Thrace (Clark County)

The unincorporated community of Thrace is located in southern Clark County about five miles northeast of Whelen Springs (Clark County) and about seven miles southeast of Gurdon (Clark County).

The earliest landowner in the area was land speculator John Skinner. He obtained 3,200 acres of land with a federal land patent on August 1, 1837. Skinner either alone or with partners obtained a total of more than 13,000 acres of land on that date in Clark County. Skinner eventually resold all of the land in the Thrace area.

The Thrace post office operated during two periods. It originally opened on December 3, 1884, with Mary Keys as the postmistress. Claiborne March took the postmaster position on October 2, 1885, before the office closed on November 13, 1886, and services were provided by the office in Whelen Springs. The office reopened on February 10, 1902, under the management of Napoleon Key. The final postmistress, Ella Stevens, assumed her position on August 3, 1905, and the office closed on April 2, 1906, with service once again provided by Whelen Springs.

Napoleon Bonaparte Key, known as “Pole Key,” owned land in the area and is buried in the Easley Cemetery east of Thrace. Former postmistress Mary Keys is buried in the Bethlehem Cemetery located to the southwest of the community. Meriwether Lewis Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson and the last secretary of Arkansas Territory, is buried about one and a half miles northeast of Thrace.

Few sources are available that detail the history of the area. No information about schools, churches, or businesses is available. The area is heavily forested, with few homes. No businesses operate in Thrace in the twenty-first century, and much of the land is owned by timber companies. Several hunting camps are located in the area, and most area residents commute to Gurdon or other nearby cities for employment.

A similarly named community of Trace also existed in the southeastern corner of Clark County, about a mile from the Little Missouri River, ten miles east of Whelen Springs, and thirteen miles southeast of Gurdon. This community, which never had a post office, was about six miles southeast of Thrace and about three miles southeast of Kansas (Clark County); confusingly, the entire area became known as Kansas, including Trace.

For additional information:
Medley, Willie, and Joe May. “Clark County Postmasters: 1832–1871.” Clark County Historical Journal (1990): 139–160.

Richter, Wendy, et al. Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.

David Sesser
Southeastern Louisiana University


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