Fordyce

Fordyce was created between 1880-1890. Part went to Southall in 1907. Made into County seat in 1908. Post office created on 25 June 1883, still in operation. 

Fordyce was established in 1882, and was given the name "Fordyce" in honor of the builder of the railroad, named Samuel W. Fordyce. It obtained a post office on June 25, 1883. Fordyce was incorporated on April 8, 1884. The town site is reported to have been partly cleared by W. W. Killigrew before 1850. In 1881, the property was owned by Dr. A. S. Holderness. The city was a plat of about 135 acres, mostly north of the tracks, with streets running parallel and perpendicular to the tracks, which runs northeast and southwest. Businesses first lined First Street with about ten stores, two livery stables, a hotel and a depot. About 1884, business began to line Chief Street. The 18 businesses on Chief Street were mostly brick buildings, started by the example of the Hamptons in 1887.

The Fordyce Enterprise was the first newspaper, started in 1884 by J. M. Raines. According to the Step. 8, 1887 edition (the oldest Dallas County newspaper in existence), there were several Fordyce merchants advertising, Among these were Ederington and Dunn General Merchandise and Plantation Supplies; G. W. Smith and Bros. Dry Goods, Grocery and Queenware; Nutt Barnes and Co. Dry Goods, Grocery and ready Made Clothing; W. A. Elliott General Merchandise; J. J. Hempstead Watches, Clocks and Jewelry, Amis and Wilkins, General Merchandise and Plantation Supplies; Chandler and Rowland General Merchandise and Plantation Supplies; W. A. Waters and Co. Drug Store; J. E. and G. M. Hampton General Merchandise; R. W. Cheatham and Bros. General- Merchandise; and Jordan and Westbrook Livery, Feed and Sales Stables. The doctors named were M. S. Moore and J. A. Waters of Fordyce and J. K. I-lodge and W. W. Lea of Princeton. The lawyers named were R. C. Fuller and Malt Cramer of Fordyce and M. M. Duffie and R. H. Dedman of Princeton. The notary publics at Fordyce were HA. Barnes and D. R. Weyand. S. G. Smith was a barber who advertised "tonsorial work." Local residents named were Chas. Robertson, Mrs. W. H. Watson, Miss Helen Pattillo Sam Nutt (farmer), Edward Jordan, Mr. Hempstead, Gus Cooks, Capt. Banks, Bailey Green, Wiley Hampton, Dr. Parham, Mr. Dunn, Mr. J. J. Daniels, Squire Higginbotham, Billy Bowland, Jord Mosley, Miss Katie Whitfield (new music teacher at Now Edinburg), Assessor Hawkins, Bob Richardson, Miss Jennie Robertson (teacher at New Edinburg), R. W. Parham (farmer), Jeptha Oliver, Miss Katie Grimes and Mr. Kendrick.

The churches, schools and banks came along with the establishment of the new town. The Baptists were already active in the area when Fordyce was established. The Presbyterians came in 1883 and the Methodists in 1886.The private schools were the Clary Training School in 1890 sponsored by the Methodists (with J. D. Clary in charge - this eventually became the first public school in Fordyce, Gus Warren, principal) and the Judson Baptist Academy in 1901 sponsored by the Judson Baptist Association.

By 1908, there were three banks in Fordyce (the Bank of Fordyce, Citizens Bank and the South Arkansas Bank, and Trust).

The first Kilgore Hotel opened in 1900 on the comer of East 2nd and Spring, proprietor and owner J. H. Kilgore. The two-story frame building was replaced by a two-story brick hotel in 1912, which later burned in 1928. Another Kilgore Hotel building was constructed that operated as a hotel until 1957 when it was converted into a rest home.

The special election to move the County Seat occurred in 1908. The first election narrowed the choices to Princeton and Fordyce. The second election established Fordyce as the new Dallas County Seat. The County offices were located in the upper floor of the McKee building until 1912 when E. L. Koonce, general contractor, completed the construction of the new courthouse.

Source: Merritt, Richard (1976) Review of Dallas County, AR History gleaned from the Bicentennial Edition of the Fordyce-NEWS ADVOCATE.



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