Falcon (Nevada County)
Falcon is an unincorporated community in southern Nevada County. One of the oldest communities in the area, it reached its pinnacle even before the creation of Nevada County. Located about six miles south of Bodcaw (Nevada County), it is also twenty-three miles south of the county seat of Prescott (Nevada County) and sixteen miles southeast of Hope (Hempstead County). The community is centered on the intersection of Arkansas Highways 53 and 355 about one mile north of the Lafayette County line.
Many settlers arrived in the area in the 1850s. Early landowners in the area included John Richardson, who received almost forty acres of land in 1850. Elijah Lewis, James Hardwick, and James H. Hardwick jointly received a land patent for more than 150 acres the following year. Lewis lived in the area with his family, which included his wife, Mary Lewis, and five sons. Hundreds of additional acres were distributed to settlers over the next decade. Most of the plots of land issued as land patents were around forty acres. The early landowners in the area included a mixture of farmers and speculators, with at least one obtaining land using Choctaw scrip. The post office in Falcon opened in 1852. A company called the Falcon Guards organized in the community and joined the Confederate army in July 1861. The company served as part of the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry, and the unit was captured at the Battle of Island Number Ten. A number of the men of the company died in prison at Camp Douglas, Illinois. Those who survived were exchanged and served in Mississippi as members of the consolidated Eleventh and Seventeenth Arkansas Consolidated Mounted Infantry.
The area around Falcon belonged to Columbia County when Nevada County was created on March 20, 1871. The creation of the new county placed Falcon in Alabama Township, Nevada County. At the time that Nevada County was created, only four small towns existed within the boundaries, including Falcon, Mount Moriah, Bluff City, and Moscow. Falcon was the most prosperous of these communities, although it was soon passed by Prescott when that town was incorporated in 1874.
The community served as a hub of activity in the southwestern corner of the county. Candidates for county office regularly visited Falcon while campaigning, and nearby residents met with a tax collector from Prescott to remit their annual real estate taxes. In 1884, the community hosted a prohibition meeting led by the Reverend J. R. Moore of Arkadelphia (Clark County).
By 1885, the bypassing of the community by the Iron Mountain Railroad led to most businesses in the area moving to nearby cities. The population in the area consisted of only a few families, according to a reporter with the Arkansas Gazette, and the only business still in operation was the post office. Other sources claim that the post office closed in 1906. A description of the community in 1890 listed two general stores, a school, a church, a mechanic shop, and a confectionary. The population was near 100 at that time.
The majority of residents were involved with farming, growing cotton as a cash crop and various fruits (especially watermelon) and vegetables for consumption and for the market.
The discovery of the Falcon Oil Field led to investment in the area. With the first wells entering production in the early 1920s in nearby Ouachita County, efforts to find other oil deposits nearby brought some prosperity to the community. Reports in the Nevada County Picayune in 1923 mention wells in the Falcon area, as well as many agents for oil companies in the county looking for possible drilling locations. Oil drilling continued in the field in the early twenty-first century, with permits being issued by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission in 2019. Iron ore deposits near the community also saw some exploration in the 1960s.
A Mason-sponsored school called the Falcon Academy operated in the community in the 1850s and 1860s. Details about the school are scarce, but future Arkansas attorney general William E. Atkinson received his early education at the institution. Mentions of a school in Falcon appear in the Prescott Daily Picayune in 1886 and 1888. The school operated during a winter term that concluded in February. A school named the Falcon Academy operated in the community in the late 1800s, serving female students.
The Oak Grove School District in Rosston (Nevada County) served as a consolidated district for African-American students in the southern part of the county, including Falcon. Formed in 1936, it was one of the first consolidated districts for African Americans in the state. In the twenty-first century, the community is served by the Lafayette County School District.
Several cemeteries are located in the community. The Falcon Cemetery is located west of the intersection of Highways 53 and 355. The new section is located on the north side of 355, with the old section on the south side. The cemetery association was created in 1824. The oldest marked grave in the cemetery dates to 1854 and belongs to Callia Strange, the one-year-old daughter of John and Martha Strange. Serving the African-American community, the Clevet Springs Cemetery is located near the Clevet Springs Church. The oldest marked grave surveyed in the cemetery dates to 1867, with other early graves dating to 1904.
The community remained small in the early twenty-first century. Agricultural endeavors including timber production and poultry operate in the area, as well as several oil wells. A number of churches are located near the community, including New Hope Baptist Church Number Two to the northeast and the Falcon Church of Christ at the intersection of the highways.
For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing, 1890.
“Early History, Development and Growth of Nevada County and Prescott.” Prescott Daily News, June 22, 1911, pp. 1, 4.
Eby Engineering Company. “Nevada County, Arkansas.” Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. http://www.aogc.state.ar.us/maps/Historical/Counties/Nevada.pdf (accessed November 19, 2020).
“Falcon Items.” Prescott Daily Picayune, February 15, 1888, p. 3.
“Falcon News.” Prescott Daily Picayune, August 3, 1887, p. 3.
“Falcon Oil Field.” Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, http://www.aogc.state.ar.us/maps/Historical/Fields/Falcon%20Field.pdf (accessed November 19, 2020).
“Much Trading in Oil Leases.” Nevada County Picayune, April 5, 1923, p. 1.
Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://www.depotmuseum.org (accessed November 19, 2020).
“Oil and Gas: Well Drilling under Way in Columbia, Nevada and Union Counties.” Magnolia Reporter, June 24, 2019. Online at http://www.magnoliareporter.com/news_and_business/nevada_county/article_b2fdf0ea-9520-11e9-8835-c363ce027ad7.html (accessed November 19, 2020).
“Southwest Arkansas.” Nevada County Picayune, October 8, 1885, p.1.
“Southwest Arkansas Capitalizing in Iron Ore Deposits.” Arkansas Gazette, May 31, 1962, p. 1B.
“Temperance Column.” Nevada County Picayune, August 4, 1886, p. 4.
Henderson State University
Falcon has always been known for its beautiful flowers and gardens, and its kind citizens. Frank and Lillie Moss own property in this community. Daddy always said to hold on to this property. I remember the day he purchased this land.
Yes, that’s my hometown. Beautiful countryside. Beautiful memories and upbringing, with lovely neighbors and community.
Interesting article. Would love to know more about the main families that made this area their home, with some amount of attention on the African American families in this community.
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