Kinsearching March 25, 2012




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     As experienced genealogists know, some knowledge of history is indispensable to the study of family pedigrees. Researchers need to understand the background of events in the past in order to answer questions they come across as they trace their roots. For example: Why did certain ancestors move from their home and eventually settle where they did? Were there specific reasons why they migrated at that time? Was the aftermath of their move good, bad, or indifferent? What effect did their choices have on their descendants? Compiled and transcribed by Jeff Bowen, TEXAS CHEROKEES, 1820-1839: A DOCUMENT FOR LITIGATION (1921), BY GEORGE W. FIELDS provides data concerning the nineteenth-century circumstances of one Native American group.

     Several hundred Cherokee under chiefs John Bowles and Richard Fields migrated, after a short stay in Arkansas and the future site of Dallas, Texas, to make their home north of Nacogdoches in 1819. For the privilege of establishing their settlement officially, the Cherokee petitioned first the Spanish government, then the Mexican government after it overthrew control by Spain, and, finally, the independent Republic of Texas. Despite negotiations (including the Treaty of February 23, 1836 with Texas president Sam Houston) in good faith with each country, the Cherokee were ultimately driven off their land in 1839. Most of them fled to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), where they again came in contact with a white government more interested in dealing real estate than honoring prior agreements made with Native Americans.

     In 1921, attorney George W. Fields, grandson of Chief Richard Fields, compiled a legal document detailing the Cherokee experience in East Texas in order to file suit in the U. S. Supreme Court on behalf of their descendants. Attempting to win compensation for the Cherokee after their forced removal out of Texas, his case was unsuccessful. Since the contents of Fields’s account have been unpublished for more than eighty years, Bowen recently made them available by transcribing them verbatim, complete with affidavits and facsimile illustrations. In addition to citing documentation pertaining to the government agreements in question, the account includes several newspaper articles published in connection with the suit as well as correspondence. One letter to Penelope Allen, for instance, demonstrates the attorney’s interest in discovering more about his FIELDS and SEXTON forebears in Tennessee.

     Bowen is to be commended for making this valuable information readily accessible by putting the material into book form. TEXAS CHEROKEES, 1820-1839: A DOCUMENT FOR LITIGATION (1921), BY GEORGE W. FIELDS is a worthwhile addition to genealogical and historical library holdings.

     The 117-page work has soft covers, an introduction, a map of Texas in 1836, illustrations, and a full name index. To the book's price of $15.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The publication (item order 8011) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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