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Annie Adams, the sixth of seven children, was born in Boston on 6th June, 1834. Her father, Zabdiel Boylston Adams, was a doctor. According to her biographer, Susan K. Harris: "like most American women from wealthy and educated homes in the Northeast, Annie Adams was educated both at home and at school. George B. Emerson's School for Young Ladies stressed study in science, history, foreign languages (including Latin)."
As a teenager she met James Thomas Fields, a successful publisher whose 18-year old wife Eliza Willard, had died from tuberculosis in 1850. The couple were married in 1854. Annie Fields was also a writer and played an important role in her husband's company, Ticknor and Fields and helped establish a literary salon at their home at 37 Charles Street. A supporter of women's rights she encouraged women writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lydia Maria Child, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Freeman, and Emma Lazarus. She also became friends with other writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
In July, 1859, Annie and her husband visited Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place and met the famous novelist, Wilkie Collins: "Early in the month of July, 1859, I spent a day with him in his beautiful country retreat in Kent. He drove me about the leafy lanes in his basket wagon, pointing out the lovely spots belonging to his friends, and ending with a visit to the ruins of Rochester Castle. We climbed up the time-worn walls and leaned out of the ivied windows, looking into the various apartments below. I remember how vividly he reproduced a probable scene in the great old banqueting-room, and how graphically he imagined the life of ennui and everyday tediousness that went on in those lazy old times. I recall his fancy picture of the dogs stretched out before the fire, sleeping and snoring with their masters. That day he seemed to revel in the past, and I stood by, listening almost with awe to his impressive voice, as he spoke out whole chapters of a romance destined never to be written. On our way back to Gad's Hill Place, he stopped in the road, I remember, to have a crack with a gentleman who he told me was a son of Sydney Smith. The only other guest at his table that day was Wilkie Collins; and after dinner we three went out and lay down on the grass, while Dickens showed off a raven that was hopping about, and told anecdotes of the bird and of his many predecessors." Annie commented that Dickens impressed her with his the "exquisite delicacy and quickness of his perception, something as fine as the finest woman possesses".
Fields was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War and wanted a complete end to slavery. As Susan K. Harris, the author of The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess (2004), has pointed out: "With most of her New England contemporaries, she was a political liberal, especially when it came to social reform: a staunch abolitionist during the Civil War, she attended meetings of the Freedmen's Association after the war's conclusion, and seems to have been peripherally involved with the move to send teachers to the South."
James T. Fields tried to encourage Dickens to carry out a reading tour of the United States. On 22nd May, 1866, he wrote to reject the suggestion: "Your letter is an excessively difficult one to answer, because I really do not know that any sum of money that could be laid down would induce me to cross the Atlantic to read. Nor do I think it likely that any one on your side of the great water can be prepared to understand the state of the case. For example, I am now just finishing a series of thirty readings. The crowds attending them have been so astounding, and the relish for them has so far outgone all previous experience, that if I were to set myself the task, 'I will make such or such a sum of money by devoting myself to readings for a certain time,' I should have to go no further than Bond Street or Regent Street, to have it secured to me in a day. Therefore, if a specific offer, and a very large one indeed, were made to me from America, I should naturally ask myself, 'Why go through this wear and tear, merely to pluck fruit that grows on every bough at home?' It is a delightful sensation to move a new people; but I have but to go to Paris, and I find the brightest people in the world quite ready for me. I say thus much in a sort of desperate endeavor to explain myself to you. I can put no price upon fifty readings in America, because I do not know that any possible price could pay me for them. And I really cannot say to any one disposed towards the enterprise, 'Tempt me,' because I have too strong a misgiving that he cannot in the nature of things do it."
Dickens eventually changed his mind and on 9th November, 1867, he left Liverpool on board the Cuba and following a rough passage, arrived in Boston ten days later. Fields later recalled: "A few of his friends, under the guidance of the Collector of the port, steamed down in the custom-house boat to welcome him. It was pitch dark before we sighted the Cuba and ran alongside. The great steamer stopped for a few minutes to take us on board, and Dickens's cheery voice greeted me before I had time to distinguish him on the deck of the vessel. The news of the excitement the sale of the tickets to his readings had occasioned had been earned to him by the pilot, twenty miles out. He was in capital spirits over the cheerful account that all was going on so well, and I thought he never looked in better health. The voyage had been a good one, and the ten days' rest on shipboard had strengthened him amazingly he said. As we were told that a crowd had assembled in East Boston, we took him in our little tug and landed him safely at Long Wharf in Boston, where carriages were in waiting. Rooms had been taken for him at the Parker House, and in half an hour after he had reached the hotel he was sitting down to dinner with half a dozen friends, quite prepared, he said, to give the first reading in America that very night, if desirable. Assurances that the kindest feelings towards him existed everywhere put him in great spirits, and he seemed happy to be among us."
On 21st November, 1867, James and Annie gave Dickens a dinner at their home, 37 Charles Street. His biographer, Peter Ackroyd, has commented: "James Fields, and his wife Annie Adams Fields... became his closest friends during the visit, Annie herself being then thirty-three while her husband was fifty." Dickens described Annie to Mamie Dickens as "a very nice woman, with a rare relish for humour and a most contagious laugh". Annie wrote in her diary that Dickens "bubbled over with fun" at the dinner and that he often "convulsed the company with laughter with... his queer turns of expression". She added that she was very lucky "to have known this great man so well." Dickens told Mamie that: "They are the most devoted friends, and never in the way, and never out of it." Michael Slater has argued: "Not only did the Fieldes provide him with a congenial domestic base (he actually stayed a few days in their house in early January, breaking his otherwise cast-iron rule about never accepting private hospitality during his reading tours), they also offered him an intimate and admiring friendship, firmly based upon their love for him as a great and good man and upon their unbounded admiration for his artistic genius."
James and Annie Fields visited England in May, 1868. Charles Dickens took a suite for himself in the St James's Hotel in Piccadilly in order to show them the sights of London, Windsor and Richmond. The couple also visited Gad's Hill Place and met Georgina Hogarth, Kate Dickens and Mamie Dickens. Fields later commented: "There is no prettier place than Gad's Hill in all England for the earliest and latest flowers, and Dickens chose it, when he had arrived at the fullness of his fame and prosperity, as the home in which he most wished to spend the remainder of his days." Annie wrote in her diary: "I never saw anything prettier; Kate with her muslin kerchief... with white hollyhocks in her hair and her quaint graceful little figure and he (Dickens), light and lithe as a boy of 20 - those two take great delight in each other."
Dickens was very open about his problems as a father and mother. Annie recorded, that he was "often troubled by the lack of energy his children show and has even allowed James to see how deep his unhappiness is in having so many children by a wife who is totally uncongenial." Although they did not meet Ellen Ternan he did tell James about her existence. This information was passed on to Annie. She wrote in her diary: "I feel the bond there is between us. She must feel it too. I wonder if we shall ever meet."
On her return to Boston she began a regular correspondence with Georgina Hogarth. In February 1870, she wrote in her diary: "Nobody can say how much too much of this the children have to bear and to how little purpose poor Miss Hogarth spends her life hoping to comfort and care for him. I never felt more keenly her anomalous and unnatural position in the household. Not one mentioned her name; they could not have, I suppose, lest they might do her wrong. Ah, how sad a name it must be to those who love him best. Dear, dear Dickens."
Annie took a strong interest in social reform and in 1870 founded the Holly Tree Inn in Chicago. The name was taken from a short-story, The Boots at the Holly Tree Inn , by Charles Dickens. According to Rita K. Gollin, the author of Annie Adams Fields, Woman of Letters (2002), they were intended to “provide substantial food at cost prices” to working women. The Boston Globe, reported on 14th December, 1872, that “an average of two-thirds of those who avail themselves of the privileges are persons who do not really need to economize, while one-third, consisting of milliners, shop-girls, etc. live at the place from motives of economy, and save fully two-thirds in board.”
Annie Fields wrote about her social work in How to Help the Poor (1883): "The management of the organization in Boston is vested in a board of twenty-two directors, ladies and gentlemen, who meet always once a month, and more frequently in emergencies.... The district office may be called the home of the agent. Here duplicate registration cards of reference are kept respecting the poor of the district; here information may be found about persons needing employment, especially that of men and children who can work only a part of the time, and therefore cannot be advertised or sent to an intelligence office. These offices are arms, as it were, of the Industrial Aid Society, which may be called a kind of central bureau for employment of this nature. Here the volunteer visitors may find the agent any day, or meet each other at the regular meetings called conferences, which occur weekly."
James Thomas Fields died on 24th April, 1881. Soon afterwards Sarah Orne Jewett moved in with Annie. Mark DeWolfe Howe has argued in Memories of a Hostess (1922): "James Fields chose Jewett as the ideal friend to fill the impending gap in the life of his wife. He must have known that, when the time should come for readjusting herself to life without him, she would need something more than random contacts with friends ... He must have realized that the intensely personal element in her nature would require an outlet through an intensely personal devotion. If he could have foreseen the relation that grew up between Mrs. Fields and Miss Jewett her junior by about fifteen years almost immediately upon his death, and continued throughout the life of the younger friend, he would surely have felt a great security of satisfaction in what was yet to be."
When the women were apart they wrote passionate letters to each other. In March 1882, Sarah wrote: "Are you sure you know how much I love you... I think of you and think of you and I am always reminded of you." In another letter she told Annie: "I long to see you and say all sorts of foolish things... and to kiss you ever so many times." Lillian Faderman, the author of Surpassing the Love of Men (1981) openly suggest that Fields and Jewett's relationship was lesbian. However, others have raised doubts about this.
In 1884 George Washington Cable visited their home: "In Charles Street I dined and spent the evening with Mrs. Fields and Miss Sarah Orne Jewett. They are both women of emphatic goodness and intelligence. Mrs. Fields could not see me for some time as she had just come in from a hard day's work of visiting her various charities and was bedraggled by the storm. we talked of men and things... It helps anecdotes, to hear them from a lovely woman of mind & heart & good works & fame, and golden years, and black hair waving down from the centre of the upper forehead & backward to the ears. I must try to get her picture... Miss Jewett is not picturesque, like Mrs Fields, but it's a sweet short sermon just to look at her."
Annie now concentrated on writing and published a book on John Greenleaf Whittier entitled, Whittier, Notes of His Life and of His Friendship (1883). This was followed by book social welfare reform, How to Help the Poor (1883). Other books by Fields include: A Shelf of Old Books (1894), The Singing Shepherd, and Other Poems (1895), and biographies of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Hawthorne entitled Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1897) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1899).
According to Henry James Annie retained her interest in new writers: "She herself had the good fortune to assist, during all her later years, at an excellent case of such growth, for which nature not less than circumstance had perfectly fitted her - she was so intrinsically charming a link with the past and abounded so in the pleasure of reference and the grace of fidelity. She helped the present, that of her own actuality, to think well of her producing conditions, to think better of them than of many of those that open for our wonderment today: what a note of distinction they were able to contribute, she moved us to remark, what a quality of refinement they appeared to have encouraged, what a minor form of the monstrous modern noise they seemed to have been consistent with!"
In 1902 Sarah Orne Jewett was thrown from a carriage and injured her head and neck. The injuries caused her recurring pain, dizziness, and forgetfulness over the next four years. Harris, the author of The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess (2004), has pointed out: "While Jewett was recuperating in Maine, Fields suffered a mild stroke in Boston; the result of both their illnesses was a prolonged separation and resultant anxiety about each other."
Annie Fields died on 5th January, 1915.
Nobody can say how much too much of this the children have to bear and to how little purpose poor Miss Hogarth spends her life hoping to comfort and care for him. Dear, dear Dickens.
Between these two houses, Annie Fields entertained the array of American and British writers of her time, as well as a scattering of politicians, musicians, actors, artists, and social reformers. With most of her New England contemporaries, she was a political liberal, especially when it came to social reform: a staunch abolitionist during the Civil War, she attended meetings of the Freedmen's Association after the war's conclusion, and seems to have been peripherally involved with the move to send teachers to the South. She supported a strong government, comforting herself after Lincoln's assassination by noting that " True hearted men and women are not cast down, they rather see a happy reward for our noble President and the stronger hand of Andrew Johnson is what we need now, all believe." She also devoted a substancial part of her life to charity work anion, the Boston poor, establishing coffee houses (as alternatives to bars) and residences for single womcn, and participating in the move to professionalize charitable agencies.
As her friendship with Annie deepened through the years, Georgina's closely written pages became increasingly intimate and revealing. And Mrs. Fields often meditated on her friend, on Dickens's daughters, and on life at Gad's Hill. But dimming the joy of her first memories was the persistent conviction of an ominous shadow over that household. On the second anniversary of her 1869 visit, reflecting on a recent entertainment in her own home, she confided to her diary that there had been "more jollity than ever I saw except at Dickens's, and alas! I must say it, with more real lightness of heart than I ever saw at Gad's Hill. The shadow of somewhere already fallen there and there were no young people - young in the sense of being innocent of all experience as these are here."
Everywhere... good men are listening and pondering on these things. Henry George seems to have a larger following in England than he has in this country - perhaps he is right - perhaps he has found one means for the solution of the evil - if so where so likely to begin a trial of his ideas as in some part of England.
Visiting the poor does not mean entering the room of a person hitherto unknown, to make a call. It means that we are invited to visit a miserable abode for the purpose first of discovering the cause of that misery. A physician is sometimes obliged to see a case many times before the nature of the disease is made clear to his mind; but, once discovered, he can prescribe the remedy.
The management of the organization in Boston is vested in a board of twenty-two directors, ladies and gentlemen, who meet always once a month, and more frequently in emergencies. In this number are included the Chairman of the Overseers of the Poor, the President of the Boston Provident Association, the President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and of the Roxbury Charitable Society. The other members are persons chosen because they are known to have done or tried to do some practical labor for the poor, as well as because of their intelligent interest in the subject.
The district office may be called the home of the agent. Here the volunteer visitors may find the agent any day, or meet each other at the regular meetings called conferences, which occur weekly.
The agent becomes a connecting link for the volunteer visitors who come daily for advice and assistance. When a family is in distress of any kind, there need be no delay in getting relief, because the agent is always ready to consult with the committee, if necessary, or is able by constant experience to know how and what to do immediately.
The struggle of the volunteer visitors under the various district committees has been a brave one, and the exhortation "to give to him that asketh" is at length bearing fruit; but it is slow fruition, because there must be growth; and, if such work is to be really useful, the service of many persons must be accepted whose work is necessarily intermittent. "This must be done in order that we may secure a sufficient number of workers, and not waste, but gather in and use, all the overflowing sympathy which is such a blessing to giver and receiver. With our volunteers, home-claims must and should come first; and it is precisely those whose claims are deepest and whose family life is the noblest who have the most precious influence in the homes of the poor. But, if the work is to be valuable, we must find some way to bind together those broken scraps of time, and thus give it continuity in spite of changes and breaks."
This we believe we have done in establishing agents in every district who are assisted each by a committee of men and women. Certainly agents and committees are yet very far from understanding the full scope of their work, but knowledge is increasing every day, and the reform is moving on because the foundations are sound.
One great difficulty in advancing any public work of such unobtrusive character is that of finding a sufficient number of unselfish persons who will take hold of it. "I believe that educated people would come forward, if once they saw how they could be really useful and without neglecting nearer claims. Let us reflect that hundreds of workers are wanted; that, if they are to preserve their vigor, they must not be overworked; and that each of us that might help and holds back not only leaves work undone, but injures to a certain extent the work of others. Let each of us not attempt too much, but take some one little bit of work and, doing it simply, thoroughly, and lovingly, wait patiently for the gradual spread of good." In our present method of helping the poor by associated and organized labor, it is found that a little time will go a great way. Two hours a week on an average, the year through, is all the time that need be given by a visitor who is busied with other duties and yet wishes to do something to help the unfortunate. Within this brief space of time, more good can be achieved than is easy to describe; and who cannot save two hours for such a work? I know many persons give more time because it is theirs to bestow, and because their interest grows and thrusts aside other things; but this is no reason why others should withhold the mite they possess.
It was not perhaps in the purest gold of the matter that we pretended to deal in the New York and the Boston to which I have referred; but if I wish to catch again the silver tinkle at least, straining my ear for it through the sounds of today, I have but to recall the dawn of those associations that seemed then to promise everything, and the last declining ray of which rests, just long enough to be caught, on the benign figure of Mrs. Fields, of the latter city, recently deceased and leaving behind her much of the material out of which legend obligingly grows. She herself had the good fortune to assist, during all her later years, at an excellent case of such growth, for which nature not less than circumstance had perfectly fitted her - she was so intrinsically charming a link with the past and abounded so in the pleasure of reference and the grace of fidelity. She helped the present, that of her own actuality, to think well of her producing conditions, to think better of them than of many of those that open for our wonderment today: what a note of distinction they were able to contribute, she moved us to remark, what a quality of refinement they appeared to have encouraged, what a minor form of the monstrous modern noise they seemed to have been consistent with!
The truth was of course very decidedly that the seed I speak of, the seed that has flowered into legend, and with the thick growth of which her domestic scene was quite embowered, had been sown in soil peculiarly grateful and favored by pleasing accidents. The personal beauty of her younger years, long retained and not even at the end of such a stretch of life quite lost; the exquisite native tone and mode of appeal, which anciently we perhaps thought a little 'precious,' but from which the distinctive and the preservative were in time to be snatched, a greater extravagance supervening; the signal sweetness of temper and lightness of tact, in fine, were things that prepared together the easy and infallible exercise of what I have called her references. It adds greatly to one's own measure of the accumulated years to have seen her reach the age at which she could appear to the younger world about her to 'go back' wonderfully far, to be almost the only person extant who did, and to owe much of her value to this delicate aroma of antiquity.
My title for thus speaking of her is that of being myself still extant enough to have known by ocular and other observational evidence what it was she went back to and why the connection should consecrate her. Every society that amounts, as we say, to anything has it own annals, and luckless any to which this cultivation of the sense of a golden age that has left a precious deposit happens to be closed. A local present of proper pretensions has in fact to invent a set of antecedents, something in the nature of an epoch either of giants or of fairies, when literal history may in this respect have failed it, in order to look other temporal claims of a like complexion in the face. Boston, all letterless and unashamed as she verily seems today, needs luckily, for recovery of self-respect, no resort to such make-believes - to legend, that is, before the fact; all her legend is well after it, absolutely upon it, the large, firm fact, and to the point of covering, and covering yet again, every discernible inch of it. I felt myself during the half-dozen years of my younger time spent thereabouts just a little late for history perhaps, though well before, or at least well abreast of, poetry; whereas now it all densely foreshortens, it positively all melts beautifully together, and I square myself in the state of mind of an authority not to be questioned. In other words, my impression of the golden age was a first-hand one, not a second or a third; and since those with whom I shared it have dropped off one by one, - I can think of but two or three of the distinguished, the intelligent and participant, that is, as left, - I fear there is no arrogance of authority that I am not capable of taking on.
James T. Fields must have had about him when I first knew him much of the freshness of the season, but I remember thinking him invested with a stately past; this as an effect of the spell cast from an early, or at least from my early, time by the 'Ticknor, Reed and Fields' at the bottom of every title-page of the period that conveyed, however shyly, one of the finer presumptions. I look back with wonder to what would seem a precocious interest in title-pages, and above all into the mysterious or behind-the-scenes world suggested by publishers' names – which, in their various collocations, had a color and a character beyond even those of authors, even those of books themselves; an anomaly that I seek not now to fathom, but which the brilliant Mr. Fields, as I aspiringly saw him, had the full benefit of, not less when I first came to know him than before. Mr. Reed, Mr. Ticknor, were never at all to materialize for me; the former was soon to forfeit any pertinence, and the latter, so far as I was concerned, never so much as peeped round the titular screen. Fields, on the other hand, planted himself well before that expanse; not only had he shone betimes with the reflected light of Longfellow and Lowell, of Emerson and Hawthorne and Whittier, but to meet him was, for an ingenuous young mind, to find that he was understood to return with interest any borrowed glory and to keep the social, or I should perhaps rather say the sentimental, account straight with each of his stars. What he truly shed back, of course, was a prompt sympathy and conver- sability; it was in this social and personal color that he emerged from the mere imprint, and was alone, I gather, among the American publishers of the time in emerging. He had a conception of possibilities of relation with his authors and contributors that I judge no other member of his body in all the land to have had; and one easily makes out for that matter that his firm was all but alone in improving, to this effect of amenity, on the crude relation – crude, I mean, on the part of the author. Few were our native authors, and the friendly Boston house had gathered them in almost all: the other, the New York and Philadelphia houses (practically all we had) were friendly, I make out at this distance of time, to the public in particular, whose appetite they met to abundance with cheap reprints of the products of the London press, but were doomed to represent in a lower, sometimes indeed in the very lowest, degree the element of consideration for the British original. The British original had during that age been reduced to the solatium of publicity pure and simple; knowing, or at least presuming, that he was read in America by the fact of his being appropriated, he could himself appropriate but the complacency of this consciousness.
To the Boston constellation then almost exclusively belonged the higher complacency, as one may surely call it, of being able to measure with some closeness the good purpose to which they glittered. The Fieldses could imagine so much happier a scene that the fond fancy they brought to it seems to flush it all, as I look back, with the richest tints. I so describe the sweet influence because by the time I found myself taking more direct notice the singularly graceful young wife had become, so to speak, a highly noticeable feature; her beautiful head and hair and smile and voice (we wonder if a social circle worth naming was ever ruled by a voice without charm of quality) were so many happy items in a general array. Childless, what is vulgarly called unencumbered, addicted to every hospitality and every benevolence, addicted to the cultivation of talk and wit and to the ingenious multiplication of such ties as could link the upper half of the title-page with the lower, their vivacity, their curiosity, their mobility, the felicity of their instinct for any manner of gathered relic, remnant or tribute, conspired to their helping the 'literary world' roundabout to a self-consciousness more fluttered, no doubt, yet also more romantically resolute.
To turn attention from any present hour to a past that has become distant is always to have to look through overgrowths and reckon with perversions; but even so the domestic, the waterside museum of the Fieldses hangs there clear to me; their salon positively, so far as salons were in the old Puritan city dreamed of by -- which I mean allowing for a couple of exceptions not here to be lingered on. We knew in those days little of collectors; the name of the class, however, already much impressed us, and in that long and narrow drawing-room of odd dimensions -- unfortunately somewhat sacrificed, I frankly confess, as American drawing-rooms are apt to be, to its main aperture or command of outward resonance -- one learned for the first time how vivid a collection might be. Nothing would reconcile me at this hour to any attempt to resolve back into its elements the brave effect of the exhibition, in which the inclusive range of 'old' portrait and letter, of old pictorial and literal autograph and other material gage or illustration, of old original edition or still more authentically consecrated current copy, disposed itself over against the cool sea-presence of the innermost great basin of Boston's port. Most does it come to me, I think, that the enviable pair went abroad with freedom and frequency, and that the inscribed and figured walls were a record of delightful adventure, a display as of votive objects attached by restored and grateful mariners to the nearest shrine. To go abroad, to be abroad (for the return thence was to the advantage, after all, only of those who could not so proceed) represented success in life, and our couple were immensely successful.
After James T. Fields's death in 1881, Annie Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett very quickly became a couple in the New England landscape. Opinions about this relationship vary. For their contemporaries, it seems to have been regarded as a fortunate solution to potential loneliness for both women; this is especially evident in condolence letters written to Fields on Jewett's death in 1909... Mark DeWolfe Howe, whose Memories of a Hostess (1922) constructed the image of Annie Fields for most twentieth-century readers, suggests that James Fields engineered the relationship when he realized he was about to die. Read retrospectively, Howe's construal of James Fields's part in Annie Fields and Jewett's friendship makes the role seem paternalistic, but I suspect Howe's framing was a deliberately ingenuous way of negotiating the facts of the relationship and the growing homophobia of his own era. It would be many years before Lillian Faderman (Surpassing the Love of Men, 1981) would openly suggest that Fields and Jewett's relationship was lesbian. Among recent commentators, Rita Gollin remarks that their "deeply affectionate association resists labeling," and Paula Blanchard treats it as a mutually sustaininb, sororal/maternal friendship between equals.
James Fields chose Jewett as the ideal friend to fill the impending gap in the life of his wife. Fields and Miss Jewett her junior by about fifteen years almost immediately upon his death, and continued throughout the life of the younger friend, he would surely have felt a great security of satisfaction in what was yet to be.
J. Edgar Hoover dies, ending a five-decade era at the FBI
After nearly five decades as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover dies, leaving the powerful government agency without the administrator who had been largely responsible for its existence and shape.
Educated as a lawyer and a librarian, Hoover joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the Red Scare of 1919 to 1920. The former librarian set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his authority during the Palmer Raids, Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, a branch of the Justice Department established in 1909.
During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the corruption-ridden agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of Bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Incorporated, were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.
With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare.
In 1956, Hoover initiated Cointelpro, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of Cointelpro were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.
By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate affair about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77. The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in future monitoring of the FBI.
Anna (Fields) Strong (1777 - 1838)
Marriage Husband @[email protected] Wife Annie Fields. Child: Eleanor Strong. Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Child: Thomas C Strong. Child: @[email protected] Child: @[email protected] Marriage 24 DEC 1795. Rockingham, North Carolina, USA. 
Husband John A. Fields. Wife @[email protected] Child: Annie Fields. Marriage 04 DEC 1776. Guilford, North Carolina, USA.  
Note N113 Events occurring about the time of Thomas & Annie's move from Rockingham Co, NC to the lower district of Russell Co, VA which is became Scott Co. in 1812.
- 8 July 1808. Thomas & Annie first show up in Russell (present day Scott) Co. records when they purchase 80 acres from John McClellandon on the n. side of Copper Creek. This was after the birth of their daughter Julia Ann in Rockingham C, NC in 1805 and about the time of the birth of their son Samuel in Russell Co in 1808. 1 1810 . Thomas on Russell (present day Scott) Co. lower district personal property tax list. 1 18 Nov 1812 . Thomas purchases property on waters of Copper Creek, both sides of Big Spring Branch. 1
North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004.
Spouse: Thomas Strong. 1
Marriage Date: 21 Dec 1795. County: Rockingham. State: North Carolina. 1
Source Vendor: County Court Records - FHL # 0518428.
Source: County Court Records at Wentworth, NC & Family His. 1
North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004.
Spouse: Thomas Strong.
Spouse gender: Male. 1
Marriage Date: 21 Dec 1795. County: Rockingham. State: North Carolina. 1
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Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, (born 1832?, Hickman county, Tennessee, U.S.—died December 5, 1914, Cascade county, Montana), American pioneer who was the first African American woman to become a U.S. postal service star (contract) route mail carrier.
Fields was born into slavery. Little is known of her early life or what she did in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War and her emancipation. In the late 1870s, she became a housekeeper at the Ursuline Convent in Toledo, Ohio, where she had a close relationship with Mother Amadeus. Various accounts posit that Mother Amadeus was a member of a family that owned Fields when she was a child and that this early acquaintanceship accounted both for their close relationship and for Fields’s presence at the convent. It is known that Fields was about 6 feet (1.8 metres) tall and weighed about 200 pounds (91 kg) and was capable of doing what was then regarded as men’s work as well as more-standard housekeeping chores. When Mother Amadeus was sent to St. Peter’s Mission outside Cascade, Montana, Fields initially remained in Toledo, but about 1885 Mother Amadeus sent for her (most accounts say that Mother Amadeus was near death with pneumonia and asked for Mary to take care of her), and Fields relocated to Montana.
Fields worked for the mission, doing maintenance and repair work as well as gardening and laundry, and she was also responsible for ferrying in supplies from nearby towns to the mission. However, despite her devotion to the nuns, she drank in saloons with men and was reputed to have a quick temper. She may have gotten into a gunfight with a man who is variously reported to have objected to taking orders from her or to her wages being higher than his. In any case, the bishop of the Montana diocese ordered the convent to dismiss Fields. She was said to have opened one or more eateries in Cascade, but these enterprises failed, possibly because of her alleged generosity in allowing those unable to pay to eat for free.
In 1895 Fields acquired the postal service contract for mail between Cascade and St. Peter’s Mission. Her dedication and reliability on this difficult and often dangerous route earned her the sobriquet Stagecoach Mary. She worked for the postal service for eight years and retired in the early 20th century. Thereafter, she operated a laundry service and also reportedly babysat children. She continued to drink in saloons, and she became a beloved figure in Cascade. The actor Gary Cooper met Fields when he was a child, and an account of his memories of her appeared in Ebony magazine (1959).
MARY FIELDS – Born a slave in Tennessee (some time in 1832), Mary Fields, also known as “Stagecoach Mary,” would go on to become one of the most legendary figures in the settling of the Old West. After the Civil War, Fields made her way west, to Cascade County in Montana. She took a job working at a convent, but it ended poorly after she got into gunfight. She then tried running her own restaurant, but that too failed. It wasn’t until Fields took a job delivering the mail and driving a stagecoach in 1895, at the age of 63, that she found her true calling. Short tempered, fond of cigars, and willing to slug it out or shoot it out with any man, she earned a reputation as a dependable and fierce employee of the postal service, and also was rechristened Stagecoach Mary. According to the Great Falls Examiner, the newspaper that served Cascade County, Stagecoach Mary broke more noses in fights than anyone else in Montana. Stagecoach Mary delivered the mail until she was 70 years old. After that, she opened her own laundry, and is said to have beaten a man who stiffed her on a bill. She died in 1914 of liver failure, caused in part by her many years of heavy drinking.
This entry was posted on February 16, 2010 at 12:28 am and is filed under Lessons in Black History, Race Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
One Response to “LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – "Stagecoach" Mary Fields”
The real ‘Stagecoach Mary’ story:
Mary Fields, Black Mary, and ‘Stagecoach Mary’ are all one of the same person. Mary was born in 1832, a slave in Tennessee and was owned by a Catholic family the father was a businessman and Judge who had a single girl child the same age as Mary. Mary’s mother was the House Slave Servant and the judge’s favorite cook therefore Mary was always in the main house, in the kitchen and not in the fields, as a Field Slave. Mary’s father was a Field Slave, and Field Slaves were not allowed in the Main House, much less, to court a House Slave. Mary’s mother became pregnant by Mary’s father and he was beaten and sold to another plantation for getting Mary’s mother pregnant. After Mary’s birth, Mary’s mother and her were allowed to stay in the main house, and Mary became the Judge’s daughters’ playmate, therefore being the Judge’s daughter’s playmate, Mary was allowed to read and write, a rarity for that time.
After the emancipation and coming into adulthood, Mary was 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. Mary became her own woman and traveled solely from Tennessee, up and down the Mississippi River, to Ohio, then finally to Montana where she got her nickname at the turn of the 20th Century. She earned this nickname by working for “Wells Fargo” delivering the United States Mail through adverse conditions that would have discouraged the most hardened frontiersmen of her time. All by herself, she never missed a day for 8 years, carrying the U. S. Mail and other important documents that helped settle the wild open territory of central west Montana.
Mary had no fear of man, nor beast, and this sometimes got her into trouble. She delivered the mail regardless of the heat of the day, cold of night, wind, rain, sleet, snow, blizzards, Indians and Outlaws.
Mary was a cigar smoking, shotgun and pistol toting Negro Woman, who even frequented saloons drinking whiskey with the men, a privilege only given to her, as a woman. However, not even this fact, sealed Mary’s credentials given to her, her credentials boasted that, “She would knockout any man with one punch”, a claim which she proved true.
Her fame was so acclaimed, even the Actor, Gary Cooper, two time Academy Award Winner, told a story about her in 1959 which appeared in Ebony Magazine that same year. While, Annie Oakley and Martha Canary (Calamity Jane) were creating their history with Buffalo Bill, Stagecoach Mary was making “her Epic Journey!”
Despite Mary’s hardness, she had another side of her, a kindness so strong, even today, in the beginning of the 21st Century, the town of Cascade, Montana, and other surrounding communities celebrate her birthday. The Epic movie is in pre-production mode.
While vacationing with her family at their cabin, Anne Fields and her family were visited by Sarah Connor and Cameron. A Terminator had been sent through time by Skynet to terminate her and her unborn daughter because of her importance in the future. Sydney Fields had a natural immunity to a Skynet bioweapon and the Resistance would use her blood to create an treatment.
Despite Sarah's objections, she contacted next door neighbor Roger Shafer to warn him about what was happening. She escaped with her children and husband while Cameron fought the rival machine however, their running would be for nothing. After contacting Roger once more, the terminator used her relationship to track them to a motel. It was able to terminate her husband and mortally wounded Anne. She found her way to Derek Reese and the Connors, but she would die in childbirth leaving Sydney in the care of her other daughter Lauren. "Alpine Fields"
We are Dale & Annie Baggett, with our daughters, Abigail & Sylvie. The farm began in 2000 and the girls were raised on Sunshine Lavender Farm, our residence. When there are plants and animals to care for, you tend to develop a solid work ethic. From weeding, harvesting and producing our line of products, our family works hard and enjoys this farm that we call home with commitment and passion. As is the case with many farms in the United States, both Annie and Dale are employed full time away from the farm.
FARMING IS A WAY OF LIFE It’s 24/7. ‘nough said.
7 Of History's Forgotten Female Outlaws
Growing up, children's imaginations are filled with stories of bandits and sheriffs, and everyone knows the name of some of history's most infamous outlaw cowboys — but what about all the female outlaws you never heard about? Contrary to popular belief, they existed. And some of them were just as infamous as their male counterparts.
If you think about it, it made sense that the American frontier provided an opportunity for women to turn to life of crimes. Free from the conventions of proper city life, women experienced a lot more social and economic freedom. They could run businesses, own land, and engage in politics or crime if they wanted. Often the two were somewhat related.
Many of the women taking advantage of this freedom found their livelihoods through gambling or prostitution, two professions that brought them in close contact with gangs that roamed the frontier. Other women owned homesteads and worked with cattle. But what these women all had in common was a need to survive in an extremely trying environment. Some turned to crime or other "unladylike" ventures — but most are forgotten.
Sure, we remember Annie Oakley, the shotgun shooting star of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, or Belle Starr, the "bandit queen" who stole horses and sold bootlegged liquor. But there are probably more than a few of their associates that history has forgotten.
From a young age, Laura Bullion was destined to be an outlaw. Her father was a Native American bank robber, and while working as a prostitute in Texas she joined the Wild Bunch gang, where she ran with outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Bullion helped the gang with their robberies, and came to be known as "Rose of the Wild Bunch." Bullion would help sell the stolen items, forge checks, and is suspected to have disguised herself as a man to help with heists. In 1901 she was arrested for robbing a train. After serving a three-year sentence, she appears to have retired from her life of crime.
Rose Dunn fell into a life of crime when she fell in love with George "Bittercreek" Newcomb. Newcomb was one of the members of the Doolin Gang, which robbed banks and trains in the Indian Territory for two years. Dunn was a full member of the gang for the most part, and though she didn't take part in the heists, she provided them with ammunition, helped Newcomb escape from authorities, and nursed him back to health. Newcomb was later killed after Dunn's brothers (also outlaws) turned him in for a bounty. After that, the appeal of crime seemed to wear off for Dunn, who went on to marry a politician and settle down.
While Mary Fields, often called "Stagecoach Mary," wasn't an outlaw, she was definitely way tougher than most of the women on this list. Fields was born into slavery around 1832, and after being emancipated at the age of 30, made her way west to Montana. Fields, who was very tall and extremely strong, worked as a general handyman and laborer at a school for Native American girls. She had a reputation for being strong, blunt, and more than willing to get in fights with people who annoyed her. At one point the local medical examiner claimed, she had "broken more noses than any other person in central Montana."
One popular story cites a time that Fields got stranded on a supply run and fought off wild wolves at gun point. Given her penchant for fighting and refusal to put up with bullshit, Fields was fired from her position after having a shoot out behind the school (during which she literally shot her opponent in the butt). At age 60, Fields went on to work for the U.S. Postal Service, becoming the first black woman to work for the service. After 10 years of driving coaches and traveling hundreds of miles, Fields retired and started a cleaning service. But she didn't stop fighting.
Lillian Smith was the only woman with the potential to eclipse Annie Oakley, but instead she's an often forgotten figure from the Wild West. Smith gained popularity after she joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show at age 15. Like Oakley, she was an incredible shot — but she favored the rifle, instead of Oakley's preferred shotgun. Because of her young age, colorful clothes, and penchant for swearing, Smith was substantially younger than Oakley, and the two were rivals. But while touring in London, Smith shot so badly that she was ridiculed. Soon after, her career ended.
Big Nose Kate
Big Nose Kate, whose real name was Mary Katharine Haroney, had an unfortunate nickname. While working as a prostitute in Kansas in the 1870s, she adopted the name as a way to differentiate herself from another prostitute named Kate. But while in Kansas she met Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. She would go on to be in a relationship with Holliday. On at least one occasion Kate helped Holliday escape custody by setting the jail on fire and threatening a guard at gunpoint. She stayed with Holliday until his death several years later.
Although Pearl Hart may have been inspired by Annie Oakley, the two women were very different. While Oakley shot for show and entertainment, Hart used her skills for crime. Hart was Canadian, but found herself in Arizona after her second husband went to fight in the Spanish-American war. After hooking up with a man named Joe Boot, she also disguised herself as a man, and she and Boot robbed a stagecoach. But they weren't very good at it, and were promptly caught. During her sentencing, Hart delivered the wonderfully feminist statement, "I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making." Unfortunately, the law didn't care. After serving some of her sentence, Hart became pregnant while in prison and was quickly pardoned by the governor. Her life after prison is a relative mystery.
First and foremost, Eleanor Dumont was a businesswoman. Although her background is unclear, when she showed up in Nevada City with a French accent and a plan to open a casino, she was an instant success. She was a hit among the gamblers, and her business was so profitable that she opened a second casino as well. But over time she grew tired of the life, bought a ranch, and fell in love with a man named Jack McKnight. But as it turns out, McKnight was a conman, who sold her ranch and ran away. Not one to let that stand, Dumont tracked him down and shot him dead. Broke, but free of charges, Dumont went back to gambling, and created an even larger name for herself. There were (largely unsubstantiated) stories of her foiling robbers, or threatening steamboats at gunpoint. She eventually killed herself when her gambling debts became too large, but her reputation lived on.
Annie Get Your Gun
Annie Get Your Gun, a popular musical comedy based loosely on the life of the legendary American crack shot and theatrical performer Annie Oakley (1860-1926), opened May 17, 1946 at the Imperial Theater in New York. The show helped complete the postwar transformation of the Broadway musical begun by Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945) from lavish and naughty revues to substantive stories with songs integrated into the plot. Although Annie Get Your Gun lacked the operatic aspirations and social commentary of the two Rodgers and Hammerstein works, the show boasted an Irving Berlin score that set a record for hit songs (nine). Annie Get Your Gun broke no new ground in theatrical tradition, but its color, humor, and enthusiasm have held an irresistible appeal for audiences through the end of the century.
Dorothy and (brother) Herbert Fields specifically wrote their romanticization of Oakley's life as a vehicle for musical comedy starEthel Merman (1909-84). The foul-mouthed Merman was no dainty romantic soprano but squarely in the tradition of great chest wallopers who had transfixed Broadway in the early 1900s. Annie Get Your Gun demanded that she act as well as sing, and Merman responded by turning in one of Broadway's monumental performances. Her health was as legendary as her arrogance and outspokenness, and when she eventually took a vacation after two years of performing, the show's receipts dropped precipitously, and it almost closed. For Merman, Annie Get Your Gun turned out to be an unquestioned personal triumph, consolidating her position as the greatest figure in American musical comedy.
The Fieldses took their idea to the legendary hit-making team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II, who agreed to produce it, and added the esteemed Jerome Kern to write the lyrics. When Kern suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in November 1945, the producers persuaded Irving Berlin (1888-1989) to replace him. Berlin was initially reluctant to enter the unknown territory of a musical with a plot he hadn't written a Broadway show in four years, and the theatrical form with which he was most closely associated—the revue—was in terminal decline. Over a weekend in Atlantic City, Berlin tried to write some songs and came back with three to six hit songs (depending on the source). The deal was signed, and Dorothy Fields obligingly agreed to withdraw as lyricist. Berlin finished the bulk of the score within two months, astounding everyone with his extraordinary virtuosity and the speed with which he composed the new songs. To the roster of classics of the musical theater Berlin added "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," "They Say It's Wonderful," "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun," "The Girl That I Marry," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," "Anything You Can Do," "My Defenses Are Down," and "Who Do You Love, I Hope." The show went into rehearsal in March, and Berlin later called it the easiest show he ever worked on.
In Annie Get Your Gun, Annie Oakley's (Merman) ability as a sharpshooter wins her a job in Buffalo Bill's (William O'Neal) Wild West show. Her brilliant shooting offends the masculinity of the show's erstwhile star marksman, handsome baritone Frank Butler (Ray Middleton), and makes a romance between the pair impossible. Butler takes his wounded vanity to a competing vaudeville show, but neither the main characters nor their businesses prosper. A merger is proposed, but the happy ending only arrives when wise old Sitting Bull (Harry Bellaver) gently demonstrates to the naive Oakley that she can easily win the insecure Butler by intentionally losing a shooting competition.
Although critics initially gave Annie Get Your Gun mixed reviews, the show was an instant hit, running for three years and 1,147 performances on Broadway, and quickly assuming a place in the pantheon of great post-World War II musicals such as South Pacific, Brigadoon, Kiss Me Kate, Guys and Dolls, and The King and I. The success of Annie Get Your Gun made Irving Berlin a wealthy man and demonstrated the immense potential profitability of postwar Broadway musicals. Berlin's thirty percent share of the proceeds brought him $2500 a week, his music company made $500,000 from selling sheet music of the score, his royalties from the original cast recording exceeded $100,000, and MGM eventually paid $650,000 to Berlin and the Fieldses for the movie rights, a record for a musical. Annie Get Your Gun profitably toured the United States with Mary Martin as the lead and also proved to be a vast international success.
Although Annie Get Your Gun does not lend itself to excessive analysis, the show does capture some of the post-World War II American confusion over gender relations. The war had caused millions of women to enter the work force to replace absent soldiers, and their contributions had undeniably helped the United States win the war. The plot of Annie Get Your Gun was charged with subliminal sexual implications, based upon a woman who used her phallic gun with complete mastery. Ultimately, Oakley discovers "you can't get a man with a gun," and understands that she must deny her superior talent and throw the shooting match in order to assuage Frank's fragile ego and win her man. The ending struck a chord with a society which had greatly elevated women's role both in the world of work and in propaganda during the war, and now was desperately attempting to return to the status quo ante.
The film version (1950) had a troubled history (Judy Garland was fired from the lead role) but eventually earned more than $8 million. The show was revived on its twentieth anniversary in 1966, for which the seventy-eight-year-old Berlin wrote the fifty-eight-year-old Merman a new song, "An Old Fashioned Wedding." This showstopper proved to be the last of Berlin's popular hits. Many of the show's tunes have fallen out of the popular repertoire, but "There's No Business Like Show Business" remains a virtual anthem of performers everywhere and has become one of the most recognizable tunes in American popular music.