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First Ladies of K-State: Charlotte Fairchild

Charlotte Pearl (Halsted) Fairchild

(1879-1897)

Charlotte Pearl Halsted was born on June 12, 1837, the eldest of David and Mary (Mecham) Halsted's eight children. As her mother suffered greatly from ague, Charlotte took on many of the family and household responsibilities.

Charlotte boarded in President Fairchild's home while attending Oberlin College in Ohio. It was there that she met his youngest son, George Thompson Fairchild. Their wedding took place on his parent's golden wedding anniversary, November 25, 1863.

In 1865, the couple moved to Lansing, where her husband taught literature at Michigan Agricultural College. On December 1, 1879, her husband was selected as President of Kansas State Agricultural College. Charlotte was the first college graduate to be first lady of KSAC.

She was pleased with the move to Kansas as she felt her five children (David, Milton, Paul, Mary Agnes, and Anna) would receive a superior education. However the reality of creating a clean, comfortable and cultured home on the prairie in the 1880s was a bit daunting and she initially suffered from homesickness.

The family was welcomed with a reception catered by the Domestic Science department, with whom Charlotte began a lasting relationship. She is recognized as one of the founders of the Domestic Science Club, which recruited local women to open their homes for students to practice their skills until the college had sufficient facilities for the students. It is the third oldest continuously organized clubs for women in Kansas. A new house for the president was completed in 1885, near the site of Holton Hall, but it was hit by lightning and destroyed by fire on April 5, 1895, destroying all of their belongings and personal library.

When Populists gained control of Kansas legislature in 1897 and her husband was replaced as president of K-State, the couple retired to Kentucky. After a year of retirement, George accepted the position of Vice President and Professor of Literature at Berea College, and the couple began to build their first private residence.

After her husband's death on March 15, 1901, Charlotte moved to Kansas City to live with her daughter Agnes' family. She died of peritonitis on January 12, 1903 and buried beside her husband in Berea, Kentucky.

Charlotte Fairchild

Biographical information on the First Ladies was provided by:
Dr. Michaeline Chance-Reay, Assistant Professor, Women's Studies and COE, author of Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives





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