Greene County, Arkansas
Paragould Daily Press , March 29 ,1977
Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin
"This used to be a lively community."
Ed Burton , 86 sat on his porch and looked out at the gravel road, general store and scattering of houses that comprise Lorado. Estimates by the community's residents put the population at about 40 people. But in the early 1900's , Lorado , on the southern edge of Greene County , had as many as 200 or 300 residents , according to Jeff Willcoxson who lived in the community for 52 years.
Other longtime residents agree that Lorado had several businesses and many more houses in its earlier days.Burton remembers two gristmills, two blacksmiths, a cotton gin an axhandle mill and a sawmill, as well as two general stores in about 1913. And he and other residents remember Lorado's doctors. "When Doc Estes came here, he didn't bring nothin' but a saddle horse and a bird dog." said Burton.
When Dr. Estes opened a doctor's office in his home about 1908 , two doctors had practiced before him , Doctor Russell and Lamb. After Estes, Dr. J.D. Blackwood , who moved to Lorado in 1913 , set up practice . "He was a country doctor for 55 years." said his daughter, Ruth Klingensmith. Mrs. Klingensmith lives on the same piece of land as her father. The building where he practiced medicine stands in her front yard.
Mrs. Dennis Blackwood , Mrs. Klingensmith's sister-n-law , said the old building is about the only landmark left from Lorado's earlier days. But it will be torn down this summer. Still , Doc Blackwood 's memory will linger. "He delivered two -thirds of the people in Greene County." said Mrs. Klingensmith. She remembers that his brand of medicine was different from the kind practiced now. "If they didn't have money , they got the medicine just the same." Blackwood also made lots of house calls on horseback. "Often he was gone all the time , day and night." said Mrs. Klingensmith. And she remembers all the patients that stayed at their house to recover.
Other residents remember when Dr. Blackwood died in 1969 and left the community without a doctor. "I never had been to town to the doctor before he died ," said Lucy Dennis , who has lived in Lorado all of her 75 years. Her husband , Emmery Dennis , said he also misses having a doctor. "I knew when he died, it'd be the last country doctor we have." And he was the last.
Ed Burton remembers helping build Blackwood's office. "He was a pill peddler than anything else." Burton laughed , not meaning to insult the doctor . It's just that medicine is so different now , he said . it takes a lot of education. But then a lot has changed in the 86 years Burton has spent in Lorado . One of the few things that hasn't is his house. "I built this house myself . It blew away on the tenth of April , 1929 and I built it back. Burton's house is a piece of the past . What every child of the latter twentieth century considers necessary, Burton does without: running water, electricity, insulation.
What is important to Burton is having a firm hold on one's home. "When you get homeless , it's rough ." So he has stayed put , as have some of the other Lorado residents who grew up, farmed , raised children and retired in that community. They have their roots deep in Greene County soil, , and know quite a bit their ancestors .
Take Richard and Virginia Nutt : Richard's great grandfather , Robert M. Nutt , owned several business in a town called Herndon , near Lorado . Herndon has since died out. Nutt bought the businesses from Henry Schisler , whose descendant . O. Patrick Sisler, now lives in Jonesboro. Sisler changed the spelling of his name during World War I when having a German name caused him some trouble.
The house that Henry Schisler built in 1895 still stands . Richard Nutt's grandfather grew up there, as did his cousin , Bob Nutt. Bob Nutt lives now in Jonesboro now, but he remembers his childhood in Lorado. At one time , about 1900 , Lorado had five general stores , said Nutt. These were owned by Ed Bobbitt, Walter Schisler, Henry Cathey, Kibble Adams and George Nutt.
After these store-owners came a long list of others , including the Wilcoxson brothers: Anderson , who bought Bobbitt's store in 1914 and ran it for 15 years : John , who also owned the store for about 15 years ; and Jeff , who owned the store for 3 years after retiring. Jeff Willcoxson taught in differerent schools in the Lorado area for 20 years before working in the Greene County Tax Collectors office for 8 years. Then he built the store now operating in Lorado and after three years as its owner , moved to Paragould.
As important to the community as its stores was its telephone system. Lucy Dennis ran Lorado's switchboard 59 years ago. Her father Jim Adams , had it in his home. Whoever operated it (there were several people ) relayed messages and kept up with goings on. "It was kinda like a CB radio," said Virginia Nutt. The family -run operation was part of Bell Telephone Co. in about 1906 and had about 50 homes using it. according to Clifford Henry , Lucy Dennis' sister. In 1910 they took its place . In about 1925 , that was disconnected . Many people had farm wide phones , but there was no community phone system until 1955 or later, Mrs. Henry said. Why did Lorado suffer such a decline in population? Willcoxson said the automobile was in large part responsible. "People could go farther away." He said people from smaller communities naturally drifted into larger ones. Emery Dennis blamed the decline, which he said started in the thirties on tractors and larger farms. According to Dennis , when the tractors came , the people left . "Tractors took the work away, " They also made it possible for one farmer to own more land, he said. "Back then (before the thirties), one person couldn't have very much land." said Dennis . Now there are fewer farmers with more land. But Dennis holds out hope for Lorado . " I think it's going to build up." He said Lake Frierson will bring in people. Perhaps Lorado will be thriving town of the early 1900s all over again.
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