Fields Family Ties
Have you ever wondered what happened to families from our area who emigrated long ago?
Well, a fascinating tale of one Overton family has emerged thanks to a coxleynews.com reader in Australia. Barbara Hunter and her distant cousin, John Fields, in America were researching different branches of a family tree that starts with James Field, a blacksmith from Overton born in the 18th Century.
James’ grandson, John Field was born in 1817 and married Isabella whose family was also from Overton. John and Isabella lived at Newton, near Ledsham. John and his family wanted to worship in the Methodist faith and pressed the Ledsham councillors for a chapel to be built there. His request was refused as Church of England was the main faith in the village and in 1848 John emigrated to Pennsylvania in America. At this point, an “s” was added to the family name and John Fields joined his wife’s family’s coal mining business. In 1864, the leases for the business were sold and John received ¢200,000 for his interest.
Now a wealthy man, he visited England and paid ¢4,000 for a Methodist chapel to be build in Ackworth near Nostell Priory. The Fields family moved to Shenandoah, Virginia in 1869 so that John could manage the Shenandoah Iron Works, another family business. They lived in a 22 room mansion made with bricks imported from England. John also paid for the construction of another Methodist chapel in the town.
In 1870, John Fields was caught in the storms that caused “The Great Flood” of 1870 and died of pneumonia.
The next fascinating instalment of the Field family will come in the Autumn edition of Coxley News.
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