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Lucius Fairchild papers, 1819-1943

Fairchild, Lucius, 1831-1896


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  • RESTRICTED: PH 3-2861 and PH 6439 may be viewed only under staff supervision.


  • Papers of Lucius Fairchild, a Wisconsin Civil War general, Republican governor (1866-1872), and United States consul and diplomatic representative (1872-1881) at Liverpool, Paris, and Madrid; including extensive general correspondence, records of his public offices, speeches and writings, and diaries. The correspondence also concerns Fairchild's father, Jairus Cassius Fairchild, a businessman and the first mayor of Madison, Wisconsin; his siblings, Cassius, Charles, and Sarah Fairchild; his wife Frances Bull Fairchild; and daughter Mary Fairchild Morris. The correspondence of Sarah Fairchild, later Mrs. Eliab B. Dean and Mrs. Obadiah Conover, forms a valuable source of information for social history and description of the life of women in Madison, Wisconsin, and during the middle 1850s, in Superior, Wisconsin. Civil War letters from all three Fairchild sons are included. Lucius served with the 1st and 2nd Wisconsin Infantry regiments, Cassius served with the 16th Wisconsin, and Charles was a Navy paymaster.
  • The collection affords slight information on political affairs before 1870. The later material consists of correspondence with other consular representatives; descriptions of the Fairchilds' activities and travel; correspondence with British businessmen in regard to the financing of American railroads in the early 1870s; detailed descriptions of a yachting trip on the Mediterranean and of a bullfight in Spain; and information on the relief of American seamen and routine matters connected with consular service. Miscellaneous matters to which the general correspondence relates include activities of the GAR and other Civil War veterans' organizations (post 1885) and Fairchild's service in 1889 as a member of the Cherokee Commission in Oklahoma.
  • The collection also touches on early Madison buildings; boat building at Necedah, Wisconsin; Fairchild lumbering interests and the cranberry industry in Wood County in 1861; the Green Bay and Mississippi Canal, railroad interests of Jay Cooke in Wisconsin, circa 1871; grants of lands for railroads in the early 1870s; and investments. Letterbooks of outgoing correspondence, as well as financial record books, concern Lucius Fairchild's years as governor and as a foreign diplomat in Liverpool and Paris. Fee books and other volumes relate to Lucius' tenure as Dane County circuit court clerk, 1859-1861. Two reels of microfilmed clipping scrapbooks about Lucius Fairchild's career are available in the Society Library.
  • The family papers consist of financial records and correspondence relating to the leather and general mercantile business enterprises of Jairus Fairchild at Franklin Mills and Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1830s and 1840s, and to the general mercantile and real estate operations of the family after its removal to Madison in 1846. Other papers concern the development of the Watertown and Madison Railroad of which Jairus was president, many invoices of Dr. John T. Wilson concerning his pharmacy and general mercantile business in Madison and accounting records of Dr. Josiah Weston, also concerning a pharmacy and general mercantile business in Madison and elsewhere. Other material consists of household accounts and detailed records of expenditures, genealogies, and transcribed letters of Obadiah M. Conover, the second husband of Sarah Fairchild, 1874-1884.
  • The collection includes 12 groups of studio portraits and photographs of Fairchild and his family, his Madison home and activities, his Civil War associates, and European literary and political leaders. Painting and decorated arts owned by the Fairchild Family are part of the Historical Society Museum Collections; a small oil on paper painting by Alfred Bierstadt is part of this collection.


  • Selected letters, 1849-1855, were published in Joseph Schafer's California Letters of Lucius Fairchild (Madison, 1931).
  • Parts presented by the Fairchild heirs; Mary F. Carpenter; Mrs. Warner Taylor, Madison, Wisconsin, April 1932 and June 25, 1952; Mary E. Hazeltine, September 2, 1938; John C. Hawley; Mary Fairchild Morris (some through the Colonial Dames), and Mrs. Maurice Reuter, Madison, Wisconsin, 1977-1979.
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