The Fairbanks BrothersBy Grant and Lee Fairbanks
of Bethel and Royalton
Austin (Minnesota) Weekly Herald, December 4, 1918
Alonzo Fairbanks, Austin loses one of its oldest and best respected citizens. To him was accorded an unusually long span of life. He was born in Chelsea, Orange County, Vermont, February 27, 1829 and died at his home in Austin, December 2,1918. He was the son of Lorenzo and Esther B. Fairbanks. He was married in Vermont, January 1850 to Ellen M. Backus, and here their eldest son Fred, was born, An interesting incident of his early life was that he walked across the first bridge built over Niagara Falls before the train crossed. The family came to Illinois in 1854, to Otranto [northern Iowa] in 1856 and to Austin in 1860. Mr. Fairbanks built the first dam and saw mill in Otranto and later a steam saw mill and stone house at the junction of Lincoln and Railway streets in our city. These were sold to Mr. Beauregard who turned the mill into a grist mill and resided in the stone house for many years. The Fairbanks family then moved to Saints Rest, locating on the old trail between McGregor [on the Mississippi River in Clayton County, IA, about 100 miles southeast] and Austin.
Mr. Fairbanks knew all the hardships of pioneer life, among them that of hauling wheat by team to McGregor and selling it for 50 cents per bushel. For many years he was engaged in the grain business, buying grain in Austin, Oakland and Blooming Prairie. At one time he was associated with T. F. Leonard in the grocery business under the farm [firm?] name of Fairbanks & Leonard. When Mower and Dodge counties were one district, Mr. Fairbanks was a candidate for the legislature against Harlan Page. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Home Guards at the time of the civil war and drilled prospective soldiers semi-monthly on the Dexter Parrott farm which is in the center of the county. Four sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks, Fred A. of Rochester, Minn., John F., and L. C. of Austin and Robert, who died in infancy. Mrs. Fairbanks who in middle life took up the study of medicine and became a successful physician of this city, died in 1885. Mr. Fairbanks' second marriage occurred October 28, 1888 when he wedded Calla M. Trumble at Sauk Center, Minnesota. One daughter Zula, now Mrs. Edward Paulson of Blooming Prairie was born of this union.
Mr. Fairbanks is survived by his wife, three sons, one daughter, four grand children and four great grand children, also two brothers Judge John Fairbanks of this city and Charles of Claremont, N.H., and one sister, Mrs. A. D. Dennison of Los Angeles, Cala. Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks moved to Blooming Prairie [about 12 miles north] in 1899 and resided there eleven years while Mr. Fairbanks engaged in the grain business. His beautiful garden, maintained at that time, was the pride not only of the family but of the whole village. [Alonzo] Becoming too feeble to carry on regular work the family moved back to Austin where they have since resided. The last year has brought increasing weakness but he was able to be uptown the day of the Peace celebration. A few days later he was taken ill with an attack of pleurisy, from which his advanced age made rallying impossible. The end came peacefully Monday at one oclock. Private funeral services will be conducted at the home by Rev. A. A. Mohney, Wednesday, afternoon at 1 o'clock. Interment at Oakwood. "No scars on his life, no blots on his honor, no chapters to be omitted in his history." His gentle unassuming life is a worthy heritage to his family and friends.
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