In 1882 my uncle and father purchased a tract of land four miles north of Searcy. On this tract was a caledeate spring which we called Griffin for the old people from whom we bought the land. The hotel was built a block east of the spring. Expecting to take only summer boarders, the house was built of rough timber. It was a long, low rambling building, 17 rooms, all in a row with a dogtrot between the sixth and seventh rooms. At the end of these rooms was a porch, then a large dining room, another porch and then the kitchen. To the front and back of these bedrooms was a porch eight feet wide. My parents occupied the two rooms just off the hall, a sitting room and a bedroom. My uncle and his family used the two rooms nearer the front of the building. There were a parlor and small library between these rooms and the hall. From the front steps to the spring was a boardwalk. Back of the hotel were three cottages, one with four rooms and the other two with two rooms, which the guests used.
In the front yard was a formal garden in which was planted jonquils, iris and roses. There were also a pink crepe myrtle and several arbor vistas. In the backyard was a rock house in which were kept many pot plants. On the front and back porches between the posts were shelves on which these plants were set. By the front steps in front of our sitting room, my father planted wisteria which extended to the end of the porch. When we first moved there, the land around looked like a wilderness but by the second year, it was a beautiful place. There were three hills close by. We would sit on the back porch and look at the hills, thinking of the Bible quotation, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills…”.
In their effort to get away from the miasmic atmosphere of the newly opened bottomland in lower Woodruff County my father, Dr. T. A. Krider and my uncle by affinity (a relationship peculiar to the South), Col. V. A. Henderson, a planter, bought jointly the tract of land with the mineral spring, its cool and tinkling patter flowing from a mass of rocks situated in the Ozarks. This natural deposit was to serve as an attraction to health seekers as well as those seeking relief from the heat. The informality and freedom from restraint lent an atmosphere of friendliness and good fellowship. The guests were there principally for recreation and, to borrow from modern phraseology, "They all vibrated in the same key."
We made friends among those who came to spend their vacations with us, some of them being in high positions. One of the governors, Simon P. Hughes, was a regular visitor as was Opia Read, the writer and humorist. Their families were with them. Clifton R. Brackenridge, who was minister to Russia, and Congressman P. D. McCullough became our life-long friends as did Dr. Ross Kennedy, brother-in-law of Woodrow Wilson. Dr. Kennedy was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Augusta. Dr. Issac J. Long of Arkansas College in Batesville with his family was also a frequent guest. Miss Irene Long, the only daughter of Dr. Long, served as governess of the children of our respective families in the early 1880s. District Judge W. R. Campbell and Judge Joseph Martin became endeared friends.
For diversion the guests spent much of their time drinking the health-giving water, playing croquet or at the bowling alley. Within a short distance of the hotel ran Little Red River whose shoals provided an ideal place for swimming. Courting couples came from Searcy and other nearby towns passed away many happy hours at the resort in dancing, a pastime very popular at the time. The dances were given in the dining room which afforded ample space for the old-fashioned square dance and ever-popular waltz. Another happy event of the day for the young people was the arrival of the "hack" & bus (not the bus of today). Anticipating these arrivals our alerted ears detected the rumbling sound made by the iron-tired wheels far up the road and we raced our companions over the rocky road to be the first to greet the driver and his passengers. Mr. Burnham secretary to Opie Road, went with us through the country side, our trek often ending at Bee Rock farther down the river. This interesting spot was about a mile and a half from the hotel. Nearby was another rocky peak called "Devil's Pulpit" and a cave called Slidders Cave from the family who made their home there for several years. These spots held a distinct charm and their disappearance, when the government took the rock over for a quarry, was lamented by nature lovers. Later Griffin Spring, as we knew it, was abandoned but for years it continued to be a favorite spot for picnickers and hikers.
If you have additional information on Griffin Spring, please contact the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145.