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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

JOHN P. FISK, vice president of the First National Bank of Redlands, is essentially one of the representative men of San Bernardino County, where he established his residence in 1887 and where he has wielded large and benignant influence in connection with civic and material development and progress during the intervening period of more than thirty years. He was born at Beloit. Wisconsin. September 11. 1857, and is a son of Professor John P. and Abbie Richardson (Clark) Fisk. The father was born in New Hampshire, in 1818, and was eighty-one years of age at the time of his death, in 1899. A man of strong character. Professor John P. Fisk was for twenty-five years one of the able members of the faculty of Beloit College, one of the admirable educational institutions of Wisconsin, and he achieved prominence and influence as an educator and as a leader in educational affairs in the Badger State. His wife was born at Tewksbury. Massachusetts, in 1825, and her death occurred in 1875 ; the children of this union were four sons and two daughters. Professor Fisk was a resident of Chicago, Illinois, at the time of his death, and his name and service are intimately linked with the upbuilding of Beloit College and the general educational history of Wisconsin.

John P. Fisk, Jr., the immediate subject of this review, continued his studies in the Beloit public schools until he had completed the curriculum of the high school, and he then entered Beloit College, in which institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1880, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. For several years thereafter he was successfully engaged in teaching, two years of this period being principal of the public schools at Richmond, Illinois. Thereafter he devoted a year to effective post-graduate study, after which he became an instructor in the academic department of his alma mater, Beloit College, where he effectively upheld the pedagogic honors of the family name. The confinement incidental to his service caused his health to become impaired, and after teaching in Beloit College during a period of about eighteen months he found it imperative to retire from the work. He made his way to the South, where he remained one winter. The following November, 1885 he made his initial visit to California, and while sojourning at Riverside he visited Redlands and was specially impressed with the scenic attractions and promising future of this beautiful spot. The result was that in March, 1887, he established his home at Redlands, and initiated his active association with civic and business affairs in the fair city that has continued as his home during the intervening. years. At the time of his removal to Redlands construction work, was under way on the building of the Union Bank and when this two-story brick building, the first distinctive bank building at Redlands was completed he secured a lease of its second floor and there opened offices for the conducting of a general real-estate and insurance business; His vigorous and progressive activities in the handling of real estate upon legitimate and honorable basis had much influence in furthering the development of Redlands and vicinity, as he promoted the investment of capital and gained the co-operation of men of wealth and influence in the improving and beautifying of the city and its surrounding country groves, gardens and a wealth of foliage and flowers obliterating what had previously been but barren wastes. By his careful and honorable methods and policies Mr. Fisk established for himself an inviolable vantage-place as a business man, and many important real-estate transactions that have inured greatly to the benefit of Redlands and its environment were effected through his initiative and personal influence. He became a recognized authority in placing valuations on land in this district, and his judgment both in regard to intrinsic value and future possibilities was recognized as valuable. Among the more important of his early real estate transactions was the sale of the Dr. Barton tract of 1,100 acres to a syndicate composed of Los Angeles capitalists, who under the corporate title of the Barton Land & Water Company acquired the property for a consideration of $300,000, and who subdivided the tract into orange and lemon orchards that have been developed to such degree as to be numbered among the finest in Southern California. Mr. Fisk also effected the sale of the Terrace Villa hotel property to A. G. Hubbard, who now resides on the site of the former hotel, a building in which Mr. Fisk himself resided during his first year's residence. Mr. Fisk was a resident of Redlands at the time of the construction of the old Sloan House, which was later sold by him to the First National Bank of Redlands, remodeled . and made available for banking purposes and eventually razed to give place to the present modem building of the First National Bank of Redlands, 2 portion of the ground floor of this building being used as office headquarters of Mr. Fisk, who still continues his long established and representative real estate, loan and insurance business, besides holding the office of vice-president of the First National Bank. As agent he purchased the sites for the railway stations at Redlands. He sold to Thomas W. England the land which the latter has developed into one of the most beautiful and celebrated spots in Southern California, the splendid Prospect Park, which is visited annually by thousands of tourists, as well as by appreciative residents of California itself. Mr. Fisk has been for many years a stockholder and director of the First National Bank, and for one year, beginning in February, 1915, he had active executive charge of the institution, into the management of which he introduced wise policies that combined economic conservatism with progressive methods.

Every worthy enterprise and object that has had to do with the social and material welfare of Redlands has enlisted the earnest co-operation of Mr. Fisk, and it should be specially noted that he took prominent part in organizing the local Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was chosen the first president. For a number of years he has been a member of the executive committee of the California state organization of the Young Men's Christian Association. He is a director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce, his political allegiance is given to the republican party, and both he and his wife are active members of Congregational Church. When he first came to that part of Redlands which was then known at Lugonia, the only church in the community was the little Congregational edifice that stood at the comer of Church Street and The Terrace, and Church Street of Redlands of the present day gained its name by reason of this pioneer church having been situated on that thoroughfare.

In December, 1890, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Fisk and Mrs. Elizabeth Eddy, who was born in the state of New York and who was the widow of the late Rev. S. W. Eddy, a clergyman of Beverly, Massachusetts. Mr. and Mrs. Fisk have two children.

In the foregoing paragraphs has been given a brief but significant record of the career of a sterling citizen whose success has been due to his own well ordered endeavors, and whose high standing in community affairs is due to the possession of those attributes of character that ever beget popular confidence and esteem.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011