Polk

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Entries - Entry Category: Polk

Cove (Polk County)

Cove is a town on U.S. Highway 71 in western Polk County. It is home to Van-Cove High School, part of the Cossatot River School District. The rugged hills of the Ouachita Mountains remained sparsely settled until after the Civil War, although Cove appears on maps as early as the 1850s. It is not clear why the name Cove was chosen for the community. The Skirmish of Sulphur Springs was fought near the location of Cove on January 25, 1864. Henry McDaniel purchased land in the area in 1876 and began clearing land for his farming operation. By 1890, Cove was noted as “an enterprising and good business village” with five general stores, a drugstore, three blacksmith shops, a wagon …

Grannis (Polk County)

  Grannis is located on U.S. Highway 71 in southern Polk County. Like many of the cities of southwestern Arkansas, Grannis began as a railroad depot and grew with the development of the timber industry, turning later to the fruit and poultry industries. The heavily wooded slopes of the Ouachita Mountains were uninviting to the cotton farmers who first settled the area, and no landowners appear in records of the Grannis vicinity prior to 1893. The oldest monument to any human presence in the region is a tombstone on a hilltop that is now the location of the Grannis cemetery. The name of the traveler buried there has been erased by weather, but the year 1881 is still legible on the monument. …

Hatfield (Polk County)

Hatfield is a town on U.S. Highway 71 in Polk County. Although it originated earlier than the Civil War, its survival is due to the railroad, now the Kansas City Southern, that was built at the end of the nineteenth century. White settlers from Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky first began to arrive in the vicinity of Hatfield in the 1840s. Thomas Adams, Edward Read, and Berry Ward each received patents from the land office in 1855. A sawmill was built near the location where the Old Line Road crossed Six Mile Creek, and a community called Clayton Spur developed. The community had a blacksmith shop, a lodge hall, and several shops connected with the lumber industry. No schools …

Little Africa (Polk County)

Little Africa was an all-black community that lay near Board Camp Creek in Polk County east of the county seat of Mena. For a few decades, it was home to many of the county’s African Americans, but the community did not survive the changing economy and growing racial hostility of the county’s white population. The name “Little Africa” was common among informally organized all-black communities in the state and nation. The first African American to stake out a homestead in the area that would become Little Africa appears to have been Nelson Ray in 1875. He was followed by others such as Thomas Moore (who filed for a homestead in 1884), Cicero Cole (1899), William Ray (1901), and Frank Hill …

Mena (Polk County)

  Mena was founded in the late nineteenth century as a railroad town in western Arkansas. Situated amid the Ouachita National Forest and surrounded by noteworthy state parks and trails, the city is now something of a tourist destination, though it also has a diversified economy based upon agriculture and manufacturing. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Mena was one of many towns founded along the route of Arthur E. Stilwell’s Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern), stretching from Kansas City, Missouri, to Port Arthur, Texas. The town of Mena takes its name from the nickname of Folmina Margaretha Janssen deGeoijen, the wife of one of Stilwell’s financiers (Janssen Park is also named after her). …

Vandervoort (Polk County)

Vandervoort was a key stop for the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern). Francis Marion Cecil, with his wife Rhoda Lebow Cecil and thirteen children, owned and farmed the land in southern Polk County where Vandervoort now stands. When the town site was first laid out, it was known as Janssen, taking its name from the maiden name of Jan DeGeoijen’s wife. Jan DeGeoijen was a Dutch coffee merchant who was involved in financing the construction of the railroad. There was another town in Arkansas called Jansen, however, and mail between the two towns was constantly being mixed up. In 1907, the town’s name was changed to Vandervoort in honor of the mother of Jan …

Wickes (Polk County)

  Wickes is a city in southern Polk County. Built along the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) around the beginning of the twentieth century, Wickes is now dominated by the poultry industry. The 2010 census noted its population as more than fifty percent Hispanic. Western Arkansas was heavily forested and sparsely populated until late in the nineteenth century, when the growth of railroads promoted the success of the timber industry. In the last decade of that century, Arthur E. Stilwell was head of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later the KCS). His company created and acquired a network of railroads linking various locations in Missouri, Oklahoma (then still called Indian Territory), Arkansas, and eventually Texas and Louisiana. The …