Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Pennyroyal Distillery’

Today’s Fairview – Yesterday’s Pennyroyaldom

Kenny Keylor

The late Keny Keylor shared stories of Fairview and Pennyroyal Reunions.

Those who have lived in Fairview for a long time, have great memories to share that perhaps some have forgotten. Kenny Keylor had been around for 91 years. He shared some stories and pictures with me during a recent visit.

Fairview Bradshaw Tavern

Bradshaw Tavern and Inn along the old Zane’s Trace had famous visitors such as Henry Clay.

   A group from Maryland led by Ralph Cowgill and Hugh Gilliland stayed at the Bradshaw Inn as they walked the old Wheeling Road. When they stopped along the way some climbed a hill and are said to comment, “My, what a fair view.” The name stuck!

Fairview Main Street - small

This is a view of Fairview’s Main Street back in the 1800s.

   The town was laid out by Hugh Gilliland in 1814 on the border of Guernsey and Belmont counties. He platted thirty lots, each one-fourth of an acre and fronting on each side of the Wheeling Road. By 1866, 555 people lived there – it’s highest population.

DSC02524

A painting of the pennyroyal pant hangs in the Opera House today.

   A big attraction back in 1806 were the fields of pennyroyal that grew wild in the area. The herb received its name because it was a favorite of the English royalty who treated headaches, cold, arthritis and dizziness with this oil. Thus, the name Pennyroyaldom for the area.

Pennyroyal Distillery Postcard

Pennyroyal Distillery, where they made the “cure-all oil”, was captured on this old postcard.

   Benjamin Borton had learned how to distill the pennyroyal oil while living in New Jersey. His sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons continued in the business selling this “cure-all” oil after the family moved to Fairview.

Fairview looking west on National Road - UP Church in foreground

United Presbyterian Church sat along the old National Road looking west.

   This oil, along with tobacco, both “cash crops”, were shipped by freight wagons on the Old National Road to the eastern markets. Fairview produced more Pennyroyal Oil than any other place in the nation. Its medicinal purposes were still being sold in the 1980s until the government labeled it a possible carcinogen.

Fairview Home of Dr. Arnold

The home of Dr. H.J. Arnold in 1915 still stands today.

   Since the town was growing, Fairview became filled with many needed businesses: general stores, grist mill, millinery store, two hotels, and three cigar factories. Over twenty different occupations found a place in town to hang their shingle: dentist, doctor, undertaker, barber, and blacksmith to name a few. As you can tell, this was a thriving little community.

Fairview Costume House by O.G. Boyd

O.G. Boyd had this costume house in town and organized their Pennyroyal parade.

   A medical school existed in Fairview taught by Dr. T. McPherson. If someone wanted to become a doctor, he had to serve three years in the school and then one year in Columbus. They even had two local grave robbers who supplied cadavers to the school.

   To maintain their heritage, every August from 1880 until 2014, residents of Fairview and descendants of Fairview residents gathered for the Pennyroyal Reunion to enjoy music, food and a chance to share stories of Fairview.

thumbnail_Pennyroyal Reunion 1946

A large crowd attended the Pennyroyal Reunion in 1945.

   The first reunion was held in 1880 in Gardenia Grove just west of Fairview with 4500 people present. Organized by David Taylor, editor of the Guernsey Times, Sarchet’s History of Guernsey County states that Taylor was “the presiding genius and program maker of the Pennyroyal Reunion.” He gave the organization state-wide recognition as the greatest of all harvest-home picnics.

Fairview Pennyroyal Parade 2

People lined Fairview’s Main Street to watch the annual parade.

   The Governor of Ohio spoke at the Pennyroyal Reunion. He stayed in Barnesville and a horse and buggy brought him to Fairview, where he gave a speech in the afternoon. Five officials, who later became Presidents of the United States, also joined in the celebrations.

Fairview Pennyroyal Royalty

Pennyroyal Royalty highlighted festivities at the reunion.

   Kenny Keylor has been a big supporter of his community and the reunion for all his life. He played his guitar as part of the entertainment. His collection of Pennyroyal Reunion programs has only five years missing.

   In earlier years, entertainment took many forms. Minstrel shows were very popular and one year a three-act play was performed. Most recently their entertainment has been bluegrass music. But every year a chorus performed their Pennyroyal Song, Down in Ohio, with lyrics and music written by John H. Sarchet, who directed the chorus for many years.

Opera House

The building for today’s Pennyroyal Opera House has been around for over 150 years.

   Since those early days of Pennyroyaldom, today Fairview survives as a small town with a population of between 80 and 85. But their heritage is never forgotten as seen in these words from the first Pennyroyal Reunion program in 1880:

As each returning year revolves in time,

May all true sons of childhood’s happy home

Return from distant places, where they roam,

And keep a day in stories and in rhyme.”

~Robert B BuchananFairview sign

Fairview is located along I-70 today between Wheeling, WV and Cambridge, OH. Take exit 198 to the north of the interstate and turn left into the small town of Fairview. You might want to visit sometime when the Pennyroyal Opera House has some great bluegrass music.

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Pennyroyal Opera House in Fairview – Bluegrass at its Best

The place where Bluegrass happens!

Opera House

The Pennyroyal Opera House is along Old National Road in Fairview.

Along Old National Road in the town of Fairview, Pennyroyal Opera House provides a family-friendly evening of entertaining bluegrass music over the years from October through May. Their season is about to begin!

Country Gentleman Band

Country Gentlemen Tribute Band – October 5

   Their first show on October 5 features The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band with an awesome bluegrass sound.

Kevin Prater Band

Kevin Prater Band – October 12

Remington Ryde 1

Remington Ryde – October 19

   Following weeks will feature such greats as The Kevin Prater Band with strong vocal harmonies and a crowd-pleaser Remington Ryde.

Pennyroyal Opera House painting

Cathy Gadd, a long-time organizer, painted this picture of Pennyroyal Opera House.

   The historic building originally was home to the Methodist Church in the 1830s, then used as a Grange Hall. In 1910, it was purchased by the Pennyroyal Reunion Association. Since 1995, Pennyroyal Opera House is the place where Bluegrass happens.

Pennyroyal Distillery Postcard

This old postcard shows the Pennyroyal Distillery where medicinal oils were made.

   The name Pennyroyal came about from a Pennyroyal Distillery that was located in Fairview in the early 1800s. There seemed to be an abundance in the Fairview area of the wild herb, pennyroyal, a member of the mint family. Pennyroyal herb oil was valued for its medicinal purposes.

Betty and Harold

Betty Eddy planted the seed for bluegrass at Fairview with Harold Dailey.

   A chance encounter at 1st National Bank in Barnesville changed events in Fairview. Harold Dailey began working at the hospital there and one day, Betty Eddy, an employee of the bank, asked Harold if he had an idea for making some money for the Pennyroyal Reunion Association.

Stage

The stage is ready for the season to begin.

   Since Harold played and enjoyed bluegrass, he suggested having a bluegrass show. In 1995, Harold, with some local help, organized the first bluegrass show at the Pennyroyal Opera House. In the beginning, their plan was to feature local bluegrass groups so they could have a place to showcase their talents.

Opera House crowd

Each concert draws a full house of people who love bluegrass.

   From that humble beginning, the show blossomed into a nationally known place to hear and perform bluegrass. Today there is never a problem getting excellent bluegrass bands from all over the United States and Canada to stop by for an evening. They’ve even had bands call from England to request a time for performance.

Harold and Kenny by the stage

Harold and Kenny Keylor reminisce about bands that have played on that stage.

   While Harold started the show, Frank and Cathy Gadd have held the reins for many years recently. Since Harold’s retirement, he asked if he might become active again in organizing the bluegrass programs.

Almost Famous (2)

Harold plays electric acoustic bass in the bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Harold says, “I’m glad to be back as I love bluegrass, play bluegrass and love to promote it.” Harold plays electric acoustic bass in a bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Many from the Pennyroyal Reunion Association still help by providing the delicious home cooked food in the kitchen. Betty Eddy serves as treasurer and still bakes pies with favorites being custard, rhubarb, and peanut butter.

Lonesome River Band poster

The poster from the first professional band that played there still hangs backstage.

   This isn’t a large building or a large show, but it’s big on talent on Friday evenings. Since they’re right along Interstate 70, many big-name stars will stop for a pick-up-date on their way to their Saturday performance. It’s a great chance to meet some of your favorite bluegrass stars up close and personal.

photos on wall

Spend time before the show checking out the pictures on the walls.

   There are pictures on the wall of some of those popular names who have played there in the past. The first professional band that played there was The Lonesome River Band. Other pictures include such greats as Bobby Osborne, The Grascals, IIIrd Tyme Out, Rhonda Vincent and Dave Evans.

   For those nights when you want to listen to some top-notch bluegrass and can’t make it out to the show, sit back and listen on the radio. Their shows are carried live at 101.1 FM in Wheeling and 101.9 FM in Cambridge.

   If you want to check out their full 2018 schedule, go to www.pennyroyalbluegrass.com. For booking information call Harold Dailey at 740-827-0957.

Inside with seats already reserved

People have already placed their blankets on seats to save them for the next show. It’s a tradition!

   Come early some Friday evening for some delicious food, then go upstairs and listen to some quality classic bluegrass, which puts soul into music.

Pennyroyal Opera House in Fairview can easily be reached off I-70 between Old Washington and St. Clairsville. Take exit 198 and this popular Bluegrass Music house can be found on the north side of the road very near the exit.

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