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Samuel Rhoads Fisher

Matagorda Cemetery Road   SH 60 & S Gulf Road          28°42'0.38"N      95°57'19.42"W
 

 

Arrived in Texas in 1830

Matagorda representative at the Convention of 1836

Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836

Signer of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas

First Secretary of the Republic of Texas Navy October 28, 1836

Photo courtesy of the Fisher Family.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher          Samuel Rhoads Fisher Family Tree at Star of the Republic Museum

Samuel Rhoads Fisher - Handbook of Texas          Texas Independence: The Delegate Connection

Fisher-Sargent-Gottschalk-Stanley Home
 


GRAVE OF REPUBLIC OF TEXAS SECRETARY OF THE NAVY

S. RHOADS FISHER
(1794-1839)

     STATESMAN-BUSINESSMAN WHO CONTRIBUTED TALENT AND TIME TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN TEXAS INDEPENDENCE.

     A QUAKER; BORN IN PENNSYLVANIA. MOVED TO TEXAS 1830. SET UP MERCANTILE HOUSE AND SHIPPING BUSINESS IN MATAGORDA. STRUGGLED AGAINST ANTI-TEXAS POLICIES OF SANTA ANNA’S DICTATORSHIP IN MEXICO. WON ELECTION AS ONE OF MATAGORDA DELEGATES TO THE 1836 CONVENTION IN WASHINGTON-ON-THE-BRAZOS. SIGNED TEXAS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. IN FIRST REGULAR ADMINISTRATION OF REPUBLIC OF TEXAS, BECAME SECRETARY OF THE NAVY IN CABINET OF PRESIDENT SAM HOUSTON IN OCTOBER 1836.

     BY MARCH 1837 MEXICAN BLOCKADERS WERE TRYING TO REDUCE TEXAS TO STARVATION BY CAPTURING SHIPMENTS—INCLUDING THOSE OF THE U. S. A. – ON GULF OF MEXICO.

     SECRETARY FISHER WENT TO SEA WITH THE TEXAS NAVY TO ATTACK MEXICAN COAST AND DRAW BLOCKADERS AWAY FROM PORTS OF GALVESTON, MATAGORDA, AND VELASCO. TEXAS CAPTURED TERRITORY AND SHIPS OF THE ENEMY; BUT LATER ACCIDENTS AND STORMS DESTROYED THE NAVY AND PRIZES.

     IN LATE 1837 SECRETARY FISHER RESIGNED. BACK IN MATAGORDA HE DIED AS RESULT OF A SHOOTING IN 1839. HE AND HIS WIFE HAD FOUR CHILDREN. SEVERAL LEADERS IN STATE GOVERNMENT HAVE COME FROM THIS FAMILY. IN 1876 A NEW COUNTY WAS NAMED IN HONOR OF S. RHOADS FISHER. (1968)
 




Inscription typed by Faye Cunningham
 


 


Samuel Rhoads Fisher


Samuel Rhoads Fisher, born December 31, 1794, in Pennsylvania came to Matagorda County with Stephen F. Austin's third colony in 1830. He received title to two leagues of land in Matagorda County, one league in Lorenzo de Zavala's Colony in Hardin and Tyler counties, and one league in Harrisburg, Harris County. Samuel Rhoads Fisher married Ann Pleasants, born January 26, 1796, in Pennsylvania. Ann died October 21, 1862, of yellow fever.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher was a planter but he also owned several schooners for shipping various cargoes. Fisher and Bailey Hardeman were elected as delegates to the Convention from Matagorda in February 1836. He was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In 1836, President Sam Houston appointed Fisher Secretary of the Navy and he was confirmed by the Senate. In October, 1837, however, Houston ordered him removed from office. The President's displeasure came from what Mirabeau B. Lamar later called Fisher's "Plundering, burning and destroying the property of defenseless and unoffending Mexicans; not warranted by laws of wars and nations." The Senate promptly ordered Fisher's reinstatement, although the acting secretary refused to yield the office.

Fisher was shot and killed in Matagorda, March 13, 1839. Albert G. Newton was charged with the murder but was acquitted on March 3, 1840. The district attorney in the trial was William L. Delap and the jurors were Benjamin I. White, foreman; H. T. Davis, John Delap, Charles Dale, Henry Williams, A. C. Horton, William C. McKinstry, H. L. Cook, G. M. Collinsworth, Charles Howard, A. L. Clements, John D. Newell and James Duncan. The grand jury was duly sworn, the Honorable William Jones delivered the charges to the jury, and they retired to the jury room attended by the sheriff, Isaac Van Dorn. The jury returned a verdict of "Not Found" and the defendant was discharged by the court.

Samuel and his wife, Ann, were both buried in the Matagorda Cemetery. A historical marker, which notes he was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the first Secretary of the Texas Navy, was placed on Samuel's grave in 1964. Fisher County was created August 21, 1876, and was named in honor of S. Rhoads Fisher, "a distinguished officer of the Republic."

Samuel Rhoads and Ann Pleasants Fisher had six children:

Samuel W. Fisher (May 29, 1819 - September 15, 1874) married Ann Elizabeth Ophelia Smith August 16, 1848. Their children were Samuel Rhoads, Fred Kenner, Coleman, Walter Pemberton, Nettie P., William Compton and Henry Mansfield.

Ann Pleasants Fisher, the second child, was born May 2, 1823, in Philadelphia, and married James Wilmer Dallum, October 1, 1845, in Matagorda. After his death she married John W. Harris, on July 1, 1852.

Israel Pleasants Fisher, died May 6, 1848. He never married.

Rebecca was born July 6, 1830, in Pennsylvania, and died September 26, 1862, of yellow fever. She married Doctor J. C. Perry, on October 3, 1850. Doctor Perry was born October 26, 1818, and died October 12, 1861. Christ Church records list three children of this couple: William Bechincornt, born December 23, 1851; Ann Fisher, born February 4, 1854; and Louisa Hankocle, born June 6, 1859.

Rhoads Fisher (March 18, 1832 - 1911) was the chief clerk of the General Land Office under William C. Walsh. He married Sophia Rollins Harris (1840 - February 5, 1889). She and Rhoads are both buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, Texas. Their children were Annie F., who married Thomas L. Ormand; a daughter, who married Dayton Moses of Fort Worth; a daughter, who married Andrew Moses of Washington, D. C.; and Lewis Fisher, who married May Masterson.

Elizabeth Rhoads died as an infant in 1836.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, page 66
 


Will of Samuel Rhoads Fisher

Ne Varietur

Silas Dinsmore
Judge of Probate

In the name of God. Amen.

I S. Rhoads Fisher, a Citizen of the Republic of Texas, being of sound mind and body and in good health, but mindful of the great uncertainty of life and the certainty of death do ordain this last Will and Testament.

Item = I desire that after my death my body be decently buried and all my Debts justly due by me to be paid first out of such money or funds as may be in hand at the time of my decease and of the proceeds of the sale of such property as my Executrix hereinafter named may be pleased to sell.

Item = I give and bequeath to my wife Ann Pleasants Fisher one Fifth of all property both real and personal, over and above the one Third part to which she would be entitled by due course of Law, as a portion of which fifth part I bequeath to her my place of residence in Matagorda or Block No Four, Tier number One, on the plat of said City and I desire and will that the balance of my property be apportioned and divided among my children Viz-Samuel W. Fisher, Ann Pleasants Fisher, Isreal Pleasants Fisher, Rebecca Fisher and Rhoads Fisher, in such manner and proportion as my wife may think proper.

Item = I give and bequeath to my daughter Ann Pleasants Fisher the sum of Five hundred Dollars in such property as my Executrix may think proper to pay the same. This bequest being in consideration of a Piano Forte sold by me which had been presented to her, the value of which was the above sum of Five Hundred Dollars.

Item = I do hereby declare my wish and will that my wife Ann Pleasants be and is hereby appointed the Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament, also Guardian of my children aforementioned with full power to appoint under her or for her assistance such other person or persons as Executor or Executrix of this Instrument with full, complete and absolute control of all my children above mentioned so far as regards their proportion of property, and with power to give to my children or either of them, their portion if she may think fit or proper previous to their coming of age. Also to sell and dispose of any or every description of property she may think proper in the same manner as I myself might or could do without awaiting the tardy process of the Law or for the time when the minor children or any one of them should become of legal age, giving her full and sufficient power to do and transact all and everything relating to my property in the manner as I myself could do if personally present and in being.

I also by this act do revoke and annull all former Wills, Testaments, Codicils or Bequests which I have hitherto made bearing a previous date to this.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal in the City of Houston the ___ day of December Anno Domini Eighteen Hundred and Thirty Seven.

Witnesses.
Jas. Collinsworth
B. T. Cage
Wm. Tho. Brannum
Thomas M. Dennis
Geo. Wheelwright
Richard Cochran M. D.
Lud Colquhour?

Ne Varietur
Silas Dinsmore
Judge of Probate

George Wheelwright being sworn, says the Will annexed he recognizes to be the same Instrument shewn to him by the deceased S. Rhoads Fisher at the time it purports to have been written & which the deceased declared to him, to be his last Will & Testament - that he saw the said Fisher sign the same, who requested him & the other Witnesses to sign as Witnesses to the said Will & recognizes his signature thereto as his own proper writing, & saw the other Witnesses sign at the same time. Knows by report & information that Jas. Collinsworth & B. F. Cage are both dead & none of the other Witnesses except T. M. Dennis & himself reside in this place.

Geo. Wheelwright

Sworn & subscribed before me
this first day of April 1839 in
the town of Matagorda.

Silas Dinsmore
Judge of Probate

Thomas M. Dennis being sworn repeated the same evidence given by George Wheelwright after having heard it read with the exception that he knows of his knowledge of the witness B. F. Cage's death, having seen his corpse.

Sworn & subscribed before me the
1st day of April A. D. 1839 in
the Town of Matagorda.            Thomas M. Dennis

Silas Dinsmore
Judge of Probate

Republic of Texas                     Probate Court March  Term 1839
County of Matagorda                        April 1st 1839.

In pursuance of my Decree of this day I Silas Dinsmore Chief Justice of the County Court for the County aforesaid & Ex officio Probate Judge caused the last Will & Testament of S. Rhoads Fisher, deceased to be brought before me in open Court at about three O'clock (3 o'clock) in the afternoon of this day at the Court House in this Town.

The said Testament was presented under an envelope, with three seals & subscribed on the back thus "The enclosed is my last Will & Testament signed & sealed in the presence of the individuals whose names are hereon endorsed "S. Rhoads Fisher"  with the following names as Witnesses. "Jas. Collinsworth, B. F. Cage, Wm. Thos. Brannum, Geo. Wheelwright, Thomas M. Dennis, Richard Cochran, M.. D. & Lud Colquhour." The said Will was opened with my own hands by breaking the seals & in the envelope was found the Will which is here attached and signed by the said deceased & the Witnesses before names. After the opening said Will I proceeded to the proof of the same & for which purpose the subscribing Witnesses Geo. Wheelwright & Thomas M. Dennis were called & presented themselves in open Court, none of the others Witnesses being in the jurisdiction of this Court (& two of them being dead) I proceeded to take the testimony of the two witnesses before named & who were present after administering to them separately the oath required by Law & after being interrogated they answered & said that they recognized the instrument hereto attached, as the same which the decedent had shown to them in the presents of all the witnesses whose names are attached to it, & that they saw the decedent sign said instrument & all the other witnesses signed with them at the request of the said decedent & he declared to them that the same was his last Will and Testament & that he had called them to witness to the same, which testimony is fully set down on the Will itself. The said Witnesses called being Geo. Wheelwright & Thomas M. Dennis who appeared before me in open Court & made their statements on oath, verbally & the same was written down by the Clerk of this Court on the back of the Will in my presents & by the said witnesses signed with their own proper hand. After the said Will was proven as above named, the same was read by me in an "audible" & "distinct" voice to the witnesses & the audience present in Court, and after the same was read I signed said Will "Ne Varietur" at the top & bottom of such page & ordered by my Decree that the same  be executed, recorded & deposited according to Law & granted Letters Testamentary to Anna Pleasants Fisher, as sole Executrix named by the Will. In testimony I sign this as the Law requires, Matagorda April 1, 1839.

Silas Dinsmore
Judge of Probate

Recorded April the 18th A. D. 1839
Thomas M. Dennis
Clerk of Probate

Matagorda County, Texas Will Record, Volume A, Dec. 21, 1827 - Aug. 21, 1894, pages 12 - 15
 

 

Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Sep. 10, 2011
Updated
Sep. 10, 2011
   

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