THE FAIRBANKS STORY
|There is a lot of information on the Fairbanks family online, but here is some info on Jonathan Fairbanks who came to America in 1633. The house he built in 1636 still stands in Dedham, MA, and is open to the public. Suzanna and I visited there in September of 2000. The spelling of the name has been changed several times: Fayerbanke, Fairbanke, and Fairbanks.|
Jonathan Fayerbanke and Grace Smith lived in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. They were married in 1617, and raised their family in Sowerby, Yorkshire. Jonathan was a wool merchant, as were several members of the Fairbanks family. Six living children were born in England: John, George, Mary, Susan, Jonas, and Jonathan. After sixteen years of married life, in 1633, the family sailed on"The Griffin" for America. Accompanying them were Richard and Elizabeth Fairbanke, relatives who settled in Boston where Richard's Tavern became the first post office and was located where the Boston Globe office now stands. Jonathan came prepared to build his new home, as in the hold of that little ship were their linens, pottery, pewter, pieces of sturdy furniture, along with English oak to frame the new home, tiles, windows, and glass panes, as well as pink English brick to build an immense chimney. As Massachusetts was only thirteen years old, he was afraid they would not have the materials he believed necessary to build a sturdy home in the manner with which he was familiar.
The family lived in Watertown while Jonathan looked for a permanent location for his family. In 1635 he decided on the newly chartered town of "Contentment" (Changed to Dedham a year later after Dedham, Essex County, England) Dedham was the second inland town after Concord to be founded in Massachusetts, and he was the 28th signature on the town charter. Trough his land passed the Indian Trail which joined the Pequot Path, later widened to four feet and part of the first national highway, leading from Portsmouth, NH, to Richmond, VA.
Jonathan became a wood turner and was quite successful. The inventory of his estate taken in 1668, placed a total value on it of 214 pounds, 4 shillings, and two pence - quite a large estate for those days. He willed the home and contents to his wife with small bequests made to George's daughter, Mary, George, Jonas, Jonathan, and Sarah (eldest daughter of John), and to Ralph Daye (husband of Susan), and each of Ralph's four children. To John he left his "houses and lands whatsoeur, not being formerly aboue mentioned together with all my common Rightes & towne priuiliges." The house remained in the Fairbanks family until 1903 when it was acquired by the Fairbanks Family in America Incorporated, who have maintained it since that time. At this time (1991) it is the oldest wooden frame house in North America.
Jonathan's son George came to America with his family in 1633, and lived with them in Dedham until about 1657, then moved to Medway where he was the first settler. He was a Captain in the Artillery Company. George was drowned in 1682 trying to cross a river on uncertain ice, as was his son, in 1719.
George's farm is the famous stone house near the northern end of Bogeston Pond in the eastern part of the town of Medway, which is now included within the limites of the town of Millis, incorporated in 1885. That which is more recently known as the Fairbanks Farm was the southern portion of his large landed estate. The stone house occupied by him was originally a Garrison House, built by the residents of Bogestown Farms unitedly as a place of refuge and defense to which they could flee in times of danger from the attacks of hostile Indians. It was 65 or 70 feet long and two stories high. The walls were built of flat stones laid in clay mortar. It had a double row of port holes on all sides and was lined with heavy oak plank. The stones have now all been carried away and there is nothing to mark the place where the building stood.
Jonathan's son Jonas (from whom we are descended) also came to America on "The Griffin." He was once fined for wearing great boots before he was worth 200 pounds, which was contrary to asumituary regulation of the government of Massachusetts, ordered in 1651. He was killed, with his son, Joshua, by Indians on February 10, 1676, during a raid upon the settlement of Lancaster.