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William Logan Fisher bought Belfield from Peale in 1826 and owned it until he died in 1862; he, however, never lived there, lending it to his daughter Sarah. Fisher was a friend of Transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and an author of several books himself (Alexis de Tocqueville used Fisher's work as one of the sources for his famous Democracy in America). An early industrialist, Fisher owned Wakefield Mills (one of the principal textile mills in the country), which bordered Peale's Belfield property to the south. The two portraits shown here were painted by Robert Street in 1833; the originals now hang in the President's formal office at Peale House. The woman is Fisher's second wife, Sarah Lindley, whose surname is the source for the street that is La Salle's southern border.



This photograph of an 1850 chromolithograph shows William Logan Fisher's Wakefield Mills, which occupied the area of the present intersection of Belfield and Lindley, overflowing onto what is now La Salle's south campus; the road up that hill in 1850 occupied the same space as the present road. Faintly visible through the trees on the 1850 lithograph is what is now St. Mutiens' Christian Brother's Residence, built in the 1820s.

William Wister and Sarah Logan Fisher wed in 1826. Her father-in-law allowed them to live in Belfield Mansion, but he retained title to the property until his death in 1862. William Wister at first ran a cloth dyeing faculty (at the present-day intersection of Wister and Beflied) in support of his father-in-law's textile mill; later he became a force in the coming thing: railroads. Sarah ran Belfield house and farm, her own family augmented by domestic and farm workers, and kept the farm's books. There is a strong family tradition that Sarah, a formidable Quaker presence, was also active in the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves to avoid capture.



Here is the Wister Family Bible in use at Belfield for well over a century. The entries record the births of William and Sarah Logan Fisher Wister's eight children -- with six boys surviving infancy. Note that Langhorne Wister had two previous names entered and then crossed out ("James Logan" and "Thomas Wynne") before his parents settled on Langhorne.

Despite their Quaker Heritage, all fought in the Civil War, and Langhorne became-- with the concurrence of Abraham Lincoln -- a Brevet Brigadier-General. John's late June 1863 letter to his mother at Belfield tries to reassure her about General Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania and says he plans to be home on July 4. But it was not to be, for the Battle of Gettysburg intervened.

The six sons of William and Sarah Logan fisher Wister were:

Rodman

Rodman
John

John
William Rotch

William Rotch
Jones

Jones
Francis

Francis
Langhorne

Langhorne

Letter from John to his mother in 1863

Lock of John's hair and accompanying note
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