Neuhardt (Crittenden County)
Neuhardt is an unincorporated community in south-central Crittenden County, located on Arkansas Highway 147 between Anthonyville and Edmondson. The town grew up around 1900 as a result of the timber industry and was named for lumber tycoon George Neuhardt, who purchased thousands of timbered acres in the area. Information regarding George Neuhardt is scarce, but it is known that he suffered tremendous commercial losses due to flooding and eventually committed suicide when forced into bankruptcy.
Following the Civil War, a statewide timber industry expanded in earnest due to the construction of railroads and availability of powered machinery. Cutting of timber in the Arkansas Delta (including Crittenden County) and the “sunken lands” of northeast Arkansas played a pivotal role in encouraging immigration and industrial development in the eastern part of the state, but, as clear-cut swaths of land became wider, timber cutting in this area declined, and the once-timber-rich acreage was sold and used as farmland.
The growth of Neuhardt was made possible by the construction of railroads through the area; indeed, Neuhardt and nearly a dozen communities in southern Crittenden County grew up due to the timber boom and railroad access to a Missouri Pacific rail line that ran to Marianna (Lee County). Consequently, the commercial and demographic history of Neuhardt is tethered to that of its neighboring towns, particularly Simsboro (Crittenden County), which is located about three miles to the southwest.
Simsboro was the namesake of George W. Sims, who operated lumber mills in both Simsboro and Neuhardt; at one time, the two Sims mills cut 40,000 board feet of lumber daily. Records indicate that, in 1916, Sims sold 1.5 million feet of varied timber while on business in Chicago, Illinois, which were shipped via railroad out of Simsboro. Sims also served as postmaster for a time when Simsboro opened its first post office in 1916; Neuhardt received its post office in 1913. Both offices closed in 1928, and mail was subsequently delivered via the post office in neighboring Proctor (Crittenden County), about three and a half miles northwest of Neuhardt. The Proctor post office has since changed locations but, as of 2010, it still handles mail delivery through this area.
Another influential Neuhardt resident was Fay LeFlore Wells, who came to work for the Green River Lumber Co. in 1908. Much of the timber in Neuhardt was cut by this company. After the land was cleared, Wells managed a 6,000-acre farm owned by Green River Lumber.
The Missouri Pacific operated a station at Neuhardt until 1963, when it was closed. The town also had two schools (segregated) and an alfalfa mill; none are extant today. The Barton Planting Company was headquartered in Neuhardt and operated a general merchandise store there until it was destroyed by fire in 1981. Neuhardt today consists of a rural residential community and farmland for growing cotton, rice, and soybeans.
For additional information:
Dew, Lee A. “The Blytheville Case and Regulation of Arkansas Cotton Shipments.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Summer 1979): 116–130.
Woolfolk, Margaret Elizabeth. A History of Crittenden County, Arkansas. Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1993.
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