Monday, January 24, 2011

Chapter 4 When George met Mary

My grandfather, Harry Field, about 1913My Grandfather, Harry Field lived in Calvert, TX and worked a farm in the Brazos bottoms of Robertson County. Dad was born on November 8, 1899 in Calvert. He lived there until graduating from High School.

There are so many stories I could tell you about my Dad. When he was a boy, about 15 in Calvert, he had an English Bulldog. Tom Townsend, his boyhood friend and first cousin, said it was a big dog and whenever Dad started his motorcycle, an old four cylinder Henderson, you could hear it all over that side of town. This Bulldog would come running around the house and jump up on a carrier over the back fender, as he loved to ride around town with Dad on the motorcycle. Tom said the funniest thing was watching them leave, and as they went around the corner, Dad would be leaning the motorcycle over, and that Dog would be leaning over the same way, right with him.Dad in front of SAE House, UT Austin

Dad went to Texas A&M for one year and then worked in the Beaumont shipyards during WW I. He returned to college at the University of Texas in Austin. A lot of his boyhood friends were there, where he joined the S A E fraternity.

My mother was Mary Marley. Her father, Forrest Mathew Marley, was a man of few words, so he named Mom “Mary” and her sister “Helen”, no middle names. Her mother was Bertie Waller Watson and she was a quiet person as well. I was told that when Mom was little, she liked to be called Mary Jane. She was born in Taylor, Texas August 26, 1902. I have a diary she kept in the 1907-1912 period. She practiced shooting basketball shots every afternoon after school, and later was on the woman's varsity basketball team at the University of Texas.

My mom, Mary Marley in 1922Mom was also an artist. I have a picture of flowers she painted which she signed and dated June 1915. As her family moved, she attended schools in Taylor, Houston and finally San Antonio. She graduated from Old Main High School in San Antonio. Like her mom, she became a teacher. Before graduating from U of Texas in Austin, she taught one year in the public school in Austin, and after graduation she taught at a country school in Manor, Texas. She then went back to the Public School in Austin and taught for three years at Pease Elementary School (1922-1924) in Austin.

When she was at the University of Texas, she was quite an athlete, not only in basketball but also in golf and swimming. One day, she and two of her boyfriends decided to swim across Lake Austin, right down by the dam. This was a long way to swim and a real no-no. When they reach the other side, a policeman was waiting. He only warned them; however they did get their name in the newspaper about swimming across Lake Austin. This was quite shocking, and resulted in a severe lecture from her dad.clip_image002[7]

Mom and Dad eloped and were married in San Antonio at St Mark’s Episcopal Church on the north side of Travis Park on March 1, 1924. Her sister, Helen, was maid of honor, and Dad’s friend and cousin from the SAE Fraternity, Tom Townsend, was best man. Dad worked for the Texas Highway Department and had been hired in 1922 as an Equipment Engineer. Mom was teaching at Pease School in the Austin Public School District.

From left: Joe Gibson, Tom Townsend, and Dad

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chapter 3 My Mother’s Kin

I am fifth generation Texan; my first forefather arrived in 1818 when Texas was known as New Spain. Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821, and Texas won her independence from Mexico in 1836. Texas remained an independent Republic until 1845, when we decided to join the United States. The Republic of Texas and the United States of America entered into a treaty where the Republic of Texas agreed to become a state in the Union. My GGGGrandfather was an observer of most of these historical events; his name was John Goodloe Warren Pierson.

Originally from North Carolina, being born there in 1795, he moved to Union County Kentucky with his family in 1805. He was trained as a blacksmith and surveyor, like his father. He married Purity Ruffin Pennington January 17, 1815 and they had two children before moving to Texas in 1818. The territorial governor appointed JGW as a major in the militia, leading some 60 men against Indian raiders. JGW became the sheriff and also the judge in Lamar County where he established the first Anglo-American town in the county. Purity died in childbirth in 1820, but the child survived.

After Purity died, JGW loaded up his three kids and moved south. When Stephen F. Austin brought 300 settlers to Texas, he hired JGW to survey the land for their homesteads. At this time, JGW established the town of Independence, TX. He married again and had three more children before his wife, Elizabeth, died. JGW was hired by another empresario, Sterling Robinson, to be his chief surveyor and attorney in fact to handle all his business in Texas. They established the town of Sarahville de Viesca near present day Marlin, TX.

JGW was elected a delegate to the Consultation at San Felipe de Austin, where he served on the "Committee of Five" which established the Texas Rangers. He signed both the declaration of cause for war with Mexico and the ordinance that established the provisional government of Texas.

JGW was a captain in the Texian army in the battle for Texas Independence. During this presumably busy time he met Narcissa Cartwright and they were married and subsequently had three children. Shortly after Texas won her independence Gen. Adrián Woll of the Mexican Army invaded Texas and captured San Antonio. Sam Houston called for volunteers and JGW responded by raising a force of 50 men; they elected him their captain. He was a member of the ill-fated Mier expedition; after surviving capture, imprisonment, escape, recapture, a death lottery known as the Black Bean Episode and the infamous prison known as Perote, he returned to his family in Texas.

The black beans came into play as a result of the escape attempt as the Texians were being marched to prison. 176 of the escapees were recaptured and Santa Anna decreed they would all be executed. The decree was altered to doom only every tenth man. Each of the men drew a bean from an earthen jar; those that pulled out one of 17 black beans were shot.

John Goodloe Warren Pierson is something of a family legend. My daughter pretends to believe that no man could have been so many places and done so many things and there were actually three men: John, Goodloe and Warren Pierson. However, history confirms that there was indeed only one man-and he was one of a kind.

The oldest child from JGW Pierson’s first marriage was John Hogue Pierson, and he was my GGGrandfather. He married Nancy Hutchison from Montgomery county Texas October 8, 1838, and their oldest child Emily Elizabeth, my GGrandmother, was born October 2, 1844. She married Alfred Haynes Watson and they had one daughter Bertie Waller Watson, born September 9, 1878, who was my Grandmother. She married Forrest Mathew Marley on September 18, 1901 and they had two daughters. The oldest was my mother Mary Marley who was born August 26, 1902.

My Grandmother, Bertie Waller Watson Marley    My grandmother, Bertie Waller Watson was quite a lady. When she was about 18, in 1896, she lived in Hamilton, Texas. She got a job teaching in Hico, about 20 miles to the north of Hamilton. Almost every Sunday after lunch she would ride her horse over the rolling prairie to Hico, where she would teach school all week. Then every Friday she would ride back to Hamilton. There was no road between Hamilton and Hico but there was a trail she followed.

Every time I travel between these two towns I think of her riding over those rolling hills and wading across several creeks on her way. I wonder what her horse looked like and what was she thinking. Although the danger from Indians had past, there were many outlaws roaming around Texas at that time. The Bill Dalton gang was still marauding across Texas. As a matter of fact one of the gang, Bill Bennett was killed during a bank robbery in 1893 and John Wesley Hardin was killed in 1896. Commuting to work was not for the faint of heart.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chapter 2 My Father's Line

The Field family has been in the United States for a long time. Our first ancestor to come to the States was Henri Field and he arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1635 from England. His son and grandson were both members of the Virginia House of Burgesses. His grandson was a Colonel in the Continental Army in 1776.

Also on my father’s side of the family, my GGGrandfather, Thomas Townsend, was born in Logan County, Ky on September 28, 1789. His son, William Purnell Townsend, was born September 28, 1822 in Columbus Mississippi. He came to be better known as Major Townsend due to his rank with Hood’s Brigade in the War Between the States. Major Townsend’s lovely daughter, Virginia, was destined to become my grandmother when she married my dad’s father, Harry Field. Major Townsend was a friend and confident of General Jubal Early who came to the Major’s home in Calvert, Texas after the war and stayed a week or two. At his departure, General Early, having no money, gifted the Major with one of his pistols and his sword. The sword was eventually passed down to me.

My dad, George Addison Field, Sr., was named for the brothers George and Addison Harvey of Mississippi. Addison Harvey was captain of a Confederate outfit called “Harvey’s Scouts” and his brother George was the first lieutenant. Dad’s father, Harry Field, was in this outfit along with his two brothers Scott and Thomas. They had all enlisted together at Canton, Miss. at the start of the War Between the States. Thomas Field was killed in the war.

Harry apparently had a reputation of being a man with a lot of courage. In about 1906, my father’s sister, Ada, was traveling by stagecoach out west of Ft. Worth when the coach pulled up to a stop. A distinguished looking man climbed in and introduced himself to Ada. She told him her name was Ada Field from Robertson County. In those days people would identify their home by their county of residence; this was common into the 1920’s. When she told him her last name was Field he asked if she knew Harry Field in Robertson County. Ada said,” Harry Field, sir, is my father”. He then told her that Harry Field was the bravest man he ever knew. I have often wished I knew the rest of their conversation. Was that gentleman a member of Harvey’s Scouts with Harry? Where had he met Harry? What incident resulted in his opinion of Harry?

I can remember some of the stories I heard that dated to the War Between the States when Harry was with Harvey's Scouts. The scouts’ job was to range behind the enemy lines gathering all the information they could about the Yankee movements and numbers. During Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea, Harvey’s 23 scouts were the only Confederate Cavalry to remain in the area. They “were everywhere, doing good service” according to one report.

One time Harry, his brother Scott and about four other scouts were way behind the enemy lines and it was a cold rainy day. When they stopped for the night they built a fire to dry out and try to get warm. Harry took the horses down to a creek below the campsite and while down there he heard a lot of commotion. He edged back to the area where the fire was and was greeted with the scene of a Yankee Cavalry surrounding the rest of the Scouts. Harry quickly picked the best horse he was holding, mounted and burst into the clearing at a gallop. He went directly for Scott who swung up behind Harry and they galloped off into the dark night and made their escape. They rejoined the main body of Scouts and reported the capture of their fellow Scouts.

Another time Harry was with a scouting assignment behind the enemy lines, when an entire company of Union Cavalry discovered his small group. The chase was on and the Confederates took off as fast as their horses would run. The Cavalry was in hot pursuit. Harry was riding a horse he was just breaking and it was hard to handle. The Confederates came to a fork in the trail. The scouts took the trail to the right and Harry's horse took the left. As the Union Cavalry came to the fork they all took the left. Harry soon came to a bluff overlooking the river and with the Union troops pounding along right behind him he had to make a quick decision. He swung his horse around moving back from the edge and again facing the cliff he dug his spurs in to his young horse and away they went right over the bluff and down into the river some distance below. When they hit the water the horse’s head flew back and hit Harry in the face breaking his nose. Harry and his horse swam across the river and escaped and the only injury he received was the broken nose. Virginia Townsend with four grandchildren

After the war, brother Scott went on to become a State Senator. Harry settled his family in Calvert, TX. The Fields were well known in their community. Harry’s wife, Virginia Townsend Field-daughter of Major Townsend-was an accomplished gardener with a love for flowers. She had a greenhouse which was quite a rarity in that time. It was half below ground and the upper half  that was above ground was all glass. Certainly, she left her own mark; today, there is a city park in Calvert that is named “Virginia Field Park”.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chapter 1 The Humble Beginnings

Welcome to George Field’s Life Story.

It was cool Saturday morning on January 24th, 1925 when my 8 wriggling pounds greeted the world from St David’s Hospital in Austin, Texas.  Mom was a college educated school teacher at 22 years old; and Dad who worked as an engineer for the Texas Highway Department was an optimistic 25, born just before the dawn of a new century, the LAST new century, on November 8th, 1899.

My childhood was a simpler time, before jet airplanes, refrigerators, air-conditioning, T V’s, cell phones, automatic transmissions in cars, computers, or space travel. Everyone walked to school and no one under 20 had an automobile, not even in High School. Many families had no car at all. Dads walked to work. Moms generally worked at home.

There were no paved highways in west Texas where we moved when I was very young; and very few bridges over the rivers in Texas. When they were high (rarely) you had to ford the river or just wait.

We were in the middle of what they called “The roaring twenties” and half way between World War I and World War II.  Optimism reigned!  Although Lindberg had not yet flown across the Atlantic in his little Ryan “Sprit of St Louis” we lived in a time when explorers --- no I should say ANYONE, could do anything!
The majority of automobiles in America were Model T Fords, which cost $265.00 apiece new.
Other prices were:
Electric Toaster $6.75
Lb of butter .55
½ gal milk .28
1 Doz Oranges .57
Movie .25
Walnut bed w/ mattress and springs $19.85
Calvin Coolidge was President of our country
Ma Ferguson was sworn in as Governor of Texas (and perhaps sworn at later). Ma and Pa Ferguson ran the state together since he had been impeached and could no longer serve.

An unknown by the name of Hitler founded a political party in Germany.

Walter Chrysler founded his car company simply calling it, Chrysler Corporation.

Movies were silent, no talking movies until 1927, and of course they were only in black and white.

As you can see, I started life in a different time and place that has vastly changed over my lifetime. It was a simpler time and not as complicated as today, but was it better?

As kids. we did not have to contend with weird adults and their weird ideas of right-and-wrong that the young people of today must do. Nor did we have the distractions or temptations that inundate us today.  As I say, it was simpler, does that make it better?

Most everyone in America was a Christian and a Bible believer. Children, in general, were very respectful of their elders, especially their parents. Of course there were exceptions but they were few and far between.  Now I must say THAT was better.