Franklin Fairbanks

Franklin Fairbanks (June 18, 1828 – April 24, 1895) was an American businessman, natural scientist, collector, political figure, and one of the founders and first trustees of Rollins College.

Franklin Fairbanks
Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Delegate to the Vermont Republican State Committee from Caledonia County
In office
Moderator of St. Johnsbury, Vermont
In office
In office
Personal details
Born(1828-06-18)June 18, 1828
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
DiedApril 24, 1895(1895-04-24) (aged 66)
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Political partyWhig, Republican
RelationsErastus Fairbanks (father)
Horace Fairbanks (brother)
Thaddeus Fairbanks (uncle)
Ephraim Paddock (grand-uncle)
ProfessionBusinessman, politician, biologist, collector


The son of Erastus Fairbanks and brother of Horace Fairbanks, Franklin Fairbanks was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont on June 18, 1828.[1]

At age 18, he entered Fairbanks Scales, the family business which manufactured platform scales. He became president of the company in 1888. Fairbanks was also an officer and director in a number of railroad, mining, manufacturing, banking, and telegraph businesses.

During the Civil War Fairbanks served on the staffs of Governors Hiland Hall and his father Erastus, with the rank of colonel, responsible for raising, equipping and training troops for the Union Army and dispatching them to the front lines.[2] In addition, he supervised Fairbanks Scales' production of matériel for the war effort, including artillery harness irons and other horse tack.

A Republican, he was a longtime member of Vermont's Republican State Committee. He was Town Meeting Moderator from 1871 to 1873 and 1879 to 1884. He was also a member of the Vermont House of Representatives and served as Speaker from 1872 to 1874.[3][4] In 1877 he received an honorary Master of Arts (M.A.) degree from Dartmouth College.

Fairbanks was a trustee of St. Johnsbury Academy.[5] He donated the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium to the town of St. Johnsbury.,[6] along with his collection of natural science specimens and related artifacts.[7]

Fairbanks came to Winter Park, Florida, in 1881 with his friend and business associate, Charles Hosmer Morse, who was also from St. Johnsbury. Fairbanks was one of the founders of the city, and was one of the first investors to purchase lakefront property. Fairbanks was one of the first trustees of Rollins College and contributed towards its founding.[3][8]

Death and burial

He died in St. Johnsbury on April 24, 1895.[9] He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in St. Johnsbury.[10]


His house in St. Johnsbury at 30 Western Avenue is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.[11]

The annual Franklin Fairbanks Award is presented to individuals who have made positive contributions to the operation and direction of the Fairbanks Museum.[12]


  1. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, by Hiram Carleton, pages 111 to 113
  2. Men of Vermont Illustrated, compiled by Jacob G. Ullery, 1894, pages 127 to 128
  3. Winter Park Founder's Biographies Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Political Graveyard entry, Franklin Fairbanks
  5. The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, published The Biographical Society (Boston), 1904, Fairbanks -- Fairbanks page
  6. A New Awakening Recovery Path Today in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, by Dick B. and Ken B., Alcoholics Anonymous website, 2008
  7. St. Johnsbury Community Archives Guide to Historic Records Archived 2008-05-18 at the Wayback Machine, by Selene Colburn, Archivist, undated, pages 5 to 6
  8. Winter Park in Vintage Postcards, by Robin Chapman, 2005, page 7
  9. Death notice, Franklin Fairbanks, Farm Implement News Daily magazine, published by National Association of Agricultural Implement Manufacturers, October 22, 1895, page 17
  10. Franklin Fairbanks at Find a Grave, retrieved January 12, 2014
  11. Franklin Fairbanks House page, Landmark website, accessed January 29, 2012
  12. Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association, Franklin Fairbanks Award Celebration, March 9, 2013
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Herbert Joyce
Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives
Succeeded by
H. Henry Powers
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