SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-1998, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
Gonzales Town Residents--Fisher | Independence Consultations

 

John Fisher 1800-1865
Gonzales Resident, Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence

John Fisher was was born in Richmond, Virginia, on 18 Jan 1800, his parents were James and Margaret (Nimmo) Fisher. James Fisher (1770-1844) was born in Dumfries, Scotland, immigrated to America in 1794 and married Margaret in Richmond, VA, who was also born in Scotland.  John Fisher with family including his brothers William Fisher and Henry Fisher (purser on the Texas ship Liberty in 1835).   He applied for land in Austin's Colony on 16 Feb 1836, but never received because of closing of the land office.  His application stated "From Virginia arrived in April, 1832; applied Feby. 16, 1836; family with us; wants land, resident of Gonzales." John Fisher served as secretary of the committee of safety for Gonzales Municipality in 1835 and was author of a protest to Stephen F. Austin about outrages of San Augustine volunteers in Gonzales.  John Fisher was a delegate at the independence convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos.  He was seated at the convention on 1 Mar, was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and joined the Runaway Scrape east upon adjournment on 17 Mar.  On 13 Mar 1836, he received a letter from his brother William written from Velasco:

Dear Brother Your letter per express was received the letter You mention having sent by W. G. Cook I have never seen---I had determined to resign my commission as Collector on acct of the difficulty of doing the business to my satisfaction this difficulty I have surmounted and would be glad to retain the office---if the new Government should retain me my power to attorney to sign the names of my securities to any amount is filed in the Executive office C. B Stewart can give You all the information on that point. I wish You would act for me, as if I was personally present as it is impossible for me to get up on account of the badness of the roads and the utter impossibility of getting a horse The revenue Bill as it now stands is very defective you understand these matters, and will at once see the deficiencies  Henry is on a cruise on board the Liberty---As Soon as you get through Your business at Washington---I would be glad to see you at this point, should it not interfere with your arrangements Affectionately William S Fisher To John Fisher Velasco Mar 13 1836

In his diary, William Fairfax Gray mentions that he met John Fisher and other members of the convention on 20 Apr at Anahuac waiting for transportation into Louisiana.  On 17 Nov 1837, Fisher wrote Houston:

To his Excy Sam Houston Sir Understanding that there is now before the House a bill authorising you to appoint a Notary Public each for Galveston & Velasco, my object in this communication is to ask the appointment to Velasco should the Bill pass, as I intend making that place my residence as to my qualifications I have only to say I have been for sixteen years extensively engaged in foreign & domestic business in shipping and the duties of a Notary were nearly daily required---I would not make the application but have been nearly 5 months sick unable to do any thing exhausted my means and am compelled to resort to something by which I can earn an honest livelyhood for myself and a small family---Should you think proper to honor me with the appointment please communicate to me at Velasco & oblige.  Respectfully Yr frd & well wisher Jno Fisher

In 1837 he signed over his headright certificate for service to Peter W. Grayson and apparently returned to his native state of Virginia.  In a letter to Governor Sam Houston, from Richmond, Virginia, 6 Feb 1860:

As an old Frend & acquaintance I take the liberty of asking your aid if not inconsistent with your position in a matter of interest to me.  I petitioned the Legislature of Texas to grant me a league of land which you will find by the enclosed letter has been rejected by the Senate, which I consider a very hard case under the circumstances. in as much as I was entitled to it under the Colonization laws & guaranteed to me by the action of the Convention that made the declaration of independence both you & myself being members of it. not only this but I complyed with all the requesitions, my land was surveyed, but in consequence of frauds having been practised upon the land office could not obtain my patent. the land office being afterwards burnt destroyed the evidence of my claim, there have been laws passed since with regard to the course to be pursued all of which I am ignorant of. I left Texas for Virginia intending to return with my family, upon my arrival here found two old Ladies 60 & 70 years of age relatives & members of my family perfectly Blind, which rendered it impossible for me to return. What I have to ask of you as I before remarked if not inconsistent with your position is to get the Senate to reconsider their vote & render me as I consider an act of Justice & I know in your kindness of Hart you will do so. I am now getting advanced in life & in limitted circumstances & this little boon would help me very much.

Fisher was listed in the 1860 City Directory for Richmond, VA as "tobacco stemmery, cor 7th and Arch, Cary bt 1st and 2d." He is listed as a "Tobacconists" in the classified list of industries for the city.   In Richmond, Fisher married Margaret Connor McKim (1810-1879).  Fisher died on 13 Aug 1865 in Charlotte, NC and is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.  In 1944 the graves were clearly marked in a plot marked "Perpetual Care" with other members of the Fisher family,  On the slab of John Fisher was "Sacred to the memory of John Fisher--born in Richmond, VA, Jan. 18, 1800; died Aug. 14, 1865.  He giveth His beloved sleep."  "Sacred to the memory of Margaret C. Fisher, beloved wife of John Fisher--born in Richmond, VA, Sept. 16, 1810; died March 22, 1879.   Whereas I was blind now I see" was on the slab of Mrs. Fisher. The Fishers had children John Robert Fisher and a child who died in infancy. John Robert Fisher was married to Florence Mallory, they had children Russell W. (died in childhood); Estelle M. (never married); James McKim (m. Sophie G. Bibb); John W. (m. Anna R. Spratt); Robert M. (died in childhood); and William N. Fisher (never married). (Summarized from The Signers of the Declaration of Independence by L.W. Kemp and other lesser sources).

From The Men Who Made Texas Free by Sam Houston Dixon.   John Fisher has been spoken of as "one of the noblest of that band of patriots who assembled at Old Washington for the purpose of establishing a free and independent Republic in defiance of Mexican tyranny." Mr. Fisher belonged to a distinguished family of Virginians, many of whose descendants served gallantly in the early struggles for American independence and some of them served in the councils of the Nation.  John Fisher was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, March 8, 1800. His father was a successful agriculturist and gave his son John the advantages of good society and good schools. He grew to manhood amidst refining influence. In 1822 he accepted service with a mining company in Tennessee and remained with this company until early in 1828 when he returned to Virginia. Finding that his father's health had failed him, he resumed charge of his business. His father died in the fall of 1828. He then began to arrange his affairs to move to Texas. He had previously learned from agents he met in Tennessee something of Texas and her possibilities. Several of his friends and acquaintances had preceded him to Texas, and from them he had frequent communications descriptive of the country and the conditions of the people. He landed at Velasco early in 1829 and after spending a brief period in Columbia and San Felipe he proceeded to Gonzales.

Here he met a number of his friends with whom he had had correspondence before coming to Texas. Among them were Jacob Darst, Henry Middleton, Edward Burleson, T. J. Gazley and Matthew Caldwell. He was greeted so cordially by these settlers that he made up his mind to locate permanently at Gonzales. Soon after locating he joined General Burleson on one or two expeditions against marauding bands of Indians and was slightly wounded in one of the skirmishes with the Indians. He was brave and daring and won the esteem of all those in General Burleson's command. From the period of his retirement from the military to his election as a delegate to the Washington Convention he was employed in different avocations. We find him in 1830-31 assisting in establishing land surveys.  Mr. Fisher was a participant in a meeting held at Gonzales, July 7, 1835. This meeting was called to enable the colonists of that community to give expression to their sentiments toward the Mexican Government. It must be remembered that Stephen F. Austin had not returned from his imprisonment in Mexico, and the citizens of Gonzales viewed it almost treason to utter speech, or perform acts, calculated to cause further hardships to be placed upon him. Meetings of a similar nature were being held in the different communities of the State and most of them adopted resolutions declaring loyalty to the Mexican Government and pledging obedience to her laws.

The citizens of Columbia had declared in convention, June 28, for the calling of a convention to form a "Provisional Government during the reign of anarchy in the State as it is without a Governor, Vice-Governor or Council." They recognized the Political Chief as the highest executive officer and he was urged to organize the militia "for the protection of the frontier," and. that he suspend further orders until the whole people are consulted, and also that he recommend a similar course to the Political Chiefs of other departments of Texas.  As soon as the Columbia resolutions were made public, those opposed to a movement to organize became busy in an effort to defeat further agitation of the question. And thus when a convention of the citizens of Gonzales was called to meet, July 7th, Edward Gritten appeared on the scene and delivered a spirited address in which he stated that he was familiar with the purpose of the Mexican Government regarding Texas, and that it was favorable. "He spoke," said Eli Mitchell, one of the participants in this convention, "as if he had an intimate acquaintance with the Mexicans' designs." Mr. Gritten's motives were not then understood, and his address had the effect of causing the introduction and passing of resolutions which were later repudiated by the people of Gonzales. These resolutions pledged loyalty to the Mexican Government and at the same time were condemnatory of the recommendations made by citizens of other departments. Mr. Fisher belonged to the conservative wing of the Peace Party, that large body of patriots who favored a conservative course in dealing with matters affecting the Mexican Government, and he introduced a resolution which was adopted and which, in the absence of information relative to the conditions existing and the objects sought to be accomplished, might lead one to consider that he was not in sympathy with the spirit of resistance which lurked in the bosom of every Texas patriot. His resolution was as follows:

Resolved: That we protest against any Provisional Government or organization contrary to the true intent and meaning of the Constitution and laws, tending to estrange the Jurisdiction of Texas from that of Coahuila as established by the constitutional act, unless the Federal Congress shall sanction the separation, and the loyalty and patriotism of the citizens of Texas shall challenge this benefit for us at their hands, and every act and deed, tending to interrupt the harmony and good understanding existing between Texas and the Federal Government, deserve the marked disapprobation and contempt of every friend of constitutional order in the country.

On July 19th a meeting of the Ayuntamiento and citizens of Gonzales was held. At this meeting it was stated that the resolutions of July 7th were based on a firm belief in the good faith of the General Government towards Texas, and its strict observance of the laws and constitution of the United Mexican States, and that

"so long as the actions of the government justified this faith in its integrity, the people of Gonzales will continue their unqualified allegiance." "But," they said, "if it be discovered that the numerous reports are correct, that the government contemplates a formidable invasion of the rights and properties of the citizens of Texas, they hereby declare themselves resistance to such measures a virtue."  

In his subsequent career Mr. Fisher demonstrated that he was a fearless patriot---loyal and true to the principles of liberty and justice.  When the convention was called to meet at Old Washington, March 1, 1836, Mr. Fisher was urged by Mr. Caldwell and others of his associates to become a candidate for a delegate to this convention. He permitted the use of his name and was elected. He attended the convention and when the Declaration of Independence was presented and adopted he became one of its signers After the battle of San Jacinto, and President Houston had been inaugurated the First President of the Republic, he returned to his old home in Virginia where he remained several months. On his return to Texas we next hear of him at Columbia where he was one of the agents of the Allen Brothers in their campaign to have the capital of the Republic located at Houston.   Mr. Fisher was described by Mr. Menefee as "a man of pleasing personality, weighed about 153 pounds, dark hair and dark gray eyes, quick in action and speech; firm but social in his nature."

Mr. James W. Fisher of Washington City, a grandson of John Fisher, informs me that John Fisher was accompanied to Texas in 1829 by two brothers, William S. Fisher and Henry Fisher. Both of these brothers, early after their arrival, identified themselves with the settlement of the then Mexican State. William S. Fisher was a distinguished member of the Consultation which met at San Felipe in 1835. He represented the Municipality of Gonzales. He joined the army soon after the adjournment of the consultation and was Captain of Volunteer Company I in the battle of San Jacinto, and distinguished himself by his gallant conduct in this engagement. He was also a member of the First Congress of the Republic and Secretary of War in President Houston's Cabinet in 1837. In 1840 he joined the Army of the Republic of the Rio Grande and was at the head of two hundred men. He was captain of a company in the Somervell expedition. When Colonel Somervell turned back at the Rio Grande he became one of the Commanders of the Texans who proceeded to Mier. In the battle which followed their entrance into Mier, he was severely wounded and surrendered to the Mexican army. He was carried a prisoner to the City of Mexico. Later released and returned to Texas. He died in 1845.  One of our writers of early Texas history states that William S. Fisher came to Texas in 1833. If the information supplied by James W. Fisher is correct this is an error. I am relying on the statement furnished by Mr. James W. Fisher, referred to above.


Gonzales Town Residents--Fisher | Independence Consultations
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-1998, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved