|Omaha World Herald(Omaha, NE); Tuesday, November 14, 1939; pg 14|
Legally Voted the Day Before
He Reached the Voting Age
This really piqued my curiosity. I decided that I was going to have to find out about this man. Who he was, where he lived, and how he came to vote early and do it legally? This would be quite an investigation. I was up for the challenge and looked forward to getting to know the man named F.W. Field.
All the information that I had to go on was that he was from Ooltewah, Tennessee. So I went looking for him in Ooltewah, but he was not there and had never been there, as far as I could determine. I eventually found him in Collegedale, just outside of Ooltewah. He was a part of the faculty for Southern Adventist College. Now I was really interested. Why would a man with these qualifications have done something like this and have it become nationally known in such a humorous fashion?
|1928 Faculty Photo from the Southern Junior College Yearbook|
His biography at the bottom of this picture states:
Mount Vernon Academy
Pacific Union College
Western Washington Conference
Frank was born in Wisconsin to William and Henrietta Field in November of 1863. What exact date, it does not say. According to the 1870 United States Federal Census, the family then made the move from Wisconsin to Clayton County, Iowa.
I have not positively located the family in 1880, but I believe Frank is by himself, located in Sonoma County, California. He is 17 years old. This area is one of the first few educational locations for the Seventh Day Adventist. I believe that he moved here to go to school and study this newly sanctioned faith. His biography has him attending the Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. Prior to it being named Pacific Union College, it had been named Healdsburg College which was located in Healdsburg, CA. He actually attended college when it was still called Healdsburg College. It began operations in 1882, as the first SDA College in the west and the second in the United States. (Battle Creek College in Michigan was the first. It opened its doors in 1874.) All these areas in California are relatively close in proximity.
|Healdsburg College (Pacific Union College) early years|
A few short years later, in September of 1884, Franklin W. Field registered to vote in the state of California. Yes, you are right, if you do the math, Frank is not yet 21 years of age yet. (The voting age was 21, until 1969.) According to Ripley's, he then voted in the Presidential election on November 4, 1884. Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, New York Governor was running against a Republican, Senator from Maine, named James G. Blaine. It must have been very important for him to vote in this particular election. As we all know, Grover Cleveland won this election. Who did he vote for?
|California, Voter Registers,
1866-1898 Record for Franklin W FieldCalifornia, Voter Registers, 1866-1898 |
Ellen G White, one of the "founding fathers" of the the Seventh Day Adventist, at first was against the principle of voting. She later came to understand that the people felt a duty to vote. This was a strong sentiment after the Civil War. So she relented and agreed that there was a need to be responsible citizens. Her recommendation was that they were always to vote "on the side of temperance and virtue." Now, history tells us that Grover Cleveland was dead-set against the temperance movement. I would guess that Frank felt a strong need to vote for James Blaine. To ensure his part in keeping Grover Cleveland from coming into the Presidential Office, Frank would vote earlier than legally allowed. He might have been urged by his church to do so.
Within 5 years, Frank was in Battle Creek, Michigan. Why you ask? Battle Creek was very important to the Seventh Day Adventist. It actually was the location for their very first sponsored grammar school in 1872. The first college opened in Battle Creek two years later.
|Battle Creek College, Battle Creek, Michigan|
While here in Michigan, he met a girl named Effie Stewart. They were both students at the time. I am assuming that they went to the SDA school at Battle Creek, On August 8th of 1889, he and Effie were married.
At some point they moved to Pennsylvania, because their first child, a daughter named Ethel, was born there in 1894. By 1900, they are located in Morris Township, Knox County, Ohio. Their second child, Clarence, was born there in 1899, as well. Frank is listed as a teacher. He must be teaching at the Mount Vernon Academy in Mount Vernon, located in Knox County. This school opened its doors in 1893 and became an important part of the SDA educational facilities around the world.
I have not been able to place him in the 1910 census. However, I show the family leaving Hong Kong on March 13, 1909 and arriving 18 days later into Honolulu, Hawaii. They then continued on to San Francisco and arrived on April 7, 1909. (The years before this must have been when he spent time in Japan.) Their manifest has their destination as Washington DC. Where did they go from there, I do not know.
He was also involved in the Western Washington Conference of the SDA. This covers the Pacific Union College area. It serves as the church headquarters for leadership and spiritual training.
By 1920, they are living in Collegedale,Tennessee, teaching at the Southern Junior College there. It is now named Southern Adventist University. He had been on the faculty for a while and was well-respected. On January 18, 1923 the students gave him a surprise party and presented him with gifts as "a token of their appreciation of his long and patient ministry to them." How long had he and his family been in the area. I do not know, but he was their at the college before 1920 because his son Clarence graduated from there in 1918. He continues to stay at this location in James County( and then Hamilton County) until approximately 1935, when he and his wife retire to Sanitarium Blvd in Orlando, Florida.
Does he really retire or does he go down there to continue his work? The Florida Sanitarium in Orlando is a nursing college for the SDA. He later dies there in 1944.
It appears to me that this gentleman was instrumental in laying the foundation of the Seventh Day Adventist movement. He was in California in the very beginning when Ellen G. White was promoting this new religion to the public. He was there for the beginnings of the important schools and universities. He traveled the world, on a mission to promote his faith. And he was here in Collegedale for the beginning of the Southern Adventist College and continued to stay involved in the promotion and education of his faith until his death.
I really came to respect this man of strong values and principles. His son, Clarence followed in his father's footsteps and was also on the faculty of the Southern Adventist College in Collegedale. He must have felt very strongly about voting against President Cleveland to ignore the voting laws.
Through this investigation, I have determined that F. W. Field was born November 3, 1863, 21 years minus 1 day from the 1884 Presidential election.
I have also determined that he must have had a sense of humor to allow himself to be portrayed in the Ripley's Believe It or Not book. The next question that I would like to know, is how did Ripley's find out about this indiscretion and were they given permission to print it? Did he know that it would then be printed in newspapers around the country? Somehow I don't think so.
What a journey this man has led me on. If you know anything about this man and the life he led, please be sure to contact me. I am very interested in knowing what you may have to share.