Walter Lee Fields

a biography

Walter Fields

Walter Lee FIELDS was born 23 Jan 1880 near Bryson, Jack County, Texas. He died 27 Dec 1945 of a heart attack at the family ranch near Bryson, Jack County, Texas. He married Mary Louisa Tripp on 17 Sep 1900.

His parents were Green Washington Fields, born at Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee, and Francis Julia Farmer, born in Benton County, Arkansas. At the time of his birth, his parents lived in an old rock house, on the Balch land, which once served, during the Indian depredations, as an old stage stop between Fort Richardson and Fort Belnap.

Walter FIELDS had sky blue, piercing eyes, thick brown hair, and handsome features. He stood five foot 9 inches tall and weighed about 145 pounds. As an adult, his face was deeply tanned from prolonged exposure to the Texas sun.

He was a true Texas cowboy, with many of the attributes associated with that label. He wanted things to be his way. He was stubborn, rugged and had a high temper that flared at the smallest insult. His favorite place on earth was astride a horse at dusk, watching a Texas sunset painting the sky.

Work never ceased for Walter, at least as a young man. He drove cattle with his brothers out in West Texas for a time. Later, farming around Bryson consisted of plowing with teams of horses or mules. He planted corn, oats, wheat and cotton for crops. His crops often failed due to drought conditions.

As a young man, he went to church with his mother and father aboard a wagon or by horseback. Often, there were barn dances, camp meetings where he probably had his pick of the girls. He met a young lady from Finis Texas, a small community in Ross Valley, where he had attended school. .

He courted Mary Louisa Tripp, sometimes using a buggy, well-built by he and his brothers. Walter and Mary filed for a marriage license on 15 Sep 1900, and they were wed at Finis at her parents house on 17 Sep 1900. Their first children were born in the Just house. The young couple were helping the widow King at that time.

The young couple had dreams: a ranch on the Edwards Plateau of Texas, a lush and green area near Kerrville. As with most dreams, it was never fulfilled. Their family grew over the years. Thirteen children were hardy enough to make it to term. There were about three miscarriages. Walter delivered every child. His children later recalled getting pats on the head for good deeds but never hugs. They lived on the Williams land until 1920. Then they moved to the Mccumber land in Young County, which became the Harmon land. By 1927 they were living on 80 acres of his fathers land in Jack County.

In 1923 oil was discovered near Bryson, Texas. Bryson became a "boom-town" for a few years. Walter worked in the oilfield, pulling wells. In this timeframe, Walter rode a Percheron mare over 16 miles, a day’s ride, to Loving Texas where he introduced "Halley" to a stallion who belonged to Oliver Loving . Walter was caught by the foreman of the ranch, and he was arrested for theft of stud services, a serious offense in horse country. He paid a fine. But the result of the illegal horse liaison was a colt named Brutus.

Walter owned another horse named Cricket. He also owned hunting dogs. The hills around Bryson often echoed with the baying of Walters hounds. At night, he hunted raccoons, bobcats, and whatever else the dogs would chase. He trained the dogs, as pups, to come to the sound of a blowing horn [fashioned from the horn of a cow] to be fed. When the hounds were used later for hunting, they would return from great distances to the horn.

By the age of 50, he was slowing down, his breath hard to catch at times. He had frequent chest pains which he never mentioned. He gained weight, and he probably never saw a doctor. A steady diet of pork, eggs, and biscuits and gravy plus the stress of having 5 sons in army during World War II was catching up to him. His hair, still thick, had turned a beautiful, pure white. Leslie , his son remembered walking down to the Goude tank [man-made pond] with Walter while he was home visiting. Walter could hardly make it back up the hill.

Late in life, Mary and he quarreled quite a bit, usually because he tried to make his young sons work, something they avoided as much as they could. Walter’s brother Lester argued with him frequently over money or the lack of it. Violet, a daughter, chased Lester out of the house with a broom for upsetting the sickly Walter. Three days before, Lester and Walter had an intense verbal fight punctuated by swearing. Walter had become bedridden. Son Leslie got a telephone call at Pampa that his father had died near midnight of an immediate coronary occlusion. Lester, who lived to a very advanced age, never forgave himself.

I never met my grandfather, he had passed away before his grandchildren were born. This biography was written from notes collected over the years from questioning Walters children. Some accounts are conflicting while some accounts have been found to be true. Many of my notes, written on scraps of paper, have been lost or misplaced. This bio is a work in progress. Here are some of my thoughts.

There were enough sons born to this couple to have produced a Texas dynasty but few of the sons married and even fewer produced heirs. 45 years passed between the birth of his first child and Walters death. This couple lived through the Great Depression, Texas droughts and crop failures, the denial of drilling for oil on their property by unscrupulous oil companies, and family disputes over property left with undivided interests by his father. Walters dream never came to pass. Maybe the important thing was to have a dream.

©2010 Carolyn Collins-Fields. This work may be reproduced and redistributed, in whole or in part, without alteration and without prior written permission, provided all copies contain the following statement: "© 2010 Carolyn Collins-Fields. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Carolyn Collins-Fields."

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