"If a squirrel falls out of a tree in Wolf Bayou, it makes the
news," says Hill Top Cafe customer.
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, May 27, 2001
Blink and a traveler could very well miss the community of Wolf
It's a cliche, but so true. There's no post office. There are no
stores. The population, although not exactly dismal, is not that
There are a few signs of commerce, such as the Hill Top Cafe
that sits on the outskirts of town.
"Greers Ferry Lake is about the only thing going on out here. If
a squirrel falls out of a tree, it makes the news," Katherine
Woodham, a regular at the cafe, says.
As for employment, Woodham's husband Lyndle, states, "People
either work or they don't work. It's a real laid back area."
Wolf Bayou, located in Cleburne County, does have a few morsels
to offer those sneaky squirrels seeking snacks, rhetorically
speaking. There's so much history here that former resident
Louie Clark researched and wrote a book about the genealogy and
origin of the township.
According to his research, the name of the community is believed
to have derived from the creek in the area:
"There's a brooke in Wolf Bayou that people call a creek.
Why the creek was called a bayou and not a creek is difficult to
explain, but I think it had to do with the fact that original
surveyors for this land were French, and creeks to them were
called bayous. The first post office was named for the bayou and
the name of the town was most likely a result of combining the
name of the post office with the word wolf, a symbol that the
area was laden with them."
The area, Clark further explained, was rough territory in
1818. When the first post office opened in 1852, it was one of
the few between here and Quitman. As time evolved, it seemed the
town did as well.
"Hillside farming, cotton gins, a general store, blacksmith shop
and gristmill were here," Clark said. "It amazed me when I wrote
the book and realized how much went on in this community during
the early 1900s."
The Ward family and John Ross, are considered the founding
fathers. Ross, Clark said, is the person who founded the
community. The Ward family members were noted as the most
"They operated the gin, general store, and post office," he
said. "A member of the their family, Otto Ward, became the first
doctor. He grew up and died here. It was the only place he ever
Although no school system is in place today, Wolf Bayou was once
home to a rather good one. Pictures that Clark has preserved
show classmates lined up on the steps of a wooden school
building where locals earned what's been described as a good
He remembers, "We had a girl in our graduating class who had a
premonition of death and wrote about that experience in a poem.
A few days after she wrote it, one of my best friends recited
the poem aloud. The girl died a few days later."
Clark continued, "To this day, the lady who recited the poem can
recall it as clear as day, and she's over 90 years in age."
Good times were also shared among the residents that lived
here-- that's evident from Clark's second book, a pictorial
history on the community.
Despite the strong roots and deep southern pride of its
families, Wolf Bayou never quite developed into a full-fledged
town, something that has been attributed to its location on the
"It's positioned between two hills, and because of that,
couldn't keep a road in it," Clark said. "At one time, it moved
to the top of the hill and it had the potential of being one and
probably could have if it were not for the neighboring
communities out here."
When writing of the town, Clark extends great energy describing
the famous Cherokee Line that runs throughout the boundaries of
"That line is representative of where the government had said
the Indians would stay," he said. "It runs through the Northwest
part of Wolf Bayou and will always be a part of this area and
For those interested in learning more about the families in
residence here, Clark is considering the idea of making extra
copies of his book.
Clark, who resides in nearby Drasco, has already sold more than
1,000 copies of it.
"People from as far away as California will look me up and ask
about purchasing one. Family roots run deep around here," he
said. "We have a lot of pride in our memories."
Overall, Clark says, there is no mayor for this township, but
one is hardly needed since the community lacks most of the
criminal and drug problems that seem to run in accordance with
some other rural areas.
As Katherine Woodham describes, "There are problems like that in
a few towns up the road from us, but we don't have any problems
in our area, and we're proud of that. We're trying to keep it
that way, too."
(Wolf Bayou is an excerpt from Road Trips; a weekly feature of
small towns in Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and published by
the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)