Before I started writing this week’s column, I was contacted by Kaye Marino Williams who told me about a bench honoring school principals from the years 1955-65 just inside of Princeton City Park. The bench, which is located near where the road circles around the park, is in need of brush being cleared. Among the organizers of the effort was the late Ron Lively. If you can assist in the effort, contact Williams at the Princeton Railroad Museum.
In our ongoing look at various towns and communities in Mercer County, we’ve looked at Oakvale and Matoaka so far. Now, we’re turning to one of those communities which never was incorporated but still has a considerable history in Pisgah based on information supplied by Katherine Tickle, Hugh Gooch and John Maxey for the Mercer County Historical Society’s History of Mercer County, the 1984 edition,
Pisgah is located roughly equidistant between Princeton (about four miles northeast) and Athens (about four miles southwest) on the old Red Sulphur Turnpike where it meets the Athens Road.
Early settlers/landholders Alonza Gooch and the three Fletcher brothers Joseph, Rowland and William were among the founders of the community.
Joseph Fletcher married Elizabeth French French, the widow of William French on Nov. 11, 1818. The next year, they settled in Pisgah, buying 248 acres of land on Christian Fork which had been patented to Benjamine Stewart. They built two houses, one on the east end and one on the west end where they lived. They had six children, all who reached adulthood.
Rowland Fletcher married Sallie French. They had seven children.
Alonza Gooch had bought property in the area by 1833 but didn’t move there until 1848. Alonza and Mary Frances Porter Gooch had seven children.
Col. William Henderson French, a wealthy landowner and real estate agent, built a mansion on the Athens side of Pisgah in 1853. It later was bought after his 1872 death by the Shumate family and was owned by Evelyn Foster in the 1980s.
Between 1850 and 1860, a dozen families, mostly farmers , lived in Pisgah. W.H. French had a 2,200 acre farm,
The families of the 1860s included Lutian Grigsby, Alonza Gooch, his son Thomas C. Gooch, Rowland Fletcher’s son Calvin, William Bruce , Nimrod Whittaker, William Stafford, Alexander Johnston and Jacob Larman.
Pisgah Church was built in the late 1850s out of hewn logs, One of the first Methodist Conferences in the county was held there. Early preachers included George Green , George Stewart, J.W. Bennett, Daniel Carr and Phillip Sutton. Robert Sheffey occasionally preached there.
A new church was built in 1866-67. In 1886, Joseph and Rosa Stafford deeded land for a new Pisgah Methodist Church which is still being used, Stafford served as Sunday School Superintendent for 30 years and John W. Johnston was the church steward for 33 years.
William R. Reynolds of Athens, then Concord Church, taught school in the late 1850s at the Methodist Church, Later, a school known as the Johnston School was built. In the 1920s, two wooden schools and one brick served the community. Now, Melrose School and PikeView High School serve the area.
A note: One of the schools in the area, the Todd’s Flat School, is now a museum.
While the area was rich in timber, the main occupation was agriculture. The land was well-suited to raising sheep, cattle and hogs. Grain was taken to the Gooch Mill in Goochville , now eastern Princeton, which was operated by Alonzo and Irvin Goodloe Gooch.
The coming of the railroad saw many area residents work in the timber business and for the railroad, A sawmill was built on the John Barberie estate.
Prominent homes in Pisgah included the Fletcher, French, Stafford, Maston Bailey, Phillip Bailey,Hearn, Gooch, Bryan, Blake , Barberie and Jenkins.
The Pisgah Farm Women’s Club was organized in 1924 with 17 members. Members were active in the Mercer County Fairs.
Several community members including Calvin Fletcher, James Brine, Arminta Johnston and Julia Barberie lived nearly 100 years. Nannie Gore Hearn lived past her hundredth birthday.
Contact Jeff Harvey at email@example.com,