STEPHEN DECATUR FISHER - Stephen Decatur Fisher was born March 7, 1822, in Charlotte, Vermont, and was named in honor of Commodore Stephen Decatur, under whom his father, Asa Fisher, fought in the war with Tripoli, being in the naval service for three years. He was one of the number that volunteered to burn the frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli, it having been captured by the enemy, and in 1806 he received an honorable discharge and returned to his home in Vermont. When his son Stephen was a year old he moved across Lake Champlain into New York, where the boy was reared and educated, his youth being spent upon the home farm. The father devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits in the Empire state for many years. He married Miss Lovisa D. Smith and in their family were six children, three sons and three daughters.
Stephen D. Fisher, however, is the only survivor of this family. In his early youth he was a pupil in select schools and was afterward a student in Westport Academy in New York. Subsequently he engaged in teaching school in the Empire state and after his removal to the west in 1844 was engaged in teaching for two years in Rochester, Sangamon county. In 1846, however, he returned to the east, where he resumed educational work, following that in the Empire state until 1850. He was again a teacher in Illinois for two years and in 1853 located in Waynesville, this state, and accepted a position as bookkeeper with Dills, Howser & Company, the name of the firm being subsequently changed to Dills & Howser. He accompanied them to Atlanta, Illinois, and continued at that place from 1855 until 1875 and then took up his abode in Springfield, where he was elected to the position of secretary of the state board of agriculture. In 1876, as secretary of the board and under its auspices, he organized the system still in use for the collection of agricultural statistics. He was twice appointed state agent of the United States department of agriculture and filled that position until about the time he entered upon his present business connection as auditor with the firm of E. R. Ulrich & Sons, grain merchants, with offices in the Illinois National Bank building. The first report which he made was in December, 1876, concerning the acreage and yield per acre of the principal crops. Soon after that he sent out blanks for weather reports, in 1877, and afterward maintained meteorological correspondence with thirty-three different counties until the signal service station was established at Springfield. He conducted a grain station at Chatham from 1893 until 1901 and at that time became auditor with the firm of E. R. Ulrich & Sons. Whatever success Mr. Fisher has achieved is due entirely to his own efforts. He lost his father when but ten years of age and was left an orphan at the age of sixteen by the death of his mother. He has, however, developed a strong character and his life has been guided by honorable purpose and manly principles.
Mr. Fisher was married on the 19th of October, 1852, to Miss Marian Jeannette St. Clair, of Rochester, Illinois, a daughter of L. H. and Lurenda (Spalding) St. Clair, who were natives of Vermont but both are now deceased. Mrs. Fisher was one of a large family and her death occurred in 1867. On the 10th of October, 1868, Mr. Fisher was again married, his second union being with Miss Elzina M. Benton, a native of Ohio, who came with her parents to the west in the '50s. By the second marriage there are four children, Mrs. E. R. Ulrich, Jr., of Springfield; Frank Bean, deceased; Stanley, who is married and lives in Tyler, Texas; and Alta May, who died at the age of nine years. The older son, Frank B., became a practicing physician. He was born in Atlanta, Illinois, and was seven years of age when he came to Springfield with the family, his father having located in this city four years before in connection with his duties as secretary of the state board of agriculture. When a boy Dr. Fisher attended the Edward school and completed a high school course. He afterward spent three years as a student in Blackburn University at Carlinville, Illinois, graduating with honors after a full collegiate course. He next attended the State University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he prepared for the practice of medicine. Returning to Springfield he then entered the Wabash Hospital and received his early practical experience in the practice of medicine and surgery there. At the beginning the Mayor Phillips' term he was appointed as a member of the city board of health and occupied that position at the time fo his death, which occurred June 22, 1902. He had built up a splendid practice and was very popular with his fellow workers in the medical fraternity. On the 3d of October, 1900, he married Miss Carrie Furber, a daughter of J. K. Furber, cashier of the bank at Carlinville, and she now survives him, together with their little daughter, Mary Eleanor, who was about eleven months old at the time of the death of her father. Dr. Fisher was a young man of excellent ability and bright promise and his death was deeply lamented throughout the city in which he made his home.
In public affairs Stephen D. Fisher was prominent and influential in early life, but more recently has delegated to others the duties which he assumed in connection with political and public interests. He has served, however, as alderman and as town clerk of Atlanta, Illinois, and was elected a member of the state board of equalization, filling that office at about the time U. S. Grant was president of the United States. In 1858 he became a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and two years later joined the Masonic fraternity at Atlanta, where he still holds membership. He belongs to the Second Presbyterian church, as do his wife and children, and he has always given his political allegiance to the Republican party since its organization. His life record would bear close investigation and scrutiny, and over his public career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil.