Fairview Precinct

THE early settlement of Todd County knew no method and observed no lines in fixing upon the site for a new home. The prejudice against the open country led the pioneers to seek the vicinity of streams, and here they hewed out a farm from the stubborn forest, and with laborious toil turned the wilderness into fruitful farms. Up to the adoption of the present Constitution, the voting precinct was at the county seat, but the inconvenience of this mode led to the organisation of districts with some marks of individuality. As then formed district lines served to mark the constituency of Justices of the Peace, which voted in one or two places in the district. Fairview, or more strictly, Magisterial District No. 3, is that portion of Todd County lying between the Davis Mill road on the south, the Highland Lick road on the north, Elkton, or District No. 4 on the east, and Christian County on. the west, with voting places at Tabernacle Precinct on the east and at Fairview on the west. The Russellville and Hopkinsville road passes centrally through the district from east to west, and serves to divide, as elsewhere in the county, the broken and less fertile soil of the north from the red clay subsoil of the south. The principal stream of this district is the West Fork of Red River, which takes its rise near the northern boundary and flows southwardly, forming a part of the boundary between the counties and passing near Trenton. It receives several affluents from this district which have received the general designation of prongs,” with the local designation of east or west, one of which is of considerable size. There are no swamp lands here, the streams affording good surface drainage. Along these streams there is an abundance of good timber, among which is found the various kinds of oak, a few walnuts, sugar maples and poplar. This attracted an early settlement, and subsequent tillage proving the value of the land, the settlement has grown quite dense, the farms generally being small, well improved and generously productive. The occupation of the residents of this part of the county is exclusively agricultural, some of the best wheat and tobacco lands in the region being found here. The broken country is under good state of cultivation, the river valleys affording an important and valuable exception to the general character of this region. ” Forest Nursery,” belonging to Downer & Brother, about three miles southeast of Fairview village, is an important enterprise in this district. The business was established in 1834 by John S. Downer and consists of about eighty acres of nursery stock. Their agents are found in all parts of the South and the firm ship annually over 250,000 apple trees, 220,000 budded peaches, 20,000 pear, 15,000 plum and some 10,000 cherry trees, besides an endless quantity of small fruit, which is their specialty.

Early Settlement

The natural attractions of this locality were such as to draw hither some of the earliest settlers of this part of the State. As early as May 20, 1791, a tract of ten acres in the immediate neighborhood of Fairview was entered, the official document of which, now in the hands of Dr. E. S. Stuart, is as follows :

Edward Shanklin, assignee of Jacob Baire, enters ten acres, part of said Baire’s war-rant for 1,000 acres, No. 17531, dated June 27, 1783, and desires to locate said same joining and between said lands of Edward Shanklin, Sr., and Perter Bolus and Black’s land, with me.

A. HERRING, Surveyor, Kentucky County.

From other papers in the possession of Dr. Stuart, an entry of sixteen acres, on part of which Goshen Church now stands, was made under a patent granted by Gov. Scott of Kentucky, dated January 31, 1809. ” In consideration (of a part of a reward) of a certificate No. 87, granted by commission, 1796, agreeably to act of Assembly for encouraging and granting relief to settlers, there is granted by the said Commonwealth to David Logan, assignee of Edward Richey, a certain tract or parcel of land, containing sixteen acres, by survey bearing date October 13, 1797.” Two hundred acres were similarly granted by Christopher Greenup, Governor of Kentucky, to John Wilson, under date of June 12, 1808. This land lies about one-half mile north of the present residence of John G. Wilkins. Under date of May 19, 1808, 400 acres were granted by Gov. Greenup to Edward Shanklin, which land is situated just north of John W. Petree, near the village. Under the same date, fifty acres lying north of the Goshen Church was granted by, the same Governor to Shanklin. Previous to any of these the celebrated Croghan’s Grove, noted in the chapter on Trenton, was granted to William Croghan, an old Revolutionary officer, but never a resident of Todd County. The grove is a fine body of timber comprising some 2,600 acres, and is situated partly in each of the districts of Trenton and Fairview. These entries, however, did not necessarily involve settlement, and the first settler of this district and probably of the county was Justinian Cartwright. He came from Maryland, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and built his cabin across the trail which is now the Hopkinsville road in 1792. In 1801 he sold the cabin to Robert Adams, and in 1809 it passed into the hands of Michael Kennedy. David Logan probably came to this district about the time of the survey mentioned. above, and John Wilson and Samuel Davis about the same time. At least these men were living here in 1800. Of these earliest settlers but little is known. Davis, the father of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, was an officer in the Georgia troops during the Revolutionary war, and at the close of that struggle came to southern Kentucky; whether he came directly to Todd County is not known. He was here in 1800 and remained until 1810 or 1812, when he removed to Wilkinson County, Miss. The cabin in which he lived in the village of Fairview, and in which Jefferson Davis was born, is still standing, and prized as a historical land-mark by the citisens of the county. A few years ago Mr. Davis made an address before the Agricultural Society of Christian County, and during his stay in the county took occasion to visit his early home. A large crowd of admirers and citisens of the two counties assembled to greet him, and were addressed by the great Southern statesman from the door of this cabin.

The first definite account of the immigration to this district, however, is that of Matthew and David Rolston, Edward Shanklin, John Huston, and his sons, James and Granville, in 1800. These persons came together from Virginia, and all settled in Todd County, save David Rolston, who located over the line in Christian County. Edward Shanklin was a native of Shenandoah County, Va., and brought a family of several children. He lived here until his death in 1826. He was a man of very quiet tastes, domestic in his habits, and soon after his arrival here was elected Justice of the Peace, an office he held until his death. About 1802 George and Gideon Tilman came to this section. George located near the village on the place now owned by J. T. Smith, and Gideon settled in Christian County. In 1805 or 180T, a man by the name of Davis settled here, but stayed only a few years. He is chiefly remembered for the provident care of his buckskin breeches. Stock of all kinds ran unrestrained upon the wide range of open country. The tall grass in the morning was wet with dew, and the early settler who ventured into it before it was dried by the sun was treated to a very pronounced shower bath. This was destruction to buckskin breeches and uncomfortable to the wearer, and Davis was wont to obviate both difficulties by going after his. horses without them. His intention was to get his horses up at an hour when his dishabille would not shock the sensitive portion of the community; but where all were early risers and the range a wide one, it often happened that his calculations failed, but the necessity was such that repeated failure in this respect did not prevent his repeating the experiment regularly. About 1805, James Wilkins came to the district from North Carolina, and located about a mile and a half north of Shanklin, where he remained until his death in 1836. Of his four sons and three daughters four are now living here-William G., Harriet Rolston, Lucinda J. Brown and Matilda Tilman. Soon after the Wilkins family, came Solomon Scates and a man by the name of Craig. The latter located about three-quarters of a mile east of Col. Jesup’s place on the Russellville road. Scates was a very severe master to his slaves and one of them once attempted to destroy his life. Mrs. Scates was a kind mistress and loved by the slaves, and the would-be assassin in trying to shoot his master was obliged to aim so high to avoid endangering his mistress, who stood near, that the master escaped. In 1809 Michael Kennedy bought the old Cartwright place and moved to the district. He came from Greenbrier County, Va., in company with forty or fifty families from that State under the lead of Gen. William Logan. Their journey was full of incidents and made in constant fear of savages, who prowled about the country ready to attack any who should become separated from the party. The family settled in the vicinity of Logan’s Fort, and subsequently moved to the Hanging Fork of Dick’s River. Here Kennedy remained until his removal to Todd County. His house here was quite remarkable for its kind, and was intended to be the finest one in the county. It was built entirely with such material as the country afforded and there was not a nail nor a pane of glass in the whole structure. Charles Mills settled here about the same time as Kennedy. He was a native of Virginia and located three-quarters of a mile south of Craig. He was an earnest Baptist, and reared a fine family of children; one of his sons is now a member of Congress from Texas. Soon after these came the Manns, John, Elisha, Stephen and Jacob, brothers. About the same time, came the Cowdrys, only one of whom, however, settled in the district. After these families came Thomas Murphy and three sons from North Carolina, and located about two miles south of Fairview. Henry Baire came about 125, and was killed subsequently at Elkton. This brief review of the first settlers does not exhaust the whole list of those entitled to be classed as old settlers, but Todd County is unfortunate in the loss of many whose knowledge would have been invaluable in supplying, these missing links. The most of the early settlers were blessed with large families, and their descendants for the most part make up the population of the district.

Pioneer Days

The community thus established here found itself dependent upon the natural resources of the country for their whole sup-port. What are now looked upon as the necessities of life and so common and cheap as to be overlooked in the estimate of household expenses, were then only to be obtained at a large expense of time, effort and money. Salt was one of these articles, and was only to be obtained by a tedious journey to the Ohio River. There was no well-marked road to guide the pioneer until the Highland Lick road was laid out. Coffee and sugar were obtained at Clarksville, or on, the Ohio River, and mail at Hopkinsville or Russellville. Under such circumstances the ingenuity of the pioneers was tasked to the utmost to make the resources of the country supply their wants. In several places of the district maple trees were found in sufficient abundance to supply the fortunate possessor with a good supply of sugar. Wild bees furnished an abundant supply of honey, which was searched for by experts with abundant success. To these add the luxuriant growth of wild strawberries, grapes, plums, and persimmons, with nuts of all kinds, and one inclines to the belief that civilization has curtailed the luxuries of the table. Game was abundant, and after the first year or two pork and mutton varied the more substantial fare. The great want early felt, however, was the lack of good meal or flour. Mills were early established on the eastern side of the county and at Hopkinsville, but these were crude affairs, and at best slowly ground out a coarse quality of meal and no flour. Subsequently, when buhrs adapted to the grinding of wheat were obtained, flour was bolted by hand, and then was of a dark, inferior quality. But streams were abundant in this district and the demand for mills obvious, a condition of things which soon brought about their construction here. The uncertain character of the streams rendered steam power essential to the best success, and in 1840 a combined steam saw and grist-mill was built by Grooms & Gowel on the east ” prong ” of the West Fork . of Red River. This ran but a short time when it was torn down. A second mill was erected a few years later by Slaughter Long about half a mile south of ” Forest Nursery.” It was only a cheap structure, had little business and soon rotted down. About 1846 John Hanna put up a similar mill about half a mile north of John G. Wilkins’. It ran a few years, but at the death of its proprietor it was moved to Simpson’s Spring, and there falling into disuse it rotted down. About 1856 D. 0. Day erected a steam saw and grist-mill just north of Col. Jesup’s old place. A year or two later, however, it was moved away. In 1857 Joel Wallace erected a combined mill a little southwest of J. D. Tandy’s residence, but it proved unprofitable, and after several years was moved away. In 1865 Reeves & Harrison erected another of these structures a little below W. H. Jesup’s place, but it continued only three years when it was moved. Shanklin & Griffin put up another of these mills at a point on the west ” prong ” of West Fork in 1882, which is the sole survivor in this district of these country mills.

Later Development

There is little to mark the gradual change from the early days to the present. The patient discharge of each day’s du-ties, with the development of the surrounding country, has wrought the great change to be found everywhere in the country, and yet this has been accomplished by such slow progress that the closest observer will find little to mark its successive stages. The old trail from Russellville to Hopkinsville has gradually become a clearly defined road. In 1840 the old trail was straightened and some attempt made to pike it at State expense, but the project failed. A State road from Hopkinsville to Butler County was laid out, running northeasterly across the upper part of the district, and is now known here as the Butler road. The old road from Cole-man’s Bridge to Russellville by the main road through the county, uniting with it about three miles from Elkton, completes the main thoroughfares which connect the district with the outside world. The effect of good highways through a district is second only to a railroad, and should not be lightly estimated. They are prominent factors in its development, and enhance the value of all property, and stimulate enterprise to a degree that is almost marvelous to the uninitiated. It is to this fact that the village of Fairview owes its origin, while the early market at Hopkinsville and the growing market at Elkton, both made accessible by direct route, have had their impress on the success of the community. The development of the district has been marked by several incidents that, while not strictly confined in character to this locality, are worthy of note. This district probably takes the lead in suicides. A’ considerable number have occurred, induced principally by financial embarrassment. Besides these there have been several distressing murders, growing out of intoxication or the agitated period during the war. This district was prominent also as the scene of the Kuklux outrages. A band organized in Christian County for a time made nightly raids into this region, while one organized in Todd County added its disturbing influence. It should not be understood that the character of the community was of a savage disposition, but that it was more sinned against than sinning. The brutal murder of Mrs. Salmons, and the brutal punishment inflicted upon the Negro perpetrator of the crime, fully noted elsewhere, found its scene of action in this district.


The conservative influences of society were early established in the district, and while many unfortunate homicides have occurred within the limits of the district, the general progress of the community has been in the direction of law, order, and good morals. The Methodist Episcopal Church was among the earliest religious organisations in Todd County, and embraced within its membership many of the leading families of the community, including those of Elder Thornhill, Garland Ballard, Thomas Greenfield and Hazle Petrie. Meetings were held at the residence of the latter for some time, but the church was soon enabled to erect a little log building, which served as their place of worship for many years. It was located in this district, and was known as Petrie’s Church. The Rev. Caleb N. Bell came into the district December 25, 1822. He was a North Carolinian by birth, and had served as an itinerant preacher in Virginia. Upon his arrival here he at once identified himself with the church, and up to the time of his death, in 1872, was a most -prominent figure in its councils, and for many years its most beloved pastor. The little log building soon became of insufficient capacity to hold the constantly increasing membership, and about 1832, under the active supervision of Rev. Bell, the services of a neighboring saw-mill were invoked, and a sufficient amount of timber hauled to enable the church to erect a small but substantial frame structure, which stood until about 1853, at which date it was superseded by the present brick edifice, and the old building was for some time afterward used for school purposes, and then torn down. The present structure, known as Bell’s Chapel, was put up near the site of the old one, at a cost of about $2,200. It is in the Elkton Circuit, and its monthly appointments have been filled by the various pastors. The church has constantly grown in numbers and prosperity, and is noted also for its enjoyable basket meetings, which are always attended by large numbers.

The Methodists have another church in the district, known as the Tabernacle Church, located on the Butler road near Wyatt’s store. It was erected about 1878, and served to supplant an old Iog-house which was built under the labors of David Moore and his sons Jordan, T. C. and Riley, exhorters in the early church. William Alexander, under whose pastoral care the present building was built, and Rev. Hobbs Morrison, have been the principal preachers at this point. The membership is small.

The history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Todd County is noted at length in other chapters of the present work. The labors of Finis Ewing and others gave vigorous impulse to the new organisation after its separation from the parent church, and it soon became a potent factor in the religious development of the county. Goshen Church in this district points its origin to a protracted meeting, which was characterized by a large number of conversions, which gave stimulus to the movement having in view the erection of a place of worship in this vicinity. A site was secured near Croghan’s Grove, but for some reason work was suspended upon the erection of a single wall. Soon afterward, how-ever, a log building was put up, which served the church purposes for some five or six years, when it was torn down, and the present frame structure erected at a cost of about $1,500. With some fifty or sixty members, the early meetings were held under the pastoral charge of Revs. McDaniel and Provine. Since the pulpit has been supplied by Revs. William Casky, Joel Penick, J. M. Gill and Frank Perry, and its present membership consists of about 100 souls, and is in a prosperous condition.

The Baptists have at the present time no representative church in this district. At a very early day the Close Communion branch of that de-nomination held comparatively largely attended meetings in a little log building which was called the West Fork Church. Archibald Bristow and the Rev. Plasters were among the early pastors. The organisation ceased to exist about 1822, and became the parent to scattered congregations throughout the surrounding country.

The Christian Church has likewise no organization in this district at the present time. Philippi Church, founded by Nathaniel Burrus, was the result of its only endeavors to secure representation here. The little frame building was erected about 1847, but the organisation was unsuccessful in its efforts to secure any considerable acquisitions to the membership lists, and the church building, falling into disuse. was torn down about 1871. Rev. C. M. Day preached occasionally at this place, but the church was most of the time under the pastoral care of Rev. W. E. Murphy.


The natural opposition to the public schools was very pronounced in the district. Private schools flourished to some extent, and are still maintained supplementary to the public system. The first school of which there is any knowledge was taught by William Huston in a log-cabin near the residence of J. W. Petree. This was only for a single term. J. H. Shanklin taught a school for twelve months in the same cabin, and in the following year taught for a year in a log-cabin a half mile north of Fairview. Newton Payne, another of the early teachers, taught on the premises now owned by Benjamin Downer, for several years. In 1854 a school building was erected by J. E. Jesup, which was known by the high-sounding name of ” Jesup’s Academy.” A teacher by the name of Shurtleff presided over the destinies of a school here for several years. Goshen school, held near the church of that name, was taught by a number of teachers. A part of the year the school was conducted as part of the common school system, and the rest of the time as a subscription school. In 1873 a frame schoolhouse was erected under the provisions of the school law at a cost of $500, in Fairview. Among the teachers at this point were D. C. Morehead, Baker, James Vick, Miss Brown and Mr. Robinson. A public schoolhouse was erected near the residence of J. G. Wilkins, and schools have been conducted here by Miss Mamie Jesup and E. B. Wood.


Battle, J. H., W. H. Perrin, Counties of Todd and Christian, Kentucky : historical and biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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