Joseph T. Fairchild was born to a true pioneer family. His father Lewis Stinson Fairchild had an adventurous life. When just able to walk he went with his parents from North Carolina to Tennessee and four years afterward migrated to Missouri. Attracted by the mining rush, he crossed the plains by ox team for California in 1850, making and losing several fortunes during the gold craze. On October 17, 1862, he enlisted in San Francisco and was ordered to Vancouver, Washington, where he obtained an honorable discharge from the Fourteenth Infantry of the Washington Volunteers on July 17, 1865.
Joseph T. Fairchild’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Roher left her parents’ Illinois home in 1864 at the age of 16. She was newly married and the young couple headed west on the Oregon Trail. Along the way her husband died and Mary was left to continue on, walking with the determination of fulfilling her dream out west. Upon arriving at Fort Vancouver she discovered that single ladies were not eligible to get free land, but soon she met Lewis Fairchild and they got married.
Two years later they came to Oregon, where they lived all of their lives in Washington County. First homesteading near Gaston and later retiring in Cornelius. During that time, while growing crops and raising livestock, they also started a family with nine kids: three girls with Joseph being the oldest of the six boys.
Joseph grew up as a farmer and soon had some land of his own north of Forest Grove located between that of Harmon Thatcher and Orus Brown’s Donation Land Claim. In March 1906, at the age of 33, he met and married Nora E. Laughlin of Forest Grove. Four months later he bought Lots 14, 15, & 16 of Block 7 in the South Park Addition of Forest Grove. Soon, the new couple were the first to live in the house he built on those lots.
Joseph and Nora never had children of their own but they were very family and community minded. Extended family were regularly entertained at their home. A neighbor related that the Fairchild’s raised rabbits and that it was common to be invited to Sunday dinner after church that always included deliciously roasted rabbit. Nora was a dedicated and consistent church worker for years and held the office of Clerk at the local Christian Church. She served for ten years as the Treasurer for that congregation. Nora was always active in and was a staunch supporter of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. In 1913 the local newspaper had a front page picture of her along with the story that “Mrs. Nora E. Fairchild had the distinction of being the first woman in this city to cast a ballot at an official election. Mrs. Fairchild was at the voting booth shortly after the polls opened, marking and casting her ballot with all the sang-froid of an old voter”.
On the 4th day of October, 1956, just shortly after celebrating their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, Nora passed away. Joseph continued to live in the house they shared for so long until his death three years later.
The Joseph & Nora Fairchild house has passed through the ownership of ten other families since then, until it was recently purchased by Bill and Megan Vincent who had been looking for a long time for just the right place to be their first home. They fell in love with the neighborhood and this home. We are so glad that they did and we are very pleased that we can present them with a plaque recognizing the history of the Joseph & Nora Fairchild House.