Samuel Ryan Hatfield [00879] and Helena "Lena F" Wohltman [00934] in Michigan

Recently, information has been found which indicates that Samuel Hatfield was in Michigan earlier than previously thought.  There is a marriage record for Samuel Hatfield and Sarah E. Shinabery in Elba Township of Gratiot County Michigan in 1876.  It says that Samuel was born about 1852 in Logan County, Ohio and Sarah was born about 1854 in Putnam County, Ohio.  This certainly looks like the first marriage of Samuel.  There is also a birth record on January 15, 1879 in Elba Township of Gratiot County Michigan showing the birth of a John Hatfield where the parents are listed as Samuel and Sarah Hatfield.  An additional record shows that this son died 3 months and 15 days later on May 1, 1879 in the same location.  Apparently, Samuel and Sarah divorced sometime after that and before he showed up back in Putnam County, Ohio on the farm of his brother-in-law and sister, Joseph and Sarah Ellen Hatfield Eickholt per the 1880 Federal Census.  It is likely that Sam met his second wife, Helena Wohltman (anglicized Waltman) there, as her family owned a farm just across the road, at that time.

It is not known precisely when Samuel and Helena Wohltman Hatfield came from Ohio to Michigan.  Based on information from the 1910 federal census and from a 1884 marriage license, it is known that they were married Jan 23, 1884, in Auburn, in DeKalb Co., Indiana. The marriage document shows that, at that time, they both resided in Newville, DeKalb Co., Indiana.

Soon after this marriage, they probably headed for the lumbering region of Michigan.  The first official record of their arrival in Michigan is a birth record for their first son, Rolland Francis Hatfield in Hamilton Township of Gratiot County in 1886.

So far, no record of where they were living at that time has surfaced although, Samuel's younger brother, John P. Hatfield, came to Michigan by 1880 and he married Mertie Sinclair shortly after that and might have been living on property owned by her father, Hason Sinclair, in Hamilton Township by the time that Samuel and Helena arrived.

A 1901 atlas for Gratiot County Michigan shows that a J. Hatfield owns a 40 acre parcel in section 33 of Hamilton Township near properties of H Sinclair and John's wife, Myrtie Hatfield.  

It is possible that Samuel and Helena were living with him.  At the time of the birth record, Samuel is working as a mill worker and there is a saw mill located on the property of Hason Sinclair in Hamilton Township.  Soon after the birth of Rolland F. Hatfield, Samuel and Helena appear to have moved to a property which was in section 14 of Elba Township of Gratiot County.  In an 1889 atlas a 120 acre parcel is listed under the name of Samuel Hatfield in Elba Township and this is the township where Sam and Lena's second son was born in 1889.  An 1889 birth record for their second son, Clarence Frederick Hatfield, shows a location of Elba Township of Gratiot County Michigan and says that Samuel is working as a farmer.  

A recently discovered personal letter of Helena Wohltman Hatfield indicates that her father, George Friedrich Wohltman, and perhaps her older sister, Doris Rebecca Wohltman, were also living there for a time.  This letter further indicates that Helena's father died at their home in Michigan.

An 1894 Michigan State Census indicates that Samuel, Lena, and their two boys are still living in Elba Township of Gratiot County Michigan. No other people are listed as living in their home at that time.

By the time of the 1901 atlas mentioned above, the property is no longer listed as belonging to Samuel Hatfield, so it is likely that they have departed from this area before the maps for that atlas were researched.

Family stories indicate that in the 1890's, Samuel and Lena went to Indiana to farm.  This is partially confirmed by a 1900 federal census entry which shows them renting property in West Point Township of White County, Indiana with their two sons.  It is also believed that they remained in Indiana at least until their first son was old enough to go on his own to Chicago, IL. This would have been about 1907. 

A 1998 map of portions of Elba and Hamilton Townships of Gratiot County, Michigan, overlaid with the location of the 1889 property of Samuel Hatfield (N43 09.83' W84 23.41').  This may be where Samuel’s second son, Clarence Frederick Hatfield was born in 1889.

The map also shows 1889 properties owned by Samuel’s brother, John Hatfield (N43 11.06' W84 29.01'), and L. E. Criss (N43 11.168' W84 28.933') which was probably where John Hatfield was living in 1880 as a border and saw mill hand.  This was possibly where John met his future wife Mertie Sinclair as the 1880 census shows her living in the same house, as a servant.  John and Mertie Sinclair Hatfield were married in Elba Township Aug 15, 1880. Mertie Sinclair was the daughter of Hason Sinclair, one of the first residents of Gratiot County and his 1889 property can be seen in Hamilton Township, just north of the township line with Elba.  The L. E. Criss mentioned is probably Lucian E. Criss who married Hason Sinclair's older daughter, Ida  M. Sinclair, and she is probably the wife, as listed in the 1880 Elba Township, Gratiot Co., Michigan residence where John P. Hatfield and Mertie Sinclair are living.

There is also an Ira J. Sinclair who owns property in Hamilton Township, Gratiot Co., Michigan very near the property of Hason Sinclair.  This is probably Ira James Sinclair, Hason Sinclair's son, who was born in 1866.  

Note: Even though Mertie is shown on the census with the Criss family in 1880, she is also listed along with her two brothers, Michael and Ira James, as living with her parents.  It is also peculiar that the Hason Sinclair residence is listed on that census as being in Elba Township of Gratiot County even though in 1889 it was located just across the north township line into Hamilton Township.

Samuel Hatfield's 1889 property was at N43 09.83' W84 23.41', John Hatfield's 1889 property was at N43 11.06' W84 29.01', and the 1889 L. E. Criss property was at N43 11.168' W84 28.933'.
Atlas of Gratiot County, Michigan / compiled by E. L. Hayes ; assistants: E. W. Dixon, Wm. T. Pitt.

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