Lincoln H. King

GARY, TEXAS. Gary is on Farm Road 10 ten miles south of Carthage in southwest Panola County. About 1844 or 1845 the first families began to move into the area. J. H. Thomas arrived first and built a home that was a longtime landmark. A farming community developed and produced mainly cotton. The business area, originally known as Zuber, had a post office, a cotton gin, and stores. Gary was settled when the Marshall, Timpson and Sabine Pass Railroad was built between Timpson and Carthage. In 1898 the railroad reached the Thomas J. Hull farm midway between the two towns, and Hull and S. Smith Garrison collaborated in establishing a twenty-acre townsite. A depot opened, and the settlement was named in honor of Garrison's grandson, Gary Sanford. The community soon grew to a population of 300. The post office was moved from Mount Bethel and renamed Gary in 1899. By the early 1900s Gary had developed into a bustling sawmill town, as East Texas virgin forests were being cleared. The town was the center of business for both farming and sawmill interests. It had a cotton gin, sawmills, a hotel, stores, and saloons. The Red Front Saloon was the center of social activities of the rougher sort until the county became dry in 1905. Until the 1940s cotton remained a staple crop, and the community was also a major grower of tomatoes, introduced by an agricultural pioneer and civic leader, Dr. Zack L. Daniel. Gary shared in the East Texas prosperity from the development of the oil and gas industry from the 1940s into the 1980s. The population in the 1940s was between 400 and 500. It began to decline in that decade, when the cotton industry faded in East Texas. In 1988 Gary had a population of 351. The business community around the square had a general store, the post office, a pulpwood yard, and the Gary Gas Company. The school enrolled 240 students in grades kindergarten through twelve. Local economic activity was mainly pulpwood hauling and cattle ranching. Most residents were employed outside the community. Walter Prescott Webb and Woodward Maurice (Tex) Ritter were born in Gary. In 1990 the population was 271, and in 2000 it was 303.


Gary School Round-Up Committee, Through the Years: A Brief History of the Gary Public School and Community (Gary, Texas, n.d.). History of Panola County (Carthage, Texas: Carthage Circulating Book Club, 1935?). Leila B. LaGrone, ed., History of Panola County (Carthage, Texas: Panola County Historical Commission, 1979).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lincoln H. King, "GARY, TX," accessed February 19, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 12, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Texas AlmanacFor more information about towns and counties including physical features, statistics, weather, maps and much more, visit the Town Database on!
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...