Fielden Emigration to Nova Scotia and Beyond

Lorna Magin, one of the society's members from the U.S.A. has produced a very detailed file full of documentation regarding her

ancestry.  The story of her Fielden ancestors is a completely different one from the one we are all used to.  There is no domestic textile industry, no Industrial Revolution and no packhorse trails, canals or railways in the background.  Instead the initial story starts with the conflict between the French and the British for the dominance of the Americas, Red Indians and farming in the wilderness.  It continues on through the move westwards into new lands, the Civil War and the development of a new nation.

 The first reference that Lorna has found to the Fieldens in her family tree was to one Armistead Fielden who was born in 1731 in Colne,  Lancs.  He married Elizabeth Kilden in  1756.   They were married in a Quaker Meeting house in Bradford, Yorkshire. 
Their first child Mary was born in 1757 in Horton, Bradford but died six years later in Colne and was buried in Trawden.  Eight more children were born to the couple in the following years when the family had moved to the Yorkshire Dales, where they were recorded as being farmers.  Then the events, which were happening in Nova Scotia, altered the course of their lives and they became part of the 'Yorkshire Emigration'. 

In the years before Armistead and Elizabeth were married, there was heightened conflict and tension in Nova Scotia with the French and the British armies vying for supremacy.  Forts had been built and skirmishes had taken place.  To the south of the Missaguash River, the British had built Fort Lawrence and to the north the French had built Fort Beausejour.  In 1755, the British crossed the river, captured the French Fort and renamed it Fort Cumberland.  Many French settlers were expelled, but there were still fears that French fighters helped by local Indians could make life difficult for any white settlers.  Nevertheless, settlers arrived from Rhode Island and by 1763 there were settlements, such as Sackville, beginning to appear where the land was at its most fertile. 

The governor of Nova Scotia, Michael Francklin, set the 'Yorkshire Emigration' in motion.  At the time he had acquired a lot of land, but had no one to farm it, so he decided that the best place to find settlers was Yorkshire.  He sailed back to Britain in 1769 and proceeded to advertise in local newspapers for farmers who were willing to immigrate to the New World.  He offered attractive terms and freedom from the old ways.  Armistead and Elizabeth took the decision to go and, together with six of their children, set sail from Hull on the 28th February 1774 in the sailing ship 'Two Friends.' 

They arrived in Halifax Nova Scotia on the 7th March.  Whether freedom of worship as Quakers was part of their decision or simply an economic one we do not know.  What we do know is that between 1774 and 1776 over a thousand Yorkshire people arrived in Nova Scotia to start a new life. 

The family settled into their new life in the Sackville area of Nova Scotia.  They were already farmers, but how they adapted to new crops or animals we have no details.  Their children probably helped around the farm and were educated at home when time permitted.  Armistead died in 1790 in Horton Springs Nova Scotia, with his wife surviving him for another 26 years.  Perhaps she carried on in the farm with their children.  However the youngest child Joseph, who was two when the family left Hull, continued to be a farmer.  He purchased property, some 500 acres between Sackville and Windsor, Nova Scotia and proceeded to marry and raise a family. 

His first wife died in April 1811 just after giving birth to their ninth child.  Undaunted Joseph remarried in September of the same year and fathered another five children. The first born of these marriages was called Armistead Fielden, born 1799.  Armistead decided to move to the United States. Perhaps he thought that there were better opportunities south of the border but he is still recorded as being a farmer.  We are not sure where he met his wife, Mary Stone from Salem, Mass. and why they joined the move westwards to new lands. They ended up in Oakland County, Michigan where they are both buried.  If it was a hard life, carving a farm from the edge of the Prairies, Armistead thrived on it.  He was ninety when he died. Lorna can trace her descent from their daughter Harriet Elizabeth who married into the Clement family.

We now continue with the second half of the story.

The Fieldens who travelled to Canada in the eighteenth century were farmers, as were the next two generations.  Initially the farming took place in Nova Scotia, but then one of the sons of Joseph Fielden (1772 – 1855), also called Armistead, moved south to the United States to set up his own farm.  He had five children, four daughters and one son.  Lorna can trace her ancestry to the third daughter Harriet Elizabeth, but she has also continued to trace the Fielden line that has descended from Armistead Fielden to the present day.

The only son of Armistead Fielden was called Judson.  He was born in Faberg, Oneida County New York January 9th 1836.  He moved with his parents to Rochester, N.Y at the age of one year and continued to live there until 1850 when he moved to Brockport N.Y.  He married Mary Augusta Dauchy and settled down to married life in the same area. Unfortunately, events in the United States were to lead chaos, mayhem and death for thousands of its citizens and Judson was due to be swept along with the tide of history.

In November 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.  He was the first Republican and an avowed anti-slavery campaigner.  The question of slavery in the U.S. had been coming into prominence in recent times.  The southern states, whose economy was based on farming, resisted all moves to banish slavery, whilst in the northern states industry had developed and a large migration of workers from Europe had created an ever-increasing pool of labour.  The southerners stubbornly refused to alter their stance, stating that economic disaster would follow any abolishing of the use of slaves.

Lincoln's election provoked the beginning of the move by southern states to secede from the Union.  On December 20th South Carolina left, followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.  In February 1861, the Confederate States of America is formed with Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer, as president.

In the next months of 1861 and at the beginning of 1862, the two armies clashed in various locations with high casualty rates.  Judson Fielden no doubt followed these events and by the middle of 1862 decided to join the Union army.  He was posted to the 140th New York Volunteers, which was part of the Army of the Potomac.  The first battle he took part in was Fredericksburg Virginia.  The Army of the Potomac under Gen. Burnside suffered a costly defeat with a loss of 12,653 men after 14 frontal assaults on the well-entrenched Confederate soldiers on Marye's Heights.  Confederate losses were 5,309.  Judson survived and moved on with the army to Chancellorsville, also in Virginia.  General Lee's much smaller forces decisively defeated the Union Army under Gen. Hooker.  Union losses were 17,000 killed, wounded and missing out of 130,000. The Confederates lost 13,000 out of 60,000.

Again Judson survived and moved on again to one of the decisive battles of the war, Gettysburg.  At that point
fate intervened, Judson contracted typhoid fever and spent seven weeks in a hospital.  At the end of that time he was discharged as physically unfit to serve.   If his health had been more robust he may not have survived the war becoming one of the thousands of casualties that continued to mount up.

Judson returned to the family home and continued his life as a farmer.  His first wife, with whom he had five children, died in 1868.  Three years later he married again, Annabelle Hale and had one more daughter, called Jennie.  After many years farming in Michigan, Judson moved from the more physically demanding job to one which was less so – he became a dealer in agricultural implements.  He remained in that job until he died in 1899. Three of Judson's children were boys who should have carried the Fielden name into the next generation.  Oscar died only a few weeks after birth and so this left Almon James and Alanson J Fielden to carry the name. 

At this time the Fieldens were apparently moving up in the world across the Atlantic where ambition and hard work were recognised.  Alanson (b1868) became a bank cashier.  He was married and living in a suburb of New York when tragedy struck.  He was taken ill with typhoid fever and after many weeks seemed to recover.  He returned to work but suffered a relapse and died when he was only 23 years old.   His father Judson travelled from Michigan so that he could attend the funeral.  How sad that he now had only one son remaining.

Almon James Fielden (b.1858) was obviously also an ambitious man, but not in the way his brother was.  Not for him the safety of a job in a bank or an office, but a move 'out west' to seek his fortune.  He travelled to California; at what age it is not certain.  Perhaps he made the journey by wagon train encountering Apaches and Cheyenne on the Prairies, crossing the Rockies and surviving the heat and dust on the way.  Almon became a prospector who died in 1942 still at the Hawthorne Mineral Co.  Did he find his fortune?   Probably not, he was still looking for it well into his old age.

His wife Cora Belle appears to have remained behind in Michigan where Vivas Albert Fielden was born in 1883.  Perhaps she joined her husband later or perhaps not.  When Vivas grew up he became a freight agent on the Pere Marquette railway, married Nellie  Hungerford Grant and raised his family in Buffalo County, NY.  He died in 1971.

Vivas's first son died when he was only 13.  His second child, Joyce Corabel Fielden (b1920) is an artist living in San Diego, California.  His third child is Grant Albert Fielden (b1922) who married Dorothy Nutkin in Shanghai in 1947.  He worked for the US Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.  Grant now lives in Tampa, Florida and Lorna met him when she was visiting relatives in the area.  Our very own Keith Fielden who now lives in the USA made her aware of the relationship and of the Fielden ancestry.

It would be interesting to know if Grant and Dorothy had any children but Lorna doesn't mention this is her research document.  

So from farmers in Yorkshire, farmers in Nova Scotia, soldiers in the Civil War, bank clerks, prospectors, railway workers and Foreign Office personnel the Fieldens have certainly played their part in the making of America.

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