JOHN FISK was born in the town of Lebanon, Madison County, N.Y., December 6, 1840, and is the third of the name in direct line of descent, his father and grandfather having both borne the name of John. His mother, by maiden name Millie Stevens, was the daughter of Gaylord Stevens, who reared a large family, and was one of the earliest pioneers in this section of whom mention is made in Hammond's History of Madison County.
John Fisk, the father of our subject, was born of poor parents in the year 1797. In early life he possessed few educational advantages, there being at that time no district or common schools; but, being of an ambitious nature, he made up by energy and perseverance for lack of other advantages. At the age of twenty-one he married, and with a little assistance built a log house in the forest, cleared the land, and with his wife set up housekeeping and established a home. The first bushel of wheat he bought for seed cost him two dollars. As time went on, he enlarged his clearing, and raised wheat, corn, and other cereals. The first of his larger possessions which he owned in after years he purchased from the original land agents for two dollars or three dollars an acre. This he cleared, felling the trees into large piles or rows and burning them, saving the ashes, from which he manufactured potash--a branch of industry that brought him in a fair income. As his area of cleared land increased, he commenced sheep-raising; and at times his flock numbered from three to four hundred, which was considered large in those days. So familiar was he with them that he could easily recognize each individual of the flock; and after a heavy winter storm he used often to dig out missing ones from under the snow. In time, thinking dairying more profitable than wool-raising, he sold his sheep, and turned his attention to the former industry, at one time keeping over one hundred cows. He was very successful in his farming operations, adding one farm after another to his already large possessions, until he owned some twelve hundred acres of land.
The marriage of himself and wife was blessed with eight children, four sons and four daughters, whose names were as follows: Albert, Phebe, Olive, Harriet, Ann, Ephraim, Luman, and John. Of these Albert died some forty years ago, and Olive and Ann at a more recent date. The rest are still living. In politics the father of these children was a lifelong Democrat, voting his ticket when there were but six or seven Democratic ballots cast in his town. Although he could read to some extent and write his name, in all his large business transactions he never kept any book account, trusting to his excellent memory, which rarely, if ever, failed him. He never saw a railroad, although in a few years after his death the trains ran in sight of his late residence. At one time he and his wife were regular attendants at church, and in his later years he contributed toward the support of the gospel. From his many acres he gave to each of his sons a good farm; and at his death in March, 1866, he left a will disposing of his property among his sons and daughters.
John Fisk, of whom we write, the youngest of the eight children, being eleven years the junior of the youngest of the others, now lives upon the old homestead in the house where he was born and where his father and mother died, they having built it some ten years before his birth. In his youth he attended the district school, and later the village school, some two miles away. His father objected to his spending so much time at his studies, thinking it wasted, and that he would be better employed working on the farm; but the son persisted, and at last even obtained his father's reluctant consent to attend one winter term (1861-62) at the Cazenovia Seminary. He thus secured a good education, and in the spring of 1862 was married to Miss Nettie A. Morrow, of Augusta, Oneida County, N.Y. After his marriage he settled on one of his father's farms, and has followed agricultural pursuits up to the present time. He has never sought public office, preferring to devote his time to his own personal matters, but was once elected Excise Commissioner on the No-license ticket in his town. He has always taken a great interest in educational matters, and in this connection has acted as School Trustee in his district. Early in their married life he and his wife connected themselves with the Congregational church in the village of Lebanon, at which they have ever since been constant attendants.
Their union has been graced by four children, the first being Carrie, who died in infancy. The next in order of birth, Cora, attended school several terms at Cazenovia Seminary, and later was graduated from the State Normal School at Albany. She is now a successful teacher in the public schools in Weehawken, N. J., teaching next to the highest grade in a large school of over two thousand pupils, and has occupied this position for the last five years. Ada, the next born, was a young lady of decided musical talent, having first pursued her studies in this direction in the Cazenovia Seminary. Later, under the direction of a private teacher in Norwich, N.Y., she became highly accomplished, and appeared in public several times in that village, receiving the most flattering notices from the press of that town. While in Norwich, she became acquainted with William F. Eldredge, of that place, whom she married, but died in a little less than three years after her marriage, leaving two sons, only one of whom--the elder--is living. He resides with his father in Rochester. The other child of Mr. and Mrs. Fisk is William J., a very promising young man, now nineteen years of age. He has so far spent much of his time in school, and is now in attendance at the Albany Business College.
Mr. Fisk, in connection with his other farming, has of late years devoted some time to the cultivation of small fruit, being very successful with strawberries, some seasons raising over one hundred bushels. He also possesses the only vineyard in his town, it consisting of some seven hundred vines just coming into bearing. Mr. and Mrs. Fisk are among the best known people of their town and county, and are also among the most popular. Their pure and upright lives, pleasant dispositions, and hospitable manners have won them the esteem of all with whom they have come into contact; and few occupy a higher or more respected place in the community.
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