Kimberley (Pike County)
In the early 1900s, John Wesley Huddleston discovered diamonds on his property. Local citizen Millard M. Mauney owned land a half mile from where the diamonds were found, and he believed that his property was perfect for a future mining industry. Railroad owners had planned an extension of the railroad going into Murfreesboro from the southwest. Its route would take it through what is now Kimberley, facilitating more developers and more investments. The area was named Kimberley after the South African city where diamonds were discovered earlier.
On January 22 and 23, 1909, Mauney and his helpers staged their grand venture, hoping to sell their lots. Mauney had Huddleston come to the ceremony, hoping to bring in more people. “Diamond John,” as he was called, bought the first lot for $70.
Starting in 1909, the promoters secured a few wood-frame buildings, a small bank, a three-story compact hotel, and a store. Plans were being made for a larger business center, a section for prospectors, and other stores and residential lots. Mauney’s success depended on the commercial testing for diamonds at the main field and at similar volcanic deposits. To the promoters’ disappointment, the commercial yields proved to be elusive, and the searching soon stopped.
In February 1910, investors finally gave up on the idea of finding diamonds and abandoned the business complex. Despite this, the community formally incorporated in March 1910. Mauney’s heirs eventually recovered full ownership of almost all of his property that was sold. The few buildings were removed. Most of the platted land reverted to farm land. What community existed managed to retain incorporation for a time, even as the population decreased.
In 1950, the population was only forty-six, and Kimberley became unincorporated in that decade. Mauney and his family lived about a mile from the diamond mine property. The family’s house, built in the early 1830s before Arkansas was a state, had two stories with a small third tier on the top, reportedly built as a lookout for “hostile Indians.” The house has been cared for and stands on a hill by Prairie Creek near Crater of Diamonds State Park. It is the oldest existing building in Pike County.
The community lends its name to the Kimberley addition, which consists of about a dozen modern homes along State Highway 301, which passes through Crater of Diamonds State Park.
For additional information:
Banks, Dean. “Arkansas Diamonds: Dreams, Myths, and Reality.” Condensed edition of unpublished manuscript (1997), 2006. Pike County Archives and History Society. http://www.pcahs.com/Arkansas_Diamonds/idxFr2.htm (accessed November 10, 2021).
Early History of Pike County, Arkansas: The First Hundred Years. Murfreesboro, AR: Pike County Archives and History Society, 1989.
Worthington, Glenn. Genuine Diamonds Found in Arkansas. Murfreesboro, AR: Mid-America Prospecting, 2009.
Doris Russell Foshee
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