in Prairie County is described by residents
as a "community united."
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, April 16, 2000
Tucked quietly away between Cabot and
Carlisle, along Arkansas 38, an
unpretentious little community known as
Hickory Plains rests peacefully.
The town, with only one intersection, has a
somewhat rustic, natural beauty.
There are no hotel chains, clothing stores
or vintage shops. Hidden treasures are the
acres upon acres of farmland and the
heritage residents planted here.
Jessie Smith, 85, a native and one of the
oldest residents of Hickory Plains,
describes it as "a community united."
"Everybody here responds if something
happens," she said. "And, since most people
here are related, we are all very close.
Many people can trace their roots back to
when the town was settled in 1865, before
the Civil War."
"There are about 200 people who live out
here," said Thayne Wrigley, 85, another
long-time resident of Hickory Plains.
"Only about 20 of them live in town, though.
Some people live outside of the area, but
they are a part of the community, too.
People like the Smiths, they can tell you
anything about this town," Wrigley added.
Wrigley, who moved to Hickory Plains with
his wife, Charlotte, in 1946, was a local
farmer at one time, like so many of the
other residents here.
Today, he operates one of the two grocery
stores located beside the post office at the
intersection of Arkansas 38 and Arkansas 13.
When asked about the particulars of the
town, Wrigley said, "I guess tourists should
know there are not any streets here. All we
have is the 38-13 intersection, and it takes
The 38-13 intersection is also where the
heart of the townís commerce section is
Alongside the two grocery stores, and a
vintage post office that is only open half
days, there are four churches: one is
Methodist, another Nazarene, and two are
"People here are very open," Smith said.
"You get what you see. I suppose what most
people donít know is that this town wasnít
always called Hickory Plains. It used to be
called Plains, named for the big hickory
tree that everybody used as a marker and
somehow the name evolved into Hickory
Smith was one of the first teachers to teach
in the two-room school that was once
available to local children.
"I loved teaching here. When I started back
in 1936, I had never taught a group of
students. I was very thankful for the
opportunity. Also, my children ended up
going to the same school I taught at in
1952," she said.
"I remember a time when the school had at
least 150 pupils in attendance. Times
changed and economic conditions were bad and
the school district consolidated with Des
Arc School District. Thatís where all the
kids go now," she said.
"I used to get paid about $50 a month for my
teaching, and I would use the money for
summer school. Although I loved teaching
with all my heart, I can remember thinking
to myself that there must be more to life
than this. For that reason, I ended up
joining the navy during World War II."
In the Navy, Smith said she worked in the
dispersing office at Memphis. By the age of
28, she met and married the man of her
dreams, Johnnie. It wasnít long before Smith
and her husband decided to move back to
Hickory Plains to try life in the rural
"When we moved back, the town had a big
cotton gin, a sawmill and a lot of farms.
Some people are still farming. The big thing
to farm these days is minnows and catfish,"
she said. "We have people here who send
minnows all over the state."
She continued, "I know the population here
has really dwindled. Most of the people are
getting older and a lot of them are
commuting to jobs in the city. There are a
few new houses and trailers."
There is now running water, utilities, and
surfaced roads, she said. "What we donít
have anymore is a sawmill, and I doubt we
will ever have a mayor. There are some folks
who are moving from the cities to live here,
and I think thatís good."
Wrigley agreed with Smith, saying, "I think
this town is a nice place to live, too. We
have some rice, soybean, and milo farmers
out here. We also have some people who work
at the Remmington Plant. I like living here
because of the people."
The Smiths, who live less than a mile from
Wrigleyís store, have a small, white wooden
sign hanging outside their residence that
reads, "Our home is open to God, sunshine,
Itís a sign that befits their personality
and hospitality. And, in the little
community where most of the neighbors know
each other, itís befitting of the culture.
In Hickory Plains, where kinship and roots
run deep as the miles of farmland, the folks
are quite content.
(Hickory Plains is an excerpt from Road
Trips; a weekly feature of small towns in
Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and
published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)