Dr Melancthon William Fish

Dr Melancthon William Fish

Kortright Center, Delaware County, New York, USA
Death 22 Mar 1891 (aged 63)
Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Plot 33, Lot 18
Memorial ID 64756558 · View Source
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Melancthon W Fish, M.D. was born in New York and was a Physician who served in a number of government posts overseas before returning to serve as a doctor for the Union in the American Civil War.

Life in Michigan and Subsequent Education
In 1837, his father moved the Fish family from New York to Michigan where Melancthon would graduate from Wesleyan Seminary in Albion. In 1854, he graduated in medicine from Rush Medical College in Chicago.

Medical Missionary & US Vice-Consul in Shanghai, China
Records show he left New York around April 5, 1855 and arrived in Shanghai, China by boat with his first wife on the 3rd of August 1855 as a Medical Missionary for the Protestant Episcopal Church's Foreign Missions in Shanghai. During that time, he established a small clinic and dispensary. He would serve with them until around January 1, 1856 when he would leave to accept the office of Vice-Consul of the US to Shanghai.

First Wife: Juliet E Maitland & Child Juliet Emily Fish
Dr. Melancthon Fish's first wife was Juliet E Maitland. The couple traveled the world before settling in Shanghai, China. Between his time serving as Medical Missionary and the period of time following when he took the office of the US Vice-Consul in Shanghai, he and his wife Juliet would make Shanghai their home for about 6 years. During that time, Juliet became pregnant and died due to complications of childbirth around 1859. The baby girl she gave birth to survived and was named Juliet E Fish, after her mother.

Second Wife: Emily Augusta Maitland (Juliet's younger sister)
The same year, Juliet's younger sister Emily Augusta Maitland left her home in Albion, Michigan for Shanghai, China. She was a teenager, around the age of 16 and cared for her sister’s baby. Emily would marry her widowed brother-in-law Melancthon when she was just seventeen, and would become mother to her sister’s baby Juliet.

Return to the States & Civil War
The whole family returned to the United States in 1862 so that Dr. Fish could enlist in the Union Army.

Given his line of work, he was always close to battle lines. His wife Emily joined the Sanitary League (predecessor to the American Red Cross) and is said to have joined him as they moved from battle to battle, helping to tend to the wounded.

With the 16th Army Corps, Dr. Fish would see action at Vicksburg and Sherman's March to the Sea. He joined as a Surgeon and was Commissioned an officer in Company S, Missouri 11th Infantry Regiment. He mustered out on May 2, 1865.

Post-Civil War Life in California
Following the War, he was transferred to Benicia, California to serve at the Army Arsenal. Liking the area, he and his wife Emily decided to settle across the Bay - in Oakland - where he established a private practice. Dr. Fish and his family lived at 461 East 14th St.

Upon his resignation as Medical Inspector of the Army Corps, he accepted an appointment from The University of California as a Professor of Physiology and Microscopy in the Medical Department, located at the time in a newly established building at 3rd and Parnassus in San Francisco. He is also listed as the attending physician at Mills Seminary (presently known as Mills College.)

Involvement with Local Politics in Oakland, CA
Adding to his service in the political arena, Fish was also involved with local politics as a resident of Oakland. He served on the Oakland City Council (1877-1878) and later on the Oakland Board of Education - in 1889 and 1890, as President and 7th Ward, respectively.

Local newspaper articles (including the Oakland Tribune) also record mention of him as being under strong consideration for Oakland Mayor in 1888 though there are no records of him ever stating his desire or intent to run.

Involvement as Member and Leader in various Fraternal Societies
His membership in various fraternal societies included: The Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.); The Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (M.O.L.L.U.S.); General George H. Thomas Post, No. 2 Grand Army of the Republic; Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Orion Lodge, No. 189, Recording Secretary; Knights of Pythias; Knights of Honor, American Legion; Alameda County Medical Association, President (c 1876). He had also been an active member in the Champions of the Red Cross and Order of Chosen Friends.

He helped form the Grand Lodge A.0.U.W. of California, at Kohler's Hall, West Oakland, November 13, 1879 and was its first Past Grand Master Workman, and a few years later elected Supreme Master Workman of the order.

Died Suddenly, Large Funeral Attendance including Board of Education
Dr. Fish died of heart disease in 1891. The flags of all the Public Buildings and Schools across Oakland were flown at half-mast in his honor. Despite the rain on the day of his funeral, accounts of it described a large, heartfelt crowd:

In attendance at his funeral were members of the Oakland Board of Education; Brooklyn Lodge, No. 3, A.O.U.W.; Brooklyn Lodge, Knights of Pythias; officers of the Grand Lodge of A.O.U.W.; members of the Grand Army, Loyal Legion.

Pallbearers were: Dr. A. Fine, Oakland Board of Education; Dr. T. H. Pinkerton, Alameda County Medical Society; Professor Le Conte, [California] State University; friends L. G. Cole and F. J. French; Captain E. R. Merrimac, Loyal Legion; M. Prescott, Grand Army of the Republic; E. Bangle, A.O.U.W.; O. Whipple, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; E. H. Warren, Knights of Pythias; C. M. Nickles, Knights of Honor; W. T. Ramilton, American Legion.

Burial in Oakland's historic Mountain View Cemetery
Dr. Fish was buried in Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery on March 26, 1891. His grave is located in the Fish - Nichols Family Lot (Plot 33, Lot 18), alongside the following family members:

• his wife: Emily Augusta (MAITLAND) FISH
• his daughter: Juliet Emily (FISH) NICHOLS
• his daughter's husband / his son-in-law: Captain Henry Ezra NICHOLS
• his wife's maternal aunt: Jane (GALLOWAY) MONROE

Wife Emily & Daughter Juliet Became Lighthouse Keepers
After his death, his widowed wife Emily and their daughter Juliet would both become well-known for their service as lighthouse keepers on the coast of California. Emily served her appointment at Point Pinos Lighthouse (California’s oldest operational lighthouse) from 1893 until her retirement in 1914. Their daughter Juliet followed in her mother’s footsteps when she was widowed and became keeper of San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island Light and Fog Signal Station at Fort Knox in 1902.

biography written by a 4th great-niece of Dr. Fish. Updated as of 7/13/18.

Family Members



M. W. Fish M.D.


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  • Maintained by: Naomi Reagan
  • Originally Created by: Frank Passic, Albion Historian
  • Added: 27 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64756558
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Melancthon William Fish (20 Mar 1828–22 Mar 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64756558, citing Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by Naomi Reagan (contributor 48122527) .