October Ancestry Challenge – William Thomas Fisher

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 

23 posts/23 days/23 ancestors.

Ancestor #14 – William Thomas Fisher

My 3rd great grandfather was William Thomas Fisher, son of Southy Fisher and Elizabeth Butler. He was born on June 5, 1819 in Alabama, and as far as I can tell from records, he only had three sisters: Martha, Maria, and Permilla.

fisher southyHere is his father’s will:

In the name of God, Amen. 

I Southy Fisher of the county of Lauderdale in the state of Mississippi, of lawful age, and sound and disposing mind and memory, God be praised for it, do hereby make this my last will and testament.

1st  It is my desire that when it shall please God to take, that my body be decently interred.

2nd  It is my desire that my beloved wife Elizabeth Fisher have during her life a negro girl named Harriett, and at her death this said negro girl Harriett is to belong to my belong son William T. Fisher.

3rd  It is my will and desire that my son William T. Fisher shall have all my negroes that I shall own at my death, and which I now own namely Frank, Ned, Harriett, Aggy and Anthony a boy, all slaves for life, and my stock of horses, hogs, oxen, cattle, sheep, goats all my farming utensils, my crop of cotton, corn and small grain either growing or gathered, and all other species of property remaining on the farm, and also my plantation on which I now reside, and all other lands in this and adjoining counties.

4th  It is my will and desire that my Executor whom I shall hereafter name pay my just debts out of the first money that may come into his hands and also that he pay to my daughters, Martha White, Maria Fisher and Permilla Burton the sum of five dollars each as a full and entire interest in my estate.  They having been provided for by a deed of Gift to each of them dated the seventeenth day of April 1855 and duly recorded in deed book letter G. 

5th  I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend Benjamin Y Parke my executor and desire that he may carry out the provisions of my will and to settle up my estate at as convenient and short a time as the law will admit.  In   ——whereof shall —— set my hand and seal the fourth day of June AC 1855.

Southy Fisher (seal) 

 Signed sealed published and witnessed by the said Southy Fisher as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request and in the presence of each other have with set and subscribed our names as witness here..—-  this fourth day of June AD 1855. 

H.D. Meador, J. Lown, C E Rushing

 (note: Benjamin Parke was the county clerk at that time)

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William T. and Ann Elizabeth (Butler) FisherWilliam didn’t marry until the age of 39, and the family story is that he rode to North Carolina, where the family was originally from, and brought back Ann Eliza Butler on horseback. She was 15 years his junior, and Butler was also his mother’s maiden name, so they may have been cousins or something.

After their marriage, William went to Mobile to buy a slave to help Ann in the kitchen. While he was there, he noticed a small black boy with light patches on his skin. He asked the slave traders what they were going to do with the boy, who was about 5 years old. The traders said on their way back, they would throw him overboard to the sharks. William wouldn’t allow that to happen, so he brought the boy home and raised him. The boy’s name was Charlie “Fisher” and he stayed at William’s side even during the Civil War. Charlie drew a pension from the war until his death in 1928.

At the end of the war, William not only freed Charlie, but gave him 80 acres of family land on Fisher Road in Zero, Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Charlie’s descendants still live on the land to this day.

Though William seemed to be a warm and loving family man, he didn’t take crap from anyone, which seems to be a family trait that we’ll discuss more below. William was imprisoned at Mississippi State Prison in Jackson, Mississippi about a year before the Civil War. He was imprisoned for killing a man named McGinnis in his corn crib. It was told McGinnis was stealing, but the underlying belief is that it was a card game gone bad and William caught McGinnis cheating and shot him. William had to sell off a lot of land to pay off the judge and lawyers to try and stay out of jail, but he served time anyway. When the war began, he was release to serve as a Captain.

Here’s a great story (condensed by me) about William’s family and a dispute at The Brickyard in Marion, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

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Aunt Muggie’s Dilemma  

In 1846, Marion was a hub of activity as young men signed up for the militia in hope of fighting in the Mexican War. The Brickyard at Marion was the mustering point.

The owner of the brickyard, S. S. Shumate and his wife Muggie, had a disagreement with a man named Fisher. The reason seemed to be over Shumate’s claim to ownership of the brickyard. On at least one occasion the dispute became heated to the extent that the town Marshal intervened and arrested the participants. They were each fined $1, and for a time the dispute ended.

However, sometime later the Fishers again appeared at the brickyard. This time they were armed. The Shumates and the Fishers were armed with Flintlock weapons, each a single-shot gun, which took time to load and fire.

When the Fishers made their presence known at the brickyard, one can imagine the hurried preparation of Muggie and her husband to meet the challenge. When prepared, they stepped out into the brickyard and fired.

When Muggie and Shumate stepped out to confront the Fishers, Muggie had two guns, Shumate had one. Apparently, each of the Fishers had a single gun. Muggie was the first to fire and her shot “cut down old man Fisher.” One of the Fisher boys, William, fired at Muggie and missed. Muggie discarded her empty gun, picked up her second gun and fired again, this time dropping William Fisher. Muggie’s husband, terrified by the fighting, immediately dropped his weapon and fled.

Muggie, furious with Shumate for his cowardice, picked up his unfired weapon and shot him down. This was, perhaps, not the wisest choice of targets, since at least one Fisher continued to hold a charged weapon. This remaining Fisher aimed and shot, killing Muggie before she could reload her weapons. 

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William and Ann had eleven children, including my 2nd great grandmother Caledonia Fisher who married Joseph Lawson Pickett. The Pickett clan wasn’t much more peaceful than the Fisher clan. You can read about a Pickett gunfight here.

fisher william thomas headstone, callies fatherWilliam died May 13, 1882 at the age of 62. Ann died January 13, 1910 at the age of 75. They are both buried at Fisher Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi.fisher ann eliza butler fisher headstone

 

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6 responses to “October Ancestry Challenge – William Thomas Fisher

  1. That photo of William and his wife looks so modern. It looks like one of those “old fashion” photos that you can take in tourist towns, yet they lived in the 1800’s!

    Wonderful story how he saved the young boy, Charlie. The worst and the best of human nature in one scene.

    • I thought the same thing about the photo. My cousin found the original in an old chest and only knew who it was because there was another photo hanging in the old house of the same man that everyone knew was WT. His wife’s face wasn’t clearly visible in this 150-yr-old photo, but a restorer fixed it. I’m not sure it’s exactly correct, but it’s as close as we’re gonna get. Maybe the reason it looks modern is she is almost smiling. That was never seen in photos this old, and could be the fault of the restorer.

      • Yes, the smile is what I noticed, too, and what looks like a modern haircut curled with a curling iron. LOL Of course the hair is just a coincidence. The restorer could have taken some artistic liberties (i.e., depending on the damage of the photo, “borrowed” someones mouth), but I use the term “artistic” reluctantly. 😉

  2. Pingback: A to Z Challenge – U is for U.S. Military | a day in the life of patootie

  3. Thank you for this story! I know you posted it several years ago, but I am just now starting my ancestry research and came across this. I am related to William T. Fisher via his daughter, Nancy E. Fisher Taylor. She is my great great grandmother.

    • Well, hi, cousin!! Thanks for stopping by Pam. Nancy’s sister, Caledonia, is my 2nd great grandmother. She married a Pickett. I still keep in touch a bit with the Fishers who live on WT’s property in MS. There’s a really poor picture of Nancy on Ancestry. Do you have it? If not, I can email it to you. I don’t know where it initially came from.

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