Lawrence County Historical Society
History Of OId Jackson
By Kathy Cude Morgan
Editors Note: This article comes from a paper written in 1979 by Kathy Cude Morgan of Imboden. Ms. Morgan wrote the paper about Old Jackson for one of her classes at Sloan-Hendrix High School.
One of the many ghost towns in Arkansas is Jackson. The site of the town is about two miles north of Imboden on an old military road leading from Missouri to Smithville, to Polks Bayou (now Batesville), then to Little Rock. Within the boundary of the town, a never failing spring of exceptional water ran from the hillside. Here the pioneers paused to rest themselves and theirteams from the hard journey through the wilderness.
Here are some of the early land owners in the town of Old Jackson, and the year in which they owned it: 1866 -1.1. Bowers and Samuel Henderson; 1872- John M. Songer; 1876- Jesse R. Pratt; 1876- James W. Brady; 1881 -S.N. Pratt; 1885 -Charles Ward and Joseph N. Williams; 1889 -Nicholas Summers; 1891- E1bertJ. Cude; 1894- Clara Lewis; 1898- Ben A. Brown (Mr. Brown was also the Randolph County Clerk); 1926- T.J. Wilson; and in 1949, Clara Songer, widow of Sam Songer, sold the land to Paul Starling. The tax records show that in 1937, Mrs. Lora Cox paid the taxes on this land.
Old Jackson was at one time the county seat for Lawrence and Randolph counties. In 1829, the county seat was moved from Davidsonville to Jackson. In the town of Old Jackson there was a courthouse; records do not show or tell what kind of building it was. There was also a county jail, which was built on the outskirts of town to protect the towns people from the jail breaks that happened, and a post office and a general store. The county seat of government remained in Jackson until 1836 when it was moved to Smithville. This removal was made necessary by the creation of Randolph County on October 29, 1835, from a part of Lawrence County.
Officials during the time Jackson was the county seat were: County Judge -James Campbell, 1829/1832; T.S. Drew, 1833/1833; John Hardin, 1833/1835; County Clerk -D.W. Lowe, 1829/1835; Sheriff J .M. Kreykenda1l, 1829/1835; Coroner- Thomas Black, 1829/1835; M. Archer, 1830/1832; H.N. Waddell, 1832/1835; Surveyor- John Rodney, 1830/1832; J.M. Cooper, 1832/1835; T.S. Drew later became governor of Arkansas. Mr. Drew is buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Pocahontas.
No doubt, other places of business, such as a blacksmith shop and a tavern, were in operation. Good merchants kept in stock items which were used and needed by customers. Among these items were thread, needles, cotton and wool, cards, gun powder, and combs.
The first school building that was built in the town of Jackson was torn down; the new school was built about 200 yards from the center of town. The citizens of Jackson realized that early education was important. When the first school was organized, it was not well known but was in operation well before the war between the states broke out.
The new school was built on the hillside above the spring but was destroyed by fire several years ago. The spring at the foot of the hill was always flowing with cool, clear water, which provided water for the school and town all year 'round. Some of the teachers that taught at Jackson were Harry Starling (deceased), brother of Paul Starling who now lives on the Songer place; Mary Davis who married Victor Groves and now resides in Jonesboro; John Claude and Homer Horsman who both now live in the Jackson community.
The economy of Jackson was timber and agriculture. There was also a limited amount of iron mined north of town during the war between the states. Again in the early 1900's mining was done, with the ore being hauled by wagon to Imboden and shipped by railroad to Binningham, Alabama. The old pit lies just east of the road and can still be seen with rocks containing iron scattered around on the ground.
At one time a large peach orchard was in production north of town. This orchard was known as the Elizabethan Orchard. Duffel Cude bought this place in 1962 from William Beaver.
The house is approximately 150 years old and, up until about five years ago, there were people still living in the house. Burrel Cude sold the land to Mr. and Mrs. Jay Holland of Smithville in 1977.
On the west side of the road lies the old cemetery in which some of the remains of early settlers of this area rest. There are approximately thirty graves in this cemetery , with onl y nine of those having names and only seven of those nine having names and dates on their headstones. ':1 Those having names and dates on them are George Chitwood, 1861- 1923; Sam Songer, 1874-1939; Henry Herren, 1852-1909; Martha Herron, 1854-1918; Charles Helms, 1929 (died at birth); Otis Dunham, 1934- 35; Mrs. J .S. Songer and R.R. Songer's son. Paul Songer, who now lives in Michigan, comes up every other summer and cleans off the
The first recorded murder committed in the county was the killing of Mrs. Polly Hillhouse by a negro boy named Jarrett. Mrs. Hillhouse was shot and killed instantly at her own home July 13, 1831. Her daughters were at the spring nearby, washing, and, after hearing the gunshot, ran to the house and found their mother dead. The murderer fled to Missouri but was brought back. He was tried and convicted and then hung at Old Jackson on Friday, December 23, 1831. Jarrett sold his body before the execution, and it is said by some of the oldest citizens in the neighborhood that the body was finally burned to ashes in the town of Jackson. Mrs. Hillhouse, at the time of her death, lived on the present Brown White farm, two miles southeast of Smithville.
In the spring of 1849, James Marshall was killed in the town of Old Jackson, and during the summer of the same year, William Berry was shot and killed by an unknown party while plowing on his farm known as the Joe Watt farm on Janes Creek in Randolph County.
Jackson was a natural place for a trading post. The records are very limited, but there was at least one general store. It was the Ringold & Redman Company. The court record show that an indenture was made on the 22nd of November 1831, between Beverly R. Baker and Ringold Redman & Company. For security, Mrs. Baker pledged 17 acres of cleared land on Janes Creek with a dwelling house and an out building. In the book Folklore of Arkansas. Fred Alsap tells a story about Jackson which gives an insight on the customs and pleasures of the frontier. In the rear of one store there was a stake and rider rail and corral in which a wild steer was kept. When men from Janes Creek country came to town for supplies and recreation, it was customary for each visitor to ride the steer before he was allowed to buy whiskey. It is easy to visualize the crowd which gathered at the corral to cheer on the rider as he attempted to earn his right to drink. No doubt, many small bets were made, as the good natured crowd chose either the man or the steer as the winner. Jackson was also a gathering place for horse fanciers to come together and race the horses. Many spirited races were run.
In the Tanner Universal Atlas of 1836, Jackson was shown as being a junction of two military roads. The main road extended from St. Louis, Missouri, to Monroe, Louisiana. Over this road poured the settlers from Tennessee, Kentucky, and other eastern states. During the 1840's and 1850's migration was at its highest point. Almost daily more people passed through as they sought new homes in the virgin lands along the creeks and rivers. At least one train of 100 wagons came to town to swell the population and to tax the resources of the merchants. The other road left Jackson to go to the Indian Territory west of Arkansas. It was over this road that a part of the Cherokee Indians traveled from their homes in eastern Tennessee to Oklahoma. However, the building of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott and Memphis (now the St. Louis, San Francisco) Railroad in the 1880's along the south side of Spring River doomed the town.
In the 1880's a tornado destroyed a house that contained a lot of fancy dishes, and if one was to go out behind Paul Staring's house and dig in the dirt, one may find pieces of broken glass.
The house that Paul Starling now lives in was at one time a double log house, until a tornado in the early 1900's destroyed half of the house. The lumber that was used to rebuild the house was from the school that was torn down after the new one was built.
At one time the creek below the old Songer house was deep and wide enough to support a regular size boat; it was also a nice place for boys and girls to go swimming. The land near the cedar grove was at one time known as the "Strawberry Patch." John Songer, at one time, owned the land where Burrel Cude's old house is located.
At one time the Spring River Fair was held in Jackson. This was long before the establishment of either the Lawrence or Randolph County Fairs.
Old Jackson Cemetery
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