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Alameda County





Philip Melancthon Fisher, Superintendent of Schools of Alameda county since 1883, was born in Berlin, Somerset county, Pennsylvania, June 1, 1852, a son of J. Henry and Anna (Gilbert) Fisher, both natives of Germany (near Marburg), and there married.  They came to America with their first-born and settled on a farm near Berlin, Pennsylvania, in 1834, where eight sons and three daughters were born to them.  Eight sons and one daughter are now living.  Emma J., who became the wife of Rev. Benjamin Collins, went as a missionary of the English Lutheran Church to Liberia, was taken sick with malaria, and died at sea on the return voyage in 1875, at the age of twenty-seven.  Her sister, Mary E., the wife of Charles Wincoff, a lumber dealer of Berlin, Pennsylvania, also died young.  The first-born, Charles, died at the age of nineteen.  Six sons and two daughters were trained in normal schools and colleges for the profession of school-teaching.  Their great-grandfather Fisher was a teacher for forty years in the same town in Germany, dying at the age of ninety-three.  His father had also been a teacher.  John Fisher, the grandfather of the present generation of school-teachers, changed the record to farming: he died of some acute disease in middle life.  His wife died at forty-eight.  The father of P. M. Fisher died several years ago, at about the age of sixty; the mother is still living, aged eighty-three.  Her father, Carl Gilbert, the village blacksmith, and his wife lived to be about seventy.  The children of J. H. and Anna G. Fisher are: Charles, deceased; Daniel H., a farmer near Berlin, Pennsylvania; John Gilbert, Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners of Bedford county, Pennsylvania, since 1875; Harry W., formerly Superintendent of Schools of Bedford county, Pennsylvania, now principals of the Washington Schools, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Tobias S. and Samuel P., twins; T. S. enlisted in the spring of 1862 in the One Hundred and Forty-Second Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, was wounded once, captured twice and held in three Southern prisons—Libby, Belle Island and Salisbury—for about nine months; honorably discharged in June, 1865, he became a farmer near Berlin, and has since been a Justice of the Peace, and is a pensioner of the civil war; his twin brother, S. P., is a shoemaker in Decoto, California; Caroline L., the wife of Rufus Landis, of Berlin, Pennsylvania, who was also a soldier of the Union, was in the Tenth Pennsylvania Reserves for three months, in 1861, reenlisted that year, and again in 1864, was in every battle of his regiment, never asked for a furlough, was never wounded—a typical mountaineer soldier, six feet two inches in height, stalwart, muscular and fearless; Mary E., deceased; Emma J., missionary, deceased; William E., a graduate of Gettysburg Theological Seminary, and now a minister of the English Lutheran Church at Center Hall, near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania; P. M., the subject of this sketch; August Henry Francke, also a graduate of Gettysburg, and now minister of the English Lutheran Church at Barren Hill, near Philadelphia.


P. M. Fisher was educated in the public schools of Berlin, Pennsylvania, and made his first venture in school-teaching in October, 1866, taking charge of thirty-five children early in his fifteenth year.  He was principal of the Meyersdale School, Pennsylvania, at the age of eighteen, and at the same time as District Deputy, I. O. G. T.; he made speeches all over the country, doing what he could to carry it for “local option.”  Teaching usually in the winter terms he learned and worked at the trade of plasterer for health, strength and wages during the summer.  In 1873 he entered Mount Union College in Ohio, at which he was graduated as Ph. B. in the fall of 1876, and was chosen principal of schools of his native town in the season of 1876-7.  He then came to California, arriving in Oakland, May 4, 1877, with the intention of going to Oregon, where he was acquainted with Senator Mitchell and Congressman Herman.  He, however, went to work here at his trade as plasterer for three months, and then obtained on examination a certificate as teacher.  He taught the school at Sunol the winter of 1877-8, and afterward until he was chosen principal of the Irvington school in 1880.  This position he held until he entered upon the discharge of his duties as County Superintendent of Schools, on the first Monday in January, 1883, to which he had been elected in 1882, and was re-elected in 1886.  Meanwhile he had become a member of the Mission Lodge, No. 56, A. O. U. W., in 1878, and had actively identified himself with its work.  He is Past Master of the lodge and was for three years orator at the annual picnic of the order.  He is also a member of Alameda Lodge No. 167, F. & A. M. and has filled the office of Secretary of that lodge.


Mr. Fisher was married in Mission San Jose, January 3, 1884, to Miss Anna C. Laumeister, born in San Francisco, September 5, 1858, a daughter of John A. Frederika (Hanssler) Laumeister, the latter still living, aged sixty-two years, the former dying December 15, 1890, at the age of seventy-four.  Mr. Laumiester was a pioneer miller of San Francisco, and still earlier in New York, where he was awarded a silver medal, at the State Fair at Syracuse in 1843, for the first introduction of the popular manufacture of farina for the table.  His nephew Charles is at this date serving his second term as Sheriff of San Francisco.  Mrs. Fisher’s grandparents Laumeister and Haussler lived to a good old age.


Mr. and Mrs. Fisher have two children, Thusnelda, born in Mission San Jose in this county, August 25, 1884, and Philip M., Jr., born in Oakland, California, July 8, 1891.

Transcribed by Donna L. Becker 

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 2, pages 115-116, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

© 2005 Donna L. Becker.