An interview with Glenn Belew, retired postmaster, Romance, Arkansas on May 23, 2001 by T. R. Garner, VP White County Historical Society.
I first showed Mr. Belew the [above] picture of the Harper School c1895, saying that we thought the second person from the right in the back row was his father, but he said it was not and said he did not recognize any of the people in the picture.
I next asked him if he recalled when the Church of Christ building was constructed. He replied, “Well, the church started in 1913, but I don’t know just how long it was before they started building on the church.”
TRG, “That was the first building?”
GB: They met in a schoolhouse out there but there were some objections to that and so they had to move out and then right away they went ahead and built the church house. You know, Mr. Hamm Rodgers, Carl Rogers’ daddy, he sawed the lumber and saw the logs and hauled up there and they built the building.
TRG: Now you’ve been an elder there for a long time haven’t you?
GB: I was, yes, but I retired. There was no one there that would accept it, and just left me and I wouldn’t take it with just one by myself.
TRG: When were you an elder?
GB: I have been retired for ten years but don’t remember just what year I was selected or chosen.
TR: What other churches are there in Romance?
GB: There is a Baptist church…is all there is there now.
TRG: Do you have any idea when it started?
GB: No I don’t….I sure don’t.
TRG: The Church of Christ still meets don’t they?
GB: Yes. Now there used to be a Methodist church there, right across from where the Church of Christ is now. They met there for several years. And also their building had a lodge hall where the Masons met upstairs and the church house down below there. Did that for several years but finally they just quit meeting. Wasn’t enough of them.
TRG: When did they get the first post office?
GB: It was in the 1880s. I don’t remember just what year. That’s the first post office. It was called Kentucky Valley, but the post office…Feds….wouldn’t accept it. Said it conflicted with Kentucky state or something like that.
TRG: They wanted to call it what?
GB: Kentucky Valley. Several in there were from Kentucky.
TRG: Some of the old settlers?
GB: Well, ha ha, I couldn’t tell you who, about that.
TRG: Some of the Rogers have been there for a long time haven’t they?
GB: Yeah they’ve been there a long time, I don’t know just how long. The Watsons they’ve been there a long time, too. The Davises, they was there for a long time. And Pruitts…there used to be Pruitts also out there.
TRG: About the picture we were looking at of Now, Harper School. Now that’s a little south of Rose Bud isn’t it.
GB: Well, it’s south of Romance now. As I understand it, it’s down south close to where Red Hill was
TRG: We were wondering it it was part of the Red Hill community or Romance?
GB: I think it was part of the Red Hill community, if I understand it right.
TRG: Do you have any idea whether the building is still standing?
GB: No, I don’t think it is.
TRG: Maybe someone using it for a hay barn?
GB: I don’t believe it is. Now some of the Rogerses used to go to school there at Harper School over there before they went to Romance . Now Ham Rogers, his name was spelled R o g e r s and the other Rodgers, R o d g e r s. You know Marie I guess Marie Stewart
TRG: I knew Ed….
GB: No, it wasn’t his folks. They’re not related. That’s a different set of Rogers, spelled a little different.
TRG: Your post office at one time was in your store building across the creek. Was that the original location?
GB: No, at one time it was up there across the road where the new post office is now.
TRG: Was there a store building there?
GB: Yes, there was a store building there for awhile.
TRG: How many store buildings were there out there.
GB: Three. Glen Thomas had one over there. (Unable to understand next sentence…something about a TRGailer.)
TRG: When you had it down there in the store building, was that your store building?
TRG: And you were the postmaster?
TRG: Did you grow up out there?
GB: Yes. I was born about half a mile north of where I live now…that’s where I was born and raised.
TRG: Where do you live now?
GB: I live south of where I was born….right north of the meat processing place, about half a mile.
TRG: Is it in Romance?
GB: Yes, it’s on Wayne Walker Road, southwest of where the post office is now.
TRG: Is your home north of Romance?
GB: No, it’s south.
TRG: Who was Wayne Walker?
GB: Well, he was one of the Red Hill original people back there years ago. He married one of Oren Newman’s daughters, Mary Ellen (?), and he was a big hunter and fisherman. He liked to hunt….Montana, out west, you know….deer and different things.
TRG: Does the road start down there?
GB: It starts right north of me…. Wayne Walker Road starts right north of where I live. And runs south down there past where his wife lives.
TRG: Does it go as far as Harper School house?
GB: Yeah, it runs on past there.
TRG: Were you born out there?
TRG: Do you mind telling me when?
GB: 1917, no I don’t mind.
TRG: You’re five years ahead of me. I was born in ’22.
GB: You were? I’ll be 84 this year.
TRG: You’re doing good.
GB: Well, I’ve had two hip replacements….my mother had rheumatism and arthritis and was in a wheel chair several years, and I finally had to have both hips replaced….rheumatism had just eaten out the cartilage in the ball and joint.
TRG: It’s just amazing at what they can do now.
GB: Oh, yes it is.
TRG: I have a brother-in-law, Bob Helsten, who is in the hospital now after knee replacement surgery last week and he is getting along fine.
GB: Well, some patients get along fine and some not too good.
TRG: How long did it take you to get back to walking after you had your hip replaced?
GB: Oh, I’d say two or three months. Some patients stay in rehab, but I had mine done down at Little Rock, UMAS. Dr. Nelson, he’s the one that did the work.
TRG: Who were your parents?
GB: My dad was Milburn Belew and his mother was Sarah Roush(?). She was a Belew….her parents were Belews. Then she married later, Roush. And my mother was a Davis, uncle Hick(?) Davis’ daughter. She had two sisters and two brothers that I know of.
TRG: Your dad was Milburn and your mother was Sarah. Were they born out there?
GB: I don’t really know. I think he was. I don’t know about her.
TRG: It’s an old community isn’t it? Was it on a military road?
GB: No, I don’t believe so, not that I know of.
TRG: The highway that goes through Romance, has it been the road for a long time?
GB: Yes, highway 31.
TRG: When did you become postmaster?
GB: In 1961.
TRG: Who do you think could give us some information on the Harper School?
GB: Well, now, Ina Davis, she lives in here (Searcy) with her daughter, Anna Sue Arnold. She’s in the phone book.
TRG: Do you remember when that school ceased to operate?
GB: No, I don’t. She might.
TRG: Do you know whether it is still standing.
GB: No, I don’t think so.
TRG: What else can you tell us about that community out there?
TRG: I guess it gets a lot of publicity because of the name. Why was it named Romance?
GB: Well, a professor was teaching school at that time and when they had to name it something besides Kentucky Valley and so he suggested Romance because it was so romantic around there.
TRG: That’s interesting. Have there been any important politicians or other people from around there.
GB: No, well, there was school teachers, born there, there at Romance who taught school later.
TRG: Sounds like people there valued education.
GB: I think they did.
TRG: What would say the population is now?
GB: Well, it’s just according to how far out, the radius, you go out. I used to say 100 people within a radius of 5 miles. But in the last few years we’ve had a lot of people move in. Real Estate companies buy up land and divide it into 3 and 5 acre lots so we’ve had a lot of people move in.
TRG: Retirees, probably?
GB: Well, probably some of them are, I don’t know about all of them.
TRG: What is the prime economy, farming?
GB: Well, it used to be. Farming used to be the main way of making a living. Cotton.
TRG: I’m from Calico Rock and I can remember when we raised cotton up there.
GB: We used to have a cotton gin there at Romance, but it’s been a long time since we had that. Now, cattle is the main thing. Most people that live out there work in Little Rock, Heber Springs, Conway, Searcy.
TRG: A bedroom community?
TRG: How far is it from Searcy.
GB: Twenty-two miles from Searcy and about thirty to Conway and about forty to Little Rock and about eighteen or twenty to Heber Springs.
TRG: You’re right in the middle of everything.
GB: (chuckle) Yeah
TRG: Were you in the war?
GB: Yes, well, I wasn’t in the war….I was in the army but I never did go overseas. I didn’t have to fight. I got out on a disability discharge thing…ulcers.
TRG: Where were you stationed?
GB: Texas and California. I was in anti-aircraft. I was in Texas, right on the coast. Palacius(?) Texas, not too far from Houston. In California I was out at Riverside, California.
TRG: Was Palacius near Pasadena?
GB: I don’t know how far it was from Pasadena?
TRG: It has been interesting, finding out more about the history of White County.
GB: Oh, yeah.
TRG: I’m from Izard County, so I feel like I’m displaced.
GB: I had a letter from a woman yesterday, from Alabama. She was wanting to find out about some of her folks in White County. Her name was Belew but she spelled it a little different. Bellew, and ours is Belew.
TRG: Is that a French name?
GB: I don’t know. My mother’s people came in here from East Kentucky, out that way, east. They were Scotch-Irish. I don’t know my dad’s people….where they were from.
TRG: My granddad came up from middle Tennessee, McMinnville, in the 1860s. There was a whole migration of people came up from there into north Arkansas and southern Missouri.
TRG: I really appreciate your coming by.
GB: Well, I hope I’ve been some help to you.
TRG: You have a nice cemetery out there by the church.
GB: Well, they do a good job. I was on the committee but I resigned two years ago and they got someone else to take my place.
TRG: Do you know which is the oldest tombstone out there?
GB: Well, they claim, now I don’t know, but they claim that the oldest person buried there drowned in Des Arc creek in what they called Round Hole. Now, I don’t know whether that’s true are not, but that’s the story.
TRG: About when would that have been?
GB: They didn’t even have a tombstone marking it. There are so many now that just have rocks marking them.
TRG: I think that’s true all over. Unmarked graves.
GB: Now there was one other Romance when I was in the post office. There were two for awhile; one in West Virginia and one in Missouri but the one in Missouri closed the office but there is still one in West Virginia.
TRG: Your post office did a lot of business around Valentine’s Day.
GB: Yes, the lady in there now does a lot of business.
TRG: What is her name:
GB: I can’t pronounce it. She got married about a year ago but I don’t’ remember how to pronounce the name. She lives in Sherwood…North Little Rock…Sherwood. She’s a real good postmistress.
TRG: Who are some other people out there who might give us some information?
GB: Well, my sister lives out there now. She’s 92. She lives there at Romance.
TRG: What is her name?
GB: Berniece Carruthers.
TRG: Can you think of someone who might give us some information on the Harper School?
GB: Ina Davis. She lives with her daughter here….
TRG: And your sister Berniece lives where?
GB: She lives on highway 31, just before you get to highway 5. She lives about a …almost a mile west of the post office on highway 31.
TRG: She has a telephone?
TRG: I may give her a call sometime and go out and visit her.
GB: She might could tell you some things. Between her an Miss Davis, I’m sure they could help you out on that.
TRG: I meant to come out to see you yesterday afternoon.
GB: Yeah, I had to go to Rose Bud to get the tire on my trailer fixed.
TRG: Are you still doing any farming?
GB: No, I can’t do much. My wife put out a few tomato plants and squash but we don’t try to do much.
TRG: When I try to do something it takes me a lot longer now.]
GB: That’s what I told my wife. I just aggravate myself but I just can’t do much.
TRG: I know what you mean.
GB: It was a chore taking that wheel off.
TRG: I can get down on my knees but it sure is hard getting back up.
GB: That’s the way I am. I’ve got to have something to pull to. A lot of chairs are so low down……
GB: Do you go to the Downtown Church?
TRG: West Side. I was a deacon at the old Downtown, Locust and Vine, before they moved. You know, there had been talk of needing church in the West end of Searcy for years and finally the leaders at the College church and Locust and Vine said we’ll just make an announcement for anyone interested in beginning a new work to meet at the Locust and Vine church building that Sunday afternoon, and two weeks later we were meeting in the old brick garage down at the south end of the park..
I had a good friend who went to West Side, Mouncie Newman.
TRG: I remember him.
GB: He was a fine fellow. He was my neighbor for years.
TRG: I tried to get him interested in our Golden Years program for years. It’s for people our age. But I never could get him started.
GB: No, he wasn’t much to socialize.
TRG: Of course, Ed and Sarah Rogers were good members for years. Ed died. Sarah still comes.
GB: Ed’s brother’s wife….her son died and Sarah and the other sisters (couldn’t understand)
TRG: I didn’t know about that. Saw Sarah yesterday at Golden Years but she was at another table and I didn’t get to talk to her.
GB: About four or five years ago we had a preacher from here. He lived on Market Street. Fisher. My wife and I tried to find his house but we never could. He’s not here now. He’s in Newport. He went to school here. We have a couple of preachers from the Downtown church, they’re both elders I think. They come out every other Sunday. Richard Pectol and Jim Woodell.
GB: If that’s all then,…….I hope I’ve been a little help to you.
(Glenn Alva Belew died September 12, 2007, one day after his 90th birthday. He was buried in Romance Cemetery.)