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Henry D.M. Fair

Henry D.M. Fair was born in Princeton, New Jersey on August 9, 1856, the son of Mary Brower and John Fair. He and his older brother John, grew up living in a hotel, where he was raised by the hotel owners John and Lucretia Brower—his maternal grandparents. (John Brower died shortly after Henry's birth.) He worked a number of different jobs in his lifetime, beginning as chief clerk for a bookseller in New York City (from 1873 to 1884). He also served in the local reserve part-time and in October of 1881 he was appointed regimental ordnance officer with Co I, 12th New York Infantry, by which time he was already a sergeant and a veteran. From 1885 to 1898 he worked for a wholesale confectionary and an imported cutlery business. He was a member of the New York Mineralogical Club and served on the membership nominating committee in 1891-1892, and is listed as a member still in 1895. He was also a charter member of the Mineralogical Society of America.

In 1898 Henry moved to Idaho where he worked as an artist in Lewiston. He owned and operated The Art Store from 1898 to 1908 and was an award-winning photographer; he left a large portfolio of images of the Lewiston (Idaho)- Clarkston (Washington) valley.

Henry married Annie Post and together they had one daughter, Louise. By 1910 Annie had died and Henry had moved to Spokane with his daughter and her husband, where he set up shop dealing in coins and parlor photographs ("views"). In 1911 he had changed professions again, becoming Chief of the Water Inspection Bureau for the city of Spokane, and held that post until; his death. He also served as part-time curator of the Spokane Museum from 1917 to 1927.

When he began collecting minerals is unknown, but the label shown here, for a Franklin specimen with a low catalog number, suggests he may have started as a boy in New Jersey. In any case, it is certain that he became very active after moving to Spokane. On October 8, 1924, the Proceedings of the New York Mineralogical Club reported that "Mr. Stanton introduced a suite of specimens sent by Mr. Henry Fair illustrating the mineral occurrences in the Basalt around Spokane, Washington. Conspicuous among these were some excellent specimens of sphaerosiderite. He also read a letter from Mr. Fair describing some of the older localities." Fair also donated specimens to various major museums including the Smithsonian Institution and the Brooklyn Museum of the Arts and Sciences.

Henry Fair died on October 7, 1927 (as reported at the November 16 meeting of the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society, and in the Spokane Spokesman-Review of October 8). The March 1930 issue of Rocks & Minerals noted: "The mineral collection of the late Henry Fair is for sale by the heirs of the estate. Many early minerals collected in the region about Spokane, Washington, are represented in the cabinets." The ultimate disposition of the collection remains unknown. The Fair home still stands in Lewiston.

U.S. Federal Census, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1910, 1920.
Proceedings of the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society
Proceedings of the New York Mineralogical Club
Rocks & Minerals
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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