Elmore (Hot Spring County)

Located about six miles southwest of Malvern (Hot Spring County), four miles northeast of Donaldson (Hot Spring County), and two miles southwest of Etta (Hot Spring County), Elmore was an unincorporated community related to the timber industry in the late nineteenth century.

John Kelly (J. K.) Hall was born in Hot Spring County in 1856. During the Civil War, his father, James Hall, died as a Confederate prisoner of war in St. Louis in 1862; James’s wife raised Hall and his siblings. After spending a few years in Texas, where he married Nancy Guinn Nichols, Hall returned to Hot Spring County and worked for the Christopher and Clark Lumber Company. Purchasing the company in 1886, he renamed it the J. K. Hall Lumber Company and established a major mill at Elmore. John and Nancy Hall had four children in addition to a son she had from a previous marriage. Nancy died in 1884, and John married Mary Emma Lettsinger in 1888, with the couple having twelve children. Hall eventually owned thousands of acres of land in Elmore and in nearby counties.

Hall’s lumber mill at Elmore produced between 25,000 and 30,000 board feet daily when at full operation. The mill operated until 1927. The remains of the facility burned in 1929. Hall also founded the Malvern Oil Company, serving as the president. The company drilled several exploratory wells in Hot Spring County but did not find any substantial oil reserves.

The Elmore Post Office opened on August 4, 1890. The post office at Etta closed in 1891, and service transferred to the Elmore office. It continued to operate until 1928, when service moved to Malvern.

The lumber company operated a commissary for the workers, located across the tracks from the mill, and most of the employees lived in cabins owned by the company. Bum’s Rest Church was located approximately halfway between Etta and Elmore. The non-denominational church relied on visiting preachers for services. The church received its name from the hobos who used the building to sleep due to its proximity to the railroad.

Elmore resident Robert Edward Higginbotham’s name appears on a list of men from the county drafted for service in World War I. A primary school served the community in the early twentieth century. It consolidated with five other schools in 1916 to create the Central School located at Central (Hot Spring County). The Elmore School was located near the Elmore Lumber Company on the Iron Mountain Railroad tracks.

The railroad was an important part of the community. On August 8, 1921, a train crashed at Elmore when it struck a cow on the tracks. Alf Atkinson of Arkadelphia (Clark County) was killed in the accident, and another man was seriously injured and trapped for a time in the wreckage. Multiple cars derailed and several other passengers received minor injuries.

With the closure of the mill and post office, the residents of Elmore moved away. The area is unpopulated in the twenty-first century, with the surrounding land covered by timber.

For additional information:
Goza, Jimmie Sue. “Etta and Elmore.” The Heritage 8 (1981): 105–108.

Goza, John M. “Mr. J. K.” The Heritage 6 (1979): 98–101.

Goza, William Paul. “Photos, Genealogy, and Stories by: William Paul Goza.” The Heritage 35 (2008): 53–62.

“No. Three Wrecks Near Elmore.” The Heritage 7 (1980): 119.

David Sesser
Southeastern Louisiana University


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