Pleasant Valley is located in the eastern half of the 14th District of Washington County. It is bounded on the north by Buffalo Ridge and the 12th District line; on the east by Bald Knob and Haire Town Road; on the west by Miller Knob and Chestnut Ridge; and on the south by the 16th District line.
Among the early settlers were the following families: Bacon, Bashor, Brubecker, Diehl, Garber, Garst, Keebler, Keefauver, Miller, Sherfey and Swaney. Michael Bashor, an early settler of the Pleasant Valley area, was born in Pennsylvania September 16, 1811 and died here on November 11, 1919 at the age of 108 years.
Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren was organized in the summer of 1849. The first meetings were held in homes or in a log barn belonging to Samuel Garst near the site of the first church building. About 1850, Elder John C. Bashor donated a small tract of land where the present church now stands; some additional land was given later, probably by the Millers whose land was north and east of the original lot. On the original lot, a small log church was built around 1850 or 1851; this was later covered with clapboards and a kitchen was added several years later.
Early organizers of the Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren included these families: Bashor, Mosby, Pence, Wrightman, Brubecker, and Miller. Later, the Diehl and Garst families moved into the community and became associated with the church. In 1898 or 1899 the old building was taken down and a new frame building, thirty-six by seventy-two feet, was erected on the original site of the old church. Samuel D. Garst was the chief carpenter for the building project and Isaac Miller was his apprentice. This building was weatherboarded with the best of yellow poplar lumber. There were two doors in front and one door in the rear. A kitchen and linen room were at the back of the church. There were three rows of pews made of yellow poplar; about ten of the pews were built so that they could be converted into tables for the communion service. This church building is serving the present generation adequately.
The Pleasant Valley cemetery, located across the road from the church building, contains the graves of many of the community’s earliest settlers. Chestnut Grove Union Church was built in 1911 on land donated by Reece Stone and dedicated in the summer of 1912.
Pleasant Valley had three grade schools, namely: Berea, Keeblers, and Chestnut Grove. Berea and Keeblers taught grades one through ten and Chestnut Grove grades one through eight.
About 1900, the Pleasant Valley Telephone Company was organized with ten phone lines, with ten to twelve parties on each line, and a central switchboard through which other systems and the outside world could be connected. This system was sold to Inter-Mountain Telephone Company in 1957.
Benjamin Garst built the first general store early in 1900 and operated it until about 1914; after that, it was leased to various merchants who operated it until the 1920’s. Jacob Keebler purchased the store in 1924 and operated it until the 1960’s; Johnny Waddell bought it in 1965 and razed it soon afterward.
Hiram Swaney built a mill circa 1830 which was operated by John A. Sherfey until 1840; it was then sold to the Bashor family, who operated it for four generations. In 1912, the mill was converted into a Roller Mill and was operated by the Bashors until 1916. O. P. Keys was the next owner and sold it to Dickison Brothers, who were the last mill operators. In 1975, Larry Bennett bought the mill, converted it into a lovely residence and set up the mill wheel.
A post office was established in Pleasant Valley in 1879 at Bashor’s Mill, with Conrad Bashor as the postmaster. This post office was discontinued in 1899 and moved to Jonesborough. While called Swaney’s Mill in the 1830’s and 1840’s, it also served as a public gathering place, election ground and muster ground. The surrounding area was known as Swaney district before the Civil War.
Wagon roads were opened in the early 1830’s for mail routes and travel to the county seat at Jonesborough. Early in the 1900’s, the road commissioners of Washington County took over the roads and graded and graveled them. By 1914 a few roads were asphalted, and today (1988) practically every road in the community is asphalt. In 1945, the Johnson City Power Board extended its lines to our Valley and practically every home was provided with electrical power.
Pleasant Valley is an agricultural community, raising corn, small grains, hay, and pasture. Tobacco was first grown soon after World War I. Almost every farmer turned to dairying to some degree in 1930. We now have four Grade A dairies milking from forty to two hundred head of cattle every day. – contributed by Fred S. Garst