Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Assistant City Marshal Frederick W. Fieldstrup

Assistant City Marshal Frederick W. Fieldstrup
San Antonio Police Department, TX
Cause of Death: Gunfire
End of Watch: Friday, May 29, 1857
Date of Incident: Friday, May 29, 1857
Age: Not available
Badge Number: Not available
Tour of Duty: Not available
Suspect Info: Bill Hart, shot and killed
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Buried: Unknown
Location of Name on National and Texas Monuments
TPOM: 02, C, 01

Assistant City Marshal Fieldstrup was shot and killed on the corner of Market Street and Alamo Street in a shoot-out with a notorious gambler named Bill Hart and two of his companions. When Fieldstrup approached Hart, an argument started and both men pulled their pistols and shot. Marshal Fieldstrup and the two companions were killed in the shoot-out.


The only things that we know for certain about one Frederick (or Fredrico) Fieldstrup (or Fieldstrop), are that (a) he died, in San Antonio, on May 29, 1857, (b) he died at the same time as a criminal awaiting trial, William Hart, and (c) and several other individuals died at the same time. Who shot whom, who shot first, and whether or not Fieldstrup was acting in an official capacity as a San Antonio Marshal, as a concerned citizen volunteer/deputy, or as a vigilante, has yet to be fully documented. Later (1890s on) tall tales and vivid anecdotes abound, but verifiable contemporary accounts are sadly lacking.
According to records of the Fourth District Court of May, 1857, Hart was in San Antonio awaiting trial, on a change of venue from Austin, and that as recently as 2 days before his death the latest in a series of "sureties" (posters of bonds guaranteeing his attendance at the trial) had asked to be relieved of that obligation, obviously fearing Hart had plans to flee.
We also know that vigilante activity was common in San Antonio (and throughout Texas) at this time. Incidents of vigilante action, including hangings and other executions without trial, are recorded from the 1840s on. During 1857 in San Antonio, vigilantes were especially active. The weekly Herald felt it necessary to defend the results (fewer robbers and murderers) from criticism by other Texas papers, and a 1858 grand jury investigating the problem in San Antonio reported that "insufficient enforcement of the criminal laws" and generous clemency had ignited the vigilante actions. Such activities continued into the 1860s in San Antonio. In a well-known vigilante activity, bad guy Bill Augustin was lynched in Military Plaza in 1861 after intimidating jurors into acquitting him of a shooting.
Of Fieldstrup himself, we have few records. If he was a deputy marshal on the night of May 29, 1857, then he was the first San Antonio marshal to be killed in the line of duty. Court records verify only that money was allotted to Coroner Martin Campbell for expenses relating to the deaths of Fieldstrup, Hart, and two others (James Miller and Robert Woods), who apparently also died in the battle.

SOURCES: Early law enforcement activities in San Antonio are not well documented. Although there are colorful tales in later histories (c.1890 on), dependable, contemporary sources are few and incomplete. The information above was taken primarily from the Journal of the San Antonio City Council, the Minutes of the Fourth District Court, and the Herald [weekly newspaper]. Many 19th century records were damaged or destroyed in the floods of 1908, 1917, and 1921, or in subsequent fires, or through neglect. Readers who know of contemporary (1850s), reliable documentary accounts relating to the Fieldstrup issue are encouraged to contact us. --- from SAPD web

1 comment:

  1. Frederik Vilhelm Fjelstrup is born May 25, 1819 in Sinding, Ringkobing County, Denmark and baptized 22 sept 1819. He went in october 1838 by the very first Danish emigrant ship ever - the ship however wrecked by Bayonne, France. Some few continued April 7, 1839 from Bordeaux, but the ship wrecked by Key West. Arrived however New Orleans June 2, but continued June 8 for St. Louis. Herefrom he two years later went for San Antonio, Texas, and became a planter - and Marshall.