Fairplay History 1936
The early setters did all they could to encourage others to come. If there was no house they would let them live in the church and school house until they could locate land and get a house or help them to build one. Sam Ross in describing building houses said, they came to Texas in 1838, and. settled near Mt. Enterprise. There were nine families living within ten miles of where they settled. After locating a building place, the day set for putting up the house, the two living fartherest off got there by sunrise, all bringing their rifles for protection from the Indians. Many times the house would be built, floored, if it had any, and covered in a day. When the Gentrys came here in 1847 they lived in a church until they could get a house.
How Fairplay got its name and when its postoffice, I have been unable to find. The people, before getting the office here first got their mail at Grand Bluff, then Pine Hill, and then they got a postoffice here. At first there were no public roads. The old Shreveport, Nacogdoches and Douglas road was the first public road, and for years was the main thoroughfare for this section. This was before the days of railroads and the people carried their produce to Shreveport (it being the nearest boatlanding of any importance for a large section of East Texas, and bring back their supplies. It is said that long strings of covered wagons passing was a usual occurrence, while many droves of cattle would pass being sent to New Orleans. The first store and postoffice was near where John Hull now lives, run by a Mr. Heifner. This was before the Civil War. The church and the school house as already referred to, were about 3-4 of a mile west of where Fairplay now is, at the old Williams Cemetery. Not many years after the Civil War the Allisons put a store near where it now stands, and the postoffice was moved there. When the Beckville R. F. D. was began the postoffice was discontinued. M. C. Harris was the last post master. There have been one or two stores at what is now Fairplay since soon after the Civil War.
The first school house at the Old Williams Cemetery has already been referred to. It was a log house with a dirt chimney at first but afterward a brick chimney, plank floor and other improvements were made. When the first school was taught in it we do not know, but we do know that it was there when the Gentrys came here in 1847.
Mrs. T. G. Allison was born in 1835, and went to school there when she was a child so there must have been school taught there before 1847. This served as church and school building until 1868. A lady by the name of Mattie Trigg was teaching when one night it burned down. There was a vacant log negro hut near where the school now stands, so the school was finished in it. There are some still living, who were going to school at the time, John Gentry being one of them. As soon as the school was out and the people could, they tore down the negro hut, and built another log house on the same spot. This served as school house, and Methodist and Baptist Church house (a. Baptist church being organized before this time) until the Methodist church was moved on the opposite side of the road from the church.
Mr. Alton Taylor's (one of our present teachers) great-grandfather taught school in one of the old log houses just mentioned.)
In 1887 a frame school building was put up near where the present one now stands, only nearer the Beckville road. In 1904 this one was remodeled. A few years later there was more added to it. In 1917 the present one was erected.
The first county judge of this county, John Allison, lived at Fairplay. He gave Panola County its name. It was named for Panola County, Mississippi. Panola is a Cherokee word for cotton.
History of Panola County, 1936