The Alice Fisher family was a prominent African-American family that traces its Maine heritage back seven generations. Members of the family contributed to Portland's history over the decades. One ancestor, Christopher Manuel, joined other citizens in the early nineteenth century in a letter to the Eastern Argus condemning local churches for treating non-white members as second-class citizens. Alice Ball Fisher's father, William Ball, a steward on the steamship Portland, was lost at sea. Alice worked as a cook and managed a family of 12 children. Her husband, Joseph, was a messenger, cartoonist, and butler for prominent families.