Antoine Will Mark Centennial

By Bobbie Hendrix


ANTOINE -- Ripe for restoration and rich in history, the community of        
Antoine will celebrate its centennial on Oct. 18 at the community building,  
beginning at noon.                                                           

The free festivities will include an antique and classic car show, ping      
pong and horseshoe pitching tournaments, games for the kids, firetruck       
rides, free hot dogs and sodas, plus local entertainment.                    

Also as part of the celebration, the home of Bobbie Hendrix will be open to  
the public. The home displays many local artifacts and period pictures.      

Antoine Will Mark Centennial
By Bobbie Hendrix

Along a settlement on the Southwest Trail (Old Military Road) leading into   
Texas, Antoine did not become an incorporated municipality until Oct. 24,    
1897. However, it is known that French trappers and Indian traders explored  
the area as early as the 1700's. Antoine is a common masculine name to the   
French. The first known homesteaders in Pike County were French Catholics    
who lived a little south of town on what is now known as the East Farm.      

The 1847 directory of Catholic churches report that Father James Donohue was 
buried underneath the altar of the Church of St. Francis Xavier at Antoine.  
It is most likely that a settlement had grown up around this early place of  
worship. It is known that Father Donohue made his first trip to Rocky        
Comfort (now Foreman, Arkansas) in 1845 and that he served it and other      
settlements where there were Catholics along the Southwest Trial in          
Arkansas. According to long-time resident Olen Hendrix, the Antoine Baptist 
Church occupies the site of the former Catholic Church. The town cemetery is
directly  adjacent to it.                                                    

Antoine is located in Pike County on Highway 26 about 20 miles northeast of  
the county seat, Murfreesboro, and about 24 miles southwest of Arkadelphia   
at the Antoine River. At the time of its centennial, it has about 195        
residents and is no longer a hub of business activity due to economic        
patterns, disastrous fires and other elements of change.                     

According to an account in "Early History of Pike County, Arkansas," in 1890 
the city had a post office, bank, church, school, cotton gin, gristmill,     
bottling works, sawmill, blacksmith shop, two hotels, drug store, hardware,  
billard and pool hall, cafe, doctor, city hall, several merchandise stores   
and a two-story jail built of native stone. Six trains, two for passengers,  
passed through daily connecting to Gurdon on the east and to Womble (Norman) 
and other towns to the west.                                                 

Now there is a combination City Hall/Fire House, three churches, and a few   
small businesses as well as numerous residences. An effort is being made to  
build a city park.                                                           

Also, still in business after more than 100 years is the Buford Hendrix      
Store. It was built in 1888 by the locally prominent W.P. Barton who sold it 
around the turn of the century to O.O. Meeks who ran it successfully until   
it was bought during the 1930's by Olen Hendrix. Buford bought it from his   
brother when he returned from World War II and has recently taken his son,   
Benson, in to the business.                                                  

The town name is pronounced a couple of ways by residents. Some say          
"ann-twine" and others say `ann-toyne." Perhaps correct French and the       
Arkansas dialect were not meant to mix.                                      

David Kelley 2002