South Sebastian County Historical Society

The South Sebastian County Historical Society (SSCHS) aims to preserve and mark south Sebastian County landmarks, compile and preserve records of local historical events, maintain a museum to house artifacts, and publish an annual periodical. In 2010, the society had 250 members.

The South Sebastian County Historical Society was organized on February 24, 1963, in Greenwood (Sebastian County) under the leadership of Dr. H. G. Alvarez for the purposes of “preservation and marking of local landmarks, compiling and preservation of dates concerning past events of local interest; the establishment of a Museum to house mementoes of the area and times” as a “legacy for our children and theirs.” Officers included Herbert Curry (president), Means Wilkinson (vice president), Dr. James Burgess (treasurer), Mary Dunn (secretary), and Gladys Walgreen (membership chair). The society produced its first issue of The Key, an annual publication depicting south Sebastian County historical events, people, and family histories, in 1966. It has been published annually, except in 1982, when there were two issues, and during the period of 1991–1993, when issues were combined.

The society operates several facilities that portray the history of south Sebastian County in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Located on the southeast corner of Greenwood’s town square, these include the 1892 Old Jail Museum, the 1848 Vineyard Log Cabin, the Ole Barn, the Redwine Pioneer Schoolhouse, and the Coal Miner’s Memorial. Members share south Sebastian County history with local citizens, school children, and tourists through a variety of programs and events. During Arkansas History Month, classes are invited to tour the district with SSCHS docents. In mid-May, the society participates in Epsilon Sigma Alpha’s popular “Airing of the Quilts,” displaying vintage quilts in historic settings throughout the museum complex. The Old Jail Museum Complex is open from May 1 to November 1, each Thursday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The society’s publication The Key is available with membership, and issues from 1966 through the present are available for purchase at the Old Jail Museum. Other publications of the society include Fire in the Hole (a history of the county’s mining industry) by Dr. H. G. Alvarez, Honorably They Served (a history of local veterans) by Alvarez, When the Old Bell Rang (a chronicle of the lives of local pioneer teachers) by William David Redwine, Return to War Eagle by Alvarez, Strings and Things (recollections of life in Greenwood of the early 1900s) by Estella Szegedin, and Greenwood School District: The Heart of Sebastian County (a history of the local schools).

For additional information:
“Editorial: 1963–1966 Years of Accomplishment.” The Key 1 (Spring 1966): 2.

Old Jail Museum Complex. (accessed February 15, 2022).

South Sebastian County Historical Society. (accessed February 15, 2022).

Donna Goldstein
South Sebastian County Historical Society


    I was reminiscing about my younger years, telling my kids about my great-uncle Dr. H. G. Alvarez (founder of the historical society). I told them how I sat on top of the army tank and visited the jail museum circa 1986 with my parents. I miss my great-uncle and my cousin John. I would love to visit someday again the jail museum and take another picture with the tank, this time with my kids.

    Rob Hernandez