A Story To A Stone

Dr. Nelson Fairchild

The old adage, ‘it’s nice to put a face to a name’, is in the same vein as ‘it’s nice to put a story to a headstone’. Reading about Dr. Nelson Fairchild’s untimely demise in Abby Maria Hemenwey’s 1871 history of Grand Isle led us to the Old Milton Cemetery last Sunday afternoon. We had it in our minds that we were going to locate his gravestone.

Dr. Nelson Fairchild lost his life, while attempting to cross when the water was at its height, in the Spring of 1865. Dr. Fairchild was a physician of great promise. He had been on to the Island to visit some patients, had crossed the bridge on horseback in the forenoon ; as the wind had risen during the time he was on the Island, he was warned of the danger, and entreated not to make the attempt, but being young and full of courage, and having come over safely in the morning, he believed he could return; but the wind was blowing, and the surface had become so rough he could not see the bottom, and was obliged to let his horse pick out his way as best he could among the stones. When about half way over, his horse stumbled and threw him head-foremost into the water, and, as it is supposed, his head struck a stone, which stunned him so much, he made no efforts to get upon his feet, and drowned before he recovered from the fall. The water being only about 2 feet deep where he fell, he could have had no difficulty in recovering and getting upon his feet, if he had not been disabled. He was seen from the shore, and a boat hastened to him with all possible speed, but he was dead when the boat reached him. Some also thought he must have had a fit of some kind that disabled him from using ordinary efforts for saving his life. Thus perished a young man of marked ability in his profession, who had be fore him every prospect of a long and useful career, and whose apparently untimely death, was mourned by a large circle of relations, patrons, and friends.

We trudged around in the deep snow for half an hour without luck. We'll be back in the Spring of 2017.