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Photographs - Collections - 1-1091 251-300 - #00264

Title: George Fairchild Collection

ca. 1850s-1906    

Collection Number:

51 photographs

Consists of portraits of George H. and Helen (Viets) Fairchild, Katherine Fairchild, Henry R. and Lottie (Viets) Porter, Hal (Hallie) Viets Porter, a group portrait of officers and wives at Fort Lincoln (DT), images of the George H. Fairchild residence (exterior and interior views) in Bismarck and the Porter residences in Bismarck and Washington, D.C., street scenes of Bismarck and Dakota Territory, and images of trains and railroad bridges. George H. Fairchild was an important pioneer of banking and insurance interests in early Bismarck. Dr. Henry R. Porter was a surgeon with Reno at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Barbara Wyman donated the George Hornell Fairchild Collection (MSS 10227) to the State Historical Society of North Dakota in September 1986. Thirty six photographs were removed from the collection, transferred to the photo archives, and assigned collection number 00264. Several photographs from the original donation were copied and returned to the donor. In November 2012, three photographs that were copied and returned were donated to the State Historical Society North Dakota by Bradford Wyman, in addition to fifteen photographs. The gift agreement for MSS 10227 also covers this collection.  

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

 Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.        

This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.       

Transfer: This collection was originally transferred from MSS 10227 the George Hornell Fairchild Collection.

Related Collections: Edgar Wyman donated nine photographs to the State Historical Society of North Dakota on December 2, 1981, and an additional stereo card in April 1985. The nine images donated in 1981 were stereo cards of a Bismarck street scene (1874), Steamship Montana, “Asa Fisher’s House” interior, railroad bridge, post card of the construction of the new bridge, and photographs of a street scene (Bismarck?), Hotel Northwest and streetcar tracks with mud street, thirteen men and dog and Sioux Indians. In 1985 an additional stereo card of the interior of the “Asa Fisher” house was donated. The collection number for these photographs is unknown.


George H. Fairchild was an important pioneer of banking and insurance interests in early Bismarck.  During the 1870s, when the railroad camp of Edwinton was renamed Bismarck, Ohio-born George H. Fairchild was present to add an important foundation to the future territorial and state capital.  That foundation was banking.  Along with another famous Bismarck resident, Dr. Henry Porter, Fairchild established the First National Bank branch in the small prairie village.  His roots, however, go back to his hometown of Oberlin, Ohio.

Fairchild was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1844.  His father was president of Oberlin College during the second and third quarters of the 19th Century.  It was at this time that Charles G. Finney, the famous fire and brimstone preacher of the Second Great Awakening and founder of Oberlin College, was at the zenith of his career.  It was from Oberlin College that a good many abolitionist thinkers emerged.  Under the influence of the Evangelical zeal of Finney, as well as the host of reformist ideas that burgeoned during the evangelist's tenure, the young Fairchild grew and developed his impressions of the world and his place in it.  Upon reaching majority age, Fairchild relocated to Keokuk, Iowa where he entered the wholesale grocer business with his four uncles.  The greatest challenge for Fairchild, however, was his relocation to Bismarck.

After spending a few months in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1874, Fairchild moved to Bismarck to take charge of a bank branch office located there.  Besides the adventure such a move provided, Fairchild relocated because of the poor health of his wife, Helen.  Mrs. Fairchild's health improved after living in the semi-arid plains environment, and allowed her to visit Ohio on numerous occasions.  Although she did not accompany her husband to Bismarck in 1874, she did meet him there sometime after the news of the Custer debacle in 1876.  Their first child, Katherine, was born in Bismarck at an unknown date.  Besides the excitement generated when the Seventh Cavalry was destroyed, Bismarck offered opportunities and experiences of note.

George H. Fairchild arrived in Bismarck during the summer of 1874, and was immediately caught up in the excitement surrounding the discovery of gold in the Black Hills.  Despite the fact that the Hills had been promised to the Sioux Indians in the Ft. Laramie treaty, miners, settlers, and soldiers soon were in open violation of the agreement.  As a banker, Fairchild handled many gold nuggets and large amounts of gold dust brought back from the Black Hills.  Like many Bismarckers at the time, Fairchild believed the gold finds would eventually lead to their town's growth into a "metropolis of the northwest."  Of course, his hopes did not materialize.  The ensuing Indian wars, along with the harsh weather and economic downturns, laid to rest any delusions about Bismarck's role as an urban oasis in the midst of the Great American Desert.

While Bismarck did enjoy modest growth through the 1870s and 1800s, Fairchild's involvement in the expansion became increasingly limited as his health began a slow decline.  By the early 1890s, George Fairchild's physical condition deteriorated, forcing his retirement.  He returned to Oberlin, Ohio in late 1893, and he died the following February of complications related to dropsy, a condition that results in the abnormal accumulation of liquids in the body.

George Hornell Fairchild's experiences in Dakota were of great importance to the eventual settling of the region in general and the city of Bismarck in particular.  Along with other pioneers of Bismarck, he helped promote the village as a place with a future.  In addition to his efforts to foster economic and civic growth for Bismarck, Fairchild experienced something of the untouched wilderness that still existed in the American West of the 1870s and 1880s.  In 1883, George Fairchild and his father toured Yellowstone National Park on horseback.  The trip provided the two with a breath-taking tour through the unsullied park.  In many regards, the trip reflected Fairchild's personality and life:  bold and innovative, subject to risk, yet rewarded with success.

Sources:  The George Fairchild Papers case file (MSS 10227 and 00264), and the George Fairchild Papers (MSS 10227).


00264-001  (copy) George Hornell Fairchild residence exterior. W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-002  (copy) Stereo street scene published by F. A. Taylor, St. Paul, MN, Bismarck, DT, June 1873

00264-003  George H. Fairchild residence, interior showing dining room through doorway, W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-004  (copy) George H. Fairchild residence, interior showing dining room through doorway, W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-005  George H. Fairchild residence, interior parlor showing bookcase, W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-006  (copy) George H. Fairchild residence, upstairs bedroom, “Katherine’s room,” W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-007  (copy) George H. Fairchild residence, Katherine Fairchild in bedroom, W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-008  Henry R. Porter, portrait by O. S. Goff, Fort Lincoln, DT, ca. 1870s

00264-009  (copy) Katherine Fairchild and Hal V. Porter portrait by W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, June 1890

00264-010  (copy) George H. Fairchild portrait by Sutter, Milwaukee, WI, n.d.

00264-011  (copy) George H. Fairchild, son of James H. and Mary Kellogg, father of Katherine, ND

00264-012  (copy) Henry R. Porter portrait, ca. 20 years old, D. P. Groves, photographer, Ann Arbor, MI, ca. 1868

00264-013  Mrs. George (Helen) Fairchild portrait by H. M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-014  (copy) Exterior of Porter residence at 1907 Karewood Avenue, LeDroit Park, Washington, D.C., 1894 or 1895

00264-015  Hal V. Porter portrait, 1898

00264-016  Railroad Ice Bridge over Missouri River, F. J. Haynes photo (stereo), Bismarck, DT, n.d.

00264-017  Northern Pacific Train in Snow, F. J. Haynes photo (stereo), n.d.

00264-018  Hal V. Porter in Henry R. Porter's buggy with team, Bismarck, 1900 (two)

00264-019  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 2 portrait by H. M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, ca. 1880

00264-020  Lottie Viets Porter portrait by H. M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, ca. 1870s?

00264-021  Lottie Viets Porter in wedding dress, Fort Lincoln, DT, 1877

00264-022  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 8 portrait by D. F. Barry, Bismarck, ca. 1886      

00264-023  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 11 portrait by W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, ca. 1889

00264-024  Hal V. Porter, portrait by C.S. Bateham, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-025  Henry R. Porter portrait by D. H. Barry, Bismarck, n.d.

00264-026  Henry R. Porter portrait by H.M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-027  Dr. Henry R. Porter portrait in western garb, Bismarck, June 28, 1898

00264-028  Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Porter and Hal. V. Porter portrait, by D. F. Barry, Bismarck, ND, ca. 1886

00264-029  Group portrait on porch, identified individuals are Edith Leisure, Henry R. Porter, Jimmie Raymond, Tom Winston, "Pet" Wilson, and Jack Leisure, Fort Lincoln, DT, ca. 1875

00264-030  Henry R. Porter residence, A. E. Boyce photo, Bismarck, n.d.

00264-031  "Ward's Grove" farm buildings about three miles from Bismarck, photo by W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, n.d.

00264-032  View from Sheridan House. F. J. Haynes photo (stereo), Bismarck, DT, 1877

00264-033  Main Street (?) looking east. W. H. DeGraff, Bismarck, ND, 1893

00264-034  Main Street, Bismarck, n.d.

00264-035  Main Street looking east from 3rd Street, Bismarck, 1906

00264-036  Henry R. Porter residence with buggy in front, Bismarck, n.d.

00264-037  Probably Hal Porter on Mrs. Wahemaris’ horse, Bismarck, ca. 1906

00264-038  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, 8 months, O. S. Goff, Bismarck, DT, ca. 1878

00264-039  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, H. M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, ca. 1880

00264-040  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 5? portrait, D. F. Barry, Bismarck, ca. 1884

00264-041  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 10 portrait, ca. 1889

00264-042  Hal (Hallie) V. Porter, age 11½ portrait, ca. 1889-1890

00264-043  Might be Lottie Viets or a sibling portrait, Lockwood, Ripon, WI, n.d.

00264-044  Lottie Viets portrait, n.d.

00264-045  Might be Helen Viets or a sibling portrait, Platt & Hawley, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-046  Might be Helen Viets or a sibling portrait, A. C. Platt, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-047  Might be Helen Viets or a sibling portrait, A. C. Platt, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-048  Katherine May Fairchild portrait, H. M. Platt, Oberlin, OH, n.d.

00264-049  Henry Viets Porter portrait, 3 months, O. S. Goff, Bismarck, DT, ca. 1878

00264-050  Northern Pacific Railroad bridge, F. Jay Haynes photograph, Bismarck, n.d.

00264-051  Henry R. Porter residence with buggy in front, Bismarck, n.d.

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