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La Salle Local History

Introduction

Wakefield etchingThe "Wakefield" mansion was built for Sarah and Thomas Fisher in 1798, at the northeast corner of Ogontz and Lindley Avenues. It was owned by four generations of the Fisher family up until 1918, when ownership was transferred to the City of Philadelphia.  The house was destroyed by fire in 1985. Descendants of Sarah and Thomas Fisher built two other houses upon their land (now La Salle University's South Campus), "Little Wakefield" and "Waldheim," and purchased the "Belfield" property from Charles Willson Peale.

Read more about the Wakefield estate in La Salle’s Digital Commons. 

Pictured: Pennell, Joseph. Wakefield-Fisher's Lane. 1882. Etching. Collection of La Salle University Art Museum.

Sarah Logan Fisher

Sarah Logan Fisher (1751-1796), daughter of William Logan and Hannah Emlen, married prominent Philadelphia merchant Thomas Fisher (1741-1810) in 1722. Her brother Dr. George Logan inherited Stenton in 1776. Sarah and Thomas built their house known as “Wakefield” on the northeast portion of the Stenton grounds in 1798. Sarah recorded the details of family’s life in multiple volumes of diaries. The manuscript diaries are maintained by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. See also the Logan-Fisher-Fox family papers and related material at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. According to her son William Logan Fisher's written account, "Sarah Logan died in the year 1795. During several of the latter years of her life, her health was feeble. She was a devoted wife and mother. My parents married in the year 1771; their children were Joshua, Hannah, William, James, Esther, and two others who died in infancy." 

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Sarah Logan Fisher

Thomas Fisher

William Logan Fisher

William Logan Fisher portraitWilliam Logan Fisher (1781-1862), son of Sarah Logan and Thomas Fisher, was an industrialist and author of religious tracts. He was raised at the “Wakefield” estate. William Logan Fisher married Mary Rodman (1781-1813), daughter of prominent New England Quaker Samuel Rodman (1753-1835). He came to inherit the Wakefield estate from his father in 1807, where the family would live with their children, Thomas Rodman Fisher (1803-1861), Sarah Logan Fisher (1806-1891) and Elizabeth Rodman Fisher (1810-1891). Mary Rodman Fisher died in 1813 at the age of 32. William was remarried in 1817 to Sarah Lindley.

In 1826, his daughter Sarah Logan Fisher married William Wister at "Grumblethorpe." William Logan Fisher bought the “Belfield” estate from Charles Willson Peale’s family in 1826, and Sarah and William Wister would come to raise their family of six sons there.

Read a biographical essay on William Logan Fisher in La Salle’s Digital Commons. 

Works in La Salle’s Connelly Library 

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Pictured above: Street, Robert. William Logan Fisher (1781-1862). 1833. Oil on canvas. Gift of Michael T. Fox, Collection of La Salle University Art Museum.

Published accounts of the Fishers at Wakefield

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Sarah Lindley Fisher

Sarah Lindley Fisher portraitSarah Lindley Fisher (1785-1865), daughter of Quaker ministers Jacob and Ruth Anna Lindley of Chester County, Pennsylvania, married William Logan Fisher in 1817. They had three children; Lindley (1818-1852), Charles William (1820-1857), and Mary Rodman Fisher (1822-1903). Mary Rodman married Samuel Fox (1821-1869) in 1849. According to an account by Ella Wister Haines in her “Reminiscences of a Victorian Childhood,” after the death of Elizabeth Rodman Fisher (who never married):

“’Wakefield’ became the property of Aunt Mary, who had married Samuel Fox of Foxburg, Clarion County, Pa. At this time they resided in Philadelphia, in their huge house at Broad and Pine Streets with their daughter, our beloved cousin Hannah. Her son, Joseph Mickle Fox and his wife, Cousin Emily [Emily Anne Read], with their four children soon took over “Wakefield.” Subsequently the property was deeded over to the City of Philadelphia as a park, the house becoming the responsibility of the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter II, Philadelphia.” 

The Logan-Fisher-Fox family papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania contain extensive material from the lives of William Logan and Sarah Lindley Fisher.

The Fox family papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania include diaries of Mary Rodman Fisher and her grandfather Thomas Fisher. 

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Pictured above: Street, Robert. Sarah Lindley Fisher (1785-1865). 1833. Oil on canvas. Gift of Michael T. Fox, Collection of La Salle University Art Museum.

Wakefield Mills

Among William Logan Fisher’s industrial ventures was the establishment of Wakefield Manufacturing Company, a woolen mill, which he started in 1815 with his wife's uncle Thomas Rotch (1767-1823). The mill operated on land surrounding the Wingohocking Creek, at the corner of Belfield and Logan Streets (formerly Fisher’s Lane). The continuing success of the mill is attributed to his son, Thomas Fisher (1802-1861), who is credited for bringing knitters together at the mill, and thus creating the "first knitting factory in America" (Butler, "Three Centuries on the South Campus," 1998.)

The cover of Germantowne Crier, Vol. 8, No. 3 (September 1956), showing "Fisher’s Mills."