Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Mather, Fred

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MATHER, Fred, pisciculturist, b. in Albany, N. Y., in August, 1833. In 1854 he became interested in the lead-mines of Potosi, Wis., and afterward hunted and trapped in the Bad Axe country in that state. Here he learned enough of the Chippewa language to become interpreter to the government survey in northern Minnesota. During the political troubles in Kansas he served under Gen. James Lane, and was one of Jennison's “Jayhawkers.” He enlisted in the 113th New York regiment in 1862, and became 1st lieutenant two years later. At the close of the civil war he took a clerkship in the live-stock yards near Albany. In 1868 he bought a farm at Honeoye Falls, N. Y., and began to hatch fish of various kinds. When the U. S. fish commission was formed in 1872 he was sent for by Prof. Spencer F. Baird to hatch shad for the Potomac river. In 1875 he established hatcheries at Lexington and Blacksburg for the state of Virginia. A year earlier he had hatched the first sea-bass and graylings. After several vain attempts to transport salmon-eggs to Europe, he devised a refrigerator-box, and in 1875 succeeded in carrying the eggs to Germany. He also, at the same time, invented a conical hatching apparatus, by which, through the admission of water at the bottom, shad and other eggs were hatched in bulk instead of in layers upon trays or floating boxes. In 1884 he hatched the adhesive eggs of the smelt, although all previous attempts had been failures. He has been sent abroad several times by the U. S. government in connection with fish-culture, and he has medals and testimonials from many scientific societies of Europe. In 1877 he became fishery editor of “The Field” in Chicago, and since 1880 he has held a like position with “Forest and Stream” in New York city. In 1882 he was sent by Prof. Baird to Roslyn, Long Island, to hatch salmon for the Hudson river. In 1883 he was appointed superintendent of the New York fish commission station at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Here the hatching of lobsters, codfish, and other marine forms was begun. He has published “Ichthyology of the Adirondacks” (1885), which describes several fishes heretofore unknown.