Phena Fincher did an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Jones, of the Fairview Community, about the Fairview United Methodist Church on October 16, 1984. The interview goes as follows...
Phena: As I understand it, you both have been members ever since. This is the first opportunity I've had to talk with someone who has been a member of their church always and I think that's a wonderful heritage that you have. Mr. Jones, just tell us where your church is located, first of all, so we can establish that.
Mr. J.: Fairview United Methodist Church is located 5 miles north of Prescott on the Suckles Lake Road, Route 4. It was organized in November of 1922. Services were first held in the schoolhouse across the road from the present building.
Phena: What was that school, Fairview School?
Mr. J.: It was Rocky College.
Phena: Rocky College School. Was it the old traditional one room and everybody was taken care of as far as you could go?
Mr. J.: It was one room. It had a sliding partition, I believe, that you could make 2 rooms out of it and they did use it.
Phena: But Rocky College? That's interesting.
Mr. J.: My first year in school was at Pleasant Hill and the schoolhouse burned that year and then we built the school down there.
Phena: Then you started to "college" in the second grade. You are a smart man. Pleasant Hill School, now was that over on Hwy 19, North?
Mrs. J.: That's not the name of the school you went to.
Phena: Anyway, it's in that community.
Mr. J.: They have down here some of the charter members. Mrs. Mary E. Jones, who was my grandmother. Ellis Jones, my daddy. Mrs. Lizzie Jones, my mother. William H. Barnes, Mrs. Allie Barnes, R.F. Barnes, Mrs. Alice Barnes, Gil Montgomery, Mrs. Bessie Montgomery, Mamie Jones and Bill Jones.
Phena: Was D.O. Montgomery...?
Mr. J.: That was Mary Beth's, my wife's father. Bessie Montgomery was her mother.
Phena: And am I correct in saying that he is the one who gave the land for your church?
Mrs. J: And my grandfather gave the timber.
Mr. J: Willie H. Barnes hauled it on the wagon with a team to the mill and cut the lumber and air dryed it and then they dressed it and we had to haul the lumber that was used in the church from the sawmill - R
Phena: So it was all really virgin timber, wasn't it? Then did you hire someone to construct the building?
Mr. J.: Yes, Fletch (?) Buchanan was employed as a carpenter and Will Grimes was hired as helper. Of course my daddy and Mary Beth's daddy and all the men went up and helped.
Mrs. J.: All these men helped that's in this picture.
Phena: You're talking about Uncle Ralph. Let's identify him. Are we talking about Ralph Barnes that was the County Judge of Nevada Co. for several years?
Mrs. J.: Yes, my mother's brother.
Mr. J.: And the ladies held bake sales at the Prescott Hardware to raise money and we kind of paid as we went. That was the only way we could build a church, was everybody contribute.
Phena: Give all that they had. And as the ladies in this community go, I know that those bake sales were wonderful, because they still have a reputation for being excellent cooks.
Mr. J.: Then as the building was completed in 1924, the men met to make the pews on March 13, 1925, and snow was on the ground. The pews were made of virgin timber, cut along with the other timber there at the R
Phena: You tell us, too, right here, about that wonderful living singing Christmas tree that you had.
Mr. J.: In 1951, Bro. S.L. Durham, I believe was his initial, was our pastor, and I had the honor at that time of being Sunday School superintendent. At that time we had quite a few children and so we came up with an idea. I think we had maybe a picture of something similar to this that had been published in the paper, so we decided we'd build what we called a Living Christmas Tree, which was a manmade Christmas tree with benches of different types, or stools, which peaked out with one person in the top, 3 in the second row, 5 in the third, and about 8 at the base of the tree. And they sang Christmas carols. It was not only beautiful, but inspiring. Bro. Durham always boasted, from then on, as long as he was with us about the Living Christmas Tree. It was placed in the newspaper and we received quite a bit of publicity from it.
Phena: About how many families would you say originallly attended your church back in the beginning years of the early twenties?
Mr. J.: I suppose there'd be around 6 or 8 families that began it.
Phena: And some of the families then were larger than our families today. So for the size church that you have. Are you still using the original building.
Mr. J.: Yes. It's not exactly like it was. We did have wings on either side which we called Sunday School rooms. It was a rather large country church that day and we were proud of it, but financial circumstances led us to believe, and then, too, our numbers began to drop off. Some of them had moved away on account of having jobs and making a living, and our numbers dropped to where we didn't necessarily need the Sunday School rooms, and the time that our church needed recovering, so we tore the Sunday School rooms off and our building as it stands today is just a single auditorium.
Phena: Do you still have the original benches?
Mr. J.: Still have the original benches.
Mrs. J.: They don't have a knot in them. The timber was beautiful.
Phena: How would you say the services have changed over the years? You mentioned a little bit ago that you used to have morning and evening services for revival.
Mrs. J.: We used to have evening services at our church a long time ago.
Mr. J.: Yes, we used to, when we was on the Prescott Circuit, there's about 7 different churches on the circuit and one preacher didn't have enough Sundays to go around so he had to perform maybe 2 or 3 services a Sunday. That left it where someone had to have an afternoon service. So we did have afternoon services for quite a while. Of course, now we are affiliated with First Church of Prescott, we have the same pastor as they do there, and we have an early morning preaching service at 9:00, 2 Sundays a month, the second and fourth Sundays. And then we have our Sunday School every Sunday and on the preaching days, following the church service, which we do get out early on those particular Sundays. But the other Sundays we have Sunday School at 10:00.
Phena: I think you are to be commended for carrying on your Sunday School, too, because this is not a time when your membership is at its greatest. What years would you say your membership was greatest? I would assume it's back during the early . . .
Mr. J.: Along in the 40's and 50"s.
Mrs. J.: When all the children were growing up. When farming was gone they had to go elsewhere.
Phena: But you are continuing to have services.
Mr. J.: I think at one time it may have been the intention of joining up with the Prescott Church that it might eventually work where we'd all go into the church in Prescott. But our congregation as it is now, even this small, most of them are elderly people and some of them had made the remark that they wouldn't be able to go, they wouldn't think they'd adjust to that, and if we failed to have church at Fairview, they just wouldn't go to church. So the younger ones agreed to hold on a long as possible to keep a preacher and keep the church going. And we enjoy it.
Phena: There's a certain fellowship and love that, a bond you have there, that some people can never experience in a larger congregation.
Mr. J.: And since the building got old enough to need any repairs, we've always done it within our own membership. We didn't hire carpenters, and that's another sentimental reason for me individually, because my dad and I did most of that work, especially on the inside, putting up the paneling and what have you. We have sentimental reasons for wanting to hold on.
Phena: Sure, because you hate to think about what will happen to it when you no longer have services. You are certainly to be commended. I happen to know it has been a very vital factor in the life of the community and I hope and pray it will continue to be for many years to come. I'm sure you can remember some real interesting human interest stories about your church. Tell me some.
Mrs. J.: We had a lot of weddings.
Mr. J.: Most all of our young people married at Fairview. We saw our children grow up in this church and of course, now they're gone and they have no ties like we used to. I was born and reared in this community and it's a miracle for me.
Phena: It is indeed a miracle for you and it's a good place to be, isn't it? I'm so glad to know about the naming of the church. Because it is indeed, it stands there on that corner near an intersection with the sycamore trees out there and makes you think of Zaccheus climbing up in the sycamore tree, but it certainly is a fair view from there. It's a beautiful little country church.
Mrs. J.: Coolest place to be. You can go down there and it's always cool. We have air conditioners, but it's always cool. There's a breeze that goes across that keeps it nice.
Mr. J.: One thing that comes to my mind is our, what we call protracted meetings at that time. As usual, we'd have a visiting preacher since our preacher had so many churches and sometimes he'd maybe have to go to another church on the day of our meetings. And we'd have testimony meetings and we can well remember our parents getting up and telling their experience, which was a spisritual influence.
Phena: It was indeed and it was a time of sharing that you don't get anywhere else.
Mr. J.: And now we've gotten down so we are such a small number, we never have a week's meeting here anymore. There's no one particularly able, you see, to go to night service and the way the working people are, they can't go to the day service and we just go into Prescott during their services where possible and visit with them. That's wonderful, too.
Phena: There's a lot of spiritual ties to the past. It must be a wonderful experience to be able to worship in the same church that you heard those people from the past that had such influences on your life tell about what the Lord had done for them. He certainly has blessed us, too.
Mr. J.: Talking about the weddings of our children and what not, and people of our age have seen the funerals of the charter members, most of them. Some of them are still living but most of them are gone and that's a memory we cherish in Fairview.
Mrs. J.: The only two that's left is Uncle Ralph Barnes and Nellie Barnes.
Phena: The only 2 charter members left are Ralph Barnes...
Phena: That time will come, too.
Mr. J.: That's what's staring us in the face now. When we lose one, we just almost lose one. There's not too many to take their place.
Phena: Well, you certainly are to be commended on the commitment that you've shown in your church and in your commitment and dedication to the work of the Lord.
Mr. J.: It's been a pleasure.
Phena: I certainly do thank you for talking with us about it, putting this down for history's sake, maybe. If you think of anything else... Did you ever see any shouting in your church?
Mr. J.: Yes, we have.
Phena: You haven't had anybody shouting lately?
Mr. J.: No, I guess it would scare us all to death if it happened today. I know it would some of the preachers. Some of them like it, some don't.
Phena: Some of the preachers that you have may not have ever heared anyone shout. When you first started going there, what was trasportation?
Mr. J.: Wagon and team or buggy, or walk. Another thing that does cover this period of time. I might mention that I became a member and gave my heart and life to Christ over at this schoolhouse just before they built the church, but it was already organized. So I've been a member all my life in the church.
Phena: Actuallly, it just about spans the life of that church.
Mr. J.: Bro. Campbell was our pastor.
Phena: And he was the pastor when the church was organized. So it does pretty well span the entire time. This has been most interesting to me and I'm sure it will be to the people who listen to it 100 years from now. Thank you very much and may the Lord continue to bless you and your work at Fairview Church.
Mr. J.: It might be interesting to know that there's about 5 generations that has grown up in our church during that time.
Phena: Do you ever have 4 in attendance on certain occasions? You have 4 generations in attendance?
Mr. and Mrs. J.: Oh yes.
Phena: That's wonderful!
A copy of this interview can be found in the Prescott/Nevada Co. Depot Museum, Prescott, AR.