Fairplay History 1936
Fairplay History Written in 1936
Perhaps we cannot vouch for the truthfulness of the old adage, "Truth is stranger than fiction," but after looking up some of the early history we can vouch for it being more interesting. On writing this I want to say I have tried to be careful to use only information from trustworthy sources.
Fairplay has a history to be proud of. It is one of the oldest communities in the county, west of the Sabine River, and with the exception of Grand Bluff and Clayton, has perhaps the oldest school on this side of the river. Though we had no public schools then as we have now, but each community that wanted a school would build a house and take a subscription for a school.
All houses were made of logs then, and the seats were logs split in halves, and two pegs driven in each end for legs. The first settlers usually settled close together for protection from the Indians.
Before going very deep into the history of Fairplay, let us go back a little before this. On October 5, 1835, Rev. Isaac Reed, bought from Immanuel Antonio Romeo 4000 acres of land, known as the Romeo League. He with his son, Isaac Reed. Jr., and two son-in-laws, John Morris and Hough Sheppard, settled on the spring branch near where the negro church, Bethel, now stands, about one mile over the line of Fairplay school district in Clayton School district. This evidently was soon after he bought the land.
Here the old church and school he organized was until after the Civil War. It is said the negro church, Bethel, is a part of the organization, and after the whites and blacks were separated, at the close of the Civil War, the whites moved their organization to Clayton, while the negroes went on with theirs in the old building. Reed was an educated man for his day. He taught school and went from house to house to hold religious services. He organized the oldest living Baptist Church in the state, Old North Church near Nacogdoches. He induced the settlers to build a log but for public gatherings, before 1836. though prior to then the law did not permit the organization of any church except catholic.
It must have been the winter of 1836, when Elijah Allred, having come from Tennessee, built a log house of poles, which he could carry himself near where Arthur Henigan's dwelling now stands. He cleared a patch and made a corn crop. There was a dogwood tree standing in the chimney corner that he tied his horse to at night for fear the Indians would. steal it. In the fan the Indians got so hostile that he went to Reed's to stay. They had been forted up for some time, but not seeing any signs of Indians for a few days, the men decided about dusk they would go out and see what the Indians had done. When they got to the Sheppard house, seeing a light in the corn crib, they hailed. It proved to be Indians, and Isaac Reed Jr. was shot. The others thinking he was dead, ran to the fort. After getting there they could hear Reed calling, but all were afraid to go to him. Finally one old negro said he would go if he got killed. He brought Reed to the fort. Reed told about raising up on his elbow, taking aim, and shooting at the Indian, but did not know whether he hit him or not. Reed died during the night. Not having lumber to make a coffin, they wrapped him in a blanket and buried him in Old Bethel Cemetery. This is said to be the first white person buried in this section of the county. The next morning the Indian was found thrown in the branch with some brash over him. Reed Sr. had a daughter living near -where Mt. Enterprise now is, and this being the nearest whites, unless it was the Martin near Tatum. It was decided to send Allred to tell them. Allred said it was a clear moonlight night, the ground was frozen, and he thought he never heard a horse make so much fuss. By piecing bits of history together this must have been in February, 1837. When Allred finally went home the Indians had taken a liking to him, and had gathered his corn for him, and put it in his house.—(as told by Elijah Allred's daughter and Isaac Reed, Jr.'s son.)