Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Short Life of Addia Fisher

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

Barbara Brackman's latest post on her blog, Civil War Quilts, concerns a quilt made by Miss Addia Fisher that won a prize at the Ontario County Fair in New York in 1852 for a quilt that was referred to in 1911 as an "Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt."

Barbara's question, of course, is what is an Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt? I can't shed any light on that. However, I was able to tweak out a little bit of information about Addia Fisher. The reason that so little is known about her is that she died young.

In 1850, Addia Fisher was enumerated twice on the Ontario County, New York census. Addia P. Fisher, age 26, appeared in the John Mason household. Her connection to them is unknown. Over in the Jeremiah Fisher household, where we might expect to find Addia, was a daughter named in Delia, who was also age 26. The first question is were they twins? Cousins? In looking at later census years, it becomes evident that Addia and Delia were the same person, who was more formally called Adelia. In 1850, Addia was enumerated twice. This is not uncommon since there seems to have been confusion over which household to enumerate people in when they had lived at two different residences during the census year. In 1850, the snapshot day was June 1. Addia was probably in one household on June 1 and in the other household by August 7, resulting in her being enumerated twice.

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Addia Fisher would have been 28 when she entered her quilt in the Ontario County Fair in Bristol, New York. Barbara Brackman transcribed information from Charles F. Milliken's A History of Ontario County, New York that was published in 1911. Read it carefully because it also reveals that Addia's father Jeremiah Fisher was judging horses at the same fair. Since he was a veterinary surgeon and farrier, he would have been considered a local expert on horses.

In the 1850 Ontario County, New York census above, Addia's siblings Chad [Charles] Fisher, Roscoe Fisher, Eliza Fisher, and Albert Fisher were still living in their parents' home. Her elder brother Oscar Fisher had married around 1849 and was no longer in the household. 

New York also took a census in 1855:

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This census shows Adelia in the home of her parents, Jeremiah and Altha Fisher, with siblings Roscoe Fisher, Eliza A.M. Fisher, and Leroy A. Fisher. Their counties of birth were also noted on this census. Adelia, like her father, was born in Ontario County, New York.

The last time Adelia appeared on the census was in 1860:

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In 1860, Adelia was 36. Her siblings Eliza A. Fisher and LeRoy Fisher were still living in their parents' home. Roscoe had married and was gone.

Adelia and her father died the following year in 1861. Adelia P. Fisher and her parents, Jeremiah Fisher and Althea (Wilson) Fisher are buried in the Codding Cemetery, in Bristol, Ontario County, New York.

Adelia's younger sister Eliza A. M. Fisher died unmarried a few years later in 1865. She is also buried in the Codding Cemetery.

Adelia's brother Roscoe Morton Fisher married and removed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he died in 1898. His death record indicated that he was the son of Jeremiah Fisher and Althea Wilson. 

Her brother Osar Nathaniel Fisher lived to be elderly and had several children. He died in 1904 and is buried in East Bloomfield Cemetery in Ontario County, New York.

Her brother Charles Fisher also had several children. 

Why does it matter who Adelia's siblings were or what happened to them? Because heirlooms pass down through surviving members of the family. Maybe, just maybe, someone in the Fisher family still has Addia Fisher's prize winning quilt and can shed some light on what an Uncle Tom's Cabin quilt looked like. If that is the case, please contact Barbara Brackman.

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