Friendship (Hot Spring County)

Latitude and Longitude: 34º13’23″N 093º00’11″W
Elevation: 302 feet
Area: 0.71 square miles (2020 Census)
Population: 158 (2020 Census)
Incorporation Date: July 11, 1938

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
































Friendship lies along U.S. Highway 67, which runs through the center of the town, and is a quarter of a mile south of Interstate 30 in Hot Spring County. During the Civil War, it was the site of an important salt-making operation.

Pre-European Exploration
Residents near the Ouachita River in Friendship have reported finding mounds and various artifacts consistent with the Caddo tribe. The town is located just four miles from the junction of the Ouachita and Caddo rivers, an area in which the Caddo have a well-documented history.

Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood
Explorers William Hunter and George Dunbar passed through the area during their survey of the new Louisiana Purchase in 1804. With documented stops in Arkadelphia (Clark County) and Rockport (Hot Spring County), the expedition certainly passed through the area known today as Friendship.

The Friendship community was established in the early 1850s when settlers from nearby Hot Springs (Garland County), Tennessee, and Virginia moved to the area. G. M. Russell of Tennessee, W. P. Riland of Virginia, and Thomas H. Hammons of Hot Springs were the first three settlers of the area. As the area grew in population, residents decided to assign a name to their community. Russell is credited with suggesting the name of Friendship, a reflection of the close relationships forged among settlers of the community.

Civil War through the Gilded Age
A salt spring along the river proved to be important to residents of Friendship during the Civil War. With most of the men serving in the Confederate army, women were left to do their own salt mining. Women traveled to the river in pairs or groups on horseback to get salt. The long cloth sacks they used for transporting the salt were filled with 100 to 150 pounds in each end of the sack and saddled across a horse to distribute the weight. The horses were often scalded by the irritating salt when their sweat soaked into the bags. The salt burns sometimes kept the horses from working for several days, which affected food production for the Friendship families.

The people of Friendship petitioned for a post office on July 27, 1886. The proposed post office would serve 200 residents. The Friendship Post Office opened three months later on October 25, 1886. Mail came from Arkadelphia via the Ouachita River. The mail was handed over to anyone who would take it to the post office from the river.

Early Twentieth Century through the Faubus Era
Friendship was incorporated as a town in 1938. In the 1930s, Friendship resident Gus McDonald donated two plots of land for a jail and town hall. On the smaller plot, a two-cell jail was constructed in 1937 out of native stone.

The larger piece of land donated by McDonald was eventually sold in order to purchase the lot across from the jail. Friendship’s town hall was built on this site (on present-day Church Street) in 1960.

Friendship had its own high school until 1950, when it merged with Donaldson High School. The merger resulted in the construction of Ouachita High School in 1951. The new school was constructed halfway between the two towns; that community is named Midway due to the school merger. Friendship and Donaldson (Hot Spring County) elementary schools continued to operate in their own towns as part of the Ouachita School District.

The Friendship school building housed only elementary students after the high schools merged. The building was built in 1932 predominantly by unemployed volunteers. A fire burned the Donaldson Elementary School building in January 1965. The decision was made to build one elementary school on the Ouachita High School campus to serve students from Friendship and Donaldson. The new Ouachita Elementary School opened in September 1966.

Modern Era
Friendship’s town council voted unanimously on June 4, 2012, to cease operation of the police department due to the cost of maintaining the department and keeping personnel trained and properly compensated in the face of declining population.

For additional information:
Bivens, Mark. “Mayor Promotes Friendship.” Malvern Daily Record, May 29, 2012.

Buford, Annie. “Friendship: The People, the Post Office, the City.”The Heritage 12 (1985): 93–103.

“Friendship PD Disbanded.” Malvern Daily Record, June 6, 2012.

McDonald, Mrs. Homer. “Friendship, Arkansas.”The Heritage 2 (1971): 53–57.

Ronna Pennington
Arkadelphia, Arkansas


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