FISHER, James History of
Contributor: janecb01 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
James Fisher (Senior) was born, 21 July 1817, in Eversholt, Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, England, son of Thomas Fisher and Elizabeth Smith of Saint Albans, Hertfordshire, England.
James married Emma Burrows on 17 November 1840, in London, England.
Their first child was Jane, who was born 11 April 1841, in Milton Bryant, Bedfordshire, England; Frederick, their second child was born 24 July 1844, died at age fourteen months in September 1845, and was buried in Milton Bryant, Bedfordshire, England.
Together James and Emma joined the LDS Church in London, England, being baptized 22 October 1849. In the book, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah is found information stating that James served as a missionary in England before leaving and going to Utah. He and his wife and daughter, Jane left England to join the Latter-day Saints in America.
JOURNEY TO AMERICA AND UTAH
On 28 February 1853, the 65th Company, 425 Latter-day Saints left Liverpool, England on the Ship International, commanded by Captain David Brown of Provincetown, Massachusetts, was part-owner and master of the vessel. So far as can be determined, James Fisher, his wife, Emma Burrows, and daughter Jane were among this group of emigrating saints. Also on this voyage was President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur.
The square-rigged International made one of the most successful and notable Mormon emigrant voyages The Saints were under the presidency of Elder Christopher Arthur and his counselors, John Lyon and Richard Waddington. During the crossing there were seven deaths, seven births, and five marriages and forty-eight baptisms.
Shortly after the ship left port, Elder Arthur called a meeting of priesthood holders in the company. He then divided the emigrants into eight wards, six for the steerage and two for the second-class cabin passengers. An elder presided over each ward and was accountable to a general council. These leaders were responsible for the health, behavior, and welfare of the emigrants. Every evening meeting was held for worship, instruction, and testimony bearing. During the voyage the Saints were filled with religious fervor, and spiritual manifestations such as speaking in tongues and prophesying were reported. In a letter to President Samuel W. Richards, dated 26 April 1853, Arthur described a unique missionary success:
"These things and the good conduct of the Saints have had a happy result in bringing many to knowledge of the truth. And I am now glad to inform you that we baptized all on board except three persons. We can number the captain, first and second mates, with eighteen of the crew. . . . The others baptized were friends of the brethren. The number baptized in all is forty-eight . . . . The captain is truly a noble, generous-hearted man; and to his honor I can say that no man ever left Liverpool with a company of Saints more beloved by them, or who has been more friendly and social than he has been with us; indeed, words are inadequate to express the fatherly care over us as a people; our welfare seemed to be near to his heart."
Except for minor bouts of seasickness, the emigrants were remarkably free from illness. For five weeks the ship encountered head winds and some heavy gales. In one storm the vessel nearly capsized. Yet at times she sailed about two hundred twenty miles a day.
On 6 April the emigrants assembled on the forecastle to celebrate the twenty-third anniversary of the church. Six musket rounds were fired and the festivities began. The celebrants marched to the poop deck, and the leaders robed in sashes with white rosettes on their chests took seats with their backs to the mainmast. Twelve young men and twelve young women, picturesquely robed, seated themselves on each side of the presidency. Then there were scripture readings, partaking of the sacrament, speeches, singing, recitations, dancing, and four marriages. The program lasted until late at night. President Arthur wrote that "everything was done with the highest decorum." He added an interesting footnote "I am happy to say we called Brother Brown (Captain) with others of the officers of the ship to office, Brother Brown to that of an Elder."
This happy voyage ended at New Orleans on 23 April 1853, a fifty-four-day passage.
The International, which operated in the White Star Line and later in the Warren & Thayer's Line, was owned by Captain Brown and six other Yankees. Her registration indicates this three-master was built with two decks, no galleries, a square stem, and two billet head. In 1863, the vessel was lost at sea.
Upon reaching Iowa, Captain Claudius Spencer, who had just returned from a British Mission, took command of the eleventh Company of emigrants, consisting of 250 saints from England, which included James Fisher, wife Emma Burrows, and their twelve year old daughter, Jane. This company was called the Perpetual Emigrating Company, financed by a fund set up by the Church, to help needy converts come to Utah.
From New Orleans they continued their journey by steamboat to Reokuk, Iowa, and from there, overland to Council Bluffs. During this overland trip the company used forty Perpetual Emigrating Fund wagons, and crossed the Missouri River on or about the 3rd of June, 1853.
Neither James nor Emma kept a journal for us to have an insight into what their trip was like. The following two trail excerpts written by those who were on the trail with the Claudius V. Spencer Company give us some insight into what they experienced.
A Trail Excerpt: Arthur, Christopher Jones, Autobiography
“From there on we had a pleasant journey, occasionally seeing some wild buffalo, and sometimes Indians visited our camp. On one occasion I remember some of our leading men forming a circle on the ground, (sitting down) with them. They had a large pipe with a long stem. They lit the pipe and one smoked it a little and passed it around until all had smoked a little. This was called the pipe of peace. This was a very solemn token of friendship with the Indians.”
Another Excerpt: Wheeler, Maria Walker
“We traveled day after day on a prairie as level as any country ever was as far as the eye could see. Without a tree or bush to break the monotony of the scene, only [the] Platte River. There were large herds of buffalo with sometimes an antelope and deer. There were few experienced deer or buffalo hunters along with us and we did not get near enough to get any for a long time. One night after we came in camp, it was quite early, there was a small band of buffalo not far off and one of the men took a rifle and went toward them. They were making for camp and we were afraid they would stampede the cattle. Some of the men tried to stop them. Finally one man shot one and the rest left. We had plenty of fresh meat for a few days. We had to cook it with buffalo chips. We went on and on without any incidents until we came to the sand hills where the sand was so heavy our travel was slow. In a few days we would be through them. There was very little feed along there. One day we camped for noon or dinner and turned out the cattle to feed awhile but a terrible hail storm came up with hailstones larger than quail eggs and how it did beat and blow. It drove the cattle off about five or six miles before it. It was quite a while before they were found. As we went over sand hills and rough places and finally on to the plains again we neared Fort Laramie without anything unusual, such as gathering buffalo chips, cooking our meals, milking cows.
“When we got to within twelve or fifteen miles of Laramie we camped one night rather late between the Platte and the high hill or bluff . . . We camped and kindled fires to cook but had not got supper before a lot of Indians came on the hill and commenced shooting arrows into camp. It was dark and about between eight and nine o’clock in the evening. Of course we were scared but our captain who had had some experience told us to put out the fires; let women and children go in the wagons and keep quiet and corral the cattle. We always made a corral of our wagons and all the men armed themselves and stood guard. They did not fire on the Indians else it would be a signal for a massacre of all our company. Well, the men watched all night but after firing a few times at the camp and some of the arrows stuck in the wagon covers they left and next morning we moved camp.
“Our next stopping place was Fort Laramie where after crossing the Platte we went about a mile and camped there. We decided to stay a week to rest the teams, set tires, watch, etc. As that was about the end of the level country and feed was getting poorer as we neared the Black Hills it gave our cattle a good rest and feed. The Indians came to camp often to beg but being near the fort did not try to bother us again. We then moved on but some of them tried to buy a white woman; tried to trade a pony for one and also offered a pony for a jug of liquor but we would not trade. On [we] went until we struck the upper crossing of the Platte which was quite deep in this place. As we were now among the hills poor and barren with sand hills in places which made it hard for the teams and the oxen were getting poor as feed was scarce. One day one of the oxen gave out, lay down and died in a little while. He had doubtless drunk alkaline water as others had died of the same. We had to get along as we could without him thankful we had lost no more.”
On 17th of September1853, while camped on the Weber River, Captain Spencer wrote a letter to Brigham Young concerning the company's progress. He wrote:
“Weber River, 17 September, 1853, Revered and Beloved Pres. Young,
I have received your notice to Emigrate Saints and Improve the first opportunity to forward the list of the Camp, which I believe is correct.
Provisions with us as other camps are very short and we are making as much haste as possible to reach the valley, but the inexperience of the English brethren in these canyons makes slow progress and much trouble and will forbid my leave camp until all the wagons are safely landed at the foot of Emigration Canyon.
Any instruction you might choose to send by the bearer of this respecting the disposal of the camp, that point will be thankfully received.
Very truly, yours, C. V. Spencer
Elder Claudius V. Spencer
Christopher Arthur, Captain of fifty
Including; Fisher James, Fisher, Emma, Fisher, Jane”
Most of the company arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, about 28 September1853 (Roster and Journal History, 17 September1853, pp. 18 40).
Mormon pioneers established Provo, Utah, as a permanent settlement in 1849. It became the second largest city in the territory. To this area, the Fisher family migrated as soon as they arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley. It was in this settlement they made their home and this is where two more children were born: James Fisher Jr., on 30 December 1857; and George Albert, on 4 October 1860. Only two of their children were ever married.
This family is found the Provo Utah 1870 Census:
James Fisher listed as 52; farmer; born in England
Emma Fisher listed as 48; keeping house; born in England
James, 12; at school; born in Utah
George, 8; at school; born in Utah
In ten years, they have two of their sons, James, twenty-two, old and George A, eighteen, and a granddaughter, Annie Hushcroft, daughter of Jane Fisher and William Roger Hushcroft, living with them.
This family is found the Provo Utah 1880 Census:
James Fisher listed as 62; farmer; born in England
Emma Fisher listed as 58; keeping house; born in England
James, 22; son, laborer;
George A, 18; son, aborer;
Hushcroft Annie, age 8; granddaughter; at home
Three years after this census was taken, James Fisher, Sr, died on 5 July 1883, and Emma outlived him by almost twenty-two years. He is buried in the Provo City Cemetery, Provo, Utah, Utah.
The following is a letter requesting space in the newspaper to honor James after his death.
12 July 1882
A Tribute of Respect
The Territorial Enquirer
As Brother James Fisher Sr. was one of the oldest Settlers in Provo, I hope you will give space for the following:
Brother Fisher was born at Evershalt, Bedfordshire, England, July 21, 1817. He embraced the Gospel in London at the Notting H. Hill Branch, and made to Utah in 1853. The writer remembers: Brother Fisher as the very first Latter-day Saint he ever saw. He came to the town when I was just a boy, to open up the fulness of the everlasting Gospel and ever since that time the subject of the Lord’s work has been the leading topic in his mind. He was devoted to the principals of the Gospel, and died a peaceful manner with the same feelings he acknowledged in life, clinging to him in Death.
(Samuel S. Jones)
•Roster and Journal History, 17 September 1853, pp. 18 40, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
•Ships, Saints and Mariners: A Maritime Encyclopedia of Mormon Migration, 1830-1890 by Conway Sonne, Utah State University Press, Salt Lake City, 1987
•Millennial Star, Vol. XX p. 169, 358, 361, 443)
•Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, p 872
•Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
•Trail Excerpt one: Arthur, Christopher Jones, Autobiography, in Library of Congress, Collection of Mormon Diaries [1935-1938], reel 1, item 4, 1:5-6
•Trail Excerpt, Wheeler, Maria Walker, My history [ca. 1899], 13-19.
•Conquerors of the West, Stalwart Utah Pioneer, Florence C. Youngberg, Editor, pg 792-3