CAPTAIN W. W. FIELDS
CAPTAIN W. W. FIELDS. One of the prominent citizens of Haskell county, Texas, and one who has been closely identified with its development most of the time since the county was organized, is Captain W. W. Fields. His father, Joseph Upton Fields, was born in 1818, in South Carolina, and when two years old was taken by his parents to Montgomery county, Alabama, where his boyhood days were passed. A youth of seventeen or eighteen years, we find him at Shreveport, Louisiana, where he remained a short time, coming thence to Clarksville, Red River county, Texas. This was in 1837. He lived in Red River county two years. At about the age of twenty-one he married Mrs. Martha Harris, a daughter of ‘Squire Noah Lilley, a pioneer of that section. The early settlers during those days had much trouble with the Indians, and Joseph U. Fields spent a great deal of his time as a ranger guarding the lives and property of the pioneers. On account of these frequent troubles with the red men he moved his family further east, seeking a safer place of residence, and settled in Harrison county, that being before the city of Marshall had an existence. Harrison county was the seat of trouble later on between the Regulators and Moderators, and Mr. Fields, being a magistrate of the county and a member of the law and order party, was largely instrumental in breaking up the disturbances. He had a brother-in-law, John J. Kennedy, who was sheriff of the county and they worked conjointly in making peace between the two opposing factions. The first court in the county, held under a big oak tree, was presided over by Magistrate Fields. Two or three men were killed while it was in progress. The Lilleys also were of the peace party and some of them were officers of the law. During the last two years of the Civil war Mr. Fields was an officer of the law. During the last two years of the Civil war Mr. Fields was an office of the Confederate service. He moved from Harrison to Kaufman county in 1870, and in the latter place made his home until 1890, w hen he came to Haskell county. Here his death occurred in 1894. His widow is still living and makes her home with her children. In their family were six children, three sons and three daughters who grew to maturity. Two of the sons, Captain W. W. Fields and R. B. Fields, live in Haskell and two daughters, Mrs. A. C. Peden and Mrs. J. P. Harrison, are residents of Sherman, Texas. In many respects Joseph U. Fields was an exemplary man. He was never know to utter an oath or take a drink of whiskey, and from the early ‘50s he was a consistent member of the Christian church.
W. W. Fields was born in Marshall, Harrison county, Republic of Texas, March 6, 1843. He spent his boyhood working on his father’s farm and at intervals attending the public schools near his home. At the time the Civil war came on he was still in his teens. In response to a call for protection against the Indian depredations that were going on in northwest Texas, he joined an independent company, in which each member furnished his own horse and outfit, and went to the Red River district, where he remained five months. At the end of this time he offered his services to the Confederate cause, enlisting as a private in Company H, Seventh Texas Infantry, and went to the front. Wile in camp at Enterprise, Mississippi, in 1863, he was elected second lieutenant of this company. Subsequently his senior officers having been killed or wounded, and Captain Craig killed, and first and second lieutenant brevet wounded, the command of the company fell to him and he was serving as captain at the time the war closed. On account of an accidental wound he was unable for service for some months and was out on furlough, rejoining his regiment and remaining with it long before he was able for active service. Among the engagements in which he participated were those of Fort Donelson, Fort Hudson, Raymond and Jackson, Mississippi, the skirmishes around Missionary Ridge and the army’s retreat to Dalton, Georgia, near which place he had a lively fight with the enemy.
After the close of the war Captain Fields returned to Marshall, arriving June 5, 1865, and soon after began teaching school, which he continued four or five years. Meantime he became interested in farming, which he carried on successfully. In 1870 he moved to Kaufman county. There he engaged in stock farming on a large scale. On his place he also operated a cotton gin and gristmill and ran a drug store. He was never the border line between Kaufman and VanZandt counties. This line was twice changed, and so it happened that the first eight or ten years he lived there he was in Kaufman county and afterward in Van Zandt county. While he prospered financially in that locality, he wanted a higher and a dryer atmosphere, and in 1890 he moved to Haskell county, where he has resided the past fifteen years. Here for fourteen years he and his brother, R. B. have conducted a family grocery and feed business, and he is still interested in stock raising and farming. He and his son have a thousand acres of land in Haskell county.
While a school teacher at Marshall, Captain Fields married, June 19, 1866, Miss Olive A. Tayler, a daughter of Colonel James F. Tayler, a pioneer of that section of Texas. They have six children, five sons and one daughter, namely: James U., William R., Ernest L., Hollis E., Annis O. and Louis W. Also they had two sons and three daughters that died when young. Captain Fields was made a Mason in the ‘70s and has filled all the chairs in the subordinate lodge. Since 1874 he has been a worthy member of the Christian church.
B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 493-494.