Monday, March 31, 2014

Joshua Fairbanks - A soldier in the Revolution

1727 – 1781
(Family Lineage: 1  Joshua Fairbanks; John Fairbanks; 3  Theophilus Fairbanks; 4  Elizabeth Fairbanks; 5  Sarah Elizabeth Lane; 6  Estella Elizabeth Foss; 7 Harold Victor Hayward; 8  Judith Ann Hayward)

This plaque was erected by the Capt. Job Knapp Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1923. It reads: “Old Boston-Hartford Turnpike Douglas Center Cemetery;  
Erected in memory of forty-six soldiers of the American Revolution who are buried here. 
They endured hardship and death for freedom and independence.”

     Joshua Fairbanks was one of the soldiers honored on this plaque.  His family had deep roots in America, going back into the 1600s. His mother, Hannah Coolidge, was born in Massachusetts in 1692. His father, Jonathan, was a second generation American physician who served in the French and Indian War and built a large home in Dedham, Massachusetts which is now known as the “Fairbanks House Museum”and open to the public.

      Joshua's wife, Lydia Ellis, was the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Adams and second cousin of John and Samuel Adams. Joshua and Lydia were married in 1753 and had 9 children, several of whom also fought in the War.

      Before his marriage, Joshua was elected as a Selectman in Douglas, Massachusetts. This group was composed of unhappy patriots who were greatly disturbed by the continuing imposition of unfair taxes by the British. To make matters worse, there were well-documented atrocities by officers of the crown who threw some of the local people into slavery and bondage for minor infractions.

      In 1774, Joshua participated in reorganizing the local Douglas militia, which was soon incorporated into the Massachusetts Seventh Regiment  (www., William A. Emerson, "History of the town of Douglas (Massachusetts : from the earliest period to the close of 1878"). On June 24, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the town, with not a single vote being recorded in opposition to it.

      Joshua's first military confrontation with the British was as a Lieutenant and Minute Man in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 where he fought under his brother-in-law, Captain Caleb Whiting (whose first wife was Joshua's deceased sister, Hannah).

The following is an excerpt from a description of the battle: 
"On the night of April 18th, 1775, a British force of seven hundred men departed Boston Town for Concord to seize and destroy arms and munitions stored there by New England colonists legally organized as Minutemen. 

It was a long and difficult night for the British force, made no easier by the obvious fact that the countryside had been aroused, was armed and was shadowing their march.
Lexington, eleven miles northwest of Boston brought the first confrontation in what would become the American Revolution. 

Disturbed by what appeared to be the preparation of a coming attack, the British fired a volley in what they later stated was a warning not to advance further. There was no response to the British volley until Silas Marner, a Minute Man grazed by a bullet, shouted 'Fire, for God's sake, fire!'  

Here, by an accumulation of such events, was the first intentional colonial resistance by an authorized and organized colonial force. It was here at the 'Old North Bridge' that the 'Shot, heard round the world' - now immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson in a poem written in 1837 – was fired.

 In 1781, at age 54, Joshua collapsed of heat exhaustion while marching in a 4th of July parade. He died the next day. His military service has been certified by both the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) and the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).use of his "advancing years" and the "younger age of superior officers" (he was 51).