Photo Slideshow of the Old Fairfield, IA
Video and information courtesy of Werner Elmker of Fairfield, Iowa.
The area now known as Jefferson County was first settled in 1836, and became Jefferson County in 1839, with the new community of Fairfield as the county seat. The name was suggested by Nancy Bonnifield, one of the settlers, because it aptly described the fair fields of the area. But also author Susan Welty suggests it was a play of words on her own name (bonny field). By 1840, Fairfield had a population of 110 and grew to 650 in 1847. The city was the site of the first and second Iowa State Fairs.
Fairfield's library was established in 1853, and was the first library in the state of Iowa. It was first housed in a rented room off the city square. Fairfield's library became the first Carnegie Library outside of Pennsylvania or Scotland funded by Andrew Carnegie, who donated $40,000 to build the library. The Carnegie building on the corner of Washington and Court streets became the library's home on November 28, 1893. Then in May 1996, the library moved to its present location on West Adams Street. The library has over 220,000 items and received accreditation from the State Library of Iowa in 2009.
The first fair was held October 25–27, 1854 on 6 acres of land surrounded by a 10-foot-high fence. The total cost to hold the fair was around $320, and public admission was 25 cents per person. It is estimated that between 7-10,000 fair goers attended this historical event. Parsons College was founded in 1875. During the time leading up to the American Civil War, Fairfield was a stopping point for the Underground Railroad. Ultimately, over 1,600 residents of Jefferson County served in the Union Army.
Please click here for the YouTube link for the photo slideshow of Fairfield and more information!