Biography of John FIELDS

The first definite appearance of JOHN FIELDS is in the Maury County, Tennessee tax list of 1818 possessed of 130 acres although a John FIELDS appears in the tax lists before then. The sale was recorded in 1820. John had possession of the land beforehand. Maury County (pronounced, at first, ‘Mawry’; now pronounced ‘Murray’) was named after Abram MAURY a prominent surveyor and politician of the region. On 22 June 1820, John Fields purchase of 130 acres of land from THOMAS HARDEMAN PERKINS and NICHOLAS PERKINS (Nicholas Perkins was credited with the capture of Aaron BURR on charges of treason (charges were later disproved) made by Burr’s political enemy Thomas JEFFERSON) was recorded in the old 18th District in the northwestern section of the county as follows:

Thomas H (Hardeman) & Nicholas Perkins of Williamson Co., Tenn to John Fields of Maury Co. 130 acres, on the north side of Duck River, on Turkey Creek (a tributary of)-----the waters of Snow Creek (a northern tributary of the Duck River). Beginning at a beech on James Bingham’s southwest corner…for $175.50. Made, 22 June 1820;Reg: 16 Aug 1822;Wit: Peter Prior, Green Prior, George Briscoe; (source: Direct Indice to Deeds, Vol 1, 1807 -1843/Grantor to Grantee, p. 595)

This tract, purchased by JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee, is situated between Turkey Creek and Snow Creek, tributaries of Duck River. The modern address is 5128 Fields Hollow Road, Santa Fe, TN. In 1808, Maury County had just been formed from Williamson County (1807) and the claims/boundaries had not been definitely settled. The tract was officially surveyed on 19 July 1807 (ref: Maury Deeds, Vol 1, Bk A #97). One story has it that the surveyors, encountering a snow storm, named the creek near their encampment: Snow Creek. However, of interest, there is a Snow Creek in Pittsylvania County, VA from whence many of the neighboring families hailed. Nearby is the hamlet of Santa Fe. Originally, a settlement existed farther up the hill from Santa Fe named Pinhook. The present Santa Fe was originally called Benton, named for THOMAS HART BENTON who served as US Senator representing, initially, Tennessee then later, Missouri. It is thought that it was renamed Santa Fe by the returning veterans from the Mexican War. Another version is that it was renamed for the post office established there.

The antecedents of the land transactions of this area are as follows. ROBERT HILL, Justice of the Peace, Maury County received, on 13 Feb 1808 Grant # 51m 5,000 acres in Williamson County. This 5000 acre tract was located in the 2nd Surveyor District on the north side of the Duck River and extended from Duck River on its south, northward, through the Snow Creek area, and continuing to a point just south of the Maury/Williamson County line (essentially, a majority of what became (1836) the old 18th Civil District). In 1784 the State of North Carolina had awarded a land warrant to MICHAEL BACON. He, at some later period, assigned this warrant to ROBERT HILL who began selling parcels to people residing in this area previous to the division of Williamson County (i.e. SPENCER, GRIFFIN, FITZGERALD, the CHURCHWELL, HANKS, AYDELOTTE, AYRE, et. al., and to THOMAS HARDEMAN PERKINS and his brother NICHOLAS PERKINS of Williamson County). The ROBERT HILL previously mentioned was also the certifier of the Power of Attorney, wherein, THOMAS HILL of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee was empowered to transact the business of JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee, for his service in the War of 1812 - 30 Dec 1815. This THOMAS HILL served as Justice of the Peace and was also appointed the Duck River Commissioner for one term.

On the 130 acres, John Fields of Maury County Tennessee built a house that stands today. We personally visited and photographed the house and land where JOHN FIELDS and others (unknown) are buried. An unmarked family plot is located about forty yards from the house under a big tree. The current owner (as of 1997) confirmed this and said that the previous owner Mrs. NOVIE (FIELDS) ALLEN (a grand-daughter of WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON FIELDS) had mentioned it. Mrs. NOVIE ALLEN (b. 14 Feb 1899, d. May 1980, married PAUL IRVIN ALLEN 16 Nov 1916) had planted bluebonnets in the shape of a large heart around the plot but the planting has since disappeared. It is presumed that JOHN FIELDS and his first wife and perhaps one or more children are buried in the family plot. A neighbor, JOHN WILLIAM PIGG (also a descendant of WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON FIELDS), stated (1997) that the house had been owned continuously by the descendants of WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON FIELDS until the death of Mrs. NOVIE ALLEN and that she had known who was buried in the family plot. Unfortunately, no known record exists listing those buried.

Military

During the War of 1812, John Fields of Maury County, Tennessee mustered into Captain JOHN JACKSON’S Company of Infantry, 1st (Metcalfe’s) Regiment West Tennessee Militia, on 13 Nov 1814 as a fifer at Camp Hynes and served until 13 May 1815. He was honorably discharged at the rank of corporal. As previously mentioned, John Fields of Maury County, Tennessee made a Power of Attorney (30 Dec 1815) empowering THOMAS HILL to transact business on his behalf in the matter of his pay indicating that John had trouble collecting his pay after his service. This was true for many of these veterans. General ANDREW JACKSON had been ordered to discharge the militia after the Battle of New Orleans at New Orleans. As a consequence, the veterans would then not be paid for the time taken to return to Tennessee and they would have had to shift for themselves in terms of food and transport. JACKSON refused and led the militia back to Tennessee.

Transcript of Power of Attorney of John Fields of Maury County , Tennessee made after service in War of 1812: Know all men by these presents that I John Fields of Maury County and State of Tennessee for divers goods causes and consideration ___ hereunto moving have made ordained authorized nominated and appointed and do by those presents make ordain authorize nominate and appoint Thomas Hill of Davidson County in Northsville and State aforesaid, my true and lawful attorney for me and in my name and for my own proper use to ask demand and ____ recover and receive of Joseph Coleman District paymaster for the state of Tennessee all such sum or sums of money debts or demands whatsoever which are now due and owing unto me the said John Fields by and from the United States for my services as Corporal in Captain Jackson’s Company from the 13 th of November 1814 until the 13 th of May 1815 making six months as for my Certificate of Service herewith and to have to ___ and take all lawful ways and means in my name or otherwise for the recovery thereof by Attachment assist _____ or otherwise and to compound and agree for the same and acquitances or other sufficient discharges for the same, for me and in my name to make ____ and deliver and do all other lawful accts and things whatsoever concerning the Premises as fully and every respect as I myself might or could do were I personally present at the doing thereof, in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 30 th of Dec 1815. John Fields, his mark. I Robert Hill one of the acting Justices of the Peace in and for the county aforesaid do certify that John Fields the Subscriber to the above power of attorney came before me in proper process and did acknowledge the execution of the same to the said Thomas Hill for the use and purposes therein expressed. Signed and certified by one Robert Hill JP.

According to an expert on the War of 1812 working at the Tennessee Archives, Camp Hynes was located somewhere around the Nashville area. No one knows exactly where. Camp Hynes was the rendezvous point for transport to New Orleans. JOHN FIELDS was given three days travel allowance pay to reach Camp Hynes (about 30 – 40 miles travel). Embarkation was in November of 1814. The troops made their way down the Mississippi River and arrived after a journey of about one month. They participated in skirmishes leading up to the Battle of New Orleans. Corporal JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee was engaged in heavy action in the Battle of New Orleans. Captain Jackson’s Company (to which JOHN FIELDS was attached) formed on the right flank (January 8, 1815) and received the main assault of the British. In addition to battle casualties, many men died of disease in New Orleans and on their return to Tennessee.

As a fifer, JOHN FIELDS would, along with the drummer, have signaled military maneuvers. Musicians were scarce and therefore highly valued. They were paid more and were generally young. At some time before the Battle of New Orleans, John was promoted to the rank of Corporal. We assume that he was elected, the practice of the time (see Tennessee Military Elections), by the militia men thus the election implies a high level of popularity and confidence in JOHN FIELDS.

Neighbors

The immediate neighbors of John FIELDS in 1820 (census) were Charles PARTEE, John MITCHEL, James BINGHAM, Nathaniel FITZGERALD, John AYERDOTT, Christopher FITZGERALD, James FITZGERALD and Thomas BROOKS. There were others by the name of FIELDS residing contemporaneously in Maury County. South of the Duck River in Columbia was a JOHN FIELDS. There was also a LEWIS FIELDS. Nearby (1830 census) a WILLIAM FIELDS, styled ‘Major’ by his wife in an obituary (National Banner & Nashville Daily Advertiser, 19 June 1833), resided near the families of HANKS, BROOKS, HARBISON, WITHERSPOON , PARTEE, and JOURNEY. In close proximity to this WILLIAM FIELDS lived (1820 census) PETER PRIOR, a witness to the property transfer of PERKINS to FIELDS in 1820 (this PRIOR family was from Orange County, NC across the border from Pittsylvania County, VA). These FIELDS may or may not be related to JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee.

Marriage – Allied Families

The name of the first wife of JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee is unknown. It has been speculated that the name may have been HILL or HANKS because the name Abel or Abraham (son of John) occurs in these families.

The maiden name of Sarah (John Fields’ second wife) is also unproved. Sarah was formerly the wife of a Mr. WILLIAMSON and their offspring was a MARY A. WILLIAMSON who married WILLIAM REVIERE. WILLIAM REVIERE was a blacksmith and his family appears later in the 1850 census in Williamsport (formerly "Williams Ferry" to the west of Santa Fe along Snow Creek Road). This household included JANE FIELDS (Louisa Jane) and EDWARD FIELDS (Edward ‘Ned’) daughter and son of JOHN FIELDS and Sarah). WILLIAM REVIERE made his will 24 Jul 1894, Hill County, Texas and he mentions his property in Williamsport, Tennessee.

Naming conventions suggest the maiden name of John’s second wife was a FITZGERALD. JOHN FIELDS’ children born after WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON FIELDS have Fitzgerald given names. The first four children of John Fields of Maury County, Tennessee do not have typical Fitzgerald names. For example, JAMES FITZGERALD FIELDS (fifth born of John) was obviously named after a Fitzgerald. Note also that the daughters of JOHN FIELDS by his first wife marry Fitzgerald men who incidentally are uncle (NATHANIEL KING FITZGERALD) and nephew (WILLIAM F FITZGERALD) to each other. Later, son PETER NATHANIEL (also a Fitzgerald given name) FIELDS appears in the 1860 Census (Anderson Co, TX) living in the household of AMOS FITZGERALD, a son of JAMES FITZGERALD and MARY "POLLY" LADD. We believe these facts, although circumstantial, are convincing and that they strongly indicate Sarah was a FITZGERALD. It is less confidently presumed that Sarah FITZGERALD was a daughter of CHRISTOPHER FITZGERALD. If this is true then she was sister and mother-in-law to NATHANIEL KING FITZGERALD and aunt and mother-in-law to WILLIAM F FITZGERALD.

After the death of JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee, a case involving Mrs. SARAH FIELDS is found in the Chancery Court Minutes (1857) brought against ABRAHAM FIELDS and WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON FIELDS by WILLIAM REVIER (Sarah's son-in-law) for the support of Mrs. FIELDS and her children. Per a note written by the late MONTE HUGH KNIGHT (a Maury County historian), as follows:

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) 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 Reviers 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.”  

In the census of 1840, the household of JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee included “one white idiotic or insane person at private charge”, a reference to Sarah. In a last reference in the court records, Mrs. SARAH FIELDS appears in the Pauper Coffin Appropriations. ‘FIELDS, SARAH is reported or supposed to be e a lunatic…jury finds she is not of sound mind…makes reference to the will of JOHN FIELDS, August 1849 (Maury County Cousins Bible Records and Other Records, Vol 2, p 283).

Research Notes - Origins

Where did the family of JOHN FIELDS of Maury County, Tennessee originate? He is listed in the census with a birthplace of North Carolina. Tennessee, at the time of the earliest census in which JOHN FIELDS appears, was referred to as Tennessee. So a designation of North Carolina as birthplace was deliberate. For example, the militia of Middle Tennessee in the War of 1812 was known as the West Tennessee Militia. West Tennessee (now Middle Tennessee) was composed of Davidson, Rutherford, and Wilson Counties, etc. and therefore included the area of the current Maury County.

It is highly probably, due to migration patterns, that the father of JOHN FIELDS and the father's kin (as families tended to migrate together for mutual support) were residing in one of the areas inhabited, prior to migration, by the Maury County neighbors of John FIELDS. Contemporaneous families came from: Goochland County, VA; Albemarle County, VA; Pittsylvania County, VA; Hanover County, VA; Granville county, NC; Orange County, NC; and less often from Halifax County, VA.

However, to date, no authenticated connection has been made to the Virginia lines of FIELDS mainly due to the problem of lost records. Very early FIELD(S) in Virginia include Nathaniel FIELD(S) (of Hanover County), William FIELD(S) (of Hanover County), David, or Davie, FIELD(S) (of Pittsylvania County) and the Culpepper County FIELD(S). Any connection with the Native American RICHARD FIELDS is disproved by DNA testing. Y-chromosome testing identifies the earliest male ancestors of JOHN FIELDS as Gaelic (Celtic tribes) and amongst the very early inhabitants of the British Isles upwards to 9,000 year ago.

Last Will and Testament - Transcript

I, John Fields, being weak in body but sound and disposing in mind and memory, do make, ordain and establish this my last will and testament in the words following to wit: first, I will that all my just debts together with my funeral expenses be paid by my executers as soon after my death as convenient. In order to enable them to do so, I will that they sell so much of my personal property as shall be sufficient to satisfy said debts. Then second, for and in consideration of my children that have arisen to the age of 21, first my sons Able and Wm. H. Fields to take possession of my lands and brothers come of said land to raise minor heirs from proceeds of said land, and as the heirs come of age and will assist in raising minor heirs, they shall have the use of said land in possession. Then third, I will and desire the residue of my estate both real and personal come in common stock until my youngest child comes of age or marries or arrives at the age of 21. I will that estate aforesaid remain in common stock and the proceeds and interest be applied to the support of my minor heirs, provided they see proper to remain in the family and help promote the interest of the family in common stock. Then fourth, as aforesaid, I will that the (w)hole estate real and personal be equally divided between all my heirs that have arisen to the age of 21 and them that is of age namely: Peggy Fitzgerald, Betsy Fitzgerald, Able Fields, and William H. Fields; the above heirs have arisen to the age of 21. Now the minor heirs I will name: James, Edmond, Matilda, Louisa, Peter, Bill, Ned, Richard. Peggy and Betsy, I want at the division what they have got, to take that much out of their part as when the sale or division shall take place of my estate. I also want my two sons Wm. H. and Able Fields, executors of this last will and testament, this 18 th day of July 1844. John Fields (his mark)

 Jesse H. Fitzgerald, Jurat; Isaiah Southern, Jurat ; source: Probate Minute Book A, Vol 2, p. 170 – Feb Term 1845, Maury County Courthouse, Tn)


© 2006 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: "© 2006 Mark L. Fields. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Mark L. Fields."

Source Records

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Notes

Given the topography of the Fields Plantation, John FIELDS was likely to have raised livestock for a living. The area is hilly with thin topsoil.


Plantation House