Hon (Scott County)
The town of Hon is located along Highway 28, about seven miles west of Waldron (Scott County). Hon was established between Poteau Mountain and Chalybeate Round Top near Bull Creek, which is a tributary of the Poteau River. The town was named after John Hon, whose father, Jackson Hon, established the community in 1836; it was first known as Valley Forge and later Poteau. Hon was officially established sometime in the late nineteenth century.
Prior to European exploration, Hon was a wilderness whose inhabitants included peoples of the Mississippian, Archaic, and Woodland periods. Eventually, the native people of the Caddo Nation settled near Hon along the Poteau River. There are numerous archaeological sites from several periods located near Hon.
Throughout the early seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche La Fave and Poteau River. It is likely that they traveled through the area where Hon is now located. There are several unsubstantiated stories of Spanish exploration in the western portion of Scott County.
The Choctaw Nation had legal claim on land in Scott County from 1820 to 1830 as a result of the Treaty of Doak’s Stand. There is no evidence to indicate that they settled in Scott County during that time period, but their relationship with the county is apparent by the previous naming of 2nd Street as Choctaw Road.
In 1836, Jackson Hon of Illinois moved with his family to the wilderness of western Arkansas. The Hons would have traveled to the area by way of the Lookout Gap, which was little more than a trail from Mansfield (Scott and Sebastian counties) to the area that became Hon. Hon and his slaves built a log cabin on the banks of the Poteau River, making it the first homestead in what would become the town of Hon. In the spring of 1845, a massive flood occurred while Hon was riding his horse on Poteau Mountain. He rode down toward his home as far as he could and, from there, swam to his family, who were trapped in the loft of their house. After the flood subsided, he built a new home farther from the river. A few years later, he built a third home. Eventually, more settlers began moving to the area. It is reported that a group of settlers saw two bulls fighting on the banks of a creek and later named it Bull Creek.
During the Civil War, Jackson Hon hid with his slaves in the river bottoms in order to avoid Union soldiers who were occupying Waldron. His son John brought them food daily. One day, Union soldiers saw John walking back home from the river and stopped him. The soldiers questioned John about his father, but he would not answer them. The soldiers were going to hang John until a neighbor stopped them and gave away Jackson’s hideout. By the time the soldiers reached the hideout, Jackson and his slaves had fled.
In 1877, the Poteau Post Office was established on the banks of the Poteau River. This was the first post office in the community. During a period of violence throughout Scott County, a man named J. L. Davenport, from the northern part of the county, was murdered in Waldron in 1878. After receiving news of his death, a mob gathered just north of Hon at Lookout Gap. The mob rode through Hon on its way to Waldron; however, the unfavorable conditions of the Poteau River caused them to turn back.
In 1880, the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church was established. A second church named Arbor Grove Missionary Baptist Church was formed in 1896. A third church was eventually organized on the original Jackson Hon land and named Fellowship Baptist Church.
In May 1882, the Scott County Court house burned, thus destroying all records that defined the boundaries of the various school districts that had been established throughout the county. Several months later in August, the county court re-established the boundaries of the fifty-six school districts active in the county. The Hon School District, previously known as Poteau and Pleasant Grove, was established in the late 1880s.
In 1904, the Arkansas Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Kansas City Southern (KCS), built a 31.7-mile line east from Heavener, Oklahoma, to Waldron in order to service the timber industry. Hon was one of the towns along the route. The town constructed a train depot, and Hon was the last stop before Waldron.
The post office and community changed their name from Poteau to Hon in 1904. The community was named after John Hon, who was postmaster at the time. By 1907, Hon had established a telephone connection with the Waldron Telephone Company. The community had as many as four stores, two churches, a cotton gin, a sawmill, and a school at this time. By the 1920s, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church was renamed as Hon Baptist Church. The school consolidated with Waldron in 1929, but the brick school building continued to serve as an elementary school until the 1950s. After the decline of the timber industry in the 1950s, the town began losing businesses.
Ilene Syler became acting postmaster of the Hon post office in 1943. The next year, she became postmaster and continued until retiring in 1973; the post office at Hon was officially closed when she retired.
The post office was one of the last businesses to close in Hon. As the twenty-first century began, the community still claimed several residents. The Hon Baptist Church remains standing in its original location. The church is accompanied by a fellowship hall that was built sometime after 1980. The Hon Cemetery located along Highway 28 to the south is the only active cemetery in the community. Remnants of an old general store remain across the street from the Hon Baptist Church.
For additional information:
Cate, Michael. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991.
Echoes: The Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly. Waldron, AR: Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society (1986–).
Goodner, Charles. Scott County in Retrospect. Mansfield, AR: Frank Boyd, 1976.
Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.
McCutcheon, Henry Grady. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Little Rock: H. G. Pugh and Company, 1922.
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