|By Kitty Sloan
Trying to cram 150 years of history
into any newspaper, no matter how
many pages it contains, is an impossi-
ble task. So our goal in these pages
must, by necessity, be to highlight the
key points -- and the just plain interes-
ting points -- of Greene County's
first 150 years, with a certain emphasis
on the latter 100 years that coincide
with the history of Paragould.
A picture, as they say, is worth a
thousand words. So we have chosen
lots of pictures to help tell the collec-
tive story of Greene County and its
We owe a great debt of thanks to the many people, both here and
who so graciously entrusted us with
their valuable old photographs, who
shared scrapbooks and other informa-
tion and who took the time to submit
written memories. The names of our
photographic benefactors appear be-
neath their printed pictures. Many
more photographs were loaned than
we had room to squeeze in and we
want to thank all who rummaged thro-
ugh their attics and drawers to locate them.
Newspaper journalism has been
called "history in a hurry," among
other things, some of them printable.
While we spent months planning this
special edition and compiling the pic-
tures and information, that is just a
micro-second of the time it would take
to compile a methodical, comprehen-
sive city-county history. Therefore, we
have relied greatly on existing historical
material including the 1889 Good-speed history, Vivian Hansbrough's
1946 History of Greene County, the 28 issues of the Greene County
Historical Quarterly and a long list of other printed matter brought
to our attention. All of these written sources helped save quite a
bit of history that would otherwise have been lost.
And, of course, we relied on infor-
mation told us by the owners of the
photographs, the contributors of the
memories and others who came by
during the preparation of this edition
to talk about "old times."
Editing this collection of information,
photographs and other graphic material into an eye-appealing,
informative package presented quite a problem. Choices had to
be subjective. As editor, I selected photographs that
I considered significant, appealing or
just because I liked them. Editors can
|The aftermath of an early
Paragould fire shows what ap-pears to be the entire
downtown area in rubble. The pic-ture's owner was told
by her mother that it was taken after the Joseph's store
burned. It looks as if several blocks of buildings were
also destroyed, but inquiries have produced no
additional information about the inci-dent. Without the
dominating presence of the Greene County Courthouse in
the background, one might not even suspect this
photograph was made in Paragould. The people
gathered along Court Street appear almost
||as if they are taking a
Sunday sightseeing stroll. They also seem intent on
watching the photographer, who was likely precariously
perched on the building in the fore-
ground, which appears to have been draped with wet cloth
to prevent it from also catching fire. As with many old
photographs, this one raises many questions that can be
answered only with speculation. Such rare pictures are
like mute eyewitnesses. They can tell an interesting
story, but only if we can translate the signs.
selection is among
the least of the problems in trying to
document a county's, a city's and a
people's history. There is always so-
mething else to check on, someone
else to call, some unanswered -- and
perhaps unanswerable -- question
that keeps nagging at you. Each dis-
cussion generates more questions.
One thing leads to another. It's a
never ending game.
But at some point, you have to start
packaging what you have, even
though you don't feel ready.
While local history can be terribly
frustrating, it can also be terrifically
exciting. Throughout this project, I
related the task to working a jigsaw
puzzle. You're not really sure what
the finished product will look like, but
you locate a piece of information here
that fits in with a piece of information
you found over there.
The search for
Paragould's early photographers, featured in one of the
following sections,was one of the more exciting puzzles.The
studio names imprinted on the old pictures were merely the
pieces. Who were these men and
women whose photographs allowed us
a vivid look at the past?
Unfortunately, local history is a jig-
saw puzzle with a lot of missing pieces.
Or maybe some of them are just too well hidden.
The problem of too little information
is sometimes aggravated by the prob-
lem of too much -- too much conflict-
ing information anyway. The printed
histories of Greene County are full of
seemingly conflicting facts.
For instance, a 1936 booklet men-
tions that Paragould was incorporated on April 17, 1882.
Another source gives that date for the establishment of
the Paragould Post Office. Another
source dates the Paragould Post Office from Aug. 8, 1882.
And yet another cites a July 26 date for the same event. And
both March 3 and March 21, 1883, have been cited as
Paragould's incorporation date.
One source says Gainesville gained the county seat in 1848. Another
source says 1840.
Paragould's centennial and Greene County's sesquicentennial have
gener-ated a renewed interest in local history. People are
writing down memories, talking about old times, taking the
time to write names, places and dates on old and
Perhaps these efforts will help
answer some of those unanswered
questions, supply some of the missing puzzle pieces. Or at
least make the preparation of the Daily Press bicentennial
issue a little easier.