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Nelson S. Fairbush

Born on 11-25-1866. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of Community. He later died on 5-29-1911.
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Nelson S. Fairbush was born in Buffalo, New York circa 1866. In the 1880 census Nelson was listed as a 14 year old. His parents were John and Emanda Fairbush, who were born in Maryland and Pennsylvania respectively. Nelson was the brother of Ida Fairbush, who became the first Black teacher in the Buffalo School System. His other sibling, Olive worked as a domestic. Olive died on September 1, 1934 as the result of being struck by a car.

Nelson's educational background is not known at this time, but he held a position that few African Americans obtained at that time. He was appointed to a clerical position in the United States Post Office at an annual compensation of $800.00. In 1905, his salary was $1,000 a year. His promotions in the post office did not go unnoticed as an 1894 article stated that he'd been promoted to a very important post with a handsome salary increase. Cited as a "very valuable man at the post office" Nelson used his talents to raise funds to benefit sick members of the postal service. In 1894 he was one of the performers in the annual Minstrel Show of the Post Office.

Nelson was married to Josephine and according to the 1910 census the couple had been married 12 years. Mrs. Fairbush, nee Henderson was a native of Cleveland, Ohio. Mrs. Fairbush was identified as the manager of The Rosemond, a hotel advertised for Pan American Exposition visitors. It was located at 246 Glenwood Avenue. Josephine died on February 3, 1912 just a few months after her husband. She was 38 years old.

Nelson was noted as having an excellent tenor voice and was featured at numerous church and community concerts. An article in the January 1902 edition of the Buffalo Express described the rehearsals for a historical pageant to be staged at the Teck Theater in Buffalo. The production was planned for January 30th and was to benefit the Methodist Church even though the participants were members of other denominations. Nelson Fairbush was identified as playing the role of the Marquis De Lafayette in the play. In the vocabulary of the time, the paper complemented the young people in the play by stating that "the pickannines are clever performers."

Nelson was an active member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church serving on the Vestry and as the choir director, at one time. He also was active in journalism acting as an agent for the Cleveland Gazette. In 1890, Nelson was one of the founders of the Excelsior Literary Association, a group of young people dedicated to the study of literature. He and Henry H. Lewis were named as the co-editors of the Association's monthly newsletter, "The Budget". He was a member of the Welcome Committee for colored visitors to the Pan American Exposition of 1901.

He was not afraid to confront discrimination as evidenced by this newspaper article in the Buffalo Courier, July 2, 1893:

"Mr. Fairbush's Trouble with the Star Theater Amicably Settled

Nelson S. Fairbush, who declared that he was refused downstairs seats at the Star Theater on account of his color, has written the following letter to the Editor of the Buffalo Courier:

Dear sir?I beg to inform you that the trouble existing between myself and the management of the Star Theater was satisfactorily settled today. Manager Smith called and offered an apology for my treatment, for which he claims the usher was responsible, and assured me that I shall receive due courtesy and be entitled to all the privileges of a gentleman. He insists that he has issued no orders barring colored citizens from any of the privileges or courtesies accorded to ladies and gentlemen."

Nelson died on May 29, 1911 of kidney disease. He was a member of the Buffalo Colored Republican League adopted a memorial resolution in recognition of his passing. Nelson Fairbush was 44 years 7 months and 4 days old according to the burial notice, putting his birth-date at November 25, 1866.