A Tragic Anniversary – Part 2
The hanging scene on the Common, from a broadside published shortly after the execution
Jason Fairbanks had been in jail awaiting execution for only 10 days after his conviction when he was liberated by a group which included his brother, several nephews and friends. Word spread quickly across the county and New England of the daring escape, and the town of Dedham was torn apart by the friction between Jason’s supporters and his detractors. A reward for his capture was offered, and it took only 10 days for three men with fast horses to catch up with Jason and one of his accomplices in a New York town on the shores of Lake Champlain. Jason was returned to Massachusetts and imprisoned in Boston until his execution date.
On the morning of September 10, he was transferred to the Dedham jail, and from there Jason Fairbanks walked the short distance to Dedham Common where a crowd of thousands waited. After signalling he was ready by dropping his handkerchief, Fairbanks was hanged. Dozens of articles, broadsides, books and poems were written and sold on the day of the execution and for months afterward. The following year a traveling wax museum began touring the country, featuring the tragic figures of both Jason and Elizabeth, along with other famous and infamous characters from history and literature.
For a more detailed account of the affair, visit the Fairbanks House website: http://www.fairbankshouse.org/
where you will find a paper written by Fairbanks descendant Dale Freeman as well as a reprint of two 1801 publications for sale in the on-line gift shop.