Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania


Fisher Family Frustrations

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I was recently contacted by a Fisher cousin, Richard Fisher.  We began comparing notes on our Fisher lines and quickly came to the same conclusion:  We both have the same Fisher brick wall!  I spent large chunks of whole days pouring through information on the  Fisher family over my recent Easter vacation.  Unfortunately, I'm still as lost as ever.

John David Fisher [1821-1868]

My Fisher line (as well as Richard's) goes back to Henry Fisher, who married Christiana Dilling. The two are buried in St. Luke's Cemetery in Liberty Township, Bedford County, PA. They were the parents of at least ten known children. I descend through their second son, Casper Fisher (1824-1891) and Richard through their first son, John David Fisher [1821-1868].

The known children of Henry and Christiana (Dilling) Fisher include:

John David Fisher [1821-1868]

Casper Fisher (1824-1891)

William Fisher (1826-1903)

David Fisher [b. abt. 1828]

Sarah (1834-1896)

Isaac (b. abt. 1836)

Elizabeth (1836-1910)

Christiana (abt. 1839-1873)

Catharine (b. abt. 1842)

Mary Ann (b. abt. 1846)

Christiana was the daughter of Johann Casper Dilling and Christina Butterbaugh. Her tombstone indicates she died on November 30, 1877 at 77 years of age. This would place Christiana as being born about 1800. However, many researchers say she was born in 1803. I have never found a definitive research source that confirms her date of birth.

Henry Fisher's parents are unknown. His tombstone indicates he died February 3, 1876 at 84 years of age. This would have him being born about 1792. However, many researchers say he was born in 1786, and census reports indicate he was born about 1796.   Again, I can find no sources that support these dates of birth other than the databases of individual researchers and census reports.

It is very frustrating not to be able to prove the parents of Henry Fisher. It is strongly believed that he was the son of another Henry Fisher from the Heidelberg area of Berks County, PA...but which one? Henry was a very popular name in the Fisher family!  At this point, I am even questioning why I even think my Henry was the son of another Henry anymore; where did I come up with that idea in the first place???

There are potentially two (or more) Henry Fisher's that could be the father of my Henry Fisher, who married Christiana Dilling. They are:


1. Henry Fischer (1739-1822), who married Christina Durst. He was the son of Johann Wilhelm Fischer and Elizabeth Gertrude Hain. Henry and Christina were the parents of the following known children:

Peter (1761-1783)

Christina (b. 1763)

John (1765-1844)

Catharine (b. 1767)

Elizabeth (b. 1769)

Anna Maria (b. 1771)

Susanna (b. 1773)

Margaret (1775-1834)

Philip (1777-1816)

Catharine (1780-1849)

Frederick (1782-1836)

I're probably saying to yourself, "But they didn't even have a child named Henry!" I know, but just wait; it gets more interesting!

2. Henry Fisher (1758-1823), who married Susanna Ruth. He was the son of Peter Fischer (brother of Henry #1 above) and Appolonia Heckert. Henry and Susanna were the parents of the following known children:


Mary "Polly" (1790-1830)

Samuel (1791-1824)

Sarah Ann (1793-1867)

Daniel (1795-1839)

John [1798-1828]

Henry (b. 1801)

The son Henry, b. 1801, supposedly left home and was never heard from again according to a published article from the Berks County Genealogical Society in their Journal of the Berks County Genealogical Society Volume 14, No. 4 dated Summer of 1994 entitled "Johan Wilhelm Fischer:  A Brief Overview of His Ancestors, Life, Death, and Descendants" by Kenneth L. Fisher.  Researchers later discovered that he had supposedly moved to Columbia County, PA.

Years ago, I was in touch with Fisher family descendants in Columbia County who confirmed there was a Henry of the right age in the area, but they claimed that he was born in Columbia County, and came from an established family in that area.  However, I recently found a published bio in the Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania:  Containing a Concise History of the Two Counties and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Representative Families:  In Two Volumes published in 1915 that confirms the Henry born above in 1801 did indeed go to Columbia County from Berks County in 1821!

Henry Fisher, #2 above, who married Susanna Ruth, died while visiting in Huntingdon County. His daughter, Mary "Polly" was married to Henry Spang, who operated the furnace at Mt. Etna in neighboring Blair County, PA (which was still in Huntingdon County at the time of Henry's death in 1823).

I have often wondered if the birth year is wrong for the younger Henry (b. 1801) above, since he went missing and researchers only thought they had found him in Columbia County, PA. Was he actually my Henry who married Christiana Dilling? After all, wouldn't it make more sense that his father died here in Huntingdon County while visiting his daughter Mary AND his son Henry? However, I can't prove it; and, the birth date just seems to be too far off.  In addition, there is a published bio now from 1915 that ties Henry (b. 1801) living in Columbia County, PA back to his Berks County roots and gives the correct names of his ancestors.

One of the above Henry's also married Sarah Hunter.

Some on-line researchers claim Henry #1 was married to Christina Durst, Susanna Ruth, and Sarah Hunter! Good grief...that certainly confuses everything. They claim Henry married Christina in 1761, Susanna in 1781 and Sarah in 1791. If this is true, then son Frederick (of Henry #1 above) would not be a child of Christina Durst, but rather a child of Susanna Ruth. If my Henry were really born in 1786 as some researchers list, then he could potentially be a child of Susanna Ruth too. However, if his tombstone is correct and he was born about 1792, he could potentially belong to the 3rd wife, Sarah Hunter. Are you confused yet?????  I personally do not buy this scenario at all, but it is on the web.

How will this mess ever be straightened out?  The only possible answer I can come up with after pouring over every record known to exist was to do DNA testing on my father, and hope that he matches other Fisher family members who can confirm their lineage to sort out which line my Henry Fisher belongs to.  So, I splurged at income tax refund time and tested my almost 81 year old dad, who now officially thinks I'm crazy!  I sent his DNA cheek swabs off to Family Tree DNA, and am now anxiously waiting on the results!  

A number of Fisher names have already been tested, and I see one from the above lines in Berks County as well as one from the Columbia County line who have already posted their lineage.  If my dad matches one or both of them, it will answer a lot of questions.  However, I am fully prepared, as would be my luck, that he will not match any tested line.  If the latter scenario comes true, then my hope is that someone in the future will be tested who will match my dad.  In my mind, it was a critical investment to test my dad now rather than later.  He only has one living brother left to carry the surname Fisher and one living nephew.  I felt I had to test my dad now in hopes that his DNA will some day solve the Fisher Frustration mystery.


Categories: Family Names

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Reply Richard
4:56 AM on June 8, 2014 
hello my name is Richard Fisher i live in saint louis missouri i was born in aurora illinois and moved to corpus christi texas and am related to the damschen family as well as the campbell i believe and am looking for help in finding my ancestors thanks!!!!
Reply Enter Your Name
2:42 PM on September 25, 2015 
This is not my research, but that of a fellow ancestor tracing back to Henry and Christiana (Dilling) Fisher. Beginning with Henry's parents:

Henry Fisher (1758-1823), m. Susanna Ruth
Peter Fischer, Sr. (1735-1787), m. Appolonia Heckert (1738-1788)
Wilhelm Fischer (1701-1771), m. Elizabeth Gertrude Hain
Weigel Fischer (1654-1725), m. Anna Lerch
Georg Fischer (1613- ), m. Catharina Lerchen
Baltasar Fischer (1585- ), m. Christin


Reply Deb (Fisher) Riley
2:54 PM on September 25, 2015 
Hi Stan,
Thanks for the information. While I wish it were so cut and dried, my father's DNA testing just does not support that he is a descendant of the Henry Fisher m. Susannah Ruth line on back. He does not match others from that family to be tested. I have his line solidly traced to Henry Fisher m. Christiana Dilling. I wish it were so simple to plug him in that lineage.
Reply Karen
8:19 PM on September 9, 2016 
I am related to the Bredbenner family of Columbia Co., PA . Conrad Bredbenner (Bretbinner) married Susanna Fischer, d/o Henry Fischer and Susanna Ruth.
There are two Henry Fishers buried in Fisher's Cemetery, Mainville, Columbia Co. The one Henry Fisher's tombstone, written in German, states that he is the son of Michael Fischer and Dorothea Reter. It is said he was the one married to Catharina Bastress (spelling?) who is also buried at Fisher's Cem.
Have you looked into the family of Michael Fisher and his wife Dorothea?
Reply Deb (Fisher) Riley
9:17 PM on September 19, 2016 
Thank you for the lead, Karen. I will do some research and see where it takes me.