Entries - Entry Type: Place - Starting with O

O’Kean (Randolph County)

The town of O’Kean (Randolph County) first developed in the Black River bottoms, the area to the south and east of the Black River in Randolph County, shortly after the Civil War. Attracted by plentiful game and productive ground, most pre-war settlers in the area lived near the road from Pocahontas (Randolph County) to old Greensboro (Craighead County) and Gainesville (Greene County), or along the Cache River. The history of the actual settlement and naming of O’Kean remains clouded. There were settlers near the junction of the track and road, but the name of that settlement, if it had one, is unknown. The name O’Kean came from Father James O’Kean, the former priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church. He stopped …

O’Neal (Independence County)

The O’Neal Cemetery is all that remains of a once vibrant river and railroad community located across the White River from Marcella (Stone County). Going west on Highway 106 through Bethesda (Independence County), the O’Neal Road leads to O’Neal, which is about four miles from Bethesda. In territorial days, O’Neal was in Ruddell Township, but it later became part of Washington Township. O’Neal lies on both the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the White River, south of Lock and Dam No. 3. The rich bottomland around O’Neal is still farmed on both sides of the river. O’Neal is about twelve miles west of Batesville (Independence County), the county seat. O’Neal was founded and first settled during territorial days by John …

Oak Bower (Hot Spring County)

Oak Bower is an unincorporated community in Hot Spring County. Located about two miles south of Bismarck (Hot Spring County) and twelve miles northwest of Arkadelphia (Clark County), the community is closely associated with Bismarck and DeGray Lake. Early settlers in the area included Peter Prince, who obtained 320 acres as a federal land patent in 1859. The land was in Clark County at the time and became part of Hot Spring County in 1873. The Alabama native married Mary Williams in 1855, and the couple had at least four children. Other early settlers included Dougal Johnson, who obtained 160 acres south of the Prince settlement in 1860. The final land patent issued for the area went to George Magby …

Oak Grove (Carroll County)

Oak Grove is a town in northern Carroll County, located at the intersection of State Highways 21 and 103. A narrow strip of land in the town runs north along Indian Creek to the Missouri state line. The town is one of twelve communities in Arkansas identified as Oak Grove, and the only one to be incorporated. When a community in Greene County sought to incorporate with the same name in 1979, it was forced to incorporate as Oak Grove Heights. The forested Ozark Mountains have been sparsely inhabited for centuries. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the area was frequently visited by the Osage, who lived farther north but came into what would be Arkansas to …

Oak Grove Heights (Greene County)

Oak Grove Heights is a second-class city located on State Highway 135 four miles north of Paragould (Greene County). It was incorporated in 1979, roughly a century after the community came into being, and consists largely of residences for workers in neighboring communities of Greene County. The wilderness area immediately east of Crowley’s Ridge remained almost entirely uninhabited until after the Civil War, when the railroad industry began to open previously inaccessible regions of Arkansas. When the city of Paragould was established at the intersection of the Cotton Belt and Iron Mountain railways, many of the citizens of Gainesville (Greene County) relocated to the newer city, making it the county seat in 1884. Meanwhile, other settlers came to Arkansas to …

Oak Grove[s] (Clark County)

At least three communities in Clark County have had the name Oak Grove. One is located in the southeastern corner of the county, one is located in the northwestern portion, and one was located near the middle of the county. Oak Grove Community Church served as the center of the community in the southeastern part of the county. Located near the Kansas (Clark County) community, the church was organized at an unknown date in the late nineteenth century. Serving as both a church and a school, the original building was constructed of split logs. This building burned around 1902. A replacement was constructed and continued to operate until the late twentieth century. In 1992, the church was still used for …

Oakhaven (Hempstead County)

Oakhaven is a town on State Highway 32, a few miles north of Hope (Hempstead County). Originally built as housing for officers serving at the Southwestern Proving Ground during World War II, Oakhaven has never had a post office or a school. Hempstead County was home to some of the most important communities of southwestern Arkansas in the early years of statehood. Fulton (Hempstead County) was an important port on the Red River and once served as the gateway to Mexico—later to Texas—while Washington (Hempstead County) was the county seat and an important city on the Southwest Trail; Washington even served as the Confederate state capital after Little Rock (Pulaski County) was captured by Federal forces in 1863. After the …

Oakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery in Camden (Ouachita County) was the first cemetery of that city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It encompasses approximately twenty acres and has approximately 683 graves. The cemetery’s Forrest Hill entombs Confederates who died in battle near Camden at both the Engagement at Poison Springs on April 18, 1864, and the Action at Marks’ Mills on April 25, 1864. The land for the cemetery was donated by Major William Bradley in the early 1830s. The first known grave bears a monument reading, “First grave in Cemetery. The body of an unknown little girl who died on a flat bottom boat on the Ouachita River was buried before 1840. Chain around the grave was from …

Oakland-Fraternal Cemetery

aka: Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park
Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park was established in 1862 when the City of Little Rock (Pulaski County) purchased a 160-acre estate in order to accommodate the Civil War dead. Through the years, this 160-acre estate has been carved into seven distinct cemeteries: Oakland, National, an eleven-acre Confederate, a one-acre Confederate, Fraternal, Jewish Oakland, and Agudath Achim. Today, 108 acres of the original 160 remain as burial grounds. The cemeteries have seen more than 62,000 burials since the first in 1863. The land was originally “christened Oakland, probably because the site which was chosen for it was natural forest, wooded principally with oaks,” according to an 1862 Arkansas Gazette article. The need for a city cemetery then, during the Civil …

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

aka: Oaklawn Park Racetrack
aka: Oaklawn Jockey Club
aka: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming
Even before the Civil War, the former pasture where Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort now stands in Hot Springs (Garland County) was home to impromptu races between local farm boys riding their fastest ponies. Today, the track is Arkansas’s only thoroughbred horse racing venue and the lone remaining gambling center in a city once known as much for its casinos as for its famous thermal baths. The popularity of Sportsman’s Park, built on the southeastern edge of Hot Springs in the early 1890s, sparked an interest in developing the sport of thoroughbred horse racing in the area. Following the 1903 repeal of anti-gambling laws, Essex Park was built in 1904. Charles Dugan, Dan Stuart, and John Condon—owners of the Southern Club—decided …

Oden (Montgomery County)

Oden, a rural community in northwest Montgomery County, is on the north bank of the Ouachita River eight miles west of Mount Ida, the county seat. Oden’s population in 2010 was 232. In 1849, Henry Beshears settled where Oden now stands, his journey to Arkansas perhaps occasioned by the California gold rush. He wrote to his old neighbors in Mississippi about the wonderful country he had found—the Ouachita bottomlands and the abundant game. In the spring of 1848, a group left Tippah County, Mississippi, in thirteen ox-drawn wagons and arrived in Oden in January 1849. Hunting parties found game plentiful. Liking the land they saw, they cleared some ground and planted corn. A third wagon train came along and also …

Ogden (Little River County)

  The city of Ogden is on the highway that connects Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Texarkana (Miller County). Now a quiet residential community, Ogden was once an agricultural center for the surrounding cotton farms. Settlers first began arriving in the Red River valley around 1838. John Nunneley was the first landowner in what now is Ogden; he owned many acres of land and several slaves. Other settlers before the Civil War included Paul Bagley and Christopher Waddell. M. W. Bates arrived around 1878 and named the settlement Ogden, which was the maiden name of his second wife. Bates, who served as Little River County judge from 1884 to 1888, owned the first cotton gin, the first sawmill, and the first …

Ogemaw (Ouachita County)

Ogemaw is an unincorporated community located in Ouachita County about four miles northeast of Stephens (Ouachita County) and fourteen miles southwest of Camden (Ouachita County). The community was founded to support timber operations in the area, but the local economy evolved in the early twentieth century with the discovery of oil nearby. Early settlers in the area included Thomas Meredith, who obtained more than 200 acres from the land patent office in 1859. Thomas lived with his wife, Mary, and their ten children on the property. They were served by the post office in the nearby community of Seminary (Ouachita County). The Cotton Belt Railroad began operations in the area around 1882. With the construction of the railroad and the …

Oil Trough (Independence County)

The town of Oil Trough is located twelve miles southeast of Batesville (Independence County) in the southeastern part of Independence County. It is located southwest of the White River, in a rich area of bottomlands known as the Oil Trough Bottoms. Above the bottoms is the Oil Trough Ridge, composed of black limestone that the Goodspeed history of the area (1889) described as “capable of a superior polish.” Beginning around 1800, the area was a favorite hunting ground for French frontiersmen. The large stands of cane along the river were a perfect hiding place for game, including bear; the limestone cliffs nearby provided the bears with a perfect place for their dens. Indeed, legend has it that the area was …

Okay (Howard County)

Until the late 1980s, the town of Okay (Howard County) was home to a major limestone mining operation located on a peninsula on the east side of Millwood Lake. Most of what remained of the once-thriving company town, founded in the late 1920s, had almost disappeared by the end of the twentieth century. In 1926, Charles Boettcher, founder of Ideal Cement Company, based in Denver, Colorado, dispatched Tom Dodson and Joe Hargis from a branch plant in Oklahoma to scout out a potential Arkansas plant site after learning of the growing movement in Arkansas to improve roads and bridges. A remote site in Howard County was chosen due to its rich deposits of limestone and chalk. A railroad spur necessary …

Okolona (Clark County)

Okolona is a small town located in southwestern Clark County, near the Little Missouri River. Okolona served as a regional agricultural and transportation hub in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before slowly fading into obscurity. The earliest known inhabitants of the area were Caddo Indians, who constructed a mound that is today located near Main Street. The first white settlers arrived in the Okolona area in the early 1830s. They named their new community after their hometown in Mississippi. In 1858, a post office was established in the town, and by the 1860s several general stores had been opened in the area. The earliest settlers founded schools in the area, and education would continue to play an important …

Ola (Yell County)

Ola is the third-largest city in Yell County. It was originally known as Petit Jean, but its name was changed to Ola on December 10, 1880. On March 20, 1900, it was incorporated as a second-class city. Louisiana Purchase through Early StatehoodThe area that became Ola was part of the Ward Township, Section 3, Township 4 North, Range 21 West. The 1850 Census shows twenty-two families residing within the Ward Township and includes a store and scattered, outlying homesteads. Postal service was established in 1848. Early settlers came from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, attracted to the area by its cheap land and commercial possibilities. Civil War through the Gilded AgeThe first house was completed in 1860 by homesteader …

Old Austin (Lonoke County)

Settled in the early 1820s, what is now called Old Austin, located about thirty miles northeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County), was one of central Arkansas’s early settlements. Local folklore holds that Old Austin narrowly missed being the state capital. Once a thriving town, it experienced a decline after being bypassed by the railroad in the late 1800s. Today, it serves as a bedroom community of Cabot (Lonoke County) and nearby towns. The first settlers, among them James Erwin, came to the area in 1822. Before the founding of a town, the settlement at various times was called Oakland Grove, Oakland, Saundersville, and Atlanta. In 1848, Isaac Dunaway and Colbert Moore built the settlement’s first store. Growth was enhanced by …

Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge

Located in Bauxite (Saline County), the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge stands as an example of the county’s earliest bridges designed specifically for vehicular use. Although it is no longer accessible by road, it is considered a beloved local landmark by the people of Saline County, much like the Old River Bridge in Benton. The bridge was built in 1919 to connect the communities of Benton (Saline County), Bauxite, and Sardis (Saline County). Settlements around the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge reached their peak after the towns of Benton, Bauxite, and Sardis began developing in the early 1900s. In the 1910s, new and improved roads were needed to aid in the transportation of bauxite ore from the nearby strip mines to Alcoa …

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 …

Old Independence Regional Museum

The Old Independence Regional Museum, 380 S. 9th Street, was established in Batesville (Independence County) in 1998 to serve the twelve-county region of northeast Arkansas that was included in Independence County in 1820. Detailed maps describe the region’s historic sites and museums, leading visitors to continue their journey into the other counties in the region, which include all or part of Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff counties. Organization of the museum began in the fall of 1991, when the Independence County Historical Society formed a museum-planning committee of sixteen people. The committee learned from museum operations experts; drafted planning documents; and created a statement of purpose, a mission statement, goals, and a set …

Old Jackson (Randolph County)

Jackson was a town once located in Lawrence County, approximately two miles northeast of the current town of Imboden (Lawrence County) and several miles west of the Eleven Point River. The town was centered on the Old Jackson and Union roads. Jackson, one of the few towns located on the Southwest Trail, served as the county seat for Lawrence County from 1829 to 1837. It was also an important location on the Trail of Tears. After boundaries were redefined in 1861, the town was located in Randolph County. By the 1880s, little was left of the town, which had become known as Old Jackson. Many sources show 1830 or 1832 as the date for the post office’s establishment, although it …

Old Jail Museum Complex

The 1892 Sebastian County Jail is one of the oldest buildings in Greenwood (Sebastian County), as well as one of the few buildings to survive the 1968 tornado that destroyed much of the city’s business district. In 1966, the South Sebastian County Historical Society repurposed the “Old Jail” as a repository for historical artifacts of Greenwood and surrounding communities. On December 1, 1994, the jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The jail now serves as the centerpiece of the Old Jail Museum Complex, which is dedicated to the history of southern Sebastian County. The jail was constructed in 1892 by mason Isaac Kunkel, son Henry Oliver Kunkel, and son-in-law George Williamson, using stone quarried from Backbone …

Old Mill

Famous for its appearance in the opening credits of the 1939 classic movie Gone with the Wind, the Old Mill in the five-acre T. R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) contains the work of noted Mexican sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez, who perfected the folk art style known as faux bois (fake wood) by crafting reinforced concrete to resemble petrified logs. Justin Matthews, the developer of the town’s Park Hill and Lakewood subdivisions, hired Rodriguez in 1932 to create a tourist attraction for his new suburban development. Formally named Pugh’s Mill in honor of Matthews’s lifelong friend Thomas R. Pugh, the mill features a two-story stone building, bridges, benches, and other examples of Rodriguez’s art, all designed to …

Old State House

The Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. The structure was built to accommodate all branches of the new state’s government. It served a multitude of uses before becoming, in 1951, a museum of Arkansas history. Under the direction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Old State House Museum continues to interpret Arkansas history from statehood to the present. In 1833, believing that Arkansas would soon achieve statehood, territorial governor John Pope hired Gideon Shryock, the architect of the Kentucky State Capitol, to design a state capitol building perched high on a bank of the Arkansas River. Shryock drew up plans for a large stone structure …

Olio (Scott County)

Olio is an unincorporated community in eastern Scott County located along Highway 80. Olio was established in 1858 along Dutch Creek. Agriculture and timber have contributed to the economy and way of life in the region. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Olio was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds are located along the banks of prominent waterways such as Dutch Creek. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area. During the late …

Oliver (Scott County)

Oliver is an unincorporated community located in northwestern Scott County along Highway 28 north of the Poteau River. Agriculture has traditionally been important to the area. Prior to European exploration, Oliver was a wilderness lush with native vegetation and numerous species of wildlife—including buffalo and elk, which no longer inhabit the area. Archaeological evidence from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods has been discovered throughout the area. Additional evidence has indicated that the Caddo tribe had a strong presence along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche La Fave River and Poteau River. It is likely that …

Olyphant (Jackson County)

The community of Olyphant is most noted for being the site of the last train robbery in Arkansas. On November 3, 1893, eight men hijacked Iron Mountain passenger train No. 51, robbed the passengers, and murdered the conductor, William P. McNally. The robbers were tracked down, tried, and found guilty, and three were hanged in Newport (Jackson County) in the only known multiple execution in Jackson County history. Olyphant is located on Highway 367 halfway between Newport, eight miles to the north-northeast, and Bradford (White County), eight miles to the south-southwest. Before the Civil War, Grand Glaise (Jackson County), a river port on White River, was the dominant community in the area and the second-largest town in the county. The …

Omaha (Boone County)

Omaha is a town in northern Boone County, about five miles from the Missouri state line. The town is on State Highway 14 (old U.S. 65) and was a stop on the Missouri Pacific railroad’s White River line. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Osage—who lived in what is now southern Missouri—would frequently visit the Ozark hills of what is now northern Arkansas on hunting and fishing expeditions. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, both Cherokee and Shawnee moved into the area. Local lore says that a Native American village called Sha-wa-nah existed at the site where Omaha would be built, although the village’s existence has not been verified by archaeological evidence. Even after treaties were revoked and …

Onia (Stone County)

Onia (pronounced Ownie) is located on Highway 263 three and a half miles north of Timbo (Stone County) near Roasting Ear Creek. The creek—popular for swimming, fishing, and baptisms—reportedly received its name when ears of corn were washed downstream during a flood. The two main landmarks of Onia are the Bethany Baptist Church and the post office in the center of the community. At one time, the area was part of the large community of Locust Grove, which was located in Searcy County before Stone County was created on April 17, 1873. What is today Onia was often referred to by locals as Lower Clark, with Upper Clark being in the Thola area of Searcy County. Near the old Roasting …

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 …

Optimus (Stone County)

Optimus is an unincorporated Stone County community in Optimus Township on Highway 5 across the White River from Calico Rock (Izard County), which is five miles to the north. Optimus is about twelve miles north of Mountain View (Stone County), the county seat, and about twelve miles west of Melbourne (Izard County). Bannerstones (stone artifacts whose function is much debated) have been found at Optimus, indicating early habitation by Native Americans in the caves and bluffs of the area. One of these caves, the Clay Cave, is easily accessible from Sylamore Road. Miles Ware Jeffery was born in 1816 in what is today Mount Olive (Izard County), three and a half miles south-southeast of present-day Optimus. His parents, Johoiada Jeffery …

Osceola (Mississippi County)

Osceola is located in northeastern Mississippi County on the Mississippi River, approximately fifty miles upriver from Memphis, Tennessee. Osceola is named for Chief Osceola of the Seminole tribe. Local historians have written that he visited the area in 1832 to explore the possibility of exchanging Florida land for Arkansas land, but no historical evidence supports this story. The community was the only county seat of Mississippi County until 1901, when Osceola and Blytheville were named dual county seats. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Originally acquired by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, the area was largely populated by Indians. The series of severe earthquakes on the New Madrid fault from December 1811 to February 1812 …

Ouachita Avenue Historic District

The bathhouses on Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue were the early main attraction to Hot Springs (Garland County), but as the city grew, it expanded in the direction of the Ouachita Avenue Historic District. The district encompasses the portions of Ouachita Avenue and Central Avenue from Olive Street to Orange Street and includes Pratt Street (once known as Parker Avenue).The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011, and is considered locally significant as a commercial center supporting Bathhouse Row and the surrounding residential community of Hot Springs. The neighborhood’s period of National Register significance begins in 1905, after a fire in 1905 destroyed all the structures in the area. The neighborhood’s boundaries encompass …

Ouachita County

Ouachita County, the forty-fifth county in Arkansas, was created in 1842 from land taken from the northwest parts of Union County. It was named after the Ouachita River on which the county seat of Camden, incorporated in 1844, sits on a bluff at a horseshoe curve of the river. Ouachita is the French spelling of a Native American word that is pronounced “Washita” and supposedly denoted good hunting or a river of many fish. The land in the county was covered with vast forests of pines and drained by bayous and sloughs running to the Ouachita River. The Ouachita River forms part of the eastern boundary of the county, while Clark, Dallas, Calhoun, Union, Columbia, and Nevada counties border the remaining …

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains, one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as folded ridges and valleys composed of Paleozoic rocks. They are unusual in North America in that the ridges are generally aligned east to west, unlike the Rocky Mountains or Appalachian Mountains, where the ridges usually run north to south. The most striking result of this orientation is that there is an extensive south-facing slope on each ridge that is exposed to the heat and light of the sun, as well as a north-facing slope that is protected from direct solar radiation and is consequently cooler and moister. The dry south-facing slopes are often covered with pine forests or woodlands, or even drier oak woodlands, while …

Ouachita National Forest

The Ouachita National Forest, originally called the Arkansas National Forest, was created through an executive order issued by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 18, 1907. Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot remarked at the time that this national forest was the only major shortleaf pine forest under the federal government’s protection. In January 1908, the Arkansas Sentinel newspaper reprinted an article from Forestry and Irrigation Magazine that praised the hearty spirit of cooperation manifested by Arkansas’s people and spoke of benefits to be gained by the conservation of timber supplies. At first, the Arkansas National Forest consisted solely of reserved public domain lands (part of the Louisiana Purchase) south of the Arkansas River. The 1911 Weeks Law, which authorized federal purchase …

Ouachita National Recreation Trail

The Ouachita National Recreation Trail, an approximately 225-mile back country trail, runs east and west the length of the Ouachita Mountains. More commonly referred to as the “Ouachita Trail,” it lies primarily within the Ouachita National Forest. Most of the trail (177 miles) is in Arkansas, with forty-six miles extending into Oklahoma. Both ends of the trail are in state parks. The eastern terminus is in Pinnacle Mountain State Park west of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the western terminus is in Talimena State Park in Oklahoma. The trail also crosses a third state park, Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Polk County. Terrain across the length of the trail is rugged, providing a variety of hiking experiences and scenic opportunities. Elevation …

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 6, 1980, to protect one of the remaining bottomland hardwood forest tracts in the Lower Mississippi River Valley (LMRV). Located in Ashley County, it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior. These bottomland forests are used by a huge contingent of migratory birds including waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds. Original refuge land acquisitions were limited to forested bottomlands only, as they were in eminent danger of being drained and cleared for agriculture. The refuge has been officially designated a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) by the American Bird Conservancy. Most of the land within the …

Oxford (Izard County)

  The city of Oxford was not incorporated until 1945, although it has been an active settlement since the middle of the nineteenth century. Located on Highway 9 in Izard County, Oxford is about halfway between Melbourne (Izard County) and Salem (Fulton County). One of the first settlers to arrive in what would become Oxford was Wiley Croom. He joined William McCollough and James McCuistion, both of whom were evidently already living in the area, although they did not register their land grants at the federal land office until the 1850s. Croom built and operated the first cotton mill and the first grist mill in the region. He later added the first cotton gin, which was also the last cotton gin …

Ozan (Hempstead County)

aka: Mound Prairie (Hempstead County)
Ozan is a railroad town on U.S. Highway 278 in northern Hempstead County. Although never a large settlement, it has played a significant role in Arkansas history, particularly that of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. When European explorers first entered the land that would become Hempstead County, they encountered the Caddo, who lived in villages along the Red River. Europeans and Americans were particularly attracted to the rich soil of southwestern Arkansas. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the Caddo—whose numbers were greatly reduced due to diseases introduced by Europeans—gradually were pushed out of the area, ending up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) by the time Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836. The name Ozan appears to be a form of …

Ozark (Franklin County)

Founded in 1836, Ozark is one of the state’s oldest cities. Ozark, from the French words “Aux Arc,” meaning “at the bend,” is located at the most northern bend in the Arkansas River, which flows through the city’s southern boundary. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In the early nineteenth century, following the Louisiana Purchase, the Arkansas River was well traveled. The Cherokee lived along the river, and American military personnel used that route to travel to and from Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Local folklore claims that French explorers came up the Arkansas River in 1819. They reportedly shot an arrow and vowed to found a town where the arrow landed. The arrow allegedly landed just northeast of the present Franklin …

Ozark Folk Center State Park

The Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View (Stone County) may be the only state park in Arkansas dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Southern mountain folkways and traditions. When opened in 1973, the park was hailed as a home for traditional crafts and music and has since become one of the important institutions preserving this particular way of life. The idea for the folk center grew from the success of the Arkansas Folk Festival, which debuted in April 1963 in Mountain View under the sponsorship of the Ozark Foothills Handicraft Guild (later known as the Arkansas Craft Guild) and the Rackensack Folklore Society. Although the Folk Festival continues to highlight the crafts and music of the area, …

Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum

Housed in a historic Depression-era building constructed of native stone, the Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum in Leslie (Searcy County) collects and exhibits the rich musical, cultural, and historical heritage of the Ozark Mountain region. During the Depression, the citizens of Leslie approached the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to construct a gymnasium to complement the school built in 1910 during the city’s boom years. The native-stone building was completed and opened in 1938; it was used by the school system for the next forty-eight years, until 1986, when the system constructed new facilities nearby. School superintendent Ed Bradberry is generally given credit for the idea to convert the empty gymnasium into an arts center, and retired local merchants Rex …

Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail

The Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail is a 165-mile-long hiking and backpacking route across northwestern Arkansas. The trail’s western terminus is Lake Fort Smith State Park in Crawford County, and its eastern terminus lies within the Buffalo National River park in Searcy County. The trail runs almost entirely through the Ozark National Forest, which regulates use. The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT), as it is often called, was created by the National Forest Service in the 1970s, though inadequate federal funding limited route planning and construction to short segments. In response, area hiking enthusiasts in 1981 formed the Ozark Highlands Trail Association (OHTA). This all-volunteer group took over trail design and construction, completing the OHT in 1984. The association, working in …

Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology

The Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology was sponsored by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and operated by college president Dan W. Evans from 1927 to 1932 at Monte Ne (Benton County), in buildings formerly part of William “Coin” Harvey’s Monte Ne resort. Dan Webster Evans (July 21, 1885–September 19, 1963) was born and raised in Boone County and married Rexie Gilbert (May 13, 1892–September 29, 1976) there in 1910; they had six children. His religious upbringing is unknown, but from 1914 to 1915, he and his wife were faculty members at the Pentecostal Holiness School in Stratford,Oklahoma. Pentecostalism grew out of the American Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church, one division of that …

Ozark Land Holding Association

Founded in 1981, the Ozark Land Holding Association (OLHA) is an intentional community—a communal living arrangement based on shared land and common interests—located in Madison County about twenty miles outside of Fayetteville (Washington County). OLHA, which is a community of lesbians, chose the somewhat vague label “intentional community” in an effort to avoid problems with the rest of the broader community. OLHA was one of several women’s land communities created in northwestern Arkansas in the 1970s and 1980s, including Yellowhammer, Sassafras, Whippoorwillow, Arco Iris, and Spinsterhaven. The community was founded by author Diana Rivers and nineteen other women based upon their efforts on the belief that a community based in land specifically set aside for women offered an opportunity for …

Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains (a.k.a. the Ozark Plateau or Plateaus), representing one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as uplifted level plateaus composed of Paleozoic rocks. Streams have cut valleys into these plateaus, and, in some cases, the plateau surface is only visible as the flat tops of the mountains at similar elevations. The three distinct plateaus differ in topography, geology, vegetation, as well as inhabitants’ land use, history, and culture. Boston Plateau At up to 2,600 feet, the Boston Plateau, usually referred to as the Boston Mountains because of its ruggedness, is the highest of the Ozark Mountains. It extends as a belt across the southernmost Ozarks, generally parallel to and to the north of Interstate …

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are replete with distinct topographical, geological, and biological features. The forests are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, which employs a multiple-use management concept to serve the best interests of the landowners and visitors. The forests serve as a source of renewable hardwood for industry and as prime recreation areas in the state. On December 18, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation creating the Arkansas National Forest (now the Ouachita National Forest) from the land south of the Arkansas River. On March 6, 1908, he signed the proclamation creating the Ozark National Forest from the land north of the river. The Ozark National Forest was the only major hardwood timberland …

Ozarka College

Ozarka College in Melbourne (Izard County) opened in the fall of 1975 as Ozarka Vocational Technical School to provide vocational training to residents of Fulton, Izard, Sharp, and Stone counties. In 1973, the Arkansas Department of Education selected Melbourne as one of ten communities for vocational-technical schools. Under the leadership of the first director, Walter B. Hall, Ozarka offered classes in automotive service technology, food services, major appliance service, business education, building trades, industrial equipment technology, and licensed practical nursing (LPN). It also offered classes leading to the General Education Development (GED) diploma. The first class of forty-three students graduated in July 1976. In its early years, Ozarka grew both in the physical plant and in enrollment. In 1978, the …