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A History of Livingston County, Missouri
Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee
Fairview Township, lying in the southern part of the county, boasts rich farm lands suitable for a variety of crops, including feed grass for thousands of head of pure blooded livestock. Although the township, created out of Blue Mound and Grand River Townships, was not organized until March 4, 1867, the first settlers came in 1837 to 1839. Dr. John Wolfskill, a pioneer physician who lived across the line in Carroll County, practiced here as he did in the entire southern part of the county. Among the interesting stories of the pioneers is that of Fielding J. Rawlins, who made three trips to California in the very early days. On the last trip he had charge of a company of immigrants bound for the state in the far West, where they arrived safely in the spring of 1850, after four months of strenuous traveling. By the '50s the Wardens, Todds, Brownings, Shannons, Alexanders, Wolfskills, Munros, Herefords, Campbells and others had arrived. At the present time Mr. S. C. Linton, Mrs. Cora B. Price, Mrs. R. T. Miller, Mrs. F. W. Linton, Mr. and Mrs. Rickenbrode, Mr. James Beauchamp and Mr. William J. Rawlins are a few of the older descendants of the pioneers, still living in the township.
The trading center of the community is the little town of Avalon, the only town of our county bearing a literary name. August 9, 1845, Wesley Scott, who came to Livingston County in 1843, entered the townsite. On November 12, 1869, David Carpenter laid out Avalon on the elevation called Scott's Mound, where stood one small log cabin with a mud and stick chimney. Immediately after 1869, settlers came to build homes and open shops and stores. J. W. Botts ran one of the. early stores here. A large steam flour mill flourished from 1875 to 1908. Now the little town has eight business enterprises, two churches, and an active club and a secret order. The first churches were United Brethren, organized 1870; the Presbyterian Church, 1869; Methodist Episcopal, 1871, and Avalon Holiness Association, 1861. From 1880 to about 1890 the Avalon Fair was one of the important celebrations of the county. People came from miles about to visit and attend the races. From 1890 to 1928, when interest in fairs died out, there was a one-day fair. Mail for Avalon was carried for years by the Avalon "hack" from Chillicothe. Now a regular bus line performs the duty. Mr. J. D. Roberts was an early postmaster; Mrs. Jessie Browning has charge now. In 1905 the Citizens Bank of Avalon opened for business and ran successfully until 1932, when voluntary liquidation paid every depositor in full. The WPA, using material from the old rock quarry, built Highway J connecting Bedford and Avalon with No. 65. The first telephone service was a toll line from Chillicothe to Hale via Avalon. Then Mr. Iglehart put in an exchange, later owned by Elmer Kern, then the late Charles Zirkle. In 1910 there were two cars in Avalon, one a Lambert with friction drive, owned by Doctor Baxter, and the other a Reo, belonging to Mr. S. A. Browning.
In 1869 the Avalon Academy was founded, and in the fall of 1873, at a cost of $13,000.00, in a two-story building the United Brethren of Christ opened the Avalon College. (The third story of the building was not added until 1883.) Whose idea it was to create this institution no one can say now, but
a happy thought it was, for it has been the means of schooling for many of the respected and loved citizens of our county. David Carpenter was the largest donor in this enterprise. He gave ten acres of land for the campus and forty acres in town lots, many of which he gave away or sold cheap as an inducement to building up the town. There were twenty-two students the first term and forty the second. By 1880 and 1881 the institution was offering full collegiate work to an average of one hundred students each year. In 1882 the first graduating class, Mr. Fred Conger and Miss Mattie Gray, received the degrees of B. S. During school terms it was a rare treat to the citizens of the town to listen to programs given by the Cleimathean or the Philophrean Societies of the college. In 1890, when the United Brethren moved to Trenton, the Presbyterians took charge of the college and ran it successfully until about 1900, when it closed. The building now is used for church services.