Anderson Flat (Marion County)
aka: Verona (Marion County)
Anderson Flat, also known as Verona, is a rural community in the southwestern corner of Marion County near the Searcy County line. In the twenty-first century, it sustains a small population and holds an annual homecoming Memorial Day event.
The Anderson Flat community was established on prairie land with several flat acres in the mostly hilly Ozarks region. Native American artifacts have been located in area caves and along the lake or marsh that ran parallel to the property where the schoolhouse/church was later erected.
In the late 1880s, public schools in rural Arkansas counties were scarce. As the population in the Anderson Flat area grew, the need for a house of worship and schoolhouse arose. In 1883, James Bosmon Swafford submitted a petitioned request to the Marion County Court for the establishment of a schoolhouse for Township 17, Range 17. James A. Anderson deeded the acreage for the schoolhouse and community. In the early 1900s, the Anderson Flat Schoolhouse and Church was developed as a one-room multi-purpose building that served students in grades 1–8.
In the late 1800s to middle 1900s, the community was home to a small general store, post office, and grist mill. The Verona Post Office was established in 1912 and was housed in the Verona General Store.
The Anderson Flat cemetery is located on 1.7 acres of the forty acres deeded to the community. According to legend, the first grave was dug in the 1890s for a horse and chicken thief who had been apprehended and hanged. His grave was marked by a jagged rock located at the corner of the cemetery next to the road. The first gravestones in the cemetery that included names were for James A. Anderson and his family. Descendants of James A .Anderson and James Bosmon Swafford remain as residents of the Anderson Flat community in the twenty-first century.
In the mid-1930s, additions were made to the school and church building based on the demands of the increased population of students. Throughout the week, the building was utilized as an educational facility. School days were sometimes interrupted for funerals. On Sundays, the pulpit was filled by a pastor for the community church. The 1947–48 school year was the final full year for students attending the Anderson Flat facility. The school population was consolidated with schools in Bruno (Marion County) and St. Joe (Searcy County) in 1949.
During the 1940s through the 1960s, local farmers grew corn, peanuts, cotton, and wheat. They would process their corn into meal and the wheat into flour at the old mill that was located near the Verona store. In the late 1940s, a general store was established on State Highway 235. As the timbers grew and forests expanded, lumber was an economic staple for the area. Two sawmills were built and utilized from the 1960s through the early 1980s.
In the 1950s, a Mennonite group settled near the Anderson Flat community. A Mennonite cemetery is located half a mile east of the Anderson Flat Cemetery.
Throughout the decades, the old schoolhouse/church has been the central meeting place for the community. Community members assembled for church services at the Old Schoolhouse/Church near the cemetery or at the Church of Christ, which was located half a mile north off of State Highway 235. In the mid-1970s, a second community center was erected on the original church and school property.
As in many small rural communities of the south, Decoration Day was the most important day of the year in Anderson Flat. Decoration Day remains the central community event in the twenty-first century and is celebrated on the third Sunday in May at three locations on the property: the Anderson Flat Community Building, the Anderson Flat pavilion, and the old schoolhouse.
The original rock structure of the old Verona Post Office and General Store remain on private property on County Road 5013, one quarter of a mile from the Anderson Flat Community Building and Cemetery.
For additional information:
Berry, Earl. History of Marion County. Little Rock: International Graphics Industry, 1977.
Cothran, Beverly. “Decoration Days Gone By.” Come Home Magazine 3 (April–May 2017): 23–26. Online at https://issuu.com/comehomear/docs/comehome_volume3issue4 (accessed June 27, 2019).
Roberts, V. “Towns and Communities of Marion County, Arkansas.” Marion County Library, Yellville, Arkansas.
Wilkerson, J. A. “Marion County Postmaster.” Marion County Library, Yellville, Arkansas.
Beverly Kay Cothran
Anderson Flat, Arkansas
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