Gipson (Scott County)
Gipson is an unincorporated community in northwestern Scott County just south of Highway 28. The community was established circa 1887 just south of Bates along the Poteau River. Agriculture has traditionally been important in the area.
Prior to European exploration, Gipson was a wilderness lush with native vegetation and numerous species of wildlife—including buffalo and elk, which no longer inhabit the area. Archaeological evidence from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods has been discovered throughout the area. Additional evidence has indicated that the Caddo tribe had a strong presence along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways.
Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche La Fave River and Poteau River. It is likely that they traveled through the area where Gipson is now located. There are also unsubstantiated stories of Spanish exploration in the western portion of Scott County.
White settlers began arriving in the area near Gipson as early as the late 1820s. The area continued to be settled during the 1830s and 1840s. Most families participated in a wide variety of agricultural practices.
The Civil War affected people living in the area near Gipson, as it did throughout the rest of the Confederacy. Men who were called to fight in the war served with both the Confederacy and Union. Additionally, the women and elderly were left to look after the homes and farms.
Gipson became a well-established community after the Civil War. Two cemeteries were established near Gipson. The first was Gipson Cemetery, established circa 1875, which was named after the Gipson family who settled in the area. Later, in 1883, a small family cemetery was established for the Sliger family just east of Gipson.
In May 1882, the Scott County Courthouse burned, destroying all records that defined the boundaries of the various school districts that had been established throughout the county. In August, the county court reestablished the boundaries of the fifty-six school districts active in the county. In 1884, citizens of the Hixon School District petitioned the court to create the Gipson School District.
Gipson’s first post office was established in 1887, with James S. Gipson as the first postmaster. This was around the same time that the town of Gipson was officially established. Gipson was named after James Gipson and his family, who settled in the area in the early to mid-1800s. Gipson and his third wife, Lue Annie Gipson, opened a general store in 1888. Gipson was murdered in February 1889. Following his death, his wife settled his debts and took inventory in their store before its closure. Among those items inventoried were footwear, ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, notions, yard goods, housewares, tableware, food, marbles, fish hooks, cards, and baby bibs.
In 1889, Albert S. Wood was appointed postmaster of Gipson. Wood also owned a lucrative mercantile business in town.
In the early twentieth century, Gipson began to decline due to its proximity to the larger town of Bates (Scott County). In May 1902, the post office at Gipson was changed to Bates. The Gipson School District was also closed in 1918 and consolidated with Bates.
Several members of the Gipson community served during World War II. Gipson was a much smaller community after the war, as many residents had moved to Bates and elsewhere by this time.
There is little to no commercial infrastructure remaining in Gipson, although there are still many residents in the community. Agriculture continues to be an important practice in the area, mainly in the form of cattle and chicken farms. Hunting and fishing are popular recreational activities. Children living in the community swim in the Poteau River and Shadley Creek. In 1980, a new concrete bridge was built over the Poteau River at Gipson.
For additional information:
Cate, Michael. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991.
Echoes: The Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly. Waldron, AR: Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society (1986–).
Goodner, Charles. Scott County in Retrospect. Mansfield, AR: Frank Boyd, 1976.
Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.
McCutcheon, Henry Grady. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Little Rock: H. G. Pugh and Company, 1922.
Richardson Preservation Consulting