Working in local history, one can easily get trapped in having a narrow point of view. I have met some people who truly believed that many segments of the Ozarks in the past were remote & inbreed. Nevertheless, if the truth be known, no person, family, community, or county is exclusive unto itself…even in the Ozarks. I recently ran across an old newspaper no longer published in Baxter County, Arkansas, called the The Baxter County Citizen from July 16th, 1891. The following is a transcript of a beautiful narrative that is not only about Baxter County history, but it was a testament from generations past and of a view of history that was treasured 120 years ago that is a part of our Ozarks’ History.
We, O. D. Dodd, A. J. Truman and Z. M. Horton, your committee on the History of Baxter County submit the following report as the result of our enquiry in the behalf:
Baxter County was created by the act of legislature of the state of Arkansas March 24th, 1873, from the territory taken from Marion, Searcy, Izard and Fulton counties.
William C. C. Claiborne
In 1804 the territory of Louisiana was divided into two parts by a line running east to west on the 33rd parallel of latitude north, (now the southern boundary of the state of Arkansas.) That part of territory south of the line, was named the district of Orleans, that north of it, the district of Louisiana.
From 1804 to 1812 the district of Louisiana was governed by the Governor of the Indian Territory, William Henry Harrison, afterwards President of the U. S. and grandfather to Benjamin Harrison, our present chief executive. (It is his hat we read so much in the newspapers). Hence we may truly claim, that the Governor of Arkansas and his grandson, have each been President of the U. S. So we are not as far behind some older states as might suppose.
The territory now embracing Baxter county was formerly occupied by Osage Indians. The lands were obtained by treaties in 1808 and 1818. Many of our pioneer settlers came here while forests were yet the lurking place of the savage. We have citizens in our county yet, who can remember when the north west portion of the state was occupied exclusively them, but owing to the limited time and space for this report, we have not the opportunity to enter into details of the aborigines, or the battle with the wilderness fought by our ancestors to reclaim our prosperous common wealth from a savage wilderness.
The early settlers of this country were a hardy race of pioneers, who made their living at home and who, like the first inhabitants of many new countries, endured many hardships. They made their support by hunting and farming. They had no markets for produce, so a competence was all that was sought from the soil. The staple crops was furs and pelts. It was their principal source of revenue. There is a tradition among our people that furs and peltries was a legal tender for all debts between individuals, and was also receivable for taxes, but we regret that we have been unable to learn the price at which those commodities was current. Perhaps we may obtain authentic information on the subject by our next annual meeting. Had we all the names, space forbids anything like a complete list of all the pioneers of this county in this report.
But at the expense of brevity, we give the names of a number of them with some of their children and decedents in the county. It cannot fail to interest as all to review the names of those who felled the forests, and opened up our country, in many respects, the best and in many homes the happiest on the globe, for, is dated as we are, our country has many advantages not claimed by those more favored by development.
Among the names are the following:
Jacob Wolf, sr. father of Jesse H. Wolf, Mrs. Tobitha Russell, Miss Nan Wolf and Mrs. J. M. Casey.
Walter Talburt, sr., father of S. H. and Walter, James and Thomas Talburt, Mrs. Tony and Mrs. Hammonds – all citizens of the county present; Frederick and Bezel Talburt. These were all brothers.
John H. Beck, now living in the county.
Joseph Adams, father of J. T. Adams, of this township.
Robert Livingston, father of Robert F. Livingston, Mrs. Tom Gorton, Mrs. Charley Talburt and Mrs. Woods Blevins.
Jesse Mooney, father of Clayton Mooney and numerous progeny whose names we did not obtain.
John Hargraves, sr., father of Uncle Bob and W. P. Hargraves, and Fred Hargraves, and Sim Hargraves, late of Baxter County.
Fielding Herron, father of J. P. Herron.
Geo.Goodall, father of Mrs. Casey Livingston, Mrs. Geo. Foster and Mrs. Wyley Stinnett.
W. L. Shipp, father of Capt. Will C. John S. and Miss Amanda Shipp.
Joseph Webber was also a pioneer. The names of
N. G. Tracy.
Rev. V. B. Tate.
R. W. Tate.
T. B. Goforth.
Charles Finley, sr.
T. T. Travis.
J. T. McCrackin.
There are a number of others we would like to name who are inseparably connected with our county’s history. They are among the names to which we will be led to the greatest generation, when we abstract titles to the lands of this county and when we search those names in ancient deeds, we will be reminded of those who reclaimed our country from the wilderness. Most of these lived here from fifty to sixty years ago.
Many of them were citizens of Arkansas Territory and some were here while it was yet a part of Missouri Territory or the District of Louisiana. Later came:
Col. O. L. Dodd
T. Y. Casey.
Judge J. S. Russell.
Dr. J. M. Casey.
Dr, J. H. P. Wallis.
Prof. J. S. Howard.
Prof. A. J. Truman.
And a number of others we could mention, who, though not Among the first settlers, were here before the late war, and assisted materially in the development of the county, and especially in establishing Mountain Home Academy, the first high school in the territory now in this and many adjoining counties.
That institution was built near the sight of the present academy. It was begun in the winter of 1858 and finished in 1859. T. B. Goforth, our present county surveyor, was the contractor. It was built by subscriptions, as few of our inhabitants then were. Prof. Howard was the first teacher. It had scholars from Batesville, Jacksonport and many other places and in the country for 100 mile around. It increased the value of real estate 300 to 400 percent, during the short time it was in existence before the war. It was destroyed by fire Dec. 12, 1864. It was rebuilt after the war, principally through the efforts of its former founders. Prof. Truman and Mrs. Truman et. al., conducted the school for many years, during which time it was only high school, in this section for many leagues around.
Time forbids that we should enter into details of the heroic effort of teachers and students in those days, when many young men and women were battling against odds for education, or to give a list of those now filling responsible stations in life, who were by their own efforts educated here, but hope some future meeting of the association, their names will be read, in the presence of the rising generation, together with a full history of Mountain Home school from the close of the war to the present, that the youth of to-day, hearing of and appreciating the self-denial, sacrifice and earnest effort of teachers and student of former times, may profit by their example.
Z. M. Horton,
Secy. Of Com on History.
“Baxter County Citizen: Early History.” The Baxter Bulletin 8.28 (10 July, 1969) 1. Baxter County Microfilm Archive. Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. 15 Nov., 2010.
Louisiana Territory. Map. N.p.: n.p., n.d. By Made by User:Golbez. (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Messick, Mary Ann, (1973). History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. (44). Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. International Graphics, Little Rock, AR.
William C. C. Claiborne, Governor of Louisiana. . N.p.: n.p., n.d. Wikimedia Commons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_C._C._Claiborne.