Hatfields keep Century Farm going

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

James “Jamie” Hatfield, from left, with his parents, Pat and Edward Hatfield III, on their Century Farm in Burdette. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a series on Century Farms in Southampton County, which at 80, has more than any other county in Virginia.


BURDETTE—Less than a mile from the Blackwater River in Burdette sits Hatfield Farms.

Edward Hatfield III and his son, James “Jamie” Hatfield, tend to its 1,000-plus acres. Edward Hatfield’s father and grandfather preceded them.

“The farm came through my grandmother, whose maiden name was Councill,” said Edward Hatfield.

The 67-year-old said there’s no definite date the farm on Line Pine Road was established, but it may be as early as the 1700s.

A millstone from that time was found in a family field, and today serves as the foundation for a flagpole.

“At the time my grandmother inherited it through her side of the family, she and her brother each got a parcel, both still in the family,” said Hatfield.

When his grandfather, “Eddie” Hatfield Sr., was working the land in the 1900s, there were probably 115 acres. Fifty-five acres were forested and 60 acres were used for corn, probably cotton, and peanuts for a long time.

Today, the Hatfields raise cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

The thought of doing something other than farming has never seriously crossed the senior farmer’s mind.

“It was always my desire as a child to be a farmer,” said Hatfield. “I was a typical farm kid. I went out to the field with my father every chance I got. My grandfather was able to still work, and I remember chopping peanuts with him and things of that nature.”

“I’ve just always enjoyed it, plowing in the spring and smelling the fresh soil,” he added. It’s always fascinating to see what God can do with seed and rain. Sometimes there are disasters, really bleak times. But you’d be surprised what He can turn out of it.”

One of those tough times occurred in 1964, which was Hatfield’s second year of farming.

“It was a wet fall,” he said. “A good percentage of the crops were lost. It taught me not to count the eggs before they’re hatched.”

The other was in 1980.

“That was a disastrous year. It was dry, dry,” he said.

“We prayed a lot,” added his wife, Pat, who helped raised the couple’s four children. Others are Tricia Lowe, Amanda Greene and Sandy Edwards; the latter lives on the farm.