The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on October 10, 1950 · Page 42
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 42

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 10, 1950
Page 42
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Mid-Century Special Edition BLYTHEVILLE COURIER NEWS BLYTHEV1I/LE. ARKANSAS TlliranAv ru-™rnoc'i>~7nTTTco " ' E, ARKANSAS, TUESDAY, OCTOBEF Section C Osceola Osceola Began Its Growth as Riverfront Settlement in 1820's ^•^•^^•^^E^i^Ti^.TML^:-.-* 1 ^"""" 1 -"'"'-' «-"~ r ?"~>r —,.,,.™_^_ T ,, „„ ... _,—___„.„, , ..'. f-» ... _ ^_ S. Missco County Seat] Now Thriving City with $10 Million Retail Sales Osceola, Mississippi County's first while settlement and its first seal of government, today stands as one of the world s richest small municipalities Located'in the heart, of the ag- + .___ Mississippi Valley Canning Company Owners of Osceola Canning Plant Provide Most of Its Vegetables 1 1 • r- • „_ . . _. . • *^ JAissco Firm. Processor of Missco Crops Another one of Mississippi County's numerous industries that reaps the rewards of the county's rich, alluvial soil is the Mississippi Valley Canning Company at Osceola. It Is one of the younger Industries of the county, only 13 years old, but It also is one of the largest, employ- Ing nearly 300 persons at peak sea«on. Its payroll is approximately $U5,MO. The Mississippi Valley Canning firm prospered. Mississippi Valley end these same planters furnish the majority of the vegetables canned there. Ils operation Is financed by these planters and they reap the profits ^as stockholders. There* Is no "outside money" involved In the operation of the plant. It is Mississippi County owned and Hpernted. < Began Work In 1838 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 GO,000 cases of canned vegetables, mostly spinach and mustard nnd turnip greens, hit the market bearing thc label of (he Osceola canning firm. The company operated on that thrcc-vegelable scale until 1940 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 nnd EO.- 000 cases of canned vegetables a ycnr during the following war years and the young ~ I" 1942, the 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 1044, production • mounted to 115.000 cnscs. This tn- _ crease, which was more than 200 per cent above the first ycnr of operation, wns made without any increase In the mechanical facilities ^ the plant. Won "A" Award In 1915. the Mississippi Valley Canning Company received one of the highest honors paid n civilian firm by Ihe government, Ihe War Food Administration's achievement "A" award in recognition of its outstanding work during the war years The presentation of the award was made by Commander Richard R Briner, executive officer of the Nnvv Air Technical Training Center n't Memphis during a ceremony at the plant. After World War II. the canning company returned Its full interests to production for Ihe commercial market. The plant's annual output rapidly increased and today the company cans something like 250000 cases of canned vegetables a year, all for thc commercial market. And Ihesc vegetables nre all grown In Mississippi County Products processed by the company are grown in the immediate "fm^J^ 0 '™ 1 ^'. farmers who ie capital on b»IM and tv , , which the plant, has fact, the plant crepcndcnt' enlireli r";,±!!. h . Mi «te*PPi County to ol .-nw material. A. W. Young Is Manner A W. Young has been manager of the phnl for_the past 12 years and lfe> mcmbcjs of thc plant's six-man lo.ird ol Directors. D. 5. Laney and .. . . R. C Bryan, have served in cnpndly since the founding of th this ot the present company. Other members Board of Directors are L " C „ Young. C L Whistle. B. H Springfield, J A Plgg. and Harold ohlen- dorf H. J. Hale was thc company's first president and he was succeed- insi. picsiaeni ana nc was succeed- ' ed several years ago by R, C, Bryan, spot ' who Is the present president and thc I"rgcst "reducer of vegetables for the plum. Members o* th* in Januni^y but during the remainder of Ihe year the plant is closed. Mississippi Valley Canning y today processes eight veg- .. .. . Board of Directors were Mr. Bryan Mr. Laney. w. J. Driver. Jr., John A. Edrington, Leon Sullivan, J. F Wheeler. G. A. Looney, . R. Cullom, A. W. Young, and Mrs. Hale. Mr Sullivan served as the board's secretary until this year when he retired and was succeeded by C. L. Whistle the present secretary. Operates 7 Months of Year The plant Is in operation seven Del and Miss Vnl' months during Ihe year. April, May, July, August. September, October! u and November. Some work Is done'i iana. Tennessee. Alabama. Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky Missouri. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. And ocuaslonnlty IUs products are etable.s for the commercial markctL,,rH in w^i>, ,"«j a "i,",."" ,-"" - spinach, mustard and turnip - N ° rth and Sollth { - ar °l'"a greens. lima beans, early June peas, tomatoes, field peas and asparagus. The company cans under four brand names, Delta Club. Little Andy. Miss ' Its produ. Is nre sold Ihrough food irokers and nre stocked by grocers ' in 14 states including Texas, Louis, Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota All of the company's stock is owned by 20 active growers of vegetables all of whom live In the vicinity ot Osccoln. And there has been little change in the ownership of thn company's slock since I Its foundation, Luxora Had Its Beginning As Landing for River Boats in '82 iji-ixora. like all otlipr fnwim nf ilia ^aitn ,., nr , K.,:U „., *u_ -\i-_- . ... . . , . "" -•"•- "-.I,..., *i »*•> UIMIL uii LIIC m ih.TJS^ipjj] it > ^ !n ',«,',, , ys> <le l )elllletl almost enlii-ely on the "Big Muddv." it was In 1882 that Dempsy Tho-1 — - ±_ _____ mas Waller built a one-room combination store nnd house on the west bank of the Mississippi River at the site of what is now Luxora. Mr. waller's house was the first built at that site and his family was 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- Mississippi River life In the gny nineties and the early fears of the 20th century.', Luxurious river packets such as the "Annie P. Silvers" and manj of the Lee Line boats that featured night life on the river, stopped at Lusora and (here were parlies, dancing and merry making. Professional gamblers frequented '"B her 102nd birthday, and two UICSE packets with the rich plan- of his daughters, Mrs. Sally Davis latlon owners of this area as their and'Miss Luxora Waller, still live chiel P r <M'. And Luxorn was one of had and upon south Mississippi County tor lm "' s ' 1! >me be changed to Luxora its finances, personnel and source ln hoilor o( Mr - Waller's daughter Of ,'n\V mirerinl Mi.« r.iiv^r, itr A n*- in the town he settled which bears the name of his oldest daughter. Believed 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 ill 1891. The Wallers came to the clearing on the bnnks of the Mississippi from the vicinity of Carson Lake southwest of Osceola, where Mr. Waller was reared. He opened the store to accomodate the river boats that docked at the clearing to tnke on logs for fuel. The changing course of the river --' created a sandbar at Osceoln boats could no longer stop there for fuel so they made this nearby clearing. And Mr. waller, knowing this and rcnlizing that a good living was to be made there, purchased land near the boat landing nnd built his home and store. As thc river boats were the only mode of distant transportation in those days, passengers were forced to go to Luxora to board the boals and Ihrough them Waller's business prospered. Seeing thnt the Wallers were doing all right in their wilderness home, other families followed them there, and soon there was a lively settlement. Store Becomes Post Office Prom that point, thc boat landing settlement began to grow. Mr. Wallers' store became a post office nnd he bccainc r the first postmaster. The selllement was given the name of Elmot, fn 1890, the year of Mr. Waller's death, the town was incorporated, and In recognition of Mr. Waller's i pioneering Ihe town. John B. Driver, one of the county's pioneer political leaders, suggested that the town's name be changed to Luxora their chief gathering places. There arc many family names woven into the history of Luxora. Names like Driver. Fletcher. Spann. Rozelle nnd Wood. One of the most prominent families that had a lot to do with the founding and making of Luxora was the John B. Driver, family. Mr. Driver was a public figure in those days. He held a number of public offices including sheriff and legislator. And. too, he was Luxora's first mayor. Descendants or his family still reside In the town he help found. Has 1,302 1'oiiulalion 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 Luxorn. K. R. Bognn is the town's present mayor and w. D. Head Is the recorder. Coimeilmcn nre T. D, Wilkins. Wiley Tate, Lester Stevens, a. A. George. Jr.. and C. D. Smith. Mr. wilkin s is also superintendent of Luxora's schools. Luxora today has n modern operated water system and K amal 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 fire station, repairing of streets and the purchase of a utility,, residence which was moved on to town property. Luxora also boasts a Chamber of Commerce, a Rotary Club and an American Legion post. rlculturtlly rich Mississippi River D«;ta, Osceola has risen from a. small unlmporlajil selllement of n rk»en or so log cabins sprawled in clearing on the west bank of Old Man River to * thriving city whose retail sale* total nearly $10,000,000. Osceola has h»d growing pains ever since the first few white settlers beat their way through (he swamplands of the delta. These settlers hewed homes In the river bank Jungles and made their livings off the land, from the fine limber that graced this area. And ever since those early day.s, residents of Osceola have continued to live off Ihe land for it Is some of the most alluvial in the world. But today, the timber is gone and Osceola, like the rest of Mississippi County, "lives oft the Imd" in a different, way—through agriculture. Accepted u Oldnst City Although there are no official records available on the dates O.s- ceola actually was settled, il is generally accepted us the oldest Kiwn In Mississippi county. A series of names have been woven through it.s history, dating back to 1828 when the first white settlers were believed to have come, in sizeable numbers, to Mississippi County. Contradictory passed down through Ihe years as to the early settlements in the coun- I,} 1 . Some stories say that Cnr.son Lake was the first. These stories say that a mnn by the name ol Carson hunted with the Indians In the lower end of Ihe county before Ihe great earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 and lhat Carson Lake wns named for him. However (here are no >,,[- •ficlal records to bear out these stories. The great earthquakes, however, were believed to have played an Important role In the settlement of the county. The earthquake;; changed the topographical features of this section of the country and tniy villages sprang up in the vicinity of Osceola immeditely ioltow- 1926— New City Officials Assume Duties From the April 15. 1926, edition of the Blythcvllle Daily Courier News: Yesterday marked the first day of service to the city of Blytheville of the newly elected city ofliccrs, elected April o, 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 first ward, J. T. Hill, alderman of the second ward and Damon Mcl-eocl, Jr.. alderman of the third ward, report thai the day went off as usual and lhat they had started In their service with the determination of showing their appreciation for the confidence lhat the people of Blylhevllle had shown in Ihem in ., , „ ...uui.,,, ..i.jmt.,,u(; naQ S nown in mem in school, a mumcipally-owncd and I giving them their respective offices . Miss Luxora Waller. The landing of the river boats and the alluvial land that surrounded Luxora offered excellent opporlunilies and soon olher families came, plantations sprung up around the town and in a few years Luxora was a thriving a»rl- J n /-'•«•> I-U.\VJI{1 WA\ A • cultural community. . But the Mississippi River still was the town's biggest asset, cotton was shipped to market on river packets and Luxora became a big shipping point In the area. River steamers docked there bringing new families to this then Infant garden Heart of Soclni .,T h "' - lre nt»n» stories about Ihe " at the tu: days —Courier New« PtioU OSCKOI.A'S MAYOR-Bcn T. Butler tu. «rved C^tola M mayor for the past 10 year, and under hl« guidance th« city hM t.ken tr» ""' «'«•«. '" •*«tlon <o being mayor, Mr. Butler „!«, open.1*, a (afm ""P"mcnl business In Oiccola and In Joiner. VS« v stories have been ing the quakes. Of these, Oiceola probably was and thc lower enrl of Mississippi County were families ivliaio mimes are still prominent throughout mast ol Arkansas today. They cuma from Virginia. Tennessee ami Kentucky as lawyers and bankers to settle the land which was later to uecoine the nation's richest agrlcul- '11 nl section. Among these were David Cniij- head and his brother Tliomn.i E. Craighcad, for whom Cralgheiid County was named. They came from Nashville, Tctin., as lawyers. Others were the McGavock family, which settled near Osccola, Isaac Lanicr. Edwin Jones nnd Bnirtl. These families were the true pioneers of Mississippi County, They tame here, to the wilderness, fought thc elements of nature, cleared land and turned it into vast farm- CON)'KI)i:itATK SOUMKH — Captain Charles Sumucl Bowen. wns Mississippi County's third sheriff serving from 1818 until - 1802. During the war between the William [ states Capl. Bowen organized a company of south Mississippi County residents nnd operated against the Union forces along the western banks of the Mississippi River. Ills company wni known as the "Osccola Hornets." ing interest. Some achieved nntion- nl prominence through their efforts In pioneering IhLs Innd. Dickinson Was Cabinet Mcnllicr Among these svn.s Judge Jncob McGnvock Dickinson, who mastered the Dickinson plantation which wns located near what Is now Frenchman's Bayou. Judge Dickinson served a.s secretary ot war during President William Howard Taft's ndministrntion. Most of the early settlers '.'nine to Mississippi County nnd established (arms between the years of 18331840. Osccola wn.s then a small settlement but il was the chief (own of the district nnd wns the county feat. All legal matters that arose were settled in Osceoln. There WHS n court house there and it was the scene of many a bitter court fight in lho;e days and It loo, wns Ihe scene for many gnln bnlls and other celebration.?. According lo the stories that have been handed down through ycnr.s .the settlers ot the country scattered out In small settlements wr-.s elected town marshal W. Clapp treasurer. Oiccoin has been Incorporated twice. First 'about 1858 am! agnil In 1875 The original charter Rranl- ed to the town lapsed and il was necessary to Incorporate It again. Although much ot the Information about the early days of Osceola 1ms been destroyed or lost clowr through the many years. It Is commonly believed that Osccola got Ils first posloffice about I8<0. J. w DeWitt wns the first postmaster. Stories pnsscrl along from genera- lion to generation relate how the first mail IMS in (he town wns crudely made from a cracker box All the mail wns placet! In (his box the stories go, and residents of th young town fished through the box for their own mull. Besides bchiR Osceolu's llrst post master. Mr. DcWItl nlso was the first school teacher. Shortly afle: he came to Osceola, he built i school house on the northern edgi of the-town which then lay along the Mississippi River. • PIO.VKKR POLITICIAN —John B. Driver, former congressman ami member of the state legislature, played an Important role In the political development of Osccola. and Mississippi County. Mr. Driver was a member of a pioneer South Mississippi County family and nlso served the county as sheriff from 1812 to 1878. dotting the countryside. Thuy suli Needless lo say, Osccoln has been the largest, which could nccount for the claims that it was thc first settlement, , Named for Indian Tribe* Osceola and R number of other settlement; In that vicinity in those early day.s, got their names from ' the various tribes of Indians that roamed through this county, shortly after the settlers came to tilts area, there seem* to have been several towns bearing Indian immi.5— Osceola, Shawnee Village, Chicka- wabn arid Tyronxa. The Indian tribes thnt were known to have been In thin area were Die Deln wares, the Shawnecs, Minmis, Cherokee.? and Chlckasaws. Names of other towns and villages spread along the bnnks of thc Mississippi River in those days probably were affixed by thc Catholic pricsl.s who visited this ircn because of Ihe. Mississippi Delta's similarity to the rich area of the Nile in Egypt. William Bard Edrington wns one of the first known settlers of O;- ceola. He came to Mississippi County from Kentucky along about IKta. He spent some time in nmong -he Indians in this county and was rmid to have obtained from Ihe Indians mast of the land on which '.he present city of O ceola Is located. Pioneers Follow A number of white families followed and a few came before Mr. Edrington. The names of some of these families have been connected directly with the enrly any, of Osceola and Mississippi County by authenlc records. Among arc a family by the name of Bracket, a rather and two sons. Then Thomas Mills, who wn.s the county's :iist representative after II was officially organized In 1833. John Troy wns among the pioneers. He later served a.s county judge from 183G-183B. Then there was J. W. Whitworth, the first county clerk, J. F. Lloyd, the first sheriff and C. G. Harticld. for whom Barfleld Point or Bar- Tleld Landing, was named. Mr, B?rfictd was a member of Ihe TerrltorinI Council from Crittenden County when Mississippi County was & part of thai county in 182T. In 1824. I82S and 1826, when Arkansas was stiil a territory, thc United States Government surve>cd Ihe land now known as Mississippi County. This land was chiefly limber and swjmp lands and was entered In the government land offices at Helena n.s having been offered for sale at (I.2JS nn acre, flcs- UlenU of nearby states and counties marie their way through the fore-st-s and cane breaks to this land and bought il. The land that was fit tor cultivation was staked off by these settlers. KlTtr WM Main Thorouthfare In those days, there were no roads connecting this county with the outside world. The main thoroughfare was the Mississippi River and th« main transportation was by river bout. So the early settlers nuilt homes along the banks of the "Bltf Muddy" and some of these homes art part* of Ihe legend of ins oid South. villages such as Pecan Point, Shawnee village, nardstown and n quaint village known ns "Nauvoo". This is now known as Picnchmau'.s Bayou nnd It wa.s here the Speck family settled. Bardstown was nnmccl for thc Bnrd family which settled It. Families Drew Tmcelhtr Thc stories further relate how the families gradually drew themselves together at whnt Is now known as Osceoln. Then it wn.s cnll- cd. Pinch and later Plum Point. Osccola not only wn.s Ihe first towr of the white men In thc county but historical clnta proves thnt the .Indians had chosen il as a town . site and thai it Inhabited by several hundred Indians 111 prehistoric nays. An enrly historian. In his writings, spcnks of an exploring party thnt came across a large group ot homes on what Is now Osceola and of the fruit trees that were planted Ihcre. This historian's report seems lo lieai out, thc ott-tokl stories ot thc Indians and their villages In thc Osceola vicinity. Osccola's first Municipal election wa.s held Nov. 20. 1875. Leon Rous- snn, who published the first newspaper in thc county, was elected mnyoi. He wn.s publisher of llns paper al thc time. Thc newspaper was established by Mr. Rous.snn and I,. O. ninckwood, father of Uwlght nlnckwooil who now lives in Osccola. J. O. Blnckwoocl wns Osceola's first recorder. City Chartered Twice Osccola's first councilmen were Aicx Goodrich. Berry Kenwood, » F. .Juiic.s. D.lnfeJ Matthews and F. M. Petty They were elected during the same election. W. Speec growing ever since the few dozen pioneers clenred the site for Ifc loy/Vi but It slarlcd its big grow'th shortly utter the turn of the century. ArHculure Drew Others With most of the limber gone from that section of the county, residents gradually started turning to agriculture nnd the cultivation of the rich dcltn Innd. They planted nnd harvested cotton and shipped their bales lo market by river bonts. New residents got word of thc agricultural possibilities of Mississippi County nnd started moving In. They cnme from Tennessee. Missouri. Mississippi, and as fnr nwny a.s Virginia.' Thc coming of the railroad In 150-1 attributed a gooil deal to the growth of Osceola. The railroad wn.s extended into thc county In that year. It rnn n short distance west of the Osccola in those dnys. but gradually the town slarlcd moving away from the river toward the rnllroad. Today, the Frisco Railroad cuts Osccola almost exactly In half. There arc few buildings today on thc original site of Osccola. A section of thc city which wn.s once part of old Osccola Is there today, known as "Old Town." Osccola's first court house was a two-story frnrnc building with county offices oil the first floor xnd thc court room on the second The city's present Court wns built in 1318 and thc building which Court House years as a county housed the old used for scvcra home. New f.'nimiy Scat Set Up But In 1801, due to the difficulty In trnvel and tile size ot the county, It was decided to create a. second county scat at Blytheville. And that's the way H Is today. Osceola has marched forward since the days of the 1820'i when settlers cut their way through tin swamplands to 'establish the city. Today, it is one of the richest small cities In the nation. It's agricultural wealth is untold. If It could be amounted it would surely run Into millions of dollars. Today, Osceoln Is a modem city. It has modernistic homes nnd miles of paved streets, one hundred and two retail business establishment! deck its business .section and these stores Inst year did nearly $10,000,000 worth of business. 'In IMS, Osceola's retail business was $9,994,000. Population Up 34 Per Cenl The growth of Osccola Is further pointed out in its 1950 census figures. Preliminary tabulations listed its IB.Tt) population at 3,005. That la a. gnln of 34 percent In the past 10 years.-The 1940 censoi tl»ui« was .1,228. Osccola might well be the pal- tern for mnny other cities In this area. It has its own munictpally- owncd power and light system and has had for years. It has a fine school system and 15 cliurches representing nine ditfcrcnt denominations. Ten of these churches are for whits residents and five lire for Negroes! It lins a small hut modern firs department consisting of two flri trucks and two pressure pumpers. Its firefiBhtlng equipment Is manned by a volunteer fire department that consists of 18 members. Four years ago a Chamber of Commerce wns organized In Osceola am] the Chamber though young, has gone a long way toward further improving the city. lias Several Industries Osccola's Idenl location In th« heart of the world's largest cotton producing county has been one of the chief drawing cards for industry antf (he city boasts several-new industries drawn In the past I) years. These include an oleomargarine plant, n large canning factory, a cotton seed and soybean oil mill nnd nn alfalfa dehydrating plant. These Industries furnish work for approximately 300 Osceola resident) am! have n combined annual payroll of something like $-120.000. Then there are numerous smaller businesses such as nn Ice cream plant and an Ice manufacturing plant. These are all locally owned and furnish employment tor a hundred or so more. But Osceola's biggest payroll comes from its soil—rich, alluvial Osceola was thc only r.ounly snstjcotton land that brings in millions for something like a half n century ; of dollars annually. EARLY MERCHANT , , , , • i* •and sundries store. Mr, Brown, who idvertlsed M "Th« Druggist from ' Kentucky." oper*«e< Uib'*••'• : , Uroun< 1900. •;...•.. ~ i *V>A,-S, *• r * -

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