Career of Mr. Benjamin A. Fisk Marked by Industry, Honesty and Sobriety. – Though a Tiller of Soil the Larger Share of His Life, He Possesses Splendid Mechanical Ability.
It is with much pleasure that we this week present our readers with an excellent portrait of a native of Danby— Mr. Benjamin A. Fisk—and though now a resident of the neighboring town of Manchester, the larger share of his lifetime has been spent in his native town, where he won the universal respect of all with whom he came in contact, for his honesty and integrity of character, sobriety and industrious habits.
Benjamin A. Fisk was born in the town of Danby, February 17, 1831, in what is familiarly known as the “sixteen-cornered house,” then owned by the late Caleb Parris and now owned by Richard Stone. He is the oldest of the six children of Hiram and Olive (Smith) Fisk, the former of whom died February 8, 1874, aged 69 years, the latter in November, 1888, aged 84 years.
Benjamin (grandfather of the subject of this sketch), Benoni and Reuben Fisk, three brothers, came to Danby from Scituate, R. I., in 1789, making the journey with sled and ox-team. Arriving here, they cleared off timber and built themselves a log house on land now owned by William Johnson and Anthony Haley. The former of the three brothers was then about sixteen years of age; but a year or two afterwards, he returned to Rhode Island, married Miss Freelove Colvin and brought her and a few household effects by ox-team to Danby and took up their residence in the log house before mentioned, and in which they lived for some twenty years before erecting a frame house.
Among the eleven children of the first Benjamin was Hiram, father of the subject of this sketch, who first settled on his father’s homestead, but afterwards purchased the then-called William Southwick farm, now owned by Mr. Martin Bromley. The subject of this sketch was at that time about seven years old, and he remained on the farm with his father till twenty-one years of age. He then worked one summer for his uncle, Benjamin Fisk, of Clarendon.
In the fall of 1852 Mr. Fisk went to East Dorset, where he was employed for five years by Major James B. Wood, running and keeping in order the circular saws of his mill. He then went to West Dorset and in company with Rideout & Dunning purchased timber land and a mill.
Mr. Fisk did not remain long in West Dorset, however, but in 1857 went to North Dorset, where he was given charge of all the saws in the mill of the late Joel Wheeler. A part of the time while thus employed he had something over one thousand saw teeth to keep in order. The saws were run in two “gangs,” with twenty-four saws in a “gang.”
November 16, 1859, Mr. Fisk married Mary, daughter of Orange and Maria (Jones) Greene, and in the fall of 1861 purchased a farm in Sunderland of Merritt Temple, where he resided for four years, then selling it to Mr. Ralph Graves.
After selling his Sunderland property, Mr. Fisk secured employment in “Chiselville,” where he operated a trip-hammer in the edge tool factory of Norman Douglass, which was at that time doing a large business in the manufacture of chisels and edge tools for carpenters’ use particularly. We believe that Mr. Fisk also occasionally worked in the “chisel factory,” as it was familiarly called, while residing on his Sunderland farm, which was located not a great distance from the factory.
In 1867 he returned to Danby, and for one year had charge of the farm of Mrs. Jesse Lapham—now the splendid home of Mr. S. L. Griffith. He then purchased of Mr. George W. Baker the house and blacksmith shop just north of the MIRROR office, where he carried on a general blacksmithing and horse-shoeing business for three years. Selling out the shop (which was burned some years ago) and dwelling, he moved to the home farm, which he very successfully carried on for fourteen years.
In 1885, Mr. Fisk purchased the Major Hawley farm in Manchester, located about a mile south of Manchester village, where he and Mrs. Fisk still reside. Since residing there he has made extensive improvements to the property and converted it into one of the most popular summer boarding houses of this particularly popular summer resort. Accommodations are provided for some fifty or more guests, and the place has for several years been known as the “Summit House.” Coming from a family of most excellent culinary accomplishments, Mrs. Fisk’s superintendency has made the cuisine of the Summit House a feature of most complimentary remark among the guests, many of whom repair there summer after summer.
Two daughters have come to gladden the Fisk home—Mettie L., wife of Mr. Julius Hill of Sunderland, and Alice, wife of Mr. Ramsay Macnaughtan of Pittsfield, Mass. In addition to their two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Fisk adopted, several years ago, Charles, son of Mr. Fisk’s brother, Hiram, who has since received the same loving attention as their own children, and who resided with them till a few years ago. At present he occupies a responsible position upon a street railroad in New York City.
Though he has spent most of his lifetime in agricultural pursuits, Mr. Fisk is possessed of exceptional mechanical tastes. He is handy with all kinds of tools and for many years personally did all the repairs needed on the farm from time to time. After following the blacksmithing business as an occupation, upon returning to the farm one of the first improvements made by him was to put in a well-equipped black-smith and wood-working shop, wherein he could expeditiously do the farm repairing, even to the shoeing of the horses.
Mr. Fisk was never active in politics, though a steadfast republican, as was his father before him. The only public office he has held is, we believe, that of selectman. His father, on the other hand, was quite active in politics all his life, and held many responsible offices in the town, which he also represented in the state legislature of 1861—but, like his son here under consideration, he was a very successful farmer as well.
Mr. Fisk has this week passed the seventy-second milestone of his life’s journey, and though his life of almost incessant toil has made inroads upon his originally rugged physique and constitution, he may be said to still be “in the harness,” finding something in the way of labor to busy himself with most of the time. He does not visit his Danby friends very often, however; but he has always kept pretty close to his own hearthstone, and his many friends here know it is not for lack of appreciation of their friendship that he does not visit them more often.