Senator Samuel Husband Fairall View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 3/8/1909
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 12 (1868) - 15 (1874)
House: 9 (1862)
Home County: Johnson
Family Members Who Served in the Iowa Legislature: Brother-in-law: Samuel Workman; GA 5
Samuel Husband Fairall
Johnson County

Senator White, from the Special Committee appointed to draft suitable resolutions commemorative of the life of the Hon. Samuel H. Fairall, submitted the following report and moved its adoption:

Mr. President—Your committee appointed to draft and present resolutions commemorative of the life, character and public services of the Hon. Samuel Husband Fairall, late a member of the House of Representatives in the Ninth General Assembly and in the Senate in the Twelth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth General Assemblies, beg leave to submit the following as their report:

Samuel Husband Fairall was born in Allegany County, Maryland, June 21, 1835. He was fifth in direct descent from Samuel Snowden, who was a member of Prince George’s County Committee, to carry into execution the association of the Continental Congress. His ancestors, Richard Snowden, was captain of the provincal forces, 1700 to 1703. After attending various academies he entered Washington College, at Washington, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in June 1855. Resolving to enter the legal profession at Iowa City, Iowa, he left Maryland and on October 1, 1855, he reached Iowa City. Mr. Fairall entered the office of William Penn Clark, to study law. Mr. Clark was Supreme Court Reporter at this time. On June 21, 1856, he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court on a certificate signed by ex-Judge J. C. Hall, James Love, afterward judge of the United States District Court, and Colonel Sam Marshall. In November, 1856, the young lawyer wedded Miss Ellen J. Workman, whom he wooed and won during his college days at Washington, Pennsylvania. They moved to the old homestead, east of Iowa City, in 1858, where they have since resided, raising a family of five sons and two daughters. There a few years ago, Mrs. Fairall passed away. Leaving the law office of Mr. Clark, Mr. Fairall, in 1858, formed a partnership with Hon. J. B. Templin, one of the oldest and most prominent members of the bar. In 1861 he formed a partnership with Hon. Geo. J. Boal, until 1873, the firm becoming one of the prominent law firms of the west, having a large lucrative practice in state and federal courts.

After 1873, Mr. Fairall continued in the practice of law until elected Judge of the Eighth Judicial District in 1886. In 1890 he was re-elected. In that responsible position he made a splendid record, winning the highest commendation for judicial acumen and fairness from the practicing attorneys and received very few reversals of his decisions from the supreme court of the state. In December, 1893, he resumed the active practice of law and continued until the time of his death. As a lawyer, especially in the trial of many noted criminal cases in all parts of Iowa, he made a reputation which was not confined to his own state. He was eloquent and had that dramatic power and magnatism which impressed a jury with his extensive legal knowledge, was combined enough humor to make his pleas in nearly every case successful. Among the brilliant and profound lawyers of Iowa, he will always be ranked among the leader.

In 1861, Mr. Fairall became a candidate for the House of Representatives as a Douglas democrat and though the normal republican majority in Johnson county was six hundred, he was elected by twenty-seven majority. His colleague, Hon. Rush Clark, Speaker of the House, put him on the Judiciary, Corporation and other important committees. Several important acts were passed at this session and the records show that Mr. Fairall took an active part in their enactment. He declined a re-nomination, but in 1864, he was elected a member of the county board of supervisors, and served until 1866, as agent for the relief fund to provide for the needs of the families of many of the enlisted soldiers of the Union army who were destitute. He issued orders for $8,000 more than the board had fixed, but the generous action was condoned by the board and never forgotten by “The Boys in Blue” and their families. Mr. Fairall was also largely instrumental while on the board of settling the railroad bond of indebtedness of the county. In 1867 he was elected State Senator. In the Senate he was chairman of the committee to recommend many amendments to the practice act, which were adopted and are now part of the Code of 1897. In 1871 he was re-elected State Senator, though his opponent was the great republican statesman, Hon. S. J. Kirkwood. It was largely due to his eloquent addresses and potent influence among his brother senators that legislative aid was given to the State University to establish the law and medical department, and the friends of that institution will ever remember the faithful work done for it by Senator Fairall. Though never a bitter partisan he was a prominent leader in his party, having been a delegate to the state convention for almost fifty years. He presided at the state convention which sent him as a delegate to the Nation Convention that nominated Horatio Seymour, for president in 1868.

Judge Fairall was for many years an active and efficient member of Trinity Episcopal Protestant Church in Iowa City, Iowa, and one of its devouted and faithful vestrymen. The popularity of Judge Fairall among all classes of people was due to his genial, friendly disposition. His brother lawyers testified to his courtesy, his willingness to accomodate, his fraternal feeling. As one of Iowa’s great lawyers his name will ever he prominent in the history of the state.

In the winter of 1874 the Iowa Senate appointed Senator Fairall a member of the committee to visit northwest Iowa and investigate the conditions of the settlers brought to distress by the grasshopper afflicion of the previous summer. Northwest had reason to gratefully remember Judge Fairall. His sympathies were keenly aroused and he became a powerful friend in the hour of dire need. Adjutant General Baker engaged in organizing relief for those who were suffering for food and clothing. Senator Fairall encouraged the movement and heartily enlisted in the work to secure from the General Assembly an appropriation to purchase seed for the spring planting. The constitutionality of such appropriation was questioned but Senator Fairall argued the point in a convincing speech and won the case for the settlers. The men and women who passed through that experience are rapidly diminishing, but they should keep green the memory of Sam Fairall and look to it that the survivors do not suffer forgetfullness. Judge Fairall stood high in his profession. He loved men and loved life. Even the poorest found in him a friend and helper, and his love for brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren was a genuine affection.

On March 8, 1909, Judge Fairall passed away at his home in Iowa City, one that he had occupied for over fifty years, and on March 10, he was quietly laid away to eternal rest in the family lot in beautiful Oakland. The masonic fraternity, of which he was a member, being in charge of the ceremony, which were in accordance with the beautiful rites of the order. Peace to his ashes.

Whereas, His life, character and services to the state were such as to entitle him to the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.

Resolved, That in the death of this prominent citizen, his city, county and state has suffered the loss of an active, energetic and influential citizen and his family the loss of a kind and indulgent father.

Resolved, That we do hereby extend to his children and those near and dear to him our sincere sympathy in this hour of sorrow, and,

Be it further resolved, That these resolutions be entered in the Journal and that the Secretary of the Senate be instructed to mail an engrossed copy of these resolutions to the family of the decedent.

J. A. White,

J. H. Allen,

J. D. Brown,



The resolutions were adopted by a rising vote.

Senate District 25
15th GA (1874)
Legislation Sponsored
15th GA (1874)