Fields, Rev. James B., 1850 – 1896

Simmons, W. J. (1887). Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising. Cleveland, Ohio: George M. Rewell & Co.

March 1, 1850, was the day of his birth in the little town of Prairieville, Pike county, Missouri. His beloved parents, Henry and Minnie (other references: Winnie) Fields, were slaves and had been carried from Virginia to the State of Missouri. In 1862 the whole family fled from slavery and found a refuge in Quincy, Illinois, where they lived for many years. Finally, when the son moved to Denver, Colorado, which is his home now, the parents also moved. His father died August 27, 1883, at the age of ninety-one years (other references suggest Henry was closer to 71 years old).

Mr. Fields, like all other colored people in slave States, had very little opportunity for cultivating his intellect and acquiring knowledge. At Quincy he went to school two years, which was all the training he had. In 1866 he went to McCombe (Macomb) and learned the barber’s trade. In 1870 he commenced the study of theology, and studied that and ancient history in the intervals between the calls of customers to be shaved. In 1875 he was the means of getting up a church for colored people in McCombe (Macomb, the Second Baptist Church of Macomb), and was chosen their pastor. He was converted in Quincy before he went to McCombe (Macomb), and joined the Baptist church.

In October, 1869, he was married in Palmyra, Missouri, to Miss Missouri Carr of Quincy, Illinois, with whom he has lived peaceably and happily, and the result of their union has been three children, all boys. Two of these are still living. (Sons were Albert H. Fields and Julius William Fields)

He was ordained to the gospel ministry in McCombe (Macomb), Illinois, September 25, 1878, by a regular constituted council of the Baptist denomination. In January, 1881, he was called as pastor of the Zion Baptist church, in Denver, Colorado. He at once took charge of that church, which was then in a dead condition. They worshiped in a little old frame building for several years, and there were only about twenty-five members, with scarcely any following. Since that time Mr. Fields has built for his people a very fine brick church at a cost of over eight thousand dollars. From April 8, 1881, to 1885, when he resigned, he had raised four thousand dollars on the church debt. Of this amount he himself raised in cash, donated by white people, the sum of two thousand fifty-seven dollars and fifty-one cents. The church is the finest colored church in the West. January, 1885, Mr. Fields sent in his resignation as pastor of the church, said resignation to take effect in March, and much against the wishes of the people he insisted on resigning, and gave himself to the work of a public lecturer, in which he has made a great reputation.

We furnish here a number of testimonials showing the character of his lectures and how he is appreciated by those who have heard him. The following was published in the American Baptist, of Louisville, Kentucky, April 23, 1886:

Rev. J. B. Fields, the celebrated lecturer of Denver, Colorado, lectured to the students Tuesday morning, subject “Mistakes of Robert Ingersoll.” He is a good representative of what the Negro can do; he is the ablest, most historical, most richly prolific of truth and most complete annihilator of the infidel Ingersoll’s statements I know. He is entirely biblical and backed by the sayings of the noblest minds in the world, among whom may be mentioned Josephus, Gibbons, Celsus, Horne and the encyclopedias. He has a national reputation and his lecture deserves the highest encomiums.

This certifies that for the past four years I have been personally acquainted with the Rev. J. B. Fields, pastor of Zion Baptist church, of this city, who commands the confidence and respect of the entire community and has made a high reputation as a lecturer.–Rev. Reuben Jeffery, D. D., pastor of First Baptist church, Denver, Colorado, July 28, 1884.

Elder J. B. Fields, a colored Baptist preacher, residing at McCombe (Macomb), delivered a remarkable address at the Methodist Episcopal church here last Sunday afternoon. His discourse was styled, “The Bible; its Divine Origin Proven by the Fulfillment of Prophecy” etc. Our citizens will all testify who heard him, that they have not for many a day heard such copious quotations from Bible texts as on this occasion. With the book shut before him, he not only poured forth a flood of Scripture parallel passages, but quoted book, chapter and verse as well. Mr. Fields is a man of surprising memory, both in matters of sacred and profane history.–Elmwood, Illinois, Messenger, December 12, 1879.

The Rev. J. B. Fields, of Denver, delivered his lecture in reply to Colonel R. G. Ingersoll, on “The Bible,” on Monday evening last, to a full house, at the M. E. church. His knowledge of ancient history and his different quotations from the Bible showed him to be a man possessing a very retentive memory. He handled the lives of Voltaire, Hobbs, Tom Payne, etc., the noted infidels of their day, with considerable ability.–Colorado Miner, Georgetown, Colorado, May 23, 1885.

Elder J. B. Fields delivered his great lecture before the Wood River Baptist Association, at its forty-first annual meeting, in the Baptist church in the city of Galesburg, September 7, 1879. The delivery of the lecture was listened to from beginning to end with the closest attention by the entire congregation. The lecture showed a comprehensive knowledge of the prophecies of the sacred Scriptures, and a corresponding acquaintance with history, both sacred and profane, and the lecture is really a strong and convincing argument in favor of the Divine origin of the Bible, and I would recommend all our pastors to arrange with Elder Field, and have him deliver it before their congregations.–R. DeBaptiste, D. D., corresponding secretary of the Wood River Baptist Association of Illinois, Chicago Illinois, 1879.

In order to show also the scope of his reading and the eloquent manner in which he speaks, I will give two extracts of speeches which he delivered upon two of the greatest minds in America:


After a bondage of four hundred and thirty years, Moses was raised up and led the children of Israel away from their captors toward the promised land. On the road, when the great leader and law giver went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the law from the Deity, many of the unfettered multitude made for themselves a golden calf, and falling down adored it. The Jehovah was incensed at this act of idolatry, and their punishment was commensurate with the offense.

In August, 1620, a golden calf, the dragon and beast, was brought to this country; it was slavery, and many fell down and worshiped it and continued their adoration for upwards of two hundred and forty-three years. There were many individuals who refused to worship the idol: John Wesley said that slavery was the sum of all villainies. One of the strongest opponents of slavery was Abraham Lincoln. In his debate with Douglas, in 1858, he said that a house divided could not stand; that no Union of States could be permanent where a portion of the people was slave and the other half free. In 1860 he was nominated and elected President of the United States, and was inaugurated March 4, 1861. His paramount object was to save the Union. He elaborated this idea in a letter which he wrote to Horace Greeley. God raised Cyrus to deliver the Israelites from Babylonian captivity: the same God raised Abraham Lincoln to liberate slaves, and on the first of January, 1863, four millions of slaves were by him liberated. The slaves were raised from the lash to freedom, from sin to school, from being chattels to manhood, and from being pursued by blood-hounds and from auction blocks to the halls of Congress. He was an able lawyer and an eloquent statesman.

Greece had her Demosthenes and Pericles; Rome her Cæsar and Cicero; England her Burke, Pitt and Wilberforce; America her Patrick Henry, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, but none of these could equal the immortal Lincoln. Major Henry Lee, in 1779, said in his great eulogy on Washington, “He was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen;” but Abraham Lincoln was the first President that ever gave the beast and dragon a deadly wound and there was no place left yet for it to languish and grow strong; it died. From the pinnacle of fame, Lincoln stepped into that country where “the wicked cease to trouble and the weary are at rest.”


All nations have had their great men and lovers of humanity. Greece had her Pericles, Socrates and Leonidas: Rome her Servius Tullius and Cicero; England her great Wilberforce. Clarkson and Pitt: France, her Henry IV; Israel her Abraham, Daniel and Joshua; but none of these men could surpass the greatness of Charles Sumner in being a lover and defender of all mankind. Charles Sumner entered the United States Senate December 1, 1851, the beginning of his public and political life as the successor of Daniel Webster, who had been appointed secretary of State. On the same day Henry Clay spoke his last words in the Senate and departed from the chamber never to return. In zeal and efforts in behalf of right and justice, and in his protest against the cruel and infamous Fugitive Slave law, and the great crime of African slavery, Charles Sumner spoke “as man never spake,” and he that knows all things has said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In this Charles Sumner was one who was willing to sacrifice his own life in behalf of the liberty and equality of all mankind, and for his poor and oppressed brethren of the African race. For the manly interest which was shown by him in behalf of the Negro he was assaulted and struck down in the Senate chamber on the twenty-second of May, 1856, by Brooks, pro-slavery member from South Carolina, and the blood of Sumner, like that of the righteous Abel, cried, “Freedom unto all slaves.”

For thirty long years he labored and toiled for the right, and I would say he was certainly the Moses and redeemer of the colored race, and his last moments spent and words spoken were in favor of the colored man, humanity and justice. To Judge Hoar, in the last moments of earth, he said: “Do not let the Civil Rights bill fail,” which was truly his adieu to earth and greeting in Heaven.

Charles Sumner was a Washington in purity, a Luther in fervor and a Cromwell in boldness. As long as American liberty shall last and patriotism shall be a virtue, the name of Charles Sumner shall be immortal.


“Utah, Deaths and Burials, 1888-1946,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 Feb 2013), James B. Fields, 1850.

Fairmount Cemetery Records, Denver, Colorado.

1885 Colorado State Census, Arapahoe County. ed-sch 19-01, page 9
James B. Fields, age 38, born MO
Missouri B, 30 MO
Albert H., 14 IL
Julius A.,  7 IL
Moses A.,  25 MO

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