Concord in Cleburne County is one of few rural areas with its own school district
Written by: Tracy Crain
April 15, 2001

It’s described as a “wondrous” little community, and it’s home to some rather eccentric, jolly folks.

“My current job includes holding down the bench at the Thomas Homegrown General Store,” resident Richard McCracken, said, laughing. “You know, somebody’s got to do it.”

McCracken, a retiree, is known around the store for his witty repartee.

The Thomas Homegrown General Store is a treasure to this town. It’s reminiscent of the old-time general stores often found among the prairie towns in olden days.

In addition to its rustic antique charm, the store offers customers a choice of select fruit, canned goods as well as a few other items such as rows of candy jars filled with big pieces of peppermints, licorice and chocolates.

There’s a lot to be said for the curious town of Concord, located at the intersection of Arkansas 25 and 87 in Cleburne County. Most residents were born and raised under the starry skies here.

“Just about everybody knows everyone,” McCracken said. And those residents, all 262 of them, have their choice of attending seven churches inside the city limits or the two other churches located outside the city limits.

Industry here is interesting. Residents have access to a convenience store, restaurant and the general store.

The town, for the most part, is described as a chicken poultry-producing community. Banquet Foods once considered the area for its office headquarters before later deciding to build in Batesville. The poultry raised in Concord today is distributed to two wholesalers.

Two other industries have also made the area home. They are the Martin Lumber Company, which sold and went to Heber Springs, and Concord Specialty, which relocated to Batesville due to lack of expansion opportunities.

Despite its challenges, Concord does seem to offer convenient access to those journeying to nearby Greers Ferry Lake for a day in the sun. It’s also geographically positioned at the corner of Stone and Independence counties and is the only township in Cleburne County to be a part of Batesville.

Connecting it all is Arkansas Highway 25, running through the heart of the community, which has a lot of interesting history attached to it.

For instance, it’s recognized as the Old Military Highway that was built during the Civil War. “The road ran from here to Fort Smith,” McCracken said.

One visit here and its easy to see that the highway connects more than communities. Ask Jim Thomas, store operator for Thomas Homegrown General Store. He will tell you that there is no place like home.

“…A lot of good people live here,” he said. “I joined the Navy 25 years ago, and I have seen the world. During that time, I didn’t see any place better than Concord.”

The Brock family is believed to have been one of the first families to settle in the area during the 1800s. “There are still a few of them living in the area today,” Thomas said.

As for the name of the town, Concord was once called “Tina,” after a lady that used to run the first post office. “That building is now called Tina Lodge,’ he said.

One of the more famous residents who helped put this area on the map is race car driver Mark Martin’s father, Julian Martin, who died three years ago in a plane crash.

When it comes to life in this versatile little township, McCracken wouldn’t change it for the world. “You can do your own thing and nobody bothers you. There are a lot of individuals out here doing just that,” he said.

McCracken’s wife, a retired schoolteacher, is a recognized artist in the local area. “We built a house here 25 years ago and love being here. The town’s just a hole in the road, but we know everybody.”

Lindele Brackett, known as one of the oldest residents in town, is considered the town historian. Although there is no mayor of Concord, the town does have a city marshal. “We elected Robbie Cooper to watch over things for us. He’s the best of the best,” McCracken continued. “When we need something, he’s always there.”

Concord is one of the few remaining small towns in the area to have a school district in place. The Concord School District serves kindergarten through 12th grades. There is also a Head Start Program for younger children and a city park where kids can play baseball.

“All in all, it’s a good place to live. Everyone is very nice here,” he said.

(This article was revised 12/09 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.)