Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


Seth Fordyce was a man of strong religious principles. He realized the need for a church in his community, so he brought about the organization of the Bethany Christian Church in his home in February, 1854. He then donated the land for a church a short distance from the Fordyce Inn, which was his family enterprise.

It was rare in those days for churches to have regular ministers as they do today. Instead, ministers traveled along circuits, securing their meeting places wherever they could. A visiting minister would often preach all day, and sometimes one minister would follow another. The Fordyce family always entertained the ministers when they were in the community. It was also their practice to invite the entire congregation to the Inn after church services.

The church was the center of most community activities, and there were often old fashioned singing schools held. A singing master was hired to teach basic music reading, and to teach people to sing in parts and harmonize their voices. The whole neighborhood would then turn out for a joyous night of singing and musical entertainment.

Just west of the Fordyce place, grew the town of Winchester. It reached a population of between 300 and 400 before the advent of the railroad. It boasted a town square around which businesses were located, including a hotel and drug store. Houses continued some distance south and east, and the town prospered until the railroad came through. The railroad passed it by and Stockport grew in its place as Winchester faded.

A promoter of the railroad asked Winchester citizens for a special tax of several thousand dollars. The large land owners opposed the move and defied anyone to vote for the tax levy, thus Winchester missed an opportunity to grow and faded into the past when the stage lines were discontinued.

(from an article in the Fairfield Daily Ledger dated March 13, 1929)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick