Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

The Fisher Family DNA Project

Wick's World


I went to a website called the Fisher Family DNA Project that used haplotypes for researching relatives. I looked for the name of an infamous descendent of mine ­— one Joseph Fischer, the nephew of Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia. Frederick the Great was nicknamed by the people “Old Fritz.” During the reign of “Der Alt Fitz,” he became the most powerful military muscle in all of Europe.

The information I acquired from my family tree shows King Frederick married to Joseph Fischer’s aunt. Despite that, it was widely rumored Old Fritz was a homosexual who took on many lovers. Even though King Frederick was a brilliant military leader, his father referred to him as a sissy who spent too much time studying literature, poetry and music. Dad wanted his son, whom he referred to as “the effeminate chap” to spend more time hunting and riding. Rather, Frederick became a gifted musician who endured his father’s bloody beatings. Later in life this had a bearing on how Frederick the Great treated his subjects. He was known to “strike men in the face with his cane and kick women in the street, justifying his outbursts as religious righteousness.”

My ancestor, Joseph, shared many of the same wicked traits as Old Fritz, who was not as beloved as the nickname may imply. According to my family history, Joseph Fischer was a rich and powerful land baron who would often survey his large fiefdom, routinely riding his steed and whipping the men and women working his fields. His son, Vit, despised his father’s conduct. At an early age Vit began drinking, gambling and cavorting with the Gypsies.

After getting a young girl pregnant, Joseph shipped his vagabond son off to America. By the time Vit’s train reached Iowa, he had gambled away a small fortune. Finding himself in the middle of America, hung over and dead broke, Vit returned to Prussia. Joseph re-stocked Vit’s wallet for the last and final time with instructions that essentially said, “Don’t come home.”

Vit never did return to Prussia. He began his American life in the wheat fields of Kansas and eventually migrated toward the Missouri River. My ancestors followed the Big Muddy to Niobrara, Nebraska, then Pickstown, South Dakota, where my father was born. A short jaunt upriver landed my grandfather, Joseph Charles “Charlie” Fisher, his wife Etta Eva “Babe” Fisher and their children Donald, Marion and my father, Oral Fisher, in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Grandpa was a carpenter and for many years Babe worked at the famous Derby Café. Donald and Oral owned Fisher Brothers Construction Company, building many house and businesses that remain in Chamberlain to this day.

Back to the Fisher DNA website; I wanted to see if I could possibly find my ancestor, Joseph, or his son, Vit Fisher. Only males have a Y-chromosome. A Y-DNA analysis testing the Y-chromosome of males results in a series of numbers, which are called a haplotype. If I compare my haplotype with people with the same last surname, Fisher vs. Fisher, I can find out if I am related to or descended from that lineage. Pretty cool stuff.

As I perused the first page, I noticed most of the Fischers/Fishers were from England or Germany. One listing stood out amongst the Fischers: Bohemia. The listing was for a Veit Fischer, born 11 June 1817, in Petrovice, Bohemia, Czech Republic. It was a complete match with my records. I had immediately found Vit Fisher! I accidentally stumbled upon my ancestor Vit's haplotype on Saturday, June 11. It was his 199th birthday!

My next step is to pay a website to test my DNA sequence to see if I match Vit’s string of “I-P37, 13, 25, 17, 10, 11, 13, 12, 14, 11, 31.” One of the downsides to research such as this is it only follows the DNA patterns of the male lineage. If your numbers do not match up, it pretty much means one of your grandmas along the line was unfaithful to grandpa.

Eventually Veit became Vit and Fischer became Fisher. I know this for a fact because one day while standing in the middle of a street in Norfolk, Nebraska, a stranger walked up to me and asked why I was taking pictures of the old butcher shop from the 1800s. I told him my great-uncle, Tony Fisher, who later moved to Chamberlain, once owned the business. He asked me if I would follow him to his house one block away. We searched for a few minutes along the weeds beside his garage. He picked up a broken corner of a tombstone that was inscribed “Vit Fisher, Born June 11, 1817, Petrovice, Bohemia.” That is a whole other story.


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