Greene County, Arkansas
In January 1900, Breckenridge Township was created because of "inconvenience experienced by residents of northern Union Township and western portion of Hurricane Township . . . Having been petitioned by a large majority of said citizens to create a new township, the name of the new township shall be designated as Breckenridge Township." This entry, found in Court Record Book No. 6, page 288, is signed by G. T. Breckenridge, County Clerk.
The township lies in the central portion of the northern border of the county. The original township consisted of 55 sections, but boundaries were later changed to exclude 15 of the sections on the western boundary of the original township. It is bounded on the west by Crowley Township, on the south by Union and Hurricane Townships, on the east by Hurricane and Hopewell Townships, and on the north by Clay County.
Three villages, all unincorporated, are located within Breckenridge Township. These include Lafe, Hooker and Stonewall. Other communities, whose names reflect the names of schools, churches or cemeteries around which they have developed, include: Meadows Grove, Upper Lafe (Milltown), Providence, Beliew (often erroneously referred to as "Blue Hill"), Scatter Creek, and Union Hill. In the following series of articles, each of these areas will be dealt with in separate detail.
In 1886, there were no permanent settlements in this area. A little farther east, however, people had already settled quite far north in the hills of Crowley's Ridge, having gradually drifted northward from the original settlements near Walcott, whose early immigrants had moved in from the west. In the 1850's people were beginning to settle the eastern slope, especially in the high northern part of the county. These people had come from the east, and from Missouri to the north. In the 1880's more people began moving down from Missouri to take advantage of the fine virgin timber and unplowed soil in northern Greene county. This entire township had been transected by the railroads, the prime factor which opened up the way for new settlers. In 1872, the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, under direction of Jay Gould, was built from St. Louis to Little Rock, bisecting the lowlands of the western slope of the Ridge. The line extended from Poplar Bluff, to Knobel in Clay County, entered Greene County's northwestern corner to Delaplaine, then into Hoxie in Lawrence County. This line was later better known as the Missouri-Pacific. In 1882, a branch of this line was extended from Knobel into Greene County, running southeasterly through Gainesville and Paragould, and onto Memphis and Helena. The Knobel-Helena Branch became the first rail line to actually cross the high lands of Crowley's Ridge.
In 1840, there was only one settlement in Greene County north of Walcott. This settlement, known as Gainesville, became the official County Seat. Thus, when the Knobel-Helena Branch was built, it quite naturally passed through Gainesville.
Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin
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