Abraham FIELDS 1818-1872

A biography

Abraham Fields

Abraham FIELDS (aka "Abel or Able") was born on 6 Mar 1818 in Santa Fe, Maury County, TN, USA. He was the second child of John FIELDS and his first wife, whose name is unknown. He died on 1 Mar 1872 in Osage Twp, Benton County, AR, USA. Abraham married Louisa Virginia THURMOND, daughter of Thomas THURMOND and Mary "Polly" Spencer JOHNSON on 27 Nov 1824 in Albemarle County, VA, USA. She died on 29 May 1892 in Norman, Cleveland County, OK, USA.

Children

  • Mary C FIELDS married Joseph DUNN
  • Green Washington FIELDS married Francis Julia FARMER
  • Macarina R FIELDS married George Dawson HEWITT
  • Norvell (Novel) Thurmond FIELDS married Gillie A BREEDLOVE
  • James Anderson FIELDS
  • Martha Jane FIELDS married Daniel Carrick HEWITT
  • Louisa Virginia FIELDS married William Eugene BINGHAM
  • Thomas Jefferson FIELDS
  • Endora Elizabeth FIELDS married Lee T BINGHAM
  • Laura Francis FIELDS Soloman B HODKIN

After the death of his father, John FIELDS, in 1845, Abraham and his brother, William Henry Harrison FIELDS, took possession of their father’s lands (but the estate remained with undivided interests until 1869) in Fields Hollow, Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee. The inheritance allows Abraham to marry the next year in 1846. By 1850, he is residing in Fields Hollow with his wife, two children and his two half-brothers, William and Richard FIELDS. Alongside, Abraham's brother Henry, who married in 1843, he is living with his expanding family.

In 1857 William REVIER (son-in-law to John's second wife through her daughter, Mary A. WILLIAMSON-REVIER, by another marriage) brought a law suit on behalf of Sarah in Chancery Court against Abraham and his brother, William Henry Harrison FIELDS, relating to the support of Sarah FITZGERALD-FIELDS (John's second wife and widow) and the children of John FIELDS'S by her (Chancery Court Minutes 1857). Sarah and some of her children were living in Columbia with William REVIER at that time. Monte Hugh KNIGHT (a Maury County Historian) wrote:

Monte Hugh Knight - Note: Re the “Fields vs. Fields 1857” – “William Revier married Mary A. Williamson in 1837 in Maury Co. She was a daughter of Sarah (John Fields 2nd wife by Sarah’s 1st marriage [to a Mr. WILLIAMSON, probably given name John] and therefore a half-sister of John Fields’ younger children. I’ve been unable to find John and Sarah’s marriage record. It may have been in Illinois as Mary A. Revier was born in Ill. According to census records, the Revier's settled in Hillsboro, Hill Co, Tx about 1875. Low P. Walker was their daughter and she was mentally unbalanced when she got older. I checked the Hill Co. Court Records on that family.”

Even as Abraham and Henry prevailed in court, they defended Sarah. When jurors asked if Sarah was of sound mind, they replied no; she was eccentric ("has her own ways") and was an excellent spinner and weaver. Sarah FITZGERALD-FIELDS may have suffered from bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. At her death, in a pauper's coffin appropriation case: "Sarah is reported or supposed to be a lunatic. The jury finds she is not of sound mind . [Jury] makes reference to the will of John Fields"; source: August 1849,v2,pg 283, Maury County Cousins Bible Records & Other Records.

On a lighter side, a humorous anecdote from that time:

"In 1857, Able Fields, Richard Fields, and W. H. Fields were making purchases in the Santa Fe stores. Mrs Shenk told me a little story about Novie Lee Fields (who married Paul Allen) and Era McKee. These two girls came to school one day wearing new spring suits with split skirts and iridescent slips showing. Mr. Church, who was the teacher at the time, sent them home to change clothes. I suppose these well-dressed young ladies kept the other students from concentrating on their work! Essey Fields married Coleman Pigg. John Fields and Sarah Fields settled on Snow Creek. Sarah was a second wife. Her step-sons were Able and William H. Fields. John Fields died in 1844, leaving a large family. One daughter married Nathaniel Fitzgerald and one married William Fitzgerald. The above children were over twenty one in 1844. The minors were James, Edmund (died), Matilda (died), Louisa, Peter, Bill, Ned, Richard. Richard was a minor in 1857." source: Historic Maury, pg 47-48, Jill Garrett Collection, Tennessee Library and Archives, Nashville, TN

Sometime between 1857 and 1860 (prob. 1858), Abraham FIELDS removed with his family to Missouri. There, in the 1860 Missouri Federal Census, is found an "Able FEALS" living in the Sarcoxie Twp, Jasper County with the correct family members. In addition to Abraham's immediate family, a Thomas FITZGERALD and a Mary Jane FINCH, both aged about 21, reside with the FIELDS. Family lore has it that a runaway slave begged Abraham to go with him from Tennessee to Missouri, however, there is no proof of this story. In that day and time, it was illegal to transport a runaway slave. The legal penalties were severe. But, according to the story, Abraham FIELDS agreed to take the slave. If the legend is true, the slave may have continued on to Kansas (a free state) as there is no slave listed for Abraham in the 1860 slave schedules census.

This Thomas FITZGERALD is Jesse Thomas Schuyler Fitzgerald, son of James Garrett FITZGERALD and Margaret THURMOND and nephew to Abraham's wife, Louisa Virginia THURMOND. [This fact was only established in 2006 when Mark Fields of RelativelyConnected.com found the long missing and elusive Missouri census record for Abraham FIELDS and family.]

Until 2006 (some 140 years later) there was no proof that Abraham was ever located in Missouri. Then Mark L Fields found Abraham's 1860 Missouri census record. It was mis-enumerated under the wrong surname ("Feals"), and the record could not be found by previous researchers in the indexes under FIELDS or soundex (a phonetic word variation system).

Before her death, Mamie LEGARD-STAFFORD (Anderson County, TX historian and Fields family genealogist) guessed that JTS FITZGERALD had moved to Missouri with Abraham FIELDS when she wrote: "James G. FITZGERALD (married Margaret THURMAN 24 Dec 1834, probably a sister of Virginia Fields) was a son of Nathaniel Fitzgerald by his 1st wife [and] step-son of Margaret (Peggy) Fields. Jesse T S probably moved to Mo. with Abel and Virginia Fields. He may have been responsible for Virginia's move to Navarro Co. [TX]."

The other relative, Mary Jane FINCH, living in Abraham's household in 1860 was the daughter of Keeble T FINCH and Katherine THURMOND, a sister of Louisa Virginia THURMOND. Thus, Mary Jane FINCH was a niece. Her mother had died about 1845, and her father had remarried. For some reason, Mary Jane was living with her grandmother, Mary JOHNSON-THURMOND (aka "Polly") in 1850. Mary Jane FINCH married Franklin SMITH in May 1861, just as the Civil War broke out. This couple appear in the 1870 census in Osage Twp, Benton County, Arkansas, a few households away from the household of Abraham FIELDS. Later, in 1880, they are in Navarro County, Texas where the widow Virginia FIELDS relocated.

In 1860 Abraham was possessed of land in Jasper County, Missouri. It is not known whether he obtained this land from bounty land warrants (the execution of which are known as "patents"). Certainly his father, John FIELDS (who was an officer in the War of 1812) could have had bounty land warrants granted to him. However, no record of a bounty land warrant in John's name exists; it may have been lost or destroyed. For example Nathaniel King FITZGERALD (a friend, next-door neighbor, and son-in-law to John FIELDS) was granted bounty land warrants for his service as a private in the War of 1812 (see biography of Nathaniel King FITZGERALD). After the Civil War, Abraham does not possess land in Arkansas, according to the 1870 census. It is probable that he lost his land in Missouri after the war. Unionists then controlled the Missouri county and state governments and many southern sympathizers were dispossessed of their land by "legal" maneuvering.

Nothing is known of the Abraham FIELDS family during the Civil War years. There is a gap of 5 1/2 years between the birth of his last two daughters. Daughter, Laura Fields, is born in May 1867 at Osage Twp, Washington County (now Benton County), AR. Thus, between Dec 1861 and May 1867, the family removes to Arkansas. Abraham is to live only five more years.

It is most likely that the removal of the family to Arkansas was due to the general lawlessness and partisan murders in western Jasper County. According to Ward L. Schrantz, author of Jasper County, Missouri, in the Civil War; Carthage Press, 1923; page 233 : (from an account and letter written by Sarah Scott of Sarcoxie to General Sanborn, Union) "In 1865 near the end of the war, as it afterwards proved, an order was issued to go in effect by a certain time clearing the county of what few people were left in it. It was desired to render this territory so it would yield no sustenance for the guerillas and bushwhackers. Many people left, but I stayed. Some others stayed too, but I suppose there were not over 50 people left in Sarcoxie after that order came, probably not that many."

A story handed down in the family about Abraham FIELDS and the Civil War has become as vague as a wisp of smoke. Family lore has it that the FIELDS family, living in Missouri, fled from the dreaded "Yankees" across a river only to look back and see their house in flames. Over time the details have been lost and nothing has been unearthed to substantiate the story. However, this family remembrance is consistent with general events that occurred in the Sarcoxie area. Southern sympathizers were murdered and their houses burned by Union militia or guerrillas, Union sympathizers were murdered and their houses burned by Bushwhackers, and those that tried to remain neutral were killed and their houses burned by both sides. At the end of the war, Jasper County was in ruins.

No land record pertaining to Abraham can be found in Arkansas. Abraham FIELDS may have lost his land in Missouri to tax condemnation by the state, which after the war was controlled by Unionists and carpetbaggers who were particularly vengeful after the war. It is presumed that either

  • his health was failing and he bought no land in AR; or
  • he disposed of his AR (or MO) land prior to death

The transfer of Abraham’s interest in the John Fields tract of land in Tennessee was settled with brother William Henry Harrison FIELDS in October 1869 for $250 (there must have been earlier settlements as the Maury County land was valued - and probably undervalued - at $4,500 in the 1860 census). While Abraham was now landless, the family was not poor. His son Green Washington FIELDS was financially secure enough to marry in 1870, remove to Dallas County, TX by 1871, and secure extensive land holdings in Dallas as well as on the still untamed frontier of north central Texas near Fort Belnap. One family history chapter closed in Arkansas while another chapter had opened in Texas.

Abraham died intestate in 1872 at the age of 54 years. His widow, Louisa Virginia THURMOND, requested of the Court, and was granted the possession of the estate which was comprised of personal property to the value of $220. The widow removed to Navarro County, Texas with a daughter, her married niece, and possibly other relatives.

© 2007 Mark L. Fields. This work may be reproduced and redistributed, in whole or in part, without alteration and without prior written permission solely for genealogy research purposes, provided all copies contain the following statement: "© 2007 Mark L. Fields. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Mark L. Fields, his heirs, or assigns."


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