Albion preserves sense of community with
Written by: Tracy Crain
Feb. 6, 2000
The tiny town of Albion was settled by just
a few farmers, the kind of people who toiled
from the early morning hours until the last
light of dusk to make a living.
For the 150 or so people who know it as
home, it’s just Albion, Ark. Located in
White County, Albion Township, as it is
formally known, rests naturally against the
backdrop of the Ozark foothills, about 10
miles north of Searcy.
Ollie B. Reaper, a 74-year-old resident of
Albion Farms, one of the largest and oldest
farms in the community, said, “Albion is a
nice place to live, but there’s not much to
Although there are few social functions,
residents of Albion manage to maintain their
sense of community in some rather unique
One example is the annual fire association
meeting and potluck dinner. Every year the
townsfolk gather at the local fire station
and discuss the events of the past year
before listening to popular songs performed
by local musical groups.
“The fire association meeting is the closest
thing we have to a formalized process of
city government,” Reaper said. “I doubt
we’ll ever be incorporated. There are not
enough people to pay for the expense.”
Another event cherished by Albion residents
evolves from the town’s strong church base.
Both the Albion Methodist and Baptist
churches hold celebrations in which
graduating seniors are honored before the
congregation and presented Bibles.
“It’s just a special way we celebrate their
education,” Reaper said.
Although students from the Albion community
attend school in Pangburn, most of their
parents did not.
In 1940, Albion had its own school-a rustic
two-room house where children from the first
through eighth grade received instruction.
When times changed and consolidation
occurred, local children were transferred to
the Pangburn School District and the Albion
The Pangburn School District doesn’t offer
any sports like football or soccer, but the
school is still respected for its baseball,
basketball and softball programs.
Members of the Albion community say they are
proud of their Pangburn athletes, too.
“No one has anything on the Pangburn teams,”
Reaper said, smiling. “The other schools
only wish they could touch them.”
For the most part, Albion is a community
where residents have traded their tractors
for jobs in nearby cities. The town’s
business sector, which was once home to a
cotton gin and two country stores, has also
changed to meet the needs of the residents.
Five businesses currently call Albion home:
the Albion General Store, the Sterling
Trucking Company, the Wallace Bell Sawmill,
a pawnshop, and the fire station. The
sawmill, which was one of the first
industries in Albion, has helped to replace
the farming industry.
“This place is one of the oldest industries
in town and has been in operation for about
30 years,” said Jody Bell, the sawmill
Reaper said a lot of the people in town talk
about the good old days. Although some of
them were good, she admits that some of them
“I would not want to go back to the horse
and wagon or go without the modern
conveniences available to us now,” she said.
“About the only thing I miss is the time we
had to visit and spend with our families.
Everybody is so busy now.”
Members of the Albion community hold the
Reaper family in high regard. Ollie B., her
husband, Jack, and their three children
built Reaper farms together from nothing.
As a farm family, they have provided the
community with rice, soybeans, wheat,
cotton, eggs and broiler chickens.
In 1988, the Reapers quit selling eggs. They
also stopped farming rice, soybeans, wheat,
and cotton. The farm’s only focus now is
raising broiler chickens and cattle.
“When we sold eggs, people would come from
all over the state to buy them,” she said.
“Now I have to buy my own. Eggs are cheaper
today than they were in the past. I don’t
believe egg producers and farmers are
getting what they should.”
Reaper said farming is a tough life, but one
that she enjoys. “It’s sad to say, but I
don’t think any of the young folks will take
up farming. They can’t afford to acquire the
debt it takes to have one in today’s
(This article has been recently revised for
historical archiving and is an excerpt from
Road Trips; a weekly feature of small towns
in Arkansas, which was written by Tracy
Crain and published by the Arkansas Democrat
Gazette in 2000.)