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The History of Pfafftown

Pfafftown From the Sky
Pfafftown NC is a quiet community in Forsyth County, nestled in the hills that overlook the Yadkin Valley. The eastern section of Pfafftown borders Muddy Creek. Unfortunately, this community has been in an identity crisis for several years.Technically, and legally, Pfafftown is merely a Zip Code Tabulation Area (27040) and only exists due to a post office located on Yadkinville Road, which was established 125 years ago. Pfafftown Post Office 27040
Map of Pfafftown Formerly, Pfafftown was an unincorporated community founded in 1786. However, a substantial amount of land was annexed by Lewisville and Winston-Salem, permanently crippling the would be town from further attempts to incorporate.

The story of Pfafftown begins with Peter Pfaff, the son of Joseph Daniel and Anna Barbara Hartung Pfaff. Originally from Kaiserlauten, Pfaff moved to York, Pennsylvania in 1749 after finishing his education and began working as a blacksmith. A year later he married Anna Walberger Kerber and together they moved to his farm. Their marriage yielded four sons, two daughters and 30 grandchildren.

Here is an excerpt from the Memoirs of Peter Pfaff, Sr.

I was born June 24, 1727 in Kaiserlauten, the official seat of the Elector of the Palatinate. My father, Johann Daniel Pfaff, was a citizen and a mastermiller there. My mother was Anna Barbara, born Hartung.

When I was five years old, my father passed out of time. He had the reputation of being an awakened and peace-loving man, and I listened with interest to what my mother later told me about him. After a while, my mother married a miller named Jacob Bart. My step-father concerned himself about my education and sent me to school regularly. When my school days came to an end, I served various persons as driver of their horses.

In the year 1749, I journeyed to Pennsylvania; went first to Yorktown and worked there as a blacksmith. Soon I had an opportunity to hear the Brethren preach. Their faithful witness that nothing availed before God except the grace of the blood of Jesus was a glad message to me, and I was convinced in my heart that this was the true ground of salvation.
In 1750, I married Anna Walburger Kerber, and we moved at once to land which I had bought about fifteen miles from Yorktown.

However, we both loved the Brethren and agreed to unite with them, so I sold this land and we moved again near Yorktown.

Soon we had the pleasure of being allowed to join the Society of Brethren there. Much as I rejoiced in this, sometime later I wished to be received in the congregation and so be more closely united with them. When I spoke to my wife about it, she said that she did not feel that way but that she would not hinder me. I therefore applied for admission on April 4, 1766, I was so fortunate as to become a member of the congregation.

On November 4, 1759, my wife and I were enabled to partake of the Lord’s supper with the congregation, which was a blessing to our hearts.

In 1771, with the blessing of the Yorktown congregation, we traveled to North Carolina and established ourselves in the Friedburg settlement. Soon after my arrival, I was elected a vestry-man of the Brethren’s parish, which office I held for four years. I also held the office of steward in the Friedburg congregation which was still very small. When I became steward, I spoke simply with the Savior about it and asked Him to stand by me with His grace, as otherwise I could not manage it, and this He did throughout the thirteen years of my service. The Brethren and Sisters liked me, and I liked them; and which I from time to time laid before them officially, that were they willing to do. Before the Lord I had nothing to plead except His grace, and I remained His humble follower.

His son Isaac married Margaretha Volk, a native of Bethania and the two moved to a farm located west of the village. On November 9th, 1774 his wife of 24 years passed. That same year, he purchased the land that would become Pfafftown from Andrew Fulk. He remained in Friedburg for two more years before joining his son and daughter-in-law. There, on a farm located at the bank of Muddy Creek the Pfafftown community was formed.

Pfaff continued to aid his son Isaac on his farm as his health permitted. In 1793, while en route to Bethania, he became dizzy and fell from a horse. Following that moment his health deteriorated. He passed on January 22, 1804 at around 4:00am surrounded by his family.

In 1855, the traditional German preaching switched to English and in 1865 Pfafftown Christian Church was founded on Transou Road. Jesse Styers and Mary K Pfaff, owners of the mill on Muddy Creek provided the heart-pine lumber used in the 1869 initial construction. Their home is pictured above. Pfafftown Christian Church is still around today and is very active. Their site is available here.

After 100 years of relying on Bethania for its postal services Pfafftown was awarded its own post office on September 14, 1888. Ellen S. Transou served as the first postmaster for 23 years. The new post office was one of 22 dedicated to rural routes, of which now there are only ten.

By 1896 the small community had grown to a population of 100. In 1900 the Labor Exchange School was built on Transou Road. The purpose of the Exchange was to provide labor and products of labor within the community. For years it excelled but eventually went out of business. Today it is used by the Boy Scouts.

Students in front of the Labor Exchange School
Solomon August Miller - Pfafftown Christian Church DeaconJulius Abraham Transou - Pfafftown Disciple

Pfafftown Christian Church 1870. Pictured are Julius Abraham Transou and Mrs. Virgil Angelo Wilson.

Pfafftown Christian Church 1927.

Pfafftown Christian Church 1939.

Pfafftown Christian Church today.

Some of the prominent family names in Pfafftown are Pfaff, Transou, Goslen, Miller, Flynt and Hauser. A wiki is being built which will expound on these names, their homes and their contributions to Pfafftown’s development. There you will learn more about Solomon Augustine Miller (far left), pioneer deacon of Pfafftown Christian Church and Julius Abraham Transou (left), the first resident disciple of Pfafftown and a confederate soldier of the NC 26th regiment.

Nearly 100 years later Pfafftown faced a fateful moment. It became known to many of the locals that eventually much of the unincorporated land in Forsyth County would be annexed and that Winston-Salem and Lewisville were both eyeing Pfafftown for its tax value. One of the men who saw this coming was the late Senator Sam Horton. He encouraged a man named Robert Reed to pursue incorporation for the sake of preserving the 200 year old community.Reed immediately began working with local state senators and representatives to gain their support and to keep them abreast of the actions of what became the Pfafftown Steering Committee. The committee consisted of Reed, Elmer Kearney, Shirley Folger, Frances Roberts, Wes Arrington, Ronald Palm and William Ammons. Reed also gained the support of Grandview Food Market, Grandview Development and Grandview Golf Course. Only Grandview Development would survive what was to come. The committee held their meetings at the old Vienna Men’s Club. Reed reached out to Mayor Cavanaugh of Winston-Salem and Mayor Stebbins of Lewisville as their borders came within five miles of the proposed limits. Both were presented with written proposals. Reed also attended two Lewisville town council meetings.

It was an exciting and stressful time. The incorporation consumed Reed’s schedule. There were many challenges that Pfafftown faced and ultimately the committee met every single one of them. A petition requiring signatures from at least 10% of the registered voters was required. Reed led the charge in getting this accomplished, parking his van beside the Post Office (which also offered much support), posting banners and asking for signatures. Ultimately, 675 signatures (19.27%) were obtained. That petition can be viewed online here.

In addition to this a charter had to be created along with a workable budget, an interim government, a painstakingly detailed map, a statement on population density and the degree of development. Their submission, made in October of 2000 was entitled “Initial Application of the Steering Committee – Concerning The Proposal to Incorporate The Village of Pfafftown“. In order to sate Lewisville’s plans for expansion and to gain the town’s approval the committee reworked the map to give 20% of its proposed territory (the western side) to Lewisville.

Section 2.2 read:

(1)    The Village of Pfafftown shall not annex the areas lying between the Yadkin River and a line beginning at the point on Seward Road where a creek flows south paralleling Vienna Dozier Road approximately one half mile to the east, thence along that creek to the Village’s corporate limits at tax lot 4604D019 thence following the Village’s corporate limits adjoining the Town of Lewisville’s corporate limits. This subsection expires December 31, 2016.

(2)    The Village shall not annex, by petition or otherwise, areas lying south of Yadkinville Road and north of Robinhood Road between Chickasha Road and the proposed Beltway.

The proposal went on to become senate bill 676 Pfafftown Incorporated/Lewisville Limits and unfortunately, despite the boundless and tremendous effort, the bill withered on the vine when referred to the state senate finance committee. Reed made repeated attempts to contact Senator Linda Garrou to no avail.*

This inaction was the prime mover. With the death of bill S676 Lewisville was immediately allowed to annex the western portion of Pfafftown, crippling it’s proposed fire department, one of its schools and hundreds of taxpayers.Things only got worse. Winston-Salem was poised to strike as well. Many of the citizens rose to fight against it including John Hopkins of Forsyth Citizens Against Forced Annexation (Forsyth CAFA), who helped take it to the Supreme Court. In the end, the court sided in favor of Winston-Salem due to North Carolina’s laws, laws that have since changed, and in 2006 17,000 residents and virtually all of Pfafftown’s businesses were annexed into Winston-Salem. The city extended its border to the eastern side of Kecoughtan Road. This was the worst possible scenario as it prohibited any future chance of incorporation.

Seven years have passed and the community has changed drastically. Many businesses didn’t survive the annexation. The future threatens more compromise with plans of the “Belt” coming through the heart of Yadkinville Rd. This small, farming community is slowly being absorbed and within a generation could go the way of nearby Old Town, which has disappeared altogether. The goal of this site is to promote the preservation of Pfafftown by serving as a shared resource for the community. As with all communities worth preserving there is a twist to the tale of Pfafftown. There was an option that should have allowed for immediate incorporation. Robert Reed remembers:

“One thing could have saved us all the effort and would have been the foundation for an almost automatic incorporation. There was the land grant received by Peter Pfaff which would have had a survey document specifying the boundaries of his property grant.There is historic evidence of the fact that a grant was made; however, a survey document (property deed) has never been located.

Forsyth County was originally part of Stokes County, so I visited the library in Danbury as well as the main library in Winston-Salem to search for any record of the land survey but without success. If we had located that document, our incorporation for the property defined in that grant would have been a sure thing. After that, annexations would have been necessary to bring in the remaining parts of our proposed village.”

However, Stokes County was formed out of Surry County in 1789. Andrew Fulk granted the land to Peter Pfaff in 1784. The deed is available online at the Surry County Register of Deeds. A copy is available for viewing here. This is the document that would have virtually ensured the incorporation of Pfafftown. If you would like to obtain a copy of the deed, you may do so by mailing $1 to the following address below. In your request, include the location of the deed in the index which is book C pages 71 & 72.

Register of Deeds
201 E. Kapp Street
P.O. Box 303
Dobson, NC 27017

* has attempted to contact former Senator Garrou but she has not responded.

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