From atop the low plateau where once stood the Fairview Male and Female College and the bustling town of Binnsville, in Kemper County, the view is still fair, but an era has vanished. The college is no more, and Binnsville consists of one building, a church.
In the late 1870's George Binn founded the town of Binnsville. A post office was established in Binn's store and the town was named. During the next few years there was a rapid growth. Several stores were built; Fairview College was established in 1887; and two church's were built. It was a thriving and properous community, and boasted over 500 inhabitants in the late 19th century. There were as many as sixteen stores, two drug stores, three churches, Fairview College, a cotton gin and a grist mill.
The latter part of the nineteenth century saw Binnsville gain considerable prominence as the center of a rich farming district and as a Noxubee River port. Packets plying the river as far north as Macon carried the farmers' cotton downriver to the Tombigbee and on to Mobile. On the upriver voyage the boats brought merchandise for the 20-odd business houses of Binnsville.
Fairview Male and Female college was born of a necessity nurtured by the prosperity of Binnsville and vicinity and the poor transportation facilities of the day. The institution opened its doors on September 1,1887 with the Rev. Waldo Moore, A.M., as its first president. A line in the school's first catalog reads, "Co-education is becoming a popular theory." In compliance with this theory, dormitory facilities were furnished for both sexes.
Fairview's graduating class consisted of three young ladies: Miss Fannie Moore of DeKalb, Miss Lily Moore of Binnsville, and Miss Minnie LeGette of DeKalb.
It seems that a majority of the early male graduates turned to either the medical profession or to the ministry. A partial list of alumni who became doctors includes E.L. Gilbert, C.T. Bell, John Flake, John Adams, W.R. McKinley, Warren Rencher, Albert Bryan, and Claude Gilbert.
Ministers who got their training at Fairview were of many denominations: W.W. Holmes became a Methodist minister; Charlie Knight a Baptist; and Irvin Boydstun a Presbyterian.
Miss Pet Moore, who taught for many years in Meridian public schools, received her first teaching experience at the Binnsville school.
One of the school's graduates John H. Pinson, founded the town of Geiger, located a few miles east of Binnsville. Pinson, a planter-merchant, was active in Alabama politics for many years.
The edification of Fairview Male and Female College lies in the long list of illustrious and prominent alumni, and to say that the school served its purpose would be an understatement. However, the dynamic nature of the American society chipped away at its very cornerstones.
Dredging operations on the Noxubee became so expensive the state abandoned the project and the riverboats stopped coming to Binnsville. The town gradually moved six miles westward and became part of the Scooba community, located on the GM & O railroad.
As one of her former pupils aptly surmised, "After the town moved to Scooba, the school sort of petered out."
And an era vanished.
References: Kemper County: The pioneer days, by Louis Parmer and The Kemper County Messenger, issue of April 2,1964.
Submitted by Gene Allred
Girls' dormitory at Fairview College, Binnsville, Mississippi - From "Kemper County, Mississippi - A Pictorial History", placed here with permission by the Kemper County Historical Commission.
Students at Fairview College, Binnsville, Mississippi - From "Kemper County, Mississippi - A Pictorial History", placed here with permission by the Kemper County Historical Commission.
Jeff Kemp - State Coordinator
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