Fox in Stone County found its origins in the late 1800s
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, October 14, 2001

The community of Fox is known for quite a few things, including the occasional fight or two.

Letís just start with the basics. Thereís the community fun park, the Rural Special School District, Neda Leeís cobbler pie, plenty of good old fashioned patriotism and so much more, here in this little rural haven.

The fun park, complete with most of the amenities that one would find in a larger recreational facility, offers residents a place to play basketball, volleyball, and baseball. Although there are no lights, the ball park has a chain link fence and seating areas.

"Community members keep the park open by hosting a number of fundraisers, such as local ball games. Money received helps pay for monthly upkeep," Dee Brewer, deputy circuit clerk for Stone County said.

Brewer describes Fox as a place with no boundaries. "It originated in the late 1800s. Itís not incorporated and there is no city hall," she said.

Eldon Broyles was born here in 1934. It could be said that he stays for the food. He mentions a good number of great cooks. Although they are good, he says thereís none better than Neda Lee, known best for her cobbler pie.

Broyles loves life in this hilly community and remembers quite a bit about growing up here, like the first electric service and the first time soda was available.

"I live a quarter of a mile from where I was conceived," he said. "I can well remember the day when we received most of the modern conveniences."

Broyles, who was a union organizer for several years, moved away for a while, and then returned to make his permanent home in the area.

He describes Fox as a place whereÖif you blink, youíll miss it. He says progress is not fast, but rather the opposite.

"Thereís only one grocery store, but we used to have three. Burl Ticer and her husband were respected as the main grocers here," Broyles said. "Iím proud of them because they were in a position where they could have taken advantage of a lot of people, but never did. If I had to think of one thing to say about this community, it would be that weíre always divided on everything. I think that shows our independence."

That independence can be traced back to the origination of the name," Fox."

The town has quite a story about choosing that particular name. "When Fox first came into being, it was called Smart. As Arkansas became more populated, it was discovered a Smart was already in the state. So, there were two Smarts for awhile. This area, since it was the smallest, had to change," he said. "As it is now, the community canít even decide on what up is. Because of that type of mentality, itís difficult for the people to agree on much, especially a name."

He continued, "Anytime a name change was mentioned, residents in the community could never agree. Finally, the postal service sent a postal inspector to the area to help the community chose one. There were fist fights as people tried to vote on a name choice."

The name finally evolved from some teenage boys who caught a fox outside during that town meeting. Itís believed the inspector saw the boys chasing the animal during that town meeting, and said, "Why not call it Fox Run or Fox Chase?"

"By the time the chase had ended, there was a Fox post office," Broyles said.

Broyles, whose brother was postmaster of Fox for several years, takes pride in the knowledge that he helped build one of the newest buildings in the community: the post office. "I built that building in 1984," he said. "I had to survey the three miles around the area."

Townsfolk in Fox are said to get along well and said to stick together. An example would be the community-wide effort to get the recent mileage increase that is helping the community update its educational facilities, pay for a new gym, and fund the fun park.

"The people in this town really stuck together to do that," Broyles said. "We are a small community and 75 percent wanted to incorporate so there would be some state turn back. 25 percent did not want to and we had a heck of a fight."

Part of that spirit is what makes Broyles stay in Fox. Itís also the serenity of the Ozark Mountains that he loves.

"I have been in the fast lane too long and it is definitely not fast lane here. It is laid back. Youth respect the elderly here and they always have," he said. "I also think we have fewer drug problems. We canít brag that we donít have hotheads or any drug problems, but I think most of those problems come from people who have been transplanted here."

The heart and soul of the community seems to also be in the school.

"The community has always supported the Rural Special School. This part of Arkansas has always been into basketball. And back when I was a teenager, the local schools played each other," Broyles said. "Our school district, the main school in the Fox area, was established in 1946. The primary activities include basketball in the winter and baseball in the summer."

He remembers what it was like to grow up here. "This was a rural farm area and there was a lot of work to do. On Sunday, everybody went to church," he said.

Farming is still strong here. Several residents also raise chickens. Itís way of life they say is being phased out.

"The farm community here, for the most part, is raising cattle. Most everybody raises a few cows, but we have a become a bedroom community. Weíve got to where we have a lot of commuters, retired military and schoolteachers here," Broyles said.

Burl Ticer and her late husband ran the local store in Fox for 35 years.

"I know the people here better than anywhere else. A lot of them traded with me and I had to extend credit to a lot of them. Most of them were really good to pay their bills," she said. "My husband and I really tried to help the people of this community. We have touched so many peopleís lives and they have touched ours. Each family was a part of our own family."

Ticer, who states her first name is spelled like a boy, thinks that her parents really wanted a boy.

"I get a lot of letters with Mr. And not Mrs. Written on them. People get confused."

Ticer, who has lived on five acres of land in Fox for 69 years, loves the community.

"The reason I like living here are many. I can have my freedom here, more than in the city. We also have a nice park and a new water department that gets water from the Trimm area," she said. "It is unbelievable how many people have said they would be there for me if I ever needed anything. That means a lot to me."

When asked if she would ever move, Ticer stated plainly, "Sometimes life deals us hands that we are not expecting. I would hate to have to leave. This place is just home to me."

In the same way that Fox is home to Ticer, it is also home to Broyles.

"I will always live in Fox. My grandparents, parents and late wife are buried here. I plan to be buried here as well," Broyles said. "I guess," he said, "I became brainwashed early."

Located along Arkansas 5, close to Drasco in Stone County, sits the community of Fox. It has an estimated population of 300 residents.

(Fox 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.)