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Fairfield in 1918
Fairfield has not always been the small town that it is now. At one time there was as many as 1,100 people living in Fairfield Township and the small, surrounding communities. At one time Fairfield was incorporated; there were 9 stores, most of them general stores, one hotel and one bar.
Fairfield is probably most famous for its canal. Around the turn of the century the canal was owned by Capt. Flave Spencer. He charged $.02 toll for a bushel of beans and corn, and $2.00 for fertilizer. It took about a week for goods to be transported from Fairfield to Elizabeth City, Norfolk and return. The canal was very profitable until produce began to be shipped by trucks.
By taking a look at Fairfield now you would never believe it once had a mayor, a deputy sheriff, town hall, and even a jail. The mayor about the time of WW I was David Carter. The Town Hall was located between Arthur Bell Harris' home and the Fairfield Christian Church. The Deputy Sheriff was Alonzo Cuthrell. He would jail people overnight who violated the law; the jail was located in the yard of his home, now owned by Clarke Mooney.
Fairfield also had many schools - the Fairfield Academy, Baum School, Carmur School, Lakeside School, Newlands School, and Fairfield School, the last one in operation until all the county schools were consolidated.
There are several old homes in Fairfield such as the Baum house built in 1802 and the home of Lindsay Midyette - this house still has ax marks on the doors where Yankee soldiers tried to break into the house during the Civil War.
There are several legends on how Fairfield was named, one such is inscribed on a tombstone; it reads, "Foremost in every good work, the Pioneer of International Improvement. His energy reclaimed Fairfield from swamps and left it a garden." The man referred to was David Carter, Jr. Whether this legend is true no one can say, but it is strange that it has lived on this long.
(Photo and information from Hyde County History published by the Hyde County Historical Society in 1976.)