Sid Hatfield (1893–1921)

New York Times Says Union Hero’s Assassination Is No Big Deal

Matt Orfalea
2 min readAug 29, 2017


Sid Hatfield was a chief of police for the town of Matewan in Mingo County, West Virginia. He was different from other West Virginia law men because he didn’t take bribes from the coal company. He rejected them.

In 1920, he was of the main parties in a famous shootout, defeating coal company thugs (Baldwin Felts Agents) who had been hired to evict union sympathizers in Matewan. It became known as “The Matewan Massacre”.

After the shootout, Sid Hatfield became a hero to the oppressed miners of the time. He was featured in a UMWA (United Mine Workers of America) film and posed for union publicity photos with Mother Jones.

Sid Hatfield (bottom center left) poses with Mother Jones (bottom center right) for union publicity photos

The following year on August 1 1921, Hatfield was assassinated in broad daylight by Baldwin Felts Agents. Two days later, the New York Times echoed the narrative of the coal company, writing that Hatfield’s murder needn’t prompt any outrage, and it was best for men like him to die off. (See last paragraph of full article below.)

The Times referred to him as “The Primitive Mountaineer”:

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