The Field Family originally hailed from Macon, GA. John Moss Field, the family patriarch, first came to Florida in the 1830s to participate in the Second Seminole War. He fell in love with Florida life and dreamed of returning with his family to live there one day.
Soon after, the country was caught in the heat of the American Civil War, and John Moss saw his four eldest sons fighting for the Confederacy; one of which would never return home. By the end of the war, his son John Robert Field was badly injured and discharged. Another son, Samuel Joseph Field, had been captured and held as a prisoner of war until April 1865.
Back in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, granting farmers up to 160 acres of land for the low price of $1.25/acre. Stipulations of the Act required applicants to construct a shelter that was at least 12ft by 14ft in size and grow crops to sustain their life on the land. With this in mind, John Moss decided that it was time for the family to start a new life in his dream destination: Florida. In 1868, the Fields made their way south, landing on their future Merritt Island estate on March 21st. Within their first year, the John Moss’s youngest son passed away at the age of 8, and John’s wife decided it was time to head home. The whole family headed back to Macon except John Robert and Samuel Joseph; they decided to fight the tough conditions and work on their new Florida adventure. The brothers applied for Homestead Act certificates multiple times, accumulating 471.5 acres of land.
Three generations of the Field family lived within the homestead beginning with John Robert Field and his wife Eliza. Their son Joseph Edward Field and his wife Louise were the next occupants, followed by their son Joseph Edward Field Jr. and his wife Alma Clyde. It was Alma Clyde’s dream for the homestead and grove to become a museum. In 1998, she created Field Manor Foundation--outlining her vision to be carried out. Upon her death in 2013, she provided funding for the Foundation to start making a change in the community.
The existing historic structure, dating to as early as 1880, reflects the family’s growing size and needs up through 1930. Many of the family’s original possessions remain on display within the homestead, dating from 1860-1960. Come experience the pioneer life of John, Eliza, and their family as they transitioned from Macon life to a dramatic, challenging life on the Indian River Lagoon. Discover Merritt Island’s past and help us preserve it for the future. Visit Field Manor today!