Communities (second half)
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The city of Pocahontas had its beginning not as Pocahontas, but as a trading post known as Bettis Bluff, Even before it was called Bettis Bluff. there was a French trading post here.
Tradition tells us that early Frenchmen came down the Mississippi from the north and bunted and traded with the Indians, possibly as early as 1765. It has even been said that a descendant of one of the ten men left here by De Tonti in 1686, who had evidently married an Indian girl, lived in
this section, possibly on the site of Pocahontas. His name may have been De Maux, from which, in a corrupted form, the Fourche de Mas got its name.
Anyway, the first traders followed the water courses for different reasons, and this being a choice site, with its foothills extending its toes out into the alluvial river bottoms, "forcing Black river to flow around them," possibly afforded the choice site from which to travel out through the forsets. The trader, paddling his canoe up the river may have tied his dugout to a willow tree which grew where the limestone ledge projects out into the river just below the railroad bridge today. On the hillside where the Pocahontas Lumber Company and McFall's used car lot is now located, may have been the wigwams of the Indians and the cabins of the, French trader. This is possibly the first modern history of Pocahontas.
Tradition tells us that the Indians chose the site of Pocahontas for all ancient village because of its natural location being a protection against storms. It is a fact that during the one hundred and fifty years of its known existence the town has never been visited by a destructive storm. However, a few years ago, one did dip down as close as a section of the city in the vicinity of Barthel's home and hatchery.
The French called Pocahontas Encore de Flueve Noir in their language.
But back to Betds Bluff, which was nanled for Ransom S. Bettis.
Bettis came to this section about 1815 from North Carolina. He is said to have been a pioneer trader and physician. The early records of southeast Missouri show the route of an old mail route from Harrisonville, Illinois by 'way of St. Genevieve, Hix's Ferry and "Dock" Bettis, Davidsonville to Polk Bayou (Batesville) on White river. This was in operation as early as 1818 and possibly succeeded the old
original route "from Monroe, Louisiana, to St. Louis by way of Davidsonville and Arkansas Post." So we infer from this that Bettis had a postoffice here at that time.
Very little is known of the Bettis family. We know that he had one daughter, Cinderella, who married Thomas Stephenson Drew. It is by this that we learn what we know of this, possibly the first white family to make the site of Pocahontas their home.
The Bettis home was located on the hill, near the present site of the old Hamil home and the present home of Dr. W. E. Hamil, which is nearby. This site originally overlooked the river front and was an ideal spot for a pioneer home. In recent years the front has become the "back" as the two Hamil homes face the west and Highway 67, wherein the Bettis home faced the east. The old family cemetery was also located here. Members of the early family were buried here during the days when the "town" consisted only of the Bettis home and the trading post and surrounding buildings. Many years later the remains were taken upand reinterred in the Masonic cemetery, near the grave of Governor Drew. (These graves were made in the cemetery before Drew was re-interred here in 1923).
After Thomas Drew married Cinderella Bettis, Drew had been an itinerant peddler who lived in Clark county, they also made their home in Pocahontas near her father's home for some time. Later Bettis gave his daughter a large tract of land in Cherokee Bay where the town of Biggers now stands, and Thomas and Cinderella Drew moved to it. Here they lived several years.
While living in Pocahontas, Drew and Bettis conceived the idea of establishing a real town. They could see the country being opened up, the possibility of the county being cut off from Lawrence and a demand for a new county seat for the new county, if this did happen. They busied themselves about the job of founding a town. When the
county was organized in October, 1835, they had already "started a town." Lots were being advertised for sale and invitations were being sent out to the merchants and other shop keepers to come to the new town, as it was destined to become the "Metropolis of the West."
The story has already been told in the Fourche de Thomas article in this book about how the free barbecue and picnic was the trick which pulled the voters to Pocahontas when election day came around to decide whether Columbia or Pocahontas was to become the county seat of the new county. Bettis and Drew were the sponsors of this proposition and they each donated land and cash to the new town. A street in the town is named for Bettis and that part of the city which is located between Highway 67 and the Frisco railroad at this time was originally the "Drew Reserve" or Drew Addition to the town.
Thomas O. Mart was another early settler of the town and we have Marr street and Marr's creek to remember him by. He built the first courthouse.
Lewis De Munn and his brothers, Frenchmen, had already built a water mill on the creek just south of the town, below what is now known as the Cypress Springs, on Mill creek. A few years ago the old cast "arm" of the power wheel of this old mill was unearthed on the bank of this creek. What a story this old piece of metal could tell if it could speak! On one side it is marked "Made in France."
Just picture the journey this mill machinery must have traveled in that day (about 1820) to come from France to Pocahontas! The first lap of the journey was the long boat ride across the stormy Atlantic, possibly landing in New York and later transferred to a vessel going down the coast to New Orleans. Here it was loaded on a boat for the long slow ride up the Mississippi to the mouth of White river; thence up White river to the mouth of Black and from there up Black to Pocahontas. It was probably hauled on a wooden
See Picture of Pocahontas Six Churches
wheeled oxcart from the river across the bottom to the mill site. The location of the old dam can still be seen.
One of the first settlers in the vicinity of Pocahontas was Casper Schmick, who settled two miles down the river from the present town. He was one of the active persons in the various movements which started the town.
On the north side of Pocahontas was George Mansker, His family was related to Thomas S. Drew, the two families coming to Arkansas from adjoining counties of Tennessee. Soon after the establishment of the town of Pocahontas, one of the first families to move here was William L. Rice, who had already become the first citizen of the village of Warm Springs. The first map of the town of Pocahontas, made soon after the town was plotted, showed the following as owners of some of the lots and blocks: White, Hanover, Looney, Hunter, Rice, David Fine, Mitchell, Black, Imboden.
Thomas S. Drew sold William Looney the land where the Sallee handle mill is now located "in the fork between Marr's creek and Black river" in 1846.
The first map referred to above showed that William Looney owned the whole block on the south side of the old courtsquare, the space from the bank to Johnston's drug store at present. Hanover brothers at that time owned the block which was later to be known as the Biggers Hotel block.
The Marr and Drew families owned most of the present site of the town during the period of its establishment.
Blacks moved to Pocahontas from what is now known as Black's Ferry on Elevenpoint river soon after the town was started. The father of William, John and Rufe Black settled at that place about 1815.
John Imboden (for whom the town of Imboden, in Lawrence county was named) was also an early resident of Pocahontas.
The list is too long to mention all the first residents of the town. Many of the first families are still represented in the city at the present time. A list of fanlily histories from all these families would be a history of the town within itself, but this is impossible.
Anyway the town got off to a good start from the very beginning.
The December 26, 1838, edition of the Arkansas Gazette carried the following statement concerning Pocahontas: "The new town of Pocahontas, county seat of Randolph county, is said to have become, within eighteen months of its existence, one of the most flourishing places within the state. Lots in the town had increased in value from 100 to 500 per cent. The farm lands in the county, which had lately sold for $1.25 per acre, was now much in demand at $20. Transportation in and out of the town and county is principally by steamboats on Black river and business of every kind is lively with the people saying little about hard times." This was the rosy picture of the first years of Pocahontas, as recorded by the state's leading newspaper of the time.
The Arkansas Gazette also carried an item from its Pocahontas correspondent in July, 18t6, which told of the Fourth of July celebration as follows:
"At twelve o'clock a procession was formed and we marched, preceeded by the Committee on Arrangements and a band of music, to a beautiful grove near the spring on the bank of the river, where Mr. C. R. Landers, after a few appropriate remarks, read in a clear impressive manner, the Declaration of Independence."
Thus we have a picture of a Fourth of July a century ago here in Pocahontas. The Gazette correspondent from Pocahontas is not known.
The early roads of the county had been opened generally between the communities of Davidsonville, Pitman Ferry and Columbia (Fourche de Thomas). After the rise of Pocahontas, the routes of travel were changed. The roads were opened in the direction of Pocahontas, instead of the other places. A branch of the old Military road was cut into Pocahontas from the Russell or Foster farm where Mack Riggs now resides. After a few years the travel came by Pocahontas, even when headed southwest, which had previously gone through directly to the crossing on Elevenpoint A road was built from Pitman direct to Pocahontas which is now the Pocahontas-Maynard road.
The old town of Albertha grew up on this road. Robert M. Frier, early settler of Madison county, Missouri, opened a stage line which ran down this road from St. Genevieve, on the Mississippi below St. Louis to Pocahontas, sometime between 1825 and 1840. He later extended this route to Little Rock. This was after the decline of Davidsonville and routes of travel had changed. He is said to have become a wealthy man from his income from this stage line.
In the paragraph above which told of the actual plotting and establishment of the town, we should have mentioned the fact that Drew donated $3,000; Bettis $1,000 and Thomas Marr $200 cash to be used toward the erection of public building, etc., in the new town, provided that it remained the county seat.
In the list of first businesses of the town of Pocahontas we find the names of Hunter and Rayburn, Oakes and Truly as merchants, McCleary, a tanner; William Hubble, harness maker. The county court of 1837 granted Bird M. Simpson the first license issued in Randolph county, "to keep and sell all kinds of groceries for a term of one year." Simpson
was the first county treasurer. At this same term of court John L. Glasscock was given license to sell groceries and all kinds of liquor for one year. He was charged ten dollars for the license. The amount of Simpson's license is not given.
The property tax for the whole county that year was $430.53 and the peddlers and merchants licenses amounted to $170.
Green R. Jones was an early merchant of Pocahontas. We wish it were possible to tell you just what years each party began in, or at least the time they were in business here but this is not obtainable. William Allaire was an architect during the first days of the city and we find that at least some of the physicians were Drs. Payne, Doughtitt, Beashoars and Harrison. John and William McDowell were merchants here in 1854.
Thomas O. Marr made a bond to Wash R. Hunter February 6, 1947 to guarantee that he would "ferry all of Hunter's employees and all those who had business with Hunter," across the river on Marr's ferry. The bond was $500. By this early date Hunter who became the largest land owner who has lived in Pocahontas, had acquired large holdings and employed several men in the improving of a lot of rough property. He is said to have been the first postmaster.
The tax record of 1854 lists a William Evans as a merchant of Pocahontas. He was the only merchant charged with tax in that year from Demun township. Just why no others were, is not known.
James Martin was postmaster at Pocahontas in 1838. The first ferry was located a short distance down the river below the present railroad bridge. This was near the end of Broadway street, where the street ran down the hill to the river. After the old original buildings of the "Bettis
Bluff" trading post were abandoned, the next business street in the town was up this street from the ferry and steamboat landing.
The name of Hanover is associated with the early history of the town and country. There were three brothers, of Jewish nationality. The eldest was named Lewis. They were in business first at the old town of Pitman. Later we find them at old Lindseyville where the old Doniphan-Pocahontas road crossed the old Military road. Later they came to Pocahontas. It is possible that they owned stores at more than one location at the same time.
They were also large land holders and for many years were prominently identified with the political and business life of the county.
Other merchants of Pocahontas in the period from the close of the Civil War until about 1900 were, Levi Hecht, R. N. Hamil, R. Nicholas, Isaac Hurst, .John P. Black, Jacob Schoonover and many others whose names we do not know. Black's store was located on the present site of the postoffice and was used also as temporary quarters for a "part" of the courthouse records and equipment around 1870. Hamil had his store in different locations in the town before 1893. In that year he built the building which is now the King store.
Of the early hotels of the town the St. Charles and the Biggers hotels were possibly the best known. The old St. Charles was located on the north end of the block now occupied by Baltz Hardware and Lewallen Hotel building.
Eli Heavener owned the Biggers Hotel before it became the property of B. F. Bigger. On date of February 11, 1882, Heaverner sold it to Bigger, together with the land adjacent, which was lots three and five in block nine and all of block ten. From that date forward for a period of forty years it became known far and wide as a popular stopping place. A livery stable was nearby and customers of the hotels who
had business out of town hired "rigs' 'to drive out some-times as far as Poplar Bluff and Mammoth Spring.
When the large group of European immigrants arrived in Pocahontas in 1880, a number of them secured lodging in the old Heavener Hotel and it was here that many of these folks experienced their first close-up association with the Western world.
The Hecht Hotel located on the block north of the present postoffice building, was also in operation during this period. There have been other hotels tltrough the years, possibly good ones before the ones listed above, and some since the period described.
The first millman other than the De Munn brothers was David .Jones, who operated a saw mill on the present site of the Sallee mill. He was here before the Civil War and operated many years. He is said to have been a high type citizen: Who did much for the frontier town.
Following the period of the war other people came to Pocahontas. Among these were several doctors. Among these were Dr. E sselman, Dr. Tom Hall, Dr. Putnam, Dr. Silverberg and Dr. Means.
Every old town has its ancient burying grounds. Pocahontas has hers. Just beyond Mansker creek on the Maynard road is the old cemetery which is said to have been started during the War Between the States. On Catholic Hill near the church is an old cemetery, almost forgotten, which was used during the early days. One of the graves in it is that of Col. Marvin, who was related to the Miller and Crenshaw families. As stated above the first cemetery was near the Bettis home, near the present site of Dr. Hamil's home.
There are some graves near the present home of N. E. Pace, in the north part of town and it is said that there were several hundred graves of Confederate soldiers buried in the woods near the old De Munn mill site on Mill creek
south of town. We know little about either of these old cemeteries.
The Catholic and Masonic cemeteries are the present-day cemeteries used. Many of the families of Randolph county are represented in these cemeteries.
Little is known of the early schools of the city of Pocahontas. It is known that there was some kind of school for the children of the early town but just who the teachers were is lost to us.
B. J. Wiley and C. C. Elder are supposed to have taught here and other officials, preachers and laymen, did their part in seeing that some educational advantages were offered.
Around 1880, Prof. John Hogan, whose biography is printed in this book, together with his wife, Miss Eliza, taught in Pocahontas. Their work was in an old lodge hall near the present school building. They were highly educated for their day and did a lot of good in the town and county.
Another teacher during this period was Mrs. Surridge. She taught at her home which was located on the site of the present home of J. M. Dunn.
Since tltat period we have seen many talented educators come and go.
In the chapter about the early churches of the county will be found the history of the first churches of Pocahontas.
The history of Randolph county's part in the Civil War has already been related in this book, and since much of it happened in the vicinity of Pocahontas, there is not much to add. Old Camp Shaver was located on Mill creek south of the town and several thousand men passed through here at different times during the war. Among the notables who were at Pocahontas for a time during the conflict were
General Hardee, Gen. Hindman, Colonel Robert G. Shaver, General Earl Van Dom, besides all the local officers.
Henry M. Stanley, the noted African explorer, joined the Confederate Army at Pocahontas in 1862. He served under Col. Shaver and was in the battle of Shiloh. He later became a big game hunter and explorer. Finally returning to England, where he is said to have renounced his American citizenship, married into British Royalty and thus spent the rest of his life far from the land of his youth.
General Steele of the Federal Army occupied Pocahontas a short time toward the last of the war. Very little damage was done in this section.
After the close of the war the country in general saw a period of stagnation and decline. Reconstruction days were hard days. Pocahontas, which had been a hustling frontier town, slowed down during this period.
There were other reasons besides the aftermath of war. The seventies saw the building of the old Iron Mountain railroad, which crossed a corner of the county at O'Kean, and soon after this the main line of the Frisco was built up Spring river to the west. Since the river division of the Frisco which now passes Pocahontas was yet unbuilt, the trade naturally turned to the railroads. Steamboating was on the decline. No good roads had been built. This caused Pocahontas to enter a passive state which she did not awaken from until around 1900.
However with the coming of the branch line from Hoxie to Pocahontas in the late nineties and the extension to Cape Girardeau in 1902-03, the town started growing. Since that date it has seen a steady improvement.
On another page in this history is a photograph of the business houses on the south side of the court square about 1885. The picture is that of a typical inland frontier town. The only brick buildings in town at that time was the
courthouse, which was completed in 1873 and the Biggers Hotel, which was built near the same time.
Most of the modern improvements have come to the town since 1900. First was the railroad. Then in 1911 a light and power plant was built and electricity replaced the old kerosene street lights, and a majority of the homes and business places were wired for electricity.
Ben A. Brown, local abstractor and long-time resident of Pocahontas, has the distinction of being the first individual who ever turned on an electric light in the city. The drop and shade which hangs over the front desk in his office on the southwest corner of the old court square is the original light which he turned on in 1911.
Next came the water system in 1915. This was one of the greatest advantages any town ever has. The water hauler who supplied the town, those who had no wells and cisterns, went out of business, ,red much illness caused by the use of untreated Black river water subsided. The original old metal storage tank is still used as an auxiliary storage vessel but a new concrete reservoir was built this year out on the Dalton road, to replace the old tank.
Highway 67 was built through the town in 1928 Today we are only two and one-half hours from Little Roc k, a little over an hour from Memphis, and less than five hours from St. Louis, by highway travel.
It would possibly be appropriate to add here that in the not far distant day the above time will be cut at least in half by air travel.
The first hard-surfaced streets to be built in Pocahontas, other than gravel, was in 1928, when Thomasville and Highway 67 were concreted through town. In 1940 and 1941 several miles of streets were black-topped.
The Arkansas-Missouri Power Corporation built a highline through this section. The line ran through Pocahontas.
At this time the local power plant was taken over by the corporation and the electric power for the city had been supplied by the latter concern.
During the early days of World War II a section of land across the river east of Pocahontas, adjacent to the city limits was taken over by the Federal government for use as an auxiliary airfield. There is a possibility that this may later be used as a municipal airport.
Between this area and the highway bridge there has been opened a new addition to the city and it is being improved rapidly, principally as an industrial addition. Another addition has been opened just north of the Dalton Addition and is being sold in lots and blocks by A. J. Baltz and others. It is known as the Lakeview additi on In the northwest section of the city, Ray Bowlin has recently opened an addition and is now opening streets and selling lots. Joe S. Decker and W. T. Crismon have opened up an ad-
dition on the west side and others have improved and offered lots for sale in various sections of the city. There has already been a lot of new buildings constructed, but due to the present shortage of materials and restrictions on buildings, the building program is handicapped. There will be at least two hundred new residences and around twenty-five new business buildings of different kinds erected as soon as conditions permit.
The Brown Shoe Company of St. Louis is now building a $200,000 shoe factory in Pocahontas and other industries are likely to enter the city soon.
This is a fair summary of the history of the town of Pocahontas from around 1815, as Bettis Bluff, and from 1835 to the present as Pocahontas:
The city has a number of civic organiaztions, among these are the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.
The City Council is composed of the following: A. L. Wright, mayor; J. M. Dunn, John V. Baltz, Clifford McNabb and Edward Promberger, aldermen.
The Pocahontas School Board is composed of the following members: Robert P. Sallee, George M. Booth, A. F. Million, E. C. Cox and Lawrence Dalton.
Plans are under way to build a modern high school building on the ground just north of the present building. The present building will be re-conditioned and used for the lower grades. Approximately twenty-four teachers will be employed this year. The Catholics maintain a separate school, both high and lower grades.
The village of Ravenden Springs is known throughout north Arkansas as the "Dream Town." It is located in the vicinity of one of the oldest settlements in this section of the state. John Janes, a Revolutionary soldier, settled near here on the creek which bears his name about 1809. The first records of Lawrence county, of which this was a part until 1835, mentions the names of many families who still reside in this vicinity. One of the oldest mail routes in Randolph county ran from southeast Missouri "by way of Dry Springs on the state line, Janes store and Batesville." Later there grew up, just south of the present-day Ravenden Springs, a village called Walnut Hill and also Kingsville. Both passed out of existence and the "dream town" came into existence about 1880.
About the same time, or soon after John Janes located here, there came the Wells, Wyatts Davis, and later the Baileys, Guntharps, Hendersons and Deckers, Lands, Picketts, Tanners, and others.
The establishment of the town of Ravenden Springs came about from a dream which Rev. William Bailey, Methodist minister, had. He had suffered from a stomach ailment for many years. All remedies used had brought no relief. One night he dreamed that there was a spring deep down in the canyon on Hall's creek on which he lived, and that he climbed down in the steep canyon wall and drank of its water and was cured. He dreamed this three times in succession. The next day he did as he dreamed he did and continued to drink of this water and was soon completely cured.
The story of Rev. Bailey's dream and one became widely known. It was told to the late Capt. R. D. Welsh, who at that time was a conductor on a passenger train of the old Iron Mountain railroad between Little Rock and St. Louis
Capt. Welsh visited the spring and was so impressed that he resigned his position and went to St. Louis where he organized a stock company, returned to the spring and laid out a town and built a forty-room hotel just south of the spring and built steps from the hotel down into the canyon to the spring. Captain Welsh succeeded in getting a stage line established from the new town to Walnut Ridge, a distance of about 35 miles. Soon after this the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis railroad was built up Spring river valley and missed Ravenden Springs six miles. Captain Welsh succeeded in getting the nearest station on the line named Ravenden Junction. The mail was carried from Ravenden Springs through Walnut Hill to Ravenden Junction. In 1906 a high school was built and in 1907 a bank was established. Only three persons have owned the spring and surrounding land. Rev. Bailey obtained the land from the Government and deeded it to Capt. Welsh in 1880. Welsh deeded it to Joe s. Decker in 1919.
The following were early builders of Ravenden Springs: Dr. Lambert J. C. Parnell, Dr. Montgomery, A. G. Henderson and Bob Blackshear.
Bob Blackshear opened the first general store in the town and John Guntharp opened the first drug store. Prof. Dave Hays taught the first school in the town after it was established. Cal Moffit and Jake Lane were the first blacksmiths. George Pace, father of Roy and Troy Pace of Hoxie, was the constable of the town in 1880 and also the first mail carrier after the postoffice was established. Others who have figured in the history and progress of Ravenden Springs are: J. B. DuVall, Will McKinley, Charles Shelton, Webb and Childs, Capt. Mockabee, W. T. Fry, J. B. Elkins, J. B. Reynolds, John W. Cruse, Eaves brothers, C. A. Dixon, W. W. Rogers, S. L. Davis, C. C. and I,. G. Hogan, W. F. Blackwell, Frank Davis and sons, William Marriott, and later R. L. Higginbotham and sons, W. A. Davis and sons,
free oxygen. It is buoyant, animative, light and volative. Upon these qualities it's healing powers depend. I can give only a few names of those cured by this water. They were W. W, Bailey, Bob Blackshear, Clay Sloan, Josh Holder and Dona Bloodworth. There were scores of others. Eighteen months after the discovery of the spring the population of the town was around 1,500. This was in 1880. In 1893 the management of the spring built a concrete reservoir around the spring.
"The analysis of the medical spring water is given below:
"On analysis of the water of Ravenden Springs, Ark., we find temperature 52 degrees, specific gravity 1.0012. Total solids per gallon, 20.92 grains composed of-
Carbonate of Lithia .082 Grammes
Carbonate of Lime .299 Grammes, 4.61 Grains
Carbonate of Magnesia .295 Grammes, 4.48 Grains
Chloride of Lime .081 Grammes, 2.19 Grains
Chloride of Magnesia .136 Grammes, 2.35 Grains
Chloride of Sodium .142 Grammes
Sulphate of Aluminia .153 Grammes
Sulphate of Lime Trace
Soluable Silica .054 Grammes, .83 Grains
Iodine and Iron, each Trace
Organic Matter .21 Grammes, .86 Grains
Gas. Carbonic Acid 21.5 cubic in.
Atmospheric Air 13.3 cubic in.
Respectfully, Wrights & Merrill, Chemists, St. Louis, Missouri.
"In 1874 there were a number of. prosperous farmers living in the country around Ravenden Springs. Some of these were: Sol and Mich Davis, Elrod Poteet, Kinson Land J. E. Pickett, John Griffith, John, Henderson and Josh Wrenfro, Rufus Bowen, George Bloodworth, M. B. and Jimmy Janes, Frank and Abe Decker, George and Dudley Wells, Wm. Lomax; John Guntharp, Rhodes and W. W. Bailey, S. Woodyard, George Shelton and Josh Holder.
"The doctors have contributed much to the progress and permanency of Ravenden Springs. Dr. J. R. Jones came first, in 1881. Then Dr. B. E. Pickett, Dr. H. B. Hull, Dr. Nixon, Dr. Ellis and at present Dr. Alvarez.
"The public school has been a material factor in the progress of the town. The high school building was erected in 1907. Prof. Watkins was the first principal of this school.
In 1914 County Judge Joe S. Decker went before the Arkansas Legislature and secured the formation of a road improvement district, for the purpose of building a gravel road from Ravenden Springs to Ravenden Junction. This was the first road improvement district in north Arkansas The road was built in 1915 and today stands as a monument to the foresight and business sagacity of Judge Decker.
"The churches of the town at present are: Methodist, first built in 1885, present membership 89 Presbyterian, organized in 1882, present membership 40; Baptist, organized in 1911, membership now 90; the Church of Christ building was built in 1909, present membership 40. The present population of Ravenden Springs is 425, and 259 of these are members Of some church. This makes this the most religious town in Randolph county. The town has no mayor, no aldermen, no marshal. The people are religious, peaceful, tranquil, industrious and moral." Such is the "raven den" story from the pen of Dr. A. G. Henderson .
The present town of Reyno is an outgrowth of the original town of the name which was located two miles southwest of the present town. When the Frisco railroad was built through this section in 1901, the old town was abandoned and the business houses and most of the residents moved to the location on the railroad.
The site of the present town was called Esselwood at the time. The original town of Reyno was a settlement several years before the Civil War. Dennis W. Reynolds is credited with building the first residence and hotel on the actual Rite Of the town, in 1857. Stephen C. McCrary built
the first cotton gin and saw mill at the town. The first church was built about 1888 and was actually the old Antioch or Cherokee Bay church that was moved to the town. Among he first preachers were Henry Slavens and Sherrod Winningham of the old church and the following in later years: Hiram Kirkpatrick, W. P. King, F. C. Neely, Bob Carroll, Oscar Cunningham and Elder Watson.
The first merchants of the town were D. W. Reynolds, Martin Brothers, John P. Dunklin and possibly others. Some of the first families to settle in the vicinity of Old Reyno were Joseph Herron, Ben Bowden, John C. Wisner, the Watson, Winningham, Womack, Jones, Nelson and Owens families. The first physicians are said to have been Dr. Pringle, Dr. Hill and possibly others. During the days in which the old town of Reyno was prosperous, before the coming of the railroad it was the only trading point in Cherokee Bay, in Randolph county, except Peru and later Johnstontown.
It has often been stated that if the railroad had been built by way of Old Reyno that a large town would have grown up instead of the two smaller towns of new Reyno and Biggers, only a few miles apart.
The present New Reyno is built upon what is known on early land records as the Francis Surget lands. During the early days this Frenchman bought up thousands of acres of Randolph county land in its wild state with an idea of improvement for speculation. This land was later sold to many different individuals by heirs of the original owner and the title was a matter of much litigation for years. D. Hopson was the owner of Esselwood when the town of Reyno was established and he sold the town site to the various citizens of old Reyno who were the first citizens of the new town. The sites of the three churches of the town and the town park and school ground was donated for the respective purposes by Mr. Hopson.
W. M. Shrader, a native of Bavaria, was the first settler on the site of Reyno. Some of the first settlers after the new
town was established were D. W. and A.M. Reynolds, J. L. Jones, Sam Conner, H. I,. Sparkman, John W. Shaver, John Chorice and several others. The first school board was H. L. Sparkman, John Chorice and W. C. Glasco. Sparkman was the first postmaster of the new town, and also the last one at Old Reyno. Some of the early merchants were J. M. Hawk, D. W. Reynolds, J. L. Jones, H. L. Sparkman, .J.M. Smith, Logan Whittington and others, and later H. L. Richardson, E.G. Richardson, Tezzie Smith, L. P. Smith, John B.Shaver, Bland Brothers John Lamb John T. Robinson, and others, some of which are still in business there today.
The first school was taught in the old Masonic Hall over J. W. Shaver's store. The teacher was a Miss Owens.
After seven years as an unincorporated community, the town was incorporated by Elder John L. Fry, F. W. Cox, and twenty-four others, August 19, 1908 The first officials of the town were as follows: W. C. Glasco, mayor; J. T. Glasco, recorder; .John Lamb, John Chorice, H. L. Sparkman, D. W. Reynolds and J. I.. Jones as aldermen.
The physicians of the town during the first thirty years of its existence were Dr. Hill, Dr. Cox. Dr. Roberts, Dr R. O. Smith, Dr. J. E. Smith, and possibly others.
Other long-time residents of the town, not named above, were C. T. McClure, T. H. Robinson, T. R. Robinson, Myrtle Ladd, Leota Seymour, J. R. Re ynolds, L P. Smith, W.R. Jackson, Ed. Jackson Pete Cockrum, C. T. Poteet N. P. Simmons, Jesse Redwine, F. E. Belford the Richard son family the Lamb family J. W. Franklin P. H. Bundren H. D. Parker, and many others, including the writer's family, which lived here twenty-two years. The writer operated a store in Reyno several years and five members of the family served in various capacities as town officials, our father being a member of the town council at the time of his death in 1945. One of our brothers, Acel F. was a teacher in the school there several years.
Reyno is at present a town of about 350 inhabitants. It has three churches, four stores, a four-room grade school and the usual number of other business places and professional people. It is situated in a good farming section and there are a number of attractive farm homes in the vicinity.
The communities of Supply and Pitman Have much in common. Being close together, they have been populated by the same families of people. This causes much of the history of the communities to be the same. As you have already read the names of many of the first settlers in this section, you will see that the above is true.
The first store located at what is now Supply, was opened by William H. Fowler sometime about 1850. He was the great-grandfather of Tom A. Fowler and others now living in this community. The family came originally to this section from Pike county, Indiana. It is an interesting fact that during the almost a century since the first trading post was opened at Supply there has been a merchant of Fowler name or blood continually during that time, at this place. Among these have been William I1. Fowler, son of the above and William H. Fowler, son of the latter, Dan Fowler, Tom A. Fowler, Charles Ennis, Jollys, Will Allen, Rex Fowler and others who were related to the above. Other merchants which have been in business here are Haywood Hawkins, William Ainley, Dismangs, Redwines, Ruffs and others unknown to the author,
Supply was a stagecoach "terminal" on the old Military road during the Civil War period and even before this time. Stables and an inn was located here for the accommodation of the stage driver and his passengers. An extra team was kept here, ready at all times to replace the tired and worn out team which came in from the last division of the road.
The next station to the north was at Ironton, Missouri, and to the south, somewhere near Batesville.
Many a dusty, tired traveler on the old stage, and hot and wornout team drank the cooling water of the old "Fowler well," which is now in the center of the village. The first telegraph line in the state ran down this old road.
The first schoolhouse in this community is reputed to have been built by Zera Allen, one mile northwest of Supply about 1840. Mr. Allen, who was the grandfather of "all the Aliens in Randolph county," as one of the family stated it, was a minister of the Church of Christ He is said to have built this house for the purpose of providing a suitable meeting place for church purposes as well as a school. This places this church in the list of the first half dozen churches established in the county.
The first Baptist church built in this community was located near the present home of Uncle Sam Stout, south of Supply. It was a United Baptist church and called Little Vine." This church was later moved to a spot just west of the present Church of Christ building and became a Missionary Baptist church, which was later moved to the present New Home site.
The Free Will Baptist church at Pleasantview, or Dilbeck, was built a few years later.
Among the first families which settled around Supply, other than those named above, were the Crossens, Knowltons Dilbecks Ballards, Reeves, Taylors, Pringles, Winninghams, Pierce, Shemwells, Brown, Wallace, Vester, Ainley, Jones, Cockrum and many others whose descendants still live in this section.
The early marriage records show that James Cockrum married Levina Pierce, Dec. 19, 1822, and Nellie Cockrum married James Jordon, Dec. 28, 1824. From 1822 on, there is recorded many marriages between members of all the families named above.
Another old family of this community is the Ingram family. James P. Ingram, a Virginian by birth, came to this community in 1824. Here he married Rebecca Mansker, daughter of George Mansker, one of the first settlers of Demun township, April 12, 1825. Ingram was the fourth county judge of Randolph county and an influential man in his day. They were the parents of several children, a number of which died in childhood. Those which grew to adulthood and are remembered by older citizens are G. H., always known as "Dock;" Lurana, who married W. P. Green Johnston; J. W. known as "Uncle Blind Bill," and Leddie B., who married Henderson Hatley. The latter couple were the parents of this author's mother-in-law.
This community has been noted since early days as the location of more cotton gins than any community in the county, although in the hill section and not actually in "the land of cotton." Among those who have operated gins in this immediate section were the Duff, Jolly, Johnston, Ingram, Ruff and Allen families. Green Johnston built the second cotton gin in eastern Randolph county. The author remembers, as a small boy, going with our father from western Siloam township, to the gin of Uncle Bill Ingram.
This gin was located some distance southeast of Supply, and afforded the best cotton market in this section for many years.
This community has furnished six county judges since the county was formed. Twen ty-nine years of the one hundred and ten years of the county's existence has seen a man from Little Black township in the judge's office. They were P. R. Pittman, James P. Ingram, Henry Cockrum, Henry Richardson, J. H. Perkins, and Rex Jolly.
This community is crossed by two of the oldest roads in this section of the state. As has been mentioned a number of times, the old Military road crosses this section from northeast to southwest and was an important reason for the early settlement of the Supply community. The other
road is the old Warm Springs-Corning road which crosses the old Military road just south of Supply. This old road was an early route from the hill section of northern Randolph county to the lowlands of Clay county and the "bootheel" of southeast Missouri.
About one and one-half miles southeast of Middlebrook is located one of the oldest Methodist churches in north Arkansas. It is the old Siloam church. Siloam township in which it is located, was named for the old church. The first church building was erected here in 1845. It was an unhewed log building, built without nails The gables were of logs and the roof was made of long boards weighted down with poles. About fifteen years later a hewed log building twenty-four by eighteen was built and the only nails used in
it were made locally in a blacksmith shop. This building served the congregation until about 1884. At this time the local F. and A.M. Lodge and the members of the Methodist church built a two-story building. The second story to be used as a lodge hall and the ground floor as the church. This building stood until June 5, 1915, when a cyclone blew it away. (This was the same storm which destroyed the Glaze creek church only a few miles northeast of Siloam.
At the time the latter church was built there developed some opposition to the building of the building because of the fact that the church did not own the land upon which the house had stood all these years. To remedy this situation Jasper Newton Rapert and his brothers and sisters, as heirs of Daniel M. Rapert, who had entered the land, made a deed for four acres for church and cemetery purposes. The deed was made to C. G. Johnston, D. M. Robinson, C. M. C. Spencer, W. P. G. Johnston and Joseph Burton.
After this building was destroyed in 1916, another building was erected on the same site, a single story structure.
In the early spring of 1945, another storm blew this house off the foundation and across the ground some thirty or forty feet, but the building was not seriously damaged it was raised, placed on a substantial foundation and repaired, and is again in good condition at this time. Those who were instrumental in the building of the first church here are among the first settlers in this section.
Some of them were: Benjamin and Joseph Wilson, Gregory Johnston, Carroll Thompson, George Murphy, George Man- sker, John Chandler, J. D. Cross and Judge J. P. Ingram.
Some of those instrumental in the building of the church and lodge hall were, C. G. Johnston, L. F. Johnston, Jesse Robinson, the Raperts, Spencers, Swindles, and others.
About 1878 a large brush arbor was built just west of the present house, near the spring, and during the summer months church services were held under it. About 1870 a cemetery was started here. The first person buried was John Hawkins. The cemetery was first fenced with rails, which were destroyed by fire in a few years and no other fence was built until 1886, when it was enclosed with a wire fence.
The story goes that one night during the Civil War a bunch of Federal soldiers surprised the congregation at Siloam church and took several prisoners. Some of these were Daniel Rapert, Daniel Spence, L. F. Johnston and others. William Swindle was wounded and several of the younger men ran away and were not captured. L. F. Johnston was preaching
The Rapert Wilson and Johnston families have had a continued membership in this old church since it was established. The Johnston family has furnished this and other churches a number of preachers. Rev. Jesse Robinson, Rev. L. F. Johnston, and Rev. S. L. Johnston, who is still living at this date, were among the older ministers in the family and at the present time, Rev. Sam Pulliam, Rev. J. W. John-
ston Rev. Liston Johnston, and Elder Calvin Cox are all members of the Johnston family of Randolph county.
Among the first preachers to preach at Siloam were Rev. Robinson, L. F. Johnston, Philemon Wright, Ankrum Hilburn, Calvin Paddy and earlier than these were possibly Jonathan Wayland, Philip Davis and Eli Lindsey. As these were last named old-time circuit riders were living in this section even before this church was established. The names of very few of the first ministers are available at this time, which, if they could be found, would add an interesting item to the history of this ancient church.
As stated in the beginning, the first church at Siloam was also used as a schoolhouse. This was true of most of the earliest church buildings.
Just who the early teachers were is not known. The only name handed down to us is that of Prof. Nimmo, who taught here before the Civil War. He is said to have been a good scribe, a fair reader, but a little shy on the subject of mathematics. No pupil was ever allowed to go beyond the "double rule of three," which we now call long division. Siloam church may be the first Methodist church established in the county.
The most distant point in Randolph county, from Pocahontas, is the northwest corner of Union township yet in business and politics this township is closer associated with the affairs of. the county seat than many closer communities.
The folks in this section have always taken a lot of interest in county politics and related subjects.
The first settlers who came to this section settled along the banks of upper Janes creek. The country is generally broken but there are a number of good farms along the
creek. This section originally was covered with a heavy growth of good timber and all down through the years this has been a leading industry. Another leading industry has been sheep raising. This broken unland is especially well adapted to this animal. Some good cattle are also raised in this section.
Just who the first settler of this immediate community was is not known. The first land record of Lawrence county shows that Lot Davis was living here in 1818. On September 24, 1818, Richard Woods sold to Joseph Janes a claim on Janes creek "adjoining Lot Davis." Stephen F. Austin, later to become the "Father of Texas," signed the document as a witness. It is entirely possible that this man for whom the capital city of Texas was named, may have been a resident of this community before he ever saw the Lone Star state. J H. McIlvain was also a witness, so we infer that he also lived here.
Some of the very first settlers of a little later date were the Rogers, Taylor, Bellah, James and English families. These were soon followed by Baileys, Marriotts, Honeycutt, Fry, Wells and other names well known in this section. The Allison, Poteet, Wyatt, McFann and DuBois families have been here a long time too.
At one time there were two postoffices in this section. They were Ring and Yadkin. At Yadkin, William Davis and sons operated a store many years before moving to Ravenden Springs. The old Ring office was near the present-day school of the same name and I. F. James was one of the merchants of thirty-five years and more ago. just who the first merchants were is not known.
This section was first supplied with a trading point from Elm Store, Mammoth Spring and Myrtle, Missouri, in the days before the beginning of the present century. Of course the lower end of the township came to Ravenden Springs or Pocahontas. After the Frisco railroad was built up Spring
river this made an outlet for this section. In later years, with the coming of the motor cars and trucks and better roads, the trade which had been going across the hills to Mammoth Spring on that railroad, desiring to do business in this home county, turned to Pocahontas. There is a pretty good road down the creek to Ravenden Springs and this route is followed by a lot of the people to that town and also in coming to Pocahontas. There is another route going east by Taylor's store, which intersects with the Pocahontas- Elm Store road at the Dr. Dalton farm. Most any day, at anytime of the year you will see as many citizens of Union township in Pocahontas as there are from many other sections closer in.
The churches of this section are a Baptist church at Yadkin and the Church of Christ meets at Ring. The latter congregation meets occasionally at English Bluff.
The schools in this township are Cedar Bluff, Cedar Grove, Ring, Campbell (Dial's Creek) and Bluff Springs.
The names listed above in this article were all residents of Janes creek valley and a few may not have lived actually in Union but were close.
The village and community of Elm Store is one of the older settlements of the county. The Stubblefield, Job, Hudson, Nettles and other families settled here soon after the turn of the past century.
Shadrach Nettles and Obediah Hudson settled on the state line near this community in 1812. Other early settlers were the England, Hall Chester, Bounds Doran, Kite, Johnson, Going, Looney Bryan, and Brown families The King family also was here during the pioneer days.
One of the first roads opened in the county, after the county seat was moved to Pocahontas was the old Pocahontas-Elm Store road. The old Johnson watermill and the old Stubblefield ford on Elevenpoint river in this community, were two early landmarks.
The Kirkpatrick Brothers were merchants here a half century ago. Just who ran the first store is not known.
From Elm Store south, down Elevenpoint river to Birdell, a distance of some thirty miles, the valley was at one period (about 1850) owned almost entirely by the Looney Stubblefield, Wells and Mcllroy families The three schools in the Elm Store vicinity are Elm Store, Gladesville and Baker, across the river east of the village.
There are a number of buildings in this section of the county which have been standing around three-quarters of a century.
A greater portion of the first names to locate in this community are still represented.
just what year this village came into actual existence as a town or community center is not known. It is possible that there were people living here as early as 1815 or 1820. William Rice was granted a license to operate a tavern here in 1837. This tavern was a combination hotel, store and dram shop. Rice was one of the associate justices in attendance when the first Randolph county court was held at the home of .lames G. Russell, April 4, 18.86. lie was also county treasurer from 1846 to 1852. The story goes that Mr. Rice was a very religious man, and at his home was held the first church services in the town. He had a son who was a bit wayward at times, and "Uncle Billy" would call the boy into his room and after giving him a "good talking to," would punish him and then kneel down and pray. Wm. L. Rice married Rebecca Mansker, February 27, 1842. One of the next store keepers at Warm Springs was Moses Bailey. Soon after this, about 1860, David Allen, William Burrow and a little later, Elijah Dalton were in business here. Mr. Allen and Elijah Dalton and others operated cotton gins and sawmills here Later merchants were, Moses and Jerry Burrow, John C. and Rufus Dalton, Tom Thannisch, the Kings, Holts Stevens and others of later years.
The 40-room Dalton Hotel was built in 1874 by a partnership composed of Lewis Dalton, Dr. Kibler and W. H. Waddle. Prior to this a small hotel, as stated above, had been built, which this one replaced. It was built near the springs and was widely known as a popular stopping place for those who came here to drink the waters of the famous warm springs. Bath houses were also erected, together with bowling alleys and other amusements to entertain the visitors and patients, Two and one-half acres were fenced and inside this enclosure were sixty springs. Three different kinds of water came from the springs, chalybeate, sulphur and carbonate. An advertisement of the springs in 1890
stated that they were "equal to the famous chalybeate Vichy waters of Europe." After the turn of the century the fame of the springs subsided and were allowed to fall into bad repair and are scarcely discernible today. During the time they were advertised and improved, and before the large hotel burned, many people came from the lowlands of eastern Arkansas to take advantage of the healing qualities of the springs. Dr. G. A. Seal was one of the leading physicians of the town at that time. Other early physicians were, Dr. Stone, Dr. Byrd, Dr. Slaughter and later Dr. Hughes, Finney, and Carrens.
Elijah Dalton, who owned a large farm on Dry creek a few miles northeast of Warm Springs, just over the line in Missouri, moved to Warm Springs some time in the early "seventies" and became the first postmaster of the town. He was a brother of the writer's grandfather. Grandfather was one of the early blacksmiths of the town, after he moved there from the old home on Fourche and Dry creek. Grandfather's name was David Dalton, but was always called Tim. Uncle Elijah was the father of a large family, as also was my grandfather. Mrs. W. A. Holt, who still lives at Warm Springs in the old home of her father, was one of Uncle Elijah's children. Mrs. Martha P. Phillips, who resides with a son southeast of Doniphan Missouri, at the present time, is the eldest child of grandfather David Dalton. She is now eighty-two years of age.
Other early families at Warm Springs were the Wooldridge, Holt, Barrett, Flannigan, Creason, Carter Wrights, RusselIs, Nettles, Burrow, Yarbrough, Whittenberg, King, Bailey, and others. John Holt, the grandfather of John R. Holt, now living in Pocahontas, settled on the creek below town now known as the old Whittenberg place in 1821, coming here from Washington county, Missouri.
The first school near Warm Springs of which we have any record was old New Hope, located on Mud creek, below
the village, near the old Mock farm. All the early schools were subscription schools. This kind of school was supported by a voluntary tuition plan, paid by the pupil directly to the teacher. The late Thomas D. Mock once told the writer that he taught the first public school in Warm Springs school district in 1874. C. C. Elder, who was county and circuit clerk of Randolph county under the Confederacy and until 1868, was one of the first teachers at Warm Springs. The widow of Major Surridge was a teacher here about 1880. Next came a Mrs. Johnson Dr. Bird built the first school building in Warm Springs on the site where the residence of Mr. Heflin now stands. Soon after this a school building was built by private donation, which served until the present building was erected. The late W. I. (Uncle Dock) Holt and a Mr. Baker built the second house. Soon after 1880, Prof. F. E. Tilford and wife came to Warm Springs and were employed as teachers and their school became known as Tilford's Academy. This was one of the best and most famous schools of northeast Arkansas during the days before 1900. Tilford's Academy saw the zenith of it's career about 1883. The class of 1883 was made up of many persons living at this time. Among these, living and deceased were, Alice Johnson Pulliam Maggie Nettle Baker, Lively Dalton Wells, Nora Mcllroy Dalton Sarah Dalton Spikes, Mary Dalton McIlroy, Malissie Dalton Holt, Josie Mcllroy Johnson, Prof. Tilford's daughters, W. A. Holt John Y. Tilford, Jerry Burrow, Jim Kenner and John P. Campbell. The writer's father was a student under Prof. Tilford but was younger than the class named above. This school, while possibly not in a class with our present day better class schools, sent out into the world many men and women who made their mark in important places and would be a credit to any school.
The first church in this vicinity was at old New Hope named above which was also the first school. Here church services were held by all who felt disposed to worship regard-
less of belief or creed. Later it was used principally as a Baptist church before the church was established at Warm Springs proper. The present church building was erected and a Freewill Baptist church organized in 1885. The late Rev. Demps N. King and Rev. G. A. Barrett were the organizers Among the charter members were Mr. and Mrs. John Holt Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Carner, Pleasant Carter and Mrs. W. A. Holt The church is still active and some of the charter members still live nearby.
The first man buried in the cemetery was it soldier who died one night during the Civil War while a company was encamped on the creek just above town The soldiers left sometime in the night, and buried the man in a very shallow grave in the sands of the creek They were Federal soldiers.
The next morning an old citizen of the town, Uncle Jim Barrett and some small boys took the body and re-entered it in the present graveyard. There were no able-bodied men at home All were away in service. The next person buried there was a colored man who, at that time, had been living southeast of town Some of the earliest ministers to preach here were, Alonzo Burrow N. C. Dodson and others later among whom were John Yarbrough and Demps King.
The town and township of Warm Springs had a reputation dining the early days as a rough-and-ready place. A fact which was true of most of our early communities. Many personal encounters of a pugilistic nature were engaged in during these days. There were a few murders and a large number of local citizens who sometimes boasted of being the "best man" in the community The community has long taken their politics seriously Several of our county officials came from this section of the county, even from the beginning. But some of this has changed. The town is now a typical inland trading center and is populated by some of the. best and highest type of people in the county. It is a nice. peaceful community. A nice place to live.
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