Between 1850 and 1900 there were three black and mullatto families in the Toledo area with the surname FIELDS. I am now certain that two of them are related based on some additional research. The other FIELDS family – headed by physician James FIELDS, per the entry regarding him being Toledo’s first black doctor and there being an obituary about him with a pretty detailed biography of his life, I do not at the moment believe he was related to the other two black/colored FIELDS families in Toledo. The various black/colored families with the surname FIELDS were as follows:
- 1850 Census family headed by Harvey FIELDS Barber/Laborer
- 1860 Census family headed by James A FIELDS physician
- 1870 Census family headed by George FIELDS photographer
This post will focus on the family of Harvey FIELDS since his was the first branch shown in records as living in Toledo. Harvey was listed as a Barber in 1850 and lived in Ward 1 of the city with his wife Jane and children: Robert, Julius, William, Anna, and John. In the racial category, the entire family were labeled as “mullatto.” Their older children were some of the few black/colored children who had attended school in 1850. On the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as a “laborer.” The City of Toledo Directory began to be published in 1864 and unfortunately Harvey was never listed in the directory.
Harvey’s sons – Robert, Julius, and William FIELDS were listed as having been born in Canada in 1850. Harvey stated his place of birth was Massachusetts, his wife Jane stated she had been born in Georgia. However, on the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as also having been born in Canada along with his wife Jane and all of the older children in the family. An additional child not listed in 1850 was Mary who was listed as 4 years old in 1860. Due to the change in birth area, it is unknown whether Harvey was a free person of color prior to moving to Toledo or if he was an escaped slave.
Some searching into this family’s background showed that son William FIELDS was listed on the Ohio Civil War Roster as having served in the US Colored Troops in the 27th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company I. Research into Ohio US Colored Troops (USCT) enlistments showed that over 80% of black/colored service eligible men (by age), volunteered for the war effort. I have been surprised in my on family’s history to discover that a large amount of my male ancestors, no matter their state of residence, served in the USCT. Local history research into the the black/colored population of Toledo thus far shows a similar trend in that nearly every family I have researched had at least 1-2 volunteer soldiers for the war effort.
At the time of his enlistment, William FIELDS would have been approximately 16-18 years old. Older son, Robert FIELDS volunteered later in the war for the 189th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company A. He would have been approximately 26 years old at the time of his enlistment in 1865.
The 189th Ohio that Robert joined was organized in Toledo and Camp Chase in Columbus in January of 1865 and was only to serve for a year of the war. This was not a regiment of the USCT. Though black and mullatto soldiers usually served in segregated commands, there were instances where they did not.
The 27th Ohio that William joined was organized in Delaware County in January of 1864. It was the second regiment created of US Colored Troops organized in the state of Ohio. This regiment stayed in service until the end of the war in 1865. Below is a picture of their camp during service in Petersburg, Virginia.
Some interesting information discovered about the 27th Ohio was that they saw some active fighting. One of the more well known battles that they participated in was called the “Battle of the Crater” in Petersburg, VA shown in the picture above. There were some members of the regiment who kept journals and records of their service. One was an AME minister named James Payne who was stated by the Ohio Historical Society website as having originally hailed from Kentucky and who went to Lima to enlist. A portion of Reverend Payne’s journal provided a harrowing and humbling account of the black soldier’s experiences during the war:
(T)wo regiments [the 43rd USCI and 27th USCI] drove the enemy from their breastworks, and took possession of the blown up fort; but while they did, all the white soldiers lay in their pits and did nothing to support our men in the struggle; they lay as if there was nothing for them to do for one hour after the explosion took place…How easily Petersburg could have been taken on the 30th of July, had the white soldiers and their commanders done their duty! But prejudiced against colored troops prevented them…I can only conclude that our men fell unnecessarily in the battle on the 30th. In their retreat, they received the cross-fire of the enemy, and no small number were killed by our own artillery.
Such was the terrible fate of the day. Time will tell who was in the fault, and who made the great blunder in the battle of the 30th of July.
Among the captured was my brother-in-law, William Johnson of Upper Sandusky, Ohio…but, I can only give him up into the hand of God, who knows just how to deal with his case. If he is murdered by the rebels all is right, his blood will speak for the cause in which he fell.
In 1870, Robert FIELDS, the oldest son of Harvey and Jane was shown living by himself in Toledo on the Census. He was labeled as a Painter just as he had been in 1860 when he lived with his parents and siblings. Neither Harvey nor Jane showed up in the City of Toledo on any census data that I have come across after 1860 nor in any death registers. I also have never found mention of them in the city directory or with a query into newspapers thus far. If ever anything is located this post will be updated. However, I do believe that Harvey FIELDS and his family were related to the family of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black professional photographer. George FIELDS was mentioned in this blog in the post about one of the known UGGR administrators in the city of Toledo – William H. MERRIT. George was Toledo’s first black professional photographer and moved to Toledo after 1860 and his professional address was located in the same building with William H. MERRITT. Throughout the various census documents George was listed on, he stated he was either born in Georgia or Alabama, which leads me to conclude that both and and Harvey were either the children of escaped slaves or people who had been free people of color who lived in the southeastern region of the US and who subsequently, moved away from their home states. George, unlike Harvey was listed in the City of Toledo directory starting in 1867. A clue to there being a familial relation between Harvey, and photographer George FIELDS was the fact that per the 1868 Toledo directory, Robert – Harvey’s son, and George FIELDS lived at the same address of 743 Erie Street.
Another clue was that in 1880, Robert FIELDS was counted in the household of Joseph and Lucy GARRETT. He was labeled as their “grandson” along with his younger sister Mary FIELDS who was listed on the 1860 Census with him and their parents. Within the GARRETT household was also 18 year old Olivia FIELDS and 17 year old Otis FIELDS. These were the children of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black photographer mentioned above. Due to both sets of FIELD’s children being labeled as the GARRETT’s grandchildren, it was assumed that Robert and Mary were cousins to Otis and Olivia. George FIELD’s first wife’s maiden name was Mary GARRETT (George married Mary GARRET on January 13, 1861 in Greene, Ohio) and these were her parents – the grandparents of Otis and Olivia. It is uncertain if Robert and Mary’s mother Jane was the sister of George’s wife Mary, or if George FIELDS and Harvey FIELDS were brothers and the GARRETTs, called Robert and his sister Mary their grandchildren due to them being cousins of their biological grandchildren. Another relationship between these two families is that Harvey and Jane could very well have been the parents of George FIELDS. They were old enough to be his parents and I’ve yet to find documentation of who George’s parents were. Robert may have lived with George per the directory in 1868 due to them being brothers. Due to that his children in the GARRETT household in 1880 may have been the nephew and niece of Robert and Mary FIELDS.
Robert FIELDS was also listed on the 1890 US Veterans Census where he stated he served with the regiment and company listed above. Initially I was unsure if the Robert FIELDS listed on the veterans census was the same as the one I was researching, but a review of the city directory from 1888 to 1905 showed that Robert FIELDS was a Painter who lived at 524 Cherry Street in Toledo, which is at the corner of Summit and Cherry in downtown Toledo. He lived with Mary and Otis FIELDS, who were also listed on the 1880 census with the GARRETs as “mullatto.” This confirmed that Robert FIELDS was the veteran also listed on the 1890 Veterans Census.
In 1910 he was still listed as a Painter and was living with his sister Mary FIELDS at 645 State Street in the Canton Avenue district of Toledo. This was one of the neighborhoods where a substantial amount of the black population resided until the 1930s until more began moving into the Pinewood District, currently called “Central City.” Robert FIELDS was listed as 69 years old in 1910.
In 1920 Robert was shown residing in the Montgomery County, Jefferson Township National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soliders. He was listed at being 80 years old at the time. The last pension record I have on file for him below showed that he died on December 31, 1923 at the National Soldiers Home in Virginia.
He was buried at the Hampton National Cemetery. Below is a picture of his grave
I could not find much info at all in regards to younger brother William FIELDS. However, there was records of another, younger “colored,” Robert FIELDS who was born in approximately 1865-1866 and who died in Toledo in 1906. On his death record, his father was listed as William FIELDS and the document said that this younger Robert was born in Petersburg, VA where William FIELDS’ regiment fought in the Battle of the Crater.
Harvey and Jane’s youngest child Mary FIELDS died at the age of 75 in Toledo in 1933. She had been a resident of Toledo her entire life. Towards the end of her life she was a patient at the Toledo State Hospital. Upon her death, she was buried at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, where it was noted that she was the sister of Robert E. FIELDS.
The other children of Harvey and Jane FIELDS listed on the 1850 Census, I could not find much information about. In 1860 they had a son named John who was 11 years old that year. Some queries on John FIELDS showed that someone with that same name died in the City of Toledo on December 30, 1883 of bronchitis. However, some further digging showed that this was John Brewster FIELDS the youngest son of George FIELDS, the suspected brother or son of Harvey FIELDS. However, there was also a record of a John H FIELDS in the Toledo directory during the 1900s. In the directory John H. FIELDS was labeled with an occupation of Porter and he lived in various locations including Missouri Street (now Pinewood Street) and Wisconsin streets through the 1890s. This John FIELDS lived with George in 1899, a year before George’s death, so this may have been the same John FIELDS who was enumerated with Harvey’s family in 1850.
Another son of the couple – Julius/Junius (or Lucious) I could not locate any additional information. On the 1860 Census, he was listed as a “Sailor.” His name never showed up again in the City of Toledo. I also could not find any information about daughter Anna FIELDS.
It is currently unknown if there are any descendants of this FIELDS family still in the Toledo area.
1850 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed 3/31/2017
Ohio Civil War Roster, Ohio Genealogical Society search engine, accessed 3/31/2017
Fighting for Freedom: African Americans in the Civil War. The Ohio Historical Society, accessed 3/31/2017
189th Regiment Ohio Infantry roster; accessed 3/31/2017
1910 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed 3/31/2017
1920 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed 3/31/2017
Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via familysearch.org; accessed 3/31/2017 (Death Certificate of Mary FIELDS)