Tulip Community Building

Tulip is located about 25 miles north of Fordyce on Highway 9. William Dunbar and an exploring party crossed Tulip Ridge in 1804. During the eighteenth century, a French trapper Tulipe had hidden some goods in the area. It was called "Cache La Tulipe." In 1828, Moses Overton, the first pioneer settler, built his home and later a store. He was followed in 1833 by Tyre Brown, a wealthy Tennessee planter who built a plank home from logs held in a slanting position by two Negroes and cut by two others using a whip saw. He farmed on a grand style and for a while the area was called "Brownsville" in his honor. He was the first Postmaster in Tulip from 1845-47. He received mail that was brought in by stagecoach once a week. Other prominent planters from Tennessee and the Carolinas settled in the area. The area was also known as "Smithville," Col. Maurice Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Samuel W. Smith, Alexander Smith and Richard Smith built their homes close together. Later, another unrelated Smith, Gen. Nathaniel G. Smith, led the effort to change the name to Tulip. Surveyor Joseph Gray laid out the town of Tulip on March 13, 1845. Those present were Col. William Bayless, Col. Maurice Smith, T. H. Brown, Peyton S. Bethel and Dr. William Pinckney Bethel. Bayless built the first store in Tulip and Dr. Bethel built the first school. Dr. Lewis D. Cooper was the first doctor in Tulip. Besides Cooper and Bethel, Dr. James K. Cooksey had an office in Tulip. The town consisted of the usual shops, lawyers offices, livery stables, blacksmith shop owned and operated by George Doty, tailor L. D. Lipscomb, and merchants James A. Pattille, The Carpenter Bros., A. G. and Drury Neville, Boza's Saddlery, James Pryor (shoemaker and carriage maker) and Major Borden, who ran a boarding house. The family names were Eaton. Lea, McNail Pryor, Reid, Wilson, Patille Butler, Green, Matlock-, Bayless, Thrasher, Grant, Barbee, Jones, Hughes, Hunter, Cheatham, Boyd, Cooper, Doty, Reamey and Bethel. Presley Watts, James Kennedy, Moses Overton and Henry Gray once lived in Tulip.

Tulip was not situated on water, but was a stage stop for the Chidester Stage between Camden and Little Rock. The Concord Coach line also had a stop in Tulip. The Tulip, believed to be the first monthly news magazine published in Arkansas was founded 1850 by William E. Smith, publisher and proprietor with George D. Alexander, John S. Garvin and Benjamin J. Borden as editors. D. J. Borden had for a while been Publisher and Editor of the Arkansas Gazette. A French woman named Madame Estimarille opened a school early in the 1840's. In the mid 1840's, Rev. John Pryor, Presbyterian, opened a Female Academy, in 1849 G. D. Alexander began the Alexander Institute

Tulip also had the first Arkansas military academy, chartered by the state Legislature in 1850 and called the Arkansas Military Institute The 1851 graduating class included Cadet Angus F. McNeill, Salutatory address; Cadet William N. Smith; Cadet George J. Byrd, Cadet James E. Caldwell, Cadet N. D. Flourney, Cadet Robert Bethel and Cadet William G. Daniel. At the May Day festivities at the academy in 1854, Arkansas Gov. Roane was the guest speaker. He met and later married Mary Kimbrough Smith, the daughter of Gen. Nathaniel G. Smith, in July, 1855. Among the wedding guest, were Albert Pike, Judge Elbert English, Chester Ashley, William Woodruff (founder of the Arkansas Gazette) and the Dauleys. The ceremony was performed by Judge Somerville. At the outbreak of the War, Cap. Albert Pike returned to the community to teach the young men the art of war.


The Methodist congregation at Tulip was first called Smith's Chapel. Rev. William Mason helped establish the Methodist congregation in 1848. The Arkansas Methodist Convention met in Tulip in 1853. During the War, in 1863, Smith's Chapel became a field hospital for many wounded soldiers. Many were buried in the Tulip Cemetery. The Presbyterian congregation was organized by Rev. A. R. Banks about 1840. The Rev. M. W. Bayless led the Baptists in Tulip. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention was organized at Tulip in 1848 under the leadership of Arkansas Gov. James P. Eagle. The choir from Ouachita Baptist College sang at the centennial anniversary of the Arkansas Baptist State convention, also in Tulip.

In Tulip, the Masonic Lodge record of Proceedings lists several names: W. L. Somerville, N. G. Smith G. C. Eaton, B. J. Borden, William Bethel, R. L. Duff, James W. Eaton, William H. Hunter, D. A. Neville, L. D. Lipscomb, Peyton Bethel, J. S. Williams, A. H. Phillips, G. M. Russell, M. Baugh, T. C. Hudson, John S. Garven, L. Jacobs, G. D. Alexander, A. G. Neville, J. Abbott, W. A. Lea, A. Yates and E. S. Smith.

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

Tulip on a 1855 map of Arkansas.

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