Nancy's Lawrence County Corner

May 3, 1951: First installment

From Times Dispatch - Walnut Ridge, Lawrence, Arkansas
By Chas. B. Lee

Early History of Lawrence County

There are other older names in the Flat Woods which are not now in large families. Reed is one I would not forget, because Enoch Reed of Imboden taught the first school at Mt. Olive. It was a subscription school. We all liked him, also his brother, Thomas, who came many miles to hear my first effort in preaching and gave me some good advice which I immediately put in use by extemperaneous practices. I know some three bunches of Ratliffs, two of which are common in Lawrence. One about Smithville, another must have settled about Friendship very early. Uncle Zack especially had a large family of boys and girls. There was a family named Moore on the head of Little Creek. This is the Simpson place, I remember a Rev. Mr. Church, who married this Widow Moore. There were two Moore sons that lived in Randolph County.

The Smithville Community

The last pre-war name and places are two brothers named Helms from Georgia, Uncle Leton settled west of Smithville and raised a large family, who mostly settled in that territory. Uncle Wyatt Helms’ place was north of the Moore place on Little Creek. These places are just south of the corner of our township. This was a large family of girls and two sons who both became Baptist preachers. Elder David Helms who moved down in the Powhatan territory where he left several descendants. Elder Leton Helms married Emerine Goings, mentioned in connection with the Holders. there were three girls and four sons to this family. Mrs. Sarah H. Hallmark of Reno, Nevada and wife of Rev. Monroe Hallmark. He died last February 5th at age of 88. the Hallmark name is an old one in Lawrence county. The late Belle Gibbens, the late Willie Albert and James David, Mary, whom I married; and elder George W. Helms of Smithville. Elder Leton Helms died in 1883.

After The Civil War

Now families, who came to the Flatwoods after the war, were the names of Pettyjohn, Jenkins, Webb, Rexroads and maybe others. I am passing to name three brothers Uncle Jack, James and Bob Clements each with families of note down to the third or fourth generation now. I do not think it would be advisable to list them as there are many connections. They are from Missouri. The Clements came from Kentucky; five brothers and a sister. Picketts, Uncle Bill Thomas, Bob, Henry and Joe and Mrs. Al Smith and along with them I seem to want to list the family of Elder R.B. Bellamy who came also from the same Kentucky community. Bellamy married a Pettyjohn and had several girls and two sons. A.V. Bellamy at Smithville is the only one I know of the name in Lawrence county. However Bellamy had some children by his second wife, who was reared about Lynn. Beavers was another old name next to Sharp county in the Flatwoods. I think some of the second and third generation are about Williford and Ravenden. Charley Beavers, who married Esquire John Campbells’s daughter was living at Ravenden, the last I knew of him. Joe Simpson lived on the old Moore place on Little Creek. There are several of his sons and daughters yet in the county, last I knew.

Back To Wells Creek

Now dropping back under the big thick hills in line with the Wells creek territory. The first place would be the Stypes place and spring at the foot of the hill on the Ravenden road. I think some one has renamed the spring an Indian name, Watauga. It used to come out from under a large sycamore tree. I have already mentioned my uncle, Prior Simmons. He entered the place at the close of the war. He was a Tennessee man who was driven from Missouri by bushwackers. I was born on this place just across the road from Frank Bragg’s house. My nephew, Arval Lee of Ravenden, who also born there. The old log house was converted to stables.

The Family of Lawrences

I may as well mention the Lawrences next. My father bought the east end of the oaks place south of the river. I had the old deeds of entry just awhile back, may have them yet, anyhow while here father buried two little girls one in Ravenden and the other, because he could not cross the river, just south of the old house side where there are about fifteen graves. The Lawrences came from Independence county. Uncle Ben had several sons of whom the late Thomas Lawrence of Ravenden was youngest. Uncle Joe Lawrence, when I knew him, lived in the cove at the west of big thick hill. There are a number of this family living, Mrs. Frank Holder being the oldest. This name is now down to the third generation I hear. Sharps. My father sold the land at the mouth of Wells creek to Uncle Bill Childers, father of Judge J.C. Childers. Childers sold the place to uncle Jake Sharp, the father of our family of the Sharps. The Sharps were among the first settlers Stinnett Creek near Hopewell church. There are at least four boys and two girls all dead. I was a school mate of their families, Uncle Jasper of Walnut Ridge used to live south of Opposition. Rev. Bill sharp lived west of Opposition. He was a freewill Baptist, a good speaker and did much good in his day. Aunt Sarah Holder Smith for years lived and reared her family in the Mt. Olive community. Aunt Amy married a Rev. Thorn, a Methodist, who held the first protracted meeting at Mt. Olive. There I saw my first communion service, Methodist style. The preacher first while kneeling then followed by the participants also kneeling and taking it through the slats of the benches, the wine was blackberry juice.

Dr. Austin

I should include Doctor Austin in this write up. His place was across east of where Frank Bragg now lives. I remember three girls and two boys. They called their place “Glee Home.” because of their lively character. Linnie Austin married Clarence Morgan, a son of W.S. Morgan, whom I shall mention in later notes. Viola married Dr. Poindexter of Imboden. Dr. Austin was a good doctor and had been reared in an old Baptist community. When the notorious evangelist, Wild Bill Evans, held his wild fire meeting in Ravenden, he caught Austin on the proposition of neither eat nor sleep until one or the other was convinced about their position. For two nights and a day the argument raged when Austin gave in and let Evans take him into the Methodist church. Many rejoiced in his conversion for Austin was generally liked.

Part two - to be continued

Nancy Matthews

On to History of Lawrence County - page 3

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