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Bramble Bush


Vol. 9, No. 1         January 2005         Yellville, Arkansas 72687

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photo of snow

White Christmas was the ninth in 120 years for central Arkansas

       North Little Rock (AP) -With snow covering much of the state, and temperatures not expected to rise above freezing until Saturday, Arkansans enjoyed a white Christmas.
       It was the first since 1990 for north and central Arkansas, the National Weather Service said, and only the ninth since 1885.
       Forecasters at North Little Rock said their office sees snow on the ground at Christmas an average of every 14 years.
       A history of snowfall on or around Christmas since 1885, when the weather service began keeping snowfall records at its Little Rock-North Little Rock office:
1887     snow falls with no accumulation
1897     1 inch of snow falls before 12:45 p.m., most melts by that night.
1913     snow starts at midnight and ends at 11:30 am., temperatures rise to 40 and only a trace remains by evening.
1914     snow falls with no accumulation
1918     snow falls with no accumulation
1926     2 1/2 inches fall at midday and stays for several days. Storm arrives a month after a Thanksgiving tornado outbreak.
1935     snow fails with no accumulation
1939     snow fails with no accumulation
1962     1 1/2 inches fall on Christmas Eve but only a trace remains by Christmas morning.
1963     4 inches remain on ground after 9.8-inch snowfall on Dec. 22.
1975     2 inches tall in hills around the city but snow mixes with rain at lower elevations. Most melts overnight.
1983     1 inch of ice and snow remains from a 2-inch storm earlier in the week.
1990     nearly 2 1/2 inches fall on Dec. 22-23 and most remains through Christmas Day.

       Not included in the weather service list of white Christmases is the 2000 ice storm, which began Christmas night and shut down much of the state for the rest of the year.
       Northern Arkansas, with its colder femperatures, sees white Christmases more often. They come less often in southern Arkansas.
       This part of North Arkansas saw anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of the white fluffy stuff during the holidays. With cold temperatures to follow which allowed the pretty snow to remain on the ground for several days. Most turning to ice, making it pretty dangerous for the traveler for the holidays.
       Lots of folks were stranded at airports, because of the white stuff, but here in the Ozarks, we just get out the ole four wheel drive truck and go to grandma's house with no problem. This little snow didn't stop the baked ham, pecan pies, hot rolls or Christmas cookies from being consumed by family and friends alike.

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       Happy New Year 2005 from all the staff here at the Bramble Bush. "2004" has been a busy year and we are looking forward to an even busier "2005." We now have our new genealogy room at the Marion County Library open and in operation. The new microfilm reader, printer is fabulous, thanks to the Marion County Library and NATCO grant. The computer is functional for using CDs and making notes. We have the county tax books on display and available for viewer use. We added new secretary chairs for use at the computers and microfilm tables and we are looking at adding a different type of table for patrons use. Thanks to all the members of the Society we are well on our way of refurbishing all the books and getting new labels on the binders. Some of the Society's books were badly worn and hard to use. Thanks to this new process, they now have a hard cover with readable spines and covers.M
        Our books are selling really great which will make it much easier to publish more books for our readers. The Library Staff are great, they keep a stock of our books on hand for folks to buy if they choose. Thanks to each of you for all your help.
       We have several new books available and you can see them on the book list. We are planning a new picture in 2005 so be on the look out. If you haven't bought a copy of the first one, you don't know what you are missing. Lots of pictures of all Marion County folks. Past and Present, Great stuff…….
       From the Editor
       Vicki Roberts

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Murders and Other Tragedies In Marion County

Mtn. Echo, April 2, 1886


       Our town was thrown into a state of intense excitement last Monday evening by the report that Ben Graves, living on Mr. Strait's farm, some five or six miles south of town, had murdered his two children. The facts as near as we can learn them are bout as follows Graves waked his wife up about 12 o'clock Sunday night and informed her that he was going to kill the children, telling her if she moved or said anything he would kill her also. He then took the oldest, which was just two years old, and beat it to death with his fist, and while he was working with the dead child his wife escaped from the house, leaving the other child, which was just six months old, in the bed, and ran over to a neighbor's for help. Mr. Strait and Mr. Knight accompanied her back to the house and found one of the children lying on the floor and the other on the fire, burned to a crisp. Graves escaped in the woods after killing the children, but was captured early next morning and safely lodged in jail. The coroner's inquest developed the fact that Graves had shown his first symptoms of insanity the day before. He claims that he killed the children under the instructions of God, and that they were offerings for the sins of the people. Great excitement prevails in the county, and some have fears that he will be lynched. Up to the time of the killing Graves had a good reputation in the community in which he lived, and was said to be affectionate to his children.
       Hugh M. Brooks, the murderer of his friend and benefactor, C. Arthur Preller, has written a letter asking the people of America to temper justice with mercy and save his cowardly neck. It is probably, though, that his neck will be stretched.

Mtn. Echo, February 17, 1888

       Seven men have been sentenced to be hung at Fort Smith April 27th, for murders committed in the Indian Territory.

Mtn. Echo, February 24, 1888

       A young man, charged with the murder of his stepfather, was tried at Eureka Springs last week, and fined $50 and given one day in jail.

Mtn. Echo, February 10, 1888

       On Thursday night of last week, Mr. H. H. Barnett, of White River Township, was assaulted on his premises and brutally beaten with a club. Mr. Barnett attended church Thursday night at Hurst's school house and had returned home when his assailant made the attack. Irvin Williams is charged with the crime, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, and a reward of $50 has been offered for his capture. There has been trouble for some time between the Barnett family and Williams. Williams being charged with the seduction of Mr. Barnett's daughter. He recently sold his property in this county, and on last Friday started for the Indian Territory, traveling in a wagon and accompanied by his four children. Williams is a widower.
       On last Thursday night, Mr. H. H. Barnett returned from church, and on going to his stables to put up his horse, he was attacked by Irvin Williams, armed with a club, who it seems had called to settle up old scores that had existed between them for sometime past. Williams let in on the old man with his club, and the old man ran to the house, Williams chasing him to the door, and making a lick at the old man as he went in at the door that would have proved fatal had not the door caught the blow. The old man is not dangerously hurt, but somewhat resembles the closing out part of a retail butcher shop.
       Williams went on his way out west rejoicing with none to molest or make him afraid.
       W. B. F., Jr.

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       In 1917 the Baxter Bulletin called the shotgun slaying of Ellen Cockrum and her daughter" the most horrendous murder of the century." Yet, when the killer was finally apprehended and brought to trial, he twice walked out of the Baxter County Courthouse scot-free although he freely admitted gunning down two defenseless women.
       The meandering of the White River serves as the west-south boundary of Baxter County. except for the rugged mountain range lying west and south of the river in the Ozark National Forest. To the outsider this north boundary of the Leatherwood Mountains appears lonely and forbidding. To those who call the pristine wilderness their home, it is a place of infinite beauty with clear springs, high peaks and a trillion or more trees. Almost a world - and a law - unto itself.
       Strange as it may seem, the Leatherwoods were almost as populated long before the Civil war as they are today. Being far removed from the few heavily populated areas, the Leatherwoods were a favorite target of the Jayhawkers and Bushwhackers. One of the bushwhacker leaders had his headquarters in the Leatherwoods. By the end of the war the area was divested, but the settlers started anew determined to rebuild their homes and their lives in the primeval forest.
       The Cockrum family was one of the earliest settlers, aiming around 1850. Sometime in the 1880's the little village of Ellar was established on the wagon road coming up from Shipp's Ferry on White River. Across the river was the thriving village of Haney- named for the Haney family. Mrs. Ellen Cockrum was the Postmaster at Ellar- so named because that's how most of her patrons pronounced her name. She was young, pretty, dressed in the latest fashion and at first she was very popular. Several baby girls were named Ellar in her honor.
       In 1889 Doc Kirkland and sons came from Paris, TN to build a schoolhouse for the growing community, soon a thriving little town sprang up around the fine school building. As the new town grew, Ellar declined to the point it no longer needed a post office. By now Ellen's husband, Doc Cockrum, had left the county. As it often happens to a pretty woman without a man of her own, the other ladies became jealous and suspicious of Ellen. When the post office was moved to the new town they agreed they needed a new postmaster and a new name. Lone Rock, for the tall, strangely out of place column of rocks jutting out of the woodlands. L.C. Kirkland was appointed postmaster.
       Without a job or a husband and with a young daughter to support, Ellen moved across White River to the railroad boomtown of Norfolk, where she operated a boarding house for a while.
       Ellen was now 45 years old but still a beautiful woman and her daughter Mae were living back at Lone Rock. Mae now l8 years of age, had met and married William Smith about a year before he became one of the first draftees from Baxter County during World War 1. Expecting their first child, Pvt Smith went off to serve his country.
       The 30th day of November 1917 was an unseasonably warm day - known to the old timers as a "Weather breeder." Fearing bad weather was on the way, Ellen and Mae decided to go to the general store across the river at Haney. Midafternoon they re-crossed the river at Shipps with their purchases. The ferryman was the last person, other than their killer, to see them alive. Ellen and Mae had been reported missing by Mrs. Ira Wilber, who, along with her little girl, was staying with the Cockrums.
       Four days later their bodies were found in the woods atop the river bluff where they had sat down to rest after the climb up from the river. Sheriff Hurst and Prosecuting Attorney Edgar Douglas left for the scene early on Wednesday morning. Dotson Brewer, Coroner arrived on the scene the same time as they did and convened a coroners jury. As the scene unfolded the two women's purchases, still wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string lay on a tree stump nearby. Ellen had been sitting under a rock ledge when she looked up into the barrel of a 16-gauge shotgun. Mae's body was found, face down, almost a quarter of a mile away. She had been shot at such close range there were powder burns on the back of her clothing.
       Mae's heartbroken young husband was called home from Camp Beauregard, France to attend the double funeral held at the Lone Rock Schoolhouse with burial in the adjoining cemetery.
       Baxter County Sheriff, R.W. Hurst had no suspects but to the inhabitants of the Leatherwoods. Everybody was a suspect. Even Pvt Smith. How did they know he had been at Camp Beauregard the day of the killings? (This scenario doesn't seem to hold up due to the fact that the young husband was in France at the time.) And what about Doc Cockrum? Just because nobody had seen him in years didn't mean he hadn't sneaked back. Of course it didn't have to be one of their husbands. It could be any man - or woman.
       Mamie remembered how scared and jumpy everybody was. She was afraid to go out on the back porch by herself to get a drink of water. Mrs. Mamie Lancaster Doshier of Gassville was 15 and lived at Lone Rock when the killing occurred. She recalled many people didn't like the Cockrums, especially the women folks of Lone Rock, but Ellen had a heart of gold. She was the first one there during a birth, sickness or death at the neighbors. It seemed only natural when Mrs. Wilber left her husband that Ellen took her in.
       The investigation was hampered by the snow that began to fall shortly after the bodies were found. Old timers say if the bodies hadn't been found when they were, nobody would have known what happened to the women until spring.
       The snow continued through December, January and February. At times roads were completely filled with deep drifts. Several times trains had to halt travel because the snow lay too deep on the tracks. Mail and supplies were delivered by boat until the river froze over. That winter became known not as 1918 but as nineteen hundred and froze to death. Odus Doshier recalled that finally Bud Bayless, the mail carrier, got through by boat- with a wagon tongue hastily added to a team of horses could pull it like a sled over the snow. Old timers say the only good thing about the snow was you could always tell if somebody was following you - by their tracks.
*        It was remembered that some time prior to the killing, the women had been implicated in alienating the affections of the wife of Ira Wilber and she had eloped with another man. Mr. Wilber was insanely in love with his wife and reconciliation was effected and Mrs. Wilber returned home. Suspicion was directed to Mr. Wilber and he was arrested and incarcerated in jail. He at once wired Williams & Seawel of this city and employed them to defend him. Circuit court convened in Mountain Home had already convened and Mr. Williams went over and remained there until after an indictment was returned against Wilber charging him with murder in the first degree.
       It developed that immediately after the murder he had confessed to his father-in-law and to his brother-in-law that he committed the crime, and went into details with them in regard to the murder.
       In February Dan Woods and Lige North were arrested for the double murder. The bitter cold weather hadn't cooled the hot heads so the suspects were taken to the Marion County Jail for safekeeping until the March term of Circuit Court.
       The Case was called for trail in March 1918 and both the state and defense announced ready for trial. The courtroom was crowded with anxious spectators who felt that a verdict of guilty, was inevitable. Ira Wilber was on trial for the murder of Ellen. Mr. Seawel, who has long been regarded as the best criminal lawyer in the State, who owing to his knowledge of law, and his great oratory, has as a prosecutor sent men to the gallows and as counsel for the defense, has doubtless liberated the guilty, was present.
       In his opening address he stated he would admit the guilt of his client, but would be able to prove that owning to the great wrong done him by the murdered women he became insane and was insane at the time he committed the crime. He placed expert witnesses on the stand to substantiate his statement.
       The evidence was closed and arguments made by the council for both the state and the defense and the case submitted to the jury. The jury was out for about one hour and came back with a "Not Guilty" verdict.
       While the crime was a heinous one, under the circumstances the verdict was a just one. There is no greater criminal that the despoiler of a home, and it is too often the case they cannot be reached by the law.
       In September of 1918 the trial of Ira Wilber for the murder of Mae Cockrum Smith and her unborn child was held in Baxter County courthouse. Ira was charged with First-degree murder. He had to chase Mae a quarter of a mile, before he was able to reload his double barrel shotgun and chase her down through the thicket. He shot her in the back and at such close range that there were powder burns on the cloth of her dress. The jury still came back with a verdict of "Not Guilty by reason of Insanity."
       After the trial Bill Smith went back to France to his company to serve his country. He was mortally wounded while on the front in France. Bill never returned to Arkansas to live, because of the death of his bride, Mae. He told his brother, Lewis that he knew who had killed her and if he returned, he would kill the culprit himself.

Sources: Mary Ann Messick in Feb of 1981 set down an accounting of the mother and daughter in Baxter County. Beth Cockrum; John Cockrum; Vera Reeves; Mountain Echo Feb and March 1918.

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Photo of a large group of men

Marion County Historical Society is searching for information about the above picture. If there is anyone out there that can help us we would appreciate it.

Please send your guesses, facts or whatever to us here at the Bramble Bush

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Christmas Ornament

This is the Marion County Christmas Ornament which adorned the Christmas tree at the Capital building in Little Rock Arkansas 2004

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Our Blessing To You for 2005

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep…….
       You are richer than 75% of the world today.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet or purse & spare change in a dish somewhere…………
       You are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness……
       You are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture...
       You are ahead of 500 million people in the world today.

If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death....
       You are more blessed than 3 billion people around the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married....
       You are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful….....
       You are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder...
       You are blessed because you can offer the healing touch.

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing……….
       For many of the world's population cannot.

Happy New Year from the Staff of the Bramble Bush
And our Blessings on each of you.

signatures of BB Staff

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Membership DUES FOR 2005 ARE DUE NOW!

Annual dues of $12 must be received by HGSMCA no later than 30 March 2005 to continue to have Bramble Bush at your fingertips quarterly through 2005. Don't miss even a single issue. Get those dues in the mail today.
Send your check for $12 to HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687

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       SERVICE DIRECTORY is published in Bramble Bush as a service to those who may wish to advertise some of the many books, products, and services available that relate to historic and/or genealogical research. The charge per ad is $12 per year. Ads from both members and non-members are accepted. The name and address of a contact person must accompany each ad.

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"EARLY DAYS AND WAR TIMES IN NORTHERN ARKANSAS." Thomas Jerome Estes. Reprint 1999 (1928). $5. HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yelville AR 72687.
"EARLY DAYS OF MARION COUNTY." Lester & Marian Burnes. Indexed. $25. Marian Burnes, 2102 W. Jefferson, Siloam Springs AR 72761.
"GENEALOGIES OF MARION COUNTY FAMILIES 1811-1900." Genealogies of 400+ families settling in MCAR by 1900. Hardbound. Indexed. $60. HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 7268.
"INDEX TO THE MOUNTAIN ECHO 12 March 1886 thru 26 June 1903." Births, marriages, deaths. Indexed. $24.50 + $3.50 s/h. Margie Garr, 1505 Mistletoe, Mountain Home AR 72653, (870)425-0405.
IZARD CO. AR 1830 FEDERAL CENSUS. Indexed. $4. Nancy A Wood, 4643 S 28 Avenue, Tulsa OK 74107.
MARION CO. AR 1840 FEDERAL CENSUS. Indexed. $4. Nancy A. Wood, 4643 S 28 Avenue, Tulsa OK 74107.
MARION CO. AR 1850 FEDERAL CENSUS. Indexed. $10. Nancy A. Wood, 4643 S 28 Avenue, Tulsa OK 74107.
MARION CO. AR 1870 FEDERAL CENSUS. Indexed. Annotated. $20. Nancie Todd Weber. HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687.
MARION CO. 1880 FEDERAL CENSUS. Indexed. $21. Gladys Horn Brown. HBSMCA. PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687.
"MARION COUNTY MARRIAGE RECORDS 1887-1896." Marian Burnes & Vicki Roberts. Indexed. $15. Vicki Roberts, 363 MC 5032, Yellville AR 72687.
"MARION COUNTY MARRIAGE RECORDS 1896-1905" Marian Burnes & Vicki Roberts. Indexed. $15. Vicki Roberts, 363 MC 5032, Yellville AR 72687.
"MARION COUNTY MARRIAGES 1905-1917" Marian Burnes & Vicki Roberts. Indexed. $15. Vicki Robert, 2363 MC 5032, Yellville AR 72687.
"MARION COUNTY 1890 CENSUS." Reconstructed from 1880 & 1900 census, land, tax records, etc. Indexed. Hardbound. $45 HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687
The Mining Era of Marion County Arkansas by Vicki Roberts, $30.OO + $3 s&h, 2363 MC 5032 Yellville, AR 72687.
"Silver Anniversary" History of Marion County. Reprinted 2002. Indexed, $75 plus $5 sh, HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville, AR 72687
"Marion County: The Divided" by Vicki Roberts and Mysty McPherson, $5.00 + $1 s&h HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687.
"Marion County, The Way She Was In 1836" by W.B. Flippin, $5.00 + $1.00 s&h PO Box 761 Yellville, AR 72687.
"Gleenings of Pioneer History" by W.R. Jones $5.00 + $1 s/h, PO Box 761 Yellville, AR 72687.

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GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH. Marion Co. AR and surrounding areas. Experienced researcher. $10 per hour plus copy costs and postage. Vicki Roterts, 2362 MC 5032, Yellville AR 72687; (870)449-6195 aft 6:00 pm CST. E-mail:
GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH. Marion Co. AR area. $10 per hour plus copy costs and postage. Experienced researcher. Mysty McPherson. 35 MC 6023, Yellville AR 72687. (870)-449-5223. E-mail:

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       Membership in the Historical Genealogical Society of Marion County Arkansas is $12 per year. Membership for one year runs from 1 January to 31 December of that year. Membership includes the quarterly newsletter Bramble Bush. Membership begun later in the year includes all issues of Bramble Bush for that year. Make your check for $12 payable to HGSMCA and send to HGSMCA, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687-9612

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Bramble Bush

Bramble Bush is published quarterly by the Historic Genealogical Society of Marion County Arkansas, PO Box 761, Yellville AR 72687. EDIT0ROAL STAFF: Editor, Vicki Roberts; Design/Production, Mysty McPherson; Art Work, Bonnie Sanders; Queries, Sherry Berthot. Subscriptions, Barbara Holland; Printing, Penny Pincher Printing, 722 Locust, Conway AR 72034; Contributing writers, Janice Mears. HGSMCA OFFICERS: Chair, Vicki A. Roberts; Vice-Chair, Mysty McPherson; Secretary, Sherry Berthot; Treasurer; Barbara Holland; Grants/Purchasing, Mysty McPherson.

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Linda Haas Davenport