Notes and Documents
The Texas Travel Diary of Henry H. Field, 1853
TERRY G. JORDAN AND ALYSON L. GREINER*
H ENRY HILL FIELD, SON OF HENRY SR. AND FANNY, WAS BORN ON
April 6, 1803, in Culpeper County on the Virginia Piedmont. His
family had deep roots in that part of the Old Dominion, but the younger
Henry proved to be restless and migratory.' By the 184os he resided with
his second wife, Mary Russell Colvin, near Eufaula in Barbour County,
Alabama, where he owned a sawmill, operated a store, and lived as a
small planter. At the census of 1850, he owned 28 slaves and had a per-
sonal estate valued at $6,ooo.2 In 1853, still restless, he and several
friends traveled widely through eastern and central Texas, scouting for a
suitable new home.
On the Texas expedition, Field kept a diary, presented here.3 While
brief, even skeletal, his narrative reveals a perceptive eye, particularly in
judging the quality of land. Field noticed and recorded qualities of the
soil, vegetation, and water supply in the process of spying out a new
place to settle. He understood basic ecological truths and causal forces,
such as the link between fire and prairie maintenance. But let him speak
* Terry G. Jordan holds the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in the Department of Geography at
the University of Texas at Austin. Alyson L. Greiner is a doctoral candidate and former Webb
Fellow in the same department
Genealogical data were provided by Warwick F. Field Jr. of San Marcos, Texas, a descendant.
2 United States Seventh Census (185o), Barbour County, Alabama, Population Schedules (mi-
crofilm; Genealogy Collection, Texas State Library; cited hereafter as GC). The free population
schedules show Henry Field as a forty-seven-year-old native of Virginia with wife Mary, aged thir-
ty-five. See also the United States Seventh Census (1850), Barbour County, Alabama, Slave
Schedules (microfilm; GC), for his slave holdings.
' The whereabouts of the original diary are unknown. A copy is held by the Caldwell County
Genealogical and Historical Society in Luling, Texas. The diary was brought to the editors' atten-
tion by Sue Schofield-Cole of Oklahoma City, a Field descendant, who also provided a copy for
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed September 5, 2015.