Carroll County, Arkansas

Goodspeed's History of ... Carroll County, Arkansas

Settlement and Development, p. 333.

Indian Occupation -- At the time when this county was first visited by settlers the Indian population was sparse. There was an Indian village at the site of Bellefonte, Boone County; the Delawares had a number of tepees on Long Creek, in Carroll County and their principal town was on the James River, in Stone County, Mo. The Cherokees, from Georgia, began their migration about 1832, and the bands were wont to proceed leisurely, and pause for awhile upon the borders of their western home. Several bands, numbering 300 or more, are mentioned by early settlers. They had with them large herds of cattle, horses, etc., and lived comfortably in their camps, one of which, in July, 1833, was situated north of Berryville several miles. A visitor to this camp says they were very hospitable; he was almost obliged to eat with them. "May be sometime I get hungry and eat with you," was the logic of his host. There were no resident Indians in this locality after 1835. Hunting parties from the "Nation" returned frequently during the winters until game became too scarce, but their relations with the white settlers were always friendly. No outrages by either party are known to have been perpetrated within the limits of the county.

Emigration to that part of Arkansas within the bend of White River, and about its head-waters, followed two distinct routes, the courses of which are best indicated by reference to previous settlements in the State, which naturally followed the valleys of the Arkansas and White Rivers. Fort Smith was the terminus of a military road which naturally invited settlement in that direction; but it was also upon the western boundary of the State, and emigrants thither turned to the north for permanent locations. The extreme northwestern part of the State was also accessible from St. Louis by a direct road; and thus it happened that many of the first settlers of Carroll County came thither after a temporary sojourn in Madison or Washington.

Batesville was for a long time the limit of emigration up the White River valley. The level country to the east seems to have been considered preferable to the mountainous region at its source, which received but little attention except from the hunter and trapper. It was by this route that the first white inhabitants of what is now Carroll County entered its borders.

Early Settlers. -- William Sneed and his son, Charles Sneed, originally from Kentucky, removed from White River, near the mouth of Bear Creek, to Osage Township, in the spring of 1830. They located a claim embracing several thousand acres of the best land on Osage River. Here they had planted several acres of corn the previous spring, and were thus provided with food. They cut what was known as the old Dubuque road from Dubuque Landing, on White River, near Lead Hill; it passed through Carrollton, and thence followed an Indian trail southeast. John Boyd, one of the teamsters, is commonly given the honor of having driven the first team into Carroll County.

Louis Russell went from North Carolina to Illinois, and thence to Arkansas; he is said to have settled on Yocum Creek, Section 20, Township 20, Range 23, in the present township of Hickory, in 1822. If such is the case, he must have been the earliest settler in the county. He was of English and Cherokee descent. In 1836 he made a journey on horseback to his former home in Illinois. He was nineteen days returning, and brought with him as many apple trees as he could carry. Notwithstanding the length of time they were out of the ground, many of the trees grew, and sprouts from their roots are still bearing. This seems to have been the first effort at orchard planting. Russell assisted in the building of Fort Smith. He died in this county in 1869.

David Williams, the first white inhabitant of the central part of the county, and therefore of its western and northern portions, came from Tennessee about 1831. He lived on Osage, about a mile and a half from Berryville, in a pole cabin, with his wife and three sons. They cleared several acres of land, but never made any permanent improvements. One of the sons married a Cherokee woman. Williams removed to Buffalo Valley in 1838. His hunting grounds had become too narrow.

John, Alexander and Bruce Boyd, and Elijah Hulsey, brother-in-law to the two last named, removed from Crowley's Ridge, near Helena, Ark., in 1832, and settled on Long Creek below Carrollton. There were then living in the vicinity of Carrollton, Martin Standridge, his father, "Shot-gun" Jerry Meeks and his brother, "Blue" Jacob Meeks, "Black" Squire Blevins, Richard Blevins, Sam Blevins, and others of Cherokee and English descent, whose society was not appreciated by their neighbors, as subsequent developments will show. They were from Georgia, and had not been living in this country many years prior to 1832. George Stone, from Yellville, then known as Shawnee-town, joined this community about the same time.

Robert Dawson came to Arkansas in 1832, having previously resided in Missouri and Tennessee. He owned four farms on Osage, in Prairie Township, upon one of which he lived forty-nine years, dying in 1886.

William Tabor, of Macoupin County, Ill., became a resident on Dry Creek, in Hickory Township, in 1834. He made the journey out in six weeks with three yoke of oxen. Jonathan Norris was also an early settler in that township.

January 3, 1833, John Baker, with his sons, Aaron and Jonathan, arrived at the present residence of Aaron Baker, in Prairie Township, having left their former home, four miles from Marble Hill, on Crooked Creek, in Cape Girardeau, now Bollinger County, Mo., October 11, 1832. They passed through Springfield and Fayetteville, and crossed King's River on New Year's day. John Baker died in Osage Valley in 1862. Aaron Baker, who had then a wife and four children, is still living, the oldest resident of Carroll County.

In the spring of 1833 Jesse White and William Walker, brothers-in-law, removed from Washington County. The former settled at the mouth of Osage, the latter on King's River, near the crossing of the upper road to Eureka. They lived alternately in Washington County four years. Wesley Walker, John Walker, and several others of the name, came from Tennessee somewhat later.

Thomas Hall built the fourth house in Prairie Township, in 1835. He had previously lived in Wilkes County, N.C., and near Chattanooga, Tenn., from whence he removed to War Eagle, Madison County.

John Yocum, from whom Yocum Creek derives its name, settled near Green Forest about 1833. He built a mill there at an early period in the history of the county.

Jesse S. O'Niell, the first constable of Hickory Township, was an early settler on Yocum Creek.

William Wood, a native of Kentucky, removed to Morgan County, Ill., about 1834, and thence to the vicinity of Berryville, where he took up land yet owned by his descendants.

Jacob A. Meek came from Henry County, Tenn., about 1837, and settled on Dry Creek. He was a member of the Methodist Church. His father, Jeremiah, and brothers, William, Joseph and Samuel, followed him.

The Chaney family, William Chaney, Sr., Joseph Chaney and William H. Wilson, his brother-in-law, settled on Osage, in Liberty Township, in 1834. They were from Overton County, Tenn.

George Suggs, Isaiah Watkins and Britain Smith settled on Dry Fork prior to 1837. They were the pioneers of Dry Fork Township.

John Musick, from Huntsville, removed to Osage prior to 1840, taking with him 200 cattle, seventy-five horses, and a large flock of sheep. This was the first introduction of sheep.

Keel Williams, from whom Keel's Creek is named, was a brother to David Williams, previously mentioned. Daniel Bromley, of Miller County, Mo., bought his land, and was among the first prominent settlers in that part of the county.

Charles Whiteley, a Baptist preacher, from Madison County, settled in the locality that bears his name, Whiteley's Prairie, in 1837 or 1838. He was a man of public spirit, fair ability as a speaker, and character worthy of his calling. He was especially active in his support of free schools. He left the county for Texas at the opening of the Civil War.

Stephen Holmesley, of Cape Girardeau County, Mo., removed to Hindsville, Washington Co., Ark., and thence to Yocum Creek, upon which he built one of the first mills. His wife was a daughter to Samuel Vaughn, from whom the celebrated Vaughn's Valley, Madison County, is named.

William and Joel Plumlee, who emigrated from Tennessee about 1836, were the first settlers upon the site of Berryville.

Absalom Cornelius, a Missourian, settled on Dry Creek, on the farm now owned by Henry Reeves. He was among the first settlers there.

Jeremiah Hale, from whom the Hale barrens are named located there in 1845. Wilson Butler was one of his first neighbors.

James Fancher, Thomas Sisco and James M. Kenner were the earliest settlers upon the head-waters of Osage.

Thomson Ramsay, of Rule Postoffice, and Samuel Meek, of Prairie Township, have been residents of the county since 1835. Hon. Bradley Bunch came in 1838. William Scott, an early settler in the western part of the county, died in 1887, at the age of one hundred and nine. This enumeration might be multiplied indefinitely, but it is believed that the earliest of the first inhabitants of the county have been mentioned.

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