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  Denmark is a community situated in the midst of three counties--Independence, White and Jackson
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, February 4, 2001

Duane Cross and his wife, Peggy describe their hometown of Denmark as "kind of colonized" because it's the only dry town in a wet county.

Located a half mile to three quarters of a mile in radius, the community, positioned off of U.S. 167 North on Arkansas 87 South, is hardy enough and perhaps colonized enough to have sustained everything from the loss of commerce to some odd road construction issues.

One reason is that there's a lot of community spirit here and there are some fascinating stories about the folks who lived here...the kind of stories that make a person appreciate the value of life in a place like this.

Duane Cross, a local barber, has some good memories about Denmark and knows a little about the town's beginnings. "I believe the area was founded in the 1800s," he said. "We used to have a cotton gin, hotel, blacksmith, and a post office that also served as a store. Elmer Hodge was postmaster back then. Years ago, we also had a school."

He remembers when he was a student. "We had a thing around here that if the boys went up to Pleasant Plains, or if the Pleasant Plains' boys came to Denmark, the fight would be on," Duane said. "That was our form of entertainment, besides playing an occasional game of baseball."

He continues, "Don't think just because we had a few fights that it's not a decent area. There have been a lot of good people raised here, including some of the state's best heart surgeons, such as John and C.E. Ransom. Smokey the Bear's boss, F. Dale Robertson, former director of the forestry commission is also from this town."

Peggy Cross, a school director in Bald Knob and native of Denmark, said the area was also known for cotton and strawberries. "In 1952-1954, we didn't have any rain, and it put a lot of the farmers out of business," she said. "They ended up leaving to work in the industrial areas. We're just a rural town now. We have about 25 to 30 families, roughly 100 people left."

Peggy and Duane have raised three children here and seem happy. The say the area is somewhat of a "step-child," because it's divided between three areas and they don't know who to call when they need help.

That description, in part, comes from the recent road construction along Arkansas 87.

"When the state took the road back up, the Highway Department removed this section from their roster, and it reverted back to the county," Duane said. "The west part of the road is considered part of White County and the east side is considered part of Jackson County. When they moved the road, we lost all the heavy traffic that was coming through the area."

Changes in highway construction, Peggy said, made it so residents could walk and ride their bicycles along the road without fear.

"It is a great place to live, and most everyone is related to everyone," she said. "We are also centrally located. Newport is 27 miles, Batesville is 28 miles and Searcy is only 24 miles away. That makes us unique, because we are located right in the middle of three county seats, and we also have three choices about which school we want our children to attend."

Denton Davis, a well-liked, friendly type described lovingly by his neighbors as a foreigner to the area since he has only lived here for roughly 30 years, enjoys living in Denmark because it's nice and quiet.

"We don't have any stores or community activities, but if the neighbors need something, they will call you up," he said. "There's not many of us, but we're close and there are not any problems that I'm aware of and the kids in town always seem to have something to do. My grandson plays basketball in Desha all the time."

Davis continued, "It's really interesting to live where I do. My mailbox is in White County, but my driveway is in Jackson County."

Along with its peculiar geographic boundaries, Denmark has a rather unique tourist attraction. "We have a natural spring here that is owned by a doctor, where people can get water for drinking," Davis said. "My wife and I just started going down there because we have city water, but people come from all over to visit that spring."

When it comes to the naming of this rural community, Davis said little is known. A few theories point to a school or early postmaster, but these reports are difficult to confirm. What is known, however, is that Denmark, located in the heart of three counties, is a quiet, country area with a close knit community, two cemeteries and a Baptist church.

Duane Cross seems to summarize it best, "We have all the advantages of living in the country, including our privacy, but are close enough that we can access what we need in town."

(Denmark is an excerpt from Road Trips; a weekly feature of small towns in Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)