Etta (Hot Spring County)

Etta (Hot Spring County) was an unincorporated community located about six miles southwest of Malvern (Hot Spring County) and about two miles northeast of Elmore (Hot Spring County). Formerly a stop on the Iron Mountain Railroad, the community became depopulated in the early twenty-first century, with the land returning to timber production.

Early landowners in the area included James Darnell, who obtained a federal land patent for eighty acres in 1881. Mary A. Williams, who was born around 1837 in Georgia, obtained eighty acres in 1882. In the 1880 federal census, a recently widowed Williams appears with her four sons and daughter; her youngest son was only two years old at the time. Her oldest sons, twenty-one-year-old Phillip and fifteen-year-old William, appear in the census as farmers, while Mary is listed as keeping house.

Russell Williams also obtained eighty acres in the area in 1882. Williams, who had served in the Third Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment (CS) during the Civil war, lived on the land with his wife, Nancy Williams, and four daughters and son. It is unclear if Russell Williams was related to Mary Williams, although both were born in Georgia.

Harrell Gill obtained forty acres in the area in 1889, and Haley Fuller received a patent for 120 acres in 1890. John Magness obtained a patent for eighty acres in 1894. He appeared in the 1900 census along with his wife, Sarah Magness, and their two sons and daughter.

The settlement at Etta grew with the opening of the Iron Mountain Railroad. The post office at Etta operated from 1889 to 1891, when it closed and service for the area moved to the Elmore office. Etta was located about one mile west of present-day U.S. Highway 67. A settlement called Happy Hollow (Hot Spring County) was located directly east of Etta on the highway. A telephone company based in Happy Hollow serviced Etta, and a two-room school operated in the community, providing students from Etta with the opportunity to attend classes. Another school operated at Etta for at least one term. 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 in due to its proximity to the railroad.

An attempted train robbery took place near the town on December 3, 1915, when two men tried to hijack an Iron Mountain train. Foiled by the engineer in their efforts to stop the train at Etta, the men engaged in a gunfight with the Hot Spring County sheriff and two deputies. The sheriff was struck in the foot, but the two men escaped in the darkness. Bloodhounds from Little Rock (Pulaski County) tracked the culprits but could not find them. The search was hampered by a major fire that took place in Malvern the same night.

The closure of the lumber mill at Elmore in 1927 led to the decline of the population of both Etta and Elmore. The Happy Hollow school consolidated with the Elmore School and four other schools in 1916 to form the Central School District. The area later came to be served by the Malvern School District.

A few homes are located between the former location of Etta and Highway 67, but the area of the former community is no longer inhabited. A power plant owned by Entergy is located to the northeast of the former community, and much of the surrounding land is owned by timber management firms.

For additional information:
“Etta School, 1909.” The Heritage 17 (1990): 58.

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

“Malvern’s Train Robbery.” The Heritage 7 (1980): 74–76.

David Sesser
Southeastern Louisiana University


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