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Fisher-Brinton family papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-332

Scope and Contents

The Fisher-Brinton collection contains the papers of an Irish-American and Pennsylvania family with roots in the earliest years of the Society of Friends. It includes correspondence, diaries, memoirs, photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials that reflect family and Quaker concerns, and, in particular, the Conservative branch of the Society of Friends. Abraham Fisher (1823-1909) was a member of a prominent Quaker family of Youghal County, Ireland. In 1871, he moved his family to rural Argentina where he assumed a position as book-keeper for the Alexandra Colony, an English settlement on the San Javier River. In 1874 the family moved to Megessa, North Carolina, and eventually, to Southeastern Pennsylvania. The family had a deep appreciation for their family history and Irish roots, continuing through the twentieth century; Abraham"s great-granddaughter, Margaret E. Brinton, attended a small Irish boarding school in the mid-1960s.

Abraham Fisher's youngest daughter, Eleanor Peet Fisher, married David P. Brinton in 1901, thus uniting the Fisher and Brinton families. He was a descendant of William Brinton who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1684. His father, Joseph Brinton, born on the family farm in Lancaster County, was active in the Wilburite schisms of the 1850s and 1860's in New England where he married Mary Homans Howland in Newport, Rhode Island. The Howlands were prominent Quaker businessmen in Maine. A grandson, William Fisher Brinton, was a conscientious objector in WWII. Many members of the extended families served as elders and ministers, and a number of them affiliated with the Conservative Yearly Meetings.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1846 - 2020
  • 1764 - 2020

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/.

Biographical / Historical

Abraham Fisher (1823-1909) was one of seventeen children of Abraham Fisher (1783-1871) and Jane Moor Fisher (1789-1877), Quakers of Youghal County, Ireland. The Fisher family was well-known for its extensive business, philanthropic, peace, and educational activities. An older sister, Anna Maria Fisher Hasham (1829-1922) and her husband Thomas. J. Hasham (1825-1917) were prominent in the woman’s suffrage movement in Ireland. The elder Abraham Fisher (1783-1871) was active in anti-slavery and temperance efforts and traveled with Sarah and John Grubb in their ministry to Scotland in 1803 and later with William Forster.

Abraham Fisher (1823-1909) married Sarah Wright (1822-1886) in 1850, and they had nine children: Maria (1851-1939), Anna (1852-1937), Thomas W. (1853-1940), Sarah Moor (1856-1945), William J. (1859-1885), Henry W. (1861-1937), Elizabeth (1863-1935), Susanna G. (1865-1956), and Eleanor (1868-1958)). Abraham worked in his family’s mills and import company until financial miscalculations about the corn market in the American Civil War put the firm into bankruptcy. Abraham assumed a position as book-keeper for the Alexandra Colony, an English settlement in Argentina on the San Javier River in a land grant acquired by Thomson, T. Bonar and Company, of London. As a result of the financial corruption in the management of the Colony, in 1874 the family moved to Megessa, North Carolina, where Abraham worked as manager of a rail and lumber company. The family was received on certificate of transfer from Cork Monthly Meeting, Ireland, to Perquimans Monthly Meeting on 12 month 4, 1875. Both Abraham and Sarah Fisher served as overseers, and Abraham was acknowledged was as a minister. When the English investors ended their support, the Fishers were left with a farm and no connecting railway. Their sons had moved to north and a son William died in 1885 at the age of 26. In failing health, Sarah Fisher returned to visit family in Ireland the following year, where she died and was buried. In 1896 a disastrous fire that killed the livestock and destroyed Abraham’s livelihood instigated his move with his unmarried daughters to Malvern, Pennsylvania. Eldest son Thomas W, Fisher and daughter Anna with son-in-law Charles Grimshaw had become active members of Goshen Monthly Meeting.

Almost all the children of Abraham and Sarah Fisher were very involved Quakers, serving as elders and ministers. Anna, Thomas, and Sarah maintained plain dress. The eldest, Maria (1851-1939) married Henry F. Nolan in 1877 at Perquiman Monthly Meeting. He had worked with her father in Argentina. Maria subsequently married Louis Cutrell in 1902, and third, Richard Hampton. Anna (1852-1937) married Charles Grimshaw in 1878 and served as an Elder and Clerk for Goshen Monthly Meeting. The eldest son, Thomas W. Fisher (1853-1940) married first Anna Schaller in 1890, then A. Ruth Smedley in 1896 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox), and third, Anna Copeland. He was a successful West Chester, Pennsylvania, businessman and a member and acknowledged minister of Holly Springs Monthly Meeting (Conservative), North Carolina. Sarah M. Fisher married Frederic White in 1899; she was a member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the Western District and an acknowledged minister. They lived in West Philadelphia until Frederic’s retirement to Penfield, Pennsylvania. The second son, William J. Fisher (1859-1885) had transferred to Birmingham Monthly Meeting in 1885 and died unmarried the same year. The youngest son, Henry W. Fisher (1861-1937) married Harriett Wixon. He was a graduate of Cornell University and successful electrical engineer who lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, in retirement. Elizabeth D. Fisher (1863-1935) married Nathan Eugene Mizell in 1906. They lived in Malvern and were members of Goshen Monthly Meeting. Susanna G. Fisher (1865-1956), a writer and editor, lived with her sister in Penfield Township and in her later years, resided with her younger sibling, Eleanor Peet Fisher. She served as an Elder in Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Western District. Eleanor (1868-1958) married David Brinton in 1901 under the care of Birmingham Monthly Meeting. His family had roots in Pennsylvania beginning in the years of Penn’s Colony.

David Brinton (1864-1945) was descended from William and Ann Bagley Brinton who emigrated to America in 1684. Their great-grandson, Moses Brinton, bought a large tract of land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Moses married Elinor Vernon in 1747 under the care of Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. Their grandson, William Brinton (1785-1878) married Gulielma Cooper, and they owned a farm in Lampeter where they raised five children. Joseph Brinton (1828-1917) was the middle child. He attended Westtown School and was an assistant teacher in 1849. Brinton moved to Newport, Rhode Island, in 1851. He lived in the household of Thomas B. Gould, a prominent Wilburite minister, and was employed in his mill.

Joseph became an outspoken member of the Society of Friends and was active in the Wilburite schisms of the 1850s and 1860's in New England. He was appointed Clerk of Rhode Island Monthly Meeting (Conservative) in the early 1860's, but returned to Pennsylvania in 1863. Nonetheless, he continued to meet for worship and business in his own home and retained the records of the Meeting until after 1867. He was disowned by Nantucket Monthly Meeting in 1866 although he disputed the authority of the Annual Meeting in New England which had laid down Rhode Island into Nantucket.

Before his return to Pennsylvania, Joseph married Mary Homans Howland (1833-1870) in a Friends ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island. She was the daughter of David Purinton Howland (1809-1852) and Anna Robinson Howland (1804-1855) of Vassalboro, Maine. Anna Robinson was the daughter of Timothy and Salome Kennard Robinson, members of Windham Monthly Meeting, Maine. Timothy's father had settled in Windham, operating a tanner which Timothy assumed and also manufactured shoes. They had seven children including Oliver Robinson (1812-1890) who married Sarah Tabor. He operated a successful shoe manufacturing company in the town. The Howlands and Robinson were successful merchants and active in the Wilburite controversy that split New England Yearly Meeting. David P. Howland was a business partner with William Hill who owned a successful woolen mill in North Berwick, Maine.

Mary H. Brinton died in 1870 shortly after the birth of her fifth child. A year later, Joseph married her sister, Anna M. Howland (1843-1926) despite the initial disapproval of his family. Joseph and Anna Brinton had five children of their own. The family first lived on the family farm in Lancaster County and then purchased a farm (Timicula, later renamed Glen Rose/Glenrose) near Ercildoun in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1871. He was a dairy farmer and operated a mill. Joseph rejoined Friends at Ercildoun from 1882 with a certificate from South Kingston Monthly Meeting, but resigned again in 1896 because he thought Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was too conciliatory to the Gurneyites. He died of a stroke in 1917 at the age of 89.

David Brinton (1864-1945) was the son of Joseph’s first wife, Mary Howland Brinton. Born in Ercildoun, he attended Westtown School, then Cornell and University of Pennsylvania. He worked in his father’s creamery and mill and became postmaster of Timicula post office and a justice of the peace. In 1920 he joined the West Chester business of his brother-in-law Thomas J. Fisher. In 1901 he married Eleanor Fisher (1868-1958) under the care of Birmingham Monthly Meeting. Their son William Fisher Brinton was born in Glenrose, Pennsylvania, in 1909 and died in 2008. He graduated from Westtown in 1927 and from Haverford College in 1932. An inveterate traveler, he worked as a writer and photo-journalist. He taught at various Quaker schools, was involved with Quaker workcamps, Pendle Hill, and the early Youth Hostel movement in the United States. In 1941 he was drafted for alternative service, first at Patapsco, Maryland, and then Big Flats, New York. After his marriage to E. Louise Irwin (1915-2004) in 1949, he attended library school and worked at public libraries, Haverford College Library, and briefly at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection where his cousin, Anna Brinton, was curator.

Extent

5.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes plus photographs)

Language

English

Overview

The Fisher-Brinton collection contains the papers of an Irish-American and Pennsylvania family with roots in the earliest years of the Society of Friends. It includes correspondence, diaries, memoirs, photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials that reflect family and Quaker concerns, and, in particular, the Conservative branch of the Society of Friends. Abraham Fisher (1823-1909) was a member of a prominent Quaker family of Youghal County, Ireland. In 1871, he moved his family to rural Argentina where he assumed a position as book-keeper for the Alexandra Colony, an English settlement on the San Javier River. In 1874 the family moved to Megessa, North Carolina, and eventually, to Southeastern Pennsylvania. The family had a deep appreciation for their family history and Irish roots, continuing through the twentieth century; Abraham"s great-granddaughter, Margaret E. Brinton, attended a small Irish boarding school in the mid-1960s.

Abraham Fisher's youngest daughter, Eleanor Peet Fisher, married David P. Brinton in 1901, thus uniting the Fisher and Brinton families. He was a descendant of William Brinton who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1684. His father, Joseph Brinton, born on the family farm in Lancaster County, was active in the Wilburite schisms of the 1850s and 1860's in New England where he married Mary Homans Howland in Newport, Rhode Island. The Howlands were prominent Quaker businessmen in Maine. A grandson, William Fisher Brinton, was a conscientious objector in WWII. Many members of the extended families served as elders and ministers, and a number of them affiliated with the Conservative Yearly Meetings.

Arrangement

Arranged in four series

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Margaret Brinton Collinson, 2020

Related Materials

Joseph Brinton Family Papers, RG5/233

Separated Materials

To be added to FHL stacks:
Biographical Sketch of the Life of Taulerus by Peter Lossing, Philadelphia, 1829 [Inscribed in front cover Susan Brinton's book]

Gleanings for the Memory, Philadelphia (Kimber Co.), 1808 [Inscribed in front cover Gulielma Brinton]

Collection of Problems, Kimber and Sharples, 1842 [Inscribed in front cover Joseph Brinton]

Memoirs of the Lives of Benjamin Lay, Phila., 1815 [Inscribed in front cover Joseph Brinton. 3rd copy but rare and has a color illustration of Lay]

Map of the United States [1884] Add to maps

Child's Story of Jesus' Friends, by Susanna G. Fisher, Phila. 1936. [Inscribed in front cover by author]
Relics to be cataloged:

Games used by family Old eyeglasses Watches Button-making paddle and leather tools Chalk board used for children's lessons. According to William F. Brinton, he and his siblings were home-schooled through middle school and then sent to Westtown

300 year old plate carried from Ireland to Argentina, then to N.C. and PA. Second smaller plate. Letter explaining history filed in RG5/322 with photocopy stored with plates.
Photographs removed to Fisher-Brinton Picture Collection, PA 215
Title
Fisher-Brinton family papers
Status
Completed
Author
Susanna Morikawa
Date
July 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

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