Central (Hot Spring County)

Central is a community located in Hot Spring County along U.S. Highway 67 about five miles south of Malvern (Hot Spring County). The community centered on the school that existed there in the early twentieth century.

Early landowners in the area included John Ross and Sha Tah O Ka, who obtained land through the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which took land from Choctaw east of the Mississippi River while giving them land in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Ross received a total of 318 acres in 1851, with most of it around the Central area but with additional land in what is now White County and Cleveland County. In 1857, William Ballard obtained 160 acres in the area. More plots were acquired after the Civil War, with Jesse Taylor receiving eighty acres in 1882 and Abraham Pennington also receiving eighty the following year.

The population in the Central area slowly increased over the later nineteenth and early twentieth century, although it remained low, and the area continued to be used for farming and timber production, with a few small sawmills operating nearby.

Several one-room schools operated in the area, and the school boards of these institutions worked together to consolidate into one larger school to offer more classes and expand the curriculum to include high school. The site for the school was selected due to its central location to each of the schools being consolidated. Included in the original consolidation were the Hickory Grove, Happy Hollow, California No. 1, California No. 2, Elmore Primary, and Ebenezer schools. Later, the school at Harp and perhaps one additional school also consolidated with Central. The first year of operation of the new school was 1916. The area where the new Central School was located had been served by the Happy Hollow School. A school bus was used to transport children from the surrounding area to the school.

The first school at Central was a two-story wood-frame building painted white, with a spring nearby. The school had a large enrollment, quickly outgrowing this building. In 1928, the school board took bids for a new brick building with a gymnasium. The school sponsored several sports, including women’s basketball. Dedicated on November 15, 1928, the new building served the community until the Central School consolidated with the Malvern Special District in 1949.

The elementary school at Central continued to operate after the district consolidated with older students bused to Malvern. It closed after the 1984–85 academic year, and students from the area began attending Malvern Public Schools.

No businesses operate in the area, although two churches are located in the community. Many of the residents travel to jobs in Malvern.

For additional information:
“Central School: District No. 10.” The Heritage (1979): 75–79.

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

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 05/28/2020

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