The James Fisk Parade 1858

James Fisk

James Fisk, Sr.


An Extensive Establishment.

Speaking of peddlers reminds us of the times of our boyhood when some perigrinating Yankee, with a tin trunk in each hand sustained chiefly by a strap or a sap yoke passing over the shoulders, would stop at the country farm-houses and express a wish to exchange pins, needles or thread for old gold, silver, or for recognized currency; or to the time when a cart drawn by some antiquated equine, and covered with bundles of rags and sheep pelts with here and there a mop-handle or broom standing in the rack and occasionally a gleam of new tin shining from some opening in the overlying debris, would halt before the door prospecting for a trade.

The business in those days was in the hands of a class of men possessed of no inconsiderable shrewdness and mother wit, but whose personal appearance was quite often suggestive of the "vestiges of creation."

But all this is changed. The business has been consolidated and system has taken the place of confusion.

Instead of wandering, irresponsible peddlers we have travelling merchants, who drive fine horses gaily caparisoned, carriages that rival the chariots of oriental monarchs, who dress in the most approved style in vogue, and who, instead of seeking a meal or a lodging at any obscure house where they are fortunate enough to gain admission, put up at the best hotels and fare sumptuously every day.

These reflections are suggested by the appearance of a programme of Fisk's Annual Spring Exhibition, which is to take place this (Friday) afternoon. The travelling mercantile establishment of James Fisk, Jr., is well known throughout New England. The business was begun many years since by James Fisk, Sr., who still continues to travel with the establishment.

This concern has nine wagons all handsome and convenient, but one of which is ornamented in the most florid style. The plating, pictures and trappings far exceed those of any other carriage we have ever seen.

It employs nineteen horses and thirteen men. The freight for all these teams, consisting wholly of dry goods, is valued at from twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars. Some of the goods are far richer and costlier than any kept at the stores in Vermont.

Of the salesmen nothing need be said; they are not only competent but accustomed to speak for themselves.---They are live, go-ahead Yankees ready to introduce themselves at a moment's notice to any body who wishes to purchase their merchandise.

Their exhibition promises to be a splendid affair. It will be escorted by the Brattleboro Cornet Band and will parade our streets, in a gala-day style.---If their success is equal to their enterprise they will at the end of the season have a snug return for their investment.

Vermont Phoenix, May 22, 1858.

Article by Dr. Charles Cummings.


James Fisk, Jr.'s exhibition took place on Friday afternoon of last week as announced in the programme. The procession was formed at the Revere House about two o'clock. First in the line was the Brattleboro Cornet Band drawn by six white horses with the "ribbands" in the hands of "Tom."---

This was followed by two coaches each drawn by six horses, and filled with the business men of the village---the "solid men" of Brattleboro---who were invited by Mr. Fisk to participate in the pleasures of the occasion.

Then came the team of Mr. Fisk, Sr., drawn by four bays and driven by John Finnigan. The wagon has been fitted up without regard to expense in the highest style of decorative art and attracted great attention.

Following in regular order was the four horse team of J. Ells, two horse and single teams to the number of six, making nine teams and nineteen horses.

This procession drove through the principal streets in the village, to West Brattleboro and back again escorted by as good music as ever led such a column. The streets were lined and the side-walks covered with a multitude of eager gazers from this and the neighboring towns who stared as if some menagerie or circus company were just making its appearance.

From the raised windows of the dwellings could be seen bright eyes and smiling faces whose admiring gaze was fully reciprocated even by those grey-haired veterans of many years who seemed to have lost none of their relish for beauty and loveliness.

A slight accident occurred at the close of the ride. Just as the leading team of the proprietor was opposite the entrance to the stables of the Brattleboro House the horses shied at the music, which was then directly in front, and notwithstanding the vigilance of the driver, wheeled, threw the body of the wagon over on one side and escaped with the forward wheels to the barn.

Mr. Fisk and Mr. Finnigan were both thrown to the ground but they escaped with very little injury. The wagon was slightly damaged but it was repaired the next day---in season for the commencement of the business trip on Monday.

Vermont Phoenix, May 29, 1858.

Article by Dr. Charles Cummings.

[The ribbands or reins in the hands of "Tom" very likely refers to the man who for decades drove the local railroad depot town stage---Tom Mitchell.]

James Fisk, Senior, Improvement For Harness, Patent No. 173455.png

James Fisk's Improved Harness

James Fisk, Senior, Improvement For Harness, Patented February 15, 1875.png

Patent Safety Harness

Mr. James Fisk gave an exhibition of a new patent harness on Main street Saturday afternoon. The harness is one of his own invention, is very simple in construction, and has some admirable points.

The thills are held in position by a contrivance attached to the forward axle, containing a coiled wire spring to give freedom of motion. The breeching is attached to the thills, is kept in the proper place without straps, and moves with the motion of the horse.

The breast plate is also attached to the thills, thus obviating the necessity of tugs or side straps.

The drawing and the holding back are both done against coiled wire springs, an arrangement which saves the horse from all chaffing of the breast or friction upon any part.

By pulling a string the horse can be instantly freed from the wagon---a provision for safety in case of a runaway, the utility of which was well demonstrated in the exhibition given on Saturday.

The field which Mr. Fisk has chosen for the exercise of his inventive faculty is one which has been too long overlooked, and should experience prove the practicability of his invention he will deserve the gratitude of both horse and man.

Vermont Phoenix, October 29, 1875.

James Fisk, Senior, Improvement For Swivel Snaps, Patent No. 184038, November 7, 1876.png

Improved Swivel Snap Patent

Lucy Moore Fisk, Wife Of James Fisk.jpg

Lucy Moore Fisk







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