Dr. Nathaniel Field

Clark County, Indiana


Dr. Nathaniel Field was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky on the 7th day of November, 1805, and located in Jeffersonville, Indiana in September, 1829.  His father was a native of Culpeper county Virginia; was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, was at the siege of Yorktown, and after the surrender of Cornwallis emigrated to Kentucky in the spring of 1783, taking up his quarters at the fort, at which was after ward Louisville, near the head of the canal.1

Nathaniel was educated in the best schools in the state of that day, and was graduated at Transylvania medical school, Lexington, Kentucky. He first settled in northern Alabama, and practiced there three years, when he returned to Kentucky. In the autumn of 1829 he removed to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where he afterward resided. He was a member of the legislature from 1838 till 1839. In the spring of the latter year he organized the City government of Jeffersonville, under a charter that he drafted and had passed by the legislature. In 1830 he established the first Christian (or Campbellite) Church in that City, and in 1847 the Second Advent Christian Church, He served as pastor of the former for seventeen years, and of the latter for forty years, without compensation, believing it to be wrong to earn a livelihood by preaching, or to "make merchandise of the gospel."

He voted against the entire township, in 1834, on the proposition to expel the free Negroes, and was compelled to face a mob in consequence. He was one of the original abolitionists of the west, and emancipated several valuable slaves that he had inherited. He held a debate, in 1852, with Elder Thomas P. Connelly on the "State of the Dead," and the arguments were published in book form. He also published a humorous poem, entitled "Arts of Imposture and Deception Peculiar to American Society" (1858). Dr. Field is the author of a monograph on "Asiatic Cholera," has contributed many essays to medical journals, and has prepared in manuscript lectures on "Capital Punishment," "The Mosaic Record of Creation," "The Age of the Human Race," and "The Chronology of Fossils."2

Dr. Field was a relative of the Crutchfield family and knew Stapleton Crutchfield well.  They were both strong friends of the slave but very different in method, one being an abolitionist and one an emancipationist.  Dr. Field aided and encouraged fugitive slaves in the underground railway.  Mr. Crutchfield would never do that but he had a cruel overseer prosecuted for whipping a negro-woman who was innocent, and he went all the way to Indianapolis after the War to get an old slave of his out of prison and out of trouble.  Like Henry Clay, Mr. Crutchfield could never see an old slave helpless or in want.  At a sale one time he saw a crippled old slave woman for sale and bought her for song.....and gave her a home as long as she lived.

Dr. Field was aggressive and fearless against slavery, more like Cassius M. Clay, whom he greatly admired and he once had to barricade his house in Jeffersonville against a mob and tell them to come on he was ready.   The mob did not come on, and Dr. Field became a hero of local history.  His wife was an equally strong character, charitable to the poor, kind to everybody and a great woman in the community.  One day she was returning on the ferry boat from Louisville and happened to take her seat in a section of the boat where a negro man was already sitting.  The guard ordered the negro to the rear of the boat.  The guard advanced on him a with a club and assaulted him in the presence of Mrs. Dr. Field.  A bystander told the guard he would hear from that; and sure enough, Mrs. Field had a warrant sworn out against the guard when she got to Jeffersonville, as the Indiana law was hard on a man who struck a minor or a slave.  Mrs. Field prosecuted the case, too.3


1.Oldham County history, Volume 2, Chapter XVIII, by Lucien Rule, Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky

2,Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 & edited Stanley L. Klos, 1999 --

3.Oldham County history, Volume 2, Chapter XVIII, by Lucien Rule, Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky