Chinquapin (Independence County)

Chinquapin is an unincorporated community in Washington Township of Independence County on Chinquapin Loop near its intersection with Earnheart Road. It is about two and a half miles south-southeast of Bethesda (Independence County) and about two miles from White River and Lock and Dam No. 2. It is approximately eight miles from Batesville (Independence County), the county seat.

Chinquapin receives its name from the abundant Ozark chinquapin trees, sometimes called Ozark chinkapin and Ozark chestnut, that grew there. People ate the nuts, fed them to livestock, and sold them. The rot-resistant wood made excellent railroad ties and fence posts. Local folk artists even made musical instruments from the wood. Logging practices and a chestnut blight that struck the Ozarks in the 1950s and 1960s virtually wiped out the Ozark chinquapin tree. Today, very few chinquapin trees are left in Arkansas, and an effort is being made to replenish them.

The community goes back to the early days of settlement in Washington Township, and the name Chinquapin appears to have been used from the beginning of occupancy. One of the first settlers of Chinquapin was George Gill, who was born in Christian Township of Independence County in 1846. His father and grandfather were Independence County pioneers from South Carolina, having settled in the county by 1818. His mother was part of the Luster family from Tennessee. George Gill is buried in the Gill Cemetery near Chinquapin.

Another Chinquapin area pioneer was William Henry Harrison Bracy, who married Sarah Caroline Canady and was living in Washington Township at the time of the 1860 census. Bracy came from Virginia, and Caroline’s father was living in Independence County by the 1820s. William and Caroline are buried in Pilgrims Rest Cemetery in Bethesda. Their son, William Spencer Bracy, married Maranda Jane Wright, daughter of John Miller Wright and Barbara Ann Tucker, who were also among the first to settle in Washington Township.

Chinquapin, although sparsely populated during the Civil War period, was on the main route of the Union foraging army that camped on the Waugh farm near Bethesda and was attacked by a Confederate force under the command of Captain George Rutherford on February 19, 1864. In the Skirmish at Waugh’s farm, the Confederates were victorious, losing only one man. Lemuel Wright of Washington Township, who was a member of Captain Rutherford’s regiment, died in a Little Rock (Pulaski County) Union prison camp on December 7, 1864.

Beginning around 1880, there was an influx of farmers and tradesmen from the east, and the number continued to increase with the advent of steamboats and ferries along the White River. The Earnheart, Walls, and other ferries crossed the river to the south and west, making settlement easier.

Built in the early 1900s, Chinquapin School served the community. Chinquapin still maintained a school in 1936 but consolidated with Bethesda a few years later.

Although Chinquapin never had a post office, residents have been served by a variety of post offices established in the nearby communities of Denieville (Independence County), Earnheart (Independence County), and Bethesda. The Bethesda post office was the longest lived, 1888–1957. Chinquapin Loop was given a Batesville mailing address.

Chinquapin Church is located at the intersection of Chinquapin Loop and Earnheart Road. Churches nearby are New Hope Church, Bethesda Campground Church, and Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church. Fishing is popular locally, especially in Chinquapin Creek, Harmon Creek, Wright Creek, Goodwin Slough, and Vaughn Wilson Lake.

Chinquapin Loop, Chinquapin Church, and Chinquapin Creek are all that visibly remain of a once vibrant community.

For additional information:
McAdams, Virginia. “The Battle of Waugh’s Farm.” Independence County Chronicle 2, no. 4 (1961): 3–6.

McGinnis, A. C. “A History of Independence County, Ark.” Special issue. Independence County Chronicle 17 (April 1976).

Kenneth Rorie
Van Buren, Arkansas

Last Updated: 01/16/2016

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