A Brief Biography of Christian Fisher




From Ontario County Times 22 March 1882

To live one hundred years is no ordinary living, and we have thought it worthwhile to gather and spread before our readers a few of the facts of such a life in the case of Mr. Christian Fisher, who died on the 2d inst. in Gorham, at the residence of his son, William C. Fisher, at the extraordinary age of one hundred and two years. Mr. Fisher was descended from that Dutch stock which peopled Rensselarwyck under the patroons; his birthplace was Pittstown, a hamlet, which, one hundred years ago, was prosperous under the name of Cook's Bush.

With his father's family he emigrated at the age of ten years to the country lying south of Geneva village. Here his father took up what is now known as the McIntyre farm, paying therefor two shillings and six pence per acre, although after a few years a defect was discovered in the title, and he was obliged to pay one dollar per acre more, in order to secure undisturbed possession of the farm. A brother-in-law of his father, one Conrad Busch, was an earlier settler in that vicinity, and he reported so much annoyances from the Indians that the Fishers postponed their migration one year, until the Indian disturbances ceased, and settlers were not obliged to sleep in the brush for fear of being massacred in their cabins.

Mr. Fisher early developed that physical strength and untiring application for which he was remarkable all his life. After he was of age, he took a piece of land to clear four miles from his father's. He used often to relate that he walked every day to this work, and with an ax weighing seven and a half pounds cut four cords of wood, and returned to his father's at night. Before his marriage he had purchased of Phelps and Gorham fifty acres of the farm upon which he died, agreeing to pay therefor $5.75 per acre. The money with which the final payment was made on the land was earned by chopping off ten acres of timber, for which he received what he could make the land produce the first year. He sowed the land to wheat, which yielded him forty bushels per acre, and thus put him in possession of means to cancel the debt on his fifty acre farm, in the wild regions of western Gorham.

In 1806 he married Miss Jane Garrison, a daughter of one of his father's neighbors. In February, 1807, he and his brother, Gilbert, went to Gorham on a hunting excursion, and for the further purpose of examining the farm. At this time wolves, panthers, and deer abounded in the woods. They built a hunter's lodge of logs, leaving one end open, in which a fire was kept blazing by night for security against the wild beasts. In March his wife persuaded his father to take her and a bed, with a few cooking utensils, to the new farm, where they found the hunters. In a short time the bed was made up on a frame of poles and Mr. Fisher had, for the first time, begun housekeeping. A March rain, coming down in the night, revealed the difference between a hunter's hut and a log house, and furnished a motive for the brothers to spend a day or two in riving staves, with which to make a roof. In the course of the summer, however, a more substantial log house was built. Besides the far, Mr. Fisher's sole possessions were a heifer, an ox, and a bag of corn. Having no hay, and no means of procuring any of the farmers in the valley of the West river, he gathered browse, which, with the addition of a little corn from the bag, sustained the animals until the grass grew. He had no team, and when he required one, he gave two days' chopping for one day's use of a yoke of oxen, which he would procure of one of his neighbors, of whom he had four between his house and Canandaigua outlet. In the autumn of 1807 he returned to his father's house south of Geneva, and there remained carrying on his father's farm until 1811, when he took up a permanent residence almost on the very spot where he died.

Farming then brought in little besides foot to eat, and the raw materials from which to manufacture needed clothing, and for the purpose of raising a little money. Mr. Fisher would leave his farm in the winter, and engage in hauling freight over the "Great Genesee Turnpike." At first his trips extended only from Canandaigua to Albany and return, but in the winter of 1813 he was engaged in conveying government stores from Albany to Buffalo. Just before Buffalo was burned by the British on December  31, 1813, he had delivered a load of gunpowder in the ill-fated town, for which work he received $100. At one time his need of five dollars in money, with which to pay his tax, was so great that he sold to a Canandaigua butcher a large steer for seven dollars. He had plenty of wheat on hand, but there was no market for it. In those years he hauled wheat to Rochester for two shillings and six pence per bushel. Canandaigua merchants would pay two shillings a bushel in trade, but money was needed to pay for land, of which more had been bought.

Mr. Fisher's first participation in a presidential election was on the occasion of Jefferson's second election; his last was at the age of one hundred years, when he voted for Garfield. Until the campaign of 1840, he voted with the Democratic party. In that year he became connected with the Whig party, to which he firmly adhered until the organization of the Republican party in 1856, when, with all lovers of free institutions, he identified himself with the movement to restrict and finally extirpate slavery. In 1833, through the influence of his second wife, the widow of John Pearce, to whom he was married in 1826, he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal church in Rushville. In fellowship with this church he continued to live and in it he died.

An inherited strong constitution was the foundation for Mr. Fisher's extraordinary longevity. His father lived to the age of ninety-seven, while his grandfather attained the age of one hundred and five. Four brothers and two sisters survive, all of whom have passed the alloted age of man. He was moderate and regular in his habits of eating, drinking, and sleeping, which, no doubt, was conducive to long life. He had many of the physical characteristics of longevity -- medium weight, medium height, the lower limbs rather less than half the whole stature, indicating full and strong digestive powers, regular features, calm expression of countenance, a prominent and well-developed nose, in harmony with a full chest and strong lungs, and that large, fleshy ear, which indicates a vigorous constitution, and which, when well back and firmly attached to the angle of the jaw, has been considered an almost infallible sign of longevity. His faculties were keen to the very last; he often read without glasses; his hearing was slightly defective; his memory was very bright, and he would entertain his friends for hours with accounts of his early life. His death was peaceful. He leaves forty-five living lineal descendants.



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