History of Hatfield

George Munzinger on plow
This photo, taken around 1902, is representative of the turn of the century Hatfield area. It shows John Munzinger, Sr. raking hay on his Cowpath Road farm, across from where Heidelberg Church is today. Photo courtesy of Hatfield Museum & History Society

Where we've been

Hatfield Township was founded in 1742 and named after a Welsh village in Hertfordshire, England. Some also say the town was named after an early Welsh settler, John Hatfield, but there are no records which authenticate this. For the better part of its first century, Hatfield was almost entirely a rural farming community.

trolley car in Hatfield
A hotel/tavern was built in 1819 at the intersection of Forty Foot and Cowpath Roads, and a store followed in 1827 on the southwest corner of Main and Vine Streets, but the event that drove the early development of Hatfield was the completion of a railroad line connecting Philadelphia and Bethlehem on July 7, 1857. Hatfield became a stop on the line, and the wheels were set in motion for a period of rapid growth. Hatfield officially became a borough in July 1898, with a total area of 176 acres.

Movers and shakers in Hatfield history

General Winfield Scott Hancock

Major General Winfield Scott Hancock was a popular Civil War hero and was close to becoming President of the United States, losing a close race to James A. Garfield in 1880. While his birthplace has been a matter of dispute for more than a century, local historians claim that a strong case can be made that Hancock was born in Hatfield.

Titus Albright

Dr. Titus Albright studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with honors in the spring of 1885. That fall, he moved to the Village of Hatfield to practice his profession. He served as Postmaster from 1886 to 1900 and was a driving force in the incorporation of Hatfield Borough in 1898.

George S. Snyder

If you have lived in Hatfield for more than two decades, you are familiar with the Estate of Geo S. Snyder, a popular Hatfield hardware store and home improvement center. George S. Snyder was raised on his family’s homestead farm in Hilltown Township. As a young man he spent three years hauling hay to the market in Philadelphia, then operated mills in Hatfield. He was an early supporter of the move to become a borough, and was the first to contribute to the expense of forming a charter. He served as Hatfield's first mayor and when his term was up, served two terms on the borough council.

Hatfield Racetrack

Did you know? Hatfield used to have a racetrack! Hatfield Speedway had its start in 1921 as a dirt horse track, but quickly transitioned to auto racing. The last race was held almost 60 years ago, but many folks can still recall the roar of the racetrack!