Izard County Arkansas Genealogy Trails
POST OFFICES--PAST AND PRESENT
THE HISTORY OF IZARD COUNTY ARKANSAS
EARLY COUNTY HISTORY
POST OFFICES--PAST AND PRESENT
Band Mill (1916-1921)
Barren Fork (1876-1914)
Benbrooks Mills (1850-1866)
Big Spring (1853-1867)
Black Oak (1873-1881)
Calico Rock (1851-Date)
Cooper Hill (1871-1873)
Croker Spur (1924-1933)
Crooms Mill (1878-1882)
Cross Plains (1850/1866)
Cross Roads (1911/1956)
East Sylamore (1905-1930)
Flat Woods (1851-1855)
Forty Four (1928-1979)
Horseshoe Bend Rur. Sta. (1975-Date)
Izard C. H. (1826-1844)
Knob Creek (1848-1955)
La Crosse (1869-1988)
Mill Creek (1854/1876)
Mount Olive (1847-1960)
Mount Pleasant (1914-Date)
Nasco Rur. Sta. (1962-1967)
New Hope (1874-1875)
North Fork (1844-1866)
Penters Bluff (1906/1919)
Pine Bayou (1831-1842)
Rich Woods (1838-1860)
Rocky Bayou (1847-1866)
Round Bottom (1851-1852)
Saint Clair (1907-1908)
South Fork (1842-1847)
Twin Creek (1908-1962)
Violet Hill (1858-Date)
Wild Haws (1848-1869)
Zion Rur. Sta. (1982-Date)
Source: Used with permission from Jim Forte at http://www.postalhistory.com/postoffices.asp
©2009 Arkansas Genealogy Trails; transcribed by A. Newell
The History of Izard County Arkansas
by Karr Shannon
Published by Democrat Printing and Lithographing Co., Little Rock, Arkansas, 1947
Izard County Arkansas Genealogy Trails
Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Nancy Piper
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part I-General History
FIRST COUNTY SEATS ……….. 10 (Partially Completed)
EARLY PERIODS OF HISTORY …………..16
EARLY MODES OF TRAVEL ………….. 20
TALES OF YORE ……………. 24
EARLY ACADEMIES ……………… 31
IZARD COUNTY SCHOOLS …………….. 38
IZARD COUNTY BANKING ……………..45
IZARD COUNTY NEWSPAPERS …………… 49
MELBOURNE, PRESENT COUNTY SEAT …………. 53
CALICO ROCK, LARGEST TOWN ………….. 61
OTHER TOWNS ………….. 64
Battles, Boswell, Brockwell, Creswell, Croker, Cross Roads, Day, Dolph, Forty-Four, Franklin, Gid, Gorby, Guion, Iuka, Jumbo, Knob Creek, LaCrosse, Lafferty, Larkin, Lunenburg, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Olive, Myron, Newburg, Oxford, Pineville, Sage, Stella, Sylamore, Twin Creek, Violet Hill, Wideman, Wiseman, Zion.
IZARD COUNTY AND WARS ……………79
SINGINGS AND DANCES ………………84
CHURCHES AND PREACHERS………………. 88
PRESENT COUNTY OFFICIALS…………….. 92
TENURE OF COUNTY OFFICERS ………………96
MODERN IZARD COUNTY……………… 102
MISCELLANEA ……………. 105
GOVERNOR GEORGE IZARD……………….. 109
JOHN C. ASHLEY…………. 113
C. C. AYLOR……………. 114
JAMES B. BAKER ……………. 114
DR. E. A. BAXTER ……………… 115
JOHN L. BLEDSOE………………. 116
S. MARCUS BONE ………………. 117
P. A. BILLINGSLEY………….. 117
COMDR. EDWARD BAXTER BILLINGSLEY ……………. 118
KIRBY BILLINGSLEY…………… 119
DE E. BRADSHAW………….. 120
ROBERT BURNS …………… 121
R. L. BLAIR ………………….. 123
THE BABER FAMILY ……………… 124
W. W. COPELAND ………………. 125
DAVE CRAIGE …………….. 126
J. ORVILI.E CHENEY …………… 126
MACK CYPERT …………………. 127
O. P. ESTES ……………………. 127
R. J. ESTES ……………………. 128
WILLIAM K. ESTES …………………….. 129
JOSEPH T . GARNER………………………130
RANSOM GULLEY …………….. 130
J. DENTON G UTHRIE………………… 131
F. M. HANLEY ………….. 131
JAMES A. HARRIS ……………….. 133
J. A. HARRIS………………. 133
H. H. HARRIS ……………… 134
SAMUEI. BILLINGSLEY ………….. 135
JEHOIDA JEFFERY …………….. 136
ROBERT EMMETT JEFFERY……….. 137
D.O. .JOHNSON…………… 137
WILLIAM RICHARD KENDRICK …………..138
OWEN G. KENDRICK ……………. 139
R. L. LANDERS …………….. 139
E. G. LANDERS………… 140
J. HAYDEN LANDERS …………….. 140
THOMAS H. LINN ……………….. 141
J. O. LINN ……………… 142
R. G. (" BOB") MILLER …………… 143
THE MILLER MILITARY FAMILY ………….. 143
WILLIAM A. OLDFIELD ……………145
RICHARD H. POWELL ……………. 145
E. C. RODMAN …………….147
J AMES H. ROTEN ……………. 118
DR. HARLIN H. SMITH …………….. 148
A FAMILY OF DOCTORS…………….. 150
P. C. SHERRILL …………….. 150
MRS. NELLIE TREVATHAN ………..151
JOHN H. WOODS ……………… 152
JOHN P. WOODS ………………..152
R. H. ("BOB") WOOD……….. 153
JOHN Q. WOLF ………… 153
THOMAS WREN ………….. 154
BRIEFS OF OTHERS…………. 155
L. C. Gulley, Wilbur Gulley, E. E. Godwin, Dr. L. T. Evans, Dr. John Knox Freeman, C. O. Bradshaw, Fred Watkins, Boyce Stubblefield, H. F. Croom, Lee Rector, Van Johnson, J. T. Cone, Ewell Richardson, Dr. Otis McMurtrey, Dr. W. D. Hinson, Dr. C. E. Spann, Dr. Paul Jeffery, Dr. Arthur Billingsley, Dr. Charles Billingsley, Dr . .J. L. Weathers, Dr. O. S. Woods, Dr. Myrlas Matthews, Dr. James Milburn, Dr. C. G. Hinkle, Earl R. Wiseman, Hanley Powell, Vernon Powell, W. E. Baxter, Austin Billingsley, Roscoe Billingsley, Ewell Billingsley, Frank Carder, Paul Morgan, Sam Rector, Paul Meers, D. E. McSpadden, Ray McSpadden, Coy Wilson,
J. W. Williamson, W. T. McJunkins, Troy Gaston, Clyde Crutchfield, Kelsie Halbrook, H. H. Harris, E. R. Hall, Earl Landers, V. H. Regan, Davis Hill, L. U. Crutchfield, Freas Crutchfield, A. H. Benbrook, Brooke Wallace, Dr. James Dillard, Dr. Harber, Roy N. Jeffery, Dr. Tasso Edwards, John vv. Taylor.
THIS VOLUME is an attempt to describe in brief the main facts of the history of our county. I confess, before my critics accuse, that many facts and figures have been omitted as unnecessary to the story of Izard County, or because they could not be ascertained. This book is devoted chiefly to the people who fashioned and builded a county and helped it to progress, and the selection of characters and events has not been without care and painstaking.
The compilation is the outgrowth of pretentious historic study-months of grubbing in old newspapers, old letters, old legal documents, old records and books. It is the result of original research and personal contact with reliable characters who have freely contributed to the work. It has required many interviews and a vast amount of correspondence.
Much of the material has been chronicled as result of conversations years ago with some of our fine old citizens who have passed on-Dr. E. A. Baxter, Tom Watkins, T. H. Linn, John H Woods, Capt. F. M. Hanley, J.W.C. Gardner, M. E. Clark and Judge John C. Ashley,
In addition to these, I am deeply indebted to Hon. Wilbur D. Mills, Member of Congress, who was instrumental in getting much information about the various post offices from the Post Office Department and the National Archives; to C. G. Hall, Secretary of State, for the use of his records relative to county officials; to the State Banking Department for information about the county's banks; to Dallas T. Herndon, State Historian, for use of his library; to the Izard County newspaper editors, C. L. Coger and Neill Brooks, for the use of their files and other aids; to the Izard County officials, and Postmaster R. O. Tomlinson of Melbourne, who responded most graciously to all requests, and to De E. Bradshaw, John Q. Wolf, P. A. Billingsley, Mrs. Pearl Dixon and many others.
I am also indebted to Karr Shannon, Jr., for helping me assemble the material and for typing the final manuscript.
Someone has said that history is a record of the past, a knowledge of the present, and a prophecy of the future. In the preparation of this volume I have kept in mind this definition, and the aim of this book, as Macaulay expressed it, is "to make the past present, to bring the present near, to invest with the reality of human flesh and blood, beings whom we are too much inclined to consider as personified qualities."
Finally, it is to show that we are not superior to our ancestors. We live in a wonderful age. We naturally think it is more wonderful than any previous age. Be that as it may-our ancestors are largely responsible for the many improvements we enjoy. Our fathers worked for better things and made material progress; we started where they left off, but are yet far from the goal. . We ought to be proud of the age and county in which we live, but we should not discredit the majestic work of our forebears. No man should look backward, as does the Chinaman, for the glory of ancestral worship, nor pause an instant in the real work of making a better world in which to live. One should only look back to catch the rays of the lamp of experience that light the way to greater achievements. The future is only judged by the past-and with this thought as a basis, I launch my "History of Izard County" with the hope that it may give courage to those who live, or have lived, in Izard County and move them for a greater and more successful work.
Part I General History
THE TERRITORY which comprises the County of Izard was a part of Louisiana and owned by France from the time LaSalle took possession in 1682 until the Louisiana Territory was ceded to Spain in 1762. In 1721 the territory was divided into nine "commands," each ruled by a "commandant." Arkansas was one of these commands, Spain ruled Louisiana until 1800 when she ceded it back to France. France then held possession until 1803 when the United States bought the entire territory. The population grew very slowly during the French and Spanish rule because the government was not such as would attract settlers. Before a man could settle in a province he had to obtain permission from a foreign official.
A citizen was not allowed to go twenty miles from his home unless he got a passport describing the road he was to travel and the place he was to visit. Very few of the English or American people tried to make settlements across the Mississippi River against such restrictions. But after the United States came into possession of the Louisiana Territory it was settled rapidly by pioneers from east of the Mississippi River.
The early history of the county is shrouded in obscurity and the identity of the first white man to set foot on the soil of the present territory embraced by the county is not known, DeSoto visited this section in 1541 but whether he entered the county or not is not a matter of record. But there is some evidence to indicate that he did so, as the floods in the early part of 1927 uncovered several ancient burying grounds of the Indians, and in at least one of these were found Spanish coins bearing a date prior to DeSoto's explorations, which tends to prove that some of his men were buried in this county. If such should have been the case, he was probably the discoverer of what is now Izard County.
John Lafferty was the first white man of any permanent record to set foot on Izard County soil. He came with his father from Ireland when a mere boy, in 1760, and settled with the Irish clans in western North Carolina, in what was then Howan County, now Rutherford. When he was 17 years of age he joined Capt. Smith's company in Col. Thomas Polk's regiment and served three years in the Revolutionary war. He enlisted June 10, 1776, and was mustered out June 15, 1779. He was connected with the Cherokee troubles in western North Carolina, which carried him into Tennessee. Here in the Cumberland district he married a Lindsey of pure Scotch blood.
John Lafferty lived for many years in Tennessee near the Kentucky line and all his children were born there. He became a rover of the grandest type. He hunted and trapped over a great part of Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kansas. He was on friendly terms with the Cherokee Indians of later days and with them hunted and trapped incessantly. In 1807 he brought his family to what is now called Lafferty Creek, in Izard County, and settled on the barrens in a little log hut, which in after days was one of the most famous in Arkansas. That cabin was then in Louisiana, but it existed through the days of the Missouri Territory, Arkansas Territory into the life of Arkansas State. The political divisions changed, but the little log cabin did not change with them.
At the time of Lafferty's settlement this was an exceptionally wild region. His closest neighbors were the Cadron family living where Conway now stands, over a hundred miles away. Most of this county at that time was prairie, with small trees, shrubbery and tall grass in places. Wild beast, such as the bear, panther and wolf, roamed the land and deer were plentiful. The land along Strawberry River was grown up in strawberry plants, hence its name. It is said that during the season in which this fruit ripened one could ride horseback only a short distance through the thick vines and the horse's legs would be bathed red with the abundant juice from the berries. Streams which are now filled with sand and only a few inches deep, were then deep enough to swim a horse.
In 1814 the tocsin of war called John Lafferty back to Tennessee, and he marched with Jackson to New Orleans, where he was wounded in the battle at that place. The war closed with this battle and he returned to his home in Izard County. But his wound was so severe that he died of its effects in his cabin home on Lafferty Creek in 1815. He was buried somewhere near the cabin.
In 1807 a caravan of Laffertys and Creswells left Tennessee with teams and wagons for Memphis where they built a boat and went down the Mississippi River to the mouth of Arkansas River. Here at the Post of Arkansas they purchased a supply of furniture, flour and salt. They then made their way up White River to the Paoli Fields.
John Lindsey Lafferty and Margaret Lafferty, a son and daughter of John Lafferty, were with this party. Elizabeth Lafferty, another daughter, married a man by the name of Kelley in Tennessee and formed another part of the caravan. Elizabeth Kelley died at the mouth of White River, where she was buried. Her husband kept on up the river with the Laffertys and died a few years after he reached the destination. This trip comprised six months. There was a young man with the party named Creswell, who on the 13th of March, 1813, married Margaret Lindsey. He was born in South Carolina in 1791 and died in Izard County October 1, 1844. His wife, Margaret, died February 23, 1868, and was buried near Old Philadelphia Church, now Larkin.
After the year 1810 quite a number of inhabitants made settlements in the White River section. Since there were no restrictions of law, almost every grade of character known among men was to be found here-hunters, stock raisers, horse thieves, murderers, and refugees from prisons east of the Mississippi. But ignorance was by no means the prevailing trait among the pioneers. Men of education and men who had seen better days were here. The valley of the White was not so much a scene of terror and bloodshed as it was a resting place for robbers while they preyed upon the early commerce of the Mississippi and the fine stock of Kentucky and Tennessee.
As early as 1810 Dan Wilson and his three sons, Dan, Dick and Jerome, settled at the mouth of Rocky Bayou, and here the first shadow of a town appeared in the county. It consisted of a blacksmith shop run by Dick Bean, a trading hut run by Bob Bean, and a pair of race tracks on a high sand bar. The inhabitants first cleared some land and made a crop, but the buffaloes and bears ate it up in the fall. Bob Bean ran a little trading boat up and down the river, exchanging salt, powder, whiskey and lead for buffalo hides, bear skins and peltry. The inhabitants had an occasional meet for horse racing at the place. On one of these occasions Dick Wilson's horse flew the track, ran under a leaning tree, and killed him. This settlement was near where Guion is now located, but there is not a trace of a single building left.
The main points of location of the early settlers were, in general, along White and Strawberry rivers. Among the early settlers in the vicinity of the former stream were Henry and Elbert Benbrook, Daniel Hively, William Clifton, Daniel McCoy, Moses Bishop, George and James Partee, the Harrises, the Dillards and the Jefferys. Daniel Jeffery settled below what is now the town of Mt. Olive. Jehoida Jeffery, brother of Daniel, settled about a mile above, and James, another brother, near the mouth of Piney Creek. There were four of the Harris brothers, Augustus, Henry, James and Richard. Augustus located on the east side of the river, the others on the opposite side, now Stone County. Daniel Hively settled at the mouth of Piney Creek and built a water power mill, the first in the county. Among the first to locate on Strawberry River were the Simpsons, Billingsleys and Finleys. James Wren early resided at Lunenburg and John Gray located on Rocky Bayou near there.
Later came Robert and William Powell, Thomas Richardson, Samuel Bingham, William and James Woods, Col. Thomas Black, Jesse Hinkle, the Robinsons, the Walkers, the Lancasters, the Arnolds and the Watkinses. Both the early and the subsequent settlers came from Tennessee, although a few were from other states, mostly Southern states.
The early settlers of the White River country had very little trouble with the Indians. About the time that law was first enforced in the country, under the Territorial government of Missouri, the south side of the river from a point beginning at the mountain at the head of Hardin's Bluff, five miles above Batesville and extending up the river indefinitely, was ceded to the Cherokees, and known as the Cherokee grant, but for some cause they never moved to it. However, the Shawnee tribe was moved to this grant in 1819. These Indians were very quiet and not bad neighbors. The citizens made a profitable vocation trading with them, being allowed to trade in anything except spirituous liquors. It might be interesting to the reader to further pursue the history of the Shawnees while living on White River, they being the early settlers of the country along the river, but this volume is chiefly a history of men and women who have accomplished something in the making of Izard County, and we must be satisfied with an incident told here which will illustrate the Shawnees' ungovernable greed for whiskey.
William Clifton and Daniel McCoy had been down the river in a large canoe and were coming back by one of the small Indian settlements with a barrel of whiskey on board. The Indians were on the side of the river now known as Stone County, the other side being known as the "White Side." These men had some doubts of running the blockade past the Indians and laid their boat very near the white shore. The Indians began congregating on the opposite side and beckoning and calling them to come over, but the boat poled on. Soon, about twenty of them took to the water and started for the canoe. Clifton stayed with the boat, but his partner couldn't stand the storm and as the Indians laid hold of the boat McCoy jumped into the water and made it to the white side. Clifton wore out his canoe pole on them, but they dragged the boat to the opposite side of the river and rolled the barrel ashore. They then turned Clifton and his boat loose. Guns, knives, tomahawks and other "weapons were put aside and the whole camp of Indians got drunk, women as well as men. There was a constant yell for two days and nights. A number of white men went to see them next day, but they had the precaution to go in squads sufficient to guard themselves against the drunken ones. Clifton went along and knocked down and stamped several of the drunken Indians.
The Watkinses settled in this county about 1844. They were great landowners and at times before the Civil War owned the greater part of the territory of the county. They also kept a large number of negro slaves. They established themselves in two main locations, one about two miles east of the present town of LaCrosse and the other about three miles south of the present location of Franklin.
Prior to 1848 there was no post office in Izard County except at New Athens (Mt. Olive), and the Watkinses had been getting their mail at Batesville, about thirty miles away. This distance was usually covered on horseback, and the trip meant two days of hard riding. There were no settlers along the routes, and wild animals lurked in the woods. Hence the rider had to be well armed and was usually accompanied by his dogs. If he happened to be after dark getting back home he was very likely to have a chase with a pack of wolves.
To improve such inconveniences, the Watkinses sought the establishment of two post offices at these two points of settlement. The settlement near the present town of Franklin was surrounded by numerous wild haw trees. The Watkins family had come from Franklin, Tennessee. Hence the name of Wild Haws for the location near the present site of Franklin and the name Franklin for the settlement near the place where LaCrosse now is were submitted to the government as the names of the post offices at these places, respectively. The government got the names reversed in some manner, and the former was named Franklin and the latter Wild Haws.
The little log house in which the second post office was established in Izard County still stands near LaCrosse. Nearby is a large brick building which was erected by Owen Watkins in 1853. At that time it was the finest house of its kind in north Arkansas. Today it is in good repair and still used as a dwelling, owned by W.W. Fudge of Melbourne.
Supplies were first brought across the country from old Jacksonport landing, situated on White River about six miles above Newport. Later they were brought frorn Batesville. Still later they were landed about a mile above the location where the town of Guion now stands, and brought across the country in a northeastern direction to the towns of Wild Haws and Franklin. This place became known as Wild Haws landing.
Since most of Izard County at that time was prairie and there were but few large trees, the cattle business became very profitable. In the early "fifties" cattle buyers would buy up large droves of cattle and drive them across the country to Kansas City, which was the nearest railroad town. It would usually take about six months to make one of these trips and such would be accompanied by severe hardships and adventure. The hard ground covered with grass and leaves served as lodging places and wild game of the woods supplied the food. No doubt the sport of the trip compensated for all hardships.
The late Tom Watkins of LaCrosse states that during the early days of his father, the closest church house was at Batesville. He tells of one occasion when his father attended church there. The church was a large one-room structure built of logs. People for miles around came with their guns and dogs. Upon entering the house the guns were stacked against the wall, the preacher began his sermon and in a short time the dogs started a bear. The preacher said: "The service is adjourned in order that the men may kill that bear." They rolled out with alacrity, mounted their horses, pursued Bruin and killed him. He was hung to a tree ready for skinning and then they went back into the house where the preacher thanked God for men who knew how to shoot and women who knew how to pray, and finished his sermon.
EARLY COUNTY HISTORY
This county was created by the act of October 20, 1825, out of territory taken from Independence County, and was named for George Izard, the second territorial governor of Arkansas. It is situated in the north central part of the state and is bounded as follows: On the north by Fulton County; on the east by Sharp County; on the south by Independence and Stone counties, and on the west by Baxter County. The White River forms the boundary line between Izard and Stone counties. The area of the county is 583 square miles and the average elevation is 700 feet. Fruit growing is an important industry. Along the White River many persons find employment in pearl fishing; that is, gathering mussel shells for the pearl button factories, of which there are five in the state. Occasionally a valuable pearl is found. The highest price, so far as known, ever paid for a White River pearl was $2,700. A considerable number have sold for $1,000, and hardly a season passes in which many $100 pearls are not found.
Izard's county seat has been removed several times. The act creating the county designated the house of Jacob Wolf as the temporary seat of justice. John Dearmon and James Jeffrey were elected commissioners to locate a permanent county seat. They selected the Town of Liberty (no longer on the map), and the county seat remained there until about 1836, when it was removed to Mount Olive, on the White River. Ten years later it was removed to Mount Vernon, and in May, 1875, it was permanently established at Melbourne, near the center of the county. The first county officers were: J. P. Houston, clerk; John Adams, sheriff. No other officers appear until 1829, when Matthew Adams was chosen judge and H. C. Roberts, coroner. Jacob Wolf represented the county in the Territorial Legislature of 1827, the first after the county was organized.
Izard is divided into the following townships: Athens, Baker, Barren Fork, Big Spring, Bryan, Claiborne, Drytown, Franklin, Guion, Guthrie, Jefferson, LaCrosse, Lafferty, Lunenburg, Mill Creek, Mount Olive, New Hope, Newburg, Pleasant Hill, Sage, Strawberry, Union, Violet Hill and White River.
Melbourne, the county seat, was laid off by James A. Claiborne in the spring of 1875, and it was incorporated on May 4, 1878. It has saw and flour mills, a weekly newspaper, general stores, etc., and a population of 295. Calico Rock, the largest town in the county, is situated on the White River in the western part of the county. It has a weekly newspaper, a canning factory, saw and planing mills, general stores and a population of 479. Other towns are Barren Fork, Franklin, Guion, LaCrosse, Newburg, Oxford and Zion. Calico Rock, Franklin, Guion and Melbourne are banking towns. The population of the county in 1920 was 13,871. (Source - Centennial History of Arkansas 1922; transcribed by Tina Easley)
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