Sunday, June 14, 2009

Neighbors of Fairplay 1920 - 1930

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 otherwise, and a dependency for fellowship as our contact with the outside world was 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 myself. The fifty yards seemed a terrible distance at the time and I kept a wary eye for dogs and other ferocious beasts.

They (the Futch family) 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 Delray Community. Versie married Hoyt Pierce in the same community who was born September 24, 1894 and who died October 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 Delray 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. She had died with complications of her leg following gangrene. Axie 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 bird hunter 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 funning board and kicking at every dog along the way that condescended 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 Buckner 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.


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