Alpine (Clark County)
Alpine, one of the oldest settlements in Clark County, is an unincorporated community located in the northwestern part of the county. The community is located twenty-two miles northwest of the county seat, Arkadelphia, and is best known as the childhood home of noted actor and director Billy Bob Thornton.
William Glover and his family, the first settlers of the area, arrived in 1848 in what would become Alpine, followed by several other families. It is most commonly thought that the settlement received its name due to its location on the highest point of the county. However, several folktales also relay the origin of the name. The original settlement was located a mile east of the present community and comprised little more than a post office, a general store, a saloon, and a few houses.
According to Goodspeed’s Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas, in 1890, Alpine had about fifty inhabitants and had a post office, a general store, a hotel, a church and school house combined, and a blacksmith and wood shop. Much of the industry in the community consisted of small shops owned by residents.
The post office, which opened in 1849, was moved several times, never more than a mile from its original location. Following the Civil War, the post office was discontinued and not reestablished until 1869. It was discontinued again in 1870 and reopened in 1878. Mail was eventually rerouted to Amity (Clark County). In the twenty-first century, Alpine has a contract postal unit located in the corner of a convenience store. There are no mail routes, but customers can rent a post office box.
At one time, there were three Baptist churches located in the community: Missionary Baptist, Primitive Baptist, and Union Baptist. In 1942, it was reported that a tabernacle available for use by any group had been built in the community. Today, most of the churches have closed or have relocated to neighboring towns. The first school was operated in a church building, with later schools housed in schoolhouses. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built a new school building in the community in 1940. In 1929, the Alpine school was consolidated with the Amity school; however, it operated as a separate school until 1957–58.
Today, little remains in the small community, although there are two trucking firms, a mechanic’s shop, and a fire department. The majority of its residents rely on the towns surrounding the community for their livelihood.
For additional information:
May, Joe. The Way We Were: A Pictorial History of Clark County. Hurst, TX: Curtis Media, 1995.
Richter, Wendy, ed. Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.
Henderson State University
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