William Hume "Rush" Feild Sr. (1796–1861)
William Hume “Rush” Feild Sr. was elected in the state’s first popular-vote election for circuit court. He was also a member of the Democratic Party and active in state politics.
Rush Feild was born on July 10, 1796, in Brunswick, Virginia. (The origin of the nickname “Rush” is unknown.) He was the only son of James Feild and Henrietta Maria Anderson Feild. He studied law at Hampden-Sydney College and the College of William and Mary.
By 1821, he was living in Pulaski, Tennessee. He married Mary Amanda Flournoy four months after her sixteenth birthday. He practiced law there and, at the first sitting of the chancery county court in 1832, was the second-longest-serving lawyer. He served one term in the Tennessee Senate, 1831–1832. He was listed in 1838 as owner/publisher of the Pulaski Trumpet of Liberty newspaper and was a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
Feild arrived in Arkansas in 1842, his move possibly in response to financial woes in Tennessee. He immediately became active in Democratic Party politics. In 1844, supporting his friend John Polk from Tennessee for president, he stood as candidate for one of the state’s three electors for the presidential election; he placed fourth, however.
The Arkansas General Assembly selected him in 1845 for the Fifth Circuit judgeship, replacing John Clendenin, who had resigned. The 1836 constitution was amended in 1848 to mandate popular election of circuit judges, and Feild was elected in an 1849 special election, defeating his opponent 1,408–802.
Feild was a supporter of Archibald Yell over Chester Ashley (of “The Family” political dynasty) in the campaign for U.S. Senate in 1846. Ten days before the 1846 general election, Feild announced his candidacy for Arkansas Senate against Whig Party candidate Thomas Newton. The Arkansas Banner newspaper noted that the last-minute candidacy of Feild upset William Woodruff of the Arkansas Gazette, who denounced him in print as a “disorganizer.” Newton had fought an 1827 duel with Ambrose Sevier over disparaging remarks about the Family. Newton won the campaign, but Feild and Newton peacefully worked together in later years. Feild resigned his position with the circuit court amid issues surrounding the closing of the Arkansas Real Estate Bank around 1853.
Feild owned land in both Yell and Pulaski counties, and around 1842 he bought the 1837 Gilchrist home at 811 Scott Street in Little Rock, which housed four generations of the extended family until 1923. In the Pulaski County 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedule, he is listed as owning nineteen slaves.
For additional information:
Cutler, Wayne, ed. Correspondence of James K. Polk. Vol. 6: 1842–1842. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983.
Field [sic] Genealogy: Being the Record of All the Field [sic] Family in America, Whose Ancestors Were in This Country Prior to 1700. Vol. 2. Chicago: Frederick Clifton Pierce, 1901.
Gateman, Morton. “The First Chancery Court in Arkansas.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 55 (Winter 1996): 357–382.
“State Credit.” Weekly Arkansas Gazette, August 4, 1854, p. 2.
“To the People of Arkansas.” Arkansas Banner, September 27, 1847, p. 2.
Charles R. Feild
Little Rock, Arkansas
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