Girard (Scott County)
Girard is a historical community located in northeastern Scott County. The community was established approximately three miles east of where the Petit Jean River begins in Scott County in what is now the Ouachita National Forest. Agriculture contributed significantly to the way of life in Girard.
Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Girard was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds can be found along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Petit Jean River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area.
During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French hunters and tradesmen traveled west from the Arkansas Post, exploring portions of western Arkansas. These Frenchmen often traversed rivers and streams throughout the region. Several rivers that flow through Scott County were likely named by these French explorers, including the Petit Jean, Poteau, and Fourche La Fave rivers. It is probable that they traveled along the Petit Jean River near present-day Girard.
Settlers began arriving in the area surrounding Girard during the late 1830s and early 1840s. The area was continually settled through the early twentieth century. Settlers participated in a wide variety of agricultural practices.
Area men called to fight in the Civil War served with both the Confederacy and Union. The women, children, and elderly were left to look after family homes and farms. Instances of bushwhacking occurred in the area during the war.
During Reconstruction, many settlers traveled west to Arkansas from war-torn regions of the South in order to start a new life. Several people during this time began settling directly in what would become Girard.
The Girard post office was established in 1896, with Robert E. Giles as the first postmaster. The post office was located in the Girard store. The store and post office were located on the William P. Doak homestead. The land was first acquired by a Mr. Girard (whose first name is unknown). Girard built a house and the store on his land, and ran it until it was acquired by Joseph O. Butler. The store and community were named for Girard. Butler served as second postmaster from 1899 to 1915 and continued to run the store as well. Ada Sales and Ella C. Melton served as postmasters from 1915 until the post office’s closing in 1918. After the post office was discontinued, the mail was sent to Waldron (Scott County).
Even though there was no school located directly in Girard, the children from the area still attended school at White Oak (School District 48). Originally, this school district was reestablished in 1882 as Enterprise (or Interprise). The schoolhouse was said to have been located near the Pilot Prairie church and cemetery. The school was also referred to at this time as Devil’s Knob. In January 1890, this school was consolidated with Farr’s Chapel (number 47). It was reestablished in July as Nella in western Scott County. The exact date of School District 48 being re-formed as White Oak is unknown; however, the district appears on reports of the county clerk in 1897. The schoolhouse was in at least four different locations on or around White Oak Mountain near Girard and the nearby community of Colburn Spring. The schoolhouse was first located on the Ben Johnson homestead. It was later on the Andrew J. Coburn homestead, across from Tate-White Oak Road. The school was later located fifty yards west of Coburn Cemetery. It was known as Sims Chapel while it was in this location. The last White Oak school was on the L. D. Wilson place. In the late 1920s, White Oak School District was consolidated with Birdsview School District to form Lone Elm.
There is very little infrastructure remaining from Girard, but some evidence of the community can be found. The remnants of several homesteads can be found throughout the Ouachita National Forest surrounding the bygone community. Likewise, there are numerous stone walls that were used for agricultural purposes located throughout the area. Hunting and fishing are popular recreational activities in the area in the twenty-first century.
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
Last Updated: 08/07/2020