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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


R. W. Fishel

Township Official

Honey Creek Township



Portrait R. W. FISHEL, an influential citizen of  Honey Creek township, Delaware county, is one of those men who somehow seem to have a control over their fellow citizens, and at times are sought by them to take public charge of their affairs. He was born in Hancock county, Ohio, August 29, 1837, but, at the age of twelve, came to Iowa with his parents, who settled in Delaware county. At the age of twenty years, Mr. Fishel left the farm of his father and went to Minnesota, located some land, passed one season there, but the same year returned to the home of his parents in Iowa, and never saw Minnesota again.  He was, however, somewhat  adventurous as well as ambitious, and in 1859 went to Pike's Peak, where he passed nearly a year of his life; then he returned home, stayed awhile, and then started off for the lead mines near Dubuque, Iowa, and remained in them one winter.

      April 19, 1861, in response to his country's call to arms, he gladly and willingly volunteered his services, for the short time that it was thought by the government it would require to suppress the great Rebellion. His enlistment was for ninety days in Company I, First Iowa infantry, but his services did not end at the expiration of that time, for his country had use for him still further, and he was still willing to yield to his country's demand. His next enlistment was in Company H, Twelfth Iowa, and in this he rendered service, full and faithful, until his discharge and pay at Nashville, Tenn., November 30, 1864, after having done army service, in all, three years and six months. It must be recorded, also, that Mr. Fishel was the first man to enlist from Delaware county, and that he raised himself from a private soldier, through his bravery and diligence, to the rank of first lieutenant; one hundred and four days under fire, during his service, entitling him to recognition as a soldier worthy of promotion, and his patriotism and devotion to his country are well deserving of the gratitude of his fellow citizens.

      On his return home, Mr. Fishel married Miss Annie C. Cole, who was born in Delaware county, Iowa, January 10, 1847. The father of this bride was born in New York State, and was named Liberty Cole; the lady whom he married bore the maiden name of Jane McClellan. The grandfather of Mrs. Annie C. Fishel was Captain Cole of the War of 1812, and both paternal grandparents were natives of Augusta, Oneida county, N. Y. In 1818 they moved to Lawrence county, Ind., floating down the river in a boat built by the grandfather. In that county these grandparents resided two years, and in that county the father of Mrs. Fishel was born. The family moved to Missouri in 1821, and there the grandfather of Mrs. Fishel died in 1833. In the spring of 1842 the son, L. W. Cole, came to Iowa and in the fall of 1843 married Miss Jane D. McClellan, daughter of Captain McClellan, a pioneer of Clayton county, Iowa, in what was then known as Prairie La Porte, but now as Guttenburg, settling there in 1840. Mrs. McClellan taught the first term of school in Prairie La Porte, and the second in Colesburg, Delaware county, and was a lady generally recognized for her great intellectuality. Captain McClellan gained his military rank in the War of 1812, and, as a native of Pennsylvania, served four terms in its house of  representatives.

      The parents of our subject were John and Sarah (McKinnis) Fishel, the former a descendant of an ancient German family, and the latter a daughter of Robert McKinnis, a Scotchman by birth, but an American warrior in the War of 1812. John Fishel was born in Westmoreland county, Pa., in 1805, and died April 6, 1880. Of the ten children born to John and Sarah Fishel, Philip is a farmer in Clayton county, Iowa, and is aged sixty-four; John is sixty-one and lives at Brownsville, Minn.; Charles, a resident of Nebraska, reared a family and died in 1878; Elizabeth, married, died in Missouri, in 1879; Robert W. is the subject of this memoir; Squire C. is a farmer and carpenter, and is a resident of Iowa Falls; Samuel K. is in Montana, in the employ of the government at Ft. McGinnis, as a scout; August Gustavus Adolphus is a resident of Honey Creek township, this county; Jacob lives in Clayton county, Iowa; and Catherine, the wife of a contractor and builder, who has his residence at Iowa Falls.

     To R. W. Fishel and wife have been born six children in the following order: Grace N., born October 5, 1866, and married to Samuel Weltderlin; Ada L, born April 29, 1868, and now the wife of Byron Smith; Jessie W.,  born  June 29, 1871, wife of Edward Frentress; Frank, born November 14, 1874; Sarah J., born October 14, 1880, and Robert G., born June 5, 1885.

     Mr. Fishel has held numerous public offices, among them that of township trustee, in which capacity he has served twelve years and  has yet three years to serve in an unexpired term. His fellow townsmen, having great confidence in his integrity, also elected him to the office of justice of the peace, but he declined to serve, much to the disappointment of his constituents and  the public in general. During the last census enumeration he accomplished the task of filling out the lists to the satisfaction of the government, and it will be borne in mind that this no easy task. In politics Mr. Fishel is republican, and under the auspices of the republican party has been placed in all the offices of honor and trust which he has held. For thirty-three years he has been an honored member of the I. O. O. F., and for twenty-five years a member of the Masonic order, and of the G. A. R. he has been a member twelve years.


~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 623-625; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson