Greene County, Arkansas
The History of Stonewall
Just how this little nineteenth century relic has managed to survive the past ninety years is almost as incredible as the town itself. It, too, sprang up alongside the Knobel-Helena branch of the Iron Mountain Railroad as a flag station. On January 10, 1884, Mr. J. A. Collins submitted an application for a post office to the U.S. Post Office Department. The proposed name quite naturally, was "Collinsville". However, the application was returned with the following memo: "There is already an office named Collins and one named Collins Bluff in the state". Mr. Collins then crossed out the name "Collinsville" and wrote in the name "Stonewall". Some area residents had already referred to the area as because of the large stone walls which had been erected on both sides of the Cache River to keep water off the railroad. Several individuals could remember hearing their parents or grandparents telling of unloading the huge stones from flat cars to build the protective walls. Thus the appropriate seemed to be "Stonewall". The name was accepted, and the post office was officially established on February 5, 1884, with Mr. Joseph A. Collins postmaster. The office was discontinued September 3, 1885, but re-established December 11, 1886, with Riley F. Randolph as postmaster. It was again discontinued August 13, 1887, and mail was sent to Gainesville. It was again re-established on June 20, 1888, with Adelia C. Randolph as postmaster. Other postmasters and their dates of appointment included: Henry H. Cobb, May 22,1890; Harvey T. Harding, August 10, 1892; Pearl McMurtry (acting), Jan. 25, 1929; Pearl Morgan, Feb. 16,1929; Pearl McMurtry, April 4, 1932; Pearl Murdock, July 22, 1933; Fred Robinson, May 1, 1940; Anna Nelson, April 1, 1942; Euna M. Murdock, July 12, 1944; and Mrs. Cecil M. Nelson, November 30, 1950 (she passed away in 1999). It is interesting to note that on the original application for a post office, the number of inhabitants of Stonewall is listed as 100 people; the number to be served by the post office was 200.
One of the earliest historical references to the little settlement of Stonewall if found in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Volume XI, page 140. In an article written by Earnestine Gravely concerning the Accounts of the Daulton Family of Greene County in the late 1800's, the following quote if found: "There was a clubhouse at Stonewall on Cache River where St. Louis folk came to fish and hunt". The fact that the Cache River lowlands were, and indeed still are, a hunting and fishing paradise, is attested by the recent controversy between the Corps of Engineers and the Environmentalists. Large groups from four northern states petitioned the Arkansas Legislature to reserve the Cache River lowlands for migrating ducks, geese, and other wildlife.
Unfortunately Stonewall, like not attract many businesses. Work on the railroad did , of course, provide some jobs. Others depended upon hunting, fishing, and farming. The Stonewall Box Factory was established in about 1908, and was operated until about 1915. The factory was owned by Shurrs and Powell, a firm out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who specialized in raising strawberries. The factory manufactured crates for berries. These were primarily from sweet gum, or other softwoods such as maple, cottonwood or elm. However, the owners of the factory became involved in some kind of disagreement and quit furnishing money for operation of the box company, causing it to have to close. Mr. E. H. McMurtry worked in the factory from 1912 to 1914 , ten hours a day, at 15 cents a hour. A sawmill was operated in conjunction with the factory, but it to was discontinued in 1915. Several other sawmills existed from time to time in the area, including the Faxton Mill located between Stonewall and Hooker; and the old Pierce Mill. There was one hickory mill where axe-handles and pick handles were made. Mr. Robert H. Robinson operated a general store from approximately in 1904 until his death until in 1954. Mrs. Cecil Nelson Now operates a grocery store in conjunction with the Post Office. (Mrs. Cecil Nelson died in 1999).
The old Cache River bed, an old shallow remnant of what had once been the Mighty Mississippi centuries before, could hardly be considered river prior to 1918. In the year, dredging operations were begun to widen the channel and help drain the area. The final dredging operations were completed in 1924. In 1926 a new railroad trestle was built over the expanded Cache River.
Stonewalls first school was a one-room box school built in 1909. The first teacher was Mr. Harry Laymon, and Mr. McMurtry was one of the first school directors. Other teachers included; Ollie Miller (Clopton); Estelle Miller (Yeargin); C.O. Bond; Verna Price; Eric Price; Clifford Winn; Pauline Huckabay; and Zelma Robinson who taught the last classes at Stonewall prior to its consolidation with Lafe in 1950.
District No. 89
Stonewall, Greene County., Arkansas
Ollie L. Miller
R.H. Robinson ----- A. Williams ----- B.E. VanVleet
|Henry Bishop||Glen French|
|Ernest Williams||Lewis Badger|
|Merle Badger||Jones Mangrum|
|Barney Bishop||Ernest Badger|
|Virgil Hughey||James Mangrum|
|Ray Bishop||Chas. Moore|
|Wayne Vandaver||Dan Rust|
|Ralph Vandaver||Dean Badger|
|Dale Badger||Henry Wright|
|Golden Phillips||Noah Wright|
|Fred Rooker||Ruth Moore|
|Pearl Christian||Mae Rust|
|Alice Vanover||Cecil Eads|
|Flora Vandaver||Blanche Robertson|
|Era Eads||Myrtle Newton|
|Mary Moore||Estelle Robinson|
|Lola Bishop||Hazel Moore|
|Pearl Hugely||Alberta Mangrum|
|Mary Williams||Edith Rust|
|Ethel Wright||Pearl Eads|
|Lourine Hughey||Ethel Vandaver|
Prior to 1912, Stonewall School was used as the community church by all faiths. Preaching was non-denominational. Baptisms were conducted in CACHE RIVER, and many would then attend other churches elsewhere of their own belief. In 1912 the Baptist purchased the old schoolhouse after the new one had been constructed, and organized their own group. At the present time, three various faiths are represented by CHURCHES in Stonewall: Baptist, Church of Christ, and Pentecostal. Church records taken from VITAL STATISTICS RECORDS OF ARKANSAS , Vol. II 1942, lists , Bethlehem Baptist Church of Stonewall as having been established 1039 . (I think this is a misprint).
Three of the oldest persons living in the Hooker-Stonewall area at the time this was written, were intervened at their homes. These included Mary Robinson, Mrs. Lelia Bishop, and E. H. McMurtry.
Mary Davis was born and raised in the Finch community in the SW part of the County. Mr. Robert H. Robinson and his brothers, William and Harry, had moved to the Finch Community from Illinois in 1900, and made their living cutting railroad ties. In 1907 Mary was married to Robert Robinson.
Mr. E. H. McMurtry was born near West Plains, Mo, on Dec 12, 1890. He came to a farm near Paragould with is parent in 1900, crossing the river near Powhatan in a covered wagon. Mr. McMurtry moved to the Stonewall community at the age of 17 to work in the sawmills. After moving there he was married to Miss Byrd Williams in 1910. As previously mentioned, Mr. McMurtry worked in the Stonewall Box Factory from 1912 to 1914 for 15 cents an hour. He later worked as a railroad section hand for 1.10 a day. Mr. J. H. Henry Vanover was his section foreman at that time.
Today Stonewall still "remains on the map" so to speak, since it does still have an official post-office. However, with the Knobel-Helena Branch of the Iron Mountain discontinued, no trains come through Stonewall anymore. To further isolated the little community Highway 135 from Paragould to Corning past thru Lafe and Hooker, but missed Stonewall by a mile. Only a gravel road leads one to a little grocery store which doubles as a post-office, and a few scattered houses and church buildings.
Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin
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