Birth of a town called Fairfax
by Iona White
THE FAIRFAX FORUM, Fairfax, Missouri, June 15, 2006

The following information was written and researched by Iona White. The information was given out during the old fashion church service hosted by the Presbyterian Church on Sunday, June 4.
A town of Fairfax was never in the mind of the early residents of Atchison County. They were still busy recovering from the effects of the Civil War and trying to develop the fertile land of Tarkio Valley into a farm and home for their family and generations to come. However, unbeknown to the average person a town bearing the name of Fairfax was to be a child of the newly developing railroads across the country.
In November of 1840 a baby boy entered the world in the state of Ohio that was to have a very lasting influence on northwest Missouri. This young man plays a very prominent part in the quas-quicentennial of Fairfax, as well as the entire Atchison County. He was educated in Cincinnati, Ohio, until 16 years of age. In August of 1859, at the age of 19, he moved to Burlington, Iowa and was given a clerkship in the office of the assistant treasurer of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad at the salary of $30/month.

From that humble beginning it was nothing but upward for C.E. Perkins (Charles Elliott). It was the era of the railroad. The Burlington was on the move westward across Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and points west. By September of 1881 Mr. Perkins, at the age of 41 was president of all of Burlington's operation. He was also associated with many of the smaller connecting railroads.

The area that constituted Atchison County, Missouri was growing and was to the point that inhabitants were willing and eager for a railroad. Thus the birth of Tarkio Valley Railroad. A total of 24.5 miles across Atchison County. This railroad was a branch of Kansas City, St. Joseph & Omaha RR. This would serve as a connecting line from main lines going east/ west across Iowa and also connect at Corning and on to St. Joseph for the growing railroad passing through that city. (The Union Depot in St. Joseph was to cost a total of $250,000.00 when completed. An impressive sum in 1880). Records indicate area farmers willingly granted the railroad a right-of-way across their farms for the huge price of one dollar.
The railroad came into the county from the north; thus the town of Westboro was the first railroad child to arrive in Atchison County. That was in November of 1880. Lots in Westboro were selling for $100. Tarkio City, by 1 January 1881, was boosting 30 houses with a population of over 100 persons. It even had two newspapers! By March of that year Westboro and Tarkio were receiving mail by the new railroad.

The March 19, 1881, Atchison County Mail reported "the New Station between Corning and Tarkio, on the Tarkio Valley RR, at Green's, will be called "Whiteson" on honor of Ed. H. White". However,the same newspaper of May 7, 1881, reported "The new town on the Tarkio Valley RR on Mr Green's farm was surveyed last week and christened Fairfax". A petition has been sent to Washington requesting the appointment of S. P. Jewell, Esquire, as Post Master". (That appointment came through in July-thus Fairfax was receiving mail apparently by the railroad).
There is one sad situation I can think of with this progress within the county. The railroad by-passed the town of Milton south of Fairfax. Milton was already a well established community for the time period. However, it was located on the wrong side of the Tarkio Creek. For the railroad to locate in Milton it would have to build a bridge or bridges to locate there.
Thus, apparently it was easier to start a whole new community. Several, if not most of the businesses of Milton moved to the new progressive community of Fairfax. Among those that come to my mind are Dr. Hunter and Jordon J. Denny with his pharmacy. With the closing of businesses in Milton it was only natural people would move their families to Fairfax-one town gained, one town lost!
Fairfax grew and prospered-a town on the move! Fine farming community! The August 9,1901, Fairfax Forum was publishing the train schedule. One could go north or south, making connections going to Chicago and other points. Livestock and grain were being shipped to Chicago and other large trade areas.
Fairfax was a child of the railroad era. The railroad may be gone, never to return but the "Pride of Fairfax" is still very much alive in the hearts of the residents that call it home!