Jason Fairbanks was born 239 years ago, in Dedham, Massachusetts on Sept. 25, 1780.
Fairbanks was dating – or courting – Elizabeth Fales, but could not seem to convince her to take his hand in marriage. On May 18, 1801, Fairbanks said to a friend that his relationship was going to reach “final determination.” Set in his mind that he would convince Fales to marry him, Jason Fairbanks met her in a birch tree grove.
Later that day, Fairbanks stumbled, covered in blood and clutching a knife, to Fales’ parents’ home. He said Fales had committed suicide and he had tried to do the same, but failed.
Elizabeth Fales had been stabbed 11 times, and her throat had been cut.
Fairbanks had been stabbed with the same knife several times. Due to his injuries, Fairbanks was taken into the house to be treated instead of to jail.
According to the Columbia Centinel, a local newspaper, Fairbanks’ defense argued that, “They were both afflicted with adverse circumstances, and agreed severally to kill themselves—that he lent her the knife for that purpose; but when she had effectually used it, he was not so successful as she was.”
After a three-day trial, Fairbanks was found guilty as an accessory to Fales’ death, was sentenced to hang, and taken to jail to await his sentence.
However, before the hanging could take place, Fairbanks escaped with his brother, cousin, nephew and friend. A $1,000 bounty was placed on him. Unfortunately for them, they stopped for a bite to eat in New York and Fairbanks was arrested.
Jason Fairbanks was hanged on Sept. 10, 1801. Ten thousand people came to witness the execution.
His gravestone simply says, “Sacred to the memory of Jason Fairbanks, who departed this life 10 September, 1801. Aged 21 years.”
What do you think happened between Jason Fairbanks and Elizabeth Fales on that fateful day?
Source: Melancholy Catastrophe! The story of Jason Fairbanks and Elizabeth Fales, Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Winter 1998, Dale Freeman
Cover photo: executedtoday.com