Biographical Sketch of

George Fitch

Transcribed by Char Eckman

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara Counties, Wisconsin, published 1890 by Acme Publishing Co., Chicago, Pages 450 - 451 Hon. George Fitch, the present Senator for the 9th Wisconsin Senatorial District, and the junior member of the firm of Sacket & Finch, bankers of Berlin, was born in Glens Falls, Warren Co., N. Y., on Nov. 3, 1846, and is the son of Edward and Sarah (Roberts) Fitch. His father was born in Norwalk, Fairfield Co., Conn., and was of English Puritan descent. The Fitch family is one of the old historic families of America and boasts among its members and connections many men and women whose names bear honorable mention in the annals of their respective States. The name is of German origin, and the family history shows that Bocking, a village of Baintree, Essex Co., England, which is situated about forty miles northeast of London, and which was originally peopled by Flemish emigrants, was the home of Thomas Fitch, the progenitor of the American family. He had, if tradition is correct, five sons, three of whom are supposed to have died in their native land, while two, Thomas and Joseph, accompanied their mother to America after her husband's decease. Thomas and Joseph Fitch settled in Norwalk, Conn., about the year 1635. The former remained in that city, but Joseph removed to Norwich. Thomas Fitch was one of the forefathers of Norwalk and lived to extreme old age. His eldest son, Thomas, died in 1690. Thomas Fitch, the third of that name, son of Thomas Fitch, Jr., as he was designated in the old town records, but Capt. Thomas Fitch, as the court at the capital denominated him, was born in 1671. He was the King's Commissioner in Norwalk from 1691 to 1694, and the honored father, in 1699, of a son whose destiny it was to draft a new constitution for Yale College, and to frame laws which his Sovereign pronounced superior and to attain to the highest office in the colony. He had four children - Samuel, the Crown's Justice; Thomas, who became Governor of the Colony of Connecticut; James, Deputy to the General Assembly; and Elizabeth. Gov. Thomas Fitch was married in 1724 to Hannah Hall, and ten children were born to them - Col. Thomas Fitch, Jr.; Jonathan, Ebenezer, Hannah, Mary, Timothy, Hezekiah, Elizabeth, Esther and Giles. Col. Thomas Fitch was born in 1725, and was an important personage in the Colony. He was Lord George's Justice from 1761 to 1772, and in May, 1768, was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th Regiment and later was the senior Colonel, commanding sixteen Colonial regiments. Gov. Fitch was twenty years Chief Justice of the Connecticut Colony, and author of the best code of laws published in his day. Samuel M. Fitch, the maternal grandfather of George Fitch, whose name heads this sketch, married Esther Fitch, daughter of Timothy and granddaughter of Gov. Fitch, she being the second cousin of her husband. Their children were Betsy, who became Mrs. David Roberts; Edward, of Glens Falls, N. Y., and Samuel Marvin, of Norwalk. Samuel M. Fitch, Sr., died at the age of eighty-seven years and his wife when seventy-four years of age. Their son, Edward, was born in Norwalk, Conn., and married Sarah Roberts of the same State. She was born of Welsh parentage, and was reared under the auspices of the Society of Friends or Quakers. She was a woman of superior intellectual attainments, and possessed great energy and ambition, and her influence in her family for their good was felt and appreciated by husband and children, whose confidence and love she enjoyed to the day of her death. Edward Fitch removed in early life to Glens Falls, N. Y., where he was engaged in the lumber trade. The Fitch family is one of the oldest and largest in the United States, and numbers among its members citizens of high repute, among whom we may mention the Hon. Graham M. Fitch, M. D., of Indiana; Congressman Thomas Fitch, of Nevada; Lieut. Gen. Jabez, and Judge John Fitch, of Ohio; Lieut. Col. Fitch, of California; President Fitch, of Williams College; Judge Fitz-Gaines, and Drs. S. S. and Almeron Fitch, of New York; Col. Asa Fitch, of Connecticut; Major William Fitch, of New Haven, Conn., the Fitches of Fitchville; and the Norwich and Willimantic Fitches. In Colonial days they were classed among the most prominent families in New England. Major James Fitch contributed the nails and glass for the original Yale College; John Fitch was the inventor of the first steamboat, but Gov. Thomas Fitch was the most distinguished member of the family. George Fitch the subject of this sketch, received a common-school education, and when eighteen years of age went to New York City, where he was engaged in the fruit business. In 1871 he came to Berlin, Wis., and engaged in the lumber business with De Witt Palmeter, continuing in that line until September, 1876, when he sold out and formed the existing partnership with George B. Sacket in the banking business. (A history of the bank appears elsewhere.) He also became interested in cranberry culture on a large scale in partnership with De Witt Palmeter and Frank Stanley. They have 2,500 acres devoted to that use, partly in Winnebago and partly in Waushara counties. The company has invested more that $100,000 in improvements on their marsh, and have 400 acres of bearing vines. They have gathered as high as six thousand barrels of fruit of one crop, which was not more than two-thirds of the berries grown that season, one third of being lost. While the crop has never been an entire failure, there are seasons when the insects and early frosts greatly reduce the yield. With long experience Mr. Fitch thinks it is now certain that with their superior advantages for flooding the vines, that they can be very sure of a paying crop every season. He is interested in buying and selling pine lands, of which he and his partner handle large tracts. Mr. Fitch was married in Oshkosh, Wis., Feb. 15, 1992, the lady of his choice being Miss Helen P. Porter, daughter of Hon. Joseph Porter, an early settler and extensive lumber manufacturer of Wisconsin. The Porter family, of which Mrs. Fitch is a descendant, is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the country. Her ancestors joined the Massachusetts Colony in 1628, and were of the English Puritans. The name of Porter has always been conspicuous in the civil and military annals of America since that early day. Mr. and Mrs. Fitch is a Republican in politics, and has taken an active interest in the success of that party. He was elected Mayor of Berlin in 1885, serving one term, and in 1886, was elected State Senator to represent the 9th District, which comprises the counties of Green Lake, Portage, Waushara, and all of Marathon situated west of the Wisconsin River, except the part of the city of Wausaw that lies on the western bank. He was appointed and served as Chairman of the Committee on Railroads, one of the most important committees of the Senate, and won the approval of his constituents by the able manner in which he defended the rights of the people against the unjust demands of powerful corporations. Mr. Fitch enjoys an extensive acquaintance throughout the State, and is highly respected and esteemed for his ability, integrity and social qualities. He has been successful in his business enterprises, and is of well-known personal responsibility as are his partners. The banking house of Sacket & Fitch is held to be one of the solid financial institutions of the Fox River valley.

Transcribed by Char Eckman

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