Witherspoon (Clark County)

Two unrelated communities in Clark County are named Witherspoon. The first was located about half a mile south of Hollywood (Clark County). Over the years, the name of the community evolved to Spoonville; it was under this name that the post office located in the community operated. The second is an unincorporated community in eastern Clark County just south of the community of the same name in Hot Spring County.

Early settlement in the Witherspoon area began in the 1820s. Samuel Rutherford obtained a federal land patent for eighty acres in the area in 1823. Samuel moved to Arkansas from Tennessee in 1817. His brother, Archibald, moved to the state in 1831 and obtained a federal land patent for eighty acres in the Witherspoon area in 1837. He operated a store and practiced law. Elected county judge, he served a single term from 1833 to 1835 before serving two terms as circuit clerk. Additional service came in the Arkansas House, as state treasurer, as clerk of the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and as a receiver for the Confederate government.

Other early landowners include James Stroop, who obtained forty acres in 1837, and Jesse Evans, who received 160 acres in 1856. The namesake of Witherspoon arrived sometime before the Civil War, although his first name is unknown. Witherspoon established a hotel in the community, and the area became known as Witherspoon in his honor before morphing into Spoonville. This name became official when the postal service adopted it for the office operating in the area.

Postal service began in 1860 in Hollywood to the north. After the post office opened and closed several times, mail was sent to Spoonville in 1868 before several more instances of the office ceasing and restarting service. The office in Spoonville opened in 1871 and remained in operation until 1877. The two offices operated at the same time for several periods. In 1877, the name of the office in Spoonville changed to Hollywood, and that office operated without a break in service until 1954.

Even though the two communities of Hollywood and Spoonville were located near one another, sources suggest that residents viewed them as two distinct communities. Nothing of Spoonville still exists in the twenty-first century, however, and with the merger of the community with Hollywood, Spoonville is no longer a meaningful separate entity.

The second Witherspoon is an unincorporated community located in eastern Clark County immediately south of the community of the same name in Hot Spring County. Closely tied to the establishment of the Iron Mountain Railroad, the community is bisected by Witherspoon Road, with the land on the north side in Hot Spring County and the land on the south side in Clark County. A post office and other services were located on the Hot Spring County side, leading to the community being more often associated with that county rather than Clark.

For additional information:
McAfee, Wayne. “The Clark County Seat (1819–1843).” Clark County Historical Journal (1986): 64–79.

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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