|George Rainsford Fairbanks
St. Augustine Florida
(July 5,1820 - August 2, 1906)
George Fairbanks was a native of Watertown, N. Y. born on July 5, 1820. His father was a lieutenant in the war of 1812.
His maternal grandfather was in the revolutionary war. He had three brothers Samuel (1818-81), Andrew Jackson
(1826-98?), and Jason Massey (1828-94). George attended Watertown and Belleville academies in New York and
graduated from Union college in Schenectady, N. Y. He had an A. B. and an A. M. degree. He also received an honorary
degree of A. M. from Trinity college, in Hartford Conn. He studied law under Judge Joseph Millin of New York and in
1842 was admitted to the bar at Watertown.
Judge Isaac Bronson of the United States district court of Florida appointed him clerk of court. He moved to St.
Augustine. He was clerk from 1842 to 1846. From 1846-47 he was a member of the Florida State Senate. In 1848 he
was a presidential elector on the ticket of General Lewis Cass (Cass ran against Whig Zachary Taylor.) Then he
practiced law in St. Augustine until 1859. Hon. Reverdy Johnson of Maryland moved to admitt him to practice in the
supreme court of the United States. In 1856 he helped found the Florida Historical Society. In 1857 he was Mayor of St.
Augustine. In 1859 Mr. Fairbanks moved to Tallahassee for one year.
From 1844 through 1855 he had served as aide-de-camp to the Governor of Florida with the rank of Colonel. He was
master in chancery in the District of East Florida, appointed November 4, 1844; attorney, solicitor, and counselor in the
several courts of Florida, appointed March 12, 1845, master in chancery for the East Circuit of the state of Florida,
commissioner of common schools of the state of Florida appointed January 7, 1847; clerk of the Court of the Northern
District of Florida at the city of St. Augustine, appointed November 23, 1848; commissioner of deeds for the Court of
Claims, Washington, D.C., appointed July 21, 1855; clerk of the District Court of the United States for the Northern
District of Florida, appointed June 20, 1856; attorney and counselor of the Supreme Court of the United States,
appointed February 3, 1857; commissioner of deeds for the state of New York in the state of Florida, appointed
November 7, 1857, state senator.
He entered the Confederate service with the rank of major in the quartermaster's department under General Braxton
Bragg. By the end of the war he was chief quartermaster in the hospital department of the Army of Tennessee.
During the Civil War his house was destroyed by Union troops and the contents scattered. After the war he posted a
notice in the St. Augustine Examiner (February 9, 1867) seeking the return of any of his books that could be found. He
asked that they send them to the store of George Burt.
After the war he became treasurer of the University of the South and commissioner of buildings and lands in Sewanee
In 1880 he moved to Fernandina to become Editor of the Florida Mirror. He served as Chairman of the Board of Public
He was a deputy of the Episcopal church for 50 years.
His books included The History and Antiquities of St. Augustine, and The History of Florida.
At Adams New York in October 1842 he married Sarah S. Wright (February 9, 1818-March 22, 1858) the sister of Mrs.
Whipple, the wife of the bishop of Minnesota and the daughter of Judge Benjamin Wright. . After her death he married
on April 26, 1860 in Chicago to Mrs. Susan Beard Wright (September 8, 1826-January 5,1911) the daughter of Major
John Beard of Tallahassee former comptroller of the State of Florida.
George had seven children: Charles Massey (April 4, 1850-February 23, 1881) died at Gainseville, George Ward
(March 5, 1852-January 15, 1853); his daughters, Mrs. Horace Drew (Gertrude) (April 27, 1854-May 27, 1893) of
Jacksonville, Mrs. C. M. Beckwith (Susan Rainsford)(July 19, 1861-October 30, 1885) who died at Galveston, Mrs. A. E.
Cornish of Charleston (Sara Catherine) (February 11, 1858-January 6, 1918), Mrs. Eva Lee Glass of Summerville, S. C.
(March 29, 1865 - September 29, 1952), and Miss Florida Fairbanks (July 24, 1848-November 24, 1931) of New York.
He died on August2, 1906 at the age of 86 in Sewanee.