Sunday, September 02, 2007

Michael and Christenia Fisher - Immigrant Ancestors

In previous posts I mentioned that the last of my ancestral lines to come to the United States, Phend and Wiseman, both came from Switzerland in 1832 and 1833, respectively. There is another family line that I forgot to mention at that time, Michael Fisher and his wife Christenia Houck, who came to the United States prior to 1840.

Sad to say, I've neglected the Fisher family since 1991 when they were included in a chapter of my book "The Phend Family: Some Ancestors and Descendants of Jacob and Louisa Fisher Phend". The topic of the upcoming Carnival of Genealogy "Family Myths, Legends, and Lore" got me to thinking about them again.

In 1928, Clarence Phend, grandson of Jacob and Louisa Fisher Phend through their son Christian, wrote the "Phend-Fisher Family History" which was a five page document recounting what he had been told and subsequently learned of the families. Although it contained several "tall tales" and many bits of misinformation, it was invaluable in my initial research, giving me clues regarding some names to look for as well as some clues on where to look for information.

According to Clarence:
"Michael and Christenia Fisher were residents of Weimen Ligen, Germany, and sailed for America with three children in the year of 1832. It was thought by some that perhaps these people sailed on the same boat on which John Phend and Susanna Kubla Phend came to America. However, some of the older members of the Phend and Fisher families claim that these families did not sail together."

Well, I still don't know where in Germany the Fisher family came from or when they came to the United States. It's something that I need to investigate a bit further. Michael Fisher is listed in the 1840 census in Paris Township, Stark County, Ohio. In December 1840, he purchased 62 acres of land, neighboring the Phend family, in Brown Township, Carroll County, Ohio. Other census records indicate that, Katherine, born about 1833 was their last child born in Germany and Sophia, born about 1836, was their first child born in Ohio.
"A little incident that took place while these people were crossing the ocean has been related by some of the descendants. The ship on which they were sailing to America began to leak and the passengers were transferred to another ship that came to their rescue. At this time Katherine Fisher was six months old and had been placed in a basket on the ship and as the excited passengers were being transferred to the rescue ship, someone placed the basket near the edge of the ship. In the confusion and excitement one of the passengers bumped into the basket. Just as it was about to topple over the edge someone saw what was happening and grasped the basket just in the niche of time."

Katherine was born about 1833 in Germany (she was 17 years old in 1850, and age 27 in 1860), but there really isn't any way, at least at this time and without further research, to determine if there was a problem with the ship they came over on. First I have to find the name of the ship and when they came!
"There are nine children, seven girls and two boys in the Fisher family: Louisa, Caroline, Katherine, Samuel, Sophia, Rachael, Solomon, Leah and Lydia. The three older children,Louisa, Caroline and Katherine, were born in Germany and the others were born in America in Holmes County, Ohio."

The names of the children correlate to those named in the will of Michael Fisher. However, the children born in Ohio would probably have been born in either Stark or Carroll county.
"Very little is known about Michael and Christenia Fisher's children. Solomon Fisher never married and was killed during the Civil War. Records do not give any of the details in regard to his death."

On January 7, 1862 Solomon Fisher enlisted in Company "I", 48th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was living in Elkhart County, Indiana at that time. More research needs to be done to verify this but I have in my notes that Solomon died on September 19, 1862 at Iuka, Mississippi.
"Louisa Fisher married Jacob Phend (1st) on August 28, 1848. Caroline Fisher was married to George M. Walters. Sophia Fisher married William Foltz and then after the deaths of her husband, William, and her sister, Katherine, she married her brother-in-law George M. Walters."

This is where some confusion comes in, and no wonder! The first statement is correct, Louisa Fisher did marry Jacob Phend. However, Caroline Fisher married Christian Ringenberg, they had seven children. Katherine Fisher married George M. Walter and they had six children. Sophia Fisher was married to William Foltz, they had one child that may have died young. About 1863-1864 both William Foltz and Katherine Fisher Walter both passed away. Sophia Fisher Foltz and George Walter were then married April 11, 1864 and they had five more children. I have some information on the Ringenberg/Rinkenberger and Walter children.
"The records of Samuel, Rachael, Leah and Lydia Fisher are very incomplete. Samuel Fisher visited friends here at the reunion of the Phend-Fisher families several years ago. His home had been at Lawrence, Kansas for many years but apparently he died in California at the home of a relative or one of his children."

Samuel Fisher was found in Douglas County, Kansas where his marriage on November 25, 1867 to Lucretia Davis is recorded. Among those living in his household there in the 1870 census was "Alida Fisher" a weaver. Both Samuel and Alida were born in Ohio and their parents were both foreign born. I'm guessing that Alida was Samuel's sister Lydia. An undocumented record online shows that this Samuel A Fisher was born in Stark County, Ohio on February 24, 1840 and was the son of Christopher Fisher and Christine Houk. He died in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas on September 7, 1913 and his spouse was listed as Lacretia Amelia Davis. Although his father's name is given as Christopher, his mother's name matches other records. I still need to see if there is an obituary or death record for Samuel. I've found him in the 1880 federal census and the 1875, 1895 and 1905 Kansas state census records so do have some information on his children.
"Rachel married John Harvey. Leah married John Reams and lived at Rochester, Indiana. Lydia married a Mr. Conroy and lived at Pitkin, Colorado. There were no children in this family except an adopted daughter of whom we have lost all trace."

Twelve year old Rachel Fisher was enumerated with her mother and several other siblings in the 1850 census in Scott Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana but I haven't found a record of her marriage to John Harvey or any other information about her. Leah Fisher married William Ream and lived in Rochester, Indiana. They had eight children and I have found quite a bit of information on them, although I was unable to locate any living descendants in 1991.

Lydia Fisher may have lived for a while with her brother Samuel in Kansas, if she is the Alida listed with him in 1870, and if he is the "right" Samuel. About 1871 Lydia married Aaron Conroy. They have been located in federal census records for Pitkin, Gunnison County, Colorado in 1900, 1910 and 1920. In all three, she was listed as having been born in Ohio and her parents were both born in Germany. Census records also indicate that she may have had one or two children but no children are enumerated with them in the census records found for them.

"Michael Fisher evidently died and was buried in the state of Ohio, and after Jacob Phend moved to Marshall County. Indiana, Christenia Fisher moved from Ohio and made her home with Jacob and Louisa Phend near Hepton, Indiana. After the death of her husband she married Peter Smith, but there were no descendants by her second marriage."

Michael Fisher signed his will on March 19, 1845 and it was brought before the court of Carroll County, Ohio on April 21, 1845. Michael named his wife Christenia and his nine children Louisa, Caroline, Catherine, Sophia, Rachael, Samuel, Leah, Solomon, and Lydia. The oldest child, Louisa, was 15 years old and census records indicate that the youngest, Lydia, was born in March 1845 - she would have only been a few weeks old when her father died.

In 1850, Christina Fisher was listed as head of household in Scott township, Kosciusko County, Indiana. Living with her were Catherine, Sophia, Rachael, Samuel, and Lydia. Eight year old Leah Fisher was enumerated with Jacob and Louisa Phend in Taylor Township, Greene County, in southern Indiana near his half-sister Barbara Phend Feutz. I have not found a record of Christina's marriage to Peter Smith or, for that matter, any record of her beyond the 1850 census.

Once I get my information on these families a bit more organized and do some additional research, I'll be posting more about the Fisher family. It sure would be nice to make contact with some descendants, hopefully they would have more information than I have on Michael and Christenia!

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

For some reason, the way you have recounted this story and the done your best to find what happened to each child of this couple reminds me of the family of my ancestors, Jeremiah F. YORK, I and Rhoda SWEARS. In some old cemetery records that someone photocopied and sent to me, a list of Jeremiah and Rhoda's children was scribbled, with the women's married surnames. I have been doing my best to figure out what happened to some of the children that seem to have fallen off the radar.