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Newton D. Fisher
IT is imperative that in the growth of our large cities, various business enterprises prosper and expand. The men who, by dint of sedulous endeavor and unremitting attention to the details of their business, nursing infant enterprises through "hard times" and genuine financial panics, to a firm basis where the storms of market fluctuations cannot affect them, are entitled to recognition as the builders of the foundations without which there could have been no later growth. Newton D. Fisher (deceased) was of such caliber, and was a recognized factor in the business development of Cleveland. Coupled with his fine business sense and his recognition of the importance of the commerce of the community to its progress, was an earnest desire to further the welfare of the city and community by philanthropic activity, and in this he was ably assisted by his wife, who has continued in this work to a notable degree since his death.
Newton D. Fisher was born at Brighton, Ohio, on a farm, in 1843. His parents came to Ohio from Connecticut, where their branch of the family had resided for many generations. Newton D. Fisher was educated in the public schools, later taking a college preparatory course at Oberlin. These plans, however, were frustrated by the call for volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War, when at the age of eighteen years, he enlisted in Company H, Second Ohio Cavalry, and went to the front in defense of the Union. He was of the same equable temperament and courteous demeanor that, in later life, won him so many friends, both business and social, and this resulted in his promotion from post to post, until he had acquired the rank of captain. He was beloved and respected by all the men under his command, although he at all times maintained perfect discipline in camp. At the close of the war he was honorable discharged, returning to his home.
Shortly after the close of the war, Newton D. Fisher entered the lumber business, which was to be the means of great financial gain to himself and his associates. He entered the employ of the firm of Bottsford and Potter, who were engaged in the wholesale lumber trade, in 1866, in the city of Cleveland, which was henceforth to be his home and the field of his endeavor. From the first, Mr. Fisher showed an aptitude for the lumber business that was little short of miraculous, when his previous training was considered. He showed particular acumen in manipulating large deals and in the prescience of the demands of the market. His army training gave him the necessary facility of handling the labor necessary in running the business, and here he again displayed the same gentility and forbearance that will always win respect wherever displayed.
In 1878, Newton D. Fisher organized the firm of Fisher, Wilson, and Company, which concern was one of the leading lumber handling companies in the Middle West. At the death of his partner, H. V. Wilson, in 1884, the company was reorganized under the name of the Fisher and Wilson Company, of which he was appointed as president. Under his direct management the affairs of this business firm became even more prosperous than ever before, and the amount of business handled was doubled and trebled, resulting in great financial success for Newton D. Fisher and his associates.
Newton D. Fisher was married to Imogen [Sic.] Telford, daughter of James and Mary (Adamson) Telford, at Battle Creek, Michigan, December 23, 1868. Mrs. Fisher was born in Middlesex, New York, although at the time of her marriage she was residing with her parents in Michigan. He father was of a fine old scotch family, while her mother was descended from the best English blood. Mrs. Newton D. Fisher was one of two children born to her parents, the other, a sister, having married a brother of Newton D. Fisher, thus uniting still further the ties of blood. Both Mrs Newton D. Fisher, the wife of the subject of this sketch, and her sister, Mrs. Peter A. Fisher, are still living.
Mrs. Newton D. Fisher is so well known through her connections with all the important philanthropic undertakings of the day, that brief mention of a few of her most important activities will not be amiss in this connection. Perhaps the most important of these is her interest in the Benjamin Rose Fund of three million dollars, of which she is the treasurer. This fund which provides for the support of aged men and women, is one of the most far-reaching and humane undertakings ever promulgated. Mrs. Newton D. Fisher was one of the fifteen people who were chosen as a committee of trustees of the fund by Benjamin Rose himself. This position is one of a life-long duration; at the death of a member another being appointed by the surviving trustees to succeed the one who has passed away. Thus the committee of trustees will be practically perpetual. Mrs. Fisher, in addition to her multifarious responsibilities in the important official capacity of treasurer of this fund for the amelioration of the condition of the indigent aged, is keenly interested in the success of the Day Nursery Association, which includes the kindergarten work also in the Cleveland School of Art.
There were born to Mr. and Mrs. Newton D. Fisher, six children, three of whom died in infancy, and one, Chester Newton, passed away at the age of six years. The two living children are Blanche, who married H. A. Bliss, of Cleveland, and Lee Bayard, who is living in New York City, where he is in business. Newton D. Fisher was a kind and indulgent father to his children, yet firm with them as with the others under his control, and they mourn him as a true friend as well as their father.
Numbered among his close friends, Newton D. Fisher treasured the names of the martyred President, James A. Garfield, and also that of Senator Mark A. Hanna. He attended the same church, the Disciple, as did President Garfield, and this wa only one of many ties that bound them in a friendship of many years standing.
Many of those who attended the banquets at whose board Newton D. Fisher was a guest, still remember his remarkable facility at impromptu, after-dinner speaking. No gathering was considered as having been a success without one of these extemporaneous speeches. His remarkable facility in the use of good English would have been an asset had he decided to have taken up the study of law on his return from the war, instead of engaging in the lumber trade. However, no greater measure of success could have been his had he done so.
One of the strongest characteristics of the man was the absolute lack of self-seeking which he displayed in his political endeavors. He would labor unremittingly to further the campaign of a friend, but never sought, nor encouraged, office for himself.
Newton D. Fisher was a great lover of home and family, and took great pleasure in providing the proper environment for the social position of his wife and family. He had no hobbies, unless a love of horses could be called so. Of these he always maintained a number, including a matched team of fine driving horses, which it was his great pleasure to drive about the city and its environs.
Newton D. Fisher passed away November 17, 1893, after an illness of several years' duration, during which time he maintained an uncomplaining and patient attitude, further endearing him to those who had the privilege of smoothing the pillow for his hours of suffering. Warm in the hearts of those remaining, is the memory of this true and good man who was an exemplification of the saying that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." Also much honor is due her who has devoted her life to keeping his memory green by continuing and amplifying those charities dear to him, and in so doing is building an edifice of honor and love for herself.
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