Fairy Stone State Park
In 1780 and again in 1801, George Hairston was granted several thousand acres of land including territory from Bell Mountain to Goblintown Creek. The renowned fairy stones are found on Bell Mountain. Legend has it that the angels wept when Christ was crucified and their tears turned into these little stone crosses. They are all over the ground here and can be bought in town on chains for ornaments. The Union Furnace was located here on the banks of Goblintown Creek, and the forge was located on Hale's Creek. This property was called "Union Furnace" because of the ownership of two brothers, George Hairston, Jr. and John Hairston, who inherited it from their father. The two brothers operated the ore banks, the furnace, the forge and the farm until about 1830 when John sold his interest to his brother George Hairston, Jr. In a few years it descended to his sons, Robert Henry Hairston and Samuel William Hairston.
The furnace, called the massive "Iron House", was built on level land surrounded by many hills. In this area the carpentry and blacksmith shops, superintendent's office, and overseer's farm were also located. Hewn log cabins with brick chimneys were close by. These cabins were used by the slaves. Along the side of the mountain were the ore banks, which are now tunnels were the ore has been removed. In 1848 Samuel William Hairston was married and bought his brother Robert's interest in the property. He erected a beautiful residence over looking the furnace and the two beautiful creeks. This large residence had every convenience of a country home in those days. The beautiful lawns, graveled walks, flower and vegetable gardens, pure water, kitchen, laundry, carriage and ice and servants' houses made it truly convenient.
Since coal was too hard to bring to the furnace, many laborers were kept busy cutting wood and making coal pits to supply the charcoal with which to get the furnace to melt the ore. Ore was dug from pits with pick and shovel and hauled to the furnace stack in horse and mule carts. All of this work was in addition to the farm, which supplies food for the laborers. This operation was truly a prominent factor in the prosperity of the area.
In 1863 after having a sever bout with pneumonia, Samuel William Hairston sold the entire place to Stovall & Barksdale, agents of the Confederate Government. Samuel then moved to the milder climate of Southwest Georgia. After the war the property fell into disrepair, the ore banks caved in, the furnace stack fell down, the residence was destroyed by fire and only a mass of twisted iron, rotted timbers and burnt ruins was left of this once prosperous business. Eventually, stone from the "Iron House" was used to build a dam, and the area was flooded. The site of the furnace and other buildings is now the bottom of the lake, which you see in Fairy Stone State Park.
This page was written by Mr. O. E. Pilson for the 1996 Hairston Reunion - hairston.org
Fairy Stone is a Virginia State Park and more information may be found at http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/fairyst.htm