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MATTHEW L. FAIRFAX


The sturdy character of the men of the hills has frequently been remarked. The mountain counties of Virginia are no exception for they have sent out men of both races, who have been able even in the face of difficulties to strive and to endure. Every profession has felt the impact of their personalities. Among the hardy sons of Botetourt County, Va., now (1922) residing in West Virginia, must be mentioned Rev. Matthew Lawrence Fairfax, a successful Baptist pastor of Ronceverte.

He was born on April 30, 1870, and is the first member of his family to be a preacher. His father, the late Charles B. Fairfax, was a tanner by trade. He was the son of Thornton and Charlotte Fairfax. The mother of our subject was, before her marriage Maria Louise Pendleton, daughter of Anderson and Amy Pendleton.

Young Fairfax experienced the new birth when he was fourteen years of age and joined the Lapsley Run Baptist Church.

Ordinarily we think of men being called to preach after their conversion, sometimes years after. But Mr. Fairfax had felt even before his conversion as a small boy that his life work lay in the direction of preaching the Gospel. He was licensed in 1899 and two years later was ordained to the full work of the ministry.

As a boy he had laid the foundation of his education in the public schools and spent a year at the Virginia Seminary and College at Lynchburg. Before entering upon the work of the ministry, he worked on the farm and was a stationary engineer. He taught school for a couple of terms in Virginia. It is as a minister of the Gospel, however, that he is best known.

He began his career as pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church which he served continuously for twenty years, and the church prospered under his ministry. As the character of his work became known his services were soon in demand by other churches. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fincastle from 1905-19. He served the first Church at Indian Rock for six years, 1904-10. He accepted the call of the church at Iron Gate and preached there for ten years, 1910-20. He served Lapsley Run from 1904-08 and Lick Run from 1909-20. Since 1920 he has divided his time between the Shiloh Church at Alderson and the First Baptist Church of Ronceverte, giving half time to each and residing at Ronceverte.

He has made friends for himself and for his work wherever he has gone and has had a fruitful ministry.

Mr. Fairfax has a fine family. On January 25, 1892, he married Miss Maria E. Cash of Eagle Rock, Va. Of the eleven children born to them, ten are living. The oldest, Capt. Norwood C. Fairfax was in the service during the World War and made the supreme sacrifice on the field of battle. Mr. Scott in his History of the War tells a most thrilling incident in connection with his final struggle. Captain Fairfax's company had been ordered forward when some one asked him if he knew there was a nest of German machine gun directly in front. He replied, "I only know we have been ordered forward, and we are going." He went. Machine guns did their worst, but they could not take away from parents and brothers and sisters the record of that heroic courage in the face of danger. The other children are Myra E., Lawrence E., Irma T., Charles C., Frank T., Clara M., Mary P., Augustine E., Matthew L., Jr., and James A. Fairfax. These are all being given excellent educational advantages and form a group of which father and mother may well be proud. Corporal Lawrence E. Fairfax of Company E., 351st Field Artillery, served overseas and was on the front for six weeks. He was on duty at the close of the war, November 11, 1918, and is now (1922) a student in the business department of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.

In order that he might be a real leader of his people Mr. Fairfax has given serious consideration to their condition and needs. He, of course, puts first their spiritual needs. After that, he says, must come self respect and self help. The writer pauses to note that those qualities are the qualities which account for the success of Mr. Fairfax.

After the Bible to which he naturally gives first place in his reading, he loves history and biography. In politics he is a Republican and among the secret orders is identified with the Odd Fellows, the Pythians and St. John the Watchman.


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