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Fairbanks, Erastus (28 October 1792–20 November 1864), governor of Vermont, businessman, and antislavery and temperance leader, was born in Brimfield, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Fairbanks, a farmer, carpenter, and mill owner, and Phebe Paddock. He received a limited public school education in Brimfield. Erastus taught school himself for a time before moving north with his family to St. Johnsbury, Vermont. In 1815 he married Lois C. Crossman, with whom he had eight children. Three years earlier, at the invitation of his uncle, Judge Ephriam Paddock, Fairbanks began reading the law in Paddock’s office. Fairbanks was soon compelled to quit his legal studies, reportedly owing to poor eyesight. He instead became a merchant, operating country stores in the towns of Wheelock, Barnet, and East St. Johnsbury for eleven years while establishing “a reputation for absolute integrity and for interest in anything that concerned the public welfare” (Ullery, p. 89)....

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St. John, John Pierce (25 February 1833–31 August 1916), governor of Kansas and Prohibitionist, was born in Brookville, Indiana, the son of Samuel St. John and Sophia Snell, farmers. He attended country schools in Indiana, receiving a rudimentary education. Owing to his father’s fondness for alcohol, the family suffered economically, and during his teens he was forced to support himself by working in a store. Later in life St. John recalled, “Boy as I was, I hated the demon, Drink, that had made such a change in my father, had broken my mother’s heart, and darkened my boyhood’s home” (Headley, pp. 776–77). In 1847 he moved with his parents to Olney, Illinois, where at the age of nineteen he married Mary Jane Brewer. Two months after the marriage St. John left his wife and departed for California. This marriage produced one child and ended in divorce in 1859....