Poughkeepsie in Sharp County is home to fish
frys and reunions
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, June 3, 2001
Georgia Jarrett wrote an essay in high
school about the history of Poughkeepsie; a
quaint, secluded community in Sharp County.
She gave the paper to her instructor, Bartus
"I thought for sure he’d tear it apart, but
he didn’t change a single word. That was the
greatest compliment I ever received. He was
wonderful with words," Jarrett said.
Along with her essay, Jarrett, a
schoolteacher for 34 years, has maintained
most of Poughkeepsie’s historical materials.
A History of the One Room Schools of Sharp
County: Country School Memories gives a
description of the brush, log cabins and the
small one-room frame structures that
provided the educational settings for most
of Arkansas, including the Sharp County
As noted, the Sharp County School District,
created in 1869, existed previously as a
part of Lawrence County.
As stated in the book, "Thoughtful people
may well acknowledge that…indeed there was
even more to the little one room school than
is implied by the selective voices of
nostalgia and fond remembrance."
Thomas Mann said in the book, "The Common
School is the great discovery every made by
There are many in this community that can
relate to that statement because of the
wonderful memories associated with the years
that Poughkeepsie had a school district all
"Nearly all of the fun in this community
left when the school consolidated with the
community of Strawberry two years ago,"
Jarrett said. "The school had a heart and it
was the heart of this community. When the
school closed, a part of the community’s
heart died as well."
Although faint, there are a few heartbeats
left said to belong to the remaining
Poughkeepsie Elementary School.
"We’re glad to have our elementary school,
but we miss our basketball team. Everyone
loved those games. When the school
consolidated, we lost our team and now only
have a game here occasionally," she said.
Jarrett describes the most memorable event
in the community as a political rally held
in the 1980s.
"President Clinton, who was governor then,
had a parade here. It was a big day. We’d
never had anything like that before except
for the parades we had on the Fourth of July
as part of the school," she said.
Jarrett, a resident since 1940, believes the
area’s best attributes can be found in the
quietness and beauty of the surrounding
"I spend a lot of time in California and
when I’m there, I always get homesick. So
much so, that I embrace the hills when I get
home because I miss them. I’m just a
hillbilly at heart," she said.
Part of the love of "hillbilly" life,
Jarrett said, is having an appreciation of
its cultural roots.
A man by the name of Jarrett "Mac" McFarlin
is famous for a book he wrote, titled, Life
Along the Strawberry River in the Ozark
A compilation of short stories and
anecdotes, Jarrett believes it characterizes
In his story about being a Green Beret, one
of Jarrett’s favorites, McFarlin states that
during the World War II and the Vietnam era,
his companions would often change the lyrics
of songs to met their needs.
Instead of singing the once popular song,
"Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone
else but me," they would sing, "Don’t sit
under the guilt tree with anyone else but
Jarrett’s works, along with his war stories,
depict life along the nearby Strawberry
"That’s the main place people go for fun
here. I don’t go over there very much
because a person can hardly get through for
all the cars," she said. "It seems like
we’re always having to stop and wait until
the other cars get through before getting to
Along with the Strawberry River,
Poughkeepsie offers convenient camping and
horseback riding. "We’re also fortunate to
have our little modern store. They’ve got a
good breakfast deal. Guys gather down there
like guys are known to do in these parts,"
Imogen Norris, another resident of
Poughkeepsie loves life among the hills.
"My husband Don and I lived in a big city of
27 years. When he retired, we came back here
and so much was different. I wouldn’t want
to live in the city again," she said.
"because…it’s absolutely beautiful here in
Although beautiful, commerce in this little
community with an estimated population of 75
is rather limited.
"We have a real nice post office, the
Han-D-Mart, two churches, and that’s about
all," Norris said. "We have to go to
Batesville or Ashflat just to visit a
A real good way to get on the bad side of
this community, would be to not show up for
the local fish frys, or the family and
alumni school reunions.
"The alumni reunions are very popular,"
Norris said. "We’ve had some really famous
people graduate from our schools. There were
a lot of doctors. We’re proud of them and
glad they come back to visit."
Described as good people working for the
weekend in nearby Batesville, residents
enjoy the rustic, almost romantic life found
They appreciate the historical ties of this
former cattle and cotton farming community
where two cotton gins were once located.
The story of the town’s name, according to
Jarrett and Norris, originates from the
pages of a letter written by Bartus Allen.
Geraldine Peebles, local Sharp County
Historical Society member, confirms its
According to the letter, it is believed that
sometime around 1848, a small band of
American Indians, resided in the area.
Among them, there was a little Indian girl
She was carrying water from the existing
spring at the lower end of the town and fell
into a spring and drowned.
The location was named in her memory.
(Poughkeepsie 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.)