Goodspeed's History of ... Carroll County, Arkansas
County Formation. -- November 1, 1833, by act of the Territorial Legislature, Carroll County was erected. The act reads as follows: "All that portion of the county of Izard west of a line commencing at a point on the State line of Missouri, where the range line between Ranges 16 and 17 west strikes the same, running south with said line twelve miles; thence west six miles to the range line between seventeen and eighteen; thence south with said line to the dividing ridge between Crooked Creek and the Buffalo Fork, thence a direct course to the ridge dividing the waters of the Buffalo Fork and Richland Creek; thence with said ridge to the ridge dividing the waters of the Arkansas and White Rivers; thence west with said ridge to Range 25 west; thence north with said line to the ridge dividing the waters of War Eagle and King's River; thence down said ridge to the post road from Izard court-house, to Washington court-house; thence on a north course to the Missouri line, so as to include all the waters of King's River; thence east with said line to the place of beginning, shall be constituted and erected into a new county, to be called and known by the name of Carroll County." The name was conferred in honor of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, a distinguished Marylander, or possibly in compliment to Gov. William Carroll, of Tennessee. The original territory was reduced in 1836, 1842 and 1869, upon the formation, respectively, of Madison, Newton and Boone. In 1869, in order that Carroll might not be reduced below the constitutional area of 600 square miles, the northern portion of Madison was annexed. With the exception of unimportant changes in the southwestern boundary, the territorial limits have since remained undisturbed.
The first election for county officers, held in 1834, resulted in the choice of George Campbell as judge, John Bush as clerk, Thomas H. Clark as sheriff, Abraham Shelly as coroner and William Nooner as surveyor. Their successors in order have been as follows:
Sheriffs. -- T. H. Clark, 1834-36 (resigned in 1835, succeeded by N. Rudd); Charles Sneed, 1836-42; A. Thomas, 1842-44; J. L. Wilburn, 1844-52; A. C. Oliver, 1852-56; J. C. Shipman, 1856-58; R. C. Campbell, 1858-60; David Smith, 1860; R. C. Campbell, 1860-62; John Harper, 1862-64; A. S. McKennon, 1864-66; N. B. Crump, 1866-68; J. J. Grim, 1868-72; S. L. Hayhurst, 1872-76; A. C. Oliver, 1876-78; T. C. Freeman, 1878-84; Joel Plumlee, 1884-86; H. S. Shahan, 1886.
Clerks. -- John Bush, 1834-36; W. C. Mitchell, 1836-40 (the office was filled part of the year 1836 by G. F. Stallings); J. A. Hicks, 1840-46; Tilford Denton, 1846-48; John W. Peel, 1848-54; George C. Gordon, 1854-58; Samuel W. Peel, 1858-64; George J. Crump, 1864-68; W. W. Davis, 1868-72; J. P. Fancher, 1872-76; J. C. Hanna, 1876-78; J. P. Fancher, 1878-80; J. E. Jones, 1880-84; H. H. Moose, 1884-87; Len Nunnally, 1887.
Treasurers. -- A. M. Wilson, 1836-38; William Beller, 1838-42; H. L. Denton, 1842-44; E. Ford, 1844-46 (resigned, unexpired term filled by Thomas Callen); Thomas Callen, 1846-48 (deceased before the expiration of his term; W. E. Armstrong appointed); John Dunlap, 1848-50; A. Hulsey, 1850-54; J. Albright, 1854-56; Jeremiah Hale, 1856-60; J. M. Haggett, 1860-62; J. F. Seaman, 1862-64; J. S. Stanley, 1864-66; Tilford Denton, 1866-68; J. H. Hale, 1868-72; A. M. Bradley, 1872-74; James Walker, 1874-76; J. G. Walker, 1876-78; S. S. Meek, 1878-80; W. H. Woods, 1880-84 (failed to give bond, H. D. Field elected February 26, 1884); H. D. Field, 1884.
Coroners. -- Abraham Shelly, 1834-36; M. L. Hawkins, 1836-42 (Burts was coroner from 1836-38; Thomas Moreland, 1842-44; John T. Spears, 1844-46; A. S. Dooly, 1846-48; Jesse McKelay, 1848-50; John Bunch, 1850-52; Gideon Weaver, 1852-54; W. M. Raines, 1854-56; Jacob Riddle, 1856-58; N. P. Naples, 1858-60; Daniel Grimlin, 1860-62; W. W. Bailey, 1864-66; J. m. Pittman, 1866-68; G. D. Bull, 1868-72; William Wood, 1872-74; O. P. Crockett, 1874-78; E. Thomas, 1878-80; E. Winfield, 1880-82; C. T. Dodson, 1882-84; J. M. Mitchell, 1884-86; C. Smith, 1886.
Surveyors. -- William Nooner, 1834-36; Elijah Tabor, 1836-38; John McMillan, 1838-42; T. B. Callen, 1846-48; A. V. Callen, 1848-50; Price Byrne, 1852-58; J. Bartlett, 1858-62; Henry McMillan, 1864-68; Cyrus Maxwell, 1868-72; Thomas Bunch, 1872-76; T. S. Bunch, 1876-78; J. M. Bunch, 1878-82; W. R. Phillips, 1882-86; J. W. Kenner, 1886.
The election of Thomas as sheriff in 1842 was annulled by the county court, which declared Charles Sneed sheriff. This ruling was revoked by the governor, who commissioned Thomas.
State Senators. -- C. R. Saunders, 1836-40; W. C. Mitchell, 1840-54; John McCoy, 1854-56; W. W. Watkins, 1856-62; Bradley Bunch, 1862-64; J. McCoy, 1864-66; W. W. Watkins, 1866-68; M. L. Stephenson, 1868-70; William Dugger, 1870-74; Bradley Bunch, 1874-78; W. W. Watkins, 1878-82; R. B. Weaver, 1882-86; ------- Crandall, 1886.
Representatives. -- L. B. Tully, W. D. Reagan, 1836-38; T. H. Clarke, F. G. Willbourn, 1838-40; B. Gaither, 1840-42; G. W. Bains, J. Fancher, 1842-44; G. E. Birnie, T. H. Clarke, 1844-46; S. S. Matlock, J. W. Turman, 1846-48; J. H. Crow, 1848-50; B. W. Ayers, Tilford Denton, 1850-52; John H. Brittain, Tilford Denton, 1852-54; Bradley Bunch, John Haggin, 1854-56; B. W. Ayers, Bradley Bunch, 1856-58; Bradley Bunch, G. C. Gordon, 1858-60; Bradley Bunch, J. Childers, 1860-62; I. R. Holt, A. A. Baker; 1862-64; J. W. Plumlee, J. F. Seaman, 1864-66; Bradley Bunch, J. H. Berry, 1866-68; Benjamin Vaughan, J. A. Fitzwater, j. T. Hoffer, P. A. Williams, 1868-70; E. P. Watson, G. J. Crump, F. J. Eubanks, J. S. O'Neal, 1870-72; W. L. Chapman, Joseph Wright, J. M. Foster, J. F. Cunningham, 1872-74; D. G. Hart, J. M. Foster, 1874; H. H. Moore, 1874-76; W. S. Poynor, 1876-78; J. G. Morris, 1878-80; E. J. Black, 1880-82; B. W. Gowdelock, 1882-84; J. P. Fancher, 1884-86; W. R. Phillips, 1886.
Members of Constitutional Conventions. -- John F. King, 1836; W. W. Watkins, B. H. Hobbs, 1861; Joseph Wright, 1868; Bradley Bunch, 1874. Not represented in the convention of 1864.
The First Court-house of Carroll County was a log building about twenty feet square, two stories high. The purchase of the site and the disposition of lots in the town of Carrollton was entrusted to three commissioners, Henry Keys, John S. Blair and Barnett Cheatham, presumably appointed by the county court, and given charge over all matters pertaining to the erection of county buildings. Owing to the destruction of the county records, there is no certain information as to the time when this was done; but it is known that the court-house was intended to serve a temporary purpose only, and was built south of the center of the public square in Carrollton, in order not to interfere with the erection of its successor. There was a substantial stone chimney at the east end, built after the completion of the remainder of the building. There were two entrances to the lower floor, on the north and south sides, respectively. This floor was provided with benches, and was occupied during the sessions of the court. There was an inside stairway to the upper floor, which does not appear to have been used for any particular purpose. The roof was made of heavy hoop-sawed boards. The chimney was built in 1837, and the building proper the year previous, probably. The office of the clerk was usually in one of the stores at Carrollton, in which he officiated in a similar capacity.
The Second Court-house was built in 1844-45, at a cost of $3,000. It was brick building about 30x40 feet in dimensions, two stories high, and stood in the center of the square at Carrollton. The lower floor was entered by doors on the north and south, and was used as a court-room. The upper floor was reached by an interior stairway; it was partitioned into three rooms, one of which, at the sourthwest corner, was used as the clerk's office, and the two others as jury rooms. The stairway was at the west end. The contractors for the erection of this building were Louis Rains and William Young; the former built the walls, the latter had charge of the wood-work. This building was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1859-60. It was supposed to have been the work of an incendiary, but no positive proof of this has yet been presented. There appears to have been but little necessity for a court-house during the Civil War.
Third and Fourth Court-houses. -- Upon the close of hostilities in 1865, and the return of the soldiers to their homes, one of the first considerations that engaged their attention was the provision of what was essential to the administration of justice. A log building, closely resembling it [sic] first predecessor, was built in the public square, to the southeast of the center, and was one of the first houses built in Carrollton after the war. It was one story high, without a chimney, and did not remain long enough to receive that necessary addition. It was destroyed by fire in 1866 or the following year, and with it such of the county records as had escaped the previous similar catastrophe. They had been removed by S. W. Peel, the clerk, to a vault in the Carrollton cemetery, and there preserved during the war. The loss of these records is most unfortunate and deplorable.
A frame store building was purchased from Crump and Berry, removed to the center of the square and, with trifling alterations, transformed into a temple of justice. June term, 1870, James Stanphill, commissioner of public buildings, was directed to purchase six chairs and have seats sufficient to accommodate jurymen before August 1, following. May 1, 1871, lot No. 2 in Block No. 13, purchased of Crump & Berry, was sold by the sheriff, J. J. Grim, to W. W. Davis for $102.
The erection of Boone County in 1869 placed the major portion of Carroll County a considerable distance from Carrollton, and the removal of the county seat to a more central location was at once agitated. The claims of Berryville for metropolitan honors were energetically pressed, and an election was held November 1, 1869, upon the proposition to remove the county seat thither. The result cannot be ascertained; but at September term, 1869, a petition was presented to the court alleging that the election was null and void, a portion of the county having been ignored and refused recognition by the court. A new election was forthwith ordered for November 13, 1871. At December term, 1871, of the county court, the court was petitioned by certain citizens of Carrollton "to declare the proposition for removal of the county seat to Berryville," submitted to the electors November 13, 1871, "a failure and to put said question at rest, for a time at least," but on the following day the court refused to grant this request, upon which the question was appealed to the circuit court, with results favorable to the petitioners. What action the county court proposed to take in the matter is expressed in the following extract from the minutes: "The court took into consideration the returns of the election held November 13, 1871; and it appearing that a majority of the qualified voters favored the change, the court appointed John S. O'Neal, George J. Crump and Dr. Isaac Plumlee commissioners to select a site at Berryville." They were directed to meet at that place on Monday, January 29, 1872.
The Final Issue. -- January 5, 1875, upon petition of more than one-half of the voters of the county for the removal of the county-seat from Carrollton to Berryville, an election was ordered for February 22, 1875. May 5, 1875, the court instructed the clerk to notify all the justices of the peace in the county to sit with and assist the county judges in deciding upon the matter, on the second Monday in May, 1875. May 10, 1875, the day appointed, the election returns were laid before the court. There were 557 votes for removal, and 529 against, being a majority of twenty-eight in favor of removal out of a total vote of 1,086. E. J. Black, J. S. O'Neal and Isaac Plumlee were appointed commissioners "to aid the court in carrying into effect the will of said majority, in purchasing a site for the buildings at Berryville." June 22, 1875, the commissioners reported having purchased, for $100, a lot in Berryville, from Blackburn H. Berry, and also received from him without consideration the public square in Berryville. July 6, 1875, they reported that a suitable building had been secured, by purchase, for the court-house, and rooms for the county officers by rental; upon which the court directed the sheriff to remove the records, seals, archives, fixtures, etc., which was done July 17, 1875. The property of the county at Carrollton was sold by J. W. Freeman, commissioner, January 15, 1876. Len Nunnally bought the public square for $10; John G. Crump, the old court-house, for $100; James P. Fancher, a table, for $2.50; Lots Nos. 7 and 8, in Block 9, were sold for $62.
The Present Court-house, a substantial brick structure, was erected in 1880. R. H. Jones was appointed commissioner October 15, 1880, and instructed to prepare plans and specifications. December 6, 1880, he awarded the contract for the erection of the building to J. P. Fancher, his bid of $8,997.50 being the lowest from any responsible person. The contract, and bond in double that amount were approved by the court. The building is forty-six feet wide and fifty-six feet long, outside dimensions. A hall ten feet wide extends through the building in the direction of its greatest length. On one side there are three rooms, one of which is occupied as an office by the sheriff; on the opposite there is one room, 28x15-1/2 feet, the clerk's office, connecting with which is the vault, 10x15-1/2 feet. A stairway ascends to the upper story from the front end of the building. This floor comprises the court hall, forty-four feet wide, and two jury rooms. The roof is flat. The building was first occupied in the autumn of 1881. The old court-house was sold by R. H. Jones to H. A. Pearce for $100, in county scrip, June 30, 1881, and Dr. W. P. George's store building was occupied for county offices, and during the session of the courts, until the completion of the new building.
Jails. -- The first county jail was built about 1840, and stood upon a lot in Carrollton now owned by Len Nunnally. The builder was James C. Cheney, of Osage. The jail was about twenty-two feet square and two stories high. The walls of the first story were triple thick, the logs on the outer and inner sides being built horizontally, in the usual way, with a wall of logs perpendicularly between them. The latter extended to the top of the building, making an upper story but little used. The floor and ceiling were made of twelve-inch hewed timber, securely imbedded in the walls, and the door was attached with massive iron inges. The upper story was reached by an outside stairway. This building stood until the war, when it shared the fate of hundreds of others, and was reduced to ashes. It embodied the prevalent ideas upon jail architecture at the period when it was built, and like many others before and since was frequently left tenantless by the miscreants confided to its keeping.
There was no jail in Carroll County from this time until 1876, after the county seat was changed, and during this time prisoners were confined at Huntsville, Fayetteville, or Bentonville. The contract for the jail at Berryville was awarded to W. W. Davis and Charles Byron, at their bid of $2,500, April 5, 1876. The specification called for a brick building with stone foundations, 20x30 feet. A hall extended across the building; there were two rooms west of the hall 7x10 feet, and one room east 10x16 feet. The ceiling was twelve feet high. There were three windows on the south side, two windows and a door on the north, and one window on each of the other sides. The contractors were released July 3, 1876, and the building was soon thereafter occupied.
"Jail delivery" has on a number of occasions been effected by other than the ordinary and lawful method. No particulars are obtainable so far as the old jail is concerned. A single instance will be given with regard to the jail built at Berryville: Wednesday night, October 10, 1883, five of the six inmates of the jail succeeded in escaping from their cells; the watchman was overpowered, his pistols secured, and himself compelled to open the door and accompany the prisoners a mile from the town. On the following day Sheriff Freeman organized a posse and started in pursuit. One of the prisoners was captured that evening near White River and two others on Rock Creek. A fourth was overtaken Friday morning, and the fifth in the evening of that day. At 3 P. M. on Saturday all were again "behind the bars," if that phrase may be applied to the jail, sixty-six hours after their escape.
The Berryville jail was burned in 1887, and with it a single occupant, supposed to have planned the fire in order to effect his escape. The walls are intact, but no effort has yet been made to rebuild.
Present Agitation. -- The destruction of the jail and the necessity for extensive repairs to the court-house have recently induced the people of Green Forest to offer the county a liberal bonus for the removal of the county seat to that place. It is urged that since the erection of the western judicial district Berryville is no longer centrally located upon the territory within the jurisdiction of its courts, and that the change to Green Forest would greatly convenience a majority of the people. At this writing (July, 1888) the court has ordered an election in the autumn, when the matter will be decided.