Paul E. Miller Recalls a Thriving Judsonia


White County Record, February 6, 2002


orn on July 4, 1916, in a log house about a half mile from where he lives now to Joe H. and Clara (Edwards) Miller, Paul E. Miller, Sr. is a treasure trove of local history. The farmland where Paul and his wife Jewell live is now home to four generations of his family. Paul purchased the family farmland before he was twenty.

††††††††† Paul attended school at Clarke school, a one-room schoolhouse with temporary partition to divide the space to allow for two teachers and eight grades. Mr. Miller mentioned that tossing various items over the partition was a great pastime. This Clarke school, which is no longer in existence, was located near Moccasin Bend on the Little Red River where the old Beeler Ferry was run. Beeler Ferry was commissioned in 1835 when Searcy became the county seat. It was discontinued in the 1920s. Later Paul attended Clearwater, which was a two-room school in the area where he completed eighth grade.

††††††††† When Paul was a young boy he remembers Judsonia being larger than Searcy. He recalls a town bustling with business. Of course Judsonia had the railroad which helped the economy. There were two banks, a large furniture store, car dealerships and two mercantile stores. Much of the mercantile business was done on a credit basis. Cotton and strawberries were the main cash crops. Mr. Miller remembers seeing a full trainload of 141 refrigerated cars loaded with strawberries leave the station.

††††††††† Paulís familyís first car was a Maxwell touring car in 1926. He said they spent more time pushing it than driving it. Next they had a Model T which Paul learned to drive at the age of 10. Farming was done with mules at this time. Paul says young men today miss out on tremendous opportunities to learn patience by not learning to plow with mules.

††††††††† The schools in Clarke, Clearwater and Crossroads (now known as Plainview) consolidated to form one of the earliest rural high schools in White County and Paul was a member of the first class. He completed three years and the eleventh grade there and then transferred to Beebe for his senior year of high school. He graduated from Jr. Agricultural Collegeís High School Division in 1932. Paul then attended his first semester of college there before the Depression days arrived and forced him to drop out for awhile.

††††††††† During the period of over a year that he was out of school, Paul did farm work for 50 cents a day or $15 a month plus board. He still has a certificate for one 500-pound bale of cotton grown on one acre of land six miles northwest of Judsonia with one mule, hand-picked and driven to the cotton gin in a wagon.

††††††††† During the time of the Great Depression Paul and his family didnít experience much change in their daily lives because they grew everything they needed. They had animals to butcher for meat and a garden for fresh vegetables. The only items they bought were sugar, flour and coffee.

††††††††† Paul then attended Harding College, which was at Morrilton then. †He lived with a family there, which was a common practice, especially for young men. When Harding moved to Searcy Paulís muscles bore the brunt of many pieces of furniture that he helped move.

††††††††† Paul has worked as a farmer, teacher, factory worker, self-employed house builder, laundry operator, civil servant (USDA-SCS) and farm equipment dealer. He was married to his first wife, Alyene, for 53 years. He has been married to Jewell since 1995. He is a past member of the Civil War Round Table. He has served as president of the White County Historical Society and continues to be a member.

††††††††† His hobbies include traveling, camping, antiques, crafts and folk music of the Mountain View variety. He is an expert on local history and enjoys genealogy and family history. He feels privileged to have been well acquainted with seven generations of his family.

Paul E. and Jewell Miller