Cornelia Cole Fairbanks

Cornelia Cole Fairbanks
(1/14/1852 – 10/24/1913)

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Cornelia “Nellie” Cole Fairbanks was the wife of Charles W. Fairbanks, the 26th Vice President of the United States. During her husband’s tenure, she held the position of the Second Lady of the United States from 1905 to 1909. Born in 1852 in Marysville, Ohio, the daughter of an Ohio State Senator, Cornelia graduated from Ohio Wesleyan Female College in 1872. While a student there, she met Charles Fairbanks while both worked as co-editors of the Ohio Wesleyan newspaper. They wed in 1874 and moved to Indianapolis, eventually becoming parents to four sons and one daughter.

Vice President Fairbanks monument

The couple moved to Washington when Mr. Fairbanks served as a U.S. Senator for eight years from 1897 to 1905 and stayed until they moved back to Indianapolis in 1909, following his term as Vice President. In 1899, Cornelia served as hostess for the British and American Joint High Commission as it gathered in Alaska to settle the border between Alaska and Canada. Senator Fairbanks was a member of the American delegation and Fairbanks, Alaska was named for him.

In 1901, Cornelia was elected to the first of two terms as President General of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, leading the fundraising for the society’s Memorial Continental Hall. In some circles, this position was considered the equivalent of the female president of the United States and in her lifetime, she was one of the best-known American women. She used her position to promote progressive causes including women’s rights and suffrage. An Indianapolis Chapter named for her was formed in 1907. In her husband’s will, he left funds for the Cornelia Cole Fairbanks Trust Fund, which helped create the Cornelia Cole Fairbanks Memorial Home, an alcohol addiction treatment center in Indianapolis.

Before dying at age 61 of pneumonia in 1913, Cornelia spent most of her last years traveling all around the world with her husband, who later died at age 66 in 1918.

Buried in Section 24, Lot 3; GPS (39.8175875,-86.1711419)