Fairbairns and Millers set to reunite

To renew bonds of kinship and affection and to share our stories, the descendants of John and Elizabeth Miller Fairbairn will gather on Saturday, October 13th, at 12PM at the Margaretville -New Kingston Presbyterian Church on Mountain Avenue and Orchard Street in Margaretville. Bring a dish to pass for a crowd. For more information or directions please contact Shirley Davis at (845) 586-4618.

In the year 1837, the Francis Miller family left Hawick in Roxburghshire, Scotland and sailed from Liverpool landing in NYC and settling on Coulter Brook, Bovina, Delaware County. Francis Miller hailed from Bewcastle, Cumberland, on the English side of the Borders, his wife Mary Kerr from Castleton, Roxburgh, on the Scottish side. They began their life together in Castleton and later moved to Hawick. In that party were Francis and Mary, their children, Elisabeth (1818), Gideon (1823), Walter (1825), Agnes (1829), and John (1837), and their eldest, Isabella (1816) with her husband, James Oliver. They practiced farming and blacksmithing among the many families from the Scottish Borders living in Delaware County.

Three years later, John Fairbairn (born 200 years ago, in 1812 in Morebattle, Roxburgh) sailed from Liverpool and found his way to Bovina, where he and Elizabeth Miller were married in 1841. The Miller family spread out to New Kingston, Andes, Delhi, and Campbell Mountain in Colchester. After several years on Coulter Brook, where Walter and Francis Miller Fairbairn were born, the Fairbairns again set sail by family tradition heading for Texas. The family Bible and census records confirm that their next son, Jarvis B. was born on the Atlantic Ocean in 1846 – the Bible has them living in New Kingston at the time of the birth of their next son James E. in1849. The 1850 Census records them in the Dry Brook Valley, Town of Shandaken, Ulster County, which would later become the Town of Hardenburgh. Here their sons, Nelson, George, John Francis, and William would be born.

During the Civil War, John Fairbairn and his eldest son Walter enlisted in the Union Army. John enlisted at Kingston, was mustered at Elmira and there contracted typhoid fever losing an eye. The army doctors then determined that at age 52 he had lied about his age when enlisting and discharged him as too old to serve. He later fought for a pension based upon his disability.

In the 1880 Census, John and Elizabeth Fairbairn are living in Hardenburgh, Ulster County, with their sons, Jarvis, George, William, and James E. with his wife, Mary Alton, and their first 3 children. This homestead would later be bought by George Jay Gould and is incorporated into the Gould home now known as Flyvaal on the Furlow estate.

Niles Fairbairn was famed as a naturalist and his ability to work with wild creatures. Walt Disney employed him and his pet otters to make the film, “Flash, A Teenage Otter” in which Niles also appeared.

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