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Austin County Obits


Bellville Times

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Obituary Mrs. Grat Fisher, died June 24, 1945


Mrs. Grat Fisher Dies at age of 98 Sunday, June 24

Vigorous, Beloved and Widely Know Lady Succumbs to Old Age


     Mrs. Gratus Fisher, believed to be the oldest Bellville resident, and widely known, deeply beloved and highly colorful, died at the home of her son, Ben Fisher, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, following a recent heart attack suffered earlier.  She reached the age of 98 year.

     Born Martha Ann Spence, in Sumpter  county, Alabama on April 7, 1847, she lived there until she was eight, then moved with her parents to Smith county, Texas.  Five years later the family moved to Harris county and in 1861 moved to Bellville. 

     During the Civil war she met Grat  Fisher,  when her brother brought him, a Dutchman and a native of Amsterdam, home with him on furlough.  They were married in Frelsburg, and soon thereafter started the meat market which is now owned by his grandson and namesake.

      Mrs. Fisher was especially known for her good humor and wit, and for her insatiable love of the sport of fishing.  Virtually until the day she died, she pursued the sport with vigor.

     A member of the Baptist church, services for Mrs. Fisher were held there at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, with a huge  crowd of friends and relatives in attendance.  Rev. J. C. Newman officiated at the rites and pallbearers, all grandsons and great-grandsons, were Jimmie Fisher, Leon Fisher, Grat Fisher, Tom B. Ralph, Norton Chatham and Lt. James Butler.

     Burial was at Oak Knoll.

     Surviving the old lady are 83 direct descendants.  Six of her 11 children preceded her in death.  She leaves two daughters, Mrs. Roxanna Butler of Burlington, California and Mrs. Ellen Ralph of Kirbyville, and three sons, Ben Fisher and Will Fisher of Bellville and Edgar Fisher of Amarillo, as well as 28 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.


Bellville Times

Thursday, March 20, 1941



     At 93 years, Mrs. Grat Fisher, Sr., known to her friends as “Aunt Mat,” has a vivid memory of earlier days and can tell many interesting stories of slaves, Indians and the times when Bellville was a small settlement of six or seven families.

     She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Spence and was born in Sumpter county, Ala., on April 7, 1847.  According to Mrs. Fisher, her father was a circuit rider and received his calling to the ministry in this way:  Mr. Spence had been trapped by a pack of wolves and sought refuge in a tree.  He remained up in the branches of the tree several hours and it was  only after a sincere promise to his Lord to become a preacher that the wolves left and he climbed down and went home.  From that time on he was a Methodist preacher and a teacher.

     At the age of eight, Martha Ann Spence and her family left Alabama for Smith county, Texas.  She says she remembers when the Indians would bring baskets of corn and potatoes around to sell to settlers.  When she was about 13 years old her family moved to Harris county and lived for a short time at San Jacinto, then they moved on into Austin county. 

     It was during the Civil war that she met Grat Fisher.  One of her five brothers, John, brought the rosy-cheeked young Dutchman home with him on a furlough.  He had been wounded the arm.  It was a case of love at first sight.

     They became engaged and after the war rode horseback to Frelsburg where they were married by a Catholic priest.   Martha Ann Fisher was not much of a housewife as a young bride of 18 because she had been cared for by slaves, but with the help of a Negro and his wife she soon learned to spin and accomplish the many other tasks necessary in those days.

     Mr. Fisher had had his hogs and cattle stolen during the war and during Reconstruction days he farmed and started another herd of cattle and built a log cabin for his bride.

     It was at this time that he began a business that is still in the family in Bellville.  He, with the help of several Negroes, butchered and sold his meat from house to house by ox-cart.  Later his son, Ben Fisher, became owner of the meat market he started.

     Eight children grew to manhood and womanhood.  They are Ben, Gertrude, (Mrs. A. P. Sutton), Gus, Roxanna (Mrs. Luther Butler), Ellen, (Mrs. W. J. Ralph), Belle (Mrs. Louis Butler), Will and Edgar.  The Fishers bought Judge Crump’s house, which later became known as the Fisher home.  Grat Fisher died at the age of 72

     Among the many things this fine lady cherises is a postoak (overcup) grown from an acorn which her sweetheart, Grat, brought here from Waller county.  This is now a huge tree growing on the premises where Aunt Mat built her home some years ago after he former home was destroyed by fire.

     Aunt Mat is active for her age and her eyes are bright and mischievous as she sings “The Yellow Rose of Texas” or tells a tale that will delight her listener.  More remarkable yet is the story that this old lady, who will be 94 in April, may be found on a bright sunny day down at the ranch with a fishing pole and hook cast in the water—fishing away!