Tupelo in Jackson County is experiencing a
strong growth pattern
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, March 4, 2001
Thereís been a change in the population of
Tupelo, located along U.S. 17 in Jackson
County. It comes as a result of the small
influx of neighbors moving into and settling
alongside Tupeloís 208 residents.
Here, residents donate time to teaching
children how to ride bicycles and the adults
to drive motor vehicles.
Although probably best described as a
small-scale culture shift, most residents
area accepting of their new neighbors.
Ruth Patterson has lived in this small
community her entire life. Both her parents
and her grandparents grew up here.
When asked about the new residents, she
describes them as quiet.
"I wave," she said. "They wave back."
Patterson believes thereís a lot to be said
for the townís ancestry. "There are a lot of
good people here, but there are also a lot
of good people who have died," she said.
"You just donít see too many people like the
ones who have lived here."
Oscar Jones, 80, is one of the more
well-known individuals living in Tupelo that
"I see him all the time from my house
sitting across the street in his car reading
the newspaper," she said. "He knows
everything about this town. He used to run
the store, where he served as a banker,
cashing all the checks in the area. He also
worked as the postmaster."
The "old wood" store, as Patterson
referenced it, served as a post office and
general goods store for several years.
Jones, whose son operated it for many years
after he retired, later sold the building
and the post office was closed.
"Thatís when the government bought us a new
post office," Patterson said.
The store, which burned about a month ago,
was a great loss to the area.
"I can remember going there as a kid;
purchasing a soda pop and a candy bar for
less than a quarter," Patterson said. "We
have to go to Newport, 16 miles away or
Augusta, 13 miles away, to do our shopping.
Thatís a long way to drive just for a loaf
Despite its lack of commerce, thereís a lot
to be said for the quaint little town. There
are rustic, historic buildings that line the
heart of the community that reflect the
labors of an earlier time; a time when
farming was beginning to see a decline and
the industrial revolution was peaking.
Pattersonís home is also a historic
landmark; remnants of a time when there was
a school in town.
"This house used to be the lunchroom. There
were many a meal served here," she said.
The school, where Patterson once attended,
closed down 25 years ago. The children in
the area attend school in Newport today.
Along with the historic buildings and
homesteads, Tupelo is home to an appliance
store, four churches and a community center.
"We use the community center as a place to
give benefits for the people who have
cancer," Patterson said. "We also have a
little playground for the kids. We just got
it started last year. Itís fenced in by the
old Church of Christ and has basketball
goals and swing sets."
The playground, built from the donations of
area residents, is the pride and joy of the
townís community projects. "Everybody is
real good about doing stuff to help the kids
in this area,í she said. "Thereís always
something going on for them."
For the bigger kids, thereís a reunion each
year. "Every summer old people come together
from way off to see people they might have
not seen in years," she said. "Everybodyís
friends here. When you are in trouble, they
stand beside you. Itís the kind of place
where you know all your neighbors and
everybody loves everybody."
Perhaps thatís the reason why everybody
always comes back home for the reunions.
"Itís a good town, but not as good as when I
was growing up," Patterson said. "Itís
getting bigger now. It used to be that kids
could walk down the street and not worry
about anything. Thatís why I let my kids
grow up here."
She continued, "There are a lot of drugs and
other social concerns. Many of our children
have had had to move away to find
When asked if he and his wife would ever
consider moving, Gary Don, Pattersonís
husband, said, "No, itís home to us.
Although there is not much to do, itís a
good place to live."
His wife continued, "When the chips are
down, the people in this town are there for
you. And, if you need anything, they are
more than willing to bring you food or clean
your house. People donít do that in the big
Tupelo is best described as an interesting
community in the midst of a few growing
pains. It is comprised of farmers or retired
farmers who seem to have strong convictions
and a deep sense of loyalty to their
community, family, and friends.
(Tupelo 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.)