The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on October 10, 1950 · Page 41
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 41

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 10, 1950
Page 41
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Mid-Century Special Edition BLYTHEVILLE COURIER NEWS BLYTHKVILLB, ARKANSAS, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1950 Section C Osceola Osceola Began Its Growth as Riverfront Settiementlnl82a S. Missco County Seat] Now Thriving City with $10 Million Retail Sales Osceola, Mississippi County's first \vhit<> seUlemcnt and its first seat of goveninmut, today stands HS one of the world's richest small municipalities. Located In the heart o( the ag- Mississippi Valley Canning Company Owners of Osceola Canning Plant Provide Most of Its Vegetables jMissco Firm Processor of ,'Missed Crops Another one of Mississippi County's numerous industries that reaps the rewards of tfie county's rich, alluvial soil is the Mississippi Valley Canning Company at Osceola. It Is one of the younger industries '. of. Ihe county, only 13 years old, but 11 also Is one of the largest, employ- Ing nearly 300 persons at peak sea- wn. Its annual payroll is approximately 4115,000. The Mississippi Valley Canning Company is owned by a group of Board of Directors were Mr: Bryan, Mr. Laney, W. .). Driver, Jr., John A. Edrington, Leon Sullivan, J. p. Wheeler. O. A. Looney. . R. Culloni, A. W. Young, and Mrs. Hale. Mr. Sullivan served as the board's secretary until this year when he retired and was succeeded by O. L. Whistle, the present secretary. Operates 1 Months of Year The plan! Is in operation seven nonlhs during the year, April. May. """" August, September. October. Luxora Had Its Beginning As Landing for River Boats in '82 iouth-Missis^prcounly 'praters ,,,,,/^f • *'-I*' f 114ot , her tow "* °f. U« delta, was built on the Mississippi River and its and these same planters furnish "' ell "°°«i i" its intant days, depended almost entirely on the "Bio- Muddv " the hlaloritv of lhe viwtahlpc fan. " was In 1882 that nemniv Tl,n. 4. _^ ° the majority of lhe vegetables canned there. Its operation is financed by these planters and Ihcy reap the profits^5 stockholders. There* Is no "oulside motley" involved in lhe operation of the plant. • H is Mississippi County owned and • aerated. 1 Began Work In 1938 Construction of the canning company was completed in 1937 and the first batch of canned spinach was turned out the following spring. That year. 1938. approximately 00.000 cases of canned vegetables, mostly spinach and mustard and turnip greens, hit the market bearing the labrl of the Osceola canning firm. The company operated on that three-vegetable scale until 1D40 when peas and lima beans were added to its list of canned foods. . Then came World War II and during the war years the company boomed with activity. Production fluctulated between 60,000 and 80,000 cases ol canned vcgclables a year during the following war years and the young firm prospered. In 1312, the Mississippi Valley Canning Company supplied the armed forces with 48,311 cases of spinach, peas and lima beans. In 1943, production totaled 183,000 cases and In 1944, production amounted to 175,000 cases. Tills In_ crease, which was more than 200 per cent above the first year of operation, was made without any increase In the mechanical facilities ^ the plant. ""-^ Won "A" Award In 1815. the Mississippi Valley Canning Company received one of lhe highest honors paid a civilian firm by the government, the War Pood Administration's achievement "A" award In recognition of its outstanding work dining the war years The presentation of the award was made by Commander Richard R Briner, executive officer of the Navy Air Technical Training Center at Memphis during a ceremony at the plant. After World War Ir. (he canning company returned Its rull interests to production for Ihe commercial market. The plant's annual output rapidly Increased and today (he company cans something like 250,000 cases of canned vegetables a year, all for lhe commercial market. And these vegetables are nil grown In Mississippi Counly. Products processed by the company are grown in lhe immediate vic.nay of Osccola by farmers wh built and furnished the capital o 1882 that Dempsy Tho- + mas Waller built a one-room combination store and house on the west bank of the Mississippi River at the site of what Is now Luxora. Mr. 1 Waller's house was the first built at that site and his family wa s the first to locate there. The founding of the town of Luxora is directly credited to Mr. wal- ler and his family. Mr. Waller's widow, who Is near'-" her 102nd birthday, and Iwo , ------- -• ~|'^P m._ 1 11. VII I II Cl upon aouth Mississippi County fo Us finances, personnel and source of .-aw material. A. w. Vounj; Is Manager A W. Young has been manager of o lhe plmt for the past 12 years an mcmbcjs of the plant's six-tna company. Other members of the presenl Board of Directors are L. c B Young. C I, Whistle. !3. a Spring-' Held, .1 A Pigg. and Harold Ohten- dorf H. J. Hate was lhe company's first president and he w?.s succeeded several years ago by R. c. Bryan, wlin is the unworn president and (hi- l-rersl "reducer of vegetables lor t!'e ' in January but during the remainder of the year the plant is closed. ^The Mississippi Valley Canning Company today processes eight veg- — spinach, mustard and turnip greens, lima beans, early June peas, tomatoes, field peas and asparagus. The company cans under four brand names, Delia Club. Little Andy. Miss Del and Miss Val. ' IU prodmts arc sold through food brokers and are stocked by grocers . „ ~~-~~..., w, „,.,., .1 ,,iiu rf n: aiuc^cu ay grocers; snip ol Ihe c< mil November. Some work i, done'in H states including Texas. Louis-I Its foundation. iana. Tennessee, Alabama. Mississippi, Arkansas. Florida, Kentucky Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio sold hi North and South Carolina Georgia. Michigan and Minnesota All ol the company's slock is owned by 20 ictive growers of veg« tables nil of whom live in the vicinity of Osceola. And there ha been little change in the ownership of the company's stock since Mississippi River life In lhe gay nineties and lhe early .Jears of the 20lh century.' Luxurious river packets such as-.liie'"" Annie 1 P. Silvers" and man} of the Lee Line boats that featured night life on the. river, stopped at Luxora and there were parties, dancing and merry making. t Professional gamblers frequented hese packets with the rich plan- ."e> i"-i lu^jiu un uiuay, ant] iwo, i"n-c,i,-i.-> uun me nun pian- of his daughters, Mrs. Sally Davis lation owners of this area as their and- Miss Luxora Waller, still live chief prey. And Luxora was one of in the town he settled which bears the name of his oldest daughter. Bellevi-d oldest Resident Mrs. Waller, is believed to be the oldest living resident In the county, Mrs. waller and her two daughters occupy a house not far from the spot where her husband built the first home. The first Waller home no longer stands. The ever widening of the Mississippi River has long since washed away the old family site. Mrs. Waller and her daughters moved into their present home in 1891. The Wallers came to the clearing on the banks of the Mississippi from the vicinity of Carson Like southwest or Osceola. where Mr. Waller wa.s reared. He opened the store to accomodate the river boats that docked at lhe clearing to take on logs for fuel. The changing course of the river had created a. sandbar at Osceola and boats could no longer stop there for fuel so they made this nearby clearing. And Mr. waller, knowing this and realizing that a good living was lo be made Ihere, purchased land near the boat land- Ing and built his home and store. A.s the river boats were the only mode of distant transportation in those days, passengers were forced to go to Luxora to board the boals and through them Waller's business prospered. Seeing lhat lhe Wallers were doing all right in their wilderness home, other families followed them there, and soon there was a lively settlement. Store Btcomes Past Office Prom that point, the boat landing scltlcment began to grow. Mr. Wallers' store became a post office and he became the first postmaster. The settlement wa.s given the name of Elmot. In 1890. the year of Mr. Waller's death, the town was Incorporated, and In recognition of Mr. Waller's j their chief gathering places There are many family names woven into the history of Luxora. Names like Driver. Fletcher, Spann, Rozelle and Wood. One of the most prominent families that had a lot to do with the rounding and making of Luxora I was the John B. Driver, family. Mr. Driver was a public figure in those days, ire held a number of public offices including sheriff and legislator. And, too, he was Luxora's first mayor. Descendants of his family still reside in lhe town he operated water syslem and a smal but modern, fire fighting system. In the past three'years, a total, of $20,000 worth of civic Improvements have been provided without incurring any Indebtedness. This includes the construction of a brick lire station, repairing of streets and the purchase or .a u'llity^residence which was moved on to town property. Luxora also boasts a Chamber of Commerce, a Rotary Club and an American Legion post. 1926— help found. Has !'ii[iuljlicin Today, Luxora boasts a. population of 1,302. Although It has no industries it still plays an important part in Mississippi County's agricultural domain for some of the richest land In the county is located near Luxora. E. R. Began is the town's present mayor and w. D. Head is the recorder. Councilmen are T. D. Wilkins. Wiley Tale. Lester Stevens. O. A. George, jr.. and C. D. Smith. Mr. Wilkins is also superintendent of Luxora's schools. Luxora loctay has a modern New City Officials Assume Duties From the April 15, 1926, edition of the Blythcville Daily Courier News: Yesterday marked the first day of service to the city of Blythevllle of the newly elected city officers, fleeter! April 6. and going Into their offices Tuesday night at the regular council meeting. Each of the new officers, Sidney Craig, city clerk, Ivy W. Crawford, city attorney, Joe' Alexander, alderman of the llrst ward. J. T. Hill, alderman of the second ward and Damon McLeod, Jr., alderman of the third ward, report that the day went ofl as usual and that they had started In their service with the determination of showing their appreciation for the confidence that the people of Blytheville had shown In them in rtculturally rich Mississippi River D*!l», Osceola has risen from a amajl unimportant .settlement, of a doten or so log cabins sprawled in » clearing; on the west bank of Old Man River to a thriving city whose retail salej total nearly $10,000,000. Osceola has had growing pains ever since the first few white settlers beat their way through lhe swamplands of the della, settlers hewed homes in the river bank Jungles and made their livings olf the land, from the fine timber that graced this area. And ever since those early days, residents of Osceola have continued (o live off the land lor it Is some of the most alluvial in the world. But loday. the limber Is gone and Osceola, like the rest of Mississippi County, "lives olf the l»iid" in n different way—through agriculture. Accepted a* Oldml City Although there are no official records available on the dates Osceola actually wa.s settled, it is st'«- erally accepted as the oldest town In Mississippi County. A series of names have been woven through il.s history, dating back lo 1828 when the first white settlers were believed to have come, in sizeable numbers, to Mississippi County. Contradictory stories have been passed down through the years as to the early settlement.* In the- county. Some stories say that Carson Lake was the first. These stories say that a man by the name ol Carsoi hunted with the Indians In the lower end of the county before the great earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 and that Carson, Lake was named for him. However there are no official records to bear out these stories. • The great earthquakes, however, were believed lo have played an important role In the settlement of the county. The earthquakes changed the topographical features of this, section of the country and tniy villages sprang up In Ihe cinity of Osceola immeditcly follow- ng the quakes. Of these. Osceola probably was lie largest, which could account for he claims that it was the first settlement. * Named for Indian Tribes Osceola and a number of other settlements in lhat vicinity in those early days, got their names Irom he various tribes of Indians that •oamed through this county, short- y after the settlers came U> tnis area, there seems lo have been .several lowns bearing Indian namts— isceola, Shawnee Village, Chicka- awaba and Tyronza. The Indian Iribes that were to have been In Ihis area and lhe lower end ol Mississippi County were families whoso names are still prominent throughout most of Arkansas today. They ciuna from Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky ns lawyers ami bankers to settle the land which was laler lo uecome the nation's richest agrlcul- turnl section. Among these were David Craighead and his brother Thomas E. Craighead, for whom Cralghond County wns named. They came from Nashville. Tcnn., as lawyers. Olhcrs were lhe McQavock family, which settled uenr Osceola, Isaac CO.\FKI>KHATK SOI.IMKK — Captain Charles Samuel Howen, wa.s Mississippi County's third sheriff serving from 1848 until 1B02, ntning the war hctwcen the , ...«*, ,JLH,,I K me nui nci.v.cijii i Lanier, Edwin Jones and William' states Capl. Bo wen organivxcl Hand. These families were the true pioneers of Mississippi County. They came here, to the wilderness, fought the elements of nature, cleared land ami turned It into vast farming Interest, Some achieved national prominence through their ellorts in pioneering this land. Dickinson Was Cabinet ,Mcmlji:r Among these Judge Jucoh Jininicipally-owned an d I giving them their respective offices. built and furnished the capital on " recognition of Mr. Waller's wMrh the plant has been operated l > ' onccrin B the town. John B. Driv- rtiiring its 13 years o! operation In cr ' one of lhe county's pioneer fact, the plant tfepencicnt entirely |x)IlUcal leaders, suggested lhat lhe UDOIl South MiKclcciT..,: «-, ..,-. ,' lOWtl's llnnll* h^ f^allfroH 1^ l .. -.» town's name be changed to huxora in honor of Mr. Waller's daughter. Miss I.uxora Waller. The landing of the river boats and the alluvial land that surrounded Luxora offered excellent opportunities and soon other families came, plantations sprung up Soard ol pirtctors, D s I.ancy and came, planlations sprung up R. C Bryan, have served In this arolmd "i e town and In j few capacity since the founding of Ihc ie " rs Luxora was a thriving aifrl- compsny. cultural community. — —imunlty. But the Mississippi River still was lhe town's biggest assel. Colton wa.s shipped to market on river packets and Luxora became a. big shipping point in Lhe area. River steamers docked there bringing new families to this then Infant garden spot. Was Heart n f Soda! ^^ There are many stories about Ihe . «ay tliys 01 Luxora at the turn i — Courier Ne rfcot* ror lhe • •-" !•• — •••• «d.v nays of Luxora at the lurn Members oi UM companj-s ttm oj tot centurr. It w» U» £»rt £ •« slril-es. In addition lo being mayor, Mr. Butler also nt business In Osccola and In Joiner. (s« J, Section C.) McGavock Dickinson, who mistered, the Dickinson plantation which was located near what Is now Frenchman'.; Bayou. Judge Dickinson served as secretary ol wnr during President William Howard Tail's administration. Mast of the early settlers oamc to Mississippi County and established farms between the years of 18331840. Osceola wns then a small settlement but it was the chief town of the district and was the county seal. All legal mallei's that arose were settled in Osceola. There was a court house there and It was the scene ol many a bitter court light in those days and It too, was the scene for many gala balls and other celebrations. According to the stories that have been handed down years ,lhe settlers of the .country scattered out in small settlements dotting the countryside. They :set up villages such ns Pe:an Polul, Shawncc Village, nardslown and a ciuainC. village known H5 "Nnnvoo". This is now known as rYcnchmnrTs Bayou and It was here the Speck family settled. Bardstown was named for the Hard family which sctllcd It. Kamilles Drew Tnijctber The stories further relate how the families gradually drew themselves togclher at whal Is now company of South Mississippi County residents and operated against the Union forces along the western banks of the Mississippi nlvcr. Ills company was known as the "Osceola Hornets." known as Osceola. Then it was call- Osceola not only wa.s Ihe first towr ol lhe while men in the county but historical data proves that ., „ , ,, the Indians hud chosen It as a town i, ^l"^ a , rCS ' lhc ,,S, Il ;' w ' leCl ' i ' j site and thai II was Inhabited by several hundred Indians in prehistoric days. An early historian. In his writings, speaks of an exploring parly that came across a large group of homes on what is now Osccola antl of the fruit trees that were planted Ihcre. Tills hislorlan's rcporl seems lo hcai out the olt-lold slorics of lhe Indians and their villages In the Osccola vicinity. Osceola's first Municipal election was held Nov. 20. 1815. Leon Roussan, who published lhe first newspaper in the county, wns elected mayoi. He was publisher of this paper at the time. The newspaper was established by Mr. Roussan and L. O. Blackwood. father of Dwight filackwood who now lives in Osccola. J. O. Blackwood was Osceola's first recorder. City Cliarlrrnl Twice O.sceola's first councilmeji were Alex Goodrich, Berry Kenwood, B. P. Junes. D.inicl Matthews and F. M. PCU.V. They were elected during s, Cherokees and Names ol oilier lowns and villages spread along the banks of lhe Mississippi River in those days jrobabiy were affixed by the Cath- )lic piicsl.s who visited Ihls -irea because of lhe . Mississippi Delta's similarity lo the rich area of the Nile in Egypt. William Bard Edrington was one o[ the first known settlers o[ O,%- ceola. He came to Mississippi Coun'•y from Kentucky along about 1R30. He spent some time in among 'he Indians In this county and was said to have obtained from the Indians mast of the land on which '.he present city of O:ceola Is located. Pionetrs Follow A number ol while families followed and fi few came before Mr. Kdrington. The names of some of these families have been connected directly with the early day« ol O.-- ceola. and Mississippi County by authenic records. Among these are a family by the name of Drackc::, a lather and two sons. Then Thomas Mills, who was the county's lust representative after It wa.s officially organized in 1833. John Troy was imong the pioneers. He later 5ctvcd county Judge from 1830-1838. Then there wa.s J. W. Whitworth, Ihe first county clerk, J. F. Lloyd, the first sheriff and C. G. Barricld, for whom Barlield Point or Bar.'i«Id Landing, wa.s named. Mr. Barfipld wa.s a member of the Territorial Council Irom Cril- lenden County when Mississippi Counly was a part ol lhat county In 1827. In 1324. 1825 and 182«, when Ark- iSM wa.s still a terriiory, the United Stales Government surveyed lhe land now known a.s Mississippi County. This land wa.s chiefly timber and jswdmp lands and wa.s entered In the government land of- llcea lit Helena a.s having been of- lered for sale at *1 24 p.n p.m. Resident* of nearby states and counties made Iheir way through the forests and cane breaks to this land and bought It, The land that was Jit for cultivation was staked off by these settlers. Hirer WM Main Thoroughfare In those days, there were r.o roads connecting this county with the outside worlri. The main thorough lare wa.s the Mississippi River and home* along the banks of the "Big Muddy" and some of these homes are parts ol the legend of the OJd South. MlU*» of was elected town marshal and J W. Clnpp treasurer. Oiccola has been Incorporated twice. First 'about 1856 and ngatn in 1875 Tile original charier pranl- cd lo lhe town lapsed and It was necessary to Incorporate it again. Although much of lhe Information about the early (lays of Osceola has been destroyed or lost dowi through the many years, It Is com monly believed that Osccola got Us first postoftlcc about 1840. J. w DcWltt was the first |X)sltnastcr. Stories passed along from generation to generation relate how the first mull box In the town wa crudely made from a cracker box All lhe mall wns placed In Ihls box the slorics go. and residents of th young lown fished through the bo> lor [heir own mall. Besides tielns Osceola's llrst post master. Mr. DcWIU also was tin first school teacher. Shortly aftc. he cnmc lo Osceola, he built i school house on the northern cdgi of the town which then lay aloni the Mississippi River. : Needless lo say, Osccola has been growing ever since Ihc few dozen pioneers cleared the slle for t£e town but It started Us big grow'th shortly aller the turn ol the century. Airlculurc Drew Other.* With most of lhe limber gone from that section of the county, residents gradually started turning to Agriculture and the cultivation of the rich delta Inud. 'nicy planted and harvested cotlon and shipped their bales to market by river boats. New residents got word of the agricultural possibilities ol Mississippi County and started moving In. They en me from Tennessee, Missouri. Mississippi, and ns far away as Virginia. The coming of the railroad In tOOl attributed n good deal to the growth of Osccola. The railroad wa.s exlendod Into the county In Hint year. It ran a short distance west of the Osceoln in those days. FIONKER POLITICIAN— John B. Driver, former congressman and member of the state legislature, played an Important role In the political development of Osceola. and Mississippi county. Mr. Driver was a member of a pioneer South Mississippi County family and also served the county as sheriff from 1872 to 1818. town slarlcd the river to- but gradually the moving away from ward the railroad. Today, the Frisco Railroad cuts Osccola almosL exactly In half. There ore few bullrings today on the original site of Osccola. A section of the city which was once part of old Osccola is there today, known ns "Old Town." Osccola's first court house was a two-.story frame building with county ofrices on the first lloor :,nd the court room on the second The city's present Court House wns built in 1918 and the building which housed the old Court House was used for several years as a county home. Ihc same election. M. Spee New County Sral Set Up """•>-.i iii/m iia aun—I ic? O.sccola wa.s the only county scat [cotton land that bring !ul , for something like a half a century .of dollars annually. Bui in 1901, due to the difficulty in travel and the sl?,e ol the county, it wa.s decided to create a second, county scat at Blytheville. And Hint's the way U Is .today. Osceola has mar chert forward since the days or the 1820'* when settlers cut their way through tha swamplands to 'establish the city. Today, it Ls one of the richest small cities in the nation. It's agricultural wealth is untold, if It could be amounted ft would surely run into millions of dollars. Today, Osceola Is a modern city. H tins modernistic homes and mile.* of paved streets. One hundred and two retail business establishment!.. deck It-s business; section and thes* stores Inst year dlti nearly $10,000,000 wovlh of business. "In 1348, Osceola's retail business WM |9,994,000. Population Up 14 Per Cenl The growth of Osccola Is furthef pointed out iti Its 1950 census figures. Preliminary tabulations listed its 1950 population at 5,005. That la a gain of 34 percent In the pa*t | 10 years.' The 1940 census- UAUJT* wns 3,'226. Osccola. might well be the pattern for many other cities in this area. It 1ms its own municipally- owned power and light, system and hns had for years. It has a fine school system and 15 cnurches representing nine different denominations. Ten of churches are for whit* resident's and five are for Negroes) It has a small but modern firs department consisting of two Iir« trucks and two pressure pumpers. IU ftrcfightlng equipment is manned by a volunteer fire department lhat consists of 18 members. Four years ago a Chamber of Commerce was organized in Osceola aiut the Chamber though young, has gone a long way toward further Improving the city, Iliis Several Industries Osceola's Ideal location tn the heart of the world's largest cotton producing county has been one of the chief drawing cards for industry and the city boasts severnlnew industries drawn in the past 15 years. These include an olcomargarins planl, a large canning factory, a cotton seed and soybean oil mill «nd an alfalfa dehydrating plant. These industries furnish work for approximately 300 Osceola resident* and have a combined annual payroll of something like $-120.000. Then thtre are numerous smaller businesses such as an ice cream plant «nd an Ice manufacturing plant. These are .all locally owned and furtitsh employment for a hundred or so more. But Osceola's biggest payroll from its soil—rich, alluvial s in millions ;lly. KAKI,Y MERCHANT-One of Uixora'a early merchants was A. G. Brown who operated this rfruf and sundries store. Mr. Brown, who advertised M "The Druggist from Kentucky," operated thte atorr l&OO.

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