Huerfano County Presents
Samuel Fielden

Contributed by Debbie Kearns

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Birth:   Feb. 25, 1847 Lancashire, England
Death:   Feb. 7, 1922 Colorado, USA  

Haymarket Defendant.

He was born in Todmorden, Lancashire, England, to Abram Fielden and Alice Jackson Fielden, whom Samuel barely knew. He worked at the age of eight at the cotton mills and was quite impressed with the poor working conditions.

His mother died when he was 10 years old, and after he had grown up, he moved to the United States, where he settled and worked in Chicago, Illinois, in 1869.

He married in 1880 and had two children (the latter one, Samuel Henry, was later born while Samuel was in prison).

In 1884 he became a member of the American Group faction of the International Working Persons' association, and was later appointed as its treasurer.

On May 3, 1886, Fielden, who had no knowledge of the "Monday Night Conspiracy", spoke out at Grief's Hall in Chicago; the next day he was delivering stone to what is now Forest Home Cemetery, and learned of an urgent meeting at the office of the Arbiter-Zeitung newspaper. He later reluctantly agreed to go and speak out at the Haymarket upon a request for additional speakers. While he spoke out with the other Haymarket people, someone threw a bomb in the midst of the crowd, and Fielden was wounded by a gunshot to the leg as he was fleeing the chaos.

The day after he returned home upon dressing up the leg wound, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy in the riots; he was tried and convicted with the rest of the Haymarket defendants, and sentenced to death with the other six.

On November 10, 1887, the day before he was scheduled to be hanged, Illinois governor Richard James Oglesby commuted the sentences of Fielden and Michael Schwab to life in prison thanks to their successful appeals.

Fielden, Schwab and Oscar Neebe, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, were pardoned by governor John Peter Altgeld and released on June 26, 1893.

Afterward, Fielden and his family moved to Colorado where they purchased a ranch, and remained there until he died, just two weeks and four days shy of his 75th birthday. He is buried next to his wife Sarah, daughter Alice and son Samuel Henry "Harry" Fielden at La Veta Cemetery, though his own grave erroneously marks his birth year as 1848.

Debbie Kearns

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