The Arkansas Traveler

Who has not read and been greatly amused with the account of the “Arkansas Travelers?” Perhaps but few people are aware that some one in Benton County was connected with the authorship and preparation of that funny and interesting article. The reputed author of the “Arkansas Traveler” was Col. Sandy Faulkner, of Little Rock, and the individual who drew the illustrations which accompanied and formed a part of the article was Edward Washburn, a son of Rev. Ceaphas Washburn, a Presbyterian minister, who lived in Benton County, about six miles southwest of Bentonville, on the farm now occupied by L. B. Mallory. It is related by good authority that the author of that article in his travels actually met with and saw such a scene as he therein describes, the old backwoodsman with his fiddle, the rude log cabin, the wife and untutored children, etc. That article has been read throughout America, and perhaps in foreign countries, and many people believe that it has been a great injury to the State of Arkansas by creating the impression abroad that the family therein described was a fair sample of the people generally, which of course was not the case.

The real pioneer settlers of a new country, those who select a wild and lonely spot away out on the frontier, and erect a rude habitation thereon, where they intend to make their future home, and where they do in fact remain and endure the privations incident to the settlement of a new country, and subdue the forest and prepare the soil for cultivation, and thus open up and make way for others to follow, are, as a rule, God-fearing and Christian men. The first real and permanent settlers of Benton County were no exception to this rule. Coeval with the first settlements the voice of the Christian minister was heard, pointing out to the pioneers the way to eternal life. And, as was the case in nearly all the settlements west of the Mississippi near this latitude, the Methodist Episcopal, Cumberland Presbyterians and Baptists were the pioneer churches in this county. The early ministers of these and other denominations preached in the cabin dwellings of the early settlers before any church edifices were erected, and members of all denominations then met together to worship. The settlers being so scattered there were not enough at any one place of the same denomination to form an organization until several years after the settlement of the county began. The services were generally conducted by ministers who traveled great distances to perform their labors, and who generally worked in the capacity of missionaries, receiving for their support the small contributions that the people were able to give them.

Back to: Benton County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.

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