Biography - Oliver Fisher

OLIVER M. FISHER is a teacher by profession, whose education and personal qualifications give promise of a brilliant career in his chosen field of labor. He is also a practical, skillful farmer, and when not otherwise engaged devotes his time to agricultural pursuits on the old family homestead on section 21, Grantsburg Township. He is a native of Johnson County, and was born January 16, 1861, on the farm that he still makes his home.
The father of our subject, Thomas C. Fisher, was a native of Tennessee, and a son of Jacob Fisher, who was born in South Carolina in 1784. Thence he removed to North Carolina, from there to Virginia, later to Tennessee, and from that State to Illinois in 1850, coming with team and wagon and bringing other personal property with him. He bought a tract of unimproved land on section 28, Grantsburg Township, built a log shanty for a residence and began to clear his land. At the time of his death in 1863 he had made many substantial improvements. His widow survived him nine years, and made her home on the farm until her demise.
The grandfather was twice married. He and his first wife, whose maiden name was Charlotte Yarborough, had nine children: John, who was born in 1806, died in Tennessee in 1884; Rebecca, who was born in 1808, married Moses Helm, in 1828, and died in 1887; Frederick was born in 1810 and died in Missouri; George W. was born in 1812 and lives at Verona, Tenn.; James, born in 1814, died in 1848 in Tennessee; Polly, born in 1816, married Hooper Campbell in 1839, and died in Tennessee in 1854; Reuben was born in 1818 and died in 1820; and William P., whose birth occurred in 1820, lives at Milan, Tenn.
After the death of his first wife, Grandfather Fisher married Nancy G. Helm, who was born in 1805 and died in 1872. The following is the record of their eleven children: Sarah, born in 1825, was married to James Dark, and is now deceased; Martha L., born in 1827, married Edward Owinsby in 1847, and is now living in Paris, Tex.; Jacob C. was born in 1829, and died in Illinois in 1870; Thomas C., who was born in 1830, died in Illinois in 1892; Dollie E., born in 1831, married William Alford in 1852, and is now deceased; Malinda J., born in 1833, married S. C. Rentfro in 1853, and died in 1856; Franklin A. was born in 1835 and died in Illinois in 1876; Fountain P., whose birth occurred in 1837, is living near Ganntown, Ill.: Robert W. was born in 1841; Nancy C. was born in 1844 and died in 1876, unmarried; and Jonathan M., born in 1846, resides at Ganntown, Ill. Robert W. was reported to his company (the First Illinois Light Artillery, Company K) as having died in the small-pox hospital at Memphis, Tenn., in 1863, but in 1880 a man passed through Johnson County claiming to be the same man. From his appearance, as well as what he knew, and all things taken together, he must have been Robert W. Fisher, but he refused to talk upon the subject when sober and would make no explanation of his conduct when intoxicated. The circumstances surrounding his supposed death were peculiar, but nobody doubted it until he reappeared.
Thomas Fisher passed his early life on a Tennessee farm. As the result of a fall when a small boy, he afterward had hip disease and synovitis, from the effects of which he is a cripple for life. He remained an inmate of the parental home until he was twenty-one, and meanwhile learned the trade of a blacksmith and wheelwright. He was married in 1851 to Rebecca E., daughter of James Dark. She was the sixth of eleven children, of whom the following is noted: Isaac, born in 1817, and David, born in 1819, reside near Tyler, Tex.; Benjamin, Jane and Nancy I., are deceased; Rebecca was born in 1827; Susan A., born in 1829, married James G. Helm, and died in 1885; Sarah E., Mrs. Jacob Fisher, is deceased; Robert J., born in 1835, is living in Nashville, Tenn.; Martha died in 1880; and John resides at Vienna, Ill. The father of this family, James Dark, was a soldier under Gen. Jackson in the Southern campaign in the War of 1812. He married Martha Gates, and after her death was united in 1827 with Sarah Fisher, by whom he became the father of two children, John and Martha. In 1866 he returned to Tennessee, where he died from the effects of an injury received some years previous.
After his marriage, Thomas Fisher migrated from the State of his nativity to Illinois, and first located on a rented farm in Grantsburg Township. He afterward bought ninety-six acres, and with his family moved into the log house on the place. He proceeded to clear away the standing timber, which was a heavy primeval forest growth, and that which he did not use for rails or lumber he had to burn, as there was no market for it. Later, he built a substantial frame house, the material for which he manufactured with a whipsaw. He afterward erected the present residence, also a frame house, which stands upon the hill in one of the best locations in the neighborhood. Mr. Fisher was successful, not only as a farmer, but also as a blacksmith, having a high reputation for mechanical skill, and people from miles around came to his shop to have work done. He and his estimable wife reared a family of six children. Ann E., born in 1852, married George W. Howell, and died in 1879, two days after her husband's death; Francis M. was born in 1854, and is now a resident of Ganntown, Ill.; Margaret E., born in 1857, married John W. Howell in 1889 and died in 1892; Martha M. was born in 1859, and is now at home with her mother; Oliver M. was born in 1861; and Robert W., born in 1864, is a resident of Clinton, Iowa.
The subject of this biographical review early displayed a taste for scholarly pursuits and was a diligent pupil in the public schools, which he attended until he was twenty-one years old, thus obtaining a thorough mastery of the common branches. In 1883 and 1884 he had the further advantage of a course of study at the Western Kentucky University. He entered upon the duties of his profession and taught until 1890, with the exception of one year, when he engaged in the mercantile business at Ganntown, having bought a half-interest in a general store. He then entered the business college at Oberlin, Ohio, where he pursued an excellent business course and perfected himself in penmanship. In the spring of 1891 he went to Marinette, Wis., to take charge of a business college at that point, but after two days' work the Sheriff became principal of the college, which was discontinued on account of financial difficulties.
Returning home, Mr. Fisher proceeded thence to Washington, where he taught the Empire Business College at Walla Walla in 1891 and 1892. In October, 1892, he entered the Euclid Avenue Business College at Cleveland, Ohio, where at first he taught in the English training department and afterward in the business department, which place he still occupies. He is admirably adapted for the office of a teacher, having the gift of imparting knowledge clearly and in an interesting manner. He brings a well-trained mind to his work, for which he has an ardent liking, and is endowed with those finer attributes necessary to win the confidence and respect of the pupils entrusted to his guidance in the paths of learning. As before mentioned, he gives his attention to farming when not engaged in teaching, and makes his home with his mother on the farm improved by his father. In politics, he is a firm adherent of Democratic principles and a stanch supporter of the platform of that party. Socially, he is a member of New Columbia Lodge No. 336, A. F. & A. M.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 562-564.

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