Witherspoon (Hot Spring County)
Witherspoon is an unincorporated community in southwestern Hot Spring County. Located about four miles west of Brown Springs (Hot Spring County) and six miles southwest of Donaldson (Hot Spring County), the community was founded as a railroad stop.
Originally part of Clark County, the area became part of Hot Spring County when the county was created in 1829. One of the early settlers in the area was Archibald Brumbelow. In 1860, he received forty acres of land near the future location of Witherspoon and farmed it with his family.
The opening of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad in 1873 led to the establishment of a railroad stop in the area. A post office opened in Witherspoon in 1875; it operated until 1931. Other businesses opened nearby to serve a growing population. The origin of the name is unknown, although James Witherspoon of Arkadelphia (Clark County) served as an early director of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, with the community perhaps named in his honor.
Timber drove the economy around Witherspoon. The major activity at the railroad station in the community was the loading of timber cut at various sawmills in the area. In a business guide published in 1884, the community was described as including two water-powered flouring mills and cotton gins, along with three churches and a school. The population was listed as 150. Almost all of the leading citizens in the community were listed as being involved with the flour mills and cotton gins.
In 1892, another listing gave information about the community. The population had increased to 175, and several other professionals were listed, including a carpenter, machinist, and book agent. The town also had a general store.
In December 1907, two freight trains collided near the community, destroying fifteen boxcars and an engine. A brakeman on one of the trains was killed in the accident, and another man received serious injuries.
The station at Witherspoon served the nearby Brown Springs community, which proved to be a popular camping location for many families. The Baptist Young People’s Union held a camping event at Brown Springs in 1905, and many families disembarked from the train at Witherspoon to make the short journey to the camp.
Little exists of the community in the twenty-first century. Consisting of a few scattered homes, most of the area remains under agricultural use, with timber continuing to be a major crop.
For additional information:
“Polk’s Arkansas State Business Directory and Gazetteer, Vol. 1, 1884–1885.” The Heritage (1981): 177–180.
Henderson State University
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