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Historic marker keeps Pfafftown legacy out front

Historic marker keeps Pfafftown legacy out front

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The latest generation of Pfafftown residents celebrated the recognition of a 229-year-old community trying to hold tight to its heritage even as much of it has been swallowed in annexation.

The sponsors of the historic marker — placed on the south (county) side of the intersections of Transou and Yadkinville roads Sunday — offer a glimpse of the complexity when describing Pfafftown.

The Forsyth County Historic Preservation Commission and the City of Winston-Salem combined on the effort, with Mayor Allen Joines and two council members among the speakers.

After witnessing successful incorporation initiatives by Clemmons and Lewisville, some Pfafftown residents pursued a similar path. A bill was submitted in the state Senate in 2001, but did not advance.

In 2006, much of Pfafftown was annexed by either Lewisville or Winston-Salem. still a sore spot for some residents, particularly at property-tax time.

The community is now known primarily as the home of Reagan High School, which opened in August 2005.

Yet during Sunday’s unveiling ceremony, community pride from many residents shined as bright as the sun.

“It’s important that people who live in our community, whether newcomers or lifelong, can read of how Pfafftown came to be,” said Tom Ingram, who has lived in Pfafftown with his wife, Sarah, for more than 40 years.

According to the marker, which cost $2,500 to make, Pfafftown’s history began in 1784 when Peter Pfaff Sr. purchased land on the west bank of Muddy Creek. Pfaff’s home, as well as the John Jacob Schaub Home, is on the National Register of Historic Places as local historic landmarks. Pfafftown predates Forsyth County, which was formed in 1849 from Stokes County.

The marker cites the opening of Pfafftown Christian Church, which turns 150 years old next week, the establishment of a U.S. Post Office in 1888 — which gave the community a federal identifier — a general store and a Labor Exchange School that supplied much of the community’s workers from the early 1900s.

“Certainly, the Pfafftown community played a key role in Winston Salem’s growth and development,” Joines said.

Mike Mabe, a third-generation Pfafftown resident, and others point to Tommy Smith’s efforts for pushing forward on the historic marker. Besides being a local resident, Smith had ancestors who lived in the community.

In 2013, Smith launched a website — www.pfafftown.org — and a village of Pfafftown Facebook page that recognizes the contributions of the Pfaff, Transou, Doub, Hunter and Hauser families.

In a February article in Journal West, Smith said the marker was one way to keep Pfafftown “from fading away into obscurity like Old Town or South Fork. It was a real concern.”

He also cited that given the uncertainty of the U.S. Postal Service’s financial status, there is no guarantee Pfafftown will keep a post office and its 27040 ZIP code.

“Tommy came to understand what happened from the beginnings of this area and the original prominent people in this area,” Mabe said.

“Tommy recruited other long-term residents of Pfafftown, who were energized by Tommy’s vision. It goes to show you how someone with a drive, initiative and social media skills can make things happen.”

Mabe said the marker “honors Pfafftown and all of its residents — past and present.”

Michelle McCullough, a project planner for the City-County Planning Department, said the historic commission was impressed by Smith’s passion for Pfafftown’s history.

“Given how much Pfafftown has changed in recent years, the timing was good for the marker to be approved and planted,” McCullough said.

The deadline for nominating potential marker sites for 2016 is Oct. 31. The historic marker committee typically meets in mid-November.

McCullough said there is funding for two city markers and one county marker.

rcraver@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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