A community in Newton County that was once termed a “ghost town” is adding a sequel to that story and it could very well be called “The Ghost Walks Again.” That “ghost” is the place called Fawil. The place has become the site of a large Kirby Lumber Company Plywood Plant.
As in almost all cases of “rebirth” the nature and purpose will change and the place will take on a new look and new life quite different from the previous years and the former history is likely to be forgotten unless it is carefully preserved.
The origin of the name “Fawil” is quite unusual. Most places seem to be named from geographic features, historical events, or from the name of people who founded them. “Fawil” comes from a person’s name but in an unusual way. Stories have it that Fonzo A. Wilson operated a sawmill in this area and that in posting the name of the mill on a board to mark the site of the mill the space was too small to accommodate the full name so it was written F A Wil. In time the place was called the combined sound of the letters and it became Fawil. The name became permanent when the place became a railroad stop and was required to have a name. Before this time the community was known as the Davis Community. Some of the family names of the community have been and are today Hughes, Davis, Wilson, Simmons. Gray, Ramsey, DuBose, and Herrin. There have been several sawmills in Fawil. One rundown on the mills relates that “Tom Hughes had a lumbering operation there around 1903. This time was pre-railroad and Mr. Hughes hauled logs to Belgrade and floated them down the Sabine River to Orange, Texas. In 1907-1908, F.A. Wilson built the first sawmill. Wilson sold the mill to W. E. Gray. Afterwards the mill got into the hands of John Ramsey, a Mr. Rayhill, and Joe Kinnear. Through its time the business was a logging business, a sawmill, a pole mill, and a shingle mill.
People lived in this area long before it was called by any name. The people were farmers who raised cotton, corn, livestock, and engaged in the logging business. The deeds to the land of the Davis farm (present time) date back as far as 1836 and were in a land grant from the King of Spain and later a grant from the Republic of Texas.
Fawil Community has a new “face” because of the big Kirby Lumber Company’s new plywood plant there.
Mr. Ramsey Davis has lived in this community all his life and has given some information about the place.
Davis was born in 1897. His home was one of the early log structures which has been updated by adding siding and other fixtures.
Fawil is located between Bon Wier and Kirbyville on Farm Road 363. A school was built around 1900. a one-room house which grew to a three-room structure with three teachers. The Davis family donated the land and it was called the Davis School. It consolidated with Newton Independent School District in 1949. It was a Common School District. First churches were Baptist and Methodist who held services on alternating Sundays. It now has a Pentecostal Church.
Santa Fe J and E. Railroad built in 1905 pass through Fawil from Kirbyville to Oakdale, Louisiana. It stopped in Fawil twice a day, noon and 4 p.m. The railroad rate was three cents a mile.
Landscape – hilly, rocky, red clay soil. Trees – oak, pine, dogwood, berries. Rainfall – heavy. Temperature – mild. Wildflowers – honeysuckle, dogwood, violets, buttercups.
Typical pioneer houses at first were made of logs. Present day are modernized frame houses.