Fermilab History and Archives Project

Fairbank Farm: Site 3

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Fairbank Family History

James and John Fairbank, born in England and later residents of New York State, were early settlers in the Big Woods area. They came to the United States with their father, Francis Fairbank, in 1825 and moved to Winfield Township in 1837 to settle the land. It is said that the first threshing machine in the county was brought to Winfield by the Fairbank brothers in 1848. James and John became accomplished farmers and then leaders of the township and DuPage County. James married Electa P. Chandler in 1835 and one of their sons, Allen H. Fairbank, became a prominent citizen of the area. He married Lydia Martin in 1876 and they had four children together.

John married Permelia Levens and they had six children. One of their sons, Judson, continued farming until 1901 when he and his wife, Leah Martin, of Kane County, moved to a large farm in West Chicago with their four children. Another son, John H., married Lulu Cromer, who inherited her parents' home (site 3) at the corner of Eola and Butterfield Roads, near the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad. Lulu’s father, Jeremiah Cromer, had owned two hotels in Chicago and raised Percheron horses on his farm. Theodore Roosevelt once borrowed Lulu's horse for a parade in downtown Chicago. John H.  Fairbank was a gentleman farmer and his wife, Lulu, a talented musician and singer, played the organ at the Big Woods Church until she was 87 years old. Their daughter Lucille married Harold E. Brown, who farmed the land until April, 1968. John H. Fairbank died in 1953 and Lulu died in 1971.

One of the chicken coops behind the home was the former Big Woods School house. Mr. and Mrs. S. B. White (of Site 58), owned the farm for awhile, and it was cared for by Robert Wolsfeld (of Site 57). The water tower from the Fairbank farm still stands near the Eola Road entrance to Fermilab but the historic home was burned down by vandals in 1968.

Click on individual photographs for more information.

Fairbank House Fairbank House Fairbank water tower and chicken coop, formerly Big Woods School, 1968
John Leslie Brown, Mrs. "Lulu" Fairbank and Marlene Brown, circa 1960's Mrs. Gertrude Kapper Geltz, Mrs. John "Lulu" Fairbank and Tillie Borneman, circa 1960's Marlene Brown Kartheiser and Mrs. Harold (Lucille Fairbank) Brown at Marlene's wedding to John Kartheiser
Mr. Harold Brown    

Farm Families

Farm Families