Garner (White County)

Latitude and Longitude:

35°08’29″N 091°47’10″W

Elevation:

220 feet

Area:

0.646 square miles (2010 Census)

Population:

284 (2010 Census)

Incorporation Date:

May 20, 1971

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

1910

1920

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

216

191

284

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

284

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garner is a town in southern White County on Highway 367, not far from Highway 67. Though the area was first settled around 1850 and became a stop on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad in the nineteenth century, the town did not incorporate until 1971.

William Brown Walker received legal title to land in White County in 1841, and by 1850, he had built a house and established a cotton farm on that land. His homestead, with several houses added over the years, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Walker and his family owned slaves until the Civil War; after the war, some of the freed slaves remained on the land as tenant farmers.

The Cairo and Fulton Railroad was chartered in 1853 with a plan to extend rail service from the border with Missouri across the state of Arkansas to Texarkana (Miller County). Only a few sections of railroad were built before the Civil War, but in 1872, the company (now known as the Cairo, Arkansas, and Texas Railroad) laid tracks through White County. A large stand of white oaks near the Walker homestead was recognized as potential fuel for the steam locomotives.

Local lore records that one Joseph Garner obtained the wood concession for the railroad and gave his name to the new community. Another report claims that Jim “Poke” Smith circulated a petition to urge the railroad to place a depot at the wood yard, but that he then changed the petition to place the depot upon his property a mile to the south, resulting in the creation of the city of McRae (White County). Documentation is lacking to verify these claims.

A post office was established at Garner in 1889, although it was variously called Paxson, Clifton, Garner Station, and New Garner before the name Garner won out in 1891. Strawberries were grown in the area and shipped from the Garner depot late in the nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century, Garner had several stores, a boarding house, a service station and garage, and a train depot served by the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which now owned the line built in the 1870s. Much of the oak was harvested, not only for the railroad but also for furniture. Three churches (Methodist, Baptist, and Church of God) and a public school were established, but the school was consolidated into the Beebe (White County) school district in 1949.

Highway 67, which had long been a gravel road, was paved during the 1930s. Later it was widened, and then early in the twenty-first century a new highway was built paralleling the older road. The new road was designated Highway 67, and the old road through Garner became 367.

Marion Noble was a lifelong communist born in Garner who served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

The town, which incorporated in 1971 to be able to provide services such as water and sewer lines, had a population of 284 in the 2010 census. Businesses reported in Garner include the post office, a Baptist church, and a local office for TEPPCO, a company based in Houston, Texas, whose pipelines carry natural gas and petroleum products. Three TEPPCO workers were killed in May 2009 in Garner when a cutting torch they were using on the roof of a gasoline storage tank ignited fumes, causing an explosion.

For additional information:
Austin, W. Kelly. “Garner and the Sloan Family—Early Generations.” White County Heritage 29 (1991): 30–35.

Leach, W. J. “Early Days in Garner and McRae.” White County Heritage 4 (April 1966): 2–4.

———. “From Osage to Atomic Age in Garner.” White County Heritage 30 (1992): 53–62.

Steven Teske
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Last Updated: 12/12/2018

Entry