Lawrence

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Entries - Entry Category: Lawrence

Alicia (Lawrence County)

Alicia is on the segment of U.S. Highway 67 that has been dubbed Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67. In addition, the length from Alicia to Hoxie (Lawrence County) is one of five sections of the Old U.S. Highway 67 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built as a railroad stop, the town was once the southernmost passenger stop on the Iron Mountain railroad in Lawrence County. The Osage once hunted in northern Arkansas, although they lived farther north and left few archaeological remains in the area that would become Alicia. After treaties removed the Osage and other Native Americans from the area, the land was opened for settlement, but much of the land around Alicia remained unclaimed for many …

Black Rock (Lawrence County)

The city of Black Rock in Lawrence County is situated on the Black River at the edge of the Ozark Mountains. It reportedly takes its name from black rocks in the area. The city was a boomtown, rising due to the development of railroads and timber interests, and it was later sustained by the pearling industry. Black Rock consisted of only a few houses and some cleared farmland prior to the 1882 construction of the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Gulf Railroad through the area. Immediately, the area was transformed into a boomtown as lumber interests moved in to take advantage of the offerings of the Ozark Mountains. General stores were quickly established, and a sawmill was built on the …

College City (Lawrence County)

  College City of Lawrence County consisted of the campus of Williams Baptist College (now Williams Baptist University), along with residential areas north and south of the campus. Its history as a city was shaped principally by the college, as well as by the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School that preceded the college on the property. Local residents voted to consolidate their city with neighboring Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) in 2016. Southern Baptist College was established in Pocahontas (Randolph County) in September 1941. Drawing upon the alumni and the resources of several defunct Baptist schools—including Maynard Academy and Jonesboro Baptist College—Hubert Ethridge (H. E.) Williams and Henry Watters assembled a faculty and enrolled forty-two students. Williams became the first president of the college. …

Denton (Lawrence County)

In the mid-1830s, at the intersection of the Powhatan-Smithville Road and Military Road, one of Lawrence County’s earliest unincorporated communities developed. If it still existed today, Denton would be located about six miles west of Powhatan (Lawrence County) on State Highway 117. The nearby Black River and the fertile land of the Flat Creek valley attracted many settlers to the area prior to the Civil War. In about 1818, a Baptist church known as Bethel was organized as a missionary meeting house. Disagreements among the congregation resulted in a split. As a result, the New Hope Baptist Church was founded on July 22, 1844, with a building constructed in 1853. A new building was constructed in 1940. The church has …

Driftwood (Lawrence County)

Driftwood is a historic African-American community located in Morgan Township on Highway 361 about four miles east of Strawberry (Lawrence County) and about two and a half miles south of Lynn (Lawrence County). The Black River and its alluvial bottomland are about two and a half miles to the east. In its early days of settlement, Driftwood was referred to as Morgan Creek; it was also often referred to as “Little Africa,” as it had an estimated fifty farm families, mostly African American, living there at one time in its history. The black farmers in the area, most of whom worked on the Sloan Plantation near Black Rock, were given the proverbial “forty acres and a mule” by James F. …

Hoxie (Lawrence County)

Hoxie is located in Lawrence County in northeast Arkansas. The town garnered national attention in 1955 when it became the fourth school in the state of Arkansas to desegregate. Profiled in Life magazine, Hoxie’s desegregation caught the attention of the entire country. Hoxie is closely tied to the town of Walnut Ridge, which is Lawrence County’s seat. The earliest inhabitants in Lawrence County were Native American. During the Mississippian Era (AD 900–1541), the Osage, Quapaw, and Caddo were the three main tribes inhabiting what became the state of Arkansas. The Osage settled in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. The U.S. government forced the Native Americans from the Lawrence County area in 1810 and sent them westward. During the Civil War, …

Imboden (Lawrence County)

Imboden, a small town located in the northwest corner of Lawrence County, was founded in the early 1880s on a prominent rise overlooking the Spring River. Though a number of settlers lived in the area by the 1820s, the town, which became a local trade center, did not exist until the construction of the railroad in 1883. By the 1820s, the Military Road crossed the Spring River near the present town, attracting new settlers. There is evidence that a few houses and a store existed prior to the coming of the railroad. One of those early settlers was Benjamin Imboden, who moved his family to the area in 1828. Imboden acquired considerable property, eventually owning the largest amount of land …

Lynn (Lawrence County)

Lynn is a town on State Highway 25 in western Lawrence County. Although the area has long been settled, the population of Lynn has grown little. Osage from the north hunted and fished in northern Arkansas for many years until the Louisiana Purchase added the land to the United States. The Black River runs through the area where Lynn would be established. During territorial times, a military road known as the Southwest Trail connected Missouri to Fulton (Hempstead County), and this route reportedly ran through the area where Lynn is today. As a result, the land was soon claimed by settlers: Dempsey Trotman in 1820 and both John Kylor and John D. Williams in 1824. Lawrence County survived the Civil …

Minturn (Lawrence County)

Minturn is a town on U.S. Highway 67 in Lawrence County. Created as a railroad depot, the town prospered while the timber industry flourished in the county, but it has since declined in population. Margarete Ethel Neel, a poster-child of the Red Cross during World War II, was born in Minturn.  The first white dwellers in the area were French settlers who built homes along the Black River. Although the Minturn area is watered by a pair of creeks, it probably was not settled until after the Civil War. During Arkansas’s territorial period, the U.S. government created a military road that passed through the future location of Minturn. Known as the Southwest Trail, it stretched from Missouri to Texas along …

Portia (Lawrence County)

  The area that became the town of Portia in the late nineteenth century was home to some of Arkansas’s earliest settlers. Incorporated in 1886, the town, located on U.S. Highway 63, was once an important business center and timber-producing area. In the twenty-first century, however, its business district is declining. Native Americans were the first to settle the area around Portia, as evidenced by the many artifacts found along the banks of the nearby Spring and Black rivers. The first white settlers to the area probably arrived around 1800 as a result of two Spanish land grants, one of which included the land where the present town is located. In 1816, the General Land Office in Washington DC confirmed …

Powhatan (Lawrence County)

Powhatan was the Lawrence County seat of government for almost ninety-five years. Founded in the early nineteenth century on the banks of the Black River, the town became the county’s most important port on the Black River. When bypassed by the railroad in the 1880s, the town began a steady decline and is best known today as the site of a historic state park. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood White settlers established themselves in the area at about the same time as the creation of the Missouri Territory county of Lawrence. One of the earliest, John Ficklin, settled on the west bank of the Black River and, by 1820, began operating a ferry. Within a few years, the crossing and …

Ravenden (Lawrence County)

Ravenden, a small Lawrence County town near the Spring River, owes its origin to the completion of the railroad in the 1880s. With the development of the town along the tracks, it soon became an important trade center in the area. The business sector is no longer located on the original site. In 1947, the business sector slowly began to move to the newly completed U.S. Highway 63, where it remains today. Long before white settlers began to develop the land along the Spring River, the Osage used the area as hunting grounds. The first important white settler to the area was William J. Ball, the son of a former British soldier who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars and …

Saffell (Lawrence County)

Saffell is an unincorporated community in Reeds Creek Township located at the junction of Arkansas Highway 25 and Arkansas Highway 361 about three and a half miles south-southeast of Strawberry (Lawrence County). Saffell lies approximately four miles northwest of the confluence of the Strawberry and Black rivers. Farming is important to the livelihood of the community. In 2015, the population of the Saffell area was estimated at 190. Osage Indians once claimed the Strawberry and Black river bottoms, along with most of northern Arkansas, as their hunting grounds. Burial mounds are located across the Strawberry River from Saffell on the old White Plantation. French hunters, trappers, and fur traders, mostly from Canada, plied the Strawberry and Black rivers in the …

Sedgwick (Lawrence County)

Sedgwick, a town in eastern Lawrence County, is located on U.S. Highway 63 between Hoxie (Lawrence County) and Jonesboro (Craighead County). At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Osage from farther north hunted and fished in the area that would become northeastern Arkansas, but they had no permanent settlements there. Even after Arkansas became a state, settlement in the Cache River basin remained sparse. Eventually, after the Civil War, investors began to consider harvesting the timber in this part of Arkansas. The Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis Railroad built a line in the 1880s that ran through Hoxie and Jonesboro on the way to Memphis, Tennessee. George Washington Sedgwick, one of the railroad’s organizers, built a sawmill near the …

Smithville (Lawrence County)

Smithville was the first county seat of present-day Lawrence County. Though it is largely abandoned today, Smithville was once a thriving trading center near the Strawberry River in the foothills of the extreme eastern Ozarks region. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Nathaniel McCarroll family probably settled first in the area, around 1808. Other settlers joined them throughout the next several decades, most arriving from places such as Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri. By 1832, the area (then known as the Strawberry settlement due to the proximity of the Strawberry River) was populated enough to have the first post office erected within the modern boundaries of Lawrence County. In 1837, the redrawing of county lines forced Lawrence County to move its …

Strawberry (Lawrence County)

Although it was not incorporated until 1965, the town of Strawberry in southwestern Lawrence County represents one of the oldest white settlements in Arkansas. Unaffected by the Civil War and missed by the railroads, Strawberry was slow to develop, but it remains in the twenty-first century as the home of Hillcrest High School. Prior to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Osage from the north hunted and fished in northern Arkansas. White settlement quickly entered the territory, and the Strawberry River valley was one of the earliest areas to be populated. Although families did not gather into organized communities as was the case in Batesville (Independence County) and Davidsonville (Randolph County), William Taylor, Samuel Rayney, and Jacob Fortenberry came from Missouri …

Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County)

Walnut Ridge, county seat of Lawrence County, is located in northeast Arkansas. In response to World War II, the United States government opened the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School in 1942 on the northern outskirts of the town. The flying school was essential in the training of World War II pilots and in the dismantling of planes and other military equipment at the end of the war. Today, Walnut Ridge is the home of Williams Baptist University and is located on a major railroad line. The town also recently opened a museum dedicated to the World War II Army Flying School. Pre-European Exploration Earliest inhabitants in Lawrence County were Native Americans. During the Mississippian Period (approximately AD 900–1600), the Osage, …