County, East Texas
State Highway 87
In the Sabine National Forest
12 Miles SE of Hemphill
by Bob Bowman
The only visible
reminders of Old Fairmount, an early East
Texas community in southern Sabine County, are a well-kept graveyard and a
church founded in 1887. The community was settled in the early 1850s around the
swift, clear waters of South Prong Creek, which was used by pioneers as a source
of fresh water and to power a grist mill and sawmill.
The community, supposedly named for an attractive mound in the area, received
a post office in 1854 and had a population estimated at seventy in 1884. In addition
to its grist mill and sawmill, the community also had a cotton gin, a school,
a blacksmith shop and a general store. By 1896, the communityís one-teacher, one-room
school had thirty-one students.
One of the earliest roads in the Fairmount
area led from Sabinetown Ferry, a crossing on the Sabine River. A fork
in the road led to another river crossing, Haddenís Ferry.
Sabine County Map showing Fairmont|
(Below"E" in "S-A-B-I-N-E",
S of Hemphill)
Texas General Land Office
One Fairmount resident, Edward Smith, deserves his
own place in history. When he reached eighteen, he enlisted in the Confederate
Army to fight in the Civil War. When federal naval forces approached the Texas
coast, Smith and others in his company pushed through the East
Texas swamps to reinforce Lieutenant Dick
Dowling and his Texas forces at Sabine
The battle, the only Civil War conflict fought in East
Texas, saw Smith, Dowling
and about 40 other soldiers outnumbered 100 to one. But the Texans had no deaths
or injuries while the federal force of 27 ships had about 400 men injured, captured
or killed. The Texans were so fierce that the battle lasted only forty-five minutes.
Following the end of the war, Smith came home to Fairmount, served as its postmaster
25 years, and became a Baptist preacher. The bravery he showed at Sabine
Pass is also evident in a story told by his descendants.
walking with his dogs in the woods when a bear started chasing him. Smith scrambled
up a tree and when the bear started climbing after him, Edward whipped out his
pocketknife and slashed the bearís head and paws while his dogs nipped at the
The bear retreated, started chasing the dogs, but returned
to climb the tree again. Again the dogs nipped at the bear, who started chasing
them a second time. The distraction enabled Edward to climb down and run home.
has about 240 marked graves and about 15 unmarked graves. One of the best known
graves is that of Thomas B. Anthony, who in the l880s volunteered to travel to
Austin to collect a reward for the killers
of Texas Ranger Jim Moore, who was shot down when he and other Rangers tried to
capture outlaw Willis Conner and his sons.
It took considerable bravery
on Anthonyís part to make the long trip, especially during a time when some of
the Conners were still on the loose. By the 1920ís, Fairmount had begun to decline,
largely because of the development of new highways which gave Fairmountís people
easier access to other communities.
The great timber boom also lured
many Fairmount men to sawmill communities, and World
War I came along, pulling away more men.. Fairmountís post office closed in
Today, because of Toledo
Bend Reservoir, the Fairmount area is attracting new residents, but most of
them are dispersed around the lake.
Copyright Bob Bowman
Things Historical" Column. Published with permission
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