Great Mysteries of White County


President, White County Historical Society, 1963 - 1964

It may be that all of us never quite grow out of the “cops and robbers” games we played as children. Whether we try to satisfy this frustration with paperback who-done-its or the more sensational news stories in our favorite dailies, it’s still there – the desire to take magnifying glass in hand and go about uncovering the clues that are the keys to great mysteries.

            There is a connection, too, between the Sherlock Holmes who dwells in each of us and a membership in the White County Historical Society. We can offer a fascinating, never-ending detective story to those who become interested – and one in which anyone can take a very important role. Let’s take a look at jut a few of our most perplexing mysteries – enigmas awaiting a sleuth to shine his flashlight of truth through the cobwebs of their dark corners.

The Owl Eyes Mine. Legend says that the Spaniards operated a silver mine of fabulous wealth on the Little Red. Treasure hunters have spent years in trying to locate the shaft. Is the real story hidden in a fading document now forgotten in some Mexican cathedral or Spanish archive?

Francois Francure. Census records indicate that the founder of our county was trapping along White River in the early part of the 18th century. On the other hand, Judge Eugene Cypert, a recognized authority on White County history, believed that Francure lived as a hermit at Nigger Hill (Georgetown) until well up in the 19th century. Were there two different Francois Francures – or was our founder a real-life Flying Dutchman of inland waters?

Nigger Hill’s Name. There are five or six different stories as to how the county’s first settlement got its name. A historian doesn’t just take a choice. One of them must be true – but which one?

Text Box: Turning the bridge for a steamboat at Judsonia.

Erastus Gregory. Around 1834, a very young man came to White County, purchased some land from the government, founded a town (Judsonia) and died sometime between 1842 and 1846, still under 40 years of age. Where did he come from – what were the circumstances of his death – where was he buried? We don’t know.

The First Steamboat. Judge Cypert knew that the second steamboat to come up the Little Red arrived at Prospect Bluff (Judsonia) landing in February 1849. His grandfather J.B. Crow and his mother Sarah Earlin Crow, a 12-year-old girl at the time, were on it. But what of the first boat – its name, the captain, the date?

These are just a few of the mysteries of White County history awaiting solution.

“Quick, Watson, pass me that volume of old newspapers!”