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(pioneer icon)1924

MRS. LUCIUS FAIRCHILD Contributed by the John Bell Chapter, D. A. R.

Frances Bull was born in Detroit, Michigan, on November 14, 1846. Her ancestry was English. Her father died when she was very young, leaving his widow with six small children, and in about two years the mother married Elisha Smith Lee, a New Yorker who was practicing law in Washington, D. C. Judge Lee was a widower with several children and in time another child, Charles S. Lee was added to the family. After the death of their parents the Lee and Bull children lived together, the older sisters looking after the younger ones. During the war Frances Bull often visited the hospitals along with her sisters to bring cheer to the wounded. Girls grew up early in those days and by the time she was fifteen or sixteen Frances knew a good many of the officers, and she and her sisters were invited to dine at officers' mess. On April 27, 1864, she married Colonel Lucius Fairchild of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry. Colonel Fairchild had served with distinction, losing his left arm at Gettysburg. In 1863 he was commissioned Brigadier General but gave this up to become Secretary of State of Wisconsin, so Mrs. Fairchild was plunged immediately after her marriage into a political life.

Frances Bull's birthplace

young Lucius Fairchild

2nd Wisc Infantry Camp

In September, 1865, Colonel Fairchild was nominated by acclaimation as candidate for Governor of Wisconsin and was elected. He served three terms. During this time Mrs. Fairchild helped her husband as few women could. There was no Governor's mansion and so they lived in the family homestead on Monona Avenue where Mrs. Fairchild had come as a bride and where she still lives. She always welcomed her husband's friends and with her tact and charm made the shyest legislator feel at home. Many a knotty question was decided at through Monona. During the session Mrs. Fairchild held a reception every week, which as the house was not large, a few of the members came each time. These receptions were held early so that the men could get back for the evening sessions in the capitol.

Fairchild hospitality

While Mrs. Fairchild never desired power for herself, there was one time when she had on her own initiative to act as Governor of Wisconsin. It was during the Chicago fire when the governor and all the state officers were in Chicago in conference to see what could be done to help. The women of Madison were gathering clothes and supplies to send down to the fire victims as soon as the orders should arrive at the city hall. Late one night word came in from Peshtigo in northern Wisconsin that part of the State was all on fire, and would the governor please send help. Such a message could not be ignored and so, as there was no officer in town to authorize a plan, Mrs. Fairchild gave the orders herself. Knowing that the entire country was rushing to the aid of Chicago, she gathered the clothes and supplies from the City Hall and ordering a special train, sent them to the little northern town where they were so much needed. The act was characteristic of her; to see what to do and to do it, but never to seek any power or conspicuous place for herself.

Lucius & Caryl Fairchild in London

In 1872, after he had served as governor for six years, General Fairchild was offered the post consul at Liverpool then one of the most important consulates, and in December of that year General and Mrs. Fairchild and their two young daughters set sail for England. They spent six years in Liverpool where they made friends and learned to love England. Their third daughter was born there. In 1878 General Fairchild was promoted to Consul General at Paris. Here Mrs. Fairchild again was a great success, her charm and tact and beauty gathering about her still more friends. The next move came in 1880 when General Fairchild was sent to Spain as the American minister. He filled this post for two years, but part of that time Mrs. Fairchild spent in Germany in order that her daughters might perfect themselves in German as they had in French. In 1882 Gen. and Mrs. Fairchild decided that the time had come for them to return to their own country in order that their children would not be entirely weaned from America, and so they came back to the old homestead in Madison. Here Mrs. Fairchild has lived ever since.

Frances Fairchild & daughter

Fairchild girls

Gen. Fairchild died on May 23, 1896 and since that time Mrs. Fairchild has carried on alone; keeping the house the center of the best type of social and intellectual life; entertaining many of her husband's friends and countless numbers of her own. She always does her bit with dignity and courage, and feels a keen and real interest in any movement which stands for the betterment of the community. She feels an active interest in all matters in the church, womens' clubs, and charities of the city.

Lucius Fairchild

In the memorial of General Fairchild sent out by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States of which General Fairchild was a Commander in Chief it says:

"In April, 1864, General Fairchild united in marriage with Frances Bull of Washington, whose acquaintance he had formed while in military service. A lady of rarest social accomplishments and most winning manners; she is especially gifted to assist him and bear a wife's part in the social duties incident to his public life. She accompanied him in his foreign service and wherever their household was set up there was the radiance of a happy home, and a hospitality charming to all and to the American abroad a delightful reminder of the ideal home of his native land. All the thousands who shared it remember the occasion among their happiest memories. Of his home in Madison and of her the center of its gladsome light and love, President Adams of the University of Wisconsin has truthfully and gracefully said, "Who that has ever shared the hospitality of that fireside can fail to remember the freedom, the heartiness and the charm that has made captives of us all. How then can our hearts fail to bow down in respectful sympathy to her whose gracious presence has ever left its impress of taste, radiance and happiness in every nook and corner of that beautiful home by the beautiful lake, and whose highest praise is that she has ever been worthy of the companionship of her noble and beloved husband."

Frances, Lucius, family & friends

"Mrs. Lucius Fairchild." Sketches of Wisconsin pioneer women. Fort Atkinson, Wis. : Hoard & Sons, [1924?]. 51-54.
From the GLS Department of Special Collections reference room: CT 268 D4.