††††††††††† George Fisher, of Drytown, dates his residence in California from 1851.† The Teutonic race has been a wonderful factor in the civilization of the world, sending its representatives into England when that land was in a half barbaric condition, into Denmark and to some extent into the countries to the south; and at a later date many of the people belonging to that race crossed the Atlantic to America, forming an important element in our civilization.† Each year brings new arrivals from the Fatherland, and among those who came in the nineteenth century is George Fisher, who for many years has been numbered among the honored citizens of northern California, a man whose active and upright life has won him the respect of all.† He arrived in this state at a time when the population was mostly made up of miners, many of whom were men of good business ability and of upright character who had come here in search of fortune.† Intermingled with these, however, there was a large lawless element whose purpose in seeking the west was an unworthy one, deeds of crime and violence were frequent and it required the energetic and prompt effort of such citizens as Mr. Fisher to maintain order and establish justice.
††††††††††† Mr. Fisher was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on the 28th of January, 1819.† His father, Joseph Fisher, left that land for the United States, accompanied by his wife and seven sons; but Mrs. Fisher died in Holland before their embarkation and the fatherís death occurred in New York City, in his fifty-fifth year.† All of the sons have now passed away with the exception of him whose name introduces this review.† From his sixth to his eleventh year he attended school in his native land and then came to the United States, after which he further pursued his studies in the night schools of New York City. His father caused him to learn the barberís trade, but it was so distasteful to him that he never followed it to any extent.† He was for a time employed as a drayman, hauling goods for an iron manufactory in New York City.
††††††††††† Subsequently he entered the employ of Mr. Bell, a prominent shipbuilder, who secured him a position as fireman on board a ship bound for California.† Off the coast of Brazil they encountered severe storms, the vessel leaked badly, was condemned and returned to New York.† After being repaired she started out on another voyage, but Mr. Fisher refused to go, as he deemed the craft unseaworthy.† She was again stopped at Rio de Janeiro and abandoned on account of her unsafe condition.† Mr. Fisher next shipped on the Cherokee, bound for Panama, expecting on his arrival to secure a pass across the Isthmus; but the other firemen were all ill and in consequence he again returned to New York.† After reaching that harbor, the Cherokee was sold to a company making a voyage to New Orleans.† At that time a new ship was being completed for a California voyage and Mr. Fisher was introduced to the chief engineer, by whom he was employed as fireman.† When the vessel was ready to start five hundred men were anxious to get a chance to work their passage in order to reach the Pacific coast.† He received thirty dollars per month during the early part of the voyage and after leaving Panama he was paid seventy-five dollars per month.† He had previously been married but had lost his wife, who died leaving two children.† They remained in New York, while the father came to California.† One daughter, Frances, is now the wife of Thomas Miller, of Rochester, in that state.
††††††††††† Mr. Fisher carried with him letters of introduction to prominent businessmen of San Francisco, who secured him a position as drayman there; but he was anxious to reach the mines and made his way to the Cosumnes River.† He mined on Big Bar, but that proved an unprofitable camp, he making only about three dollars per day.† The following spring he was the possessor of a capital of about eight hundred dollars.† He then joined a number of other men who were engaged in turning the river out of its channel, but after spending much time and labor there the venture proved a failure and he then went to Polkeville, now Plymouth, Amador County.† After mining there for a short time he continued on his way to Taylor Gulch on Dry Creek, where he successfully mined for a time, he and his partners taking out eighty dollars there in one day and securing other valuable nuggets.† About the same time he mined on Dry Creek and each of the partners took out eight hundred dollars in the winter of 1854.† On his claim on the creek below the town Mr. Fisher secured on an average half an ounce per day for three or four months, so that the place proved profitable.† Wiser than many of his companions, he saved his money, and though he had reverses at times, as most of the miners did, he was generally successful and had thus accumulated some good capital.
††††††††††† The traveler who today passes through the beautiful valleys and thriving mining towns of California can scarcely realize the conditions of things that existed only thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.† On one occasion it was discovered that twenty-five or thirty armed Mexicans had gone to the lower Rancheria and ordered supplies.† An old man made his way from the ranch to the town and told of the arrival of the Mexicans and said they were robbers, bent on mischief, and probably would attempt to rob the town.† The deputy sheriffs, George Durham and Henry Herring, began to make preparations for a fight without telling the citizens what they were doing or that danger was imminent.† They then went to the Rancheria to try to arrest the twenty-five men; and as they approached the house the Mexicans slipped out the back way; several shots were exchanged, but the Mexican managed to make their escape.† The firing occasioned great surprise to the people in the town, and soon afterward the Mexicans came down, built a fire and camped on the hill above the town.† Mr. Fisher, Bob Casner and Dick Lanny proposed to the deputies to make up a party to go to the Rancheria to protect the people; but the deputies only laughed at the idea.† The townsmen, however, continued to agitate the questions and appointed one of the deputy sheriffs to lead them to the place where the Mexicans were supposed to be.† The delay of the deputies, however, gave the Mexicans the opportunity which they wished.† They had gone back to the Rancheria and killed six people, including Mr. Francis, the owner of the store there, after which they had stolen all the money that had been deposited by the miners, to the amount of about ten thousand dollars.† Mr. Fisher and eleven companions arriving on the scene too late:† the dead and dying people proved a sight most appalling.† The merchant, Francis, who was a powerful man, had had a desperate fight, having been stabbed thirty-three times.† They found Mrs. Diming stabbed and dying in the yard, and her little child there with her!† Mr. Fisher and the others succeeded in getting her to bed, but she soon after expired.† Several bands of settlers went out in search of the desperadoes and a number of the Mexicans were caught and hung on the limbs of the tree under which Mr. Francis had been found dying.
††††††††††† When trying to arrest some of the Mexican in Sonora, the sheriff of Phoenix was shot by two men, who however, were afterwards caught, brought back and hung.† Such were the scenes all too common in those early days, but righteousness at length prevailed as the result of the efforts of the better element and the work of civilization and progress has been carried forward so steadily and rapidly that California ranks today among the leading commonwealths of the Union.
††††††††††† In 1856 Mr. Fisher was engaged in driving a team used in hauling goods from Sacramento.† Later, however, he resumed mining at Forest Home and after taking out two thousand dollars sold his claim, for twenty-five hundred dollars.† In 1857 he returned to Drytown, where he spent the winter, and in April, 1858, he went to New York City, where he remained for a year.† He then again returned to California.
††††††††††† At the time of the Fraser River excitement, some friends wished him to go to the new gold fields, and he decided to do so; but circumstances led him to change his mind and it proved very fortunate that he did.† He continued his mining operations in this section of the state until 1860, when he once more went to New York, remaining two years, during which time he was induced to engage in the stock business, buying cattle for the New York market.† He hired a man who was supposed to be a good judge of stock, and they purchased three hundred head, which they shipped to New York, after which the man got drunk, leaving Mr. Fisher to manage the rest of the deal alone.† Being inexperienced, he was able to get back only the money which he had invested.† He was in New York at the time Lincoln passed through on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, but the president-elect traveled quietly with only a few friends and there was no excitement attached to his arrival or departure.† Mr. Fisher also saw the first seventy-five thousand volunteers as they marched from New York to Washington.† In was an inspiring sight and manifested to those who saw it the loyal spirit of the north.
††††††††††† Not long afterward Mr. Fisher returned to California, where he continued his mining operations.† During the war times there was great excitement in Amador County, the feeling being very high between the friends and opponents of the Union.† Mr. Fisher arrayed himself on the side of the national government and was active and prominent in his efforts in keeping the secession element in check and thus holding California in the Union.† He joined a company of one hundred Union men formed for self-preservation and it was through the efforts of such loyal citizens that the state was retained as one of the northern commonwealths. †At the time of the election he took a prominent part in electing the Republican candidate for sheriff, and was afterward appointed deputy, in which position he performed important service, discharging many of the duties of the office throughout the county.† Thus he acquired a very wide and favorable acquaintance.† He returned to his mining operations, and in 1871, when working in the Oneida mine, was again appointed deputy sheriff, being very active and capable in arresting the criminals and law-breakers who at that time infested the county.† His political support has ever been given to the Republican Party, and he is most earnest in his advocacy of its principles.† During all the years he continued in his connection with the mining interests, and for the past twelve years has been an extensive stockholder in various quartz mining properties in Amador County.† His business affairs have been managed so capably that he is now the possessor of a handsome competence, which will be enjoyed by his daughter and her children.
††††††††††† In 1861, while on a visit to the east, Mr. Fisher was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Tooms, who came with him to California in 1863, and was to him a faithful helpmeet in lifeís journey until her death in 1891.† For eighteen years Mr. Fisher has made his residence in Jackson.† Few men are better known in Amador County, where his reliable and upright life has commended him to the confidence and good will of all.† His life history is a link connecting the past and present of California and as one of its pioneers his name is deeply engraved on its history.† He is uniformly honored and esteemed and his record is one which reflects credit to himself and does honor to the commonwealth in whose progress and welfare he is so deeply concerned.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010† Gerald Iaquinta.