Convenience (Independence County)
Convenience is a historical community located on Dota Creek on Cedar Grove Road just off Highway 25 about four miles north-northwest of Charlotte (Independence County) and about seven miles southeast of Cave City (Sharp and Independence counties). It is about three and a half miles southwest of Cedar Grove (Independence County). Batesville, the county seat, is located approximately fourteen miles south-southwest. Those who live in the area in the twenty-first century have a Sulphur Rock (Independence County) address.
Native Americans made the Black and White rivers area their home in pre-Columbian times. At the beginning of the twentieth century, archaeologist Clarence Bloomfield Moore excavated several sites, including Little Turkey Hill, near what is today Dowdy (Independence County), about eight and a half miles east southeast of Convenience.
The deed records at Powhatan (Lawrence County) show that French settlers claimed lands along the Black River following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. These claims were settled in 1815, and the French settlers made deeds to a land speculator from St. Louis, Missouri, named William Russell.
One reason for early settlement of this area was the Jackson Military Road, built in 1831, which paralleled the old Southwest Trail through the state. The road extended from Missouri to Arkansas Post and was an important route of travel from St. Louis to the Southwest in the early 1800s. This road came into Independence County in the Hazel Grove community about six miles east of Convenience, passed Walnut Grove, crossed Dota Creek at Pleasant Hill, and entered the present locality of Sulphur Rock and then to Rutherford Landing to cross the White River. On the south side of the river, the road followed the Goodie Creek valley to the hills and then to Pleasant Plains and on into White County.
Urban Elias Fort of Salisbury, North Carolina, fought in the Mexican War and received land along Dota Creek in Black River Township for his services. Fort and Talithe Miller Fort had their son Adam in 1848 and the family was living on this land at this time. Talithe Fort died in 1861, and Urban Fort married Martha Wells and began a new family. He and his sons were successful farmers and merchants in the area. They also had a grist mill, a sawmill, and a blacksmith shop.
The community was established in about 1850, and a post office opened in 1855 with John Stone appointed the first postmaster. The naming of the community is shrouded in mystery. One story has it that when John Stone could not arrive at a suitable name for the post office, he submitted a request that the U.S. Postal Service assign a name “at your convenience,” and the name was accepted. Father and son Urban Elias Fort and Adam H. Fort, who had a store with the post office, were postmasters from 1857 until the beginning of the twentieth century.
Dr. Robinson Crusoe (R. C.) Dorr—the elder brother of Dr. James P. Dorr, who was a physician on Dota Creek and served communities in eastern Independence County, including Convenience, for years—is credited as the first doctor to open a clinic and sanitarium in Batesville in 1913 at 129 E. Main Street. Dr. J. H. Kennerly was associated with him at one time.
Convenience School, built in the late 1800s, consolidated with Charlotte in 1929. In 1952, the Charlotte and Cord (Independence County) schools merged to form the Cord-Charlotte School District. In 2004, Cord-Charlotte consolidated with the Newark School District to create the Cedar Ridge School District. Cord-Charlotte retained an elementary campus for grades K–6.
The post office closed in 1904 as the hamlet declined in importance, leaving only a cemetery in the woods. The land where the old community stood is now privately owned.
For additional information:
Arms, Orville. “A Brief History of the Cord-Charlotte School District.” Unpublished essay, 1998. On file at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hinkle, Mrs. C. G. “Pioneer Physicians of Batesville.” Independence County Chronicle 1 (July 1960): 44–49.
McGinnis, A. C. “A History of Independence County, Ark.” Special issue. Independence County Chronicle 17 (April 1976).
Weinstein, Richard A., David B. Kelley, and Joe W. Saunders, eds. The Louisiana and Arkansas Expeditions of Clarence Bloomfield Moore. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003.
Van Buren, Arkansas
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