Greene County, Arkansas ~ Miller Community

Greene County, Arkansas

Miller Community

Miller Community is located in the extreme southwest part of Greene County. This community is contained in an area bound on the south by Craighead County, on the west by State Highway No. 135, on the north by Coffman Community, and on the east by the St. Francis River.

The soil in this area is very fertile , of a sandy loam type , the fertility of which has often been compared to the richness of the Nile Valley of Egypt.

The famous "Sunken lands" of the St. Frances River, borders this community on the east. The lake or "Sunken lands" were created by the Great Earthquakes of 1811-1812. The land sank on an average of 15 to 20 feet ,felling large hardwood trees and creating a lake, covering thousands of acres on each side of the St. Francis River. At some points the river was channel was rerouted. Many islands or donicks were left above the waters of the lake. The islands in the Miller Community are named Roush Island, Round Island, Cane Donick, Brown Donick, Buckhorn Donick, Upper an Lower Hog Donick, Schwart Donick , Foster Donick, Cottler and Hicks Donick.

Rush Island the largest of these islands was first settled by Indians and trappers. It was first settled in the 1830's by the white man. It has been told it was first called Flat Iron, and later was named Roush island. Supposedly a man name Roush settled it. A graveyard is located on the extreme north point of the island. It contains graves dating back to the Civil War period. According to the information available these islands were inhabited by people outside of the law- trappers, hunters, counterfeiters, robbers, bootleggers, etc..

The Cottler Donick and Hicks Donick are located in the River, east of this community . These islands were first settled by Indians, trappers, and finally by some French people. Cottler island was homesteaded by a family named Paul. Hick island by Jack Hicks, who became famous by his many brushes with the law. At one time a house boat was anchored up the river from Cottler Donick at Dead Man's Pocket and that was known as the Cutes Nest. Drinking an gambling was the main menu of the establishment. The Cutes Nest prospered for a few years an was finally destroyed by fire. A steamboat at one time made daily trips from Clements Landing which is across and down river from Macy Community in Craighead County to Mitchell's Point or Bailey Trading Post Office in the Miller Community. This small steamer hauled cotton, fish, and other commodities that were for sale. The boat also carried passengers, and on Sunday or holidays was used as an excursion boat. The young men of the community would treat the young ladies for a ride on the steamer. The trip was about four miles each way.I haven't found anyone who knows what became of the boat. Several years ago some friends and I were cleaning out the old Mitchell's Point boat run, and we found three of the old channel markers used to guide the boat. They were made out of oak rails and were as sound as the day they were placed there.

The Miller Community was named for the Miller Brothers, Sam and Jake Miller. The school was also named Miller. This building is still standing and is being used as a residence. About 1912 a new two story building was built for the school and Lodge Hall. This building was used as a school until the Lakeside District was formed in 1937. The building was sold to the Church of Christ and today is known as Mulberry Church of Christ.

At one time the high land was covered by great forests of hardwood trees and the sloughs and the lake with large cypress and tupelo trees. The timber was cut off and the lake drained. Many hardwood stumps and felled trees are yet to be seen in the old lake and river bed. This indicates that at one time there did not exist the swamp , and these trees were felled by the great earthquake. The indians lived along the river and many mounds are located in the community . The largest and most famous are the Schugtown mounds. Many Indian relics have been found , including pottery, skeltons, idols, arrow heads etc..A statue was found in one of the Schugtown mounds and is in the musem at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Several stores were located in the community . One at Mainshore, an early camping , fishing and picnic ground. Another early gathering place was Mitchell's Point later called Bailey , Arkansas. At one time there was located a sawmill, post office, two stores, a cotton gin, and six residences. Fishing , hunting frogging, contributed a very substantial part of the income of this community. The game was packed in barrels and shipped to the St. Louis market. My father John G. Frey told me that he had sold dressed ducks at 15cents a piece. The early gins were of the tread wheel types. When you went to the gin you hooked your own oxen or mules to the tread and you furnished the power to gin your own cotton. The seed was used for feed , fertilizer, or burned. There was no market for cotton seed. You hauled your bale of cotton home and later to sell the cotton you loaded the bales on the steamboat or on a wagon and hauled it to Walnut Ridge. That was before the settling of Paragould.

The gin at Mainshore was owned by a Mr. Mothershed , one at Mitchell's Point by the late Judge J. C. Honey. There were several sawmills in the community. At noon you could hear five or six whistles at a time. Some of the early mill operators were the Mothershed's ,Donaldsons, McDonalds, Hopkins, Rays, and Coffmans.

The community was also blessed with churches. New Liberty Methodist, AB's Chapel Baptist, and Mulberry Church of Christ.

The community had several doctors to live and practice medicine during these early days . Some of these pioneer doctors were: Dr. McCulloch, Dr. Graham, Dr. Hammit, Dr. Walter Ellington and Dr. Bridges. These old doctors suffered many hardships and much exposure trying to take care of the sick in the community. They rode buggies, rode horseback, walked and used boats to get around in the community.

During the prohibition period the swamps were hiding places for moonshine stills. At one time it was said that a still was located on each forty acres of the lake. Drinking, fighting, and killing was noted in the community at this time. The oldest house in the community is still standing . This was known as the old Bob Campbell place. The original cabin is of logs and was erected in the 1860's . Exact date is unknown . This was the childhood home of John Griffin Frey and his half-sister Jessie Campbell Ellington.

My father as a boy slept in the loft of the cabin and to reach the loft you had to go outside and climb a ladder on the outside wall. In winter time, the snow would seep through the board roof and cover the bed. I recall some of the stories he related about visitors, who would stop and stay all night at the Campbell home. One was about Saul Bertig who had just arrived in this country from Austria. He came through the country walking as a "Pack Peddler" . He had to sleep with my father in the loft. The next morning he paid for his meals and bed by giving Grandmother a card of needles and buttons.

Mr. Bertig and his brother, Ad Bertig , later became very wealthy . The Bertig brothers owned stores, banks, cotton gins, farm land , and a railroad.

The passing of the years have taken their toll of this pioneer community and brought many changes. The lake has been drained , old Mitchell's Point landing now a part of my farm and the old steamboat run is now a cotton field. Old Mainshore is also drained and under cultivation. Curtis Fitzgerald owns the old fishing and picnic area. Both of these old places have fond memories of a generation already passed on.

The Miller Community today is a progressive community of good homes , farms, churches and roads.

As far as I know the community did not produce any outstanding statesmen or great politicians, but it contributed its share of good hard working sons and daughters . Many of whom left the community for other places and made successful and happy citizens.

Listed are some of the early families of the community: Millers, Coffmans, Carmacks, Spillmans, Parson, Campbell's, Johnson, Qwyns, Smiths, Jones, Bridges, Fletchers, Thompsons, Hopkins, Mothershed, Wilkersons, Haleys, Leathermans, Rays, Hoyers, Days, Ellington's, Monteith, Mangrums, Schugs, Franks, Steels, Freys, Robinsons, Baileys, Grahams, Howards, Huggins, Pfeiffer, Asbury, Murpheys, Wadleys, Maddoxs, Bateyis, Lemmons, Crockett's and Howards.

Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin
from Greene County, AR Quartlies

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