Friday, December 16, 2016

Henry Fisher, Rensselaer Tile Farmer

Found in History of the Town of Remington and Vicinity, Jasper County, Indiana by James H. Royalty, 1894, p. 134

Early settlers of Rensselaer, Indiana.
Henry is in the middle row, second from right.

Henry James Fisher was born on February 24, 1821 in Marion County, Indiana.  His father, James Fisher, was a Pennsylvania native and his mother, Sarah Rue, was born in Kentucky.

Henry married Nancy Elizabeth McLaughlin, also a native of Marion County, on March 13, 1843.  The story is handed down in the family that they eloped to be married; Henry was 22 and Nancy was not yet 17.

After their marriage, the Fishers lived in Marion County, Indiana where Henry engaged in farming.  He supposedly owned the land in the Beech Grove area where Amtrak is now located.  Around 1850, Henry, Nancy, and their three young daughters lived next door to the Marion County Asylum (which was essentially a poorhouse for paupers and the feeble-minded).  Henry was the superintendent of the asylum.

Later, the Fishers lived in the village of Broad Ripple, and are shown in the 1860 census with six of their children: Lavina, Minerva, Joseph, Benjamin, James, and Rebecca (my great-great grandmother).  The two oldest children, Susan and Elizabeth Jane, had died before the census was taken.

Henry Fisher was a Civil War veteran, mustered in on August 30, 1862 and discharged on February 12, 1864 with a disability.  He served in the 63rd Infantry Regiment (History of Indianapolis and Marion County; Marion County in the War of the Rebellion, page 36.)

Henry Fisher, c. 1890
After Henry returned from the War, the Fisher family moved to northwest to Jasper County, Indiana in 1877.  There Henry continued farming and operated his own tile factory.  According to the common practice of that time, the tile was installed in the fields as a means to drain the farmland and make it more productive.

When we take into consideration that Remington and 
the surrounding country [Rensselaer] was classed as swamp lands by the United States general survey, we may well look upon 
it with great astonishment. It is now considered to be 
the finest farming country in northwestern Indiana. The 
lands have been all placed in a high state of cultivation; 
nearly all of it having fine farm residences and the greater 
portion of it being well drained both by open ditches 
and tile drainage, the tiling having been mostly done 
within the past few years, which fact alone has added at 
least twenty dollars in value to every acre so drained. The 
County is being rapidly populated with wealthy and ener- 
getic men. (History of the Town of Remington and Vicinity, Jasper County, Indiana by James H. Royalty, 1894, p. 155).

In 1895, both Henry's wife and son Benjamin died, and by the 1900 census he was living with his fourth child, Minerva, and her family in Jennings County, Indiana.  In September of 1904, with his health failing, he went back to Rensselaer to live with his son, James.

Henry and Nancy Fisher's headstone
Weston Cemetery in Rensselaer, Indiana
Photo taken 18 April 2016 by Brenna G.
Uncle Henry Fisher, as he has been long familiarly known, died on Monday morning, February 27, 1905, at the home of his son James Fisher on Front Street.  He had been confined to the house since before Christmas, with a valvular disease of the heart, complicated with Bright's disease of the kidneys.  He has all along been in possession of his faculties and able to sit up every day, as in fact he was obliged to to much of the time to get his breath.  He has lately been subject to sinking spells and it was one of these that carried him off.  His age was 84 years and 3 days.  

He was a resident of this country for many years on a farm northwest of town, and after owning a residence in town on Main Street.  Some five years ago he went to Jennings County to live with his children, but returned here last September to live with his son, at whose house he died.

He leaves one other son, Joseph, and three daughters: Mrs. Minerva C. Mills, Mrs. Mary E. Nichols (wife of George E. Nichols), and Mrs. Anna Worland - all living in the southern part of the state. 

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