Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Monday, January 17, 2011

Christine Fairchild: Life Without Father

The sixth in a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild, a native of Goodman, Mississippi.  Today's  post chronicles the early life of her only child, Christine. 

Although the years immediately after her husband's death in 1918 were most certainly a difficult time of transition for Carlotta, her young daughter, and her adult step-children, life continued on.  One might think that Louis Fairchild's widow and his adult children would have been at odds over the division of his estate, it appears that everyone weathered the unexpected events of his succession and the Fairchild family remained intact. This is evidenced by the eventual sale, fostered by the family and a close personal friend, to sell the Lee Circle property in 1919, for a figure exceeding $100,000, to the developers of the YMCA.  And reports of the many weekends and weeks-long summer vacations that family members spent together, primarily at the Fairchild cottage in Waveland, Mississippi, also show a sense of solidarity that likely was strengthened by the grief they all shared.  

Once Louis Fairchild's estate was settled, his widow and children seemed to resume at least some of their usual involvement in the New Orleans social scene.  Still unmarried, Hazel and Marguerite Fairchild often were mentioned as guests at parties and weddings, and at least once, the two women traveled to a Michigan resort for the summer where they visited with friends there. Edmund Fairchild, Louis Fairchild's only son, now married, continued to live in New Orleans where he operated one of the city's thriving automobile dealerships. He and his wife later became parents to Edmund Fairchild, Jr.

Without a doubt, Carlotta must have been busy raising her young daughter without a father, but she still maintained contact with members of her Nelson family still living in Holmes County, Mississippi.  One such contact came in the form of a visit she and Christine made to Goodman, Mississippi in June 1921, to attend the wedding of Carlotta's niece, Charlotte Nelson to Harold I. Randby of Chicago. As a member of the wedding party, Carlotta served as Charlotte's matron of honor, while 9 year old Christine was flower girl.  Carlotta's young nephew, Morris Fairchild Nelson, accompanied Christine down the aisle as ring bearer.  The wedding took place at the Methodist church in Goodman, Mississippi, and a reception followed at the bride's home.  Among those who greeted guests at the door of the reception was Carlotta's sister, Rena.  Local guests assisting at the reception included Mrs. J. D. Powers of Shelby, Mississippi, Mrs. Hal Donald, and Mrs. E. F. Noel of Lexington.

Back in New Orleans, Christine attended the Newcomb School, where she was an avid student and later played high school volleyball.  As a young woman, Christine often made trips with her mother to the beach cottage in Waveland, Mississippi, and in the latter part of the 1920's, it appears that Carlotta's primary place of residence may have been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The social pages of the Times-Picayune confirm that Carlotta continued to maintain the friendships of many she had known in New Orleans, where the names of those individuals were mentioned as house guests of Carlotta at her home on the beach in Waveland. 

In 1930, the U. S. Census recorded for Massachusetts, enumerated 18-year old Christine Fairchild living in Boston in the household of her mother, Lotta N. Fairchild, a 56 year old widow. Their residence at the time was shown to have been a dwelling on Commonwealth Avenue, and Carlotta's occupation was shown as "nurse."  Whether Carlotta was actually working at the time is unknown, but the amount of her assets ($125,000) shown on the census indicate she was a wealthy woman by 1930 standards. Besides Christine, two other  females, Eliza Aldrich, a stenographer, and Hazel Weld, a student, both 18 years old and likely friends of Christine, were present in the household at the time the census was recorded.  

Little is known about why Carlotta and Christine would have been living in Boston or exactly how long she remained there. At least one report in the social pages of the Times-Picayune, however, indicated that Rena Nelson, Carlotta's sister, was a resident of Boston around this time. But Rena's name did not appear as a member of Carlotta's household, and a subsequent search for her on the 1930 census found no record.  

Although Carlotta and Christine apparently lived in Boston for an undetermined period of time in 1930, both women were certainly back in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf coast area during the next few years.  Most accounts of Carlotta's social involvements indicate she may have returned to Waveland, Mississippi, where she lived in the Fairchild beach cottage while Christine was attending Sophie Newcomb College.  Located on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans, Sophie Newcomb was a school for women. By most accounts, Christine was an excellent student and was a member of Phi Beta Phi.  And it was while Christine was a student at Sophie Newcomb that she met Jane Smith, a young photographer and artist who had grown up in Wisconsin.  Christine's aspiration to become an architect and Jane's artistic aspirations became the common ground for their eventual involvement in the city's fast growing arts community.  And it was in that environment, while Jane was a student at the newly established Arts and Crafts School, that both women would meet Paul Ninas.

Next:  The Men in Christine's Life

Times-Picayune. Archived newspaper articles, 1920 - 1940, accessed online Jan. 17, 2011 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Year: 1930; Census Place: BostonSuffolkMassachusetts; Roll: 946; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 607; Image: 91.0.  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. 
Accessed on January 18, 2011 

1 comment:

  1. How nice it is to read about a family that stuck together after the death of the head of the family. (That certainly hasn't been the case in my recent research....)