Three Brothers (Baxter County)

Three Brothers is a populated unincorporated community in Logan Township on Highway 5 about ten miles north-northwest of Mountain Home (Baxter County), the county seat. It is about eight miles north-northeast of Bull Shoals. Three Brothers is approximately six miles south of the Missouri state line. Nearby Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes and the surrounding countryside, including Mountain Home, attract tourists and fish and game enthusiasts. Being located on a main highway through this section of the Ozark Mountains has proven helpful for the local economy of the declining community of Three Brothers, which continues to be somewhat of an appendage to Mountain Home. Highway 5 through the area has occasionally been closed due to mud slides.

The area where Three Brothers is located became part of Baxter County in 1873 when the county was created. The area is labeled Rapp’s Barren, reportedly called barren for lack of timber, on an 1860 map that showed it located in Marion County.

The land was a hunting ground for the Osage when French and Spanish explorers first entered the wilderness. The Cherokee began arriving around 1817, and at their invitation, Shawnee from the Ohio River Valley established a main settlement in Shawneetown, present-day Yellville (Marion County). The Cherokee may have expected the Shawnee to aid them against the Osage. Hunters, trappers, and fishermen were in the area by the early 1800s.

Beginning in 1826, the Old Salt Trail was improved to make way for Highway 5 to Missouri. The Old Salt Trail was a pre–Civil War road used to transport salt and other staples to customers in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, items that had been shipped by steamboat to the Jacob Wolf House on the White River.

Three Brothers had a post office from 1912 until 1953; it was part of a general store, and the first postmaster was Abner J. E. Deatherage. Three Brothers was not actually named for three brothers. The original name of the community and post office was Vin, which was established around 1900. The postmaster requested that the name be changed to Three Brothers in honor of the three-humped mountain range nearby. There are, however, local legends that Three Brothers was named after the Deatherage brothers or the Turnbo brothers (families that settled in that area), but descendants of those families say that the town was named for the local mountain range.

Three Brothers Cemetery is located on Highway 5 at Three Brothers near the community center. It was formerly known as the Deatherage Cemetery and was started when Grant Deatherage, a brother to the postmaster, requested to be buried under a hickory tree located there.

Three Brothers was at its zenith when, on December 2, 1911, the Ozark Clarion published its first edition at Three Brothers with F. A. Emerson as publisher. Established about this time, the Three Brothers School provided for the educational needs of the community until the 1940s, when it consolidated with Mountain Home. The Three Brothers school building is still standing in the twenty-first century but is in disrepair.

The Wallace (a.k.a. Wallis) General Store, which still stands in Three Brothers, although closed for business, was purchased in the 1920s by Sidney Turnbo and Zella Copelin Turnbo, when they and their family moved from Pontiac, Missouri, to Three Brothers. The couple ran it for more than fifty years. At times, it was the only store closer than Mountain Home, Oakland (Marion County), or Gainesville, Missouri. The Three Brothers Post Office was located inside the store, and Zella Turnbo was the postmistress until 1953, when the post office closed. Then the residents received their mail on Route 1, Mountain Home. Zella Turnbo kept the store open for several years following her husband’s death. It closed in 1979 after her death.

Nationally recognized woodcarver Junior Cobb’s carving studio was located at Three Brothers, and the derelict abandoned building still stands in the twenty-first century. The Wolf House in Norfork features a sign carved by Cobb, who died in 2011. His carvings are collected all over the world. One of his carvings is in the art collection of the White House in Washington DC. Governor Winthrop Rockefeller commissioned Cobb to carve a bust of Glen Campbell, and it was presented to Campbell on his TV show on behalf of the people of his home state. Cobb died at the age of seventy, never having moved from his trailer home and his carving workshop.

For additional information:
Berry, Earl. History of Marion County. Yellville, AR: Marion County Historical Association, 1977.

Bodenhamer Kevin, et al. History & Families: Baxter County, Arkansas. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2003

“Looking Back—Turnbo General Store at Three Brothers.” KLTO, December 30, 2016. (accessed May 22, 2017).

Messick, Mary Ann. History of Baxter County, 1873–1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, 1973.

Kenneth Rorie
Van Buren, Arkansas


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