Lawrence County Historical
Vol 6 - #1
Rev. Joseph G. Taylor
Joseph G. Taylor was a grandson of thc pioneer Taylor family who came here from Tennessee and settled on Strawberry River in 1816. His father, Joseph Taylor, and his third wife, Margaret Amanda Barnett, widow of James N. Barnett, by whom she had five children, were his parents. The second and third wives were sisters, daughters of James Finley, a Kentuckian, who also settled on Strawberry River in 1816. The relationship in the family has been a source of conversation, sometimes an argument, as five of the fourteen Barnett and Taylor children raised families in the Smithville area. Joseph G. was born in 1867 and grew to young manhood with his family on a large acreage his father acquired on the east bank of Strawberry River, south and north o1f the Strawberry River bridge on Hwy.115. (The farm is now owned by Boyce Durham, Willie Wallis. Mrs. Clent Wallis and sons, Randy and Jackie and Leon Walling). he attended schools at Shady Grove, a short distance south of Eli Lindsay United Methodist Church and Haw Grove, near the old Taylor mill. He later attended school at Smithville and the LaCrosse Collegiate Institute in Izard county. In those schools he obtained a good practical education and for several years he taught schools in Lawrence and Sharp counties. Soon after leaving school, Mr. Taylor married Miss Estelle McBryde, daughter of Rev. William McBryde, a Presbyterian minister and teacher, and Elizabeth Fortenberry McBryde. To them were born three sons and three daughters, all deceased.
Mr. Taylor was a Democrat and served Lawrence County four years as county treasurer, 1888-1892. From 1904 to 1907, he served as deputy circuit clerk. From 1907 to 1920 he was Sunday School Missionary of the Presbyterian Church. He began preaching in 1901, and after 1907 he preached regularly where he was called. He was ordained in 1923 and was pastor at Beebe and Foreman. In 1934 he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Twenty-fourth and Wolfe Streets in Little Rock and retired about 1940. It was then Mr. Taylor began too rewrite stories about Smithville's pioneer days from notes and stories he had written as told to him by his father. The Arkansas Gazette published many of them in the Sunday edition.
Smithville was always home for Mr. Taylor and he returned for visits with relatives when possible. Some, especially the young members of the families, would get a bit bored with his reminiscings of Smithville and the western part of Lawrence County.
His last visit was in 1955. His grandson, Paul Bowen, of Little Rock brought him for a visit with his great nephew, Jesse T. Howard, and Mrs. Mollie Barnett Richardson. They went to Smithville Cemetery, the Taylor, Beverage and Bristol mill site, Jones Mill Dam, his boyhood home site and other places of interest.
He died in 1956 in Little Rock where he: had lived for many years, at the age of eighty-nine. He was buried in Smithville Cemetery by his wife who preceded him in death in 1941. He would be pleased to know that Lawrence County Historical Society is publishing his memoirs.
Descendants of Mr. Taylor, who live in Lawrence County, are a great niece, Inez Taylor Goff of Walnut Ridge and great nephews, Willford W. Taylor of Hoxie and Willie Wallis of Smithville.
And The Wilson Price Store
By Dula McLeod Baker -1983
Cleo Turnbow and Everette Duncan, historians of this area, relate some history as told to them by their ancestors that Joseph G. Taylor failed to mention in his writings, or if so, we failed to get it. The late Jesse T. Howard, who was postmaster here for almost 30 years, related the same story to me. The Taylor post office was located in the Wilson Price store near the old Taylor mill. The mail came once a week by steamboat up Black River and landed near a saw mill about 5 miles east of the present town of Lynn. It brought mail from St. Louis, Memphis and other points east where most people of the area had relatives. All kinds of rough lumber, wood products and mail were loaded for the return trip. Mail was brought to the Taylor office on horseback, crossed Strawberry River near the Taylor mill and traveled what was then known as the old Buffalo and Indian Trail for several miles enroute to Batesville to get mail from Little Rock and other points south. At this time mail was brought from the Taylor office to the Smithville office. Dates are not available but this method of delivery and the Taylor office were of short duration as the main riverport was moved to Powhatan. This made: the mail and freight service more convenient to the growing population.
Cleo Turnbow, 90, remembers seeing the Wilson Price store when it was used as a hay barn. He reports that the Buffalo and Indian Trail was later known as the old Military Road, which went through the Strawberry area and entered the road to Batesville about half way between Cave City and Batesville. He traveled the road in 1900, when six years old and at that time it was known as the Three Hack Trail. He remembers looking for three hacks on the large trees that blazed the trail along the way.
The Wilson Price home was occupied by
his son, Dave Price, and his wife at the time of his death in 1948. Later
when his descendents one of them being Wilson Price of Lynn, were
preparing for a sale, many ledgers from the Wilson Price store were found
in a desk. Mr. Duncan, seeing they were planning to destroy them, got seven
and took them Home. Dates of the ledgers were from 1868 to 1892. Mr. Price
had listed every sale for the day and price received. Fifty pounds of irish
potatoes sold for 20c and 7 pounds of peaberry coffee for $ 1.00. He gave
$25.00 credit to a man with a one team crop and $35.00 credit was allowed
for a two team crop. Among the ones to get credit was John Box who paid
the $35.00 debt in the fall with seven bales of
cotton---$5.00 a bale.
By Dula McLeod Baker –1983
Bud Bristow purchased the original Taylor mill and farm from Mr. Beverage in 1891. He was an expert machinist and continued to use the gin, flour and grist mill and added a saw mill. Cleo Turnbow, 90, remembers that men from far and near went in the fall of the year with wagons loaded with wheat and corn to have enough flour and meal to last until warm weather when it would probably mold. He thinks the flour mill ceased to exist about 1905 as it was no longer profitable. Whether going to gin, saw mill, flour or grist mill men took their axes to grind free on a large powered grindstone 8 inches thick and 4 feet in diameter. A quarter was charged for broad axes, which were used to cut ties for Frisco Railroad from timber along Strawberry River and country side where timber was available. This was hard labor but helped many families survive during the hard times.
In the 1930's cotton gins were erected in nearby towns and the use of the obsolete machinery was discontinued. In 1956 a storm blew the gin down and the machinery was placed around the old Taylor home, which has been covered with honeysuckle for many years. The house for the grist mill was repaired and corn was ground on certain days of the week until 1957 when the old foundation had deteriorated to the extent that it fell over, a piece of wreckage.
Everette Duncan described the dam which had furnished power for the machinery for 150 years. It was constructed with post oak logs 2 feet in diameter, 15 feet wide, floored with 2 x 6's and weighted down with large stones. Repairs had to be made occasionally and it had a wooden Watergate that could be raised or lowered according to the water power needed. In 1958 the dam washed away and not a ripple of water can be seen where the dam was located. After 151 years its roar which had been heard for over a half mile was forever silent.
The Taylor mill continues to be used
occasionally as Willie Bristow, grandson of Bud, lives in the Driftwood
area 5 miles south of Lynn, operates it with a diesel unit. Mr.
Duncan describes the mill as having two burrs 8 inches thick and 4 feet
in diameter, made of silicious stone and encased in a steel belt. One was
stationed on the floor and the other weighing 1800 lbs. turned to grind
the corn. These were encased in. a steel belt. This burr
had 4 cups placed evenly around it and lead pellets were placed in them to balance it.
Not long ago someone tried to steal the grindstone but were unable to load it. Soon afterwards, by means of a power-life, it was placed in the yard of another grandson, Laymon Bristow, one half mile from its original location. The farm, with the exception of a small acreage where the mill and home were located, was purchased by Brooks Penn.
By Dula McLeod Baker –1983
FIRST ASSASINATION WITHIN THE PRESENT BOUNDARY
OF LAWRENCE COUNTY IN 1831
By Josephine Jones
This Happened 141 Years Ago
"Execution -- A young negro fellow was executed at Jackson, Lawrence County on the 23rd ult., pursuant to the sentence of the court for the murder of his owner, Mrs. Polly Hillhouse." Polly Hillhouse was my great, great grandmother. She was a native of Smithville and at the time of this tragedy was living on her farm on the Strawberry River.
Our father told us that this man had conceived the idea that if he would kill his owner he would gain his freedom. Slipping a gun from the house he went out in the yard and called Mrs. Hillhouse to the back door and shot her.
Fleeing the scene of his crime he ran to the (Strawberry) river, got into a boat and started downstream. He was overtaken in a few days at Newport. He was brought to Old Jackson, which was then the county seat of Lawrence County for trial. He was convicted and hanged on Friday, December 23,1831.
This was the first legal execution in Lawrence County. Three men were legally hanged at Smithville, one Negro about one half mile west of town, the place still known.
From Mrs. S.K. Baker's 5crapbook
Printed in Batesville Guard in 1973. Mrs. Hillhouse was the great, great, great, grandmother of Geneva Hillhouse Mullen, Smithville.
Smithville Oldest Post Office
In Lawrence County 1832
The first post office in Lawrence County was
the Strawberry River office, which was established December 12, 1832 when
still in Arkansas Territory. Peter Holeman was the first postmaster and
his bond of $300 was secured by Wm. B. Marshall and Willis Phillips. On
July 26,1837 one year after Arkansas became a state
the name was changed to Smithville and Booker Bennett became postmaster.
For the first fifty years business was carried on with the outside world by registered mail, which was carried on a horse from Evening Shade and Powhatan with the two carriers meeting at the Smithville office. About 1887, through the efforts of Capt. W.C. Sloan, one of Smithville's business men, the post office was authorized to issue money orders.
For 72 years the post office was located
in the homes of the postmaster or housed in connection
with the mercantile businesses. Cleo Turnbow relates that the
last postmaster, who had the office in the home, was Lucy C. Norris. The
family lived in the rear of the house with the post office located in the
front. On a shelf outside the front door was an old time school bell for
patrons to ring, when service was needed, if she was not in the
In 1907, when Tom Norris was appointed postmaster the office was housed in a building all its own. In 1930 when Joseph Todd became postmaster, he had a cobblestone building erected, which houses the office at this time. In 1966 W. W. Justus, owner of the building, and with the appointment of Dula McLeod Baker as postmaster with the approval of the Post Office Department, an extensive remodeling inside the building was accomplished. Today it is the center of two rural routes.
Postmasters appointed during the
152 years of continuous service are listed in order: Peter Holeman,
Booker Bennett, George P. Nunn, John H. Anderson, Green R. Jones, Samuel
Cobb, J.H. Oldham, Charles A. Greenwood,
Pleasant L. Christian, John Miller, Eli Thornburg, Wm. A. Townsend,
Wm. A. Longley, John T. Brady, George B. Brady, Lucy C. Norris, Tom
Norris, Dorothy Richardson Raney, Lottie
Hoggard, Joseph T. Todd, Jesse T. Howard, Dula McLeod Baker and Homer E. Mize.
By Dula McLeod Baker -1984
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