Many Trojans of the 19th century were men and women of strong character, as well as diverse interests. Of course, early residents of this area were mostly transplants from other locations, but they led interesting lives before they were here, while they were here and after they left the area. Take for example one Micaiah Fairfield. He was not a native Trojan, but he lived here for many years and led a thought-provoking life and raised some influential children. Space limitation does not allow me to fully detail everything, but perhaps just a ‘taste’ of his life will be of interest.
Micaiah (Mə-kiah) Fairfield was born in Vermont in 1786, just three years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War and formalized America’s independence. He was named after the Hebrew prophet found in two books of the Old Testament of the Bible.
At the age of 16 he professed faith in Jesus Christ and later answered a call to ministry.
From a young age he showed a love and proficiency for studying various subjects. After his preparation school work, he entered Middlebury College (VT), where he graduated with the highest honors of his class. He afterward enrolled in Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Some of his classmates included Samuel Newell, Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice, which were all instrumental in the initiating of modern missions among the Baptists. Judson and his wife became known as America’s first missionaries. Only a long and serious eye disease kept Fairfield from entering the foreign mission field, but he was always a strong proponent and supporter of missions.
After graduation, he appeared before a Congregationalist council for ordination into the ministry, but found his doctrine to be so different from that of the denomination that he was not approved. He later appeared before a similar Baptist council and was accepted and ordained as a minister of the Gospel.
Following his ordination, but prior to 1823, he was connected with Centre Branch Baptist Church in Harrison County, Virginia. While in Virginia he met and married Hannah Wynn in 1820.
According to a Vermont history, through marriage Rev. Fairfield became a slaveholder, but he quickly came to detest the institution and he freed all his slaves. So strong was his dislike for the slavery system that he found it difficult to stay in Virginia. It was at that time he moved his family to Ohio.
Around 1823-24, he and his young family moved to Troy, where they would live and he would minister for almost 20 years. During their time here Micaiah was a minister, often preaching in area Baptist churches. He was associated with the Staunton Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church in Troy. He was also a school teacher (one of Troy’s first), a newspaper editor-publisher, and an agent for the American Bible Society, a supporter of Isaac McCoy’s mission work among the Native Americans, and a supporter and lecturer on behalf of the Abolitionist movement.
His faith led him to be a strong advocate for the freeing of the slaves in the south, but he not only lectured about it, but often gave of his own funds to support the movement.
In the correspondence of Isaac McCoy are found several letters to and from Troy, including some from Micaiah Fairfield, advising McCoy on his thoughts on an issue.
He and his wife had four children: Edmund Burke, Minor Wynn, Sarah John and Anna. All of his children, at one time or another, taught school. So, there is little doubt that they were all well-educated at home and prepared for life.
Their first son, Edmund Burke was quite accomplished in becoming an ordained minister (licensed by the First Baptist Church in Troy); the president of Hillsdale College (MI); Lt. Gov. of Michigan; Chancellor at the University of Nebraska and Counsel at Lyons, France. Second son, Minor was educated at Oberlin College and also became an ordained minister. Both of their daughters, Sarah and Anna, were educated at Oberlin College, which was still unusual in that day. Sarah married Rev. Nathaniel Burton and lived in Ann Arbor and raised a family. Ann married Henry Hamman and raised a family and later lived in Rochester, N.Y.
Around 1843, the Fairfield moved to Hillsdale, Mich. While in that place, Micaiah still preached as his health would allow. Micaiah died in 1858 and Hannah in 1870 in Hillsdale, Mich., and are both interred in the Oak Grove Cemetery of that city.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to [email protected]