Jasmine Grew Out of a Temporary Settlement

By DEDI MASON

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 27, 2002

Jasmine is located on Arkansas 11 on the border of White and Prairie counties. The area has been inhabited since before the Civil War, but grew as a community during the Great Depression. From trees, to shanties, Jasmine is a town that has seen many changes throughout the years.

Built around a railroad that the Rock Island Train traveled, Jasmine once was a busy community. The train stopped daily, picking up passengers and milk cans, leaving daily papers and fastening onto cars to carry to other destinations.

The town consisted mainly of "shanty" houses.

Shantytowns also referred to the Hoovervilles, named for President Hoover, who was in office at the beginning of the Great Depression, sprang up around the country during that time as workers were displaced and had to move around in order to find work. The houses were not houses at all, but tents and structures made of wood or tin. The people who put the houses up thought that they would be temporary, so they did not put diligent construction efforts into the buildings. Basic shelter was the key.

Not only were the houses crude because of the expected temporary state, but times were tough. The average income at the time was only $1,400 per year. Milk was only 14 cents a quart and round steak was a whopping 42 cents a pound. Bread was 9 cents a loaf. These people were not only looking at a temporary place to live, but building a traditional home may have seemed an unlikely endeavor.

As the shantytown of Jasmine became more permanent, Wess Holloway opened various businesses in the area. He owned a general store, a sawmill and tie-buying yard.

The area was originally called White Oak Bottoms, as it is located in a low swampy area. The name was eventually changed to Jasmine after a flower that grows abundantly in such conditions.

Through the years, Jasmine has changed quite a bit. Today, driving through town, one will see no stores and not much in the way of business, not unless you are looking to have your retriever trained.

The houses standing today do not even resemble the houses that were first erected in the community. It is apparent that the people in the area care about keeping their town well maintained. Noticing the frame and brick homes, many with well cared for yards, it may be hard to imagine that the original structures were shanties.

Another significant item that has changed in the area is in relation to Jasmineís highway signs. In 1991, a gentleman wrote to the Arkansas Highway Department, complaining because the signs on the outskirts of Jasmine were misspelled. The Highway Department checked and sure enough, they had spelled the signs "Jasamine." The spelling was changed to Jasmine, but on the White County maps, not all of the misspellings have been corrected.

White Countyís Jasmine is a quiet community that seems to be a good place for someone wanting to settle, away from the hustle and bustle of todayís world. With its roots as a temporary settlement, you wonít believe what the area looks like today, but you are sure to be pleased. Just donít forget to get gas and snacks before you travel through the area.

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