Mandana “Dana” <I>Tileston</I> Fairbank

Mandana “Dana” Tileston Fairbank

Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 29 Sep 1876 (aged 49)
Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Lot 64, grave #1 (Davis Survey); Stone 775 (Weber Transcription)
Memorial ID 10755492 · View Source
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Known as "Dana," Mandana Tileston Fairbank was the first wife of abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank (1816-1898), who served a total of 17 years in the Kentucky State Penitentiary for freeing slaves. She became engaged to him in 1851 while he was on the lecture circuit following his first prison term, 1845-1849. Later that year he returned to Kentucky, was re-arrested and was sentenced in 1852 to a second term of 15 years.
In order to visit Calvin as often as possible, Dana moved from her parents' home in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, to live with the family of J.H. Shuey, a paper manufacturer, in Oxford, Ohio. Here is how the famous Quaker abolitionist Levi Coffin described Dana's devotion to Calvin:

"She sent him bedding, money, boxes of provisions, and strove by every means in her power to make his hard lot more endurable. She cheered him with letters and frequent visits. She 'encompassed him with loving observances,' so that he had the continued assurance of unselfish devotion. She endeavored to obtain his pardon, visiting the Governor of Kentucky and pleading for him with womanly eloquence, but in this she was unsuccessful."

Calvin was pardoned after serving 12 years of his sentence. He and Dana were married in Oxford on June 9, 1864. Their only child, Calvin Cornelius Fairbank, was born in 1868.

Prison life broke Calvin's health. Although he held jobs with missionary and benevolent societies, he could not support his family. At one point he and Dana tried unsuccessfully to earn a living operating a bakery in Florence, Massachusetts.

After Dana died of tuberculosis, Calvin returned to his native New York, leaving their son to be raised by Dana's sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Henry Porter. Calvin remarried in 1879, but little is known of his second wife, Adeline Winegar (b. 1840).

Calvin's memoirs were published in 1890 under the title "Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How He 'Fought the Good Fight' to Prepare 'the Way.'" Unhappily, this effort earned him little money. He died in near-poverty in Angelica, New York, and is buried there beside Adeline in the Until the Day Dawn Cemetery.

I am grateful to Ralmon Jon Black and Eric Weber of the Williamsburg, MA, Historical Commission and to Victor Zononi, Superintendent of the (New) Village Hill Cemetery, for their valuable help in providing information for this biography.

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  • Created by: Michael Walter
  • Added: 11 Apr 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 10755492
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mandana “Dana” Tileston Fairbank (9 Oct 1826–29 Sep 1876), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10755492, citing Village Hill Cemetery, Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Michael Walter (contributor 46627743) .