John M. Fletcher, a prominent and successful dentist of the city of Concord, N.H., was born in Canterbury, N.H., July 24, 1832. He is the son of John and Nancy (St. Clair) Fletcher.
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His grandfather, John Fletcher, Sr., was a native of Dunstable, Mass., born January 25, 1770. He removed to Loudon, N.H., and there spent his remaining years as an agriculturist, dying December 15, 1853. He was fortunate in choosing his partner for life, a lady of high moral worth as well as of great natural ability, a conscientious Christian, a devoted mother, and a loving wife. Her maiden name was Betsey Morrill; and she was born October 2, 1772, in Gilmanton, N.H., and died June 18, 1851. The result of this union was a family of fourteen children, consisting of eight sons and six daughters. Eleven of these he lived to see prosperous and happily located in business.
John Fletcher, Jr., the father of the subject of our sketch, was born in Loudon, N.H., March 16, 1795, and chose as his occupation for a livelihood the tilling of the soil and the levelling of the forest. In the year 1822, March 26, he was united in marriage to Miss Nancy St. Clair, October 12, 1799, the youngest daughter of Noah St. Clair. They spent four years in Loudon and Concord, respectively, but finally, in 1826, purchased and located on the St. Clair homestead. From time to time he augmented his original purchase by buying additional land until his estate covered nearly two hundred acres. He was a man of high character, and universally respected and beloved by the community in whose midst he passed a long and busy life. In religious matters he accepted the tenets held by the Free Will Baptist denomination, and was an active member of the same. As a result of the matrimonial union there were four children born, three sons and one daughter.
Noah St. Clair, the grandfather of Dr. Fletcher on the maternal side, was a native of Epping, N.H., born February 20, 1755. He married Miss Lavina Gault, of Canterbury, N.H., who was born April 27, 1758. In the year 1798 he purchased a farm in Canterbury, N.H., where he resided until his decease in 1821, March 15. His wife survived him, living until January 10, 1828. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, namely: Betsy St. Clair, born January 3, 1782; James St. Clair, born April 2, 1784; William St. Clair, born January 21, 1786; Sally St. Clair, born March 7, 1788; John St. Clair, born June 1, 1790; Polly St. Clair, born July 22, 1792; Noah St. Clair, born October 26, 1794; Abigail St. Clair, born March 10, 1797; Nancy St. Clair, born October 2, 1799; Winthrop St. Clair, born May 7, 1802. Grandfather and Grandmother St. Clair were members of the Free Will Baptist Church of Canterbury, N.H., he being the leader of the choir. Their children were many of them musicians; and one, William St. Clair, was a teacher of music. They were a family of true patriots; and the father and two sons, John and William, quickly responded when the cry of “To arms” came in 1812. Noah St. Clair enlisted as a drum major, and the sons shouldered the musket. He was severely wounded, and both sons were sacrificed. In the year 1814 he returned to his home in Canterbury.
John M. Fletcher received his education in the public school of the adjoining town of Loudon. At the close of his school-days we find him possessed of a natural inclination to become a dentist. He did not then, however, have the means to proceed in the study of his chosen profession; and, August 1, 1850, he entered the employment of L. Downing & Sons, coach builders, of Concord, with whom he remained for a term of years. He also had a natural taste for music, which he had cultivated, and during his residence in Concord at that time was engaged for several years as a leading tenor at the North Congregational Church. These were busy times for the young man; for he also during his leisure hours devoted himself to the study of anatomy and physiology, besides which he occasionally gave his attention to ornithology and taxidermy in the way of recreation.
He continued in the carriage business until the breaking out of the Civil War, soon after which he entered the office of Hiram Hill, D.D.S., of Manchester, N.H., where he remained for a time, and afterward engaged at a salary with Chester Heath, D.D.S., of the same city. During his studentship he was engaged as a leading tenor at the Lowell Street Universalist Church; also during his leisure hours he was employed as a taxidermist by a gentleman by the name of Stark in West Manchester, who was the proprietor of a zoölogical garden, and by whom he was favored with liberal contributions for services rendered, East Concord, N.H. He also spent two years in Loudon, N.H., in the office of Dr. W. S. Collins, a celebrated doctor of medicine. With health restored, he began to search for a place to locate for the practice of his profession, and received a call from Bradford, N.H., where he located happily. While there he made a collection of some two hundred specimens of our native birds, which he mounted during his leisure moments. In this he was assisted very much by the late Dr. C. M. Fiske, an enthusiast on the subject.
The happiest days of Dr. Fletcher’s life were spent during his six years’ stay in Bradford. But there came an unavoidable interruption in this rural felicity. Informed by the United States mail one day that his presence at the old homestead was very desirable, he soon put in an appearance at that place; and as a result of the interview he returned to Bradford, closed up business, and removed to Franklin, N.H., where he could be in closer communication with his parents as long as they lived. His mother died May 24, 1875; his father, April 23, 1876. In the meantime, Dr. Fletcher having acquired the possession of real estate in the city of Concord, he located here for the practice of his profession in 1879, and finally purchased his present residence at the corner of South and Perley Streets.
On July 3, 1854, he was united in marriage with Lucy A. Adams, a daughter of Zenas and Lydia (Baker) Adams, of Pembroke, N.H. Her father was a soldier in the War of 1812. She was born May 28, 1832, and was a graduate of the Pembroke Academy. On September 29, 1855, a daughter was born, Lizzie E. Fletcher. She was educated in the public schools. She also received special instruction in music, being a pupil of L. W. Wheeler, of Boston, Mass. During her musical career she gave some attention to teaching both vocal and instrumental music, and sang at several churches, and at times took part in the exercises at concerts and conventions. In the winter of 1882, February 17, the Doctor’s wife was stricken with apoplexy, and passed away instantly, leaving the domestic administration to the daughter, when gradually her song lost its wonted glee, and the dark rust found an abiding place within her piano. The pictures of the lost one still hang upon the wall and rest upon the mantel-piece, pleasant to behold; but there are no kind and affectionate words escaping those lips, as of yore, or laying on of those soft and soothing hands when pain and anguish wring the brow. The sunshine of the home has been dimmed, and the cloud still lingers, its shadow resting on the vacant chair; yet there are kind hearts and willing hands beneath the parent roof, and consequently it is a home, and a sweet home, to those that dwell therein.
Since Dr. Fletcher became a resident of this city he has obtained letters patent on several inventions, on which he has realized quite liberally, one of them, a fountain cuspidor, being esteemed by competent judges the most perfect fulfilment of its especial design and purpose ever invented. Wishing to place his ornithological collection where it would be the best appreciated and most useful, he gave it to the Concord High School, which it now adorns.
In politics Dr. Fletcher has ever been a Republican. His first Presidential vote was cast for John C. Fremont. His religious Concord in February, 1879, he located in State Block, corner of North Main and School Streets, where we shall take our leave of him.