Woman of the Century/Elizabeth B. Fairbanks
FAIRBANKS, Mrs. Elizabeth B., philanthropist, born in Elbridge. Onondaga county, N.Y., 17th October, 1831. Her father was Dr. Jared W. Wheeler, a physician of considerable prominence. Her mother's maiden name was Electa Brown, a Quakeress by birth and education, having received school instruction at the "Hive," under the supervision of the Motts. From such parentage she naturally inherited clear perceptions, generous impulses and a sympathetic heart, combined with pure aims and unusual practical ability. Her maiden name was Wheeler. She was educated in the Monroe Collegiate Institute. founded by her uncle, Nathan Monroe, and in the Auburn Female Seminary. In 1857 she became the wife of John I. Fairbanks, of the firm of Ford & Fairbanks, booksellers in Milwaukee, Wis. , in which city they have ever since resided. Her benevolent work in that city commenced the first Sabbath after her arrival, and as her husband was a young deacon in the First Presbyterian Church, mission-school work claimed her early attention. She was one of the prime movers in various local charities, which have enlarged and broadened as time has advanced. She took to the State of Wisconsin the first plans for the organization of the present associated charities, and to her efforts is due in large measure the securing of the Wisconsin Slate Public School for Dependent Children. In 1880 she was appointed by the governor a member of the State Board of Charities and Reform, on which she served for a period of eleven years, being the only woman member. During that time the board became noted for its advanced views and methods of treating and caring for the chronic insane in the county asylums, a ELIZABETH B. FAIRBANKS. system pronounced by all who have investigated it superior to any other ever devised. By virtue of her official position and attention to its duties she soon became familiar with the condition and management of every institution in the State, winning friends wherever she went and becoming a welcome visitor and valued adviser both to officials and inmates, irrespective of nationality, religion or creed.