Huff (Independence County)

Huff of Independence County is located seven miles south of Batesville (Independence County) on Highway 167, a roadway designated today as Batesville Boulevard. Huff is about two miles north of Salado Creek, the location of a rest stop and of the swimming hole used by residents of the region. Fishing in the creek is a popular recreational activity in the area.

Huff gets its name from the Huff family, who were pioneers in the region. Many of their descendants still live in Salado (Independence County) and Batesville. William Henry Harrison Huff, a Primitive Baptist preacher and constable, was elected mayor of Ironton, Missouri, during the Civil War. According to family tradition, he almost single-handedly started one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Pilot Knob in the fall of 1864, when he and two friends raised the Confederate flag on the courthouse flagpole, leading the Union army to descend on the town and kill most of the Confederates. Huff and his compatriots made a hasty retreat across the border into Arkansas, ending up on Salado Creek near Pleasant Plains (Independence County). There, he met and married Martha Marcella Thompkins, who was his third wife. Why he chose that particular part of Arkansas is unclear, but some suspect that one of his two friends had family connections in the Batesville region. In those days, the woods around Salado Creek would have been a suitable place indeed to hide out. William Henry Huff died in 1887 and is buried in the Huff Family Cemetery near where the post office would later be located.

The community was already called Huff by many locals before the post office opened in 1911, with Virgil Burgess serving as first postmaster. Before that, the area was served by the Pleasant Plains post office. The area served by the post office was later divided into several small communities including the community of Cave Springs, which had its own school on Highway 167.

Prominent in the founding of Huff was the Bryant family from Illinois, who eventually owned and operated one of the main businesses in the county, the John E. Bryant and Sons Lumber Company on Lawrence Street in Batesville. “Preacher” Elonzo Clinton (E. C.) Bryant ventured to Arkansas following the Civil War and settled on the banks of Salado Creek in Huff. He had a large family by his first wife, Mary Alice Rebecca (Alley) Purcelley. One of their daughters, Elizabeth Bryant, later became the postmaster of the Huff post office. At age seventy-two, following the death of Alley, “Preacher” Bryant married the widow Sadie Altha Patterson Farrier. Being an ordained minister, he performed the nuptial service himself but had to redo it a few years later to make it legal. At the age of eighty-five, he once more became a father, with the birth of the couple’s son. Bryant died in 1960 at the age of ninety-nine.

Cave Springs School served the educational needs of the children of Huff until it consolidated with Pleasant Plains around 1930. Today, the line between the Southside School District and the Pleasant Plains School District is located at Rocky Point (Independence County) on Batesville Boulevard between Southside (Independence County) and Huff.

Three bridges have spanned Salado Creek at Huff. The first one, built in 1870, was made of rock in the Gothic style of architecture; it collapsed in 1928. A new steel bridge was built in 1928–1929 a short distance downstream. It was replaced by the present steel stringer bridge in 2002 when Highway 167 was widened between Batesville and Bald Knob (White County). The dedication of the new bridge was held at the Salado Creek rest area on November 12, 2003. The remains of the first bridge are still visible, but the old columns fell into rubble during a flood in 2014.

For many years, the post office and store in Huff were owned and operated by Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bryant Apple and her husband, William Jennings Bryan Apple. Lizzie Apple also gave music lessons in the store, and folk artist Jimmy Driftwood of Timbo (Stone County) frequented the store to swap songs with her in the 1950s and 1960s. She first became postmaster on March 31, 1931, and continued in that capacity until her husband died and the post office closed in 1975. She continued to run the store until shortly before her death on July 15, 2002. The Huff post office and general store building was torn down in April 2015.

For over thirty years beginning in the early 1950s, E. C. Bryant’s grandson, Duffie Edward Bryant, broadcast a locally popular radio show, “The Hunting and Fishing Club of the Air,” over KBTA in Batesville; its theme song, “Gone Fishin’,” was familiar to most in the area.

There are some family farms and cattle operations in Huff, but most who live in the area seek employment in nearby Batesville or Bald Knob.

For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.

McGinnis, A. C. “A History of Independence County, Ark.” Special issue. Independence County Chronicle 17 (April 1976).

Kenneth Rorie
Van Buren, Arkansas

Last Updated: 01/29/2018