The Geographic Roots of Fairview’s Early Settlers

W here did the early families that settled Fairview come from? In the US in general, German families tended to settle in the Lancaster and Reading areas of Pennsylvania. Families that came from England, Scotland and Ireland tended to settle within 40 miles of the Delaware River.

The Fairview families that lived in Pennsylvania lived in Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester counties, and families from New Jersey lived in Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, and Gloucester counties. They entered what is now the US at the port city of Philadelphia, which was the largest and most important city on the eastern North American coast until around 1800.

These early settlers of Philadelphia and the Delaware River area tended to be Quakers, who had dominated the British Isles for a period of time but fallen out of favor by 1700. This caused them to leave England for Ireland and America. Philadelphia became the “Quaker City” for a period of time, and today the largest concentration of Quakers tends to be in the counties just west of Philadelphia.

The Quakers were very tolerant in many ways, but one thing did not set well with many of their members. Quakers had to get a certificate of removal from their local church to move to a different location. My Whitaker family had to get a certificate from their church in Ireland to move to Pennsylvania. When the family decided to move to Rowan (now Davidson) County, NC, from Chester County, PA, they had to get a certificate from their church at Kennett Square in Chester County. The church approved the request with one exception: the oldest son, Mark, had to stay. That did not go over well with the family. The many Quaker families that moved to Rowan County from Pennsylvania soon changed their religion. The Whitaker, Reed and Merrill families, and many other others, moved from the Delaware River Valley of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Rowan County, NC, and then began to move to Fairview in the late 1790s until a few years after 1800.

The second wave of families that ended up in Fairview were German. They moved to Randolph County, NC, which was settled by Germans, as well as Lincoln and Catawba counties. The Garren and Fouts families were Germans from Randolph County. The Ingle, Creasman, Stroup and Dellinger families were Germans from Lincoln County.

Families almost always moved in groups to the same area. They lived near one another in the county they moved from and tended to move together to the new counties. They did not move to areas where they did not know anyone. If they moved together, they lived near people they knew, and they could depend on one another. It was hard to move to an area where you did not know anyone. Usually, people who moved to an area where they did not know anyone were people who had gotten in some kind of trouble where they moved from.

The next wave of people that moved to Fairview were from Virginia. The Ashworth and Williams families were the most prominent of these. The Virginia families tended to be more well off than the former Quakers and Germans. They also were much more likely to have enslaved people. They settled in what is now Rutherford County before moving to Fairview.

Buncombe County began being settled in the 1780s. For many years, what is now Buncombe County was divided between two counties. Swannanoa was part of Burke County, and Fairview was part of Rutherford County. This meant that Fairview deeds, wills and court papers were kept in Rutherfordton and Swannanoa’s papers were in Morganton.

Buncombe County was formed in the 1790s from Burke and Rutherford counties. Fairview became part of Buncombe County. Broad River was divided between Burke and Rutherford counties, but in 1840 it became part of McDowell County, where it remained until the 1920s.

Politics changed that in the mid-1920s. A very important Democrat in McDowell County was almost beat in an election in the 1920s. Broad River then, as now, was around 75 to 80 percent Republican. The general assembly took Broad River out of McDowell County and put it in Buncombe to assure this important Democrat had a safe seat.

Bruce Whitaker documents Fairview-area genealogy. To get in touch with him, contact the Crier at [email protected] or 828-771-6983 (call/text).

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