|The author of the following sketch it not known. The title suggests it was written by a Fisher descendant. Certainly the author knew the family well. Several lines in the text indicate that he knew at least some of the second generation of Fishers in the U.S. personally. Research supports most of the names, dates and events in the text. The only obvious error is the surname of Abel Fisher's wife at the beginning of the document. Rachel's surname is often listed as Whoowee based on this text. Her surname was in fact Hoowe as shown in this bible record from the Friends Historical Library in Dublin, Ireland.
A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ONE OF THE FISHER FAMILIES.
BY ONE OF THEM
The name Fisher, indicates German origin, and it is highly probable that the remote ancestors of the family came over to England in the Saxon conquest of that country, and subsequently immigrated to Ireland perhaps in Cromwell’s colonization scheme. Family tradition said they came from England.
Abel Fisher was born in Mt. Mellick, Ireland, about 1730, (his father’s name was Abel.) He served some time in the British army as a dragoon; after his discharge he married Rachel Whoowee, a Quakeress who was born in Eddenderry. They immediately sailed for America. The voyage lasting 3 months. Now they make the passage in a week. They landed at Philadelphia. Mr. Fisher left one brother, Henry, and one half-sister, Nancy Lake. Mrs. Fisher’s two brothers, William and Mathias, and three sisters, Mollie, Nancy and Hanna. Of these relatives none were ever known to come to America except Henry Fisher. The family kept track of him for some time, but for many years every trace of him and his family has been lost. Of all those who remained in Ireland, nothing is known. Perhaps their descendants became Fenians, land leaguers or home rulers, or they have immigrated to India or Austria, or even America; all of this belongs to the unknown.
Mr. Fisher settled at Cape May, New Jersey, where the family resided for about twenty years, and where their children were born. Mr. Fisher, while there, owned a small boat in which he carried oysters to Philadelphia and brought back domestic goods which he exchanged for oysters. Philadelphia was then a small town.
In 1773, he concluded to emigrate to the then west. Procuring a wagon and a team of miserable horses, he started for the redstone country, near the line between Westmoreland and Fayette counties, Pa. After a terrible journey over bad roads and mountains, late in the fall they reached a point one mile west of Fort Ligonier, now Ligonier Borough; here their team gave out and refused to go any further. Here they remained through the winter and finally concluded to make the neighborhood their permanent home. Subsequently Mr. Fisher purchased a tract of land containing 300 acres, two miles west of Ligonier, on the Two Mile Run. This land remained in the family for more than one hundred years.
Just as they commenced to make an improvement on their land, the Revolutionary War came on, and as they were on the frontier, and exposed to Indian raids, the family removed to York, Pa., where the women remained until the close of the war. Mr. Fisher and the two oldest boys returned to Ligonier, and lived amidst constant alarms and danger, the indians killing some of the settlers every year. Sometime during the war, Mr. Fisher died in the fort, it was said of pleurisy. As was common with the early settlers, he requested to be buried on his own farm. A squad of soldiers accompanied the funeral procession, and while they committed dust to dust, armed men stood round the bushes to guard against surprise by Indians. He was an industrious and thrifty man, and under more favorable circumstances would have succeeded well.
After the close of the war, the family, consisting of a widow and seven children, returned to the farm and commenced in earnest to make a home. Abel, the oldest son, never married, but continued to live on the farm with his mother and sisters until he died of old age, his four score years. His education was very limited, but he could read, and did, until he became the best historian in that part of the country. He acquired the habit of fast reading, (or glancing) as he termed it, thus getting the marrow out of a book without reading one fourth of it. His thirst for knowledge continued to the last. When on his death bed, he requested daily to have the papers read to him. He was one of the most religious men the writer ever knew. His life went out calm as a summer evening.
Mathias, the second son, I will refer to again. Thomas, the third son, married Prudence Shaw, and 1802, came to Mercer County (now Lawrence,) and settled on the Shenango about four miles north of Newcastle, where he spent his life. He stated to the writer that he was present at the first court ever held in Mercer conuty, the courthouse being a sawmill. Many of the older people of the county still remember him as a kind and pleasant gentleman; he died suddenly in 1848. John, the youngest son, was bitten by a rattle snake, and died in a few hours. He was buried beside his father on the old farm; and there the two graves remain alone to this day. Elizabeth never married. Rachel married Jacob Stewart, but left no children. Hannah, the youngest daughter, married Samuel McDowel. They settled near Ligonier, and raised a large family, most of whom moved to Mercer (now Lawrence) county, where some of their descendants still reside, represented by King McDowell, Mrs. Sarah Banks, Mrs. Hannah Banks, and Mrs. Samuel McCreary, of Neshannock Falls; Mrs. Baxter Wilson and Mrs. Major Gordon, of New Castle, and others.
But, to return to Mathias. In 1780, he volunteered to go with Gen. Clark on the expedition against the Indians in Illinois. The place of rendezvous was Wheeling, West Va. When his regiment arrived there, they learned that Gen. Clark had gone down the Ohio, having left orders for them to follow, which they proceeded to do in flat boats. The season had now advanced to July. The river, as usual, in mid summer, was falling rapidly.l Co. Laughrey, who commanded the regiment, thought it proper to send a dispatch to Clark, informing him that he was coming. Mr. Fisher, with four others, was selected to proceed with the dispatch in a canoe. The writer has heard him tell how abundant game was along the banks of the Ohio, buffalo, deer, bear, etc., enough to supply an army. After proceeding some distance, they landed, and three of them proceed to hunt, the other two remaining with the canoe. The Indians discovered these and fired on them, they pushed out into the river, and left those on the shore behind, who, of course, ran in the opposite direction. In the excitement, the large knife one of them carried, fell to the ground, point upward, he set his foot on it. It came up through his foot, wounding him so that it was impossible for him to travel. His companions carried him to a stream of water and bound up the wound as well as they could. He then told them to leave him and save themselves. He was never heard of afterwards. The other two concealed themselves till the main body came down, who were very cautious about landing for them, lest they might be a decoy.
See SR19 for the conclusion of this article.