Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society
The first Board of Directors meeting was held on July 11, 2004 before the society’s general meeting. The Board of Directors consists of the Society’s current officers and two outside directors, Tony Wapple, Washington County Archivist, and Mary Ann Gunn, Washington County Circuit Court Judge. It was decided during the meeting that the Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society would contact Russell Baker of the Arkansas Historical Commission to hold a series of research seminars during the Washington County Courthouse Centennial. Immediately after the board meeting, the outside directors were introduced to the membership, and each shared a few words about the Centennial plans and progress to date.
The speaker for the July meeting was Jane-Ellen Murphy, the photo archivist for the Shiloh Museum in Springdale. She shared information on the local history preserved in the museum and the 10,000+ photographs which are housed there. The photographs have been collected over the years from local sources. This catalogued and indexed collection is available to research if you are looking for photos of residents, events, businesses or buildings. The museum holdings cover four counties of – Washington, Benton, Carroll and Madison – that make up the northwest Arkansas area.
Meet Your Officers
The profile this month is on your treasurer, Lisa Carper. Lisa was originally appointed to fill the chair of publicity/historian mid term of the society’s first year.
Melisa Jason Carper was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966. She lived in Rockford, Michigan until age 15 when she moved to Mountain View, Arkansas where her parents had a chicken and cattle farm. Though her father and her mother came from Stone County, Arkansas, it was a bit of a culture shock to her to move to the Ozark Mountains from a metropolitan area. Being around an extended family helped to make her transition easier.
Lisa graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education in 1987. She earned a Masters Degree in Elementary Counseling in 1991. She met her husband while in college, and they married in 1990. They have one, six-year old daughter. Since 1989 Lisa has been an Elementary Counselor at Elkins Elementary School. She says, “ Being a counselor in an elementary school is something that I love. The students make everyday a special day in my life.” Her other interests and activities include being a troop leader for The Girl Scouts, acting as Vice Regent of the Marion Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and scrap-booking.
Lisa became interested in family history in 1999 when her grandfather, who wanted to pass stories about their ancestors, started giving her little bits of information. He wanted the accounts of his family to live beyond just his own memory. He passed away in 2001 but continues to be an inspiration in Lisa’s life. Lisa confesses that she is now an addict…an addict to genealogy! She is researching the names of Balentine, Branscum, Brewer, Carper, George, Jason/Jessen, Keller, Ramey, Zinn
“I think of it as a challenge – trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together…a little bit of the Nancy Drew in me.”
We Just Keep Growing!
A great big Washington County Welcome! to our new members for the month of July, Deana Smith and Sue Wells. Glad to have you folks join us.
Wilson Creek Seminar
Five of our members, Carol Reel, Elizabeth Floyd, Ethna Billings, Deana Smith and Jeanne Tackett attended the Wilson Creek National Battlefield seminar, “Researching your Civil War Ancestors” on Saturday, July 17th. It was a fast paced, informative, two-hour seminar with an additional hour devoted to personal research in the Hulston Library located on the grounds of Wilson Creek. Prior to the seminar, the group visited the privately owned General Sweeney Museum that is located nearby.
The seminar is free and is highly recommended. Seminar handouts and information are available from Carol Reel or Jeanne Tackett.
Little Cabin in the Woods by Carol Reel
Soon after moving to Arkansas in the early 1990’s, I was driving along Highway 303 from War Eagle Mill toward Highway 412. Just before the intersection, there stood a precious little cabin beside the road. A covered bridge spanning the creek was just behind the cabin and lead to what appeared to be a long abandoned road.
Then, just beyond the cabin, deeper in the woods, stood a larger, clearly modern log home. After several trips, my curiosity got the best of me, and I stopped at the “Flea Market,” which was just a few hundred feet away, to inquire. “Oh, that’s Granny’s cabin. She was an old settler who lived in that cabin, and her kids built the log house. In fact, I remember seeing her sitting on the porch from time to time. After she died, the kids just left the old cabin,” I was told.
What a sweet story of yesterday in Washington County and the devotion of loving children!
In the last few years, I have taken this route frequently. So, I decided to try to interview one of the “kids,” for our newsletter. Luckily, the owner of the log house and cabin, Glen Clark, was home. In spite of the fact that he was on his way out of town, he invited me in. I told him of my interest in the cabin and my plan to write this article. Here is the true story of “Granny’s Cabin.”
In 1986-87, Glen found the original cabin near Beaver Lake in “Rambo Holler,” (Benton County) about to be demolished. The owners of the property allowed him to dismantle and remove it.
The “before photo” shows a 1 ½ story one room structure with two center doors, back and front. It had a small loft with about 5 feet of “head room,” with a notched log stair that was still in place. Its roof of hand split white oak shingles made with a “fro” was intact. The fireplace of round field rock had no stovepipe, but it was clear that it served for both cooking and heat. About 20 yards away was the spring for water, and the cabin was set on a north/ south axis. Glen said, “The logs are probably white oak with collar tie joists and cut and notched. There was evidence of bark left on the logs, so I think it may have gone up green. I imagine the family was in need of shelter as quickly as possible,” Glen surmised. There was no evidence that the interior walls were ever surfaced.
While taking down the structure, a few artifacts were found, including a hand made flute of sumac and a reed and bound with wire and 5 finger holes, an apparently “store bought” corn shucker still in its leather case, and bells for what was probably a mule harness. From these little clues, we can begin to infer some aspects of the life of that pioneer family.
Members of the Van Zant family who lived near by, told Glen the original cabin was built about 150 years ago and belonged to the “Kirk” family who “raised 7 boys in it.” Near by, was a “lead cave” used during the Civil War as a source of lead for bullets. During the war, Bushwhackers reportedly passed through the area and “stole a pie and loaf of bread from the cabin.”
With its relocation to Washington County, the little cabin began a new life. Glen rebuilt it as a single story, using local stone to reconstruct the chimney and fireplace.
“Did you see the squirrel skin on the outside wall?” he asked me. “No, I didn’t,” I replied. “Well, I don’t want to be morbid, but that was a red squirrel I sort of came to know while putting the cabin up. She seemed to take an interest in what I was doing and even raised a nest of babies. It was almost like she would hear me working and come over to see what I was doing. Anyway, one day, I found her dead on the road, and it seemed that somehow, she belonged to the cabin. So, I skinned her and she’s still there.”
“Now, what did the covered bridge have to do with the cabin? I can see a remnant of a road. Did it lead to Spring Valley?” I asked. “Oh, I built the bridge first and got the cabin just to go along with it. This was about the time the War Eagle Fair was really getting started, so I thought I’d start a little tourist attraction, which would “make my fortune.” The bridge was built with old timber trestles off the 540 Rail Road bridge from Fort Smith. They were 9inch by 12inch by 32 feet long and strong enough for a car to drive over. The covered part of the bridge was old barn timber I got from a nearby barn that was being taken down. We drove over the bridge for a time. The road was just one I made to get around my property.”
When the movie, Frank and Jesse, was made here several years ago, the cabin and bridge were used for several scenes. In fact, the director wanted to burn the cabin in the part where Jesse’s mother was killed, but Glen refused.
“I did register the bridge,” Glen stated. At least four calendars and some CD covers have been made with pictures of the bridge and cabin, and the cabin has been used for weddings on occasion. “I really haven’t taken care of it like I should, and it has been vandalized once. That took some of the fun out of it, as I never locked it before, and people could just walk in and see it,” he said.
So, aside from the story of the journey of this sweet little cabin from Benton to Washington County, how does all this relate to genealogy? Well, someone researching the “Kirk” family of Benton County may find it useful. But, for us, it serves as a reminder of how the facts can differ when they come from “primary” rather than “secondary” sources! Besides, genealogists are naturally curious. We are often lucky if we pause and follow our instincts – like meeting a gracious man who has, in his own quiet and gentle way, preserved a little bit of the rapidly vanishing history of the pioneer families of Arkansas.
The Month of July in History
From the “Adams Centinel” [sic] (Gettysburg, Pa.), 25 July 1804, page 3:
(Historical Newspapers Collection at Ancestry.com)
Gettysburg, July 18.
Mourn, Oh Columbia! Thy Hamilton is gone to that “bourn from whence no traveller (sic) returns.”
It is with the greatest sorrow that we have to confirm the account published in our last, of the death of Gen. Hamilton, occasioned by a
wound he received in a recontre (sic) with Col. Burr, on Wednesday the 11th inst. The causes which produced the duel are not positively stated, but supposed to be political. The circumstances which accompanied this melancholy event, (as collected from different prints) are briefly these: The parties met, on Wednesday morning, at Hoboken, New Jersey–Judge Pendleton attended Gen. Hamilton, and W.P. Van Ness, Esq. Col. Burr, as seconds–Dr. Hosack, of New York, attended as physician to Gen. Hamilton. The first fire from Col. Burr took effect–the ball struck the General just under the ribs, and lodged
in his body. He bled profusely, both from the wound and from the mouth. He was immediately conveyed across the river, to the country seat of a Mr. Bayard, near the city of N. York. He is said not to have spoke till nearly half over the river, when in a very faint tone of voice, he said, he could not live, and expressed a wish to see his family. He expired about two o’clock the next day. All accounts agree in stating that as soon as his death was known in the city a
universal gloom prevailed up on every countenance; and (except in the case of the great and good Washington) they do not recollect that the loss of any individual in our country has been so generally and so sincerely lamented. His funeral took place, at the city of N. York, on Saturday the 14th inst.
From the Fayetteville Democrat, July 28, 1904
Ardmore, I.T., July 17. – The Dawes Commission is entering the last year of its existence. The commission is rushing matters to completion, and it is thought by the time the board is dissolved July 1, 1905, all lands in the five tribes will have been allotted. However, if this is not accomplished in the time fixed by Congress, the government, it is said, will appoint an experienced man to wind up the Indian affairs. In the Chicasaw nation there will be several hundred thousand acres of land sold at public auction; also about 550,000 acres of coal and asphalt land in the Choctaw nation will be disposed of in a similar matter.
As a part of the Centennial Celebration of the Washington Co. Courthouse, we have invited Russell Baker of the Arkansas Historical Commission to present an all day workshop In November. The workshop will consist of 4 seminars. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of Mr. Baker’s workshops, you are in for a real treat. We’ll be telling you more in the next letter. Until then, y’all take care now y’hear.