Puryear (Scott County)

Puryear is an unincorporated community in western Scott County. Puryear was established in 1915 along Haw Creek. The agriculture and timber industries have contributed the economy and way of life in Puryear.

Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Puryear was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds can be found along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Fourche La Fave River and Black Fork Creek. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area.

During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French hunters and tradesmen traveled west from the Arkansas Post exploring portions of western Arkansas. These Frenchmen often traversed rivers and streams throughout the region. Several rivers that flow through Scott County were likely named by these French explorers, including the Petit Jean, Poteau, and Fourche La Fave. It is probable that they traveled through the area near present-day Puryear.

Settlers began arriving in Puryear and the surrounding area during the late 1830s and early 1840s. The area was settled throughout the early twentieth century. Settlers participated in a wide variety of agricultural practices.

Men called to fight in the Civil War served with both the Confederacy and Union. The women, children, and elderly were left to look after family homes and farms. Instances of bushwhacking occurred in the area during the Civil War.

During Reconstruction, there was a migration of settlers into western Scott County as a result of people being displaced because of the war. The need for a cemetery was soon realized, and Haw Creek Cemetery was established near Puryear. The oldest marked grave in the cemetery dates to 1880; however, the cemetery was likely established prior to then.

In May 1882, the Scott County Courthouse burned, destroying all records that defined the boundaries of the various school districts that had been established throughout the county. Several months later in August, the county court reestablished the boundaries of the fifty-six school districts active in the county, including Puryear (Haw’s Creek) School District (Number 52). Locally, the school was also known as Turkey Ridge and Turkey Trot.

The Puryear Post Office was established in 1915, with James G. Lewis as the first postmaster. The post office was discontinued in 1920 and the mail sent to Black Fork (Scott County).

In 1946, Haw’s Creek (Puryear) School District was consolidated with Black Fork School District. The old Haw Creek’s school building is still located across the road from Haw Creek Cemetery in the twenty-first century; however, it is in a state of disrepair. Agriculture continues to be a prominent way of life in Puryear, mostly in the form of cattle and chicken farms. The timber industry maintains a large presence throughout the Ouachita National Forest in Puryear and the surrounding area. Hunting and fishing are popular recreational activities. Puryear is serviced by the Black Fork Volunteer Fire Department.

For additional information:
Cate, Michael. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991.

Echoes: The Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly. Waldron, AR: Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society (1986–).

Goodner, Charles. Scott County in Retrospect. Mansfield, AR: Frank Boyd, 1976.

Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.

McCutcheon, Henry Grady. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Little Rock: H. G. Pugh and Company, 1922.

Ty Richardson
Richardson Preservation Consulting


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