How it all began...
The History of the Fairhope Benevolent Society
In 1888, a group of men met in September on Greer Hill Faunsdale, Alabama. They met hoping to come up with a solution to improving the conditions of burying the deceased. The outgrowth of this meeting was the beginning of the Fairhope Benevolent Society. Dues of 10 cents per month were collected from each Fairhope members. The funds were used to purchase caskets, which at that time sold for $37.00. The funds were also used to aid the sick and to finance burials.
Where there is unity there is strength. There people tackled a task that needed to be done and succeeded. Contrary to popular belief, the community is called Greer and not Grayers. It was named for Oscar Greer who was a prominent land owner. Greer's first home rested on the outskirts of Uniontown, Alabama on Hale County Road #26. This is the main road that goes through the portion of Uniontown, Alabama called Rabbit Yard.
The land where Fairhope Benevolent Society meets to day was purchased from the Zinnermans. The building where the meetings were held was also used as a local school named Greer School. This one room building was destroyed by fire and then renovated in 1955.
The Society decided to select a time and hold an annual affair. The first annual meeting was held on the 4th Sunday and every Sunday thereafter. The Society members still meet in the little room building today and each meeting always includes a sermon by a minister. It is tradition for the women to wear white.
Somewhere in the process of spreading information, people believed that the Society meetings were actually ceremonial rituals called "Footwashings". Although footwashing as a religious act is practiced by other groups of Baptist people, it is not a practice of the Fairhope Benevolent Society.
A group of people coming down for the annual day teasingly said they were going to a footwash thinking that the event was a contrast from city events and might require them to wash their feet when they returned back home. Today, thousands of people from far and near including such places as Canada, California, New York, Florida, Michigan, Georgia etc., to take part in the celebration which now starts a few days before the 4th Sunday.
Indeed, this event has caused a lot of people to find Uniontown on the map. Not only are people coming from everywhere, but even facilities to accommodate the crowd have expanded.