Denton (Scott County)
Denton is an unincorporated community located in western Scott County. Established in 1877 near the confluence of Denton Creek and Ross Creek, the community is named after the Denton family, which settled in Scott County in the 1850s. The agriculture and timber industries have traditionally contributed to the economy and way of life in Denton.
Before European contact, the area where Denton is located was a wilderness teeming with native vegetation and wildlife. The area’s first inhabitants included natives from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Archaeological discoveries suggest that natives of the Caddo tribe made their homes along the Fourche La Fave River near Denton and other prominent waterways in the area.
Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche La Fave River and Poteau River. It is likely that they traveled through the area where Denton is now located. There are also stories of Spanish exploration in the western portion of Scott County, although they cannot be substantiated.
Settlers began arriving in the area near Denton by the late 1820s. The area continued to be settled from the 1830s to the early twentieth century. Most families participated in a wide variety of agricultural practices.
By 1850, Leonard J. Denton; his wife, Anna; and their two children, William and Josiah, had moved from Bradley County, Tennessee, to Scott County. The family settled in the area near present-day Brawley. Anna gave birth to five more children between the years 1855 and 1866. After Anna’s death sometime between 1866 and 1867, Leonard married Mary Mize. They had four children by 1874. Several members of the Denton family later moved to the Ross Creek area near what would become the Denton community.
During the Civil War, men from the region were called to arms for both the Union and the Confederacy. Women, children, and the elderly were often left to care for farms and homesteads. Several instances of bushwhacking occurred throughout the region, as many homes were left largely unprotected.
After the Civil War, an influx of settlers from various war-torn regions of the South moved into the region. In 1866, a direct tax was levied against residents of the South on cotton and other agricultural products. Leonard J. Denton is listed in the county records as having been issued this tax.
In 1877, Denton’s Mill Post Office was established, with William A. Denton as the first postmaster, although it was discontinued on May 8, 1878. The establishment of the Denton community stemmed from the existence of the post office.
In May 1882, the Scott County Courthouse burned, destroying all records that defined the boundaries of the various school districts that had been established throughout the county. In August, the county court reestablished the boundaries of the fifty-six school districts active in the county, including Denton School District (number 19).
In 1894, Denton Township, which included the communities of Denton and Winfield, was formed from land taken from Hickman Township.
The 1900 census of Denton Township, taken by Henry T. Davidson, showed that there were ninety-seven families living there. The Denton Baptist Church served as a school for approximately twenty-five children from grades one to five. One of the few businesses in Denton was a saloon. Members of the community mostly depended on stores and businesses in other areas for goods and supplies.
In 1947, the Denton School District was consolidated with the Waldron School District. The community eventually declined due to the absence of infrastructure and industry.
Agriculture continues to be a prominent way of life, mostly in the form of cattle and chicken farms. The timber industry is likewise active in the Ouachita National Forest near Denton. The Denton Baptist Church continues to serve as a place of worship and as a voting station for Denton Township.
For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891.
Cate, Michael. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Dallas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991.
Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.
McCutcheon, Henry Grady. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Little Rock: H. G. Pugh and Company, 1922.
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Last Updated: 03/19/2021