Paragould's Diamond Jubilee
Transcribed by : Tina Easley
This is the front cover to The Big Picture Souvenir Edition of the Paragould's Diamond Jubilee it was printed Thursday , July 17, 1958 sold for $. 25 cents a copy.
1883 to 1958
The Jubilee Belle
Mrs . Ora McDonald Yantis
This was from a 1901 portrait.
Mrs. Ora Yantis will be crowned Pioneer Belle
at 7:30 p.m. Immediately before Pageant, Sat. night, Pioneer Day
Mrs. Ora Yantis, Paragould's Pioneer Belle, is the oldest living citizen of the original incorporated town of Paragould which in its infancy in 1883 covered 12 blocks south and east of Court and Second Streets. A sister, Mrs. Carrie Evers of Chicago, is the second oldest a brother Tommy was the first child born in the tiny town at the crossroads of two railroads in 1883, but he lived only eight months and was buried at Owen's Chapel because Paragould had no cemetery.
Mrs. Yantis 's father, the late W.J. "Uncle Bill" McDonald a colorful figure of the early history of the budding village came to the Paragould site in 1880, built his home where Arnold's Jewelry now stands, and moved his family here the following year from the family homeplace four miles west of Gainesville on Crowley's Ridge. Mrs. Yantis, only a year and a half older than Paragould itself, truly grew up with the town. She remembers seeing her father clear the streets of trees and stumps and much of its first struggles to become a city. She was a passenger on the first train to cross the first bridge over the Mississippi River at Memphis. She attended the public schools, the old Thompson's Institute, and the Memphis Conference Female Institute, a Methodist girls' school at Jackson, Tenn. At 19 she was married to Frank S. Yantis then manager of the Paragould Southeastern Railroad to Blytheville . Mr. Yantis a brilliant railroad executive served as vice-president of various short lines throughout the States until his death at 49 in 1921.
They were the parents of three sons: Frank Stuart Yantis of F.S. Yantis & Co.; Investment Securities in Chicago; William Alexander Yantis, president of Bunte-Chase candy manufacturers, Chicago: and Fordyce McDonald Yantis, a vice -president of F. S. Yantis & Co. Chicago. Other descendants include eight grandchildren and a great grandson and a great granddaughter. At 80, she lives in the family home, 117 W. Hunt, built in 1912.
former resident of Paragould who has found fame and fortune
in Hollywood under the name of Richard Travis will be an honored guest during
the Jubilee celebration. He will crown the Diamond Jubilee Queen Monday evening.