This mystery opens up with a general search on Ancestry.com for Elisha L Fisher. A birth record for a child, born in 1908, Daviess County, Indiana, comes up with Elisha L Fisher listed as father. It would be easy to disregard this document because nowhere in the known family history has a child by this name been recorded. Investigating the birth record further shows some interesting things. The occupation of Elisha is given as school teacher who was born in Indiana. Our Elisha L. Fisher was a school teacher born in Indiana. Our Elisha was born one county over from Daviess County and while there are other Elisha Fishers in Indiana during this time period, none of them have the middle initial ‘L’, none of them were school teachers, and none of them were living in this area. One could conclude that the father listed in this birth record is our Elisha L. Fisher. Elizabeth Dillon is listed in the 1910 census as living in Madison Township, Daviess County… a very short distance from Bogard Township, Daviess County where the child was born. Except that the mother is not Elizabeth Dillon and the birth is recorded as illegitimate.
Charles Howard Fisher was born December 2, 1908 to Elisha L Fisher and Martha Wilkey. Martha, age 21, was a domestic residing in Bogard Township. Elisha’s whereabouts was unknown at time of birth. Martha and Charles are listed in the 1910 census, both using the last name of Wilkey. Martha married Timothy Critchlow shortly after the census was taken and Timothy adopted Charles, giving him the last name of ‘Critchlow’. Martha and Timothy spent the majority of their marriage living in Topeka, Kansas.
Many questions arise from this discovery. Did Elisha Fisher know of his son and if he did, did he willingly give him up for adoption? Did Martha Wilkey just put Elisha’s name on the birth record knowing he wasn’t around to dispute it, just so it wasn’t left blank? We may never know the entire story or the circumstances surrounding the birth of Charles Howard Fisher Critchlow, as all the pertinent members have gone to their graves and the information they held, with them. Anything that comes out now is second-hand or hearsay. It is not ours to judge. The past is what it is. Heal and move forward.
**I have been in contact with the family of Charles Howard Critchlow’s son, Garry. They agree that given the birth record information and the known information they have, our Elisha L Fisher is probably Charles’ birth father. If at some point in the future their curiosity gets the better of them and they want to know without a doubt, then they can be tested for DNA. Two of our family members have already been tested that a potential match could be made. In the meantime…
we have been given the gift of more family.