The following, transcribed by Amy Feldner Lawlor, was published in the May 19, 1920 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.
Mrs. Benjamin T. Fairchild, wife of Benjamin T. Fairchild, and only daughter of the late John Rutherfurd of New Jersey and Charlotte Livingston Rutherfurd, died on May 16, 1920, at her residence, 247 Fifth Ave. in New York City.
Mrs. Fairchild was the widow by an earlier marriage of the late Alfred Ely, a distinguished lawyer of New York City. She was born at her father’s house, “Eastridge,” New Jersey, as Helena Rutherfurd. She is the a great-great-great-granddaughter of James Alexander, prominent in the colonial affairs of this State, and of Lewis Morris of Morrisiana, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Mrs. Fairchild was a woman of rare endowment of mind and character, of ardent sense of beauty and appreciation of art and music. She early sought an expression of her love of nature in the flower garden and her book, “The Woman’s Hardy Garden,” a frank and engaging story of personal experience found eager response and has been a powerful influence in stimulating and encouraging the amateur and home gardener.
In recent years, other publications from her pen have appeared, particularly has Mrs. Fairchild recognized and advocated the evergreens and the use of these natural resources in which our country is so rich. A notable and enduring example of the possibilities of a flowerless garden appear in her more recent work, “The Evergreen Garden.” Her Meadowburn Gardens, which show the evolution of her taste and not only her critical knowledge of the flower, but of landscape and architecture in gardening, have become the object of visits of devotees of gardening from all over the country.
Mrs. Fairchild was one hundred percent American in ancestry and in spirit. Before the entrance of our own country into the war she crossed the seas alone and volunteered her services as a nurse in the School Hill Hospital, Lewes, England; to which she gave herself without stint and beyond her strength.
She was an active member of the “Garden Club of America,” a former President and member of the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, Daughter of the Cincinnati, Colonial Dames of the State of New York and the Colony Club.
Mrs. Fairchild’s husband, Benjamin T. Fairchild, survives her; also her two children, Alfred Ely and Mrs. Meade, four grandchildren and two brothers, Morris Rutherfurd, Vice-President of The Lehigh & Hudson River Railway Company, Warwick, NY and Livingston Rutherfurd, of New York City.
A short service will be held at Warwick cemetery about two o’clock this afternoon.
NOTE: FROM THE MEADOWBURN FARM WEBSITE (www.meadowburnfarm.com/about-the-gardens/helena-rutherfurd-ely/): In 1920, Elizabeth Martin, the founding president of the Garden Club of America, wrote of Ely’s early influence: “Nearly sixteen years ago there swept across this Country a rage for gardening. Helena Rutherfurd Ely, one of the first Vice-Presidents of the Garden Club of America, had in the ‘Woman’s Hardy Garden’ inspired and bidden women to care for and work in their gardens. The call was answered, and bedding-out plants (the joy of the professional gardener) disappeared, and in their places came Delphinium, Columbine, Fox-glove and hundreds of other charming plants which had once blossomed in our grandmother’s gardens but had long been neglected or forgotten. With our hands we sowed the seeds and planted the tiny seedling in permanent border, and had the joy of seeing them bloom; then we lived among the beauty of these new found friends.”