Tag Archives: John Forrest

Meet the Fairbanks Family

I’ve been doing a lot of work this week on the family of my great-great grandmother Annie Prescott Duff (1847-1930).  Annie’s son John Prescott Forrest married Lulu Cairns and John & Lulu were the parents of my father’s mother, Mildred Jean Forrest [Thomas].

Annie Prescott Duff

Annie was born in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She had two brothers and two sisters, and was the daughter of a well-known Presbyterian minister in Nova Scotia.  She ended up marrying another well-known Presbyterian minister in Nova Scotia… my great-great grandfather John Forrest, about whom I’ve written several blogs and will probably write several more.

I spent a fair amount of time fleshing out the lives of Annie and her siblings, William Menzies Duff (1849-1920), Kenneth Kilgore Duff (1852-1925), Margaret Charlotte Duff (1853-1939) and Isabella Charlotte Duff (1854-1951).  Then I started getting into Annie’s father, the Reverend William Duff (born 1809), who ministered at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from 1843 to 1880.  He was born in Perth, Scotland, and married Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks in 1847.  I was actually doing work on William when I came across a book that’s available on the Internet:


It’s called “Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897” written by Lorenzo Sayles Fairbanks in 1897.  Once again, I am related to every person in the book, which is always a strange feeling.

The book mentions that my 3x great grandmother Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks was married to William Duff, “a Presbyterian minister of Perth, Scotland, officiating in Lunenburg, N.S.”.  That’s all it says about my grandmother, but there are little paragraphs describing each of my grandfathers going back to 1595 and Jolly Old England.  Let’s meet them briefly:

Jane Elizabeth’s father was John Eleazer Fairbanks (1793 – 1860) who was a merchant and member of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia.  He was a geologist and mineralogist who “accumulated a very fine collection of native and foreign minerals”.  He married his cousin, Ann Prescott, in 1816.

John’s father was Rufus Fairbanks (1759 – 1842) born in Killingly, CT and died in Halifax, N.S.  He graduated Dartmouth College (in Mass.) in 1784 and then moved to Halifax.  He was “a useful and public-spirited citizen, and a prominent magistrate”.  He “inherited a large property from his uncle [Joseph Fairbanks] on which he erected several buildings.  He gave his family every advantage in education and left his children the heritage of an upright and honorable name.”  He married Ann Prescott 12 Oct 1766.  Apparently Ann was the issue of two families (the Prescotts and the Blackdens) who were “families of high standing”.

Rufus’s father was the Reverand Eleazer Fairbanks (1716-1760), who was born in Sherborn, Mass and moved to Plainfield, Conn, then to Killingly, Conn.  He married Prudence Cary and had seven children.  He was a member of the congregational church from 1753 onward.

Eleazer’s father was Captain Eleasur Fairbanks (1690-1741), who was born and died in Sherborn, Mass.  He married the daughter of Captain Samuel Bullard, Martha, on Christmas Day 1712.  They had a dozen children, several of whom led noteworthy lives.

Captain Fairbanks’s father was Eliesur Fairbanks (1655-1741), who also lived in Sherborn, Mass.  He married Martha Lovett in 1676 and they had six children.

Eleisur’s father was Captain George Fairbanks (1619 – 1683) who came with his father from England and resided in Dedham, Mass until 1657 when they moved to Sherborn.  He was said to be the first settler there and “was an esteemed citizen and one of the selectmen, and a member of the Artillery Company”.  He drowned in 1682 or 3.  He was married in 1646 to Mary Adams and they had seven children.

George’s father was Jonathan Fairbanks (1595-1668), who was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England and came to Boston in 1633 with his family.  He signed the Covenant when the town of Dedham, Mass. was established and named.  He married Grace Lee Smith and they had six children, all born in England prior to coming to the US.  Of him it was written, “Jonathan was evidently not of the lower classes, but had a fair education, and was a man of strong common sense, sound judgment and good executive ability.  He held some minor town offices [in Dedham, Mass.], but was not prominent in public affairs.  He appears rather as a sturdy, industrious, thrifty and independent pioneer, content to live and labor within the sphere in which is lot had been cast.”

The Fairbanks Coat of Arms

Jonathan built the “Fairbanks House” in Dedham, Mass about 1654, which still stands today.  He and his family lived there for several generations:

The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Mass.

A Final Letter

Tom Forrest sent me this remarkable letter tonight from the scrapbook of Helen “Duffy” Forrest (his aunt, my grand-aunt).  It was written on June 9th, 1920 by my 2nd great grandfather John Forrest, the president of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, to my great-grandfather John Prescott “Jack” Forrest.  The father died just two weeks later on June 22, 1920.

John Forrest (1842-1920), President of Dalhousie University.

His son, John Prescott "Jack" Forrest.

I don’t think it’s my imagination that the handwriting gets weaker at the end of the letter.  It shows John Prescott to be an optimistic man, and concerned about his beloved University until the very last.  I also really like how he refers to my great-grandmother Lulu as “Lou”.  It’s very sweet.

Halifax June 9th 1920

Dear Jack,

I am glad to get your letter.  We are always pleased to hear from you even if it is only a few lines so continue to send us a short letter frequently.

I think I can say that I am very considerably improved.  The doctors say so and I feel that way myself, although I am instructed to keep very quiet for a while longer.  I sit up almost all day but do not move about much.

We are having somewhat better weather which they tell me will be favorable to my case.  I hope the time may soon come when they will let me move about a little.

Dalhousie has been having a forward movement and they have met with great success.  Mrs. Eddy of Ottawa gave them $300,000 for a girl’s residence and they expect to raise $400,000 in(?) Irma Scalia.  They already have $400,000.  Then the Carnegie people have given $500.000 and the Rockefeller $500.000 so that they will likely add his(?) millions to the funds of the University which is a wonderful advance on the old order of things.

I cannot write much more just now.  Write me soon and I hope to be able to do better soon.

Love to Lou and the children,


More Items from Tom Forrest

Tom Forrest sent me a few remarkable family history items tonight.

First, here is a photo that seems to be of my father at about one year old. I’ve sent it to him to verify it, but it sure looks like my father to me:

Likely Fred Thomas III at about a year old.

The next photo is quite mystifying to me. He said that it’s Lulu Cairns (it is) with her first husband John “Jack” Forrest. However, Lulu was only 4 years younger than John Forrest her husband, and I have a photo of him (I believe) that looks nothing like this man who seems to be much older than her. I don’t believe it’s John Forrest her father-in-law, because even in his later years he had more hair than this. Lulu looks about 30 here which means Jack Forrest would have been about 34. This man looks to be at least 50 if not 55. I’m wondering if it could it possibly be her father Samuel Cairns?

Update: Tom has confirmed that this is, indeed, Samuel Cairns! This is the first photo of him that I have seen!

Lulu Cairns and her father, Samuel Cairns (1856-1941) about 1920.

This last item is equally remarkable. It’s a telegram from Archie Forrest (b 1875) to my great-grandfather John “Jack” Forrest informing him of the death of their father (who was also named John Forrest). It was sent on June 23rd, 1920, the day John Forrest the elder died. It also mentions their brother George Forrest (b 1878) and John’s employment at the Remington Typewriter Company in Newark, New Jersey. George was working for the same company in New York at the time.

Forrest Family

Spent some time tonight working on the family of John Forrest and Annie Duff.  I also realized I need to put a lot more time into the Duffs.  Apparently I haven’t visited that part of the family in a while and the records there need a lot of tidying up.

One thing I’ll say about the family of John Forrest is that they travelled a lot.  Lots of cruises and trips overseas for that family.  They also had servants.  They were used to a higher class of living.  They were doctors, presidents of universities, civil engineers, etc.  Many of the kids also moved around a lot, which makes them harder than usual to find in the Census reports.

George Forrest seems to have been married twice, once to an Elizabeth C. “Bessie”, and once to an Agnes.   The changeover seems to have been about 1924.

Thomas Family Photos

About six years ago my dad came to see me and, for some reason, brought a big pile of old family photos.  I was curious about them, but not curious enough.  We went through them, then he brought them back home.  Since then he hasn’t been able to find them.  I remembered that I took digital photos of some of the more interesting photos he brought, so I went back in my archives and found them.  There are only four, but they all are pretty great.

One is of my great-great grandfather John Forrest (who was a clergyman and later president of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) in his academic robes looking very serious.  It was probably taken in about 1910.

One is of my father, and is his high school senior yearbook photo.  He looks strikingly handsome and serious.  His hair is so great!

There are two others that are so far unidentified.  I’ve sent my dad an email asking about them.  One is a fantastic portrait of a man in a tie with a jeweled horse-shoe tie pin.  He looks very like a Thomas to me, and judging by his age and the age of the photo, I’m thinking 2nd great-grandparent-ish in age.  Not sure who it could be apart from perhaps a Clifford or a Cairns, though, so it could just as likely be a Thomas great-uncle of some kind.  There were plenty of those.  He does look a lot like my dad, though.

Update: This is my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest, who was Lulu Cairns’s first (of four) husbands.  He’s my dad’s grandfather, hence the resemblance.  Family legend has it that Lulu drove him to drink by cheating on him with other men, then divorced him for drinking too much.

The last photo is kind of exciting, although it’s the worst of the four in terms of how the photo of the photo turned out.  It appears to be a very old photograph of a very old woman.  I’d say the photo looks to be around 1910 and the woman appears to be at least 70 in the photograph, so someone born about 1840.  She’s wearing a long black dress (aren’t they all?) with rosary-beads or a necklace of a similar style around her neck.  She’s standing outside of a home in the sunshine somewhere.  We’ll see what my father says about it.

Update:  This is apparently Annie E. Prescott Duff, who was the wife of John Forrest (he of the academic robes above).  She was born in 1847, so I wasn’t far off.