Lone Valley (Polk County)

Lone Valley, once called Rock Spring, is a remote and sparsely populated area in Polk County approximately four miles east of Hatfield (Polk County). The history of this valley dates back to the early 1840s. The earliest settlers came from Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. The valley once hosted a sawmill, the combined Lone Valley Church and School, and a cemetery. Much of the valley became what is now the Ouachita National Forest, but a few homes remain in the valley, and residents—and those with ties to the community—still use the Lone Valley Cemetery.

On November 30, 1844, the Arkansas General Assembly created Polk County from the upper part of Sevier County, naming it after president-elect James K. Polk. Around this time, the first families began to settle in the greater Hatfield area, then referred to as Clayton Spur. These settlers left their homes in the eastern United States for a variety of reasons: the popularity of westward expansion, the prevalence of overcrowding, the desire to own land (including those who accepted land as war bonuses), the opportunity for a new start, and the belief that the spring water and mountain air possessed health benefits.

One of the earliest homes constructed in Lone Valley was a log cabin built by Andrew Jackson (Jack) McDaniel, who was the great-grandfather of Hoyt McDaniel, in the 1840s. Additionally, he is credited with digging the channel for Six Mile Creek. The Lumphin Sawmill, which was the first known sawmill in the community, was also built during this time.

Between 1876 and the first interment in 1899, Algenon M. Bruce, who was the grandfather of Olen Miller, donated two acres to be used as a cemetery. Originally, Bruce provided the land under a ninety-nine-year lease but later made the endowment permanent. He and his wife were buried there. On some of this same land, the combined church and schoolhouse was later built.

While discussions of consolidation began as early as March 1920, the Lone Valley School did not consolidate with the Hatfield School District until 1929. The building continued to function as a church for another eighteen years. Once a thriving area, Lone Valley and its surrounding communities suffered as a result of the Great Depression and the Hatfield Fire of 1938.

In 1945, Vic Crane donated an additional two acres of land for the Lone Valley Cemetery. Around the same time, the Miller family purchased and began operating a sawmill. This sawmill allowed for the construction of a new church house: the Six Mile Union Sunday School. Members of the community who once attended the Lone Valley Church assisted with the construction of the new church building, which was completed around 1947 or 1948.

Sunday school and regular services were held at the church through 1975. The building gradually fell into disrepair and was torn down shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century. The sawmill continued to operate into the mid-1980s when Olen Miller’s health declined.

After 1929, students attended the Hatfield School District until it consolidated with the nearby Mena School District in 2004; this left no schools in the community. After that, families chose between Mena (Polk County) and the Van-Cove School District, which fully consolidated with the Wickes (Polk County) and Umpire (Howard County) school districts to form a new school district—Cossatot River—in July 2010.

In the twenty-first century, the area sees considerable traffic as a result of the logging and timber industries. Residents primarily work in the ranching, cattle, and poultry industries. Though it sits just outside the Lone Valley community, there is a sawmill owned and operated by Travis Miller and Jeremy Owens under the name Lone Valley Sawmill.

For additional information:
Cole, Laura D. “Grannis Mother Discusses School Problems.” Mena Weekly Star, March 11, 1920, pp. 4, 10.

Kannady, Nixby Daniel, and Loreda Hicks Daniel. Cemetery Inscriptions of Polk County, Arkansas. Mena, AR: Polk County Genealogical Society, 1984.

Knoop, Faith Yingling, and James R. Grant. Arkansas Yesterday and Today: A History of Arkansas for Elementary Grades. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1935.

Logan, Jess. The McDaniels of Polk County, Arkansas. N.p.: July 2010.

Martin, Eva. History of Hatfield and Some Polk Country History. Hatfield, AR: Polk County Genealogical Society, 1980.

“Schools that Consolidated with Hatfield.” Polk County Pioneers 42 (Fall/Winter 2015): 46.

Mysti L. Gates
University of Arkansas Rich Mountain


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