Prominent Men and Women Of Greene County's Early Years

Early 1800's

Researched and Written by : Tina Easley

The following information is information I have compiled from my research and notes I have made to myself over the years . I thought it might help someone else in their family searches .

December 6, 2005

Benjamin Crowley a little north of where Walcott now is   made the first settlement in Greene County in 1821 , the first corn mill of any kind ever in Greene County
Benjamin H. Crowley grandson of Benjamin Crowley who made the first settlement   engaged in teaching school , reading the law , lawyer practicing in both the state and federal courts
W.P. Bowlin & Co.   at the sight of the first Crowley Mill Patent Roller Mill
George Luke Hall son of Mary Jane Massey   spent the winter of 1860 with the Crowley family and was part of the immigrant train from Tennessee that heard Captain Crowley's call to Arkansas settlement.
Wilson Ferry Road abt 1860   from Cache River through Walcott and in another easternly direction across the "ridge " where it entered the St. Francis River Valley about or near the Bill Percell place some two miles north of the Greene Co. Court House in Paragould.and it crossed the Gainesville and Jacksonport road , another old road, where Walcott now stands , but it was there long before the present Walcott was dreamed of.
William Thomas Crowley     Sheriff of Greene County and Lorin County
Richard Jackson     a prominent merchant of Gainesville and later Paragould
Smithwick school house   two or three miles out of Knobel , Ark. on the road to Pocahontas . Lucian G. Crowley - teacher winter of 1899
Mr. Blize     Justice of the Peace -1899
Zimmerman Mercantile Co   Peach Orchard had a large two -story building the first floor contained a stock of general merchandise , the second floor was used as a residence -1899
winter of 1899   the 0-42 at Peach Orchard , Ark. on feb. 12 and 13 , 1899 The goverment themometer at Corning , Ark. registered 0-25
Brockinger Switch   distance of about two miles from Peach Orchard  
Rev. F.A. Jeffett Pastor, and Rev. J.I. Maynard , presiding elders. 1901   1st Methodist Church of Paragould
Knobel Missions 1901   Lucian G. Crowley , preaching at Knobel , Peach Orchard , Smithwick school house
Negro Wool Swamp     sunken lands on the Mo. side for many years considered impassable after the great earthquake of 1811
A. A. Know 1891 , 1892   a lawyer of Paragould
Hon. W.W. Bandy     presiding at the time of the famous lipstick case originating at Knobel
William Strong     had the first store on the Crowley's Ridge, it being located at the crossing of the St. Francis river, by the old military road leading from Memphis to Little Rock, in what is now Cross county.
Benjamin Crowley, Jr., was born November 1st, 1807,   died while at work on the military road running from Little Rock to Memphis, at a point in the Mississippi bottom, just east of the St. Francis river.
John Thomas Crowley     was lost in the Civil War he being a member of the 5th Arkansas regiment, and was captured in Tennessee, and died with small pox while being held a prisoner of war, at Rock Island
William T. Crowley     assessor of Greene County twice
R.C. Gramling     killed by breaking of a barn-loft in which he had a large amount of corn stored, the loft giving away while he was standing beneath it, and fell upon him breaking his neck.
Charley Robinson     the second sheriff of Greene County
Andy Schug wife - Annie Schug   a well to do planter of the St. Francis bottoms
Col. P.K. Lester,     a prominent lawyer
Melton & Lester year of 1861   the firm of Melton & Lester were the owners of fifty thousand acres of land northeast Arkansas, and they were considered the wealthiest men in this section of the county , took several large contracts from the state for levying and ditching in the Cache and Black Rivers bottoms
Dr. Melton     appointed Swamp Land Agent for the Helena District , Doctor , skillful surgeon and established a reputation as such that extended from Missouri to Cross county.Dr. Melton raised a company for the confederate service and joined the 7th Arkansas Regiment called later the "Bloody 7th." Melton took sick in the Tennessee army and was brought back home, and died at the house of John S. Anderson, near Herdon, and was buried on the old Crowley Homestead at Walcott
Daniel Gray     pioneer citizens of Greene County ,Cache bottoms while that country was an uninhibited wilderness.
Sevier Friar     champion horse racer in the whole country
Atchison race course     race track At Greensboro
Greensboro   now at Finch  
Andrew Breckenridge     justice of the peace, and held his court at Gainesville
Thomas Breckenridge     clerk of the county and circuit clerk
The Ku-Klux Klan     originated east of the Mississippi and was said to have been headed by General Forrest , strong organization in Arkansas in 1868 All members wore masks, with tall hats or caps, made of white paper or other bright material, which gave the wearer a most grotesque and unearthly appearance. The horses were also disguised with heavy blankets, and the midnight appearance of one of these dark and mysterious companies was enough to frighten a person of a less superstition nature than the Negro. The Klan would call at the cabin of the turbulent or vicious Negroes and ask for water at the most unusual hours of the night, and to add mystery to the visitation, the leader would apparently drink two or three buckets of water, stating how refreshing it was, being the first he had drank since the battle of Shiloh, leaving the impression that the visitor was a spirit of some soldier killed in the bloody encounter and had not tasted water since. The old southern darky being a very superstitious creature and believing implicitly in ghosts and hobgoblins was completely awed by these visitations and would remain quiet and humble in their cabins for several days after such an experience.
order of the Ku-Klux Klan in Greene County     gotten up more to counteract the work and influence of the Union League than from any other cause
Union League     a secret organization brought to the south by the carpetbaggers and used to make the Negroes act in concert in carrying out the wishes and schemes of their new bosses, the imported scallywags from the north. Only Negroes among our people could join the Union League, and all the meetings of the League was surrounded by mystery, and the Negroes all had the secret password, grip and other dark signs of the order. The Negro members were all sworn to vote for no one but their fellow leaguers and as they were only white adventurers lately from the north, the Negro choice of candidates was confined to a few designing men who owned them body and breeches. The darkies were taught at these meetings that the white people of the south were their bitterest enemies, and were put under a solemn oath to trust and vote for no one except their new found friends from the north. Having the freed slaves tied to him in this manner, and all the native white people disfranchised, the carpetbagger had a cinch on the offices of the country.
John Michael     of Gainesville, Michael took the contract to build the court house at Gainesville
James Hanover "Jim"     in the fall of 1868 while he was in the cotton patch, seated picking cotton, being too old and portly to walk or stoop, some men came along the road and shot the old man to death , Jim had charge of that work, and really did the greater part of the work in building the courthouse at Gainesville
George W. Wright     had a mill near Benjamin Crowley's home
Samuel Willcockson     erected the first steam grist mill on Crowley's Ridge, it being on Poplar Creek in the Crowley settlement
Dr. Wyse     doctor at Gainesville
John Mitchell     early settler near Gainesville, put up the first cotton gin in the county
Aaron Bagwell     from whom Bagwell Lake in the eastern part of the county took its name
C. G. Jones     after whom Jones Ridge on the western border of the county is named
James McDaniel and Jesse Payne     early settlers on Village Creek
Mrs. Bell Hodges Wall     secretary of the Paragould Chamber of Commerce - 1933

Crowley's Ridge State Park

  located 12 miles west of Paragould in November 1933, when the Civilian Conservation Corps occupied the property and work started on Arkansas's fourth state park.

CCC workers from Companies 1729, 2746 and 4733 built several miles of roads, foot trails, bridges, cabins, pavilions, a bathhouse, picnic sites, campgrounds and a 300-ft. earthen dam with a concrete spillway.park officially opened in 1936, although people continually visited the park during its construction. On July 4, 1935, a crowd estimated at 8,000 picnicked at the park site. Almost three years later, on June 4, 1938, the park was officially dedicated.
Ed Bratton     was of an ingenious turn of mind devised a plan to run his mill by water power, obtained from a large spring near his settlement. His mill was of the bowl and pestle type , and he invented a machine to lift and drop the beater by employing water to propell the machinery. His mill would completley pulveririze the grain and was a wonder for that time
Early Hunting     very profitable occupation in those early days there being an abundance of game of all kinds . Deer, bear and wolves were thick in the woods and there was even then a good market for all sorts of skins and pelts . Good things were a legal tender for all debts including state and county lakes , and ever man owened his hunting dogs and flintlock rifle. As a general thing the product of a winter's hunt was marked early in the spring at either Memphis or Cape Giradeau and the sales of hides and furs brought a good price at a time of year when money was scarce and clothing and supplies needed . Several of the neighbors would join together , rig up a wagon or ox-cart and all go to market , with their stock of furs and skins. The trip usually took two or three weeks when the party would return with the year's supplies for the entire neighboorhood. The oil of the bear as well as the skin was very valuable and always brought a good peice on the market.
Mt. Zion Church   in the year 1838 first Baptist church established in the county by Elder William Nutt , church was organized in the year 1840 by Wm. Nutt , Elder Winningham Sharp and Elder Calvin Gage , there are twenty-four established churches of the Baptist faith , alone in the country with a membership of over two thousand and five hundred as the legitimate offspring of the old Mt. Zion church with her ten original charter members to say nothing of the churches and the Membership in other parts of the state which recived support from the old Mt. Zion church,
first circuit rider     ever sent into this part of the state preached at the different homes of his membership and in good weather they would hold their meetings out of doors or under brush arbors . The men would carry their guns with them and hunt on the way to and from church.After the services were over they would put on their shot pouches , shoulder their guns and very often returned home from meetings bringing with them bread , coffee , and salt and the men would furnish the meat from the woods such as deer ,turkeys, squirrels, o'ppossums, rabbits , quails and coons and this they prepared before the log fires by baking or roasting and the dinner was always a good one
Rev. Thomas Stanford     a Methodist circuit rider , He was licensed to preach in 1841 , and 1842 he was recommened to the Annual Conference by the quarterly conference to be received on trial as a traveling preacher . In the year 1844 he was sent to the Greene Mission circuit as a preacher in charge.
Robert H. Halley stepfather of B.H. Crowley    
N.J. Tranthain of Hurricane     licensed to preach the gospel by his church ,In the year 1860
C.A. Ford of Oak Grove     licensed to preach the gospel by his church ,In the year 1860
There were two Campgrounds   year 1860 one at Salem township at big spring near where Lorado now is and the other three miles south of Gainsville where the large spring is and where the Camp Ground church stands at the present time on Jack's street.Late in the summer or early fall the people of the several congregations of the Methodist churches in the county would meet at one or the other of these places and hold a camp meeting which would last from one to three weeks.
christian or Campbellite church   1906 The first church of denomination established in the county was at Pine Knot and the founders were Elders Benjamin Tennison with James Hyde and L.C. Thompson and others as charter members.
ministers of this denomination ,christian or Campbellite church   1906 who have labored in Greene county in the past were Elders , J.H. Johns , President of Croft Bible College, E.H. Bratton , who was born in the county and who by the terms of the will of Dr. George B. Croft , received the large Bible of testor. Dr Croft provided in his will that his family bible be given to the first minister of that church to be produced by Greene County. George Autury , who lives on Sugar Creek , John Higgins , Francis Hyde , Elders Lemmons , Webster , and Woods Monley , R.H. Gardner and son, Neely Robert O. Rogers
Presbyterian church   1906 a church at Gainesville and one at this place with an average membership of from two to three hundred . The venerable A.J. Knox and his family are the leading members of the denomination here in the city, and the present pastor of this church is D.W. check , late of Illinois
Catholic   1906 strong organization in Paragould and som fine property.They have a school in connection with the church and ar present engaged in building a statley structure of concrete and metal to be used for school purposes an when this building is completed the Catholics will own some of the costliest church and other affairs of the denomination at this place and his church and people appear to be in prosperous condition
Difference in Liquor     As an instance of the change that has taken place in public sentiment on the subject of drinking or dealing in whiskey let the write but relate one fact: Old man Nimrod of the charter members of the Mt. Zion Baptist church owened and run a still where he manufactured his big peach brandy crop into brandy. Capps had a large peach orchard and as there was no market accessible the only way to manufacture then into brandy and then find a market for the product of his peach orchard , Wyatt M. Peoples for along time Sheriff of the county, had a distillery, and so did Joseph Rowe , on Sugar Creek, and John Boone Wilkerson had one
Robert H. Hailey   1800's taught school in a log house on Eight Mile Creek, about a mile and a half from where Paragould now is, but which was then almost wilderness. The house was constructed of round poles and covered with rough boards. A large space was cut out of one side of the door, and this never had any shutter, one end was left open for the fireplace, and there was no floor except the dirt, and split logs served for seats. This was the house we received our instructor in and some of the lessons learned, they have never been forgotten
Thomas Clark   1800's served the country several terms as county and probate judge
Gainesville School   early 1800's was taught by old Parson Henry Powell .This school house was said to be the finest in the country, it being at the county site, but it was also con-structed of logs, unhewn, and with a door in one side, closed at night by a shutter made of clapboards. This house had a floor made of split logs with one side hewn and placed down on pole sleepers. There was also one window left in the side of the house to admit light and air, but it was with-out glass, shutters or blinds and stood open day and night, winter and summer. The seats were man-ufactured on the spot and consisted of split logs, hewn on the flat side, and pegs placed at each end for legs. There was no back to these benches, and sa the legs were only at the ends, the bench often sagged almost to the puncheon floor in the middle when full of great stapping boys and girls.
Opening school   1800's was then called "taking up books," and was done by the teacher taking a long hickory and thrashing it againist the side of the house several times with all his power. The ferocious manner of calling school had a cowing affect upon the children, and they felt completely under the sway of that bludgeon after "books" was called.
system of education     the early days of the country, if indeed, it could be called a system, and the mode of making up a school, were entirely different from that of today. Each school stood separate and alone from all other schools, there being no organized system, and no free tuition as now. The teacher proposing to conduct a school at a given place went around among the patrons and secured subscribers, and if a sufficient number could be obtained at a certain price, and the teacher boarded round among the scholars, it was given out that so and so would teach school, beginning on a certain day
Teacher - Rev. A.M. Casey and his daughter Miss Lora Ann     Miss Lora Ann, who afterward married a Jefrey A. Houghton, at that time a merchant and prominient business man at Powhatan, in Lawrence county. She was the mother of our respected citizens of Jonesboro, Henry Houghton and J.A. Houghton, the latter being the postmaster of Jonesboro.Parson Casey was a good scholar and a successful educator, and so was his talented daughter, who assisted him in his schools in the county. They conducted a series of terms at the Campground, in the southwest section of the county. They were regarded as exceptionally fine educators and people would send their children from considerable distances to get them in the school of the Casey's. They were largely instrumental in laying the foundation of our present educational fabric in Greene and adjoining counties.Parson Casey was a licensed minister in the Methodist church, and was a strong pillar in that denomination in the early days, although he never took a circuit, or mission or district work, claiming that he could do more good and be of greater service to God and his fellowman in the school room
William Pevehouse     perhaps the first white child born on Crowley's Ridge. He was a grand-child of the old pioneer Benjamin Crowley, and he was for a long time and honored and respected citizen. He was Sheriff of the county at one time and his name appears prominently on the church books of the early Methodist congregations of the county, as its secretery and in other official capacities.
J.G. McKenkie     is the oldest practicing physician in length of service in the county at the present time.
J.R. Gramling "Uncle Dick"     was a blacksmith, and a wagon maker, by trade and he made all the plows and repaired the wagons in the whole country for a long time. He always contended that the James boys and the Younger brothers had stopped at his shop more than once to have their horses shod .His shop was the voting place for Cache township for many years, and was therefore the rallying place for political parties for a long time.During the war he put up a tannery at his big spring, and he and Wm. R. Gregory ran it for many years
M.C. Gramling     tax collector
Warren's Chapel     built by W.T. and Mell Francis, W.H. Cothern, Wm. R. Gregory, B.H. Crowley , Dick Gramling and a few others
John W. Smelser He and his father, Abraham Smelser came to Greene county in the early fourties and he marries Nancy Clark   filled the office of justice of the peace here for half a generation, and made a good officer, as he did in every relation of life in which he was ever called upon to act. He was a member of the Methodist Church, and he attended the meetings of his church both far and near. He would load up his own family and as many of the neighbors as could get in his ox-cart, and drive miles to attend the big meetings.
Dr. George B, Croft     one of the early settlers of the county, and was probably the first physician to locate in what is now Greene County. He was the first representative the county sent to the territorial legislature. He lived to a great age, and left his estate to the Christian church, of which he was a member, and left a will that it should be used to establish and maintain, a college for the education of the youth of that denomination, the condition being that the school be founded on his homestead, and in accordance with his direction. The Croft Bible College has been erected on the place ,He was founder of the church of the denomination on Sugar Creek
Jim Horne     Horne family was among the early settlers of Greene county, and it has played an important and a conspicious part in development of the best interest of the county. This family settled near Gainesville, made the race for Circuit Clerk the past spring, and came very close to being the winner of the race, even against a number of the most popular and experienced men in the county.
Judge Jonas Askers     came to the county from Missouri and had been a county and probate judge in his native state.was a justice of the peace in Union township for many years, and also probate judge of the county. The judge died near Camp Ground
Capt. Nathaniel Bowlin     is among the noted characters of Greene county . He was a Missourian and made up a company in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas,and took an active, but singular parts in the war between the states. His command was southern in sympathy and service but was never commissioned or connected with any regular Confederate army. When the war ended, Capt. Bowlin came to Greene county and settled on what is now known as Bowlin's Island on the St. Francis, where the town of Bertig now is. The old homestead now belong to R. L. Alexander , of Paragould. Capt. Bowlin lived , died and was buried on the place. In the early days he had a ferry across the St. Francis River at the place, called Bowlin's Ferry, and was the second ferry on the river from Old Town, or what is now Lake City, to Chalk Bluff, the other being called Brown's Ferry, and was just east of Greenway and was known to everyone in the early days of the county.
Zacheus Phelps     came to the county sometime in the fifties ,For a number of years he owned and controlled the principle store in Gainesville
James Phelps     the close of the war he became president of the first bank organized at Walnut Ridge. He and his two brothers, Abe and Bud, ran the largest mercantile established in Walnut Ridge and also carried on a large business at Gaainesville.
Home-made jeans     was colored with the ooze of black walnut bark, and of sassafras bark. By combining several kinds of bark, different colors could be obtained and would hold for all time ,home-dyed jeans were highly prized at that time,
first cotton gin process     was constructed of two small rollers fastened in a block or frame, with a crank on each end to turn the machine. Cotton was fed into this apparatus just like sugar cane is now fed to a sorghum mill, and the lint was pulled lose from the seed. The first gin ever put up in the county was eredted at Gainesville by Col. John M. Mitchell. The second gin was set up by old man Starling Newsome, father of O.S. Newsome, at his old residence near where Finch post office now is. This gin was propelled by horse power,or rather than mule power, at it required four mules to propel the machine.
Cotton     staple crop of the county, and there is plenty of land in the county that with good cultivation, will make a bale or more to the acre, during a fairly good season,The rule is that good cotton will third itself, that it will make one pound of lint and two pounds of seed. The seed has become valuable in recent years, as stock feed, oil, oleomargine, and possibly other useful things are made from cotton seed. For a long time the seed was used to fertilize the land, or was considered of no value and were thrown out on the waste places of land. Seed is now worth $15 or $18 per ton, and cotton seed oil mills are going up all over the country, and seems to be profitable industries. The hulls and meat are the very finest feed for cattle, and stock of all kinds will fatten quicker off of it than any other food, and will become fat from sixty to ninety days. The bark of the cotton stalk makes the finest quality of paper, and the stalks from an acre of good cotton will average in weight a ton per acre. So, that with the cotton lint, the seeds and stalks having become valuable there is no other crop raised on the farm that has the total aggregate value of the great southern staple.
W.P. McMellon     owned first threshing machine in the county it was of the groundhog variety and was run by horses ,threshed all the wheat from Greensboro to Chalk Bluff. He had to carry one of the fan mills or wind mills along with the oufit and with it to fan the chaff and broken straw out of the wheat.
William Lamb     owned first tan-yard put up in the county , at the big spring near Salem CampGround , At a later period another tannery was put up in the father of R.H. Schisler, near where the county line between Craighead and Greene counties passes in the southwestern corner of the county. Then J.C. Nall established another tanyard as did also Gramling and Gregory already referred to.The Nall tanyard was set up near where the camp ground is between Paragould and Gainesville.
Wiley Crowley     The first brick kiln burned in Greene County was put and operated by Wiley Crowley on his place,
Eight Mile     This creek was so called because it was eight miles from the home of old man Crowley on the Ridge.
Village creek     named from the fact that an Indian Village had existed on the banks of the stream
Thompson creek     named after Lary Thompson, who settled on the stream
Big creek     named because it was thought to be the largest creek in the county
Sugar creek     given its name from the abundance of sugar or maple trees found along its course. These sugar trees can be tapped in the spring after the thaw begins and will run a great quantity of sweet water, which can be boiled down and made into sugar. This tree-sugar is very fine, and the syrup or tree molasses, is one of the rarest dishes ever eaten and the ingenuity man has never devised a syrup that will compare with tree molasses for deliciousness.Nelly Moore who used to live on Sugar creek, would mold the sugar while warm in a tea cup or small pan, and sell them to the merchants and the demand for the sugar cakes at good prices was always greater than the supply.





























Research from different articles or history pieces