Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Complete and Un-edited Version of Fairplay Neighbors as my Father wrote it on his Royal typewriter with two fingers.

Fairplay in the Depression Years

Written by Dr. Virgil M. Holland

This tract maybe reproduced or duplicated
in any manner if the author is given proper credit.

In growing up in a rural East Texas community in the 1920’s early in life, you realize the importance of neighbors. There is a dependency for assistance physical and other wise, and a dependency f or fellowship as our contact with the outside world were pretty limited. Before I was six. I had probably been out of the immediate community less than ten times. I thought it would be of some interest to write about all the people who lived in the community of Fairplay. Texas between 1920 and 1930 in so far as I can remember and determine with a little research. I am sure this will be of more interest to me than anyone else.

When I first remember, we lived in a house on the Carthage— Henderson road about one mile east of the store at Fairplay. Early on frosty mornings, we could hear a train whistle to the northeast. This was the train from Carthage to Beckville and already trains and especially train whistles conjured up visions of faraway places that at this time, I’ had very little hopes of ever seeing. Our world centered about our neighbors and in the early years about our closest neighbors. Our closest neighbors were Andrew and Margaret Futch who lived about 50 yards west of our house on the same side of the road. One time at about four years. I was sent to borrow a cup of sugar from Margaret which is the first time that I can remember going anywhere by my self. The fifty yards seemed a terrible distance at the time; and I kept a wary eye for dogs and other ferocious beasts. They were from Louisiana and for some reason had moved to Panola County. They had two daughters Versie and Blondell. Blondell married Linus Steger a son of Melville Steger and Estelle Ross in the Deiray community. Versie married Hoyt Pierce in the same community who was born Sep. •24, 1894 and who died Oct. 24, 1915 leaving her pregnant. She later was to deliver twin boys, Clyde and Claude. Hoyt was a member of a large family of Pierces in the Deiray Community including a brother later to marry Lois Lawrence. Dennis Austin who lived a bit further up the road to the west had lost his wife Axie Dobbins who was the daughter of Kate and Lafayette Dobbins. and who died with complications of her leg following gangrene. Alex and Dennis had four children who were Doyle. Addis, Cozette. and Alegra. He needed a second wife badly and heard of the comely widow in the next community. They were soon married and Versie brought her twins to live in the household. Shortly, he and Versie Futch had a daughter Laretta who was about three years younger than the twins, and shortly another daughter. Doris. Dennis had a large tract of excellent farm land and he prospered. He had one of the best houses in Fairplay and was one of the first to own a car in the community. Shortly. he moved Versie’s parents to live in the house on his land previously mentioned. Later, Linus and Blondell moved into another house between the two.

Dennis was an avid birdhunter and owned a large English Setter. During bird season, it was a common sight to see him on his mule. bareback. gun in hand. and bird dog at heel on the way to suitable bird cover. He was very well thought of in the community and a member of the Baptist Church which he attended every Sunday with the kids who could not get in the car swinging on the running board and kicking at every dog along the way that condecended to chase the car.

This idyllic situation came to an abrupt end when Dennis died of some type of heart condition. Dennis and Axie’s children refused to stay with Versie. The two girls were taken by Charlie Austin. their uncle. Doyle and Addis moved out to live in a small house near by in which they batched. There was a division of the land. Versie and her two daughters received the house and about eighty acres of land around the house and a tract of pasture and timber of about 100 acres on Buckners Creek that was reached through a lane about one half mile down the road from the house. Andrew and Margaret Futch moved in with Versie. Linus and Blondell moved into the house in which the Futches had been living. The Steger children were Hershal (named after and Uncle), Ruth. Winston and Olive Vee. Herhal was near my age and the others closely matched my siblings’ ages. I remember many hours playing with Hershal as we visited back and forth. Mother always told us when we visited there that we could stay an hour and to have Blondell tell us when the hour was up. I do not remember her ever calling time. As I remember it. we were enticed with wheels. We rolled steel hoops from wagon wheel hubs with wire guides taken from the tops of old wash tubs. We nailed lids of suitable size to the ends of boards and another on the other end to serve as a steering wheel. When all these were being moved, we made the suitable noises with our mouths to imitate an automobile traversing the roads. When we became exhausted from the running, we would sit on bales of cotton in the fall or any thing else available and watch the cars pass trying to name the make of each that passed. This was easy to do at the time as each make was different enough to be readily recognized.

Clyde and Claude were not old enough initially to do much farming. Andrew Futch could, for a time, farm most of the land with some help. Claude did not do very well in school and liked to stay home and plough. He did more of this than Clyde. In the late twenties, Clyde developed a fulmanating fever from which he died in about three days. This was probably a meningitis, and any effective treatment for this disease was still ten plus years in the future.

Down the road to the east was first a colored family. Guy and Babe Gates. Guy was a son of Leoma Wallace who was a daughter of Stewart Wallace. He was a deacon in the Baptist Church and was one whose word could be trusted, and a good neighbor. They had a daughter 3—4 years older than I. She was an intelligent little girl doing well in school. I can remember her reading “Chicken Little to me when I was 4—5 years old. She was later encouraged. by Babe, I think to marry Jerry Brown at least ten years her senior. She had one child and died of complications of child birth.

Next in the same direction were members of the Samuel Sidney Harris and Ophelia Amos family. Sam was a son of John Cullen Harris and Nancy Caroline Dunlap. His siblings who also lived in the community at one time or another were Alfred Brown Harris and James Robert Harris. Sam married Ophelia who grew up in the Dotson community. After his marriage he lived there for several years. His older son, Curtis. married Bobbie Boucher of this community. She was a granddaughter of Gade B. Boucher and Barbara Hoyle. Barbara was a sister of the father of Sarah Hoyle who married Thomas G. Allison. Curtis and Bobbie lived in the next house past us to the east. At this time, they had two children, Edward and Marie. Edward was probably the best childhood friend I ever had. He and I visited frequently and played constantly while we were together. The next neighbor was Robert “Bob’ Harris and Pearl Phillips. They had two children, Hayward, about my age and John D. about 4 years younger than I. When he was about 4 years old Hayward fell in a syrup mill furnace and sustained severe burns to his head, face, arms and back. This was before the advent of skin grafting for this type burn. He recovered, but was about two years in the process.

Sam Harris and Ophelia Amos lived in a house with an octagon shaped parlor on the front and a lông hail with rooms on each side that was built by Arthur Henigan. In front of the house was a small building which Arthur had used as a store, but which was used as a cotton seed house by Sam. When Sam moved back to Fairplay, he had bought land on the Beckvilie road about a quarter mile from the store. The two swapped land and houses. I can barely remember when Cora and Arthur Henigan lived here. Sam and Ophelia’s children were Robert, Curtis, Lucy (N. Colbert Holland), Raymond (M. Christine Harris), Tommy (M. Mary McGraw), Marvin, Turner and Durward. The last three were living at home at this time. Durward was about my age and one of my best friends. Later Durward and Edward moved with their families to Carthage. I remember feeling a distinct loss at the time and really had no other friends as close. Tommy Harris too had married a Dotson girl, Mary. and they later had children Tommy Jewel, Mildred. Mozelle. and Lonnie.

On the left, just before you reached Irons Bayou was a house on a hill on the north side of the road. This belonged to Jessie James Sealey who owned a tract of land that extended along the Irons Bayou almost to the Beckviile road. Lem Owens and wife Rena. Colored, lived here. Lem had a number of children by his first wife, and he and Rena had only one Cayce Lee. Lem was a powerful man in his prime. In the day when East Texas cattle were being dipped every month during tick season to get rid of the fever tick, I once saw him grab a cow that had gotten turned around in the dipping vat by the tail and bodily lift her to turn her around. Lem farmed, but he and his sons spent time helping Jess handle his cattle.

When I first remember. the road to Carthage on which these people lived was unpaved arid a narrow country road with high banks on either side. In winter and spring these roads could be muddy. About 1923 they began making a highway out of this road. The first thing they did was widen the road considerably. Fences had to be moved back and timber cleared. The timber was cut into lengths that could be dragged out by a team. The stumps were removed by dynamite. This was the first dynamite I had ever seen used. One stick under an average stump would blow it out of the ground where it could be dragged off with a team. One time they left a sack of this dynamite after they quit work. Clyde and Claude Pierce and Hershal Steger found it and decided they would blow up some persimmon trees near their pond. They had cut back the case to expose the explosive had it under a tree and were building a fire over it to set it off when discovered. They say dyanamite will only burn when set a fire, but this is a risky way to make this discovery.

We watched this project daily and collected huge stores of the gravel being hauled for the -concrete for the culverts to shoot in “negro shooters”, and occasionally fitched a piece or two of the reinforcement steel. It was amazing how many fire pokers were made of this. Andrew Abernathy, a blacksmith, made dozens of them for 25 cents a piece if you furnished the rod. The dirt for the bed of the road was all moved with fresno pulled by teams of three mules. Sections of the road were contracted. Crawford Parker had the contract for the section from the Rusk County line to Fairplay. The work on all sections was going on at the same time. Most of the dirt work was done one summer and fall and when it rained that winter, we really had a muddy road. At the worst points people with teams stationed themselves and would pull cars through at 25 cents each. The next year it was graveled or maybe it was two years before the iron ore gravel was on. At any rate, it was not paved with asphalt until about 1932.

Directly in front of our house across J.R. Harris’s field lived Mack Hunter, colored with two daughters, Mary and Dilsey and two sons, William and Jack. Mary had a daughter about four years. Before Mack moved here, Bertus Walton Hill and James Hill had lived here one year. Mack was near the bottom of the economic ladder. He owned one grey horse on which he kept a cow bell at all times it was loose in the pasture or field. I don’t think he was ever a “half and half”, but was allowed to work a garden and patches for peas and potatoes. etc. He worked by the day at farm work for who ever needed him, and his children worked where ever they could in the field or house work. Mack could take the oldest, smelliest billy goat he could find, and after cutting its throat with his razor and after barbecuing it by his receipt turned it into tasty morsel of meat. He did this frequently selling barbecue sandwiches for ten cents a piece after passing the word that he was having a barbecue to the colored brethren. What was not sold was eaten by Mack’s family usually the next day. In the winter things got tough. Mary sometimes made a dead fall to catch black birds to feed her daughters. This time of the year they most frequently ate thickened gravy made with flour, hog lard and cracklins when they could get them. They made the gravy in a small dishpan and all sat around and sopped the gravy with biscuits. Frequently, the girls helped people kill hogs and brought home backbone livers and other perishable cuts of meat. They cleaned chitlings on the halves. They also canvased the neighborhood for collards and turnip greens which most people grew in the winter in amounts that exceeded their needs. This was their only source of Vitamin C during the winter. The children eventually moved to Carthage where they fared little better.

About a quarter of a mile west on the left side of the Henderson road was a road that ran in a general southerly direction for about a mile then made a large square at the southeast corner of which was a road that ran east for a spell then turned south, crossed Irons Bayou. ran by the Bethel Colored cemetery and church, and then to Clayton. This was a well traveled road at the time, and Clayton was an active trade center. Along a spring branch that wandered off to the right behind the church was one of the areas in which chinquepin trees grew. The first house on this road was a small house just about two hundred yards on the right. This house had been built by a saw mill that put a miller near by. Later this mill was bought by Colbert Holland and Bob Harris and Warner Thompson who had married Gettis Harris, daughter of James Robert Harris, and who lived in the house and fired the boiler of the saw mill for the year or two that the mill was in operation. The next house was a frame house in the shape of an Li’. This was built by James T. Allison and at one time. Gus Allison had lived here. Bonnie Shaw Robb inherited the land and this house from James T. Allison. She sold her part to Richmond Shaw. Shortly after Richmond bought the land. Sandy Maines and family, Sidney. Irene, Ludie B.. Buck, and Helen moved into this house.

The next house on the northwest corner of the square was a rent house owned by Matthew Holland. When I first remember, Bro. Burns and wife lived here. Bro. Burns farmed and was a Methodist supply preacher. His wife was prone to shout. A long series of tenants lived in this house over the next several years.

Down the road a hundred yards was a large frame house once owned by Lum Baily who was a brother of Mrs. Ophelia Wills and who had a son, John Monroe Bailey. Matthew Holland bought this house and land when Lum Bailey moved. Romie Holland and Beulah Melton moved to Panola County for the second time about 1920. They had previously been here for one year in 1907. Beulah’s father was David Putnam Melton, her mother was a Paf ford. We visited there frequently. and we were always ready to go as they had Hurley, Norman, and Eugene that were close to our age. When we were there, we kids wandered all over the surrounding territory, down in the pasture. up to the Wills, and over to Uncle Matthews. Frequently, we came for Sunday dinner and more often than not, there were about six other people to eat. Aunt Beulah usually had chicken and dumplings as this was the best way to make one or two chickens go the farthest. Even on the days when there were lots of dumplings and sparse chicken, her chicken and dumplings were always good. The decimation of her flock every Sunday kept her stock of chickens down to the point that they never had enough eggs to have eggs for breakfast for even one time. Their thing for breakfast every morning was cream gravy made from bacon grease or hog lard, biscuits and black coffee. At this time Wadford, Opal, Donald, Hurley, Norman, and Eugene were at home. Nelene, Dan and Betty Sue were to be born later. Romie had once been a blacksmith in Benton County. Tennessee as had his father before him. He was also a good carpenter and farmer. In spite of his skills, they always seemed to be on the cutting edge of poverty. They did not own any “Sunday clothes”, tight shoes, and stiff suits, a thing I most envied at the time.

About 50 yards down the road was a large dog run house that was never painted and remnants still stand. William 0. Wills and wife, Ophelia Bailey, lived here. William “Bubby” was the son of John J. Wills who with his family moved to Panola County about 1859 and settled North of Fairplay towards Beckville. Buddy had many siblings none of which remained in the area. Buddy was an excellent farmer and relatively prosperous. He had an orchard of fruit trees and all the subsidiary buildings of a complete farm, carriage house, barn, smokehouse, chicken house and cow barn. A sister of Ophelia’s who married a Searcy died of hydrophobia when she dressed the dog bites of the two boys when they were bitten by a mad dog. The boys were sent to Austin for the vaccine. Vickie had not even thought that she was exposed. She later developed hydrophobia. Her sons Cecil arid P.3. were taken to raise by the Wills. At this time, they had Ruth and Verna of their own children at home. Their only son, Sam Houston. had married Myrtie Birdwell whose mother and stepfather lived about a mile east of the Wills place on land owned by Luther Henigan. They first lived in a shot—gun house behind the Wills. Later, they moved to a little house just across the road in front of Houston’s parents. Ophelia liked this better as she could keep closer check on her grand—son, Wilbert, who was prone to take pneumonia. She kept him swaddled with a granny rag on his chest, and the house sweltering the whole winter. In August of 1927. Buddy went to the store late in the afternoon. He did not return home and had not returned home well after dark. The whole community finally were out looking for him, and there were hints that he might have been the victim of foul play. Just before daylight, they found him dead, apparently the victim of a heart attack.

At the south east corner of the square, Matthew Gilbert Holland and Mary Ida Warmack lived. Matthew was the son of Mary Francis Brigham and Gilbert Holland of Benton County, Tennessee. Mary Ida was a grand daughter of Mary Allison, a daughter of John Allison through which the land had been inherited. Matthew was and excellent carpenter and mechanic as well as a good farmer. He bought various surrounding tracts of land and by the time he died, he had increased his holding to at least twice what he started with. He was a Methodist and for years the Sunday School Superintendent at the Allison Chapel Methodist Church. At one time he had a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, an a peanut thrasher. All but the first of these were run with a huge one cylinder gasoline motor that was rated as 10 horsepower and was mounted on a steel wheeled farm wagon so that it could be moved from site to site with a team of mules. Matthew developed diabetes in his later years, nearly a decade before insulin was available. This was a death sentence at the time. At this time, Colbert had married Lucy Harris. a daughter of Samuel Sidney Harris and Ophelia Amos. Ethel, Vivian, Broxie, Cayce. Talmadge and Mabel were at home. Matthew owned a victrola, one of the first that I remember seeing, that played the cylindrical records. He had boxes of these which I remember as being chiefly march music and humorous sketches by Josh Billing and others. In a few years, the flat disc records became the thing, and every body had a record player.

Directly east from Matthews lived Almus “Nat” Cartwright and Mittie Wormack who was a sister of Mary Ida’s. They too had married in Benton County, Tennessee and the two couples had moved together to Panola County. They came by train with their household effects and a part of their livestock. The men had to ride with the livestock to take care of them. Somewhere this car got switched to the wrong train and they ended up somewhere in Oklahoma. Their families disembarked in Beckville and in time, they were all united. Nat had a number of hor5es which he had raised. They were said to have been beautiful animals. Nat and Mittie had three daughters Benthal, Eva, and Theiris. Benthal had married John Gaston, and they lived in a little house down the road from Nat and Mittie.

As the road turned south and before it crossed Irons Bayou, there was a house owned by Andrew Reed. Emory Allison farmed and helped Andrew work his cattle. He had a beautiful roan horse which he rode in a fast fox trot every where he went. Pathena milked a number of cows from which she sold cream. Each Saturday, Emory took this cream in cans to Pinehill to be sold. This was a common practice on the farms at this time. Emory kept a number of hounds. I do not know whether he hunted coon or fox with these. I remember that during the depression when the government was buying cows and killing them, while everyone else was cutting out choice cuts to eat. Emory was laying in a stock of meat to cook in a washpot to feed his hounds.

On the south west corner of the square was the house in which Colbert and Lucy lived. I remember the tragedy when their 2 year old son fell into the fire and sustained burns which were fatal.

West from the northwest corner of the square was the home of James T. Allison and his wife Louisa Shaw. James was the eldest son of Thomas G. Allison and Louisa was a daughter of Daniel Shaw and Elizabeth Morgan. Louisa died in 1920, Jimmy died in 1921. I can barely remember Jirnrriy and cannot remember Louisa. Malcolm Shaw, nephew of Ouisa who the two had raised as well as his sister Bonnie inherited this house and south half of Jimmy’s land. It seemed that no one lived in this house for a year or so after Jimmy died, then Ebb Maines and Odessa Abernathy rented the place. Ebb was a son of Thomas Daniel and Alice Maines with siblings Barney, Sandy, Lof ton, Arnold and Phillip. Odessa was a dau1hter of Daniel Barto Abernathy and Ephosey Garland with siblings Andrew, Tom. Mettie, Annie. San, Sidney. John and rol”t. By his third wite, Lula Mae Garland Herrin, John David had Ray, Elbert. Bc:ot, and the twins Shorty and Cotton. At one time, Elbert and Boots were living with their half sister Alma and Andrew. The Garlands were the family for which the Garland Hall was named. This place had a large barn built by James T. Allison. It was built on hugh sills of hewed pine logs that had originally been a part of a mule powered cotton gin operated by John Allison. At one time, the road across the loop ran through a gate at Jimmy’s barn across his pasture and came out on the road just north of the site of Thomas Allison’s old house. When we moved on Mrs. M. C. Harris’s place in 1928, a new road was cleared and fence out that started at the Allison—Shaw line followed this to the house in which we lived and here followed the line between Malcolm Shaw and Mrs. M.C. Harris’ line. Initially, this road was not graded; and one winter, a track of logs was constructed so the mail carrier could get over one of the worst places. At the west end of this road was the home of Richmond Shaw and Elsie Dobbins. Richmond and his brother Robert

M. Shaw were the Sons of Matthew Shaw and his second wife who was Lucye Williamson Buckner who had previously been married to John Buckner who had died and was the mother of Arie Buckner Browning. Elsie was the daughter of Kate and Lafayette Dobbins with siblings Will, Axie, Austin and Mrs. Will sparks. They had children, Ariel, Edith, Durward, Richie, Helen Ruth and Richmond Jr. Behind Richmond’s house was the house in which his father had lived and in which his mother Lucye Shaw still lived. In later years. she would walk a foot log across Shaw branch to spend the night at Richmond’s. Richmond and Elsie lived in this house with Lucye until they build their house closer to the road. The house was also the home of the Daniel Shaw family. For years. Richmond ran a syrup mill in the fall. I remember that when the price of cotton hit bottom about 1929. Richmond started holding his cotton. He had a good part of his barn and other buildings full when cotton finally got over 20 cents a pound in 1941. He could afford to do this. Most of Richmond’s land was further down the road. He had only enough to pasture his milk cows and mule in a pasture by his house. Further down the road to the south Robert M. (always known as “Bus”) and Ruby Nelson lived. Euby was the daughter of J.H. Nelson and Amanda Sheppard and a sister of Mrs. Malcom Shaw and Mrs. Pink Ash. At a later date, he had a wind—mill and the only running water in Fairplay until R.E.A. Their children were Mildred. Illene. Dorthy and Myrtle. Dorothy had beautiful red hair and died of acute appendicitis in 1923 at acre of 12 years.

Going back on the same road past Richmonds on the left was a rept house of S.T. Allisons’ in which Texas Wallace whose husband had been killed several years prior lived with her family. Clemet, Kid. Ivory. Beatrice, Lometa, Mattie Lou and Oreese. About fifty yards up the road was another rent house in which Norman Fields lived. Norman was a half brother to Texan. About 1928. Norman moved to another farm across the Irons Bayou creek and Diamond Wallace and Bennie Pope moved into this house and were to stay here longer than S.T. Allison from whom they were renting lived.

This land was owned by S.T. Allison, a son of Thomas G. Allison. and wife Sarah Hoyle. Most of it was part of a tract bought in 1846 by Sam’s grandfather. John Allison. The Allison home had once been at the site of the house lived in by Bennie Pope. At this site one house had burned in 1874. and a replacement house was completely destroyed by a cyclone about 1900. After the cyclone, Sam rebuilt about 150 yards north on the same side of the road. Thomas G. allison died in 1898. Sam lived here with his mother and Mamie. In 1911, Mamie married M.C. Harris. His mother died in 1922. after which Sam lived by himself until Mamie moved back about 1927. For at least one year, he had Weaver McElroy and wife Lila Mae Jones living with him, Lila Mae doing the housekeeping and Weaver working by the day.

Continuing on this road for about 300 yards. you came to the home of Charlie Austin and wife Zelma Browning. Charlie had bought this place from Lafette Dobbins and part of it may have been land owned by Tom Buckner. The first house I can remember was a square frame house painted a shade of brown. He later remodeled this house and added about the first car—port in the community. This was only a cover over apart of a driveway to protect the boarding passenger from rain with very little protection for the vehicle. At this time, the place to store your automobile was thought to be in a garage or barn as the common style of car purchased was the touring car which had only a top and not protected from the elements except curtains with celluloid windows stored under the back seat. Charlie was a hard worker, a staunch Baptist. and a skilled and frugal farmer. He prospered.

Continuing up this road, you came to the cotton gin owned by Ed Gentry when I first remember. The cotton gin was big business in any community. Everyone raised cotton. In season, there were lines of wagons each containing a bale of cotton awaiting ginning. During the height of the picking season, there sometimes were twenty and thirty waiting, and the gin frequently ran to 9 or 10 p.m. to get it all baled. At this time the gin was run by a steam engine fueled by huge stacks of cord wood. The cotton was removed from the wagon by a telescoping suction pipe that made quick work of unloading. The gin stands were up stairs and the space on the ground floor was taken over by drive shafts and belts to transmit the power where needed. It was not long after the cotton was unloaded until it was ginned. The wagon was pulled up under a hopper that held the cotton seed, and these were dumped into the wagon by pulling a lever. The wagon was moved up again to the platform on which the finished bale was dumped. There was a beam scale and a winch on a rotating stand. the bale was picked up, weighed then lowered into the wagon. On turning left at the gin, the first house was a small house on the edge of George Wyatt’s land adjoining the gin. Audy Wyatt and Vetra lived here. Audie fired the boiler at the gin in season and raised a crop between ginning seasons. At this time, they had children. Drennon and George “Mutt” who were near my age.

Audie’s parents, George Wyatt and Virginia Harris, lived a short distance further. George was the son of William W. Wyatt who was killed in the Civil War. Virginia was the daughter of Spencer Murphy Harris. At this time, the only children they had at home were Cecil and Veita. Later. George bought a store at Fairplay that had been run by Frank whose wife was a daughter of Tom Woods. They had lived in a house near the store and had children, Ross and Juanita. who attended Fairplay School. When they bought the store. George and Virginia moved into this house and Audie and Vetra moved into theirs. When the highway to Henderson was surveyed, it went through the middle of Georges place cutting it in half. For about a year, he kept replacing his fences across the road each time they tore them down. George was an easy going person well liked by all. Virginia had a temper which she gave vent to on occasion.

The next house on the right was where Will Scarborough and wife, Emma lived. Will was the son of Milton Lee Scarborough and Eliza Williams. Milton Lee was born in Americus. Georgia. He moved to Hunt County. Texas. A son, S. Newt Scarborough moved to Rusk County in 1906. Among other things, he grew peanuts on his farm. He perfected a peanut sheller and started a small factory on his farm to produce and sell peanut butter under the name “Star Brand”. Will probably moved to Panola County about the same time his brother moved to Rusk County. Two of his children are in a Fairplay school picture 1917. When I first remember, all of his children were at home Myrtle(Virgil Ernmons), Clara (Barney Alired), Milford, Ethel (M. Permenter), Floyd and Weldon.

Just past the Scarborough house, a branch of this road angled off to the northwest and ran behind Andrew Abernathy’s barn; then another branch turned due north. This led to my grandparents at the line to their place. About fifty yards from the gate was a dilapidated structure behind a huge oak tree. This house I can barely remember. It had previously been lived in by George Wyatt when it belonged to Jimmy Allison. The house was completely destroyed by a cyclone in 1923 and was replaced by another dog run type structure of box construction. The hail a side room off the living room and the kitchen dining room were never sealed. This was good for the long summers and, they were as cool as outdoor shade; but in winter, they were cold cold. The canned goods had to be wrapped with quilts to keep them from freezing and breaking the jars in real cold weather. Due to the lack of funds, a “Mud—Cat” chimney was built. These were made with chimney clay mixed with straw stacked on a lattice wood frame. No wood was left exposed, and this chimney was still being used in 1940. Gustavus was a son of Elizabeth Shaw and Thomas G. Allison. Minnie was a daughter of Richard Vastine Sharp and Eliza Hodge. Bernice and Allun were still at home. Gus was old enough that his working days were limited.

Down this road, about one hundred yards, and across a small stream was another building that was a log building that had been sealed over with boards. This was once the home of John 0. Shaw and Martha Sealey, They both died with in a year of each other. James T. Allison and Louisa Shaw took Malcolm and Bonnie to raise and James T. bought the land in the settlement of the estate. He had sold about 200 acres of this to his brother. Gus and later. sold the rest to Clarence and Byron Taylor. At this time, the Tipton family were renting it from the Taylors. Later, Charlie Osborne and Minnie Alired moved here.

Now, to go back to the Pinehill road where a branch was taken to go to the Allison’s. The next house was owned by George Henigan. Andrew Abernathy was renting this. Andrew was an elder son of Daniel Barto Abernathy and Ephposey Eugenia Garland. Daniel and wife had moved to Panola County in 1895 settling in the Macedonia community from Alabama. Later, they moved to Fairplay where he ran a blacksmith shop and farmed. Tom and Andrew both learned the blacksmith trade here. Andrew married Alma Herrin and whose mother was a Garland that later married John Daniel Maines. Their children Doyle. Lorene. Helen. Harold. and Charles lived here as did Andrew’s brothers, Sidney, John. Forrest and sister Abbie lived here also as did his father Daniel Barto. They all worked, and this translated into quite a work force.

Clarence’s children were Polly (M. Sidney Abernathy), Jewel (M. Sepaugh), and J.M.. Clarence and Byron kept their calves until they were 2—3 years old. Then, they drove them to stockpens in Carthage and shipped them to Fort Worth by train. They harvested no hay and the only feeding they did was some cotton—seed cake fed to the cows that seemed the weakest. Pat Clarence Taylor’s was a box house with a hall down the middle. This was the home of George Taler Sealey and his wife Almedia Trulock Crawford. George was the son of Wesley Sealey and wife Eliza Brown. Wesley was from South Carolina and one of the early settlers of Fairplay. George had married first. Julia Ann Smith and had children Mary Elizabeth (M. Carol Gentry), John William (M. May Harris), Della (M. Jim Allison), Minnie Bell (M. Edward Belew), Jessie James (M. Lirinie Snelgrove) and Earl Brown (M. Georgia Harris). By his second wife, he had Ben (M. Annie Abernathy), Linnie (M. Jack Brady), Jim (M. Sarah Bridges) and Annie Laura (M. Phillip McElroy).

Several hundred yards past the George Sealey house was the home of Jim Sealey and Sarah Bridges. They had no children. A half brother of Jim’s, Pitt Crawford’s wife had died: and Jim and Satah kept Pitt’s son Baidridge Crawford. Baldridge was a natural athlete. He brought with him a style of chinning the bar an event of the interscholastic league meets of the day that revolutionized this event. His style consisted of a rhythmic swing of the body with a synchronized pulling the chin into the bar from a near horizonal position. With a little practice. almost anyone could easily chin a hundred; where as. the winning numbers previously had been on the order of 25 or less. Baidridge married, got a job with an oil company and moved to Midland, Tx. where he died of a coronary before he was fifty years old.

The next house was that of Ben Sealy and Annie Abernathy. Annie was a daughter of Daniel Barto and Ephposey Eugenia Garland. Ephposey died of measles at an early age. Ben and Annie married late in life and had only two children.

We go back now to the center of Fairplay, the store. In this period, it was known as Harris and Browning and was a joint venture of James Robert (Bobbie) Harris and Robert Douglas (Bob) Browning. Bobbie’s wife Linnie was sister of Bob’s. There was a covered unfloored portico on front. A single manual gasoline pump was on the front of this. Up against the wall was the motor oil tank. In these days, there was only one weight; and it was not prepackaged, but had to be pumped into quart containers before being put into the car. At a later date, a well was dug on one side of this shed, and a pump run by a gasoline motor was installed. This pumped water into a wood tank on a 40 foot scaffold, and this fed a water hose at the front of the portico to fill radiators just like in town. It was also much used indiscriminately by kids to hose down the dust and each other. On the back of the store was a porch that served as a loading platform; and also in the summer. Bert Canton cut hair here on Saturday. In the center of the store to the left was the candy counter, the center of every kid’s attention. On shelves back of this were shelves filled with patent medicines and drugs, Castor Oil, Turpentine. Black Drought, 666 Tonic. Spirits of Camphor Vick’s Salve, Mentholatum. and Vaseline were standard. On the next section was snuff in boxes and glasses, chewing tobacco and smoking tobacco. Prince Albert and Bull Durham were the most popular of the roll—your--owns. Camels. Lucky Strikes, and Chesterfields were under the counter. The store was a general store. Stacks of flour, meal and feed were in the back. Sacks of coffee and sugar were down the center and were scooped into paper sacks and weighed. In the center was a whole tier of shelves loaded with baking soda, baking power, and continents with oatmeal and Post Toasties on the end. In the back was a pretty good stock of horse collars, plow points, bridles, axes and hammers. There were trace chains hanging on the wall and a stack of axle grease in the corner. In this area was a huge ice chest with a lid counter weighted over a pulley that usually had one or two 300 lb blocks of ice and the space between and around packed with cold drinks. Cokes were popular. but fruit drinks

and cream sodas more so. The other side of the store was given over to dry goods. There were bolts of cloth, men’s and boys’ work clothes, buttons and thread. A few hats were stocked and in season, a whole stack of men and boys straw hats. On the first isle were several egg crates. For minor purchases, eggs were a more common medium of exchange than currency of the land. Kids always knew how may eggs it took to be worth a nickel. James Robert was a son of John Cullen Harris and Nancy Dunlap. John Harris was a son of Spencer Murphy Harris that had land up the Pine Hill road. His wife. Linnie was a daughter of Jacob Alva Browning of the Youngblood Community, and Louisa Emma North whose father, Robert ran a blacksmith shop in the Beckville area. At this time Narcissa Calahan, a sister of Jacob Browning and a daughter of Hosea Douglas Browning, stayed with them part of the time. Linnie and Bobbie’s children were Evelyn (M. Bert Canton). Gertis (M. Chester Hill). Syble. Gettis (M. Warner Thompson). Saxon. Thelris (M. Edward Strong), Juanita (M. Wendel Gentry) and Sylvan.

East past the store lived John Raley and Opal Harris. John was the son of John Lafayette Raley and Valicia Eldora Mangham who lived in the Youngblood community. Their children were Thomas Craig, John Alfred, and Nannie Bell. Craig left home and worked in St. Louis. He married there and had three or four children. While on a trip to Louisiana, his car was forced off a bridge over a bayou into deep water. He was able to save his wife, but all of his children drowned. Nannie taught school for years and was an excellent teacher. She married Johnny Morton while teaching school in the Gill Community where he lived on the south side of Harrison County. Opal was a daughter of Mordie Cai Harris and Orra Stone. Opal’s siblings were Lois (M. Julian Smith), Christine (M. Raymond Harris). Jake and Joe Bailey. John and Opal had two children, Helen (M. J.R. Underwood) and Sam Tom.

On the Beckville road, on the left, and about half way to where the school was then was an old frame house then vacant. It was known as the Smith house at the time as this was the last family that had lived in it. The house, how ever, was built and lived in by Samuel G. Allison who gave the land for the site of the Allison Chapel Methodist Church just before he sold his land and moved to Wise County about 1885. This house was vacant when I first remember it. The windows and floor were intact. The windows succumbed to herds of little boys throwing rocks. As the roof deteriorated, water rotted the floors. When I started to school in 1924, the school was about 50 yards past this old house. The school ground was about five acres. On the front west corner was a Baptist Church of a variety that we called “Hard Shell” as distinguished from the Missionary Baptist Church. This church had an organ, and services were held about once a month. There were outside tables under the trees for the occasions when they had dinner on the ground. In my first year in school, they were a favorite place for us to eat lunch. I guess because they got us well above the dogs and hogs that hung around at lunch time f or any scrap of food that was thrown away and to snatch any bits they could when we were not looking.

The school in 1924 was three rooms arranged in a “L” shape with all the entrances on one front porch. When the bell rang for Thooks’, all three rooms lined up facing the porch; and after some shuffling to get lines straight enough to suit the teachers, they marched into their respective rooms on command. I never got any explanation for this procedure other than that was the way it was done. There were folding doors between two of these rooms that could be opened for assemblies, and there was a stage at one end of one on which various programs were given and sometimes plays.

Almost directly across the road from the school ground lived Arthur Henigan and wife, Cora Osborne. Arthur was the son of Elizabeth and Allen H. Henigan and had once lived east of Fairplay where Sam Harris lived. The two had swapped places about 1920. Cora’s parents were John’ P. Osborne from Newton County. Georgia and Mary Eliza Nelson, daughter of William F. Nelson and Louisa Sheppard. Cora had first married Jessie Walton by whom she had children Wilbur Walton B. 1888, Floyd Walton B.1891. Bertus Walton (M. James Hill) B. 1883. Jessie Mae B. 1895 and Arden B. 1897. She and Arthur had children Ivis 1903—1918. Rosa Pearl 1905—1932 (M. Bud Hickman), Acey, Casey Allen 1910— 1918. and Elvie. Cora was a regular attendant at the Methodist Church where she taught the primary Sunday School class for years. Arthur farmed, but his heart was not particularly in his farming. Cora milked cows and sold cream owning one of the old hand cranked cream separators. She had a brooder house and raised about a hundred chickens at a time in it which is a piddling number compared to the 15,000 raised in one house today. Arthur eventually started to buying chickens which he took to Shreveport, Louisiana to sell. There was no organized chicken industry at the time, but there was an army of people who bought chickens from farmers who always had some to sell above their needs; and when they had a load hauled it to some metropolis to sell. When George Wyatt retired from his store at Fairplay. Arthur and Cora bought it; and Arthur gave up farming to run the store.

Past Arthur Henigans on the left was an old house in which A.R. Garland once lived. He died in 1918, but someone lived in the house after this as I can distinctly remember stopping by there to see some one at one time. Garland Hill, just north of this house, was named for him and for a generation was the proving ground of every owner of a Model T Ford in the community as they tested it to see if it would go up Garland Hill in high gear.

After crossing Buckner Creek was the Browning dipping vat on the left. At the top of the hill. in a house about fifty yards off the road,and on the left lived Robert Douglas (Bob) Browning and wife. Arie Buckner. Arie was a daughter of John Buckner and Lucye Williamson. John Buckner died in 1877. Lucye then married Matthew Shaw whose recently deceased first wife was her sister. Bob was the son of Jacob Alva Browning and Louisa Emma North. Louisa’s father, Robert, was a blacksmith in Beckville. They had children Douglas. Zelma. Richmond, Jacob. Ouida, Fate, Lonnie B. and Hugh.

Across the road from the Brownings lived Arlen Mangham and Olla Malone. Arlin was the son of Charles Mangham who married a Steger. Olla was a Malone who had previously been married to Carl Henigan who died in 1909 with out children.

Past the Browning’s that went off to the left down this road lived Emily arid Frank Murray, neither of which ever married. They were the children of William R. and Martha Murray who had lived in the same house with a family of five or six children. William P. and Martha had one daughter who became pregnant out of wedlock. She died during childbirth and was buried on their land without a marker. At this time, this was a cataclysmic thing to happen to a family of their status. For the rest of their lives. they lived almost as recluses. Neither they or Emily and Frank have any dates on their headstones. Emily taught a Sunday School class at the Methodist Church for years, and she and Frank never missed a service. They drove a buggy with yellow wheels and never negotiated the age of the automobile. Other children of Wi-lliam R. and Martha Murray were Henry B.1859, Mary B. 1860. Julia B. 1862 (M. Cunningham). Emily B. 1864. Ida B. 1867 (M. Tiller), William B. 1869, and Frank.

Just past this road was a house on the right side of the road where Joe Hull lived with his wife Lillian Riddle. Joes first wife was Johnny Pearl Smith who was a sister to Ida Hull. They had one daughter which they named Johnny Pearl. His first wife died shortly after Johnny Pearl was born.

On the left was a white frame house on a hill where John Homer Hull arid Ida Smith lived. John Homer as well as Joel were children of Asberry Thorton Hull and Ella Octave Buckner other children of Asberry and Ella were Robert Lawrence. Arthur Clarence. John Homer, Joel Gaines, Oscar Asberry, and Lillian (M. Joe Hayes), Children of John and Ida were Dorothy, Joella (N. Royce Crawford). Myrtle (M. Marvin Harris), James Beard, and Preeby(M.______ Wallace.

About a quarter of a mile further down this road in a house on the right lived John Sealey and May Harris. May was a daughter of Samuel Stephen Harris and Willie Ernaline Wyatt. Children of this couple were Gray, Annie May, Fulton, Blanch, Ollie, Oscar, Dewey, Bernard, Georgia. and Austin. John’s brother, Jessie James Sealey lived with them for a number of years. John and May had one daughter. Itasca, who married R.E. Stevens, lived in a little house on the right. R.E. taught school at Fairplay for one or two years and was a good teacher.

A little past this house was a cross roads. The east road ran by the house of Roy and Della Mangham. Roy lived in the house built by his father, Charles Mangham and his wife who was a Steger. The Stegers and the Manghams all came to Panola County together. They were the last house on this road on the west side of Irons Bayou, but the road crossed the Bayou and continued past the Dan Ross place in Deiray and eventually ran to Carthage. The west branch ran past the Brooks School house and then into Rusk County to Church Hill and eventually to Henderson. Their children were Opal. Kilby, Ollie, Alton, Louise. Aliene. and Weiton.

Past the cross roads was the house of George Pelham and Nettie Faucett. George had grown up in Herford. Texas and worked as a cowboy on the West Texas ranches. He married the daughter of Major Faucett and came to Panola County with his father—in—law. He left Panola County one time to live in New Mexico bu.t returned and bought land in the Youngblood Community. George was killed in a dispute over a boundary line in 1921. Obie, his oldest son continued to operate the farm. Children were Olla May. Obie. Diah, Willie B., Arbie L., Georgia Fay, Jimmy Mozelle. Lisa Lucille, and Woodrow.

When I started to school in 1924. the dirt work had been done on what was to be a paved road from Carthage to Henderson. At this time however, it was not paved even with iron ore gravel. I can remember going to Henderson once or twice before this road was in place. I know that we started out on the Pine Hill road and came to a fork in which one road went to Pine Hill, and the other went to Henderson. I suspect that we went up the county line road to the Church Hill road which I know ran to Henderson.

West of Fairplay near the Rusk County line lived a number of families that came to school at Fairplay. Most of these were Alireds or were related to the Allreds. In my first year at school, the children of Bill Mired came to school at Fairplay. Their mother was dead and the older girls did the housekeeping. Those attending school at Fairplay when I started to school from oldest to the youngest were Vera. Demetria, Juanita(?). Raymond (in my class) and Ralph. They had more than three miles to walk to school every day. About 1927. Charlie Mired who was a brother to Bill and a son of William Carol who was a son of Alfred Alired. moved back to Panola County from somewhere near Wichita Falls. They built a house and also a small store and filling station. All of their children were in school, and they were from oldest to youngest Virgil, Leland, Charles, Beria. Syril. Ruth and Pansy. Other brothers of these two were Ben. married but no children at this time, and Carol unmarried and Barney (later to marry Clara Schaborough). A sister married Sam Holt. They had a son named Ray.

Off the Henderson road to the right on the road to Brooks lived John Hardin and wife. John was the son of John Thomas and Harriet Hardin who lived near Gary. John had several siblings who lived near Gary also. Marline and Bonnie Pearl came to school at Fairplay for at least one year.


  1. This is wonderful, Fred. Thank you for sharing it. My husband is related to the Austins and Bouchers mentioned in the story.

  2. Casandratompkins@aol.comApril 28, 2016 at 12:24 AM

    Very interesting Fred. Thank you !

  3. Yoda 1April 25, 2016 at 6:53 PM

    I've just found your blog. So Dr. Holland was your Dad? I had the privilege of meeting him one afternoon while we were fixing fence across the road from each other. It was probably one of the most enjoyable conversations of my life.
    I took the liberty of cross-posting his Neighbors article on the History of Henderson and Rusk County Page. I had a copy from several years back but is was so nice to have the original". I will make sure you are adequately credited...

    1. Where are you posting it?
      What website or Social Media location?

  4. Kathy King Sullivan Thank you for sharing this. I spent a great deal of my childhood in Fairplay. My great-grandfather, mentioned here, was J.R. (Bobby Harris). His daughter, Evelyn, was my mother's mother. Evelyn's husband mentioned as Bert Canton, was actually Bert Carlton. Evelyn and Bert raised me and my sister. I remember my grandparents speaking of Dr Holland. Thanks again. Quite interesting

  5. Bob Smith I spent a lot of my childhood in Fairplay as well. My mother was a Shaw, a daughter of Robert Matthew (Buster) Shaw.

  6. Kathy King Sullivan Bobby Harris lived just across the pasture from the Fairplay store. That's is where we were most weekends and holidays. My grandparents and mother are buried in the Harris cemetery across from the current store. I'm sorry, I did not know the Shaws. How close did they live to the store?

  7. Bob Smith Short
    Dr. Holland and Spearman Holland were unrelated.
    Long answer - Fred has several posts in his blog about Hollands Quarters. It was named after Spearman Holland, who donated the land for the city of Carthage.
    One of the posts regarding Hollands Quarters is by Barbara Bonner, who is well versed in Panola County black history. I did title work on Hollands Quarters and thought I knew everything there was to know.
    I didn't.

  8. Douglas Grady Dunn My dad's dad Grady Dunn had the Fair play store for a long while. My dad (SR.) Is buried at Waldrop cemetery.