Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas 1890

Pike County Arkansas


                 I want air, and sunshine, and blue sky,                   
                 The feeling of the breeze upon my face,                   
                 The feeling of the turf beneath my feet,                  
                And no walls but the far-off mountain tops.                
                            Geologic Formation                             
Pike County in its northern part is composed of tolerably high ranges of   
sandstone, and shales of the millstone grit, which extend south nearly to  
Murfreesboro. South of this the Little Missouri winds through the          
cretaceous formation.                                                      
At the Plaster Bluff, on the Little Missouri, on Sections 29 and 30,       
Township 8 south, Range 25 west, are valuable beds of gypsum. This         
plaster-bed must become of some practical importance, from the fine quality
of the plaster-stone that may be obtained here, and from the associate     
limestone, both highly useful to the agriculturist as mineral fertilizers. 
Royston's chalybeate spring is situated on the east half of the southwest  
quarter of Section 33, Township 7 south, Range 25 west. It is a saline     
chalybeate, and possesses good medicinal properties. The hard shell        
limestone of the cretaceous formation shows itself frequently in the       
vicinity of Murfreesboro but it is mostly covered by a quaternary gravel.  
There is also cretaceous limestone on the north side of Prairie Creek,     
bearing south of west, which extends two or three miles, and is then       
succeeded by sandstone and slate. No limestone was observed from the mouth 
of Prairie Creek, on the Little Missouri, to the extreme southeastern limit
of this county.                                                            
          Sources of Revenue - Products Advantages for Residents           
Along the valleys of Pike County are found some of the most fertile farming
lands in Southern Arkansas, narrow bottoms between the hills, on which the 
farmers have no trouble to raise a bail of cotton every year. The bottom   
lands along the Little Missouri River are of considerable extent, covering 
much of the southern and southwestern parts of the country. Not more than a
sixth of these magnificent lands is under cultivation, while the extensive 
tracts yet awaiting occupation are ample to support a population equaling  
all the inhabitants of the county now. Pike County may justly be called a  
good farming country, though the northern portions are hilly, broken and   
rough; the other parts have a good sandy soil, running into a sandy loam,  
with clay subsoil, with large tracts of the celebrated red lands, which are
the most productive of all uplands soils. All these lands are very easily  
cultivated, not requiring more than a third of the labor which the planters
of the Mississippi River bottoms are compelled to bestow on theirs to make 
crops; for this reason, the farmer in the uplands of Pike County realizes  
as much, ion proportion to the labor expended, as the planter in more      
fertile localities. This fact, coupled with the more favorable conditions  
of health and good water, show the advantages of Pike County as a place of 
permanent residence. Cotton is the principle crop, and an average yield for
bottom lands is 1,400 pounds, and the uplands 800 pounds per acre. The     
people of this county also raise almost everything that is needed for home 
consumption in the way of vegetables and fruits, and nearly all their meat,
which shows the independent position of the people here. With the          
introduction of fertilization, and a more careful, and possibly a more     
scientific method of farming, Pike County would at once show what her      
productive capacities are. Fruit here may be depended on to yield abundant 
crops every year, and some sorts, as the peach and plum, reach a degree of 
perfection that few other localities can show. With railroad communication 
to the north, all kinds of berries might be raised and placed on the early 
markets at a high price, which would insure a large profit to the grower.  
No county is better adapted for extensive engagement in this industry. The 
timber districts of the county embrace all its territory, except those     
portions under cultivation and may be estimated at three quarters of its   
entire area. On this many square miles of primitive forest lands are found 
some of the finest timber of which Arkansas can boast. There is a belt that
crosses the county about ten miles north of the county seat that is        
absolutely unsurpassed, and on the advent of a railroad through the county 
would at once figure as a great wealth producing source. The most valuable 
timber trees are short leaf pine, of which there is an immense quantity,   
oak of several varieties, hickory, walnut, ash, maple, sycamore, and red   
gum. Very little timber has ever been cut and sold from this county, none  
except what was rafted down the Little Missouri River, and that industry   
was discontinued many years ago.                                           
Gypsum, or plaster stone, is found in this county in quantities so large   
that it may be said to be inexhaustible. A ledge of this rock rises from   
the river two miles below Murfreesboro. It is in a wonderful state of      
purity, and only needs transportation to be placed on the markets of the   
world. Kaolin, or porcelain clay, is found in wonderful abundance in       
several places, but principally in a locality eight miles east of          
Murfreesboro. This is in a degree of purity rarely seen, and from the      
extent of the deposit will become a valuable source of revenue to the      
county when it can be placed on the market.                                
Pike ranks with other counties in Southern Arkansas in the favorable       
conditions of the people's general health. Children are particularly free  
from fatal diseases, and among this class there are few deaths. Statistics 
from physicians reveal an annual death rate of about thirteen to the       
thousand inhabitants of the county, a lower rate than will be found in     
almost any other part of the country.                                      
Pike County is situated in the southwestern part of Arkansas, between the  
thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth degrees of north latitude, and ninety-third 
and ninety-fourth degrees of west longitude.                               
                               How Bounded                                 
It is bounded on the north by Montgomery, on the east by Clark, on the     
south by Nevada and Hempstead, and on the west by Hempstead and Howard     
Counties. It has an area of 620 miles.                                     
                          Surface Construction                             
The topography of this county is much varied. The northern and central     
portions are quite mountainous, some of the highest hills rising to an     
elevation of 300 feet above the Little Missouri. These ranges of hills have
a general trend of northwest and southeast, and amid them are many         
beautiful valleys noted for their fertility. The southern part of the      
county is much more regular in surface, and abounds in broader valleys,    
along the larger streams. There is much bottom land in this section, a     
great deal of which equals the Arkansas River Valley in fertility and      
productiveness, and is much more easily cultivated.                        
The county is thickly traversed by many streams, of which the Little       
Missouri River is the largest and most important. This stream rises in Polk
County, enters Pike in the extreme northwestern corner, flows southeast,   
and after forming a portion of the southern boundary line leaves the county
at its southeastern corner. The bottoms lands along the valley of this     
beautiful river are very fertile, and will rank in productiveness with any 
in the State. Antoine Creek is formed by the union of three small streams  
in the northeastern part of the county, and flows south, forming a portion 
of the county's eastern boundary, and empties in the Little Missouri River,
at the extreme southeastern part of the county. Saline Creek rises near the
central part of the county, flows south about fifteen miles and empties in 
the Little Missouri. Wolf Creek rises near the central part of the county, 
flows southeast and empties in the Antoine Creek. Rock Creek rises in the  
northern part of the county, flows southeast and empties in the Caddo.     
Caddo River flows for a short distance through the northeastern part of the
county. The Muddy Fork of the Little Missouri River rises in Howard County,
flowing east into the Clear Fork of the Little Missouri, near Murfreesboro.
Woodall Creek rises near the center of the county, flows northeast and     
empties into Antoine Creek.                                                
                           Some Old Settlers                               
The early land entry books were destroyed by fire, so it is (difficult) to 
ascertain who were positively the first settlers here. The following list, 
though incomplete, is of some who were living here prior to 1830: Jeremiah 
Davis, Joseph Davis, ... John Hughes, James Hughes, Oliver Brewer Sr.,    
Henry Brewer, ... David Dickson, ... John Blocker, ... the Kelleys -       
Elijah and William, Isaac White. None of these men are now living, but     
descendants of nearly all are to be found here enjoying health and         
happiness, and nearly all prosperity.                                      
                             Familiar Names                                
A list, also incomplete, of some living here prior to 1840: Asa Thompson,  
the McDonald family, John White, George Hensley, Jesse Jenkins, William    
Bizzell, David Huddleston, James H. Kirkham, William Stone and Pleasant    
White. To continue the list of later arrivals in full, would make such a   
long report that a few names are selected of those who were found to be    
prominent in the county's early history, and who arrived here prior to     
1860: Henry Merrill, John Matlock, Taylor Polk, Edwin Owens, William       
Cooley, John R. Rodgers, H.H. Meredith, James Scott, Thomas McClure, Jordan
Reese, Sloman Reese, Levi Davis, Hiram Stell and family, the Wingfields,   
the Eppersons, John Gillam, the Foresters, Ewing Alford, William Orrick,   
Abner Henderson Sr., Josiah Corbell, Dr. Thomas Conway, Henry Lynn, Henry  
Carter, the Huddlestons. Many of these men are still living, and enjoying  
the repose of a well-spent life, after the cares and fatigues of pioneer   
                             School Interests                              
From the report of County Examiner Charles E. Stelle, made to the State    
superintendent of public instruction in 1888, the following copy is taken, 
referring to the condition of schools here: "Enumeration - White, 3,020;   
colored, 156. During the year ending June 30, 1888, there was expended: For
schools, $4,788.79; for teacher's salaries, $4,775.29; the average monthly 
salary paid teachers, $31.48; number of teachers, 48; number of colored    
teachers, 2; average term of schools, 3 months; number of districts, 39;   
number voting tax, 15; average tax voted, 4 2/5 mills; number of           
school-houses, 12; value of school-houses, $1,240."                        
"A majority of the schools were taught in houses used also for churches,   
and that are not the property of the district, and hence are not reported  
as public school houses."                                                  
                            A Good Showing                                 
"That the public schools are increasing in popularity and usefulness is    
undoubted. My first appointment as examiner of this county was in January, 
1878, and during that year I licensed six teachers. Every district was in  
debt, and hostility to public schools was universal and outspoken. Last    
year I issued thirty-nine certificates to teachers, and this year have     
issued forty-five. The districts are all out of debt, and men who, a few   
years ago, worked against school tax, now vote and work for it. There are  
no denominational schools in the county, and not many private schools are  
taught." It will be seen from the above that the public schools of Pike    
County are rapidly improving, and from the almost universal desire of the  
people to still advance the grade and standard, we may soon expect to see a
much greater and more favorable change. There are several excellent schools
in the county, and the school at Murfreesboro, especially, shows most      
favorably. There are taught besides the required branches, Latin, algebra, 
analysis and physiology. This school is in charge of J.B. Thomasson, and   
has an enumeration of eighty-seven. After the free session of four months  
expires, he conducts a private term of six months.                         
                       Officials of the County                             
Among the county and other officers called upon to occupy positions of     
usefulness are the following:                                              
County Judges - Washington Sorrels, 1834-1835; William Kelley, 1835-1840;  
David Huddleston, 1840-1844; William Kelley, 1844-1848; James Scott,       
1848-1850; Isaac White, 1850-1852; J. McDowel, 1852-1854; David Huddleston,
1854-1864; Elijah Kelley, 1865-1868; Robert A. Cox, 1868-1872; David       
Huddleston, 1874-1880; J.C. McKetchan, 1880-1882; T.J. Tolleson, 1882-1884;
Thomas B. Stephans, 1884-1886; Isaac Cooley, 1886-1888; W.N. McClure,      
County Clerks - David S. Dickson, 1834-1848; William H. Preston, 1848-1850;
Thomas K. Dossey, 1850-1852; John S. Owens, 1852-1854; W.R. McFarlin,      
1854-1856; William J. Kelley, 1856-1862; James H. Howard, 1862-1864;       
William J. Kelley, 1865-1866; James H. Howard, 1866-1868; H.P. Howard,     
1868-1874; William J. White, 1874-1875; M.W. Hill, 1875-1878; W.B.         
Thomasson, 1878-1884; J.O.A. Bush, 1884-1890.                              
Sheriffs - John Hughes, 1834-1835; Isaac White, 1835-1840; Henry Brewer,   
1840-1842; Lewis Huddleston, 1842-1854; William Gilmer, 1854-1862; John M. 
Davis, 1862-1866; Benjamin S. Davis, 1866-1872; William J. Reed, 1872-1874;
A.F. Wilson, 1874-1876; J.P. Copeland, 1876-1880; W.N. McClure, 1880-1886; 
J.P. Gosnell, 1886-1888; A.W. Parker, 1888-1890.                           
Treasurers - John Hughes, 1838-1840; Hiram Kizzia, 1840-1842; Rice         
Stringer, 1842-1852; David Huddleston, 1854-1856; John D. Brewer,          
1856-1860; J.B.P. Elzy, 1860-1864; Thomas W. McClure, 1864-1866; John      
Wagner, 1866-1872; Thomas J. Strawn, 1872-1874; William J. Jackson,        
1874-1876; William J. Smedley, 1876-1878; J.A. Holland, 1878-1882; John W. 
Covington, 1882-1884; H.F. Fagan, 1884-1886; William M. Kizzia, 1886-1890. 
Coroners - John M. Dickson, 1834-1835; James H. Kirkham, 1835-1836; Henry  
Brewer, 1836-1840; William H. Atkins, 1840-1842; B. Scott, 1842-1844; Isaac
Hay, 1844-1846; William B. Speer, 1846-1848; Thomas J. Conway, 1848-1850;  
S.S. Thompson, 1850-1852; W. Huddleston, 1852-1854; Thomas J. Conway,      
1854-1856; C.M. Crawford, 1856-1858; Benjamin Bryant, 1858-1860; William J.
Thompson, 1860-1862; W. Huddleston, 1862-1864; David Womack, 1864-1866;    
Thomas J. Strawn, 1866-1868; George W. Logan, 1868-1872; Granville W.      
Tarpley, 1872-1874; C.N. Westerman, 1874-1876; John Gorham, 1876-1882; C.N.
Westerman, 1882-1886; D.L. Bowen, 1886-1888; Jackson J. Wingfield,         
Surveyors - E.K. Williams, 1835-1836; James H. Kirkham, 1836-1838; William 
Johnston, 1840-1842; T. Scott, 1842-1844; James H. Kirkham, 1846-1848;     
William Johnston, 1850-1852; W.R. McFarlin, 1852-1854; James Scott,        
1854-1856; Cyrus Hubble, 1856-1858; W.R. McFarlin, 1858-1860; Cyrus Hubble,
1860-1862; F.J. McFarlin, 1862-1864; W.R. Smedley, 1864-1866; J.M.         
Southerland, 1866-1868; C.S. Cox, 1868-1872; J.S. Corbell, 1872-1880; R.S. 
Burke, 1880-1882; J.S. Thomasson, 1882-1890.                               
Assessors - John Wagner, 1868-1872; W.N. McClure, 1872-1874; George W.     
Logan, 1874-1882; J.P. Gosnell, 1882-1886; W.N.McFarland, 1886-1888; B.F.  
Bryant, 1888-1890.                                                         
Pike County has been represented in the General Assembly by the following  
members: Asa Thompson, 1836-1838; John Wilson, 1840; William Bizzell,      
1842-1843; Elijah Kelley, 1846; William Gilmer, 1848-1851; Samuel Kelley,  
1852-1853; William B. Gould, 1854-1855; Elijah Kelley, 1856-1857; Gideon   
Mason, 1858-1859; Willis Jones, 1860-1862; William B. Gould, 1862; M.      
Stennette, 1864-1865; William B. Gould, 1865; J.A. McCollum, 1866-1867;    
J.R. Bush, 1868-1869; John Wagner, 1871; Booker D. Brock, 1877; Henry W.   
Carter, 1879; J.A. Davis, 1881-1885; J.P. Copeland, 1885; J.P. Dunn,       
In the Senate of the State are found the following members from this       
county: James H. Howard, 1871-1873; O.D. East, 1874-1877; J.P. Copeland,   
Mr. James H. Howard was prosecuting attorney of this, the Eighth Judical   
District, in 1873-1875.                                                    
The member to the Constitutional Convention of 1836 was Elijah Kelley; in  
1874, Henry W. Carter.                                                     
                            During War Times                               
The military operations in Pike County consisted in supplying the          
Confederate army with two full companies, raised and dispatched to the     
front in 1861, and many recruits, both volunteers and conscripts, at later 
periods in the strife. A large number of men, estimated by some as many as 
200 left the county, presumed to join the Federal army; many of these,     
however, went North, and engaged in civil pursuits till the fighting was   
over, when they returned, and many are living here at the present time.    
                           Troops For Service                              
The first company for the Confederate army was recruited in the summer of  
1861. At its organization Mr. Frank Black was elected captain, William B.  
Gould, first, J.N. McCollum, second, and Henry C. Polk, third lieutenant.  
This company left Murfreesboro in July of 1861, and marched to Van Buren,  
where they were organized into the Fourth Arkansas Regiment Infantry, and  
dispatched to Southwestern Missouri; from that State fell back to          
Northwestern Arkansas, and participated in the battle of Pea Ridge. They   
were then sent east of the Mississippi River, where they were attached to  
the army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, under whom they served until his      
surrender in North Carolina, in 1865.                                      
Capt. Black died at Cross Hollow, Ark., in 1862, and Lieut. Gould was      
promoted to the vacant office; he resigned soon after, on account of ill   
health, when Sergt. Booker D. Brock was elected to the command, and led the
company in many closely contested battles, till the surrender. Lieut.      
McCollum resigned some time in 1862, and soon after joined the Federal     
army, with whom he fought till the end of the strife. Less than a dozen    
veterans of this company are living in Pike County now, among whom are Dr. 
William D. Alford, Rev. George W. Brock, Moses K. Brock, Eri Webb and Cyrus
Later in 1861, another company was recruited, by William J. Kelley. At the 
organization, Mr. Kelley was elected captain, and William M. Gilmer, first,
Grandison D. Preston, second, and Dr. Beverly R. Dickson, third lieutenant.
This company was organized in the Sixteenth Arkansas Infantry. After the   
battle of Pea Ridge, in which they were engaged, they proceeded across the 
Mississippi River. After several engagements they were with the army at the
defense of Port Hudson, and sustained the noted siege of that place; at its
fall, they were paroled, and very few ever joined the army again.          
Capt. Kelley had resigned, on account of bad health, soon after the troops 
reached the front; he returned home, and lived in Pike County till his     
death in 1872.                                                             
                            Financial Showing                              
Pike County has but a small indebtedness, and that is being rapidly paid   
off; were it not for a constitutional provision, limiting the amount per   
cent of the tax levy, the people would be glad to liquidate the total sum  
in a few years. The debt stood $10,000 at the beginning of 1889, and during
that year it was reduced to $2,000. At the close of the war the county debt
was very small, but during reconstruction days it was considerably         
increased. The erection of a new jail in 1884 added some $6,000, to the    
amount, but it may be safely predicted that during the next four or five   
years this will all be obliterated.                                        
The highest rate of taxation was in 1878, when there was a levy of 12 mills
for county and State purposes. From 1868 to 1874 county scrip fell in value
to, in many cases, no more than 10 cents on the dollar, but now it has a   
cash value of about 50 cents. The assessed value of county property, both  
real and personal, was, in 1889, $756,177. In 1874 the total assessment was
$342,379; an increase, it will be seen, in fifteen years, of $422,798. This
healthy growth is simply the increased value of farm property, and may be  
counted on to increase, in even a more rapid proportion, in the future, as 
much land is being reduced to a state of cultivation by both the native    
citizens and immigrants, and of the home seekers in Arkansas, Pike County  
is receiving quite a liberal share.                                        
The former system of the farmers placing their growing and prospective     
crops under mortgage, to run them till harvest time, is becoming much less 
prevalent every year. But little real estate is under mortgage, and the    
rich agricultural resources of the county are bringing independence to the 
                      Matters of Legal Importance                          
Pike comprises one of the seven counties of the Eight Judicial District,   
over which Judge Rufus D. Hearn now presides, with W.M. Greene prosecuting 
attorney. Its legal talent in early days was mostly supplied by lawyers    
from the Hempstead County bar, so we do not find a very strong showing in  
point of numbers among its lawyers, though several names from this county  
became prominent in later years.                                           
Hon. A.B. Williams, at present a member of the Utah Commission, was born in
Hempstead County, and settled at Murfreesboro, Pike County, where he was   
admitted to the bar, and became the first resident attorney. He lived and  
practiced here for many years, and was known as one of the most brilliant  
lawyers of the State. During and since the war William J. Kelley practiced 
at this bar. Among others was J. H. Lathrop. J.H. Howard, a citizen of the 
county, held office of country clerk and State Senator, and was admitted to
the bar here in 1870; this gentleman now resides in Oklahoma. Hon. L.S.    
Corbell was admitted to the bar here in 1873; he has mainly resided in this
and Hempstead County, and is at present the only resident attorney in the  
                            Judicial Affairs                               
There has been but one legal execution in the county, and this was the     
hanging of Tyre O'Neal for horse stealing in 1837.                         
John M. Dickson, a constable, while attempting to seize a horse belonging  
to E.K. Williams, against whom he held an execution for debt, was shot     
and killed on the spot by the latter. Williams, whose true name was        
afterward discovered to be E.W. Kerr, escaped, and was never apprehended.  
This happened in 1836.                                                     
A.M. Lester was hanged during the war by a posse of men termed "independent
soldiers." Mr. Lester had become obnoxious to these people, with whom he   
had had repeated difficulties. He had been warned to leave the county, but 
had been promised protection by the governor. He was, notwithstanding,     
taken by force one day, while in Murfreesboro, and hanged to a tree near   
the bank of the Little Missouri River.                                     
James Kimbrough and Henry Jenkins, two boys, each about sixteen years of   
age, had a quarrel which resulted in a fight, in 1862. Kimbrough seized a  
stone, with which he struck Jenkins on the head, inflicting fatal injuries.
Kimbrough was indicted, and tried at the next term of court, but was       
In the fall of 1869, William Brewer, while in a drunken altercation with   
John D. Hancock, in a store in Murfreesboro, stabbed him in the throat,    
inflicting a wound from which he died at once. Brewer was indicted, and the
case was continued in the circuit court for several years, but he died a   
natural death before he was brought to trail.                              
One day, in 1873, Mr. W.W. Creecy was plowing in his field, he was shot and
killed by George Lee. Lee was arrested and indicted, but soon made his     
The Rev. John Alford, a highly respected citizen of this county, was shot  
and killed while standing in the doorway of his home in Murfreesboro, on   
April 30, 1874. Positive proofs as to who did this deed were lacking; yet  
suspicion pointed W.R. Hall and A.H. White. Hall was arrested first, and   
after preliminary examination, was placed in jail, from which he was       
promptly released by his friends. He left the county, and has never        
returned. White was afterward arrested on indictment and placed in jail,   
but was permitted to go out under guard. He had been privately furnished   
with a revolver, and one day he made an assault on the guard and succeeded 
in making his escape. A reward of $1,000 was offered for his capture, but  
for over a year he roamed at large. In July, 1875, two of his friends, J.J 
Cox and H.D. Cox, concluded to hand him over to the authorities for the    
reward, but in attempting to secure his capture they killed him.           
In the fall of 1875 Riley Thomas killed W.W. Kitchens, by knocking him on  
the head with a shovel. Thomas made his escape, and was never brought to   
In 1885 W.M. Wallace killed George Douglas, shooting him from the window of
a house, as he passed along the road. Wallace was at once arrested and     
bound over by the examing court, but was not indicted by the grand jury,   
who looked upon it as justifiable homicide, from the fact that Douglas had 
repeatedly made threats to take Wallace's life.                            
In 1886 Art Miller was shot by unknown parties. John Brooks was arrested,  
indicted and tried for the crime, but acquitted, as the State could produce
no evidence of his guilt.                                                  
The murder of Frank Ward in Howard County, and the burning of his murderers
in the Murfreesboro jail are well remembered. On April 5, 1884, Frank Ward 
was murdered in Howard County, by Henry Polk, Sylvester Polk and Monroe    
Kuykendall. The facts of the killing and the incidents of the arrest of the
murderers, were as follows: Ward was a peddler, who was on a trip through  
Howard County. He was gone so long that his brother, a resident of         
Prescott, Nevada County, started to follow him up. He was easily traced to 
the home of the Polks, but from that place the trail was lost. The men,    
Henry Polk, Sylvester Polk and Monroe Kuykendall, were soon arrested on    
suspicion, and searching parties began a vigorous search for the body, for 
which a reward of $50 had been offered. No trace of it was discovered until
one of the prisoners voluntarily suggested that they look in a heap of     
ashes in the woods. This was done, and examination revealed ample proof    
that the body had been consumed by fire, and from time to time, as much was
admitted by the prisoners. These three men were promptly indicted, but a   
change of venue was taken from Howard to Pike County, and the prisoners    
were brought to Murfreesboro. The jail at this place being very insecure,  
the prisoners were taken to Little Rock, and placed in the penitentiary for
safe keeping, and while there Monroe Kuykendall died. At the April term of 
(the) circuit court in 1885, the other two, Henry Polk and Sylvester Polk, 
were placed on trial separately, both were convicted, Sylvester Polk was   
sentenced to be hung, and Henry Polk to twenty-one years' imprisonment in  
the penitentiary. From a technical error in the proceedings of this court  
the prisoners were granted a new trial. This proceeding, which promised the
possible defeat of justice, and the escape from well-merited punishment of 
the perpetrators of a heinous crime, must have outraged the feelings of    
some of the people, for after two unsuccessful attempts had been made by   
armed mobs to take the prisoners from the jail, a third was made on the    
night of September 5, 1885, when, as they could not be taken from the iron 
cell, a fire was started, which partially consumed the jail, and burned the
two prisoners confined within to death.                                    
After this tragedy, there was a mass-meeting held at Murfreesboro, which   
was largely attended by the citizens, who strongly condemned the action of 
mob law, and all acts of violence, that might place the county under an    
unenviable stigma. Public opinion and the hostility of the people at once  
became so pronounced aganist the perpetrators of such diabolical deeds,    
that it is thought most of those concerned have moved away. At least, to   
the credit of Pike County, may be said that few lawless acts, of even the  
most trivial nature, have since occurred. The law is rigidly enforced and  
quietly obeyed, and the citizens of all sections are earnest in their      
efforts to show the world that no once can condemn mob violence, and its   
attendant evils, more vigorously than they. The governor offered a reward  
of $250 each for the arrest of every person concerned in this affair, but  
no evidence was ever secured to justify the apprehension of any one.       
Dennis Brooks was murdered in 1885, at Langley, in the northern part of    
this county, by Sylvester Churchill, his nephew, who shot him in the back  
with a Winchester rifle, as he was riding away on a horse. There had been  
no recent difficulty between the parties, but it was supposed to be in     
revenge for fancied wrongs inflicted on Churchill when a boy. After the    
shooting, Churchill mounted his horse and rode off toward his home in Scott
County. He was immediately pursued by several parties, and soon captured by
Constable James Epperson, who brought him back to this county and confined 
him in the old jail at Murfreesboro. On the night of October 20, 1885, the 
jail was burned by unknown incendiaries, and Churchill perished in the     
flames. A reward of $500 was offered by Gov. Hughes for the apprehension of
any person concerned in this crime, but no arrests were ever made.         
With the exception of these two cases of mob violence, Pike County can show
a wonderfully clear record of criminal cases; in proof of this, it is      
proper to state that the grand jury's report at the January term of the    
circuit court of 1890, reveals but five indictments, and these for but very
paltry offenses against the law.                                           
Pike County was organized by an act of the Territorial Legislature,        
November 1, 1833, and Elijah Kelley, Rice Stringer and John Dickson were   
elected as commissioners to locate the seat of justice.                    
                            Judicial Center                                
At that time but three settlements had been made within the county limits, 
Wolf Creek, east, and the Brewer settlement on Muddy Fork, west, and a few 
families at the point of the place selected for the county seat. A log     
court-house, and a small frame building for the clerk's office, were at    
once erected. Mr. Asa Thompson lived in the immediate vicinity where he    
secured a post office at his house with the name of Zebulon. Now that it   
became the county seat of the new county, the people, who were mostly      
natives of Tennessee, wishing to perpetuate some memory of their native    
State, selected the name of Murfreesboro. The county boundaries have been  
somewhat changed, but its area is about the same as it was at first.       
In the spring of 1855 the clerk's office was burned, destroying all the    
county records up to that date. In 1856, the county needing more commodious
quarters for both county offices and  court purposes, the county court     
ordered the erection of a new court-house. The contract was given to Brock 
Bros. - Moses Brock and Jackson Brock. This building is still in use, and  
in very good repair. It is a large two-story frame, surmonted by a cupola, 
the upper story being devoted to the use of the circuit court, while on the
lower floor are the office for the county officers, and the jury-rooms. The
first jail was erected (in the 1830's) and used till 1884. It was badly    
ventilated and at the complaint of the physicians of the county, was       
condemned by the grand jury, whereupon the county court ordered a new one  
to be erected. The contract for the brick work was given to Wright &       
Buckston, of Nashville, and the iron and cell work to P.J. Pauley & Bro.,  
of St. Louis. It was finished in 1884, and was complete, with all modern   
improvements, accepted for the county by the county court, and cost $6,150.
This jail was partially destroyed by a mob, on the night of September 5,   
The old log jail was destroyed in the same manner, and as elsewhere stated,
one prisoner burned within it. The present jail occupies the site of the   
one that was partially destroyed in 1885. The brick work was repaired by   
the original contractors, Wright & Buckston, the cell was but slightly     
injured, and was soon made as good as new. It is well ventilated,          
commodious and secure, and recently was the only unoccupied building in    
                         Church and Lodge History                          
            Mount Tabor Methodist Methodist Protestant Church              
Organized in 1878 by Rev. L.S. Nabors, some of the original members were:  
Mrs. Nancy Stewart, Mrs. Mary Hunt, Mr. A. Sandford and wife, Mr. Joseph M.
Scott and family, Davis Hutson and family, and several others, about twenty
in all. This church, situated in the eastern part of Brewer Township, is a 
good frame building 30 x 15 feet. The present pastor is R.M. Sanford.      
                  Mount Zion Methodist Protestant Church                   
Situated in North Brewer Township and organized in 1868 by Rev. William    
Alford, some of the original members were: Thomas McClure and wife, Joseph 
Scott, John Tallant and wife, John Sharp, wife and three daughters, Mrs.   
Ruthie Denham, Mrs. John Lingo, and John Carroll, some twenty in all. The  
present membership is about thirty, and the pastor, Rev. Robert Sanford.   
The membership of this church has reached 104. The organization of other   
churches has drawn from and reduced its present numerical strength.        
               Muddy Fork Methodist Episcopal Church, South                
This church, held at Central Academy near the center of Muddy Fork Township
was organized in 1888 by Rev. Amariah Biggs. Among the early members were  
Henry W. Carter and wife, George Porterfield and wife, William Porterfield 
and wife, C.W. Phillips and wife, John McBay and wife, Miss Malinda Jones, 
and others, about fifteen in all. This church has a present membership of  
seventy-six members. Rev. E. Rushing presided here in 1889, and Rev. Riley 
is the present pastor.                                                     
                   Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church                    
Situated in the southwestern part of Muddy Fork Township, this church was  
organized about 1881 by Rev. E. Merrill, assisted by Rev. John Cornish. The
first members were H.G. York and wife, John Canady, Mrs. Cornish. They have
a present membership of eighteen, and worship in a good frame building     
30 x 50 feet. The present pastor is H.G. York. In connection with the      
church is a flourishing Sabbath-school.                                    
                    Oak Hill Methodist Episcopal Church                    
Organized in 1889 by Rev. G.H. Gideon, with a membership of the following  
twelve: W.N. McClure and wife, Mrs. Strawn, William Hurdie and wife, T.P.D.
Stevens and wife, and Mrs. B.S. Flaharity. They have a very good box house 
30 x 40, and a present membership of twenty-one. The present pastor is O.P.
Noble. This church is situated in the southeastern part of Thompson        
            The Missionary Baptist Church of Missouri Township             
This church was organized in 1850 by Rev. Samuel Kelley who was also its   
first pastor. I.F. Welch is the present pastor.                            
                         Wolf Creek Baptist Church                         
Organized in 1872 by James P. Copeland who was also the first pastor, it   
had but five members originally, who were Moses Brock, Amanda Brock, W.P.  
Henderson and wife, and John H. Brock. Now their membership is sixty-five. 
                  Murfreesboro Methodist Episcopal Church                  
Organized in 1841 by the Revs. Jesse Jenkins and Madison E. Alford with    
Rev. Benedict as first pastor, some of the earliest members were Rev.      
Madison E. Alford and family, Rev. Jesse Jenkins and wife, Mrs. Lucinda    
Davis, William Orrick and wife, and William Kizzia and wife. This society  
held services in the old log court-house for several years. After the      
erection of the Academy in 1869, they worshipped there till 1888, when they
completed their present commodious church edifice, erected at an expense of
$800. The present pastor is J.W. Davis. A large and strong membership      
composes this organization.                                                
             Hickory Plains Methodist Episcopal Church South               
Located in the northeastern part of Thompson Township, this church was     
organized in April, 1882, by Rev. George W. Logan. Some of the first       
members were C.B. Willett and wife, J.T. Goulding and wife, T.T.L. House   
and wife, F.P. Hughes and wife, William Greene and wife, and others, about 
twelve in all. The present membership is fourteen, presided over by Rev.   
W.L. Davis.                                                                
                      Pike Lodge No. 91, A.F. & A.M.                   
Pike Lodge No. 91, A.F. & A.M., was organized at Murfreesboro, November 8, 
1855, with the following station officers: A.B. Williams, master; James M. 
Evans, senior warden; George R. Mauney, junior warden. This lodge soon     
acquired a large membership, many of whom were bright and highly learned in
Masonic lore. In 1869 they erected a two-story lodge building, the lower   
floor of which they dontated to the Murfreesboro school district for an    
academy, and it is still used for that purpose.                            
The officers elected for 1890 were: William D. Alford, master, John F.     
Davis, senior warden; W.N. McClure, junior warden; Owen B. Owens,          
secretary; John Branch, treasurer; C.P. McGraw, senior deacon; J.A. Alford,
junior deacon; George W. Brock, chaplain, and Mike Branch, tyler. The      
membership at this time is twenty-four.                                    
Murfreesboro, the county seat of Pike County, has a beautiful situation on 
a slightly elevated plateau, in the southern part of the county near the   
Little Missouri River. It occupies the northeast quarter of Section 17,    
Township 8 south, Range 25 west, and is the largest and the most important 
town in the county. It is in the center of a large scope of very fertile   
river bottom country, and from this thickly settled region, draws an       
extensive trade. The proposed line of the Texas extension of the Little    
Rock Railway goes through the place, and on the probable completion of that
road in the near future must, from the wealth of its surrounding resources,
at once become an important point. Its early settlement extends back to the
teens. Mr. Asa Thompson settled near here in September 1833 and with the   
spirit of enterprise bought a small stock of goods and started a store and 
and became an early merchant of Pike County. He secured a post office which
was named Zebulon and was member of the General Assembly of the Arkansas   
Territorial Legislature in 1833 from Clark County and introduced the bill  
to erect the new county of Pike. When the new county was organized and on  
the formation of the differenct townships, one was named in his honor. On  
selection of this locality for the seat of justice for Pike County, it was 
named Murfreesboro.                                                        
Mr. Edwin Owens settled in Pike County and soon after located at           
Murfreesboro and erected a hotel. This was the first and only hotel        
Murfreesboro has ever had and is still in excellent repair and is now being
well conducted by Mr. Joel H. Conway. Mr. Owens soon after erected a store 
house, and for some time did an extensive trade. After him, in business,   
came William Preston, and in a year or so, Henry Preston, Mr. McDonald, and
John Wagner. These men were all selling goods here prior 1850. At the      
outbreak of the war, Evans and Preston, Wagner and Preston, were all doing 
a good business, but very promptly closed their doors to trade, and no     
business was done here again till after the declaration of peace. John     
Wagner was the first to resume; he was soon followed by Haslip & Hoover,   
and these firms continued in business for many years. The other important  
business houses here have been Haslip & Co., Owens & Conway, J.H. Holland, 
etc.; those all did a good trade during their time. The business           
interests at the present day are: Davis & Stevens, Charles E. Stelle,      
Kelley Bros., Dean & Alford (general stores), McGraw & Covington (grocers),
John Branch and Scameron & Mitchell (blacksmiths and wagon-makers), Stevens
& Stroope, and Kelley Bros. (steam cotton-gins and mills), W.D. Alford and 
N.T. Thomasson (physicians), Joel H. Conway (hotel), Lee Giles (editor of  
Pike County Courier), John H. Stevens (justice), and C.P. McGraw           
(postmaster). The population is 200. A good church (Methodist Episcopal,   
South) and an academy or free school, and a Masonic lodge also flourish.   
The public buildings are the court-house and  jail.                        
Royston, or the old cotton-mill, is a place of interest. In 1856 Henry     
Merrell built a cotton and wool-carding factory, at a point on the Little  
Missouri River two and one-half miles north of Murfreesboro; here there was
an excellant water power, where there had been an old grist-mill for many  
years prior. He did a small business in the way of spinning thread and     
carding wool till about 1860, when it was sold to John Matlock. During the 
war he moved the mill to Texas, and ran it in that State in the interest of
the Confederate government. After the war he returned and reengaged in     
business at the old site. This was the only grist-mill in this locality at 
that time, and people came from long distances to mill and to buy cotton   
yarn, with which nearly all the clothing of that time was made; he also had
a store and did the largest commercial trade in the county then. Soon after
he put in looms, and began to manufacture cloth. In 1879 he erected a large
new mill, equipped it well with all needful machinery, and Royston soon    
took on the dignity of a village of some 200 people, but Mr. Matlock became
finanicially involved and committed suicide in 1886. The other owners of   
the mill, composing the Arkansas Manufacturing Company, removed the plant  
to Arkadelphia in 1889.                                                    
The place is now deserted; a single tenant occupies the fine old mansion   
erected by Mr. Matlock, and all the other houses of this once busy village 
are rapidly falling into ruin and decay. Part of the old factory and dam   
have washed away, but the waters of the Little Missouri sweep and whirl    
over the rapids, and show the visitor the same advantages and power - now  
going to waste - that attracted these old mill men years ago.              
                               Other Towns                                 
Stellville (post office Wolf Creek) is in the central part of Missouri     
Township; it is a pleasant little village of about thirty-five inhabitants.
Dudley J. Oldham is the merchant and physician; Andrew A. Stell, hotel     
proprietor and planter; Pleasant J. Dickson, blacksmith; Samuel B. Wall,   
physician; Samuel B. Stell, postmaster. The first postmaster was J.B. Cast.
The first merchant was Abner H. Kelley.                                    
                              Nathan Village                               
Nathan Village, in the western part of Muddy Fork Township, has a          
population of about fifty. The business interests are mainly controlled by 
William J. White, who conducts a general store, saw and grist-mill and     
cotton-gin. Mr. White is also postmaster. The first postmaster was James H.
Bills, a post-office situated in the southern part of Missouri Township,   
was established in 1889, with John W. Gilleylen postmaster. Mr. Gilleylen  
still retains this office, and does quite an extensive mercantile business 
as well.                                                                   
                                Rock Creek                                 
Rock Creek is the only village in Clark Township, in the northeastern part 
of Pike County. Its first business was started in 1874 by R.C. McMillin;   
the second store by Stephen P. Baker. To the latter business Mr. Baker's   
sons, H.P. Baker & Co., have succeeded. A.A. Palmer bought the stock, etc.,
of R.C. McMillian in 1880, and is one of the merchants here now, also C.H. 
Palmer; shoe shop, by M.F. White; wood shop, W.D. White; blacksmiths,      
Hubbard & Black; steam cotton-gin and grist-mill owned by Hubbard &        
Hollysfield. There is a Farmers' Alliance lodge, known as the Rock Creek   
Lodge No. 912, also two churches, Methodist Episcopal, South, and          
Missionary Baptist. The postoffice was established in 1869, with Stephen P.
Baker, postmaster, The present postmaster is C.H. Palmer.                  
Gentry post-office is situated near the center of Self Creek Township. It  
was established in 1889, with Jeff O'Neal, postmaster. Mrs. Churbry Meeks  
is the present postmistress, mail being received once per week from Star of
the West.                                                                  
                                 New Hope                                  
The first store in New Hope (post-office and village) was opened in 1876,  
by a Mr. Copley, who did a small business for two years. Forester & Killian
opened a large business in 1878; they disolved in a short time, and went   
into business separately. At present there are two stores: Frank Lee and   
W.S. Baker. The post-office was established in 1878, with Levi L. Forester 
postmaster, The present postmistress is Mrs. Mansfield. A Baptist Church   
and school-house are also here. The blacksmith shop is run by George Hill, 
and a saw and grist-mill and cotton-gin by James Huey.                     
                             Star of the West                              
The first mill and dwelling in Star of the West was erected by Moses Hill, 
in 1852, and the first business house by W.M. Hayes & McGuire, in 1862. The
business of the place has been much varied and conducted by numerous       
individuals. At present there are two general stores, owned by L.R.        
Sullivan & Bro., and Bean & Talbott; the latter firm also owns a fine mill,
gin and carding factory, which is run by a very excellent water-power,     
having a natural rock dam four feet in height. A blacksmith shop by        
William Johnson is well supported. The public buildings are a              
school-house, Knights of Labor and Masonic halls. The Masonic hall at this 
place was built in 1876. The first Masonic organization here was in        
1866-1867, the first worshipful master of the lodge being John Latty. The  
present master is John Mitchell. The membership is now about thirty        
individuals, in good standing. A post office was established here in 1856, 
with Willis Jones postmaster. The present postmaster is George T. Epperson.
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas, Pike County,     
1890, pp. 305-314. Revised-corrected by David Kelley.                      
David Kelley 1997