Belfield & Wakefield:A Link to La Salle's Past
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The Second Generation at Little Wakefield

By: Patrick Nolan

There is a small home found on the south campus of LaSalle University. Christian Brothers now occupy this house but it once belonged to the Fisher family. "Little Wakefield", which is the name given to the house by the Fishers, was built by Thomas Rodman Fisher in 1829.

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TomRodFish.JPG (14044 bytes)Thomas Rodman Fisher married Letitia Harvey Ellicott on November 27, 1829. Letitia gave birth to six children. They were Sarah Ellicott, William Logan, George Logan, Mary Rodman, Ellicott, and Harvey. These children were the second generation to live at Little Wakefield. They all lived there for the majority of their lives. Two of the six children died at a very early age. Sarah Ellicott was born in 1830 and died in 1832. George Logan was born in 1835 and died a year later.

William Logan Fisher, named for his grandfather, was born in 1832. Friends and loved ones referred to him as "Logan". Logan was a very intelligent young man and he showed much promise at an early age. After some brief schooling he became a surveyor for Heckschers, a company based in Pottsville. While working for this company Logan caught a severe cold. The cold became so bad that he was forced to quit his job so that he could recuperate. He returned to Little Wakefield in 1858, so his family could help nurse him back to health. Jones Wister, a neighbor of the Fishers, remembers visiting Logan and thinking that he was getting stronger and on the road to recovery. The following day Jones received word that Logan had taken a turn for the worse. Jones hurried over to Little Wakefield to find that his friend had already passed away. The doctor who performed the autopsy stated that Logan did not die from the disease itself, but from a hemorrhage in his lung. Logan died at the age of twenty-six in 1858.

Ellicott Fisher was born on May 4, 1840. He was sixth in line of descent from John Fisher, who accompanied William Penn on his voyage to the new world on the ship the Welcome. Ellicott was also sixth in line of descent from James Logan, who was Penn’s colonial secretary and the owner of the property known as Stenton, which at one time included the grounds of Little Wakefield. During his life Ellicott involved himself in many business endeavors and even more social clubs. He was a member of the Germantown Cricket Club, a founder of the Welcome Society, which was a club for the descendants of William Penn, and an associate member of the Military Order Loyal Legion of the United States. He was also a noted cross country rider.

Ellicott attended Germantown Academy in 1858. Upon successful completion of his schooling there he went on to the Pennsylvania University. Ellicott began his professional career as a clerk at the Duncannon Iron Co. He went on to become the Director of the Duncannon Iron Co., the Director of the Bloomsburg Iron Co., President of the Ellicott Fisher Company, which manufactured horse shoes, and finally the director of the family’s woolen mills. He became the Director of the family’s mills at the request of his father in 1861. Because his father had become an invalid, Ellicott became the head of the family in every sense. He handled all of the family affairs such as collecting the rent and doing the gardening. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Sixth National Bank of Philadelphia.

Ellicott lost his sight in one of his eyes due to an accident. Ella Wister Haines remembers Ellicott as a pleasant soul, who was unfortunately addicted to the bottle. Mrs. Haines further states that after Mary’s early death, Ellicott was married by a very clever widow from Baltimore. That widow was Mary Addison Tyler Gatchell. Ellicott married her on October 28, 1897. They had no children.

When Ellicott died on December 22,1908 he was given a very flattering obituary. It stated that Ellicott was a man with high traits of character, and he was very respected. It continued, "Mr. Fisher was a gentleman of sterling worth and strict integrity and whose amiable disposition endeared him to all."

Mary Rodman Fisher was born on August 20, 1838. Ella Wister Haines describes Mary as being jolly and rotund. She was never cross, and she never stopped knitting. Mary delighted in looking after her brother Ellicott. She married George Washington Carpenter on February 1, 1860. After marrying she remained at Little Wakefield so she could continue to take care of her brother. She was a notable socialite in the Philadelphia community, and she was often engrossed in a number of service projects. Mary had two children, Letitia Ellicott and Elizabeth Rodman Fisher. Mrs. Haines remembers how much in love George was with Mary. He all but threw himself into the grave when Mary passed away on October 9, 1899. George soon recovered and married a widow named Susie.

Harvey Fisher was the last of all the children. He was born on November 4, 1843. He participated in the Civil War fighting in the 150th Pennsylvania division. He never married and died at the early age of forty-one on August 31, 1885.

For the second generation at Little Wakefield money was scarce. The house was shabby but the flower garden was exquisite, remembers Ella Wister Haines. Although most of the children died at a relatively early age, both Mary and Ellicott became famous people in Philadelphia’s history.

Sources

1. Wister, Jones. Jones Wister’s Reminiscences.

2. Haines, Ella Wister. Ella Wister Haine’s Reminiscences.

3. Ellicott Fisher’s Obituary

4. Ellicott Fisher’s Obituary written by the Board of Directors at The Sixth National Bank

of Philadelphia.