Prattsville (Grant County)
|Latitude and Longitude:||34°18’53″N 092°33’13″W|
|Area:||1.62 square miles (2020 Census)|
|Population:||289 (2020 Census)|
|Incorporation Date:||September 10, 1962|
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
Prattsville is a city located on State Highway 270 in Grant County, a few miles west of Sheridan (Grant County). Although it did not incorporate as a town until 1962, Prattsville had already been continuously inhabited for more than 100 years, and the area shows evidence of human presence for many previous centuries. Prattsville reincorporated as a second-class city early in the twenty-first century.
An archaeological survey conducted in 1973 found evidence of a prehistoric settlement in the vicinity of Prattsville. Native Americans had, however, already left the area before European explorers or American settlers arrived in the area.
Early settlers in Arkansas created a number of roads, one of which ran through what was then Saline County, linking such communities as Cherry Grove and Turin. A small village began to be formed in the 1840s along that road. A post office was established at that location in 1857, named Prattsville for John Pratt, the first postmaster. Pratt operated a ferry on the Saline River to the west of Prattsville. Also in 1857, Isaac N. Keesee acquired a land grant to the area that would become Prattsville.
In April 1864, federal troops attempted to cross the Saline River at Pratt’s Ferry as part of their return to Little Rock in the last stage of the Camden Expedition. The crossing failed due to high water, and they instead crossed the river at Jenkins’ Ferry, a few miles to the south, confronting Confederate troops in an engagement that led to nearly 1,000 casualties.
The settlement grew following the war. A small school was established, with two teachers by 1890. By 1901, the community had a two-story schoolhouse, which was replaced in 1910 with a two-story frame schoolhouse with eight rooms. During the Depression, the National Youth Administration built another new structure for the Prattsville school district.
Also during the Depression, Prattsville was chosen by Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L) to be the first model community in a program of rural electric service. Several Prattsville men joined the army during World War II. Following the war, the community continued to grow, becoming in 1947 one of the first in Arkansas to receive natural gas service. Access to energy resources led to further construction, including a new Baptist church and two new stores. In 1948, the Prattsville school district fell short of state standards for enrollment and was consequently denied state funding. Sacrifices on the part of the teachers and administration enabled the schools to remain open and even to improve their services to the students, such as a larger school library. The school district was incorporated into the Sheridan/East End School District in 1994.
Seeking to offer more services to residents, the community of Prattsville incorporated as a town in 1962. The next year, the new town began a project to build ten houses to attract new residents and gain customers for the proposed water system of the town.
In the twenty-first century, Prattsville has four Baptist churches and a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as several businesses. Significant employers in the town include Allen Gate & Panel, Bennings Heating & Air Conditioning, Smith Brothers Heating & Cooling, and Hurst Logging Inc. The population of Prattsville in 2010 was 305.
David Delano Glover, who served in various positions in Arkansas politics for much of the early twentieth century, was born in Prattsville. The most famous residents of Prattsville were brothers Witt Stephens and Jack Stephens. Their investment bank, Stephens, Inc., founded in 1933, has been involved in the success of many Arkansas businesses, and the brothers also gave millions of dollars to charity. The community center in Prattsville is named for them.
For additional information:
Edwards, Kathryn H. “Prattsville Takes Pride in Its ‘Independent School.’” Arkansas Democrat Sunday Magazine, May 13, 1951, pp. 4, 12.
Goolsby, Elwin L. Our Timberland Home: A History of Grant County. Sheridan, AR: Grant County Museum, 1984.
“Short on People, Prattsville Builds Homes to Entice Them.” Arkansas Gazette, June 16, 1963, p. 3A.
Stuckey, Alma G. “Prattsville Gains Incorporation through Community Spirit.” Arkansas Gazette, November 18, 1962, p. 7A.
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
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