THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   DERICK H. FITCH was born in the town of Cazenovia, August 16, 1837. His father, whose name was also Derick, was born in Chenango County, near Oxford, September 2, 1798; and his father, grandfather of our subject, was a farmer on the western bank of the Chenango River, about one mile north of Oxford, his farm being situated on the side hill which was known as Fitch Hill. Both he and his wife, whose name before marriage was Hallenbeck, were probably of Dutch ancestry. They reared at least four sons and two daughters. The father of the subject of this notice married Jerusha Vibbard, the marriage taking place at or near Peterboro about 1820. He was a hatter; and soon after marriage he and his wife came to Cazenovia, where he followed his trade for some years. They buried an infant son; and in 1840 the mother died of consumption, leaving five daughters and three sons. In 1842 the daughter Caroline died, also of consumption, at the age of twenty. After this not a death occurred in the family for a period of thirty-six years, when, in 1879, the father died, at the age of eight-one. There are three daughters and one son (our subject) who still survive.
   He of whom we write received a fair common-school education, attending school in the winter, and in 1853 began to learn the trade of tinsmith in Cazenovia, with Brown & Perkins, following this occupation until 1860, both in Cazenovia and in Norwich, N.Y., and also at Hornellsville, where he was foreman of a shop in 1856. Having a taste for chemistry and scientific studies, he improved his leisure moments to such good purpose that in the fall of 1860 he obtained a position as telegrapher in St. Louis, Mo., where he remained during the winter, and was then sent to Litchfield, Ill., where he was chief operator, and had charge of the lines and supplies and a general superintendence over the office work. In 1862 he was in the government employ, in the quartermaster's department, engaged in military telegraphy, and for two years had charge of the supply department. He was next in charge of transportation on the Northern Missouri Railroad, while still in government employ, holding this position one year, when he resigned, owing to poor health, his resignation taking effect January 1, 1865. During the Confederate General Price's last raid he sat at his telegraph table, giving train orders, for three constructive days and nights, snatching but a few moments' sleep whenever opportunity admitted of resting his head upon the table at which he was working. This had much to do with the breaking-down of his health, and he felt it necessary to come home and rest. After this he went to the oil regions, in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company, where he was Assistant Superintendent of the Sixth District of the Central Division, and in the fall of 1866 was made District Superintendent.
   He was married in Cazenovia, January 7, 1860, to Mary J. Haws, of this place. In 1868 they moved to Jefferson City, Mo., where he was Superintendent of Telegraph on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, with office at Jefferson City. He remained here nearly two years, and then went to a like position on the St. Louis, Kansas City, & Northern Railway, with office at Moberly, Mo. Here he was twice elected to the Municipal Council, holding the office when the organization was changed from that of village to city government, and was Chairman of the Auditive Committee. He remained in Moberly until 1873, and, when he left, was presented with a fine galvanometer by the employees of the telegraph department. This delicate instrument for electrical measurements was not then in common use, and cost the "boys" two hundred and thirty-five dollars, being imported from England. This handsome present was greatly appreciated by Mr. Fitch, and is regarded by him to-day as a most valuable souvenir. With it was also presented a unique chart testimonial, engrossed by one of the employees in a very artistic manner; and the two bring to his mind the most pleasant reminiscences of former days of good fellow-ship and of happy associations. Mr. Fitch next accepted a position with the Indianapolis, Decatur, & Springfield Railroad, as Master of Transportation and Superintendent of Telegraph, with office at Tuscola, Ill., retaining this position for some seven years, or until 1880, when failing health compelled him again to retire for a time; and he spent two years endeavoring to recuperate his exhausted energies. While in Tuscola, Ill., his leisure time was spent in studying and experimenting on a more perfect battery; and, the results of his labors are embodied in his chlorine battery, on which he has three different letters patent. This battery is now the best in use; and Mr. Fitch has in his possession an indorsement from the Academy of Inventors of Paris, France. On the recovery of his health he accepted a position in January, 1882, on the New Orleans Pacific Railroad, with headquarters at New Orleans, La., which position he left on the absorption of that road by another. Later he went to Brunswick, Ga., for the Brunswick & Western Railroad, and in December, 1883, re- turned to his old home, and established a manufactory of electric batteries. In 1890 it was incorporated into a stock company; and two years later Mr. Fitch and his son, Gerrit F. Fitch, now of Oneida, bought out the other stockholders. Later they sold out their entire business to the Galvano-Faradic Manufacturing Company of New York City; and in 1893 Mr. Fitch organized the Bee-hive Electric Works, for the manufacture of electric telephones and telephonic apparatus, etc.
   Our subject and his wife are the parents of five children, three sons and two daughters as follows: Charles A., employed in the National Express Office, Paterson, N.J., has a wife and daughter; Gerrit F., unmarried, and associated with his father in his business enterprises; James E., at home; Edith May, aged seven years; and Elsie Louise, a little girl of five. Mr. Fitch has been a Master Mason since 1864, and is universally respected as a man of honor and probity and a most useful and enterprising citizen.

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