallien

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2020, 11:10:15 PM »



Here's the gun they have in the Lawrence County Museum in Bedford. Shelby, is this the gun on the front of the July 2016 Muzzle Blasts?

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2020, 11:12:04 PM »
Shelby...I've sure enjoyed your articles on GW Hatfield. I've shared with the broader Hatfield clan.

I have a cousin who inherited the gun made for Joel, passed to Hiram, my grandfather Cloudy...but he later sold it. Any idea who may have purchased it in the Monroe County Indiana area?

Offline Deron Smith

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2020, 12:19:38 AM »
Shelby, one more request...is it possible to put me in touch with Jeff? i realize it's weird to share his info with me so you can just send him my email: mrderonasmith@gmail.com. I just have some more specific questions. If he doesn't want to respond, certainly, no worries. Thank you.

Offline Tanselman

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2020, 06:45:52 AM »
Deron,

The gun on the cover of "Muzzle Blasts" is the fancier one with curly maple stock that sold through Rock Island Auction a few years back, and is now for sale on that other web site for about 8.5K. I have no clue to any past purchases of Hatfield rifles, only the two I bought and later moved on as mentioned in preceding posts. I have heard there is at least one still with Hatfield decendants in or near Greene County...if by chance your family rifle was sold to another Hatfield relative who wanted one badly.

There are also a couple of "wanna be" rifles floating around central and southern Indiana, from collector to collector, which are said to be Hatfield rifles but are NOT. So be careful if and when you locate one, and make sure it is either initialed correctly, or has all the correct Hatfield details on it before buying. The worst and most persistent sellers are the ones who got fooled, or burned, in the past and now want to move what they thought was a Hatfield [but really wasn't] along to the next gullible buyer. I will pass your e-mail along to Jeff Jaeger and tell him you are a decendant interested in the old Hatfield rifles, but no guarantee he will respond.  Shelby Gallien

Offline Yazel.xring

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Re: George Washington Hatfield
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2020, 06:11:38 PM »
Hi all, Ian Pratt sent me the link to this thread. After our conversation on the Muzzle Blasts Podcast, I've been diving into more iron mountain rifle history and began to seek out the GW Hatfield articles in Muzzle Blasts.

As a part of our ongoing work to publish the Muzzle Blasts Archives online, I've published the articles from 2016 on the NMLRA blog.

You can find them here - https://www.nmlra.org/news/whatfield-pt1-2016 and here https://www.nmlra.org/news/whatfield-pt2-2016

I'm working on digging up the articles from 2003 to make them more easily accessible.

Thank you Shelby Gallien and Jeff Jaeger, love the articles.