SIDNEY T. FAIRCHILD, for many years a leading member of the New York bar, was born in Norwich, Chenango County, N.Y., November 15,
1808, and died at Cazenovia, February 15, 1889.
His father, John Flavel Fairchild, son of Abijah Fairchild, was born in 1787, in Morristown, N. J., the birthplace and home of the family for several generations. David Fairchild, father of Abijah, was born May 6, 1734, a son of Zacharias, who is thought to have been a lifelong resident of that town. David Fairchild married Catharine Gregory. Abijah Fairchild, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, served under Washington in the War of the Revolution, and participated in the battle on Long Island. A few years after peace was declared he emigrated to New York, and was one of the pioneers in the town of Otsego, Otsego County. . He spent his last years in Cooperstown, where he died at the venerable age of ninety-three years. The maiden name of his wife was Sarah Howell.
John Flavel Fairchild was but a lad when his parents came to this State. Learning the trade of a printer in his youth, he worked at that occupation in Washington, D.C., and in various places in the State of New York, at length settling in Sherburne, Chenango County, where he started a newspaper called the
Olive Branch. Subsequently removing to Norwich, he there published a paper for a time. Later he lived successively in Cooperstown and Georgetown. About the year 182o he went to Morrisville, where he edited a paper for four years, at the end of which time he came to Cazenovia, and bought the
Republican Monitor, which he published a number of years, making his home here till his death, January 5, 1864. The maiden name of his wife was Flavia Merrill. She was born in Hartford, Conn., and was the daughter of Thomas Merrill, also a native of Connecticut and a pioneer of Chenango County.
The subject of the present sketch was the eldest son of John F. and Flavia (Merrill) Fairchild. The father's removal to Cazenovia brought him within easy reach of the seminary, where he finished his preparatory studies. Entering first Hamilton College, he went later to Union College, where lie was graduated in 1829. Studying law in the offices of Childs & Stebbins at Cazenovia and of Joshua A. Spencer at Utica, he was admitted to the bar in
1831, and began practice in partnership with E. P. Hurlbut at Utica. in 1835, returning to Cazenovia, he became a partner of Charles Stebbins. The firm of Stebbins & Fairchild were the attorneys of the Syracuse & Utica Railroad Company, having charge of its local business after its consolidation with the New York Central Railroad Company, Mr. Fairchild being appointed about the year 1858 general attorney of the last-named company, having his office at Albany. His last work in his profession was the argument of a cause in the Court of Claims of the United States, in which the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company was complainant, and in which a favorable decision was rendered in January, 1889. He was a Director and the Secretary and Treasurer of the Third Great Western Turnpike Road Company during the last twenty-five years of its existence, a Director of the Madison County Bank, President of the Cazenovia & Canastota Railroad Company, and for many years previous to his death a Trustee of the Union Trust Company of New York.
Some of the foregoing particulars are gleaned from an outline sketch of the life of Mr. Fairchild, which appeared as an obituary notice from the pen of a friend, whence also discriminating sentences like these, showing what manner of man he was:
"In his profession Mr. Fairchild was thoughtful, studious, indefatigable, cautious, persistent, sagacious, learned. As an adviser, he was discreet and candid. In the preparation of his cases he was thorough and exhaustive, both as to the facts--as far as possible--and as to the law. ... His aim was always to enlighten the dullest juror in the panel or to convince the court. His forensic efforts were therefore labored, exhaustive, and often prolix. For clearness, conciseness, comprehensiveness, aptness, and neatness, his papers of all kinds were models. Upon arriving at manhood, he, contrary to parental influence, united with the Democratic party. For the last forty years, at least, he has been a prominent and trusted leader of that party, attending its conventions--local, State, and national--and largely influencing its policy and the policy of the administration whenever that party was in power. He was the valued friend and adviser of Seymour, Richmond, Cassidy, Hoffman, Tilden, Robinson, and Cleveland; and his opinions were always received with respect and deference. He was, however, no slave to party platforms or political chieftains; and, whenever his party strayed from what he regarded as true Democratic principles or practice, no criticism was more scathing than his. He never sought or held office except that of Clerk and President of his village.
"As a man, he was absolutely pure and just. From this it resulted that he had little tolerance for those whom he regarded as vicious or dishonest, and judged them unsparingly. His opinions were not borrowed from others, but were the product of his own intellect. He was modest and unassuming, and without a spark of personal vanity. To his friends he was loyal and true; to his dependants, a kind and indulgent master.... In the practice of his profession the widow and the helpless found in him a painstaking, prudent, and feeling adviser, defender, and helper, and all without fee or reward. For those who were nearest to him he had a lavishness of affection, a wealth of tenderness, a depth of sentiment little suspected by those who knew him but casually."
August 20, 1834, Mr. Fairchild married Helen Childs, second daughter of Hon. Perry G. Childs. She died in Cazenovia, October
1, 1892. Her father was a native of Pittsfield, Mass., and a graduate of Williams College. He came to Cazenovia a young man in
1804, and, entering into the practice of law; kept his residence here till his death. He served in the State Senate from 1819 to 1823, and in 1822 was a member of the Governor's Council. The maiden name of his wife was Catherine Ledyard. She was born in Morristown, N. J., daughter of Benjamin and
Catherine (Forman) Ledyard. Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild had three children-- Katharine, Charles S., and Sophia. The first-named was married to the late John Stebbins, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work. Sophia is the wife of Rev. T. G. Jackson, rector of the Episcopal church at Flatbush, L.I. The only son, Charles S., late Secretary of the United States Treasury, married Helen Lincklaen, daughter of Ledyard and Helen Clarissa (Seymour) Lincklaen.
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