Matagorda County Recorded Texas Historic Landmark


Fisher-Sargent-Gottschalk House





Inscription typed by Faye Cunningham.

107 St. Mary Street

28°41’16.14”N      95°58’21.62”W

Stanley-Fisher Bed & Breakfast


Arrived in Texas in 1830

Matagorda representative at the Convention of 1836

Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836

Signer of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas

First Secretary of the Republic of Texas Navy October 28, 1836

Samuel Rhoads Fisher Home
By Kathleen Tatum

When Samuel Rhoads Fisher made his last will, December 1837, he will the beautiful, large, two-story home, built of cypress cedar lumber to his wife, Ann Pleasants Fisher.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher and Ann Pleasants were married in Pennsylvania around 1818. They came to Matagorda County, Texas in September 1830, with Stephen F. Austin's third colony. Shortly thereafter he hired ship carpenters and skilled woodworkers to construct a home for his family on Block number 4, Tier number 1, in the City of Matagorda. The foundation blocks are made of native materials, sea shells and oyster shells and wooden pegs were used for nails throughout the building that still hold this old house together. The home was completed in 1832.

The Fishers were the parents of six children:

Samuel W. Fisher born 1819
Ann Pleasants Fisher born 1823
Israel Pleasants Fisher born 1826
Rebecca Fisher born 1830
Rhoads Fisher born 1832
Elizabeth Rhoads Fisher who died in infancy in 1836

Samuel Rhoads Fisher was shot and killed in Matagorda, March 13, 1839. Albert G. Newton was charged with murder, but was acquitted on March 3, 1840. Fisher's tombstone in Matagorda Cemetery reads--born December 11, 1794 in Northumberland, Pennsylvania died March 13, 1839.

In the eight and one half years he was in Matagorda County, Fisher acquired several schooners for shipping various cargoes. He was also a large planter and owned a mercantile store in Matagorda. He was elected delegate to the Convention from Matagorda in February 1836. He was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In 1836 President Sam Houston appointed Fisher Secretary of the Navy.

After the children were all grown and married, Ann Pleasants Fisher sold the home to Elsey Harrison, June 2, 1860. Ann Fisher died October 21, 1862 of yellow fever and was buried in Matagorda Cemetery beside her husband.

Elsey Harrison, also a large planter, took for his second bride, Eleanor M. Rice, April 23, 1857 at Matagorda. She was twin to  Elizabeth M. Rice who married Hugh S. Stapp, an attorney from Brazoria, November 10, 1850. They were the daughters of Dr. Charles and Margaret Shaw Rice and were born December 30, 1827.

When the twins were eight years old, they traveled from New Orleans to Brazoria. They were on the same boat on which the twin cannons that were being shipped from Cincinnati to William Bryant, the Texas general agent. The people of Cincinnati had donated them to be used in the battles against Mexico and Santa Anna. The twin Rice girls were asked to make a short speech presenting the two cannons to Texas. Someone remarked "there they are, two sets of twin sisters" and the the name stuck for the cannons.

Elsey Harrison's wife Eleanor died at childbirth, January 5, 1864, when Elsey Harrison, Jr. was born. Elsey Harrison, Sr. was dead by November 1872 when his brother-in-law, Hugh S. Stapp became administrator of his estate and guardian of Elsey, Jr. In the probate of Elsey, Sr.'s estate, Hugh S. Stapp sold the home on Block # 4, Tier # 1, to Samuel W. Fisher, son of Samuel Rhoads Fisher for $225.00. There was quite a disagreement over the sale of the house, but eventually the sale was finalized.

Samuel W. Fisher died September 15,1874 and his wife, Eliza Ophelia Smith Fisher sold the house to John T. Sargent December 24, 1875. There was a mistake in the conveyance to Elsy Harrison from John E. and Rebecca Fisher Perry on the deed for it was not Rebecca, but her mother who sold the home to Elsey Harrison.

In the storm of September 17, 1875, John T. Sargent lost his wife, Sarah Ann Hill Sargent and father George Sargent, along with their home on the ranch near Sargent, Texas. He and his five children moved into the big home that he bought from Elsey Harrison. His children were Fannie Putson Sargent, Sarah Ann Sargent, George Thomas Sargent, Mary Elizabeth Sargent and Josephine Sargent. To make sure they had the best education, he built a school room onto the house.

John T. Sargent's second wife was Jane Ann Bates. They were wed on August 31, 1881 and they had a child, Catherine Minna Sargent. The Sargents moved to Bay City March 25, 1906 when he sold the home to Gustave "Gus" L. Gottschalk. John T. Sargent died January 17, 1911 and was buried in Cedarvale Cemetery, at Bay City, Texas.

Gustave "Gus" Gottschalk, born 1856 in Matagorda, was the son of Conrad and Fronica Frettman Gottschalk. He married Annie Catherine Zipprian April 18, 1878 at Matagorda. Annie was the daughter of John and Catherine Zipprian.

Gus was a rancher by trade. Their children were Emma Gottschalk, Leila Gottschalk, Willie Gottschalk, Minnie Gottschalk, Arthur Gottschalk, Gus D. Gottschalk, Henry Gottschalk, Herbert Gottschalk, John C. Gottschalk and Bertha Gottschalk. Cousins of the family, Celia and Carrie Duke were raised in the house along with the ten Gottschalk children.

In his will dated April 20, 1929, Gustave Gottschalk willed the Fisher home to his daughter, Miss Bertha Gottschalk. When Bertha died, she willed the home to her nieces and nephews. Bertha Gottschalk died in 1972 and was also buried at Matagorda. Her nephew S. E. Gillmore, administrator, sold the house to Grady and Virginia Dansby, January 27, 1977.

When Grady and Virginia decided to restore the Fisher house, they thought two coats of paint was all the old house needed. They ended up putting five coats of enamel paint on the outside because it had been many years since the Fisher house had been painted.

The Dansby's were transferred from Matagorda and they sold the house to J. C. and Babe Stanley October 7, 1987.

Some call this house "The Fisher Home" others call it "The Old House" for it is the oldest house in Matagorda.

J. C. and Babe Stanley finished the restoration of the beautiful old house. There are several houses in Matagorda built in the 1840s, but the Fisher Home is the oldest and has been the home to thirty-three children.

The only change to the building since Samuel Rhoads Fisher built it, was the addition of the schoolroom and the removal of the chimney on the outside of the building when Gus Gottschalk had a new roof installed.

History of the "Old House
107 St. Mary's Street, Matagorda, Texas
Construction by Samuel Rhoads Fisher in 1832

The original structure of this home was completed in 1832 by Samuel Rhoads Fisher. It still stands after many floods, hurricanes, and ravages of nature, as one of the oldest--if not the oldest house in Matagorda.

The original foundation blocks were made of native materials including sea shells and oyster shells. The blocks are belled underground about 4 feet square and 6 feet deep. Cistern foundation blocks still stand on the North side of the building and the old one room school house foundation blocks are visible on the Southwest side of the house.

The original materials used for the building of this house were primarily of cyprus and cedar. The walls are three ply cyprus with one course of boards fastened vertically, another fastened horizontally and the other diagonally. This type of construction helped the "Old House" survive the many storms, tidal waves, and other abuses of the elements. Although repairs and replacements have been necessary to some of the structural components, much of the house is original. The wide inside trim with the hand-carved scroll work, the ceiling, flooring, and staircase have not been altered in any way. The chimney to the fireplace was blown down in one of the hurricanes to just below the roof line. A new rood was built over the top of the chimney which still extends into the attic. The fireplace box has been sealed with a wall, but plans are to restore the fireplace as a functional part of the house.

Many alterations and additions have been made through the years to enhance the utility and preserve the original concept.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher was born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania on August 14, 1794. He was a planter, a businessman and owned several schooners.

In 1829, Mr. Fisher submitted plans to a contractor in Philadelphia, Pa., to send materials and craftsmen to Matagorda to build a home for his family. Mr. Fisher sailed to Matagorda in 1830 to find no home, no contractor and no money.

He immediately hired ships carpenters and skilled wood-workers to build this house and it was completed in 1832.

At that time, Texas was under the control of Mexico. Mr. Fisher was busy increasing his land holdings and property. He set up a mercantile house and instituted a shipping business in Matagorda. He was most active in local affairs, particularly in Colonial Councils, whose interests were in obtaining independence for Texas from Mexican domination. He was a signer of the Goliad Declaration which was the first public move toward this independence. He was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention and an original signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. On October 26, 1836, President Sam Houston nominated him to be Secretary of the Texas Navy.

Mr. Fisher was a statesman and a Patriot, but was also inclined to use his position and power to his own ends. President Houston asked for his resignation in 1837. He was not charged with any crimes for his activities.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher was shot and killed on March 14, 1839. Albert G. Newton, who was charged with the murder, was acquitted on March 2, 1840. Mr. Fisher was buried in the Matagorda Cemetery.

The Fisher home is known as the "Old House." Mr. Fisher's heirs sold the home in 1875 to John Sargent. The 1875 Hurricane had demolished his home in Sargent, Texas. His wife and his father perished in the storm. (The town of Sargent, Texas, is named after John Sargent.) Mr. Sargent moved his children and housekeeper into the "Old House." He made improvements and added a wing to be used as a school room for his children as well as other Matagorda children. His housekeeper was appointed as their teacher. John Sargent remarried and his family lived in the house for the next twenty-nine years. His descendants grew into prominent citizens and were respected people in the Matagorda area.

In 1904 Gustave Gottschalk purchased the property and moved his family from their ranch house on Little Boggy Creek in to the "Old House." The home was known as the "Cool House" by this time. Even in sweltering summer days the house was reported to stay cool due to the type of construction, the location and the cool breezes from Matagorda Bay. The Gottschalk family and heirs resided in the home until 1979 when Grady and Virginia Dansby purchased the structure and began nine years of restoration and remodeling.

J. C. and Babe Stanley bought the house in October 1987, and are continuing with renewal and improvement projects.

And we, the Stanleys, as residents of this historic property at 107 St. Mary's Street are enjoying and preserving the legacy left to us by the former owners. In our family, the house is still referred to as the "Old House" as well as the "Cool House." Sometimes, late at night when the wind is howling and the weather is bad, we can go out on our upstairs balcony and hear the fog horns from the schooners and early brigs sailing through Matagorda Bay. We can also hear shouts from heroes of the Texas Revolution who are riding by to join Colonel Rugeley and General Sam Houston in their battle for freedom.

Our friends and guests are welcome to share this legendary home with we.

--J. C. and Babe Stanley

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Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Sep. 7, 2011
Dec. 26, 2015