Conway

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Entries - Entry Category: Conway

Blackwell (Conway County)

The Conway County community of Blackwell was organized in 1872 when the area was designated as a railway station by the newly developed Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad. The stop was designated as Blackville Station and was primarily intended as an agricultural loading site. The area surrounding Blackwell is made up of Arkansas River bottomland that is among the most productive farmland in the state. In 1878, the area warranted a post office, and a major disagreement ensured regarding the name for the community. Station stops along the railway were often named for someone employed by the railroad and had little to do with local geography or customs. Eventually, the community settled on the Blackwell name, although the record does not …

Catholic Point (Conway County)

Catholic Point, which began in 1878 in rural northern Conway County, is a small Italian community associated with the large European immigration of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The community is best known for the Catholic Point Picnic, which has been held since 1929 on the third Saturday in June at the parish hall of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Catholic Point maintains its cultural identity, and the afternoon picnic attracts more than 2,500 each year. From the mid-1870s until 1890, Bishop Edward M. Fitzgerald, the second prelate of the Diocese of Little Rock, promoted and successfully attracted Roman Catholic families from Europe, many of whom were facing difficult economic conditions, to the state. While not necessarily identified as a part …

Center Ridge (Conway County)

The history of Center Ridge, an unincorporated community in northeastern Conway County, spans and connects to some of the key developments in Arkansas history, from the bitter division during the Civil War to the evolution of the rural economy of upland Arkansas—which developed from subsistence agriculture to row crops, animal husbandry, and more recently, natural gas extraction. Archaeological excavations made prior to the construction of Brewer Lake, in central Conway County, indicate that Native Americans occupied the area for thousands of years. The upland portion of Conway County was largely uninhabited by the late 1830s, when white settlers began to arrive. The first community in the area, about four miles west of present-day Center Ridge, was Lick Mountain, and the …

Cleveland (Conway County)

Cleveland, located in northern Conway County between the East and West forks of Point Remove Creek, was once a thriving center of area trade. Little remains of the farming town that once numbered over 300. The surrounding landscape that was previously planted in cotton is now dominated by sheep, beef cattle, and chicken houses. The first white settler to occupy part of the one-square-mile plot of land on which Cleveland was founded is believed to have been James T. Massey, who arrived in 1871. Though others gradually moved to the area, the town did not develop for several years. The first store was established in 1883 by John W. Todd and T. J. Hannaford. Todd had settled in the area …

Lewisburg (Conway County)

Lewisburg is a former town in Conway County. It was a vibrant community from 1831 until 1883, when it ceased being the county seat of Conway County, replaced by Morrilton. An important town on the Arkansas River, Lewisburg played a significant role in the Civil War. But following the war, the town was bypassed by the railroad, which favored the development of Morrilton. Lewisburg was founded as a trading post and steamboat landing along the Arkansas River in 1825 by Stephen D. Lewis—hence the name Lewisburg. (Some later sources also credit Lewis’s father, General William Lewis, although he died in January 1825.) The town was a stagecoach stop between Pottsville (Pope County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and played a …

Menifee (Conway County)

The town of Menifee has its origins in the 1820s when Dr. Nimrod P. Menifee bought property west of Cadron Creek and along the Arkansas River. The location was adjacent to the Cadron Settlement, once considered as the site for the capital of the new Arkansas Territory and for the seat of Pulaski County. After Little Rock (Pulaski County) was designated the territorial capital, Cadron declined in importance. However, the settlement on the western side of Cadron Creek developed and prospered as the Menifee plantation. The post–Civil War era created the community that continues into the twenty-first century as an incorporated city. Menifee and his son, Dr. Lewis Menifee, organized a large plantation in addition to a river crossing known …

Morrilton (Conway County)

  Morrilton, the seat of Conway County, is located on Interstate 40 fifty-four miles northwest of Little Rock (Pulaski County). It is home to the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In 1820, Major William Lewis and his son, Stephen D. Lewis, settled about a mile south of present-day Morrilton. In 1825, they established a trading post and called it Lewisburg. The new town thrived due to its location on the Arkansas River, and it soon had a large population and numerous businesses, including two newspapers and an opera house. A Masonic lodge served as the town’s first school. From November to December 1836, during the Trail of Tears forced …

Old Hickory (Conway County)

Old Hickory in Conway County is just one of the many rural, unincorporated Arkansas communities that once served as area commercial centers and have since disappeared. Located about fifteen miles northwest of Morrilton (Conway County), the community was perhaps best known for a general store that closed in 1983. The first documented white settler, John H. Jones, was drawn to the area in 1849 by cheap land. On September 22, 1858, a post office was established with Abihu Arnn as its first postmaster. It is said that the long-lost original name for the post office was rejected due to its being too long. One story states that Julius Mackie Washington Masingill, an early settler, then suggested naming the office after the hickory …

Oppelo (Conway County)

Known by thousands of travelers as the “turn-off” or last gas stop on the way to Petit Jean State Park, the small community of Oppelo had its origins many years prior to the development of the notable intersection of Highways 9 and 154. The often mispronounced name also provides recognition for this community of nearly 800. The area south of the Arkansas River in Conway County was negotiable territory in the early days and became a part of Perry County in 1840, when it was known as Aplin Township. In 1873, the Arkansas legislature returned the area to Conway County. Again, the area’s location relative to Petit Jean Mountain was an important consideration in the reunification with Conway County. The …

Plumerville (Conway County)

Plumerville was formed as a stagecoach stop in 1858, but the origins of the community are found along the Arkansas River in the early days of the Arkansas Territory. The community moved from the Harrisburg-Portland bottomland area to follow stagecoach and railroad developments. Samuel Plummer came to the area in 1833 and purchased 160 acres of the “first high ground” north of the Arkansas River. Over the next several years, the development of the Military Road from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) led to a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Company and the construction of the telegraph line across this important choice of land. The later railroad also needed to avoid the overflow areas and …

Point Remove (Conway County)

The designation of “Point Remove,” popularly employed to describe the confluence of Point Remove Creek in Conway County with the Arkansas River, is almost certainly derived from the French word remous, meaning “eddy” or “whirlpool.” Most instances of the term in early nineteenth-century documents follow this usage. However, the name “Point Remove” was later mistakenly connected to Indian Removal in Arkansas, supposedly marking the principal geographic point in the description of the boundary of Cherokee land in Arkansas, prior to the Cherokee population’s later relocation to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). William Lovely used the term “point remove byo,” the abbreviation “byo” meaning “bayou” and thus designating the creek, in a public document in 1813. In his book Journal of Travels …

Springfield (Conway County)

Springfield (Conway County), once the county seat of Conway County, began as the intersection of the Old Cherokee Boundary Line and a principal route of the Western Cherokee in their relocation west of the Mississippi River. The National Road, from St. Genevieve, Missouri, was routed through the area, taking advantage of a large reliable artesian spring. These roads connected the area with developing population centers such as Batesville (Independence County), Clinton (Van Buren County), Lewisburg (Conway County), and Little Rock (Pulaski County). A small trading post was established that served the first settlers in the area, Cherokee who came in the early nineteenth century. They began clearing farmland plots and established cabins; some of the foundations remain. The trading post …

St. Elizabeth (Conway County)

St. Elizabeth in Conway County is a small unincorporated community located on State Highway 154, about eight miles south of Morrilton (Conway County) and near Oppelo (Conway County) in Martin Township. The farming community, originally settled by German Catholic immigrants, is bounded on the north by the Arkansas River. It was named in honor of a thirteenth-century Hungarian saint who, though born into royalty, committed her life to working with the poor and sick. The first white settlers to the area were members of the Bahr family, who established the community in 1874. The Joseph and Julia Hoyt family arrived about four years later. Within the next few years, other families moved to the area, attracted by the fertile farmland. …