Union Station, Fairfax, SC. South Caroliniana Library.


1896 –

To consolidate Sanders and Campbellton, proposed names were placed in a hat and a child drew “Fairfax.”

(Allendale County; 2020 pop. 1,622). The origins of Fairfax can be traced back to the site of Owen’s Store, which was located at the crossing of roads running toward Augusta and Orangeburg; the site is beside the Fairfax Cemetery. The cemetery is the site of Bethlehem Baptist Church, which was organized by 1854, relocated in 1914, and renamed First Baptist Church in 1944. Other white congregations organized a Methodist church in the 1850s and a Lutheran church in 1898. Black congregations organized Nazarene Baptist Church in 1877, Bethel AME about 1878, and St. Phillip Baptist Church in 1891.

The first postmaster was appointed around 1870, with the post office called Sanders. The Port Royal Railroad, an east-west line, began operation through the town in 1873. The train stop was called Campbellton Station. To consolidate Sanders and Campbellton, proposed names were placed in a hat and a child drew “Fairfax.” The town received its first charter on December 26, 1893. Fairfax was incorporated in 1896 with W. J. Sanders as mayor. The town was rechartered on May 16, 1898.

When the Florida Central Railroad put in a north-south line, commerce clustered around the junction. F. M. Young built the first brick store and also operated a telephone company, generated electricity, ginned cotton, extracted cotton oil, and made ice. F. M. Young, Jr., whose tasks in the family business included wiring houses for Delco generators, started an electrical contracting business in 1928 that later specialized in large projects such as schools and commercial buildings. W. J. Young was an esteemed physician. His wife, Virginia Durant Young, was a suffragette and author who operated the Fairfax Enterprise in the 1890s. The Youngs willed their house and books to the town as a library. The house, circa 1881, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Young also bequeathed the nucleus of the funding for the Allendale County Hospital and required that it be located in Fairfax.

S. O’Neal started the Standard Oil Operations in town in 1890. Bell Telephone Company built lines to Fairfax in 1906. By the mid-1900s several manufacturing and processing plants had been established, the Pal Theater opened, and civic organizations were formed. Town Hall was constructed in 1940. Fairfax offered motels, filling stations, restaurants, and bus stops for travelers on U.S. Highways 321 and 278.

The first African American on the Fairfax Town Council, Quillie Devore, served from 1969 to 1990. An African American woman, Olivia Cohen, served as mayor from 1987 to 1995. The Sprint-Fairfax Operation, the first of three high-tech telecommunications facilities, was built in 1986. The Allendale Correctional Institute opened in 1989, and its inmates represented 35.2 percent of Fairfax’s population in 2000. Merchants still sell hardware, groceries, fuel, and farm supplies in Fairfax. Highway traffic hums through the crossroads, trains rumble down the north-south and east-west tracks, and technicians route signals through telecommunications networks.

Lawton, Alexania Easterling, and Minnie Reeves Wilson. Allendale on the Savannah. Bamberg, S.C.: Bamberg Herald Printers, 1970.

Loadholt, Adrienne. Centennial Celebration, 1893–1993, Town of Fairfax, South Carolina. Fairfax, S.C.: Town of Fairfax, 1993.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Fairfax
  • Coverage 1896 –
  • Author
  • Keywords site of Owen’s Store, First Baptist Church, Port Royal Railroad, Campbellton Station, S. O’Neal, Standard Oil Operations, Allendale Correctional Institute
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date May 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 26, 2022
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