Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Another Biography of Congressman Benjamin Fairchild of Pelham, a Founder of Pelham Heights

I have written on the Historic Pelham Blog twice before about the life of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights who served as a member of Congress and was responsible for much of the development of Pelham Heights. See:

Friday, April 22, 2005: Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights -- A Notable Pelham Personage

Tuesday, August 15, 2006: Another Biography of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides yet another biography of Benjamin Fairchild. The text of the biography, published in 1900, appears below. As always, it is followed by a citation to its source.

"FAIRCHILD, BEN LEWIS, lawyer, ex-member of congress, and a prominent resident of Pelham, was born in Sweden, Monroe County, N. Y., January 5, 1863, being a son of Benjamin F. and Calista (Schaeffer) Fairchild. On his father's side he comes from New England ancestry, and on his mother's from German stock. His father was a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War, and was severely wounded in the Wilderness campaign. At the close of the war, much shattered in health and with but slender financial resources, he settled with his family in Washington, D. C., where the son was reared and educated.

Leaving school at the age of thirteen, young Fairchild was for the nine succeeding years employed in the government departments. For two years he held a position in the draughtsman's division of the Interior Department, and subsequently he was a clerk in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the Treasury Department. While thus occupied he took the night course of the Spencerian Business College, being graduated from that institution, and in 1885 he was graduated from the Law Department of the Columbia University with the degree of Master of Laws, having already taken that of Bachelor of Laws. He was admitted to the bar in Washington, and thereupon resigned his clerkship in the Treasury Department and came to New York, where, after continuing his studies for a year in the office of Henry C. Andrews, he was admitted to practice in May, 1886.

In 1887 he entered the New York law firm of Ewing & Southard, whose style was changed to Ewing, Southard & Fairchild. Upon the retirement of General Ewing in 1893, he formed with Mr. Southard the partnership of Southard & Fairchild, which still continues. He has enjoyed a successful professional career, pursuing a general civil practice.

Mr. Fairchild has been a resident of Pelham since 1887. In 1893 he was nominated on the Republican ticket for delegate to the constitutional convention. At the resulting election he obtained a majority in the portion of the district belonging to New York City. In 1894 he was elected to congress from the 16th district, embracing Westchester County and the present borough of the Bronx, his majority being 5,500 over an opponent who, at the last previous election, had carried the district by 6,500. As a member of the 54th congress, Mr. Fairchild served on the committees on patents, and coinage, weights, and measures.

In 1896 he was unanimously renominated for congress by the regular Republican convention. A bolting convention was held, however, which put up another candidate. The certificates of nomination being [Page 141 / Page 142] filed by the rival candidates, it was decided by the secretary of state that Mr. Fairchild was the legal Republican nominee; and that his name should appear on the ballot as such. His opponent then carried the matter before a judge in a distant section of the State, and obtained an order directing the removal of Mr. Fairchild's name and the substitution of his own. This order was ultimately declared by the Court of Appeals to have been granted without warrant of jurisdiction; but meantime the election had been held, with the result that, as Mr. Fairchild's name did not appear in the official Republican column, he was deprived of the party votes which, according to the final decision of the courts, were rightfully his. Owing to these very peculiar circumstances his service in congress was limited to a single term.

Mr. Fairchild is largely identified with real estate interests in Pelham and Mount Vernon.

He was married, in February, 1893, to Anna, daughter of the late James Crumbie, of an old New York family."

Source: Spooner, Walter Whipple, ed., Fairchild, Ben Lewis in Westchester County New York Biographical, pp. 141-42 (NY, NY: The New York History Company, 1900).

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