De Gray (Clark County)

De Gray is a community located about five miles northwest of Arkadelphia (Clark County). It is also spelled Degray and DeGray. The community shares its name with both DeGray Creek and DeGray Lake.

Early settlers in the area include Isaac Cox and James Golden. Cox appears in the 1829 Clark County Sheriff’s Census, but little additional information is available. In 1854, Golden and Charles Hamner obtained forty acres of land in the area. Golden also obtained an additional eighty acres with Vinson Timms. Golden appears in the 1860 federal census with his wife and six children, farming the land. Other partnerships in the area include Abram Harrington and Francis Foygart, who jointly obtained forty acres in 1854. Harrington lived with his wife and daughter in the community according to the 1860 census. Hamner, Timms, and Foygart do not appear in the census. Other early landowners in the area include Tilford Ballew, who obtained 120 acres in 1857. In the next census, he was listed as a farmer living with his wife and four daughters.

The community grew slowly before the Civil War. A post office opened in the community in 1856 and closed in 1866. The office reopened in 1899 and closed again in 1906, when service was assumed by the office in Arkadelphia. A school operated in the community and appears on a list of all educational institutions in the county, but the exact dates of operation are unknown. The area later came to be served by the Arkadelphia Public School District.

Bethel Union Baptist Church organized in 1853 and linked with the Red River Baptist Association, originally meeting in a log building; at least two other structures later replaced the original building. The name of the church changed in 1874 to DeGray Baptist Church, which continues to operate in the twenty-first century. The DeGray Cemetery is located across the road from the church and contains graves dated from 1848; it continues to be used in the twenty-first century.

The construction of DeGray Dam led to the flooding of the area to the east of the community, with the newly formed lake covering several acres. The majority of community is located west of the lake and was not affected by the construction.

The community is accessed by county roads and consists of multiple homes and large tracts of agricultural land. DeGray Baptist Church is located in the community, as is a volunteer fire department. The community is roughly bordered to the south by DeGray Creek, to the north by Little DeGray Creek, and to the east by the regulating lake of DeGray Lake.

For additional information:
May, Joe. “Clark County, Arkansas: A History of Past and Present.” Clark County Historical Journal (1990): 1–31.

Richter, Wendy, et al. Clark County, Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.

David Sesser
Southeastern Louisiana University


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