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Dad Fairbanks

Dad Fairbanks

Taken for the Photo Challnge Group's theme Father

Ralph Fairbanks -- 'Dad' of the High Desert

by Barstow Steve Smith
from the Desert Dispatch

When I first started researching "Backward Glance" I was surprised to find the connections between different histories in the High Desert, and one family name that popped up a lot was Fairbanks. It got so bad that I noticed that a lot of my friends were also related to the Fairbanks. On April 24 Pat Schoffstall (a great granddaughter) invited me to a celebration of the life of Ralph Jacobus "Dad" Fairbanks, the patriarch of the Fairbanks family, and his founding of Fairbanks Spring in 1905. At the celebration I learned a lot about Dad's life and was amazed by all the interesting, humorous, and influential things he did in our desert.
Ralph Jacobus Fairbanks was born in 1857 to Mormon parents from Massachusetts. They were part of the Mormon migration that ended in Utah. Dad's family grew up in Payson, Utah. Dad was the family's ninth child. He went to school at Payson and, as was typical in the day, quit at the eighth grade. He did a number of different jobs there and at 16 began working for Payson Mercantile at a trade that he would do for a large part of his life. At the mercantile he once met Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormon Church. During this time he numbered among his group of colorful friends: Tecopa Joe, son of Chief Tecopa of the Shoshone tribe, and another local boy named Leroy Parker, later known as Butch Cassidy.
After he worked in the mercantile for a bit he decided to go tromp around Nevada where he did many different jobs. In 1876 he got a job as a swamper with a wagon train that ran from Las Vegas to San Bernardino. This was the first time that he saw our desert that in the future would bear his mark.
In 1879 he went back to Payson and married Celesta Johnson, with whom he eventually had eleven children; eight grew to adulthood. He became a freighter then and also, on orders from the Mormon Church, homesteaded the town of Annabella, Utah. While there he continued working as a freighter, hauling logs for the new town.
As a young man Ralph Fairbanks was nicknamed "Long Man" (because of his height) and later he was given a nickname that stuck throughout his life. One of the jobs the church assigned to him was as a "talker" to the local Indians. He could speak both Ute and Paiute. The Indians saw that all the children and his wife called him Dad, so they figured that was his name and it stuck. Everyone, including his own brothers, began calling him Dad.
In 1900 he got a job grading a railroad bed for the Salt Lake City to Las Vegas Railroad. When the job was finished he started a livery stable in Las Vegas, but he felt that Las Vegas had no future and began looking elsewhere for business opportunities.
At this time the country was just starting to become electrified and copper was a big commodity. So Dad looked to Greenwater, California, for an opportunity. He found it in Ash Meadows, about 25 miles north of Greenwater. He realized there was need for a freight stop in the area and in 1905 he purchased some acreage around a spring that is now called Fairbanks Spring.
The family moved to Fairbanks Spring and quickly set up a small collection of tent businesses, In all they established a small general store, a diner and a few tents that they would rent out to travelers. It was at Fairbanks Spring that Dad's daughter Stella saw her first "otto"(automobile).
If you went to Fairbanks Spring Dad, would get your money somehow. If you came in and didn't need groceries, something to eat or a place to stay you might be able to lose your money playing poker with Dad -- he was an avid player. He was known to always carry his money in one jacket pocket and a gun in the other to keep games fair. It is rumored that some of the pots in Dad's games reached into the thousands. Also at Fairbanks Spring there was a minor humorous attraction in Dad's dog Donahue. Dad cooled his bottles of whiskey in a nearby spring and trained Donahue to go into the water and fetch the bottles. People were entertained by the enabler dog.
Dad also made money hauling goods to Fairbanks Spring, Greenwater and Las Vegas. Greenwater was the biggest town in the area. The main income for the town was copper mining and the big problem was they didn't have any copper ore. The whole town was a scam and only lasted 13 months.
Next week come back to read about what Dad Fairbanks did when Greenwater folded and about the first of the two towns he founded.

Last week I told you about the beginnings of Ralph "Dad" Fairbanks' businesses that he ran in Nevada and California.
This week I will tell you the story of one of the towns started by Dad.
When Greenwater folded it cut off Dad's business at Fairbanks Spring. He went looking for another opportunity and found it in 1908-1909 at a small siding on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad several m



People here rent these folding tables and chairs. Not a good investment. When folded this takes up little room, This particular one has short legs. The measurements are: 46 cm high x 39 wide X 182 long. Solid. You can dance on this one.
Come on over and make a reasonable offer.

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19.10.2011. u 17:16 • 0 KomentaraPrint#

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