The Family of Philip
and Eva Fisher
The Fisher family and friends. In the front row (kids right to left): Albert Anderson, Emma Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Ada Johnston, _, Florence Johnston, _, Edna Friday, _, _. In the second row (right to left sitting): Catherine Fisher Friday, Mary Fisher Anderson (holding her son William), Eva Fisher Gutbub, best man George Gutbub, groom Philip Fisher, bride Barbara Hufnagel, bridesmaid Bertha Colteryahn, Caroline Fisher, Helena Fisher Edwards, Margaret Fisher Fieck, Elizabeth Fisher Stumme, Barbara Colteryahn, Eve Hufnagel. Scattered throughout the crowd behind are Katherine Booth, James Anderson, Ann Johnston, Elizabeth Walter, Melvira Walter, Karl Freitag (Friday), George Feick and Tom Johnston. Standing with the water can is John Edwards showering the party with good blessings.
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The Fisher Family - Life in the New World
The above photo is from the wedding of Barbara Hufnagel and Philip Fisher, on June 30, 1898. The Fishers were one of Brookline's pioneer families. They owned a farm and a business on Edgebrook Avenue from the 1850s to the early 1900s. The family was a familiar presence in Brookline well into the late 1900s. Their story is one quite typical of the early Brookline settler, and the wedding of forty-one year old Philip was a sunny day in the life of this local clan.
The Fisher story began in 19th century Bavaria. In 1846, thirty year old Philip Fischer and his wife, twenty-six year old Eva Dewald Fischer, along with their daughters Eva and Caroline, came to America from Germany during the first big wave of immigration. They settled near Pittsburgh, in a section of West Liberty Borough locally known as Brookline. Philip acquired seventeen acres of land off of Edgebrook Avenue. The 'c' was dropped from the last name, and the Fisher's set about a fresh life in the new world.
Philip and Eva's family grew to ten with the addition of daughters Catherine, Elizabeth, Helena, Mary and Margaretha. They also had one son, Philip, their second youngest before Maggie, born in 1857. The family lived in a "clapboard" house that Philip constructed on the property, near the 2000 block of Edgebrook Avenue.
Many of Philip Fisher's seventeen acres were cultivated into farmland, and the family subsisted mainly on their crops and the abundant wild life that roamed the forested hills near the farm. Elder Philip was also an accomplished tailor, and had a small shop on the property where he perfected his craft. The daughters were all excellent seamstresses, and sold their quilts in the local markets.
In time, the seven daughters were married, including Mary, who in 1874 married James Anderson of Oakridge Street. James and Mary bought twenty acres of land from the old Hayes Farm in East Brookline and started the Anderson Farm, or Anderson's Acres, between Brookline Boulevard and Breining Street. That land eventually became what we know today as Brookline Memorial Park. The other girls and their husbands settled in or around the Brookline area.
The elder Philip Fisher passed away in 1882, and his wife Eva followed in 1890. Young Philip continued farming and passed the days working in his fields. Then, in 1898, he married his long-time sweetheart Barbara Hufnagel. The couple had one daughter, Marie, born in 1902.
In 1905, the population of Brookline began to surge, and the West Liberty Development Company made a big push to acquire many of the small local farms in East Brookline. Like most others in the area, Philip sold off several of his acres to be added to the growing residential lot plans.
The money received from the sale of the property made life a bit simpler for the family of three. The family had a new home constructed across the street on the high side of Edgebrook to replace the old "clapboard" house. After Philip Fisher passed away in 1915, most of the remaining acreage was sold off, providing support for Barbara and thirteen year old Marie. For additional income, Barbara accepted boarders into the large house.
Young Marie Fisher was quite a talented piano player, and by age sixteen was teaching lessons to a few youngsters in the local area.
After high school, Marie left the family home to attend the Chicago Musical College. She studied under Maurice Aronson, a well-known piano master. After her schooling was complete, Marie came back to Brookline and worked as an organist in the silent film industry. This is where she met her husband, Jim Daugherty, who was a projectionist. The two were married in 1929.
Marie and Jim had a new house constructed next to her mother's on Edgebrook in the early 1930s. Jim continued his work in the film industry and Marie began teaching private lessons full-time from the comfort of her new home. Marie's mom Barbara Hufnagel Fisher continued to live next door until her passing in 1942.
Marie Fisher Daugherty was also quite well-known within the religious community here in Brookline. For many years she was the organist at St. Mark Episcopal Lutheran Church on Brookline Boulevard and she also played at the Advent Episcopal Church on Pioneer Avenue.
Jim Daugherty passed away in 1954. Marie learned to drive and began teaching music part-time at various Pittsburgh Public Schools. In 1959 she sold the home on Edgebrook and moved to Woodbourne Avenue. For a few years she taught music at Brookline Elementary School, all the while continuing to tutor her private students at home.
In additon to her duties as church organist and full-time instructor, Marie was also a long-time member, officer and Past-President of the Piano Teachers Association.
After her retirement from formal teaching at Brookline Elementary, Marie continued teaching privately until the late 1980s. Marie Fisher Daugherty lived to the ripe old age of ninety-six, passing away in 1999.
This story was related by Miss Edna Engel, Marie Fisher Daugherty's younger cousin. Edna's grandmother was Catherine Fisher Friday (Freitag), one of the seven daughters of Philip and Eva Fisher. Edna has lived here in Brookline since 1992, when she moved in to assist Marie in her later years.
Edna reminisces fondly of her younger days coming to Brookline to visit her many relatives. She remembers taking the trolley with her mother and stopping at the Fairhaven stop, then walking up Glenbury to her Uncle Philip's home on Briggs Street. Then the foot-weary pair would hike the rest of the way to the top to visit with the Anderson's on Breining Street. Edna and her mom were frequent trolley travelers, and rode the rails to family destinations all over the Overbrook and Brookline area.
Many thanks to Edna Engel for sharing her memories and photos with us. The story of the Fisher family is another chapter in Brookline's history that should not be forgotten.
* Written by Clint Burton - September 24, 2004. Photos provided by Edna Engel *
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