Brown Springs (Hot Spring County)
Brown Springs is an unincorporated community in Brown Springs Township located in southern Hot Spring County on Arkansas Highway 51 just north of the Clark County line. The community is about four miles northeast of Joan (Clark County) and about seven miles south of Donaldson (Hot Spring County).
The name of the settlement comes from a number of springs in the area, with various sources listing the number of springs as three or five. The water emanating from the springs was infused with sulfur, iron, and copper. The Brown family arrived in the area around 1855 and placed boxes over the springs in an effort to control the flow of the water.
Two of the earliest settlers in the area were Middleton Jones and William Purvis. Jones obtained forty acres, while Purvis acquired 160 in April 1860. According to census information, Jones lived with his wife and two daughters on the parcel and farmed; Purvis does not appear in the census.
The springs and abundant game in the area made it a popular summer vacation spot for families in Clark and Dallas counties. Small cabins and tents were used by affluent families who hunted, fished, and undertook other recreational activities. In 1867, a Methodist campground was constructed in the area, and various denominations used the facility to hold night services. In 1905, the Baptist Young People’s Union held a summer camp in the community. Late one night, a storm struck the area and nearby creeks flooded, forcing evacuation. While no one died in the incident, the site lost its popularity as a camping area.
A sawmill operated in the area in the 1910s and 1920s, owned by Ira Shaw and brothers William and John Fuller.
Numerous sources mention the large Independence Day celebrations held at Brown Springs each year from the late nineteenth century until at least 1931.
The highway that passed through the area was part of U.S. Highway 67 in the early twentieth century. In 1930, it appears as a gravel or stone road linking Arkadelphia (Clark County) and Malvern (Hot Spring County). By 1932, the road had been renumbered as Arkansas Highway 51. In 1958, the highway was paved from Arkadelphia to Donaldson. Signs were constructed along the highway informing travelers that they were entering the community of Faber. It is unclear where this name originates. After protests from members of the community, the name was reverted to Brown Springs.
A Baptist church was organized several miles south of the community in 1853. After the Civil War, it moved to Brown Springs. It 1903, a plot of land just east of the church was purchased and a new building constructed. The church continues to operate in the twenty-first century as Anchor Baptist Church.
A school serving the community began operations in 1882. Shared with nearby Donaldson, the school was located roughly halfway between the two communities and was known as Red Hill. The one-room school served residents for several years until Donaldson grew large enough to support a school alone. In 1900, the Red Hill School closed, and the church in Brown Springs began housing a school until a permanent building could be constructed. By 1931, the high school in Brown Springs had closed and older students were attending school in Donaldson. At an unknown date the school completely consolidated with the Donaldson school. The community is served in the twenty-first century by the Ouachita School District, with facilities located in Midway (Hot Spring County).
Brown Springs currently serves as a bedroom community for Arkadelphia, Malvern, and other nearby towns. Most of the land continues to be used for agricultural purposes, including cattle and timber.
For additional information:
Heard, James. “History of Anchor Baptist Church.” The Heritage (1993): 109–114.
“The Story of Brown Springs in Clark County.” The Heritage (1999): 143–147.
Henderson State University
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