The first High School in Sparkman, Arkansas. Photo provided by Oren C. Jones, Sr.

Sparkman No. 1, or old Sparkman, was located in Owen Township about 15 miles southwest of Princeton and settled about 1892 as a sawmill community. The sawmill was owned by Lemuel "Pete" Sparkman (also the first postmaster), hence the name. It was located about 1/4 of a mile southwest of the present town of Sparkman, or Sparkman no. 2. Sparkman no. 1 was located on the Ultima Thule railway.

 In 1898-99, the businesses included DeLaughter and King Cotton Gin, S. Leonard and Son General store, L. E. L. Boseman, H. O. Nall, and A. Posey blacksmiths, Wozencraft and Wilson as doctors, Mrs. J. D. Leonard as music teacher, a depot and one church. When the new, main line railroad went through the area, it missed Sparkman no. 1 by a short distance. Sparkman no. 2 was established on the railroad between 1911-13. The 640 acres of land for the town site had belonged to only one landowner, Herman Willis (who homesteaded on a 160-acre tract in 1899). In 1913 S. B. Horne had a sawmill and gin. Sparkman no. 2 had a post office in 1914 with High McElwain being the first postmaster.

In 1915, Sparkman had four doctors. They were C. A. Henry, Joe C. McFadden, J. Y. Smith and Marvin Taylor (who also owned and operated the Palace Drug Store). The first full run of the Malvern and Camden railroad through the Sparkman community was in 1913. It was sold to Rock Island and continued operation for many years.

Sparkman's first hotel was operated by a Mr. Dale and his wife from Dalark, assisted by a Mrs. Rambo (Dale's sister) and sold to Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Cole in 1916. Dr. J. Y. Smith bought the hotel from the Cole's and operated it until 1936 when it burned. The Sparkman News was established in 1915 with J. J. Burdine as publisher and editor. Sparkman's first election was in 1915. The first mayor was Claude F. Kennedy and recorder was H. O. Nalls. Those receiving votes for alderman were Arthur Lee, H. O. Theatt, George DeLaughter, C. A. Doak, Jess A. Leamons, C. R. Pedigo, Bob Russello, and W. C. Arnold. Electricity was installed in Sparkman by a company owned by S. B. Horne in 1915 on the east and north sides of Main Street.

Bank officers in 1916 in the Merchants and Planters bank of Sparkman were John T. Taylor, John T. DeLaughter, John N. Stuart, John M. Key and George W. DeLaughter. The oldest Ford dealership in Arkansas with continuous family ownership is Sparkman Motors, owned by the DeLaughter family. The first school in Sparkman was a two-story building with an enrollment of 132. H. O. Theatt was the first principal and Miss Ethel Fite (Mrs. Scott Leamons) and Miss Ella Adams were the first teachers.

When Sparkman no. 2 was established, there were no churches in town. A large warehouse was used for a community Sunday School in which all denominations participated. Bill Sinquefield was the superintendent. The Baptist church was organized in 1914, the Methodist congregation in 1916. The colored citizens also organized a Baptist church in 1914 and an A. M. E. congregation in 1916.

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

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