Goodspeed County History


Men who their duties know,But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain. -Sir W. Jones.

Few counties present so many striking evidence, of the decayed past, the changing present and the blooming future, as does this inland county of Dallas, in that region almost off the railways between Camden, Pine Bluff, Malvern and Arkadelphia. Nothing better represents these variations than Old Tulip on the rich Tulip Ridge toward Malvern, Princeton, the old county seat in the center of the county and bustling Fordyce in the extreme southeast corner on what little trunk railway the county has succeeded in capturing.

Tulip presents a romantic and half pathetic picture to the passer-by. It is a country community not a town, and always has been. Its rich, cleared uplands, half overgrown again with young pines, with here and there picturesque old mansions in decay, in some cases are occupied by the newly awakened colored family, who dine in the rooms where their elders served their wealthy white masters, in antebellum days, as slaves. On some piazza where the old-time gentleman sat in princely luxury, viewing his broad plantation, now may be seen some garrulous old Negro "uncle" or a young man peering into the pages of some school book in search of an education. Forty six years ago Col. Bayless, a Baptist preacher, opened a store here before Princeton had begun and very soon a Frenchwoman- Madame De Estemovere (*Spelled as remembered by Squire Ramsay the oldest settler.), opened a school for ladies, on account of the healthfulness of the situation. Her name was given to the school and community and wealthy planters from Louisiana located here for summer residence. The French preceptress, however, proved to be of poor moral fiber, and the community removed both her and her name and Tulip Creek offered a new name. Late in the forties Tulip became famous for her schools, which will be mentioned farther on, and her refinement and wealth. It had local titles, such as "Quality Ridge," -etc. It was a place of residence and luxury with little business, only a few stores and boarding-houses. When the war came, on, there was a general exodus to the far South, and the ridge was deserted. This as on the armies' path, and plunder and fire and decay nearly wiped out all signs of civilization during those years. The rich upland could not remain long idle, and a mixed population has settled there. A post-office, two stores and a school, with clustered farms, constitute the place now.

Princeton has given up the past, and seems waiting to take up with the possibilities of the future-only a railway is wanting. Let story be told. In 1844 it was known that Dallas County was to be formed, and measures were taken to make a town in the center of the proposed county. Princeton was laid out, and on January 1, 1845 the county was formed and this decided on as the county seat. During 1845 it settled up, Squire Ramsay the only carpenter then in the county, cleared the public square, after Joe Gray surveyed it, for Squire Ramsay. Albert Phillips and Hawes Coleman were commissioners to choose the site. One Colbreath entered it, and about $700 worth of lots were sold at once. The first house was Squire Ramsay's dwelling, and the second was a store kept by a Methodist preacher-peddler. The next was Col. Elias Doyda, and daring the next two years were a Mr. Carr and the Richmond Bros. The first courts were held in Mr. Watts' house, and in 1846 a courthouse was built on the east side of the square, on the lot now owned by Maj. Harley. It cost $300 and was made of logs, but was used down to 1852, when one Smith built the present courthouse at a cost of $6,000. Princeton schools at once took almost as high a standing as Tulip, and the place so increased that by 1860 it had a population of about 750. The Lindsay was a large, hotel, now destroyed; a furniture store, grist and saw mills and tanneries constituted its manufactures. During the war the place suffered from the exodus of many of its people to Louisiana and Texas, and from the armies. It improved some after 1865 for ten years, then the Iron Mountain Railway, in 1874-75, and Malvern gave it its first blow. In 1882, a few years later, the "Cotton Belt " Railway and Fordyce dealt it a still 'heavier blow. Businessmen moved to these new places, until Princeton now has but six stores and a hotel, with a population of about 300. They were incorporated in 1854, but no officers have been elected for some time. A Masonic society exists, and several churches and a school.

Fordyce is in the bloom of robust health. Its site was partly cleared by. W. W. Killabrew before 1850, and late in the seventies Henry Atkinson, a negro secured it, and in 1881 sold the plat to Dr. A. S. Holderness for $118. Dr. Holderness had located a saw-mill on the woolen-mills site, and also built his home. The railway came in 1882, and the land was sold to the Southwestern Improvement Association, who platted a town late in 1882, and named it in honor of S. W. Fordyce, president of the railway company. The railway only crosses the southeast prong of the county, and the plat is 135 acres, mostly north of the track, with streets perpendicular and parallel to the railway, which runs northeast and southwest here. J. A. Amos & Bro. built the first store on the corner of North First and Chief Streets, and G, W. Steverson opened a grocery on North First, near where Chandler & Rowland next started a store. Burger & Bro. was another firm. Cheatham & Bro. began about the same time. Since that time (1882) the growth has been continuous and remarkable, although now the best it ever have been. Business first lined North First Street, with about ten stores, two liveries, hotel and depot, but about 1884 Smith & Bro. began a movement up Chief Street, and now there are eighteen stores on both sides of Chief, most of which are fine bricks, a building movement began by the Hamptons in 1887. The population is estimated at 2,300, a magnificent showing for an eight-year-old and it is growing its best still. In manufactures are the Acruman Woolen Mills, with a plant of over $30,000, was built in 1885; the Fordyce Lumber Company, with plant and four-mile tramway; the Dry Run Lumber Company, near by, with eight-mile tramway, the Acruman & Porter Mills, the Mattress Factory of Johns & Bro., two cotton-gins, the Fordyce Shingle Mills, the Acruman & Son Medicine Company, for the manufacture and sale of Acruman's Eureka Oil and Purgative Peas, with an annual trade of about $50,000, and less important enterprises. The town has a trade from five counties, handles 8,000 to 9,000 bales of cotton, is a community of marked educational and moral tone, with no saloons, and a class of business men unsurpassed in intelligent, energetic enterprise. It is estimated that four-fifths of its adults are members of churches. Its population has been attracted mostly from Hampton, Holly Springs, Princeton, Tulip, Chambersville and a few other places. Its remarkable school interests will be noted elsewhere. The bank of Fordyce, J. E. Hampton, president, has a capital of $25.000.

The Fordyce Enterprise was the first newspaper in the county started in 1884, by J. M. Rains. In 1889 a stock company with G. M. Hampton, president, bought it, and P. H. Thomas has since been its editor. The Labor Advocate by T. H. Clyde, and another small paper by Samuel Treadwell had a short existence.

In 1885 Fordyce was incorporated, with the following, successive mayors: Dr. A. S. Holderness, H. A. Barnes, T. H. Clyde, G. M. Hampton and W. J. Bunn. They are now arranging a system of sewerage, grading, etc., and are agitating for electric and ice plants.

The K. of P., K. of H., K. of L. and Masons have white societies, while many colored societies also exist. There are two building and loan associations.

Dalark, on the Dallas and Clark County lines and so named, is the child of the Ultima Thule, Arkadelphia & Mississippi Railway, which was begun in 1886, with a view to passing through Princeton and Fordyce, but has extended only five miles into the county from the west. It has sprung up about the Arkadelphia Lumber Company's plant, and is really a mill town, with several stores.

Holly Springs is both a village and beautiful springs, once in a grove of holly trees. It became a point early in the forties, and by 1850 it had two merchants. Its deeds of land prohibit the liquor traffic on pain of forfeiture of property. It now has six stores, the Holly Springs Lumber Company's Mills and two churches, and a school.

Other places are Dry Run, with mill and store, on the railway; Fairview, post-office and store; Ivy, a store and post office; Nix, a mill, gin and post-office; Pine Grove, a post-office and Store: Ramsay, Saline and Willow, post-offices. One other line- the New Orleans, Natchez and Great Northwestern Railway-is projected.

When Squire Ramsay came to what is now Dallas County, in 1842 (then Clark County), he found nothing but Indian trails, traveled by horseback, with four families in the Tulip settlement- Presley Watts, Henry Gray, James Kennedy and Moses Overton; a few bear hunters- Colbreath and his son, near Squire Ramsay's home, and Doris and his sons, on Cypress Creek; the Rux Farm overseers, Maj. Owens, and Messrs. Hudson, Strong and Joe Gray, elsewhere. In 1843 they came in rapidly from Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama. There was but one house from Princeton to Malvern sites, and the Choctaw Indian hunters roamed over the country. Bears, deer, panthers, wild-cats, catamounts and elks were common. Deer were ?thick, as hogs and turkeys wouldn't get out of your way," says the old carpenter, Squire Ramsay. Indian trails ran from Arkadelphia to Pine Bluff, up the Saline to Little Rock, and to Ecore a Fabre- now Camden. Many came in 1844, and from that on to the war. Little Rock was the nearest first market; Camden, about 1845; Malvern, in 1875; and Fordyce, in 1882.

Col. Bayless' store at Tulip was the first in the county. About it soon grew a wealthy settlement. Among the wealthy ones, owning the $100,000 and more, were John Eaton, Judge W. L. Somerville, N. R. Truesdall, several Smiths, Maj. T. J. Reed, Alex Butler, J. A. Patillo, Taylor, and others.

The first justice was Warner Rux, and the second A. Ramsay, who held the office forty years; the first mill was Wash's water-mill, on Tulip Creek. Princeton, the oldest post-office, had Col. Dortch as first postmaster.

Dallas has excelled in educational interest. The Tulip schools were famous in the State. Pine Bluff sent there. The Ouachita Conference College for girls, the Arkansas Military Institute for boys, were noted schools. At Princeton their male and female academies, chartered in 1854, and both sill in operation, have also been excellent. Young Fordyce keeps up the reputation. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Conference Training School, at the foot of Chief Street, was erected by the citizens in 1888, led by Dr. Holderness, J. D. Dunn, Hampton Bros., G. C. Story, E. A. Acruman and others, and given to the Little Rock Conference. Its cost was, entire, about $10,000, and the frame, two story, with seven rooms and four instructors, under Principal J. D. Clary, B. A., enables students to prepare for any Methodist college. There were 125 enrolled last year. The Clyde School, built by T. H. Clyde, is another private school here. The public school (white) has a S3, 000 building, and four teachers, while the colored high school is a $2,000 structure, employs two teachers and enjoys advanced study.

The public schools of the county became effective about 1874, and are now so popular that almost all the special tax is voted. There are now forty-three districts, and there has been exceptional improvement in the last two years. Fordyce, Princeton and Holly Springs are the only places that have more than one teacher. In 1888 Dallas had 1,923 white and 1,116 colored children, or 3,039. With 40 districts, 27 not reporting, 1,026 white and 561 colored were taught, or 1,587 out of 3,039. In written arithmetic were 415: 252 were in history, and 32 in higher branches. This, of course, does not consider those in the excellent private schools. Of 60 teachers employed, 45 were males. There were 22 school buildings in 1888, frame and log, valued at $3,413.75. In funds a total of $10,826.11 was received, and $6,020.67 expended, of which the teachers' salaries reached $4,919.74. The successive examiners have been Maj. Harley, Dr. L. D. Cooper, C. S. Jones, W. C. Holmes, H. R. Thomas and M. M. Duffie.

About 1843 the first Methodist preacher arrived, but it was 1845 when Rev. Hayes organized the first class, at Princeton, and in 1846 built the first church. Col. Bayless was the first Baptist preacher, and a society was organized about 1846, with a building the following year. About 1846 Rev. Banks, of the Presbyterian Church began, at Princeton, and about 1856-57 a church was built. Primitive Baptists settled in the southern part of the county early, and the Christians or Disciples about 1850-51. At present the Methodists and Baptists lead them all, the Presbyterians follow, the Free Methodists next, then the Primitive Baptists, with a few Disciples, Jews and Catholics. Fordyce has five churches, a Young Men's Christian Association, and a Christian Endeavor Society. The colored people are chiefly Methodists and Baptists.

Dallas has a satiation at the crossing of the great highways between Little Rock and Camden, and Pine Bluff and Arkadelphia. So when the great Civil War arose it was bound to be crossed and re-crossed, harried and foraged until it became a wilderness almost.

In 1860 she had a white population of 4,788 whites, and 3,495 negro slaves. The county had always been Democratic, and the vote of 1860 was given chiefly to Breckinridge, with a few for Bell and less for Douglas. Their delegate to the Little Rock Convention, Judge R. T. Fuller, was a Whig, and voted against secession at the first meeting, but with the great majority in May. Then, the companies were organized. First came that of Capt. Alexander at Tulip, for the Third Arkansas Infantry. Then Capt. William Holmes took a cavalry force from Princeton for the Third Arkansas Cavalry, with Lieuts. 0. C. Gray and Robert Dedman, on May 29. Capt. Holmes was killed, and both lieutenants successively became captain. They surrendered at Bentonville, in the Carolinas. Capt. Feaster's company went next into the Sixth Arkansas Infantry, with Lieuts. M. M. Duffie and N. Ketchum, the former of whom became captain and major successively. Capt. Feaster became major and lieutenant-colonel. They also surrendered at Bentonville. Capts. Flippin, E. P. Chandler, of Holly Springs, McClendon and Goodgame, all had companies with Dallas men in them.

In the winter of 1863-64, Marmaduke and Shelby wintered at Princeton, where they collected all the corn near by, and then run in the hogs, the combination of which made some savory pork for the soldiers. When Gen. Steele started back to Little Rock, he was pursued, and, had not Gen. Fagan accidentally left Jenkins' Ferry for a corn forage, Steele would have suffered badly. As it was, Steele raced through Princeton, with Price's cavalry after him. At the ferry a battle took place, well-known in war annals. Of the Federals 200 were killed, and 955 wounded, while the Southern forces lost 300 killed, and the same number wounded. The wounded were brought to Princeton by hundreds, and the place became a veritable hospital, while the dead of both sides were buried here. The Federals were soon removed however. After this several regiments passed and repassed through the county, Gen. Clayton being the first Federal after the Jenkins' Ferry action. For a long time there was no white man in the county but Maj. Harley. Less than half returned after the war. The county had furnished about 600 men.

The first circuit court record says: "Be it remembered that at a term of the circuit court begun and held on this the 20th day of October, A. D. 1845, in and for the county of Dallas, and State of Arkansas, the Honorable William H. Sutton, presiding judge of said court, etc." The grand jurors were John Hasty, Henry Kellam, M. Moore, Pleasant May, Samuel Wyatt, R. J. Wilcox. Alex Dortch, William Overman, John Jester, S. S. Shattock, J. B. House, J. B. Phillips, Joseph Bird. Joe Gray, James Eason, J. Bunn, David Hall. J. M. _______, A. Ramsay and Thomas Stanley, while the petit jury roll was William Owens, Henry Gray, E. Dickinson, Joseph Speer, S. M. Cain, R. K. Barham, B. R. Lawrence, E.M. Harris, B. B. Lyle, W. B. Langley, W. K. Frazier and Isaac O’Brien.

Among the early attorneys were S. G. Smith, C. P. Barbee, T. F. Sorrells, R. T. Fuller, B. T. Selman. R. B. Norment. F. W. Compton, H. H. Coleman, John and "Jack" Brown. The present bar of the county embraces R. T. Fuller, R. H. Dedman and M. M. Duffie of Princeton, and R. C. Fuller, Mat. Cramer, D. McCreary, and T. I. Thornton of Fordyce. About 1855 a case in which Dr. Coker claimed a dozen or so negro slaves, attracted considerable attention. So also did the trial of David Kennedy, for the murder of Joe Tyre, the first prominent murder case. He was acquitted. There has been no capital cases in her history. About 1866 the Wheat vs. Dodson case, became a "leading case " on the doctrine of recoupment. The Reeves and Barrett case of the last few years, on the construction of a will, was another case that went to the Supreme Court.

As has been noticed, Dallas County was formed from Clark on January 1, 1845, with Princeton, as the county seat. The county court first met on April 28, but adjourned. The officers were: Judge, William Owens; clerk, Presley Watts; sheriff, P. S. Bethel; treasurer. J. H. Wyatt; coroner, J. T. Craig, and surveyor, W. R. McCoy. On June 25, A. Ramsay, J. P. Hall and J. McFadden elected H. H. Coleman, judge, on account of the resignation of Judge Owens. Princeton and Jackson were early townships. Now there are nine: Princeton, Smith, Chester, Dry Run, Jackson, Fordyce, Holly Springs, Owen and Manchester. Parts of two townships have been given to Cleveland County, in 1872, and Clark, in 1869. The expenditures of the county, for last Year, were $9,235.98, and the receipts $5,369787, while $3,979.34, were previously outstanding warrants. The present jail, built about 1880, cost probably $3,500. The two main road systems are those from Princeton to Malvern, Pine Bluff, Fordyce, Camden, Holly Springs, Dalark and Arkadelphia, and those from Fordyce to Princeton, Ivy and Holly Springs.

The land entries recorded previous to 1840 are, in 1836, W. L. Williams, A. K. Govan, W. L. Bodley, Calaway, Ed Davis, R. H. McEwen, Benson & McEwen, .11. Gilchrist, Skinner & Emmett, Lew Randolph, M. W. Campbell, T. W. & G. W. Gill, Gwinn & Davis, B. Dickerson, J. M. Trigg, J. D. Scott, W. Bryan, J. Dorris, J. Best, D. R. Colter, S. A. Edmondson; in 1837, N. Strong, R. J. Rambean. R. McCargo, J. T. Jones, George Gray, Randolph & Nichols, W. T. Rux,. H. D. Mason, Thomas Jones, Gibbs. Rux & Owen, J. Walker, and P. E. and A. J. Reddith; in 1838, N. K. Jones, M. Johnson and D. Morrison: in 1839, S. B. Harper and W. B. Holloway.

Dallas has a full list of officers. Judges- William Owen, 1845-46; H. H. Coleman, 1846-48: John Brown, 1848-50; J. W. Thomasson, 1850-52, W. L. Summerville, 1852-54; Presley Watts, 1854-60; E. R. Harrison, 1860-64, W. R. Harley, 1864-68; A. A. Sullenberger, 1868-72: -- - ; W. R. Harley, 1874-78; E. H. Green, 1878-80; T. Peterson, 1880-86; E H. Green, 1886-88; and S. H. Smith, 1888-90.

Clerks- Presley Watts, 1845-52; Joseph Gray, 1852-59, J. H. Brooks, 1858-62, J. L. Cheatham, 1862-68; G. W. 'Mallett, 1868-72: J. L. Cheatham, 1872-74. E. M. Harris. 1874-80: and R. A. Lea, 1880-90.

Sheriffs- P. S. Bethel, 1845-46; E. M. Harris, 1846-50; H. M. Bouldin, 1850-54; W. B. Halloway, 1854-60; W. Daniels, 1860-66; G. W. Mallett, 1866-68; G. B. Doty, 1868-72; R. W. Cheatham, 1872-74; Robert Ross, 1874-80; J. T. Holloway, 18SO-82; N. A. Clark, 1S82-90.

Treasurers- J. H. Wyatt, 1845-4S; A. H. Phillips, 1848-50; N. F. Goodrich, 1850-52; G. W. Mallett, 1852-56, N. F. Goodrich, 1856-58; S. H. Jones, 1858-62; G. V. Childers, 1862-64; J. R. Broach, 1864-66; J. R. Westbrook, l866-68; J. R. Harris, 1868-72; E. H. Green, 1872-74; B. H. Holmes, 1874-8O; and Lewis Amis, 1880-90.

Coroners- J. T. Craig, 1845-46; L. D. Cooper, 1846-50; H. Stanfield, 1850-52; J. Council, 1852-54; B. N. Barnes, 1854-56; J. Council, 1856-58: H. Lindsey. 1858-65; S. D. Cooper, 1865 on: A. Matlock, 1872-74; J. B. Wheeler, 1874-76; W. J. Bass, 1876—78; S. Winstead, 1878-80; J. Estis, 1880-82; W. H. Young, 1882-84; D. A. Stell, 1884-86; E. Pool, 1886 -88; and M. M. Duffle, 1888-90.

Surveyors- W. R. McCoy, 1845-46; C. Humphreys, 1846-50; John Pryor, 1850-56; W. R. McKay, 1856-58; S. T. Woodworth, 1858-60; J. A. Russell, lS60-62; W. Orr, 1862-64; A. Langston, 1864-66; W. T. Wozencraft, 1866-76; G. M. D. Overman, 1876-86; I. W. Holmes, 1886-90.

Assessors-- W. H. Smith, 1868-72; W. H. Reed, 1872-74; A. L. Russell, 1874-78; J. L. Walsh, 1878-80; N. A. Clark, 1880-82; W. A. Hawkins, 1882-89; and R. F. Holmes, 1888-90.

Dallas was the forty-ninth county organized, and her Legislators began in 1848-49, with W. F. Smith in the House; in 1850-51, G. C. Eaton, House; in 1854-55, W. T. M. Holmes, House; it) 1856-57, J. M. Lea, House; in 1858-59, M. M. Duffie, House; in 1860-61 -62, Joseph Gray, Senate and E. M. Harris, House; in 1862, E. M. Harris, House; in 1864-65, James Kennedy, House: in the Confederate Legislature in 1864, E. M. Harris, House; in 1866-67, A. Hunter, Senate, and F. J. Cameron, House; in 1868-69, G. H. Kyle, House; in 1871, W. R. Harley, House; in 1873, W. R. Harley, House: under Gov. Baxter in 1874, M. M. Duffie, House; in 1874-75, W. C. Barrett, House, in 1877. M. M. Duffie. Senate, and Robert Martin, House; in 1879, M. M. Duffie, Senate, and W. Owens, House. in 1881, W. C. Barrett, House; in 1883, W. R. Harley, House; in 1885, W. L. Patterson, House; in 1887, W. L. Patterson, House; in 1889, W. L. Patterson, Senate. and J. 0. Browning, House.

In Constitutional Convention in 1861- R. T. Fuller; 1864, R. H. Stanfield and A. J. Eden; 1868, G. H. Kyle; in 1874, W. D. Leiper.

Her citizens have served on the bench from circuit to Supreme Court also.

Dallas' vote in 1888 for President, gave Cleveland, 676; Harrison, 425; Streeter, 35, and Fiske, 22. On Constitutional Convention in 1888, 844 to 85 against it, and on licenses for liquors in 1888, there were 694 to 319 against it.

Her population in 1850, was 6,877; in 1860, 8,283; in 1870, 5,707; in 1880, 6,505; and in 1890, 8,710. The white element in 1860-70-80, was respectively as follows: 4.788, 3,956 and 4,299. Only 9 and 18 were foreign born in 1870 and 1880, respectively.

Dallas, with 674 square miles, surrounded by Hot Springs, Grant, Cleveland, Calhoun. Ouachita and Clark Counties, lies between the Ouachita and the Saline and Moro Rivers, with the water-shed taking an eastern convex, passing through Tulip and east of Princeton to the south. The Cypress, and East and West Tulip Creeks are on the west and the Moro on the east. The bottoms of the Cypress and Moro are about a mile wide. Tulip Ridge is a high, rich, healthful upland. The stream lands are a sandy loam, and the walnut ridges are rich clay. Mineral springs are abundant, especially iron and sulphur. Clays are excellent, and there are signs of iron and coal. The timber, pine, oaks, cypress, hickory, ash, walnut, holly gum and beech- are almost untouched, except at Dalark and Fordyce, where the chief mills are in operation. Cotton, corn, some wheat and potatoes are grown easily. Pears, peaches and berries do well. Sheep are the best stock, and, altogether, Dallas presents an excellent field that is worth the advent of a railway to develop it.

Source: Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas by The Goodspeed Publishing Co. (1890).

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