BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN B. FAIRBANKS
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John Boylston Fairbanks (known as John B.) was born 27 December 1855 in Salt Lake City,Salt Lake, Utah Territory to John Boylston and Sarah Van Wagoner Fairbanks. His father was born 28 April 1817 in Sand Hill, Montgomery, New York. His mother was born 11 July 1822 in Pompton Plains, Bergen, New Jersey. When John was nine years old he moved with his parents to New Jersey. When he was 15 years old, he went to work as a clerk in a store. The LDS missionaries visited Fort Mead where he worked. He hears the gospel message and was baptized by John Leach into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 16 March 1843 at the age of 25. His mother was baptized as a child but was later rebaptized because of lack of dates.
His parents were married on 31 August 1844 in Pompton Plains, Bergen, New Jersey. Shortly after his marriage he and his wife and a group of relatives left to join the Saints in Nauvoo. Their first child John Joseph was born and died 27 June 1845 in Nauvoo, Hancock,Illinois. While they were in Nauvoo, he helped in building the Nauvoo Temple.
His family traveled with the Saints to the Salt Lake valley with the Jedediah M. Grant/Willard Snow Company departing on 19 June with 160 individuals in the company. The family consisted of his father John Boylston, age 20, his mother Sarah VanWagoner age 25, Susan Jane, baby, his sister Mary Jane age six, his brother William Henry age seven, his grandmother Polly Brooks Fairbanks, age 67, his father’s brother David age 37 and his wife, Susanna Fairbanks, age 27. John’s daughter Harriet was just an infant. She was born 27 November 1846 at Winter Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska.
His father, John Boylston Fairbanks was a captain of ten and left a journal of their experiences as they came across the plains. They were not the only company traveling west at that time. There were probably 7-8 companies and lots of confusion and trials were experienced because of such amass exodus.
From his journal, “Tuesday 22 June 1847 they rolled westward up the Platte River to where the road touches the River again. Parley P. Pratts Company started in front going double file. There was artillery on the right of Parley’s Company. Elder Taylor’s Company was next in double file on the right of artillery. Captain Grant’s Company was in the rear of Parleys in double file. Captain Smoot’s Company was in the rear of Tailors in double file, the first 50 occupying the left and the second on the right hand of road.
On 26 June their company was in the back of the companies, and it was very dusty. About 11:00 the wind shifted and it helped a great deal. On the 28 they were near a Pawnee Village which had been burned in the fall by the Indians. It was now a missionary station.
On 11 July they were able to kill two or three buffalo calves from a herd of about 5,000. The buffalo stampeded upsetting several wagons and scattering the cattle. After hunting for the animals, unable to find them; their loses amounted to 51 head, 40 work cattle and nine cows. By the 23 July they met a group of Sioux Indians, who were armed and made up in regular battle order with a flag for war or peace. When they found the pioneers were friendly,they visited with the men, women, and children, trying to trade a few muskets.
They reached Fort Laramie by 7 August, watered the animals and rested. By the 9 August they were in a heavy rainstorm. They had a little snow storm on the 17 August. The feed for the animals was very poor and very little water. They reached the Saleratus Lakes by 27 August and took in what they wanted before rolling on six miles to the Sweetwater River. It was a beautiful stream. Several of the oxen died in this area,probably from the Saleratus Lakes. They were at Independence Rock on the 29 August.
Captain Grant had the company equalize their load so they could move forward as they reached the mountains. From there they could see the Wind River Mountains were covered with snow. President Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball met and spoke with the companies as they stopped on their way back to Winter Quarters.
They crossed the Big Sandy and the Little Sandy on the 12 and 13 of September. The feed was excellent. By the 20 September they were on Ham’s Fork. It was very hot and dusty. Two days later they were at Fort Bridger. Sunday 3 October they repaired and rolled on down the canyon, turn to right after the last mountain, camped at the foot of the mountain and picked some service berries. They made it to the Great Salt Lake valley on 4 October 1847.”
His father built a home in Salt Lake City and he served as a clerk of the First Ward. Early in 1851 he moved his family to Payson,Utah, Utah Territory where he remained for the rest of his life.
John and Sarah had eleven children. John Joseph was born and died on 27 June 1845 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois. Harriet was born 27 November 1846 in Winter Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska. Henry was the first of their family to be born in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah Territory. The family then moved to Payson, Payson, Utah Territory. Nathaniel was born 2 August 1851 in Payson, Utah, Utah Territory and died 6 August 1859 in Payson. He had just turned eight. Sarah Ann was born 22 April 1853 and died 10 August 1857; John B. was born 27 December 1855; Mary was born 18 February 1858; Alicia was born 6 April 1860; Lillie Maria was born 22 August 1862; Franklin was born 2 June 1865; and George A. was born 26 January 1869.
His father died 14 May 1875 at the age of 58 in Payson and was buried 16 May 1875 inPayson, Utah, Utah Territory. His mother died 8 February 1898 at the age of 75 in Payson and was buried 10 February 1898 in Payson, Utah, Utah Territory.
John B. was baptized on 4 August 1864 at the age of eight. He married Lillie Annetta Huish on 28 November 1877 at the age of 21 in the St. George Temple, St. George, Washington, Utah Territory. Lillie Annetta was born 24 February 1857 inSaint Louis, St. Louis, Missouri to Walter Henry and Ann Smith Huish. She was 20 when they married.
They had eleven children, one girl and ten boys, all born in Payson, Utah, Utah Territory. John Leo was born 30 April 1878; Lillie Annetta “Nettie” was born 27 July 1879; Vernon Walter was born 14 March 1881. He was called to be a missionary in the Southern States Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1881 to 1883. From Leah Poulsen, she writes, “When he was born he had a “club foot.” His foot was turned so that he walked on the outside of his foot. He could walk and run, but it was not a normal gait.
At the beginning of his mission his ankle caused him so much suffering from all thewalking required of missionaries. At night he could barely hobble back to his home. One day they walked twenty miles. The pain was so excruciating, that he and his companion went into the woods and prayed. His companion then administered to him, asking the Lord to remove all infirmities and fully restore his ankle. He never suffered from it again throughout his life.” When he returned home he worked in his father-in-law’s store, painting furniture.
He returned home and they had four more children. Ervon Huish was born 9 November 1884; Leroy Smith was born 26 February 1886; Ortho Lane was born 29 September 1887; and Claude Loraine was born 12 June 1889.
In 1890,John B., Edwin Evans, Lorus Pratt, and John Hafen were awarded two-year scholarships to study at the Académie Julian in Paris, where their primary instructor was Albert Rigolot, and they became known as the “French Art Missionaries.” Val Cope, a grandchild, tells the story of his Grandpa taking art lessons from Rigolot. “During that time he and Rigolot became very close friends. Rigolot wanted to give John a painting, but he feared the other students would be jealous, so they devised a plan. As Rigolot came over to check on John’s work,he would quickly slip a canvas onto his easel so Rigolot could add to it, butit would appear as if he was only making a correction on one of John’s paintings. In time he finished the painting, but he did not sign his name to it.” That painting was finally donated to the Springville Art Museum along with the story.
Upon their return the painted the murals and frescoes for the Salt Lake Temple which was dedicated in 1893. Years later, he also helped to decorate the Church Administration Building and the Mesa Arizona Temple.
Twins Delamar Rigolot and Lamar Raymond were born 13 January 1894; Alma Clyde was born 9 September 1895; and Avard Tennyson was born 2 March 1897. He secured a teaching position at the Brigham Young Academy, but he didn’t receive a lot of public recognition for his artwork. His wife Lillie was carrying their last son Avard down the stairs and fell. She sacrificed herself to save him.
The boy suffered no serious injuries and grew up to be a well-known sculptor. Arvard and his brother J. Leo did the friezes on the Laie Hawaiian Temple. He did the statues of the Angel Moroni on the Washington D. C. Temple, Jordan River Temple, Seattle Washington Temple, and the São Paulo Brazil Temple.
Lillie died 12 May 1898 in Provo, Utah, Utah at the age of 41 and was buried 13 May 1898 in Payson, Utah, Utah. He accepted offers of employment making sketches and photographs from several people. In 1917 while painting in Zion National Park,he met his second wife, Florence Gifford. They were married 21 September 1917 in the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah. She was 25 years old. She was born 11 May 1892 in Springdale,Washington, Utah to Oliver DeMIlle and Alice Virginia Allred Gifford. He was 61 when he married her.
They had four boys. The first three were born in Salt Lake City. Merwin Gifford was born 13 November 1920; John B Jr. was born 29 March 1922; Oliver Kendall was born 2 November 1924; and Farrall D. was born 19 June 1927 in Springdale, Washington,Utah.
He was never financially successful so had to supplement his income by working as a window dresser. He also served as an art supervisor for the public school of Ogden, Weber, Utah.
John B.died 15 June 1940 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah at the age of 84 and was buried 20 June 1940 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. Florence died 20 June 1952 in Salt Lake City,Salt Lake, Utah at the age of 60 and was buried 23 June 1952 in Payson, Utah,Utah.