Contra Costa County











            Fifty years have come and gone since Charles Fish identified himself with the pioneers of Martinez, and from that time to this he has been associated with the progress of the town.  Though business interests often have called him elsewhere, he has never severed his connection with Martinez and has never ceased to regard it as his home.  During the long period of his residence in California he has witnessed the remarkable evolution of this state from a frontier region to one of the greatest commonwealths of our nation.  Prices have fluctuated during this period.  There have been booms and depressions, eras of prosperity and seasons of discouragement, but while success never unduly elated him, yet panics and failures were not allowed to lessen his courage or his faith in this country’s future, and he has lived to see the wisdom of his judgment verified in the permanent prosperity that has come to this region.

            Batavia, N. Y., is Mr. Fish’s native town, and October 24, 1818, the date of his birth.  His parents were Libbeus and Polly (Holcomb) Fish, descendants of colonial settlers of New England, and the former was a son of Lieut. Josiah Fish.  During October of 1834 Charles Fish secured a clerkship in the store of Foote & Beebe at Batavia.  After six months there he was transferred to a store at Caryville owned by the same firm.  During his six months there he was paid $6 per month and board.  In April, 1837, he went to Gallatine, Miss., as clerk for a brother, Josiah Fish, who paid him $50 for a time and later raised his wages to $80 per month.  In the fall of 1838 he was sent to Monticello, Miss., to take charge of a branch store.  With $1,000 accumulated during this period, in the fall of 1842 he embarked in business with W. D. Larkin, whose interest he purchased in May of 1843. After conducting the business alone for about ten years, in January of 1853 he sold out and started for California, arriving in San Francisco on the last day of March. Without any delay he secured work in a store owned by Jerry Ford in that city. June of 1854 found him in Martinez, where he is now on of the oldest surviving pioneers.

            After having charge of a warehouse on Walnut creek for a few months, in July of 1855 Mr. Fish acquired an interest in the concern, in connection with his brother, Lafayette I. Fish.  For eleven years he continued in this partnership, after which he sold his interest.  With his brother he acquired large tracts of land, which were operated by tenants.  He assisted in the organization of the Martinez bank and became one of its directors.  From 1880 to 1882 he was a member of the firm of Blum & Fish and then at other periods he maintained an interest in the grain business.  He still owns five hundred acres in Fresno county, where in an early day he and his brother purchased some three thousand acres.  Not alone on account of his age and his identification with the pioneer history of the place, but also by reason of his acknowledged ability and business sagacity, he has attained a leading position among his fellow-citizens, and although he no longer identified himself with business, his advice is often sought in matters of importance and he keeps in close touch with every enterprise affecting the prosperity of his community.

            The marriage of Mr. Fish in 1876 united him with Mary Elizabeth Grimes, who was born in Bethany, Genesee county, N. Y., and reared in Erie county, that state, her parents being William and Elizabeth (McCullough) Grimes.  Born of their union were four children, of whom Eli is deceased.  Those now living are Charles Stanley, Grace Emily and Blanche Ellen.  Charles Stanley Fish, who was born July 2, 1877, received the appointment from the board of supervisors in March, 1904, as commissioner in charge of the Contra Costa county exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis.  The family occupys an attractive residence erected by Mr. Fish on an eminence overlooking the city of Martinez, the surrounding valley and the bay in the distance, the whole forming a charming scenic environment for the comfortable home.  Although Mr. Fish has attained an age reached by few, he retains the full possession of his mental attributes and enjoys a degree of health as unusual as it is gratifying.  His adopted town owes much to his progressive spirit and broad-minded citizenship, and in the annals of the place his name will ever be remembered and cherished with pride.




Transcribed Joyce Rugeroni.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 333-334. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2015  Joyce Rugeroni.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library