William Henry Harrison FIELDS 1823-1896

A biography

William Henry Harrison FIELDS (aka Henry) was born on 15 Mar 1823 in Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee. He was the 4th child of John FIELDS and his first wife, whose name is unknown. He died on 21 Jul 1896 in Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee. William Henry Harrison FIELDS married Martha Jane SLAYDEN, daughter of Daniel Everett SLAYDEN and Edna BOYD on 17 Jan 1843 in Maury County, Tennessee. Martha Jane died on 17 Aug 1891 in Maury County, Tennessee. William Henry Harrison FIELDS was named for William Henry HARRISON, 9th President of the United States.

The SLAYDEN family is an early Virginia family, from at least 1704. Before the family removed to Tennessee, they resided in Pittsylvania County, Virginia where the will of Joseph SLAYDEN (the grandfather of Martha) was probated in 1819.

After the death of John FIELDS in 1845, William Henry Harrison FIELDS and his brother, Abraham, took possession of their father’s lands (but the estate remained with undivided interests until 1869) in Fields Hollow, Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee.

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 probably 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

During the Civil War, it is thought that William Henry Harrison FIELDS served in a Confederate cavalry unit under Nathan Bedford FORREST. There is a Henry FIELDS listed in muster rolls. However, it has not been proven that this veteran is our Henry FIELDS. He would have been 38 years old at the outbreak of the war. Still, William and Martha's last child was born in Feb 1860, and Martha would have been young enough to bear more children. This may not mean anything, but it suggests at least the possibility that William Henry was away at war.

William and Martha had 8 children who lived to adulthood: Sarah P FIELDS, Lucretia J FIELDS, Margaret E FIELDS, Josephine S FIELDS, Melissa Louise FIELDS, Samuel J FIELDS, James Monroe FIELDS, and John C B FIELDS. There are many descendants living in Maury County and Middle Tennessee. William and Martha are buried at the Goshen Cemetery, Santa Fe, Maury County, Tennessee.

  • Sources
  • 1850 Maury County, TN Federal Census, household 544, National Archives, Washington DC
  • 1860 Maury County, TN Federal Census, District 18; Roll M653_1264; pg 464; Img 342, Ancestry.com
  • Jill K Garrett, Maury Genealogist, V2, No 3, pg 121; Tennessee State Library, F443.M4M42; "Fields, Henry. Remains brought to Goshen and buried Wednesday the 22nd; lived on Turkey Creek; three score and ten; wife died 10 years ago. Cumberland Presbyterian 31 Jul 1896"
  • Marriage: Tennessee Marriage REcords, Maury County, Tennessee, P 36; Tennessee State Library, F443M4A42

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