Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Louis Howes Fairchild - 1849-1918

This is the fifth  in a series of posts about the life of Carlotta Nelson Fairchild, born in Goodman, Mississippi in 1874.

According to most accounts, Louis Howes Fairchild was still very much involved in business affairs, at least in his successful automobile business, until he was over 65 years old. An article published in the Times-Picayune newspaper on March 16, 1916, confirms that he already had a health problem, when it reported his retirement from Fairchild Auto Company, citing his health was "a factor."  This means that Fairchild had been ill for more than two years before his death occurred on November 22, 1918. Although Fairchild's death may have been anticipated by the adults in the family, it still would have been a tragic event for the entire Fairchild family, especially for young Christine.  Barely six years old when her father died, it is likely at the time that she did not fully understand the finality of her father's death.

Death was not a stranger to the Fairchild family in the early 1900s. Mary Winnemore Fairchild, Louis's first wife, had died in 1905, and Lydia Fairchild (Mrs. Edward Turner Howard) had become a young widow when her husband died unexpectedly in New York after an appendectomy.  And on August 12, 1912, one of the couple's daughters, Blanche (Mrs. Sidney Johnston White) died in New York, where she had become ill while vacationing in Belle Terre, Long Island, with her husband and sisters, Lydia, Hazel, and Marguerite.

Although Louis Fairchild was effectively retired when he died, he still owned investment properties and likely had retained some type of interest in his lucrative automobile business. But without a copy of his will or "succession," as it is known in Louisiana legal terms, it is difficult to know how solvent Louis Fairchild was at the time of his death.  An indication of Fairchild's financial standing, however, is the fact that properties he owned at 902, 904, 906, 908, and 912 St. Charles St., and a 2-story garage located at 632 St. Joseph St. were scheduled to be sold at auction in late 1919.  The Notice of Auction, published in the local newspaper, cited "Succession of Louis H. Fairchild" as the reason for the auction.  All real property included in the auction, excepting one parcel, was community property that had been purchased during his first marriage to Mary (Maggie) Winnemore.  The one parcel, however, had been purchased prior to his second marriage.  This information indicates that Carlotta, as his second wife, would not have had an interest in the real property owned by her husband, with the possible exception of their personal residence and maybe the Fairchild beach cottage located in Waveland, Mississippi. With little or no ownership interest in Louis Fairchild's estate, the year following her husband's death must have been one of financial insecurity for Carlotta.

The first evidence that Carlotta's life was undergoing a transition in the years after Louis Fairchild's death is shown in the U. S. Census of 1920, conducted in the City of New Orleans.  According to the information included in that census, Carlotta was a 46 year old widow, the mother of an 8 year old daughter, Christine, who headed a household on Calhoun Street.  Carlotta and her daughter lived in a rented house on Calhoun Street, one they shared with two "boarders," a 39 year old mother named Margaret Moll and her daughter, 22 year old Margaret Moll.  Carlotta's occupation was shown to be that of "trained nurse," in a "private home."  Carlotta's life, it appears from the census record, was indeed unsettled, since it appears she had to seek employment after her husband's death.

Next:  Life Without Father

Source:  Year: 1920;Census Place: New Orleans Ward 14, OrleansLouisiana; Roll: T625_624; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 247; Image: 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Time-Picayune. Archives newspapers, 1900 - 1918.  Accessed online January 13, 2011

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