by Joy Russell
The following article refers to this stagecoach stop as possibly being the first overnight stop for passengers traveling south out of Huntsville. I know that there was another stagecoach stop located one-half mile southwest of Witter, which provided hot meals as well as rooms for the passengers to spend the night.
The Stagecoach stop mentioned in the article has since been torn down and nothing remains of the old building. If anyone has pictures of this stagecoach stop or any other old buildings that once stood here in Madison County, we would like to copy them. Contact Joy Russell, at The Madison County Genealogical and Historical Society, P. O. Box 427, Huntsville, Arkansas 72740.
STORY OF LOST GOLD IS ONE
COLORFUL LEGENDS AT HISTORIC ST. PAUL
By Eric Allen
(From July 28, 1968 issue of Southwest Times Record published in Ft. Smith, AR)
SAINT PAUL, Ark. -- Gusts of the late March wind whipped and roared through the oak trees in the Upper White River Country. Riding the wind came the crackle of gunfire as Northern soldiers, still flushed with triumph after their Pea Ridge victory, tried out their rifles and pistols in their raiding sweep across the Madison County hills.
The occasional distant echoes of the shots struck terror to the hearts of the old men and the old women at the mouth of Baldwin Creek. Some of them hid in caves above the channel of the creek and the winding flow of the White River. Others huddled inside their log cabins in the valley, wide-eyed and nervous with fear. Most of the able-bodied men were off fighting for the Southern Confederacy. The old people and the women and children had no protection against bushwhackers or Yankee raiders in that wild and tumultuous time.
One old man near the mouth of Baldwin Creek had a wealth of gold, according the legend. He had a whole purse filled with valuable gold pieces hidden under the mattress in the bedroom of his cabin near the creek. When the old man heard the gunfire, he snatched out the purse and told his wife he was going into the woods to hide it. He didn't intend for his life's savings to fall into Yankee hands. His wife stood in the cabin doorway, shading her eyes with a thin hand, and watched him go. The old man tottered straight up the mountain between two giant oak trees which still spread their massive branches today beside the route of the pioneer Huntsville - Ozark Stagecoach Road. According to stories told by the long-time settlers, the old man wasn't gone for a great length of time at all. He couldn't have climbed very high up the mountain or hidden the gold a great distance from his cabin on White River near the mouth of Baldwin Creek.
But according to accounts of old-timers, he was either killed or died unexpectedly a short time after he had hidden the purse of gold. After his death, his wife was never able to find it. "As far as anyone knows the gold that was hidden by the old man during the Civil War has never been found until this day", said Walter Stansell, resident of St. Paul. Stansell said he once talked to the late George Brashears, who was just a small boy at the time of the Civil War. "Brashears said he helped the old man's wife turn over almost every rock on the mountain, searching for the money she so badly needed, but the gold pieces were never found".
And the legend of buried treasure has never entirely dwindled in and around the quaint old town of St. Paul in the Upper White River Valley, Stansell said. "Fellows with mineral rods and other so-called money-finding contraptions have been coming in periodically for years, making a sweep of the mountain above the old Huntsville - Ozark stagecoach stop". He added, "But as far as most folks know, if the money was actually hidden, as the legend has it, then those gold pieces are still on that mountain somewhere.
The old man could have been a pretty fast backwoods traveler in spite of his age. He could have hidden the purse of gold somewhere far back in the woods."
It's one of several interesting stories and legends around the vicinity of the massive old log stagecoach stand. The log building with its two stories and breezeway dates back to the early 1850's. This is definite, because one of the loggers or carpenters named D. S. Williams left his name with neatly driven old square nails in a cherrywood door panel which Mrs. Alma Moore found and preserved. The old stagecoach stop is on the floor of the pretty valley, near the point where Baldwin Creek runs into White River. For its age, the huge log building is not in a very bad state of repair.
Photo of Old Scully - the Stagecoach Stop at St. Paul
Termites have done the most damage on the west side of the log
cabin, says Mrs. Moore, who came from the city of Denver, Colorado, several years ago and bought the valley property. She stood near the old log stagecoach stand, which she said was once an overnight stop for coach passengers on the road between Huntsville and Ozark, and she pointed up the mountain between the two giant oak trees, where according to legend the old man walked to hide his treasure hoard. "That old road must have gone through one of the prettiest regions of the Ozarks", she said, "Those great white oak trees are pretty in the springtime when they first tassel out, and they're breathtakingly beautiful in the autumn when the color season arrives. But this holds true all over the mountains where the pioneer stage coaches once traveled."
From this old stand, the stage road turned sharply east, right up the channel of Baldwin Creek, then curved south again and went over Kilgore Gap. Near the summit of The Gap is the site of an old spring where stage teams were changed again. It's still wild looking and rugged country. The pull for the teams over The Gap must have been very hard.
The old stagecoach stand near the mouth of Baldwin Creek, just across White River from State Highway 23 and the town of St. Paul, was possibly the first overnight stop for passengers traveling south out of Huntsville, according to Mrs. Moore.
The old double-log cabin with its upstairs rooms has a huge fireplace in either end. Directly beside the fireplace on the northern end is a square hole through the logs, and Walter Stansell said this was a sort of porthole, or lookout spot, as well as a handy place for a man inside to shoot at armed bandits or raiders approaching from the north. "I've heard that one man used to do a lot of rifle practice from this porthole", he said.
He said the old stagecoach road once crossed Cobb Ridge, a mountain nine miles long between St. Paul and Ozark. There is an old cemetery on the ridge filled with Civil War period graves. From the ridge the stagecoach road wound southward and east crossing the hills and valleys around present Cass and the bend of Mulberry River. Old rock culvert sites are still plain to see in the rugged mountains. The route of the road in places is a deep-washed gully today. Just a short distance east of the old stagecoach cabin near White River, the route of the old road is almost as distinct as a railroad embankment -- a plain trail even today through the forestlands, passing the Riverside Cemetery with its some 2,000 graves which was established about a century ago and is still in use. Stansell said the cemetery was started with the death of an old man traveling southward in a wagon train of emigrants about 100 years ago. "The old fellow died, and folks in the wagon train did not know exactly where to bury him," Stansell said. "Permission was asked of the owner of this valley land -- a man by the name of Adair, I believe --and permission was given and the cemetery was started with that first burial. The tract wasn't taken off the valley land here until the time I owned it, before I sold it to Mrs. Moore. Then I had the cemetery tract taken out of the survey".
There are many phases of interesting history surrounding the old stage station in the valley, but one of the most intriguing is that of the hidden treasure -- the purse of gold the old man took up the mountain in the Civil War period -- the gold that has apparently never been found.
(The newspaper article contained a photo of the stagecoach stop, which was not plain enough to re-print here, with the following caption:)
Beside Pioneer Roadway: The ax-hewn logs of the old stagecoach stop at Saint Paul still look durable, though some of the weather-boarding in the south end is toppling to the grassy turf. Mrs. Alma Moore, owner of the valley property, stands beside the building which dates to the 1850's.
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