Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Early Settlers--Jesse Fields Family

In 1837 Jesse and Catherine Fields moved from North Carolina to Union County, Georgia. The 1840 and 1850 census records of the county can be somewhat confusing on this Fields family. In 1840 they were listed as "Jesse Fielder" by the enumerator with six in the household. By 1850, the enumerator listed them as the Jesse Fields household, and since names were given in that year's census, we learn that Jesse, born in SC, was 38, his wife Catherine, born in NC, was 38, and children in their home were: James, 15, born in NC, Elizabeth, 13, born in SC, and those born in Georgia were Sarah, 12, John 9, Thomas 7, and William 2.

The family settled in the Owltown District of Union County and built a log cabin which was later expanded to become the Crump residence, well-known as one of the historic houses of the district.

Jesse Fields was involved in county and community life. It is said that he cut trees and hewed logs for the building of Union County's first log courthouse.

He and his family were among the early members of Harmony Grove Baptist Church founded in 1847. Jesse Fields served as the church's clerk from 1858-1860.

The Civil War came and the Jesse Fields family was affected by it, as were most of the residents of Union County who sent soldiers either to the Union or to the Confederate Army. Two of Jesse's sons, John and Thomas J. served in the Confederate Army.

Before Thomas went away to war, he married Sarah Allen. She had come from Holland with her family and often had stories to tell her family and others about the hardships they endured on the journey by ship from Holland.

With Thomas away at war, Sarah was doing what she could to maintain their farm and make a living for the family. Then she got word that her husband, Thomas J. Fields, had been killed in the war. He had first been a bugler in the 6th Regiment of the Georgia Calvary, and then assigned to the 65th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry.

One day, Sarah was plowing on their farm along the Nottely River. She had an oxen hitched to the plow, but it had balked and was lying down in the river. Sarah, tired and displeased with the stubborn ox's behavior, bowed her head in resignation and perhaps to pray. When she lifted her head and looked toward the rail fence that surrounded the plot she was cultivating, she saw her husband, Thomas Fields, two years reported dead, crossing the fence. The impact of seeing him made her fall into the river in a faint. Records show that he was discharged May 12, 1865, more than a month after the war was declared ended at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Thomas and Sarah and their family lived at the Fields (later Crump) residence in Owltown for a number of years after he returned from the Civil War. He had artisans Bascomb and Woodford Nelson add the gingerbread decoration to the old Fields cabin that had been added onto throughout the years and was a stately two-story white frame house. He became a doctor. In 1915 he and Sarah moved to Mt. Airy, Georgia near Cornelia.

The Fields family, descending from first settlers Jesse and Catherine Akins Fields, have figured prominently in Union County's growth. As descendants went to other geographic locations, they became solid citizens and hard-working people. After Catherine's death, Jesse Fields married, second, to Lavina Cook.

Catherine, Jesse and Vinie Fields were interred in the Harmony Grove Baptist Church Cemetery. Catherine Fields' stone does not have a birth date; her death date was November 15, 1857. Jesse Fields was born June 12, 1812 and died November 16, 1904. Vinie, Jesse's second wife, died November 23, 1877. Her stone has no birth date. The tribute inscribed on Jesse Fields's tombstone speaks of his character: "He lived a Christian life."

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published April 2, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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