Fairbanks, John Boylston


Born on 28 April 1817 in New York to Joseph and Polly (Brooks) Fairbanks, John Boylston Fairbanks grew up in New Jersey. In 1843, at the age of twenty-five, he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The following year John married Sarah Van Wagoner, a native of New Jersey, with whom he had eleven children.

In 1844, John and Sarah joined the body of the Church at Nauvoo, Illinois, accompanied by their parents and several other family members. John worked on the Nauvoo Temple until anti-Mormon sentiment forced the family to relocate to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In June 1847, three years after the move to Illinois, John helped lead a company of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City in the Jedediah M. Grant Company.

John lived at Salt Lake City for four years and then moved to Payson, Utah. He served on the Payson city council and also served in the bishopric while supporting his family as a prominent merchant and farmer. In 1862 he was called as bishop.

John returned to the East Coast in 1869 to serve a yearlong mission to friends and relatives. One year after his return to Utah, he sailed to Great Britain to serve another mission. After serving two years abroad, John spent a final two years in Payson before his death on 14 May 1875 from typhoid pneumonia. Widely known and respected, “the attendance at his funeral was the largest that Payson had ever known” (Jenson, 354).

The family home at Payson was frequently host to Brigham Young and other Church leaders. It has been carefully tended by John’s descendants and in 1980 was dismantled and relocated at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.


Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1966.

Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia.Vol. 2.Andrew Jenson History Company, 1920.