Julia and Herman Fischer Family | Archival Collections at Wheaton College
Herman Augustus Fischer, Sr. was born on September 6, 1846. One of ten children born to Heinrich Dietrich Fischer and Anna Martha Franzen, both immigrants from Germany, Herman spent his early years in Addison, Illinois. Herman Fischer, Sr. attended Wheaton College and graduated in the class of 1870. During his undergraduate career, he formed a close friendship with Charles A. Blanchard, son of Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard. After graduation, Herman taught for a short time at Wheaton Academy, and then began what would be over fifty years of professorship at Wheaton College in the fall of 1872. Herman Fischer, Sr. served the college as professor of both mathematics and German, in addition to acting as the college treasurer. He was deeply committed to the success of Wheaton College. During the its early years and through its severe financial difficulties, Herman Fischer spent a great deal of time and effort raising money, traveled around the country to recruit new students and even invested a good sum of his own money into the institution.
As a professor at Wheaton College, Herman Fischer, Sr. fell in love with Julia Waters Blanchard, the president’s daughter and a student at the time. They were married on her graduation day in 1875 and sailed to Heidelberg, Germany for their honeymoon. Herman and Julia spent two years in Germany, during which Herman studied at the universities in Heidelberg and Leipzig. Back in Wheaton, Herman and Julia Fischer immersed themselves in the community life. In addition to their strong connections with Wheaton College (Herman continued as a professor there), both were involved in the Sunday School movement, temperance and prohibition causes and were active members of College Church. They lived most of their married life in a house they built in 1876, located at 808 S. Michigan St. in Wheaton, Illinois. Herman and Julia Fischer had twelve children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood and one girl (the eleventh child) who died at age two. The surviving children grew up in Wheaton, and all but one attended Wheaton College, which at the time was not an accredited institution. Many eventually furthered their education at other universities.
Faith Avery Fischer was born in Heidelberg, Germany in 1876, the only one of the Fischer children to be born outside of Wheaton. After Wheaton College, she had some schooling in Northampton, MA, before marrying Nicholas L. Johnson. The two lived in Batavia, Illinois and had four children.
Paul Blanchard Fischer was one of the more colorful characters of the Fischer family. After his time at Wheaton College, he attended Harvard University, graduating in 1904. He was married that summer to Caroline Robinson. It was around this time that he had what he called a “crisis of faith” and went through many trials about which he wrote in letters to his family. He and Caroline moved to California where he worked in law and real estate. Paul became very involved in a mission in Oakland, founded by a rather extreme religions sect, and devoted great amounts of time to it. Caroline left him in 1908, and there was concern in the family that he had become mentally insane. The couple was reunited for a time in 1909, and then permanently in 1911. Paul and Caroline had two children.
Frederic Louis Fischer, born in 1880, also attended Harvard, graduating from the Harvard Law School around 1906. He married Clara Hathaway in 1906, and they moved to California for a time, during the first years of Paul’s residence in that same area. Fred and Clara moved back to Massachusetts in 1908, where Paul began work as a lawyer in Boston. Sadly, in 1919, Clara experienced a severe health crisis, possibly some kind of a stroke, which left her unable to move or speak for close to two years. After Clara’s death, Frederic married again in the late 1930s to Madelene Robertson. There were four children from the first marriage, and two from the second.
Herman Arthur Fischer, Jr. was born in 1882. After his years at Wheaton College, he obtained a position teaching high school in Wabash, Indiana, where he remained from September 1903 to May 1905. Later that year, Herman was enrolled at Harvard Law School. After his graduation, he returned to Wheaton and distinguished himself as a lawyer and an active community member. Herman maintained his ties with Wheaton College, serving on the Board of Trustees for many years.
Charles Albert Fischer was born in 1884. After graduating from Wheaton, he traveled, studied and worked along the West coast in California and Washington. Charlie settled down to teach mathematics at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He married Matilda (Tillie) Nylen in 1914 and the couple had three children. Charlie died suddenly after an operation in 1922.
Ernest William Broeckelmann Fischer spent much of his adult life on the west coast. He traveled to Washington around the year 1903 and spent several years teaching in Yakima, taking at least two years to attend classes at Claremont College in California. The only Fischer child to not attend Wheaton College, Ernest graduated from Pomona College in 1911 and began a teaching career at Chaffey Union High School in Upland, California. He was very athletic, running in various track meets and races, and was also skilled in architecture and planning. He married Harriet Robinson in 1916 and five children came from the marriage. Ernest designed and built all the houses in the neighborhood in which they lived, and his parents lived in one during an extended vacation in the early 1920s.
Edward George Fischer attended Harvard Law School, beginning around 1913. During his studies, and for some time after, he worked as a private tutor to various younger students. This afforded him opportunity to travel some, and he was even able to spend a year abroad in Europe with one family. He graduated and began work at the Boston Legal Aid Society as a lawyer in 1916. Edward enjoyed singing, and was active in several different church choirs. He married Esther Braun in 1924 and had one daughter.
Harriet Julia Fischer, after her education at Wheaton, spent a year at Harvard, and then moved to California, where she lived with her brother Ernest. She began teaching at a high school in 1912, but had a difficult time. She decided to become a missionary in 1913, and left for Turkey in October of that year. Harriet worked at a Christian mission and school there. By 1915, she was engaged to Paul Nilson, who along with his family was also active in missions work in Turkey. Paul returned to the States in 1915, attending Hartford Theological Seminary and promoting missions. Harriet, because of need at the mission and obstacles caused by the World War, was delayed but returned in 1917. She and Paul were married in 1918, and returned to Turkey. They had eight children, the first four of who died in early childhood.
Mary (May) Eleanor Fischer, after graduating from Wheaton, began a lengthy teaching career. She began in Provo, Utah in 1916, and the following year went to a school in Mt. Carroll, Illinois. She eventually began teaching at John Marshall High School in Chicago, and remained there for thirty years.
Ruth Ethelwyn Fischer, born in 1898, was called Ethelwyn by her family and friends. She was often ill, having recurring bouts with sickness that sometimes left her incoherent, causing the family a great deal of worry. She graduated from Wheaton College and lived in that city for much of her life.
Raymond Phillip Fischer, the last of the twelve, was born in 1900. He spent some time in California in 1921, and then followed in the footsteps of several of his brothers, beginning at Harvard in 1922. Raymond married Marita McMillan sometime in the 1930s and the couple had one child.