Hélène Gregoroffsky Fisher

c. 1789-90
Born at Moscow; niece of General Alexander Focke, who distinguished himself at the Battle of Beresina.

Hélène orphaned at a young age.
She is taken under the care (patronage) of Mrs. Kremer and raised within the Kremer family.
She speaks Russian, French, German and English fluently.

"Mr. K[remer] is a German, who has been long settled as a merchant in St. P[etersburg]. and is married to a Russian Lady. The language of the House is English, tho the whole family speak Russian and German. They have been always remarked for their hospitality to the English and Americans. Mr. K[remer]'s partiality is on the side of England in her controversy with America. And this is the prevailing sentiment in St. P[etersburg]."
James A. Bayard

Miers Fisher, Jr., b. Sept. 25, 1786; d. June 6, 1813. Early in his twenty-first year he sailed as supercargo to Cadiz, Spain. Arrived at St. Lucca, Spain, Jan. 28, 1808, the British fleet blockading the port of Cadiz. The result of the voyage was fortunate. Left Cadiz for Havana June 12, 1808; landed there July 17, and arrived in New York in November of that year. During his detention in Havana he was extremely ill with yellow fever and was the only one of five foreigners who recovered. From Havana he wrote to his father, "I have learned a good deal how to take care of myself and depend upon my own exertions, to put up with difficulties in every kind of situation. Care, which we all have our proportion of, is now become more familiar to me than formerly. I have had a good share of anxiety since I left the advice and protection of a beloved father." In April 1809, he sailed a supercargo to Russia. In the middle of June the brig was captured by Danish privateers and taken to Christiansand; left there October 3, and arrived at Cronstadt on the 22d, just before the closing of the river Neva.
The voyage was successful, and he did not return with the vessel, but remained in St. Petersburg, established the mercantile house of Miers Fisher & Co., and had a prosperous business until the invasion of Russia by Napoleon [June 1812].
Anna Wharton Smith, The Genealogy of the Fisher Family, 1682-1869 (1869).

Hélène married Miers Fisher Jr. at St. Petersburg.

Death of Miers Fisher, Jr.

1813.09.19 (Sunday)
Hélène sat next to James A. Bayard at a dinner party at Mr. Kremer's, at "Wibourg on the banks of the Neva 6 verts from the city" of St. Petersburg.

"The Wiburg quarter contains, beside the street along the right bank of the Neva, the cottages of the peasantry; there are also two grand mansions within its precincts, besides the great military hospital founded by Peter the Great, and some public buildings of less magnitude. It also contains a wharf for merchant ships."
Thomas Tegg, The London Encyclopedia of Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics (1828), p. 83.

Letter: Miers Fisher to Stephen Grellet respecting H. Gregoroffsky Fisher.

My Dear Friend
I have heard within some days past of thy having upon thy mind a prospect of paying a visit to the Capital of the Russian Empire during the course of the present year and yesterday had a confirmation of the Idea with this additional circumstances, that thou wouddst not depart until after the ensuing yearly meeting of New York in the 6th month. Upon first hearing this circumstance I felt a satisfaction in the hope that by thy means I could obtain some satisfactory account concerning the situation of my Daughter in Law Helen Gregoroffsky the widow of my deceased son Miers Fisher Jun., who died within 24 hours after the Mrriage was celebrated, supposed of Apoplexy. There are some peculiar circumstances relating to the connection which I would wish to communicate to thee. If thou should go to Petersburgh, It would seem impardonable by her I should permit a friend of thy standing personal[ly] know[n] to me, to go to the place of her residence wholly unaquainted with circumstances so interesting to so near a connection as between Father and Daughter in Law and the want of confidential information respecting her has hitherto prevented my giving her an invitation to visit the friends of her deceased husband in America. Her character handed to me by several persons to whom she was known has been amiable and I have no reason to doubt that she was of respectable parentage and connection, but her mode of Education was so very different from my family and friends that I feared we could not render her happy in a country far distant from her friends, her manner nad her habits without yielding to her more of our own than I thought consistent with our profession and mode of living. It would be difficult to convey to thee in writing all my feelings upon this Interesting subject, but if I conjecture right that thou will think it proper and convenient for thee to spend a few days in Philadelphia before thy departure I shall esteem it a particular favor to be permitted to communicate to thee verbally some letters and papers with observations on them and to make thee the medium of conveyance to her of my best wishes for her welfare and happiness and of a qualified invitation to her to pay us a visit in case thou shouldst think after conversing with her consanguineous friends, thou should think such a measure would contribute to her happiness and our comfort--I should be pleased to have a line from thee expressive of the possibility of thy coming hither before thy voyage to Europe and am with my best desires for thy Peace and xxxx in thy arduous undertaking and a safe return to thy amiable family.
Thy affectionate friend
Fisher-Warner Papers courtesy of the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.

1825.11.08 (Tuesday)
Hélène meets Robert Owen in New York.

"After dinner we went to the play with Dr. Price & Mrs. Warner (his sister[-in-law, Lydia Fisher Warner]), Mrs. Fisher (her sister[-in-law, Hélène Gregoroffsky Fisher]), Miss Cistairs the daughter of the lady at whose house they board. These ladies propose going to Harmony."
Donald MacDonald, The Diaries of Donald MacDonald: 1824-1826 (Clifton: Augustus M. Kelly Publishers, 1973), p. 308.

1825.12.08 (Thursday)
Hélène is on the Philanthropist--the "Boatload of Knowledge"--with Robert Owen, Dr. William Price, Hannah Fisher Price and their three children and a list of others, on the way from Pittsburgh to New Harmony down the Ohio River.

1825.12.10 (Saturday)
Robert Owen leaves the icebound Philanthropist at Economy, OH and heads back to Pittsburgh to retrive a document left behind.

Hélène leaves the Philanthropist.

"Mrs. Fisher left on 16 December with a man who had arrived from Yellow Springs, OH, where a handful of Owen followers were at work forming a short-lived community. She met Robert Owen along the way and traveled to New Harmony with him."
Donald E. Pitzer, "The Original Boatload of Knowledge Down the Ohio River: William Maclure's and Robert Owen's Transfer of Science and Education to the Midwest, 1825-1826" in Ohio Journal of Science (1989).

Hélène and Robert Owen at Steubenville.

"Mr. Owen had set off a fortnight before [9 January 1826] in a mail stage with Mrs. Fisher, leaving a note for me & some baggage to be put on board our boat."
Donald MacDonald, The Diaries of Donald Macdonald: 1824-1826 (Clifton: Augustus M. Kelly Publishers, 1973), p. 334-5.

Hélène and Robert Owen at Cincinnati.

"...we learnt that Mr. Owen had left that place [Cincinnati] 10 days before in a steamboat with Mrs. Fisher. He had been 60 miles up the country at the Yellow Springs community on the forks of the Miami river..."
--Donald MacDonald, The Diaries of Donald Macdonald: 1824-1826 (Clifton: Augustus M. Kelly Publishers, 1973), p. 335.

Hélène arrives at New Harmony with Robert Owen.

"Owen arrives at New Harmony on Thursday, January 12, 1826. The weather had been unseasonably warm--up to 78 degrees three days before--and New Harmony was an island surrounded by Wabash floodwaters. He came in the afternoon. According to William Pelham, he was "accompanied only by a Russian lady whom he accidentally found somewhere below Steubenville." Donald Macdonald identifies Owen's companion as a "Mrs. Fisher" whom Owen met in New York in November shortly after his second landing on American soil. According to Macdonald's diary, Robert Owen and Mrs. Fisher, after one discouraging look at the keelboat Philanthropist near Pittsburgh, took off for New Harmony together by mail stage. Macdonald does not mention Mrs. Fisher's nationality."
William E. Wilson, The Angel and the Serpent: The Story of New Harmony (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964), p. 136.

Hélène converses with Karl Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach, at New Harmony.

"I became acquainted with a Madam F[isher], a native of St. Petersburg. She maried an American merchant, settled there, and had the misfortune to lose her husband three days after marriage. She then joined her husband's family at Philadelphia, and as she was somewhat eccentric and sentimental, quickly became enthusiastically attached to Mr. Owens system. She told, me however, in German, that she found herself egregiously deceived; that the highly vaunted equality was not altogether to her taste; that some of the society were too low, and the table was below all criticism. The good lady appeared to be about to run from one extreme to the other for she added, that in the summer, she would enter a Shaker establishment near Vincennes."
"In the evening I went to walk in the streets, and met with several of the ladies of the society, who rested from the labours of the day. Madam F[isher] was among them, whose complaints of disappointed expectations I had listened to. I feared still more from all that I saw and heard, that the society would have but a brief existence."
Karl Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach in New Harmony as Seen by Participants and Travelers (Philadelphia: Porcupine Press, 1975), unpaginated.

Hélène recieves a letter from Redwood Fisher dated 17 July 1826..

Hélène writes a letter to Redwood Fisher from New Harmony.

1826 end of October?
Hélène leaves New Harmony

"Helen left New Harmony shortly after writing her [11 August 1826] letter but instead of joining a Shaker community, moved to Cincinnati, where Hannah [Fisher Price] and her husband [Dr. William Price] and their children had just moved."
Carol Kolmerten, "Voices from New Harmony" in Communal Societies (Evansville, IN: Communal Studies Association, 1992), vol. 12, p. 116.

Death of Hélène at Cinncinatti, Ohio.

Birth of Hélène Gregoroffsky Price, daughter of Dr. William Price and Hannah Fisher Price.




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