James W. Fisher

    James W. Fisher is regarded as one of the leading educators of southwestern Wyoming. He is located in Millburne, Uinta county, but while now devoting his attention to the profession of teaching, the experiences of his life have been broad and varied and in many respects are most interesting.
    He is a native of Montrose, Missouri, born July 29, 1866, and is a son of John W. and Mary C. (Hibler) Fisher. The father was a native of West Virginia and the mother a native of Missouri. Mr. Fisher followed farming and stock raising and passed away at Mount Zion, Missouri, in 1905, at the age of sixty-nine years, leaving a family of nine children, seven sons and two daughters, while two other children of the family, a son and daughter, died in infancy. The mother still survives and resides near Montrose, Missouri, at the age of seventy-two years. In politics Mr. Fisher was a democrat and at the time of the Civil war responded to the call of the Confederacy, enlisting in the Tenth Missouri Cavalry, in which he served under Captain Norvall Spangler. He was in the battle of Lexington, Missouri, and participated in other hotly contested engagements.
    James W. Fisher was reared to manhood in his native state and there acquired his early education in the district schools of Henry county, attending a school which was known as "Granddaddy" up to the age of fifteen years. He worked on the farm, as all country boys do, early becoming familiar with the labors of the field, and later he attended a country school in St. Clair county to the age of seventeen years. He then went to work as a hired hand and was thus employed until he attained his majority. He afterward attended a district school in Henry county known as the Mound school, taught by William Moser, a prominent educator of that time in west central Missouri. After spending a term in that school Mr. Fisher became a student in the Clinton Academy at Clinton, Missouri, where he pursued a classical course for about eighteen months, the school being conducted by Professor E. P. Lamkin, who was the father of the present superintendent of public instruction of Missouri, U. W. Lamkin, who when Mr. Fisher was a pupil in the school was his schoolmate. A statement issued by Superintendent Lamkin quite recently, regarding the ability and character of James W. Fisher, may be inserted here as of interest:

"March 8th, 1918.
"To Whom Concerned:
    "I am very glad to say that I knew James W. Fisher when he and I were in school together in Henry County, Missouri. I later knew him when we were teaching in that county. I knew him as a hard worker, energetic, making friends readily, keeping those he made and of unquestioned honesty. I am confident that he will made good.
"Uel W. Lamkin."

    Another pupil at that same time was Dr. Ralph H. McKee, of the University of Maine. Later Mr. Fisher began teaching in the public schools of Henry county, Missouri, following the profession in 1887 and 1888. He afterward went to Hopkins county, near Sulphur Springs, Texas, where he worked in a cotton gin and also taught what was known as the Community school in 1889 and 1890. He then returned to Missouri, where he followed the profession of teaching in the winter months, while in the summer he was employed as a farm hand for a period of six years or until the fall of 1896. He then removed to Marshall, Saline county, Missouri, where he attended the Missouri Valley College and also taught in the public schools until 1903. In that year he returned to Henry county and was a teacher at Garland, Missouri, for one year. He also worked as a section hand on the Frisco railroad at Garland, Missouri, and later he taught for a year at Field's Creek, Missouri.
    Oh the 9th of August, 1905, Mr. Fisher found it necessary to take his wife to a hospital at Nevada, Missouri, after which he returned home and straightened out his affairs there, his father having died in the meantime. In December of the same year he went to Kansas City, where he sought a position in an express office in the Union depot. Failing to secure the desired position, he took a job as coal heaver and went to Mystic, Iowa, with George D. Lloyd, who was engaged in that line of business. On one occasion three and a half tons of coal passed from under his feet during a gale of wind, but he was uninjured by reason of the fact that he remained cool and collected.
    In April, 1906. Mr. Fisher took the civil service examination at Kansas City, Missouri, for a position as teacher in the Indian service. On the 13th of May, 1906, he obtained a position with the Western Union telegraph construction gang located at Lewis, Missouri, under Foreman Sam Sullins. He then engaged in digging holes for telegraph poles and worked on the line to Appleton City, Missouri, where they were superseded by another construction gang. On the 10th of July, 1906, Mr. Fisher went to St. Louis, Missouri, and thence to Little Rock, Arkansas, crossing the Arkansas river at Argenta. The gang began stringing long distance copper wire over the Iron Mountain route. Mr. Fisher had charge of a hand car, being on one occasion the "bucker of the reel," where one hundred and seventy pounds of copper wire was carried by him and another man about twenty miles through the Ozarks. This was where each man had to bear his task without flinching–a task that was very arduous. Just before reaching Russellville, Arkansas, one of the climbers fell from a thirty-foot pole, causing his hands to be turned back on the wrists. No one seemed to understand how to relieve him until Mr. Fisher was called to his assistance, when he pulled the hands back straight and rubbed the wrist bones into place, thus giving him relief, and so it was not necessary for a physician to set the injured joints. After reaching Russellville, Mr. Fisher was promoted to the position of jack strap puller, pulling the wire for eleven tiers, which was a feat that other men did not wish to try. He was engaged in such work between Russellville and Van Buren, Arkansas, and afterward went to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and from that point to Gurdon, in the same state, and in the same business, working from there to within thirteen miles of Texarkana, Arkansas, where the gang met another gang and turned back to St. Louis, Missouri, repairing the wires at Pacific, Missouri. At that point they were shipped out to Altus, Oklahoma, and completed a line from the depot to the Cotton Exchange, after which Mr. Fisher resigned his position. He then resumed the profession of teaching in a public school near Altus, Oklahoma, and in the meantime worked as a ranch hand for G. R. Rogers. On the 10th of May, 1907, he went from Headrick, Oklahoma, to White Earth, Minnesota, where he took up the duties of teaching in the Indian service in the White Earth day school. About the 1st of September he was transferred to the Porterville day school and his sister Ethel there began keeping house for him. He remained at that school until November, 1910, when he resigned to go on a homestead near Gheen, Minnesota. In the meantime he worked as a swamper and cook for a logging outfit and returned to White Earth, Minnesota, in January, 1911. He then temporarily took up teaching in the White Earth boarding school and about the 1st of February was reinstated as day teacher in the White Earth day school. There he remained until the 20th of October, when he was transferred to the Fort Totten boarding school near Devils Lake, North Dakota, as a school farmer in the Indian service. He continued at that point until June 1, 1912, when he resigned and went to Crookston, Minnesota, working for thirteen days as helper on a bridge gang on the Great Northern Railroad, after which he resigned and entered the summer school at the Northwest School of Agriculture at Crookston, Minnesota, pursuing the agriculture and blacksmithing courses. After working for one month for the college he resigned and returned to Missouri, where he remained with his family until about October 1, 1912, when he was reinstated as farmer in the Indian service at Keams Canon, Arizona. He entered on his duties there on the 6th of October and continued at that place until about the 1st of September, 1913, when he resigned and came to Wyoming. He began to teach in the public schools at Mountainview about the 2d of September and in June, 1914, he went to Laramie, where he attended the summer session of the State University. In 1915 he taught school at Lonetree, Wyoming. Prior to this time, or on the 14th of May, 1914, he entered a homestead on Nebraska Bench, near Millburne, and he also taught school in that locality for two years. At the present time he is teaching at Almy, near Evanston, Wyoming, and that he is well qualified for his work is evident from the statement issued by the Missouri State Department of Public Schools presented to our readers on a preceding page. Moreover Mr. Fisher is a poet of more than ordinary ability and leave is herewith taken to present him as the author of two poems:


Bear River Robin is the bird for me.
He is a soldier of the West that be
Just as plucky for his weight as the bear,
Even more, as he never hibernates where
He can get haw apples to save his pate.
No matter what comes he never trusts fate.

He knows the best place, upper Bear River,
Where all creation couldn't make him shiver
As long as the haw apples are 'bove snow.
He is the bird for me. I can't say no.
As he has never turned to make retreat.
Tho' he oft has been near absent of heat.

He has hung to the Bear River willows
Thru the winter of our first year's billows
Of war for world liberty that'll create
A greater sphere for robin without rate.
To live, when he should choose time to sail in
To any clime where free man is dwellin'.

Let us all bless the Bear River Robin
For his courage, as he has his doin'
All his own, as long as haw apples last,
Nothing can change his mind, but face the blast,
Forgetting his migratory habit,
Waiting here for spring, as we all do it.

This destroys the belief that some Caesars
Believe that the warm is nearing the bars.
You may say no, but a message of love,
Carried by humane tokens of a dove,
Fortifies stout the fact without delays,
That Bear River Robin is stay'r these days.

(James W. Fisher, teacher Almy school, R. F. D., Evanston, Wyoming, contributor. Published in the Wyoming Times, March 7, 1918.)


Dear Little Winnie, pride of our hearts.
We regret that you so soon must depart,
Leaving us behind to moan your leave.
This world of sun-shine, much to achieve.
While you sang your bestest songs Divine–
Never groaning, making music chime.

Dear Little Heart of ours, we shudder
To think of your passing the border
Beyond the grasp of our loving hands
To dwell somewhere in far distant lands.
Chosen by your Heavenly Father,
Where you may sing without bother.

Dear Little Friend of ours, as we knew
You to ever be to us, and true.
No matter what happened any time
Your little soul would so always rhyme
To the call of a jolly to-do
That made us all happy thru and thru.

May you ever live in the blue skies
Where your soul may be seen with our eyes.
As a little star giving its light.
To always show us the way of right.
Never letting us vary away
Till we all meet you Judgment-day.

We'll all try ever to breathe a song
In memory of you in our throng
As we attend loyal Almy School,
E'er doing our best to keep the rule
Of our dear teacher who can with pride.
With us, cherish Good Winnie who died.

(A tribute to Little Winnie Sessions, aged eight, a pupil at the Almy school, 1917-1918, who died March 17, 1918. Written on the night of March 18, 1918.)

    On the 23d of December, 1893, Mr. Fisher was united in marriage to Miss Mary P. Russell, of Cole, Missouri, and to them have been born two children, Naomi E. and Mary O. P. The former became the wife of Fred Dean, of Clinton, Missouri, and they now reside in Sedalia, that state. The other daughter makes her home at Green River, Wyoming.
    Such have been the varied experiences of Mr. Fisher–experiences which have taken him into various sections of the country and made him familiar with its conditions and its history. From his experiences he has learned many valuable life lessons and is today a most interesting man because of his reminiscences and his ability to vividly portray to the hearer what he has himself seen. He is highly esteemed throughout the community in which he makes his home and he is making valuable contribution to the development of the educational interests of southwestern Wyoming, all speaking of him in terms of high regard in this connection.

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