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Joseph Fish

Birthplace: 12 Mile Grove, Near Joliette, Will county, Illinois, United States
Death: December 10, 1926 (86)
Enterprise, Washington, Utah, United States (Complications following a paraletic stroke)
Place of Burial: Enterprise, Washington, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Horace Fish and Hannah Fish
Husband of Elizabeth Jane Fish; Julia Ann Fish; Mary Campbell Fish and Adelaide Margaret Fish
Father of Franklin Richards Fish; Eliza Fish; Roland Woodruff Fish; Wilford Preston Fish; Florence Fish and 17 others
Brother of Julia Thompson; Sarah McGregor; Betsey Jane West; Anna Maria Burton and Franklin Richards Fish

Occupation: Farmer, Clerk, Attorney, President of the ACMI Store of Arizona, Historian and Bookkeeper. He had 4 wives and 20 children.
Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Joseph Fish

Joseph Fish, a High Councilor in the Snowflake Stake, Arizona, was born June 27, 1840, at Twelve Mile Grove, Will county, Illinois, the son of Horace Fish and Hannah Leavitt. Horace Fish was born Jan. 6, 1799, in Canada. The grandfather, Joseph Fish, was a native of New Hampshire, and was born April 17, 1770, a son of Nathan Fish, born in Massachusetts. The Fish family descended from English ancestry, but had long been identified with American history, and one of the name served under Captain Churchill in King Philip's war. Several members of his grandmother's family served in the colonial army during the Revolutionary War and fought under Morgan as sharp-shooters, assisting in the capture of General Burgoyne at Saratoga. One of his uncles (Joseph Fish) enlisted in the United States army during the war of 1812–15, but died soon after.

The boyhood days of Horace Fish were spent in Canada, where his father resided from early manhood until death; one branch of the Fish family resided in the State of New York. In 1836 the mother, Hannah Fish, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and shortly after the family with many relatives started to join the Saints in the west, but before gaining the object of their journey the Saints were driven out of Missouri, and the family located in Will County, Illinois, for a time. Here the subject of this sketch was born and the father Horace was baptized.

In the fall of 1840 the family moved to Nauvoo, where the father built a home in the eastern part of the city, rented lands from Bishop Edward Hunter, and worked for some time on the Temple. He went through the hardships that the people endured in building up that city and guarding against their enemies. When the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo came, the family followed, crossing the Mississippi May 1, 1846. Not having team or an outfit for moving, the journey across the State of Iowa was slow and attended with many hardships; they, however, reached the banks of the Missouri river, early in 1847, where they remained until the spring of 1850. Here Joseph, the subject of this sketch, was baptized by Brother Clark in June, 1849, and while here attended school for a period during the winter months.

In the spring of 1850 the family started for the Valley, traveling in the Milo Andrus' company, which was the first of that season. On arriving in the Valley they located at Centerville, Davis county. In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Utah Territory, the Fish family was listed as follows: Horace, 52, Hannah, 47, Jane, 14, Joseph, 10, Anna, 8, Franklin, 2. Horace was working as a farmer and his estate was valued at $225.00. Horace, Hannah and Jane were listed as being born in Canada, and Joseph and Anna in Illinois, and Franklin in Iowa.

Brother John C. L. Smith, who had married Sarah, the second daughter of the family, being called to settle in Iron county, the family moved to that place, starting in the fall of 1852; but storms came on so severe that they spent the winter at Provo and continued their journey in the spring of 1853. The family located to Parowan, Utah.

Horace Fish died July 6, 1870, at his daughter's home at Beaver, and was buried at Parowan. His wife, Hannah, passed away some six years later. They had six children, Julia, Sarah, Jane, Joseph, Anna Maria and Franklin R.

Joseph Fish was ordained an Elder by F. T. Whitney March 11, 1856; ordained a Seventy by W, C. McGregor February 22, 1865, and ordained a High Priest and set apart as a member of the High Council by Pres. Joseph F. Smith, March 14, 1869. He occupied the position of High Councilor most of the time since that period.

On March 22, 1859, he married Mary Campbell Steele, daughter of John and Catherine (Campbell) Steele. From Scotland, their native land, this family came to America and in 1846 enlisted with the Mormon Battalion. Turning off at Santa Fe they went to Pueblo and the next year entered Great Salt Lake Valley close behind the Pioneers. Mary Campbell Steele Fish died Dec. 11, 1874, leaving six children, four daughters and two sons.

On July 26, 1869, Joseph Fish married Eliza Jane Lewis, daughter of David and Elizabeth (Carson) Lewis. (Brother Lewis was one of the few survivors of the Hauns Mill massacre). Eliza never had any children of her own, but she merits a great reward for her devotion to her husband and the tender care and attention she gave to his children to whom she was even more than a mother. During Joseph Fish's residence in Parowan of twenty-five years he was engaged in a variety of labors, such as lumbering, farming, mercantile business, etc. Nor were his labors in the Gospel neglected. He often acted as teacher and labored in the Sunday school.

From 1865 to 1871, during the Indian campaigns, he was a member of the Utah militia, serving in the Tenth Iron County Regiment, commanded by Col. William H. Dame. At first he held commission as lieutenant, later being promoted to the rank of major and aide-de-camp to the colonel. While in the service he took part in a few skirmishes with the Indians.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Parowan, Iron County, Utah Territory, Joseph and his family were listed as: Joseph, 30, Mary C., 29, Eliza J., 17, (plural wife), Mary J., 10, Francis A., 8, Delphina D., 6, Joseph C., 4, and John L., 2 years old. Joseph was working as a clerk, Mary's occupation was listed as, "keeps school" and Eliza's as "keeps house", and all the children were "at home." Joseph's real estate was valued at $600 and his personal estate at $1,200. Joseph served a LDS Mission to the Eastern United States and Canada in November of 1872.

After studying law he was admitted to the bar in October, 1874, and served for some time as justice of the peace; he was also treasurer of Iron county for one term, and served as county clerk for some time. May 1, 1876, he married Adelaide Smith, daughter of Jesse Nathaniel Smith and Margaret Fletcher (West) Smith. By this marriage he had three sons. On December 3, 1878, he started to Arizona with a part of his family and in January, 1879, located at Snowflake; the same fall he returned to Utah for the rest of the family.

During the latter part of 1880 he was in charge of the commissary department for John W Young, contractor in building the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad through the western part of New Mexico and eastern Arizona. In 1881 he became connected with the Arizona Co-operative Mercantile Institution (helping to start that business); this claimed most of his time ever since, with the exception of some four years spent in Mexico and in the Gila Valley.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Snowflake, Apache County, Arizona, Joseph was living with his family listed as: Joseph, 39, Eliza Jane, 26, Catharine, 15, Joseph C., 13, John L., 11, and Jessie M., 8 years old. Living next door was his plural wife, Margaret Adelaide Smith Fish, 23, and her two children with Joseph, Horace N., 2, and Silas S., 4 months old. Joseph was working as an attorney

On April 19, 1883, he married Julia Ann (York) Reidhead. The fruits of this marriage were eleven children; five of them, however, died while infants. On account of the persecutions that the Saints underwent in 1884, Elder Fish and many others went to Mexico, where he remained a year, then returned and resumed his labors in the store at Holbrook. In 1893, with a part of his family, he went to the Gila Valley, where he entered into the mercantile business with I. E. D. Zundel.

While there he was elected on the Republican ticket, a member of the house of the eighteenth Arizona legislature, and while in that body served as chairman of the committee on irrigation and a member of the judiciary and ways and means committee. While in the Gila Valley he also visited the different settlements as a home missionary.

In 1896 he returned to Holbrook where he again took up the job of bookkeeping for the firm (Arizona C.M.I). In 1905 he and others were arrested for living with their wives in polygamy, but through the clemency of Judge Robert E. Sloan, they were permitted to send in the fine of $100 without appearing in court; this saved much expense and annoyance. When the Eastern Arizona Stake was organized, he was chosen a member of the High Council. At the organization of that Stake he was also chosen Stake Recorder, a position he held until he moved to the Gila; in this labor he gathered up considerable historical data.

In 1896 he began the collection of data for a historical work on Arizona, and later all works and items treating upon the early history of the Rocky Mountain region (down to 1850) that fell in his way were gathered up (nearly 400 volumes of books and magazines). From this collection and great numbers of letters, interviews, etc., he had written a history of Arizona which contains about 700 pages of typewritten matter, but as he lacks the means to get it published, the work may never be presented to the public.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Woodruff, Navajo County, Arizona Territory, Joseph, 60, was living with his fourth wife, Julia A., 35, and children Roland W., 12, Wilford P., 8, Hannah, 4, and Adalaide, 3 months old. Julia had given birth to nine children, four of whom were still living. Joseph was working as a clerk and owned his own home free from a mortgage.

About 1902 he commenced on a work which he entitled, "The Pioneers of the Rocky Mountains." This he estimated would take ten years of his spare time; he has already about 800 pages written.

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Joseph, 69, and Eliza, 56, were living in Woodruff, Navajo, Arizona. Joseph was working as a bookkeeper and Eliza was running a rooming house. Living next door was their son, Roland W., 22, and his wife, Susie A., 20, and their one month old daughter, Merle. Roland was working as a house carpenter.

By the 1920 U.S. Census, Joseph had moved back to Enterprise, Washington County, Utah. They were listed as: Joseph, 79, and Eliza, 66, and were living with Julia, 55, and children Jesse L., 16, and Delma, 12. Joseph was still listed as a carpenter even at the advanced age of nearly 80 years old! No one else in the home was working.

A 1925 U.S. City Directory shows that Adelaide S. Fish (widow of Joseph Fish) was living in Salt Lake City, Utah, at 212 Sharon Street, but of course, Joseph did not pass away until the following year in 1926 at the age of 86 years old on December 10, while living in Enterprise. His widow, Julia, was listed in a 1941 U.S. City Directory living at 460 N. 6th West, Provo, Utah.


From another website: The Life and Times of Joseph Fish, Mormon Pioneer....,%20Joseph%20Journal.pdf

From another website:

Joseph Fish was among the early settlers of Iron County, Utah; Snowflake, Arizona; and the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. He was mostly self-educated, but well educated. He was a storekeeper, newspaper editor,school teacher, attorney, justice of the peace, lawyer, surveyor, territorial legislator, and historian. His writings have long been valuable resources for later historians and genealogists in researching life in the early days of white settlement of the West. Above all, he was a moral man with solid character. [from Blaine Nay]

His writings include History of the Eastern Arizona Stake, History of Enterprise, Utah, a 7 volume work on the Pioneers of the Southwest and the Territory of Arizona. All of these volumes plus his autobiography are available on


Mary Josephine Fish Barraclough (1860 - 1923)


Frances Amelia Fish Kocher (1862 - 1940)


Catherine Delfina Fish Smith (1864 - 1934)


Joseph Campbell Fish (1866 - 1904)


Jessie May Fish Lee (1872 - 1911)


Hannah Fish Bushar (1896 - 1987)


Julia Maria Fish (1898 - 1899)


Jesse Lewis Fish (1903 - 1973)


Delma Fish Alger (1908 - 1989)



Mary Campbell Steele Fish (1840 - 1874)


Eliza Jane Lewis Fish (1853 - 1940)


Adelaide Margaret Smith Fish (1857 - 1927)


Julia Ann Reidhead Fish (1865 - 1951)

His headstone reads: "With Zeal He Builded Homes In The Wilderness. By Integrity He Builded Ideals and Character. He Chronicled The Events As They Happened When The West Was Young And Unsubdued."

According to his death certificate, his mother was born in Vermont, and his father in Hatley, Canada, and two of his wives names were listed on the certificate, Eliza Jane Lewis and Julia Ann Riedhead. The informant on his death certificate was his daughter, Hannah Fish Bushar.

Per the Utah Veterans with Federal Service Buried in Utah, Territorial to 1966, Joseph Fish was shown to have served in the Utah Territory Militia during the Black Hawk War. A U.S. Civil War Pension Index Card shows that in 1917 Eliza Jane Lewis Fish applied for his pension and stated that Joseph served after the Civil War in 1866 as a Private in Capt. Jas. Anderson's Co., Utah Militia, and was a Private under Capt. Jos. Bettespon's Company of the Utah Militia, and was also a Major in S.S. Smith's Company of Utah Volunteers in 1867.

Joseph Fish was among the early settlers of Iron County, Utah; Snowflake, Arizona; and the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. He was mostly self-educated, but well educated. He was a storekeeper, newspaper editor,school teacher, attorney, justice of the peace, sawyer, surveyor, territorial legislator, and historian. His writings have long been valuable resources for later historians and genealogists in researching life in the early days of white settlement of the West. Above all, he was a moral man with solid character. [from Blaine Nay]

His writings include History of the Eastern Arizona Stake; History of Enterprise, Utah; a 7 volume work on the Pioneers of the Southwest and the Territory of Arizona. All of these volumes plus his autobiography are available on

He married four wives in polygamy: Mary Campbell Steele, Eliza Jane Lewis, Adelaide Margaret Smith and Julia Ann Reidhead and had 20 children.

Children with Mary were: Mary Josephine, Frances Amelia, Catherine Delphina, Joseph Campbell, John Lazelle and Jessie May.

He had no children with Eliza.

Children with Adelaide were: Horace Nathaniel, Silas Leavitt and Joseph Smith.

Children with Julia were: Franklin Richards, Eliza, Roland, Wilford Preston, Florence, Zelma, Hannah, Julia Maria, Adelaide, Jesse Lewis and Delma.

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Joseph Fish's Timeline

June 27, 1840
Near Joliette, Will county, Illinois, United States
March 11, 1860
Age 19
Parowan, UT, United States
Age 19
October 4, 1861
Age 21
April 12, 1862
Age 21
Parowan, Iron, Utah, United States
Age 21
June 29, 1864
Age 24
Parowan, Iron, Utah, United States
November 4, 1866
Age 26
Parowan, Iron, Utah, United States
October 28, 1868
Age 28
Parowan, Iron County, Utah, United States