Barkada, Arkansas

Hosted by Mary D. Lasiter

Barkada is located in the West Northwest part of Drew County between Monticello and the Saline River. In 1855 the James Barker family traveled by wagon from Carroll County, Tennessee to make their home here. It took them three weeks. There were about 114 people in the group which was made up of the family, a doctor, a governess and around ninety slaves. The community takes its name from them. Although old news articles indicate that the name was formed from a combination of his surname with the name of his wife, family history does not reveal an "Ada" in it. James Barker's wife was named Marie. It is assumed therefore that the "Ada" was a nickname or merely added as a modifier. The Barkers owned a large plantation at the center of the community. Their home was located across the road from the Robert and Tammy Stafford home. Robert is the great-great-great-grandson of James Barker. James Barker, his wife and several other Barkers are buried in the Wells Cemetery on the Barkada Road close to Monticello.

The Barkers were not the first whites to come to the area. In the early part of the 1800's people started coming to the area. One of the earliest settlers in the Barkada area was Johnnie (J. W.) Ridgell who came to Drew County in 1835 from Mississippi and settled near Hungry Run Creek. He erected the first mill, a gin and grist mill that was run by horse power. He is buried in the Ridgell Cemetery. Other early settlers were: Robert Torian, Samuel Thomasson, Joel D Rhodes, Anderson, Bird, Brown, Burks, Cavaness, Cornish, Carter, Cornelia, Danials, Daily, Harley, Harris, Heckman, Heflin, Hearn, King, Kulbeth, Massey, Nelson, Oslin, Perry, Roark, Stafford, Stanley, Smith, Wallace, Whittington and Wright. Most of our ancestors came from the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Some came by covered wagon, some by ox wagon and some came by boat. When the earliest settlers arrived they were met by the Quapaw Indians. Even in the 1950's you could still find arrow heads when you were out plowing in the field.

Most of the early roads and some still in use today were once Indian trails through the forest. One of these trails was the Chihuahua Trail which extended from Chickasaw Bluff near Memphis to Chihuahua, Mexico. A part of this trail later became known as the Napoleon Road. It went from Old Napoleon near the mouth of the Arkansas River through the Northeastern part of Drew County, down through the Old Rosehill settlement and down Avery Road in Barkada. It would have become what is now known as the Barkada Road at the Andrews Chapel Church and continued West and crossed the Saline River just West of Barkada at Cornish/Cavaness Landing and then across Bradley County. The old Barkada Road went from Monticello to Barkada, South down Dickson Road to Allis and West to Sutton's Ferry on the Saline River.

The Barker family governess, Rebecca Kendrick, later admitted children of the neighborhood to the family school. Barkada has had two other schools that I know of: Woodlawn Academy, a boarding school, was established on land given in 1875 by Barkers daughter Catherine Tennessee Rhodes. It later became a public school and existed until it consolidated with Wilmar in 1949. This school was also referred to by those who attended it as the Barkada School. It was located where B. C. and Shirley Reynolds now live. Andrews Chapel was another school located in the Barkada area.

The first Barkada post office was established in 1857 and was located in the James Barker home. It continued there until Mr. Barker was murdered in 1866. It was discontinued in 1866 and reestablished in 1871 with a Mrs. Bettie Marsh running it. It was discontinued in 1875. In 1882 the post office was reestablished by Henry J. Stanley and continued until March 21, 1917 when it was merged with Wilmar.

Barkada had three churches at one time. Woodlawn Baptist Church was built about 1860 on land donated by the Barker family and was located at the Northwest corner of Barkada Road and Highway 133 where Mrs. Ruby Kulbeth now lives. James Lasiter's great, great uncle Crawford Harley was the first preacher there and preached for many years. (The Harley place was over close to where Jim and Diane Calhoun live now and was just a short distence through the woods to the church.) The church was dissolved around 1922/23 and the land was bought by Loyal Norman. Hal and Ruby Kulbeth bought the land from him in 1934 and still own the land.

In 1874 Richard and Harriet Stanley donated twelve acres of land to be used for a Methodist Church in Barkada. Rev. Linebaugh organized the church with charter members I. A. Bird, Jess Stanley, Joe Thompson, Sam Thomasson, Frank Thompson, Allen Brown and J. T. D. Anderson. Mrs. Harriet Stanley named the church Andrews Chapel after Bishop James O. Andrew. The church is still in existance and very much a part of the community today. There was also a black church, Bethel A. M. E. but I do not have any other information on it.

There are four known cemeteries located in Barkada. Of these Andrews Chapel Cemetery is by far the largest and best kept. It is located behind the Andrews Chapel Church on the Barkada Road. It has a very active cemetery association that oversees the maintainence and upkeep of the cemetery. The oldest marker in the cemetery is an Anderson in 1864. Last names of those buried in Andrews Chapel Cemetery in 1900 or before are: Adams, Anderson, Andrews, Aydelott, Barker, Barick, Bird, Brown, Burks, Carter, Cornelia, Crane, Daily, Danials, Dooley, Forester, Gates, Harley, Hart, Hazel, Hearn, Heflin, Henley, Herrin, Herring, Higginbotham, Johns, Jones, Kilgore, King, Kinnebrew, Kulbeth, Leitaker, Massey, McCann, McKee, McMichael, Miller, Montgomery, Moore, Owens, Penick, Perry, Phillips, Rhodes, Rice, Rogers, Ronane, Rowell, Shipman, Stanley, Stewart, Sturgis, Thomasson, Thompson, Watson, Wright, Yates and York.

Bethel Cemetery is a fairley large black cemetery located just West of Stafford Road and North of Barkada Road. The oldest marker in it is a Young in1896. Last names of those buried in the Bethel Cemetery in 1900 or before are Ridgell, Ridgels, Russ, Thompson and Young.

Ridgell or Sandusky Cemetery is located North of the Barkada Road and West of Sanderlin Road behind the Ferrell's and Jim Searcy homes. It also has the oldest marker in it of all of the cemeterys, a Ridgell in 1844. All of the markers have been removed from the graves and piled together under a tree. There are very few markers left from what was a large cemetery.

Torian Cemetery located on Avery Road is a small family cemetery. Torian Cemetery is located one half mile Northeast of Barkada Road on the South side of Avery Road. The oldest marker in it is a Gibson in 1859. Last names of those buried in the Torian Cemetery dated 1900 or before are Gibson and Torian.

Barkada has also had its politicians. In 1891 Adam C. Rhodes was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives. His father, Joel A. Rhodes, who came to Drew County in 1849 represented Drew County in the convention which adopted the secession ordinance before the Civil War. At the present time James Lasiter is serving his second term as Justice of the Peace in District 6 on the Drew County Quorum Court. There may be others that I do not know of who have political connections.

There have been people from or with roots to Barkada who have served in the armed forces every since the Civil War. Some gave their lives for us.Travis and Annie Mae Webb Herring of Barkada had five sons who served during World War ll. Hugh Herring died on April 25, 1945 at Okinawa. The other four came home safely.

Decendents of these early settlers have scattered far and wide but most of the people in Barkada can still trace their roots back to these early settlers. We are a very active community. We started meeting a little over two years ago and later organized into an association with the express purpose of getting to know our neighbors better and to improve our community. We have organized a community crime watch. As a fundraiser we have published a cookbook containing some of our ancestors and our favorite recipes. We had 2 fish frys this summer as fund raisers. At Christmas we give fruit baskets and home baked cookies to the elderly in our community. We hope to eventually have a volunteer fire department. We meet on the second Saturday night of the month in the community room at Andrews Chapel Church and have a pot luck supper at that time along with our meeting. We welcome anyone to come join us at our meetings. One thing is for sure, you will not go away hungry.

Copyright 2008 by Mary D. Lasiter


Last Update Saturday, 23-Feb-2013 18:04:04 MST

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