Fox (Stone County)
Fox is located on Highway 263 between Timbo (Stone County) and Rushing (Stone County). Turkey Creek flows a few miles north and northeast of Fox, while Jimmys Creek is to the northwest.
With the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, early settlers began to eke out a living by growing crops along Meadowcreek and the Little Red River. A few hardy frontier families slowly moved up the hill from the river; their settlements would become the community of Fox.
Fox was originally called Smart, but when the post office was opened in 1905, another name was required, as there was already a Smart in Arkansas. As the debate over a name was taking place, someone caught a fox in the middle of town. One of postmaster George Washington Harper’s brothers suggested that the post office be called Fox, and so it was. Others say the name derives from the Fox family who lived in the area at the time.
The Turkey Creek School was built in 1925 and served Fox until 1946, when the isolated Stone County communities of the hill—including Fox, Meadowcreek, Mozart, Parma, Rushing, Sunnyland, and Turkey Creek—built one common school located along Highway 263 two miles from Fox. Called the Rural Special School, the tiny school was noted for its high educational standards. However, in July 2004, with only 200 students, Rural Special was made to consolidate with Mountain View Public Schools in accord with Act 60 of 2004. Because of its isolation, the Rural Special campus remained in use. Since August 2013, Rural Educational Heritage Inc., a nonprofit organization, has operated a successful preschool in Fox. The traditional frame Turkey Creek school building designed by George Green and Robert Hawkins was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 25, 1985.
The original pioneers not only brought their farming equipment and animals, but they also brought their musical instruments and crafts. Fox is noted for its fine folk musicians and craftspeople who, during the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s, met at the Lonnie Lee residence for “hootenannies.” Two such musicians were David Jackson Samuel Lafayette “Fate” Morrison and his brother William Perry (Willie) Morrison, both fiddlers. Morrison family tradition holds that an ancestor fiddled for George Washington at Valley Forge. Noted local guitarist Seth Newton Mize usually played with them. The Morrison brothers and Seth Mize traveled the world with their neighbor from Timbo, folk musician Jimmy Driftwood, in the 1950s and 1960s, entertaining and promoting local folk music and folklore. Following Fate Morrison’s death in 1988 in Fox, a lane connecting with Highway 263 was named the Fate Morrison Road.
Versatile folk musician David Smith, together with Robert and Mary Gillihan, make up the folk band Harmony, which performs in Fox and elsewhere. The Gillihans were featured entertainers at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View (Stone County) at one time. Fiddler John Taylor, once of Fox, has a popular family band known as Sons of the Ozarks. Popular Branson, Missouri, comedian and singer Paul Harris graduated from high school in Fox. Several noted artisans of Stone County have called Fox their home, such as ceramic artist Joseph Aloysius Bruhin III.
Governor Orval Eugene Faubus has ties to Fox. His third wife, Janice Ann (Jan) Hines Wittenberg, the daughter of Ted Hines and Dovie Branscum, hailed from the community. The couple was honored in the folk festival parade in Mountain View on April 18, 1987. She is buried in Fox Cemetery.
Fox and the surrounding area, particularly Meadowcreek, played a significant role in the back-to-the-land movement. Two brothers, David and Wilson Orr, consolidated their assets to buy 1,500 acres along Meadowcreek and the Little Red River. The two brothers moved their families to the area in June 1979 and began building a community that, they hoped, would supply all its own food and energy. This effort became known as the Meadowcreek Project. Meadowcreek is a three-mile-long valley rimmed on both sides by high, rocky bluffs rising 500 feet above the canyon floor, with rich farmland and 1,200 acres of mixed hardwoods and evergreens. There is also abundant water. The Meadowcreek project is ongoing, with headquarters on Meadow Creek Road in Fox.
An uproar ensued in 2011 when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decided to close the Fox Post Office, along with many other small post offices throughout the nation, in an effort to save money. Following a campaign by the citizens of Fox, the USPS relented in May 2012 and permitted Fox to keep its post office, with reduced hours.
In the twenty-first century, Fox is a prosperous community of 763. Its popular store, the Fox Country Store, is open seven days a week. It also has a flower and gift shop, a wholesale distributor for Numu Coffee, a park with a paved walking track, and a community building that once belonged to the American Legion. Several churches serve the area.
With an elevation of 1,414 feet, Fox is ideal for an assortment of towers, the most significant being a radio tower for KFFB, whose station is located at Fairfield Bay (Van Buren and Cleburne counties). About a mile north of Fox is a television tower for Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s public television station.
For additional information:
Deane, Ernie. Arkansas Place Names. Branson, MO: Ozarks Mountaineer, 1986.
Fox, Arkansas, 1905–2005: Centennial of the Naming of the Post Office. N.p.: Fox Community Services Book Committee, 2005.
“Meadowcreek Project: A Model of Sustainability in the Ozarks.” The Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/sustainability-model-zmaz82mazglo.aspx (accessed November 17, 2020)
McNeil, W. K. “Singing and Playing Music in Arkansas.” In An Arkansas Folklore Sourcebook, edited by W. K. McNeil. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1992.
Van Buren, Arkansas
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