White County, Arkansas

White County Historical Society



Cloie Presley Collection Open at UCA


The 50-year collection of historian Cloie Presley of Searcy is now available to the public at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway.  A total of 28 boxes of books, letters, research data and other materials accumulated by Mrs. Presley have been indexed by UCA archivists. 

 The index may be found at http://archives.uca.edu/special_collection/m91-05.htm     

 Mrs. Presley died November 14, 2004, at age 82.  She had conducted genealogical and local history research since about 1951.  She was the last surviving charter member of the White County Historical Society.  She was editor nearly 25 years and held all elected positions. Born Cloie Mae Smith on November 27, 1922, near Goff Cove in Cleburne County, she was the daughter of farmer Willie B. Smith and Sena Holliman Smith, descendants of  some  of  the  earliest settlers on that part of the Little Red River.  Her father moved the family to Wilburn, so that the children could attend high school.  Cloie Smith graduated from Wilburn High School and then attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now UCA).  She earned a BSE degree in 2 1/2 years, graduating in 1944.  She taught fifth and sixth grades at Garner for three years before marrying Leister Presley of Drake Spur in 1948.  She then gave up teaching and began to devote more time to a burgeoning genealogical and research service in her home.  She also became involved in numerous volunteer projects.  This included 34 years in Girl Scouts (although the Presleys had no children), more than  3,500 hours for the White County Hospital Auxiliary and several years with the Pioneer Village Museum in Searcy.  She was a familiar figure at the White County Public Library, serving as a research consultant from 3 to 5 on Thursday afternoons.  Mrs. Presley published her first article in White County Heritage in 1963, telling about her grandmother's home remedies.  Her articles continued annually until 1997.  During the 1960s and '70s she and Leister tracked down many of the county's "lost" or forsaken pioneer graveyards, copying information from headstones and publishing a series of booklets for the public.  Her personal collection included hundreds of letters that she received from all over America, many containing family histories and most seeking additional information.  She built a personal library that was graciously available to anyone.  She requested that UCA receive her collection following her death.  She was the primary contact person for inquiries about history that came to the chamber of commerce, city hall or county judge's office.  The White County Historical Society in 2000 established an annual "Cloie Presley Award" and named the Presleys honorary lifetime members.  


The University of Central Arkansas Archives, home of the Cloie Presley Collection and Luther Presley Collection, are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Archives are located at the west end of Torreyson Library on the campus in Conway. Enter the library's front entrance (facing south on Alumni Circle), then proceed left as far as possible. The Archives are open to anyone. Just enter and register. There are employees to assist patrons. Parking is available at the visitors' parking lot on Bruce and Donaghey. The library is approximately a 50-yard walk across Bruce.