A Guide to the Florence Fields Killen Papers, 1915-1981 (bulk 1958-1979)
Florence Fields Killen (1918-1999) was the daughter of John Leslie and Ester Olive (West) Fields and a descendant of Richard Fields, a Cherokee Chief in East Texas. She married James C. Killen (1916-1979), and the couple had a daughter, Kay L. Killen. Although Killen began researching the history of the Fields family and the Cherokees in Texas for a book in the 1950s, her research was interrupted in the 1970s in order to publish her book, History of Lee County (Quanah, Tex.: Nortex Press, 1974). The Cherokee book never came to fruition, but Killen continued researching and corresponding about the Chief Richard Fields family.
Killen’s ancestor, Chief Richard Fields (ca. 1780-1827) was the son of English merchant Richard Fields and his quarter-Cherokee wife Susannah Emory in Tennessee. Fields served as an emissary from the Cherokee to the United States in 1801 and as an interpreter at a treaty meeting between the Chickasaw and Creek Indians in 1812. During the War of 1812, Fields served in General Andrew Jackson’s army as Captain of a Cherokee unit.
In 1813, Chief Duwali, also known as John Bowles, led his tribe into Arkansas, and in 1819 they continued into Texas, north of Nacogdoches along the Sabine River. By the next year, Fields had joined the tribe and was elected to serve as diplomatic chief alongside Duwali. In 1822, Fields negotiated a Spanish land grant with Governor José Félix Trespalacios, who required the Cherokees patrol the Sabine to defend against American attacks and smuggling in exchange for the land. Next, Fields and his delegation traveled to Mexico City to petition the viceroy for his recognition of the land grant, but Agustín de Iterbide’s insurrection and self-appointment as Emperor Agustín I of Mexico interrupted Fields’ plans. After Agustin I abdicated in 1823, Fields renewed his petition for a land grant. However, the new congress refused the petition, so the delegation returned to Texas.
In 1824 Fields encouraged an alliance between Texas tribes and for nomadic tribes to settle in the area. The Mexican government disapproved of Fields’ new schemes, which led to difficulties between the Cherokees and Mexico. In November and December of 1826, Fields and John Dunn Hunter, an American living with the tribe, joined Haden and Benjamin W. Edwards and other Americans around Nacogdoches to form the Fredonian Republic. Haden Edwards had a land grant from Mexico for a colony near Nacogdoches, which angered existing settlers. In an election for alcalde, Edwards’ son-in-law won, but the Mexican government reversed the outcome and rescinded Edwards’ land grant. Edwards reacted by establishing Fredonia, but when Mexico sent troops in January 1827 to disperse the revolutionists, they had fled, dissolving the Republic. The Cherokees never sent the Fredonians support and attempted to redeem themselves to Mexico by putting Fields and Hunter on trial. Both men fled but were captured and executed in February 1827.
Florence Fields Killen Papers, 1915-1981 (bulk 1958-1979), Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Fields, Richard," http://www.tshaonline.org /handbook/online/articles/FF/ffi5.html (accessed August 17, 2010).
The Florence Fields Killen Papers, 1915-1981 (bulk 1958-1979), contain notes, hand-drawn and printed maps, etchings, microfilm of original sources, correspondence, articles by Killen, publications, newspaper clippings, photographs, photocopies and typescripts, and printed material produced during Killen’s research on Cherokee Chief Richard Fields, the Fields family genealogy, and the history of Cherokee Indians in Texas. The correspondence discusses Killen’s research and illustrates her relationships with friends and family. Photocopies, typescripts, and microfilm duplicate original sources from other archival repositories and collections about the Fields and the Texas Cherokees. Maps, etchings, articles, publications, newspaper clippings, and printed material document Killen’s research efforts, while the photographs depict historic homes and artifacts, cemetery and research visits, miners in Oklahoma, the Fields family, and other related families.
This collection is open for research use.
Florence Fields Killen Papers, 1915-1981 (bulk 1958-1979), Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection contains unprocessed materials.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers