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James Fair

He is written about in the 1901 Biographic sketches of Cowley County. He came in the spring of 1870.
[1870]  PAGE 365.
JAMES FAIR was a self-made man and a practical farmer residing in Bolton Township, in the southwest quarter of section 8, township 34, range 3 east. He was born in Huntington County, Indiana, and was a son of Alexander M. and Elizabeth (Black) Fair.
Alexander M. Fair, his father, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, and was of English descent. During his early life he moved to Huntington County, Indiana, and when James was a babe of several months, transferred his residence to Dayton, Ohio. While he was living there, the Civil War broke out and he enlisted in an Ohio regiment, in which he served three months. He then reenlisted and served throughout the war. He received many wounds, particularly at the battle of Gettysburg, and two weeks after returning home, died from his injuries. His wife, who was of Scotch-Irish descent, died before the Civil War, when James was a mere boy. Five children were in the Fair family:  George M., of Dayton, Ohio, who was a lad of 14 when he went off to the war, and afterward became blind from the effects of a wound; Elizabeth, who also lived in Dayton, and took care of her brother, George M.; James, the subject hereof; Adeline (Hurlbert), who lived in Chicago, where her husband was engineer in the ice plant of The Consumers Company, Chicago; and Charles B., who was superintendent of The Consumers Company's ice plant, and was married, having one child.
James Fair was obliged to hustle for himself when thirteen years of age, and began to learn the machinist's trade, first working for Pritz & Kuhns, and later, for Stillwell, Bearse & Company. With the latter company he remained many years, and upon leaving them in 1870, journeyed to Kansas. At Dayton, Ohio, a family named Pruden lived near his home, the paternal head of which still lived there, in 1901, aged 86. With the sons, James Fair was intimate. These boys and James traveled together to Kansas, going by rail to Florence, where James took the stage to Arkansas City. The Pruden boys bought two mules at Kansas City and drove through, and with them James Fair was wont to exchange work--the Pruden boys doing his plowing.
In the spring of 1870, Mr. Fair preempted his present claim, and upon it he at once built a 10 by 12 foot shanty, in which he "bached" many years. The first year he broke land with an axe, and planted some sod corn, and the next year he broke with a plow a considerable area, which he planted in wheat, and from it reaped a large crop. In 1872, he sold his claim to H. B. Pruden, and returning to Dayton, worked for Stillwell, Bearse & Company until 1874. In that year, he returned to Kansas, and began working for Mr. Pruden. At a later period, he bought his old farm back, and lived on it ever since. Mr. Pruden had built a small house, which later formed a part of Mr. Fair's handsome eight-room house. He set out various kinds of trees, and an orchard which covered 13 acres. One year his wife crated over 300 bushels of peaches and 30 bushels of apricots. It required but nine peaches, cut in halves and closely packed, to fill a quart jar. These peaches were not only large, but were equally delicious. In the fall of 1897, Mr. Fair's present barn, with dimensions of 35 by 40 feet, was completed; and in the fall of 1900 his new granary, 26 by 32 feet in size, was finished. He raised all kinds of crops, and much attention was devoted to the breeding of Poland-China hogs and Norman horses. The building site on his farm is high, and afforded a beautiful view to the south of Bolton Township.

Mr. Fair married Eleanor S. Robinson, a daughter of J. W. and Lucretia (Hunt) Robinson. She was born in Tennessee, and traveled extensively after attaining the age of seventeen years. Her parents located in Cowley County in 1881. Her mother died when she was three years of age. There were five children in the Robinson family:  William, who was a hotel keeper and farmer at Blackwell, Oklahoma; Margaret E. (Long), deceased, who resided at Hopkinsville, Kentucky; David, who died in infancy; Eleanor S., Mr. Fair's wife; and L. S., who lived in the Indian Territory.
Mr. and Mrs. Fair had two sons:  Henry P. and Charles N.
Mr. Fair, a Republican, served as justice of the peace. Religiously, Mrs. Fair was a Presbyterian.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum