Following America’s War of the Rebellion (1861-1865), now known as The Civil War, victorious Union veterans from all arms of the service joined together to form the Grand Army of The Republic. In today’s terms it could be considered to be similar to the American Legion.
From 1866 until WW1, the G.A.R. was a major social, economic and political force in this country. At it’s peak in 1890, the organization claimed over 409,000 members. Local enclaves were termed “posts” and members were known as “Comrades.” these names, including that of Prosper Fields, have been incorporated into the veteran catagoy.
Even before the groups’ peak period of membership, however, time had begun to take its’ toll on the Grand Army’s temporal ranks. In an effort to carry on that group’s memory and works, some of their male offspring (sons) formed an organization known as the Sons of Veterans. Many of the G.A.R.’s “Comrades” did not appreciate this movement. As early as 1882, the G.A.R.’s commander-in-chief noted, “I am opposed to opening the doors of the Grand Army of The Republic, to any person whatever, who was not himself among the defenders of the Union against the rebellion. No one, not even our sons, can appreciate the memories of camp and march, of bivouac and battle, as those who were participants therein; the scenes of the great struggle can never be to them what they are to us; and while purposes are akin to ours, let our own recruiting ranks be only those closed forever with the end of the war, and when the last veteran shall receive his final discharge from life’s army, let there close with him, except in its glorious record and bright memory, the last scene in the life of the Grand Army of the Republic.”1.
In 1887 the group noted; “That we regret the action of the Sons of Veterans in some instances of calling their local organizations “posts” and appropriating to each other the fraternal name of “Comrade,” believing that these terms should remain exclusive features of the Grand Army of the Republic.”2. While the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War would ultimately emerge as a viable organization, from this discourse, it is obvious that the term “comrade” was one that G.A.R. members considered sacrosanct and jealously guarded.
In the latter vein, records of Snohomish’s Oliver Morton G.A.R. post pertaining to burials at the G.A.R. cemetery list several names in the “Comrade” category that, to date cannot be connected to the rebellion. Still, in light of the afore noted background for the term “Comrade,” these names have been included in the veteran category. Hopefully, at some future time additional information will come to light pertaining to these individuals’ connection to the American Civil War and the G.A.R.
1 History of the Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War FILII VETERANORUM PART 2
Robert W. Wolz The Banner Winter 2004 page 10-11
What we know of Mr. Field is as follows:
Prosper Joshua Field was born in the State of Massachusetts (June) 1834. His birth month or date has, as yet, been found in available documentation. His parents were Elihu (b. 1784 MA) and Betsey (nee Stratton b. 1793 MA) Field.
As far as is known, Prosper was the youngest of seven children. His older siblings were (Ira S. b. 1813), Franklin (b. 1814), Spenser (b. 1818), Maria (b. 1820), Elihu H. (b. 1823) and Sarah H. (b. 1828). All of the Field children were born in Maine.
The first census data on Prosper comes from 1852 when the twenty three year old was tallied in Tuolumne, California. We do not know exactly when and why he went to California, but as his occupation in ‘52 was noted as “miner” it seems likely he came west during the gold rush of 1849 or thereabouts.
Although Prosper cannot be found in the U.S. Census for 1860, by 1865 he was in Washington Territory as that was when and where son Frank was born.
Prosper’s next sighting occurs in 1870. The Civil War was in the recent past with, as previously noted, no known records connecting Proper to military service during the conflict.
In 1870 Prosper was residing in the Snohomish Precinct of Washington Territory. His occupation at that time was listed as “farmer.” Noted as also being in his home was a five year old ½ Native American male child named Frank. Frank was born in Washington Territory in June, 1865. No mention is made of Frank being Prosper’s son. Also not mentioned is the name of Frank’s mother or whether Prosper was married to the Native American woman. A similar listing is made on April 27th of the following year. In 1880 Prosper was noted as being married, so it appears Native Americans were not tallied in the U.S. Censuses. Along the way, however, we do learn that Mrs. Field, Frank’s mother, was born in Washington Territory.
In 1880 farmer Prosper and Frank are noted as residing in West Kittitas, Yakima County, WT. Still in the home is now 15 year old Frank who claimed woodsman as his occupation.
By November 20, 1882 Prosper and family were back on the west side of the Cascades once more residing in or around Snohomish, WT. During that year it appears he received the patent (deed) on a tract of homestead land.
As the 1880s moved onwards, Prosper and Frank continued to be found in Snohomish County. In 1887 Prosper’s name also appeared in the Seattle, WT directory. No details are available pertaining to the listing. In 1889, as the decade drew to a close, the Snohomish County listing for Prosper still indicated he was a married farmer.
During the 1890s the only information pertaining to Prosper is that in 1894 he is mentioned on page 731 of the book History Of The State Of Washington. As of this writing no details are available pertaining to the scope of the notation.
In 1900 Prosper, a single farm laborer, was noted as residing in Ludwig (it is a precinct part of Snohomish?) Snohomish County, WA. Next to him lived Pheobe Ruff, widow of Civil War veteran George Ruff (G.A.R. Row 7 grave 2). That same year Prosper is also listed in in Index, Snohomish County, WA as a miner.
Prosper Joshua Field died in 1903. Burial was/is in the Snohomish Grand Army Of The Republic cemetery. The burial was handled by the local G.A.R. post.
In light of the afore mentioned background for the term “Comrade,” names – including Prosper’s have been included in the veteran category herein. Hopefully, at some future time additional information will come to light from family members or other sources pertaining to these individuals and their seemingly special connection to the American Civil War and the G.A.R.
 History of the Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War FILII VETERANORUM PART 2
Robert W. Wolz The Banner Winter 2004 page 10-11
Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Snohomish
R Bruce Smith
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