— Compiled by Pauline Ingle, contributed by Jean Campbell
Four miles northeast of Jonesborough, Tennessee lies some of Washington County’s most beautiful farm country. Around this land of hill and valley, the farming community of the aptly named “Fairview” has developed over the last two hundred years. If one were trying to lay the boundaries, never easy to define when discussing a rural community, one could say Fairview in length stretches about 2 1/2 miles along Hwy. 81N from its junction with Old Stagecoach Road at the foot of Stuart’s Hill and stretches to the right and left of this corridor for a mile to a mile 1/2 in another direction, so being roughly but not geometrically some 2 1/2 miles long by 2 miles wide.
One will find the community center at the present-day junction of Hwy. 81N and Fairview Road. By 1880 a hamlet had developed around a few important institutions here, which in addition to the farms themselves helped define this farming community as is often the case in rural areas. There was by that year a cemetery, a church, a school, and a store. By that time as well it was being noted in the newspapers as “Fair View”, eventually and presently spelled as one word.
Among these community institutions, the cemetery developed first. According to tradition, the cemetery had its beginnings when a westward-headed wagon train paused beside the crossroads to bury a young girl who had died of fever. The first burial is believed to have occurred around 1790 in Tennessee’s pre-statehood days. Community burials have continued ever since though the earliest records surviving for the cemetery are from a century later. At Decoration Day, 1897, members of the community approved by-laws organizing the Cemetery Association. The association took over responsibility for two cemeteries which had developed side by side at Fairview – Maple Grove Cemetery attached to the Maple Grove Church of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Seceder Cemetery adjacent to the church cemetery.
By-laws established a five-member board of trustees, who took over “all the legal interests of the cemetery”. The first trustees were Jacob Leab, John M. Droke, John H. Smith, S.B. Ferguson, and F.A. Miller. An “upkeep committee” elected annually supervises maintenance of the grounds. Each family owning burial plots in the cemetery has a vote in the election of officers and “all matters which arise in interest of the cemetery”.
In 1970 a group met with the association directors for the purpose of forming a new cemetery association to obtain a charter from the State of Tennessee. The main reason for incorporating was to establish an organization that would assure the upkeep and care of the cemetery for the years ahead. A charter was received and organization’s name changed to “The Fairview Cemetery Association Inc.”. The association continues to operate the cemetery under the 1970 charter as a non-profit organization. The first directors of this new association were J.J. Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. D.C. Graybeal, Herbert Sherfey, Gilbert Ingle, Frank Knight, Don Harris, Lester Jones, Alfred Smith, Howard Ward, J.F. Keeber, John Droke, John Carson, Luther Keys, and Mrs. Paul Smith.
On the tombstones of this cemetery will be found names such as Bacon, Barkley, Berry, Campbell, Droke, Fulkerson, Jones, Rogers, Rupe, Sellers, Smith, and Ward.
The church which stood in 1880 Fairview was not the present day Fairview United Methodist Church but the Quaker Church, called Maple Grove. Originally the house was a log structure with no chimney. A square platform in the center was covered with mud and used as a hearth, smoke rising out the roof. The exact date of the church’s organization is unknown, though it was probably by the early 1880s. Isaac Hammer used to worship with the congregation every Wednesday for one hour and would stay at the home of Joseph A. Beals who grandson and namesake (born in 1884) could recall this in 1938. Families who were members of the church include the Beals, Bashors, Diehls, Millers, Gott, and Dove.
In 1894 the Quakers joined with members of the Christian Baptist faiths (who did not have a meeting place) to build a replacement structure for the old log cabin. A framed structure was built which eventually was given a brick exterior. This small red-brick structure still stands at the entrance to Fairview Cemetery. By agreement the different denominations used this house of worship on alternate Sundays. In addition, when not in use by these denominations, the building was made available to other “Evangelical Denominations”. The original trustees, who represented the three church parties, were Eli Marshall, Will H.M. Smith, Joseph E. Beals, and John M. Smith. The Quaker membership gradually declined over the years until the church ceased to function as such by the early 1930s.
It was in this church house that Methodists in the community would meet prior to the construction of their own building in 1908. In that year, after years of talking about building a church, a revival was held by Methodist preacher, Rev. Richard Walker. Sixteen men and women converted and felt the need of a place of their own to worship. Ten men met at the Fairview store to organize a church and plan a building. An acre of land north of the Quaker (Maple Grove) Church was acquired from J.W. Smith. Trustees and a building committee were approved and included Smith, Fuller Shipley, Arthur Campbell, J.D. Droke, Floyd Taylor, E.C. Goebel, James Sellers, and John T. Bacon, with Walker serving as minister. Members from the community pledged either monies, building material, or labor to construct the church building.
Floyd Taylor designed the building and oversaw the construction which began in August 1908. Most of the carpenters, coming from the Sulphur Springs area, usually spent the night in community homes and were given free board to save the long trip each day and to speed construction of the project. Much of the lumber came from woods in the Five Oaks area owned by Mrs. Virda Bacon. James Sellers oversaw the cutting and removal of a sawmill which his nephew, Will Sellers set up on church grounds. The pews were made by Jerry Jones and were used until 1959 when replaced by new ones. A few of the old seats are still in use in the Fellowship Hall (as of this writing).
On the first Sunday in December in 1908, Walker preached the first sermon in the newly finished Fairview Church. The finished structure was dedicated the following spring, but not before the debt of $250 was paid at the insistence of visiting preacher Robinette that they take up a special offering to pay the debt. Slowly the offering accumulated, some giving $5.00 each, 2 people gave $2.50, and 25 people gave $1 each. When all the money was counted there was one dollar more than was needed. Robinette pointed to a cracked lamp at the back of the sanctuary. The extra dollar bought a new lamp and the church was dedicated.
Weighing 700 pounds, the church bell was purchased for $40.00 raised through small donations. For a while, it was a custom to toll this bell when there was a death in the community. The clock on the sanctuary wall was purchased in 1920 and continues to keep good time. An organ was purchased about 1911. Grace Smith Campbell was elected the first organist continuing until her death in 1977.
A Sunday School was organized with Floyd Taylor as first superintendent. J. Horace Smith, another charter member, served longest in this position. Around 1921 the Epworth League (forerunner of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship) was organized under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Hannabas, Sr. and it allowed youth to take an active part in church affairs. Sunday School rooms were constructed and an oil furnace installed in 1948. In 1959 the sanctuary was redecorated and five additional church rooms, a fellowship hall, kitchen, and bathrooms were built.
From Rev. Walker to the present the church has shared a pastor with other, small rural churches in the county, presently sharing the minister and parsonage of Marvin’s Chapel United Methodist Church. The early pastors rode on horseback from the parsonage at Sulphur Springs to preach at Fairview. Ministers at Fairview have included: Richard E. Walker, Samuel G. Ketron, Albert C. Ketron, N.A. Newman, W.H. Johnson, J.G. Crowder, Harold G. Harri, Guy M. Fleenor, George W. Atkinson, M.C. Phillipi, T.B. McEacherin, James C. Henry, O.C. Wright, Sterling Turner, Jr., Roy Scroggins, A.E. Wikle, John S. Deck, M.C. Wikel, Buford Hankins, Jack Mosier, Robert Frost, David Warden, Dr. Frank Settle, Rusty Taylor, Claude Snapp, Virgil Booher, Dennis Loy, and Robert Countiss.
During the spring and summer of 1889 residents of the community constructed a large frame schoolhouse at the intersection of present day Hwy. 81N and Horseshoe Bend Road. By October Samuel C. Blair was teaching between 75-80 pupils in the new one room county school. Prior to this time, children in the area had to attend the more distant Leesburg school or other county schoolhouses. By the early 1900s, if not earlier, the building was divided into two classrooms and thereafter maintained two teachers – one taught the first four grades and one taught grades 5-8.
The school’s location opposite the Fairview Store often proved a temptation to the children attending the school. Julia Bacon Keebler in the book The Rural Schools of the Twentieth Century remembers in her teaching days there having to require a note from parents requesting permission for the child to make some purchases for home before she would allow the student into the store. Such a plan proved helpful for school discipline and, no doubt, helped the harried store keeper as well.
Other teachers at Fairview included Addie Mae Bayless, Pearl Barkley, Grace Campbell, Blanche Hartman, Mary Hilbert, Pauline Ingle, Mary Mohler, Bess Payne, Lawrence Roger, Sue Smith, Bella Mae Smith, and Sam Wilcox.
The school proved important not only in providing an education to the community’s children but in providing programs, plays, recitals, community get-togethers and other social activities for the residents of Fairview. No doubt, some part of the community’s sense of itself must have been lost with the school’s closing in 1951. Fairview School merged into the new brick Leesburg School, along with pupils who had previously attended old Leesburg and Mountain View Schools.
Later, Sam Rupe, Jr. operated an upholstery shop in the building for many years. Still later, it was used for storage, abandoned, and finally fell into disrepair. It was dismantled in the summer of 1992.
The country store at Fairview has been the fourth long-lasting community institution. It began operating in 1889, though the exact date is not known. A general mercantile establishment, the frame structure was built on land originally belonging to John A. Jones, a prominent early resident of the community.
Over the years, several different people have owned and operated the store. For a number of years J.W. Smith owned the store and had Beryle Barkley and his wife Emma Barkley operate it for him, while he served as the area’s mailman. A post office operated out of the store from the early 1880s until it closed in 1990 along with many other small rural post offices when the rural free delivery (R.F.D) programs began. Others to operate the store have been Glen Williams, Dave Bowman, Henry Williams, and John White. A blind man, George Baggy, operated it for several years until his death when it was bought by James A. Lewis. Lewis operated the store until selling it in 1993 to the Dugger family. A 1994 fire burned the interior of the store, and though still standing, the store has not reopened.
Cemetery – Church – School – Store – each of these have been important in the history of Fairview. Though not all of these remain, their influence on the lives of others who have lived in the Fairview community over the years remains. Just ask one who grew up there. Farming itself, the reason for Fairview’s original existence, has been on the decline in recent years. Many new homes are appearing on land subdivided from once prosperous farms. So, as with most of Washington County, the Fairview community at the close of the twentieth century is gradually changing from the “fair view” it had been at the century’s beginning.
This historical account was written toward the end of the 1990’s, more than 20 years ago; therefore, some of the information may not be complete as of the date of this publishing, September, 2020. It is, nevertheless, an intriguing story of how the Fairview community was established and developed, with interesting insight into the faithful originators of our church. It was included in the book, Dream, written by Jean Campbell, which is no longer in print. We can’t let our rich history be lost to time, and after receiving an email from a gentleman looking for his ancestors who might have lived in this area, Jean asked if I might put these pages on the church website. What a fantastic idea! As a resident of Fairview and a member of Fairview United Methodist Church, I have to note that though the community may look different than it did when that wagon train came rumbling through, it is still a beautiful countryside with a few farms still in operation, the bell tower of the Methodist church visible from several different points in the community, and the old Quaker Church well maintained and still standing beside the old cemetery, reminding us of our heritage, and calling to us to follow faithfully.
— Fairview UMC Website Administrator