formerly known as Hess Town, offers Southern
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, August 6, 2000
Marcella is just the type of Southern rural
community folks can appreciate. The land is
fertile and provides plenty of acreage for
farming or cattle raising. There is also an
abundant amount of trout just waiting to be
caught alongside the banks of the nearby
Two churches, a post office and a pottery
shop combine to create area commerce for
this quaint country community that sits on
the edge of the southern tip of the Ozark
Plateau, nestled quietly between Mountain
View and Batesville on Arkansas 16.
It’s here that the town’s 150 residents
enjoy the solitude of country living as well
as convenient access to local tourist
attractions in Stone County--such as
Blanchard Springs Wild Cave Tours and the
annual Mountain View Bean Festival.
Founded in the early 1800s, Marcella has a
picturesque landscape. It’s composed of a
few charming historical homes and buildings
accented by miles of hardwood and pine tree
forests in the distance.
Harry Martin, 81, is a native of Marcella.
He knows quite a bit about the town’s
history, various memories - such as town
picnics, where a person could buy a
hamburger for a nickel or take a wagon ride
to the local Batesville barbershop to get a
50-cent haircut - are told with both
Southern flavor and charm.
Martin, whose father was a teacher in
Marcella, believes his hometown has changed
dramatically throughout the years.
“There used to be two stores, three doctors,
and a school in Marcella. I remember the
doctor would charge $2 to deliver a baby and
50 cents to pull a bad tooth,” he said. “As
far as teaching is concerned, it was a
pretty good job to have back then and paid
roughly $40 a month. The schools here were
great and put a lot of emphasis on
discipline. Children were taught to mind...”
Martin continued, “Children were admitted to
school at the age of 6 and when they went to
school, they carried their lunches in lard
buckets and drank water from gourds. They
don’t go to school here anymore, though.”
Residents of Marcella credit Tom Hess as
being the community’s founding father. “He
owned all the land in these parts,” Martin
said. “He managed to buy it with the profits
he made from his liquor still that was
located off of Partee Road in Marcella. He
also owned the only steamboat in town, which
he used to ship his liquor to different
Marcella, which was formerly named Hess
Town, was prosperous in the early 1900s.
There was both population increases and
commerce expansion. “We’re not growing
anymore, though. Our young folks keep moving
away to find work,” he said.
Despite its lack of economic activity, the
town does enjoy its share of tourists who
drive through on their way to area
Martin lives in a house located between two
of the historic church buildings in
Marcella. Because of that, he gets a chance
to meet a lot of them.
“People around here like to get married in
small country churches, and they visit my
house all the time asking if I will marry
them. They mistake me for a pastor since I
live by the churches,” he said. “I get a lot
of ribbing about it from my neighbors.”
Standing outside in her pasture, across the
street from Harry Martin’s house, Dana
Partee, 56, a long time resident of
Marcella, is running water for her two
Brahman cows named Lucky and Shawnee.
She describes the town as peaceful and
quiet. She enjoys living there. As a former
postmaster and the daughter of a postmaster
who served the town for 43 years, Partee
knows just about everyone here.
“There’s not much excitement and there’s not
much to do, but that’s the way I like it,”
Clayton Brock, who runs the pottery and
wrought iron shop at the edge of town,
agrees. “I figure if I can throw a rock to
the neighbor’s house, then it’s too close.
There’s a lot of space out here and I
appreciate that,” he said.
(This article has been recently revised for
historical archiving and is an excerpt from
Road Trips; a weekly feature of small towns
in Arkansas, which was written by Tracy
Crain and published by the Arkansas Democrat
Gazette in 2000.)