Almond (Cleburne County)
Almond lies in the northeastern corner of Cleburne County. The community historically had close family and commercial ties to Concord and Banner in Cleburne County to the southwest and Locust Grove (Independence County) to the northeast. Almond was in Independence County until February 20, 1883, when the last county in Arkansas, Cleburne County, was created. Brock Mountain, towering over 1,200 feet, separates Almond from Independence County and its county seat, Batesville. The community of Almond in the twenty-first century is virtually a ghost town with one abandoned store building.
It is not known for sure how Almond received its name, because almonds do not grow naturally in Arkansas. It is suspected that an Almond family lived in the area when it was first settled, since Almond families lived in Heber Springs (Cleburne County) and in Greenbrier (Independence County) near Locust Grove. The lifeblood of early Almond was the general store and post office, which opened not long after the Civil War ended. The first postmaster was Alexander Gibson Peel from Locust Grove, who was appointed on September 12, 1879. Peel was the grandson of John Peel and Polly Elms, early pioneers of the area.
The Stoney Point School on the main road between Almond and Concord opened in the 1890s but eventually consolidated with the Concord school, which is still active in the twenty-first century, around 1930. Stoney Point Baptist Church was established in 1890 and disbanded in 1957. It is unclear if there were two buildings for the school and the church or if the two shared the same building. When the old Mount Zion Baptist Church of Banner disbanded in the 1890s, many in the congregation moved their membership to Stoney Point until the new Mount Zion was built at Banner in the 1920s.
Nellie Jeffrey Foushee was appointed postmistress on August 13, 1933, following the death of postmaster Noel Francis Kerlin. Her husband, Easom Foushee, owned and operated the E. D. Foushee Grocery and General Merchandise Store. There were two stores in Almond during the 1940s and 1950s. Besides the post office, a combined store and filling station was owned and operated by Curt Smith. The post office remained in operation until 1966, when postmistress Betty Lee Blevins closed the post office part of the Foushee store.
A sawmill and planing mill run by Sherber Brown was across the road from the post office starting in the early 1940s. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1949 but was rebuilt. In 1951, the equipment was taken to Sacramento, California. Old bricks and other residue can still be found in the field where the lumber mill stood. A fire tower was once across from the mill, and there was a landing strip nearby. There is still a radio tower across the field from where the abandoned store stands. Not far down Brock Mountain from the tower is the waterfall called Bailey’s Pour Off (a.k.a. Bailey’s Falls).
Agriculture and cattle ranching with small herds still dominate the economy of the Almond area. Almond is located on one of the main highways leading to Heber Springs and Greers Ferry Dam and Lake, popular resort areas for camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and other outdoor activities. Tourism is increasingly important in the area, as travelers stop at cafes and bait shops on their way to the landings. However, while nearby Concord benefits from the tourism and continues to grow, there are no businesses in Almond.
For additional information:
Berry, Evalena. Time and the River: A Centennial History of Cleburne County. Little Rock: Rose Publishing Co., 1982.
Van Buren, Arkansas
While I do not know how Almond got its name, I do know that Gatewood Blevins owned the land that it stands on in 1860 per three Arkansas land grants: document #s 1613, 17891, and 14673. Statutory Reference 3 Stat. 566. He owned 12N 8W sections 1, 11, and 12. The town stands in section 1. He died in 1868, willing his land to his three daughters Sarah, Lucinda, and Elizabeth Blevins.
Our family purchased the old house and post office building back in 2014 and have restored the house and will start on the old store and post office in 2016. Any information, pictures, or even post office or store equipment or displays are being sought after. Curt Smith owned the other old store. I bought a lot of candy and Cokes off of Curt when I was a kid. He would also open his store at any time of the night if you needed anything at all. We would just go wake him up. Curt only had one eye. He would allow me, as a young boy he trusted, to make my own change out of his hand full of coins he would hold out to me.
My grandmother was the postmistress for Almond. Her name was Monnie Mae Bullard-Southerland. I am not sure of the years, but I know my mother (Jeanette F. Southerland, born 1935) was old enough to remember riding with her mother on the route and being at the post office. My grandmother was from Concord area.
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