Road Systems in Early Northeastern Arkansas

By Henry Hitt

At the time of the Civil War, the road system in this section was very meager.  In fact, the roads then were only trails, and had to be marked in order that they could be followed.

Probably the principal road between the Mississippi River and the Ozarks was the Military Road.  This road ran from Cape Girardeau, Missouri south to Jonesboro, and then on to Helena, Arkansas.  Tracing it down, after leaving the Cape, we find Bloomfield, Dexter, old Four Mile (Southwest of Campbell), then to Southwest to Chalk Bluff.  Leaving Chalk Bluff the road followed fairly closely the now Piggott and St. Francis Hill Road.  At points along the road where the route has been changed, the old old roadway is easily noted, many times by washes and gullies.  The road entered what is now Piggott at the O. E. Vancil home, then it continued south, to what is known as the Hunter Place, then it bore Southwest and ran along what is now Fifth Street, passing the Piggott Hospital, then along the South Side of the present Court Square;  thence on south to Sugar Creek, and along the old roadway just back of the Ray Winton home;  then veered southwest across the spot where Gaylon Williams now lives;  and on south through the present Piggott Cemetery grounds.  It followed south on what is the present Piggott to Greenway Hill Road.  Hamburg was located a half mile west of where Greenway now stands.  From Hamburg it continued on southwest to Scatterville (northwest of Rector), then southwest to Gainesville, (the old county seat);  thence to Jonesboro.

The Pocahontas Trail, another famous road, connected with the Chalk Bluff or Military Road, about one and one-half miles south of the Aubrey Olds place near Chalk Bluff.  The old trail can easily be traced, leading westward.  It went through or near what is now Pollard, and bore on southwest through what is now Knobel, before bearing west to Pocahontas.  There was a ferry at a point southwest of Brookings (near Peach Orchard).  This road, unlike the Military Trail Road, was passable only in dry seasons, due to the Cache and the Black River bottoms.

Another branch off of the Military Road was a trail leading west in North Piggott, at a point in what is known as the Hunter place.  This trail went due west, crossing the land owned by Laud Payne, and continued west another mile before turning south.  The trail forked and connected to the north with the Pocahontas Trail near Pollard, and the south fork connected back with the Military Road near Scatterville.

The Jones Ferry or Davis Ferry Road left the Military Road at the home of O. E. Vancil, a half mile north of Piggott.  You can easily trace this old road by the deep ravines.  It went east via the old Mann School location and reached the river near the old Henry Hitt home (five miles northeast of Piggott).

There was still another road called the Brown's Ferry Road, which left the Military Trail at Hamburg, and went east through what is now Greenway, and wound around through the lowlands, finally reaching the sand ridge country and bearing to the northeast to Brown's Ferry (the ferry was located at the site where the bridge now stands).  The Brown's Ferry Road was also called the Old Tennessee Road.