Beaton (Hot Spring County)

Beaton (Hot Spring County) is an unincorporated community located in western Hot Spring County on the north shore of DeGray Lake about six miles west of Bismarck (Hot Spring County). In the twenty-first century, the community consists of a number of scattered homes and churches.

The community is located within the Sixteenth Section of the township, land set aside to fund public schools in the township. The land became available for purchase around 1848. Jonathan Diffee moved with his family to the area that year and established a farm. At that time, the area was located in Clark County, and Diffee petitioned the Clark County Court in 1850 to establish a new township on the east bank of the Caddo River. The court approved the plan and established Cedar Township from the portion of Tucker Township located east of the river. Diffee died in 1862 and is buried in Valley Cemetery to the west of the community. His son, Jonathan Thompson Diffee, created a cemetery in Beaton where other members of the family are buried. In 1873, Hot Spring County was extended to the west, and the Beaton community became part of that county.

Valley Creek originally divided the community, with some residents living on the east bank while others lived on the west. With the creation of DeGray Lake, the increased water in the area took much of the land in the community. Shouse Ford Recreation area is located south of the community.

Jonathan Thompson Diffee operated a general store in the community. He also served as the official registrar of births and deaths in the community. In addition to the land donated for a cemetery, Diffee also gave land for the construction of a Methodist church.

The Section Hill School operated in the community. It is known to have been in operation in 1916 and accommodated students in the first through seventh grades. Over several decades, the school moved at least once. The final building, by then known as the Beaton School, was located on the west side of Valley Creek. The school consolidated with Bismarck in 1938, and the building was destroyed in the 1950s.

The community was never large but did include some amenities other than the general store. A post office operated in Beaton between 1905 and 1948, when service was taken over by the office in Bismarck. A cattle dipping station was located in the community, and cattle from the surrounding area were driven to Beaton annually to be treated for parasites such as ticks. Also located in the community and owned by Diffee were a cotton gin, sawmill, shingle mill, blacksmith shop, and corn mill.

The community is located in Valley Township and serves as a bedroom community for Bismarck and other nearby cities.

For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889.

Blanton, Norma. “Beaton One-Room School.” Heritage 32 (2005): 154–155.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 05/20/2020

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