The origin and location of Bentonville, the county seat of Benton County, has been given in connection with the organization of the county. Being established in 1837, the first store opened in the place was managed by Dr. Nicholas Spring, under the firm name of Blythe & Spring, and the next one was opened by two brothers, John G. and William T. Walker. Blythe & Spring had a pretty fair stock of goods, but the Walkers had a broken stock, worth only about $800. In 1840 or 1841 another store was opened by some parties from Fayetteville, and in 1850 the town had about five business houses and a few mechanics’ shops. Being so far inland, and in a new country, the settlement of which was slow, the growth of the town was also slow and gradual. In 1860, just before the outbreak of the Civil War, it contained five general stores, kept respectively by A. W. Dinsmore, James Woolsey, Greenwood & Hobbs, J. M. Vestal and James A. Dickson; the furniture store of Henry Baumeister, the saddle and harness-shop of J. W. Clark, the Clark Hotel by J. W. Clark, the Vestal Hotel by W. R. Vestal, and three or four mechanics’ shops. It also contained the county public buildings, and two churches, Cumberland Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal, South, and the building of the Masonic lodge and school-house, and had a population of about 500. Of professional men there were four physicians–Drs. C. D. Talliaferro, D. H. Hobbs, William Wilson and John Gray. There were also a few attorneys and local officers, together with the county officers. In addition to the foregoing there were one or more “dram-shops” or saloons in the town.

Bentonville, especially, suffered terribly from the ravages of war. In February, 1862, when a portion of Federal troops belonging to Gen. Curtis’ army passed through the town, a soldier lingered behind, either with or without authority, and was killed by one in sympathy with the Southern cause. Some of the Federal soldiers returned to the town next day, and on learning of the fate of their comrade became exasperated, applied the torch in revenge, and on this occasion thirty-six buildings were consumed by fire. In justice to the commander of these troops, who were then encamped a few miles southwest of the town, it must be said that as soon as he learned the state of affairs he sent orders back to stop the burning of the town. Afterward, from time to time, buildings continued to be burned in the town, and in the country surrounding it, by both Federal and Confederate soldiers, and some were burned by thieves and plunderers belonging to neither army. Both contending parties now claim that the court-house was burned by the other. According to best authority, the two churches, the Masonic hall and school building, and the jail, were burned to prevent their being used by the Union armies. After the first burning, scouting parties of either army, passing through and finding houses standing, would imagine that they were left because their owners were in sympathy with the other army, and would therefore burn them. This work of burning property was carried on to such an extent that when the war closed only about a dozen houses were left standing in Bentonville.

At the close of the war the county was devastated and the towns likewise, but the people were inured to hardships, and were determined if possible to retrieve their lost fortunes. With but little capital they applied themselves to the work, and the following directory and sketch of the present business and institutions of Bentonville will show how well they have succeeded in their efforts. It is true, however, that much of the success of Bentonville is due to its immigration from other States.

Bentonville was incorporated by the county court at its January adjourned term in 1873. At the present writing (1888) its officers are Hon. W. D. Mauck, mayor; Henry Cowan, recorder; W. S. Black, treasurer; councilmen, Dr. John Smartt, Dr. J. M. Thompson, N. S. Henry, Robert Brashear, George P. Jackson; W. T. Woolsey, marshal. The town contains several large brick business blocks, besides many frame business houses, and many beautiful residences. The latter are mostly surrounded with large lawns well filled with shade and fruit trees. Though the oldest town in the county, it is yet a young town, having been nearly all built since the close of the late war, and mostly within the last ten years. Its population is between 2,500 and 3,000.

Bentonville, Arkansas Directory

Banks, Benton County Bank, The Peoples Bank; dry goods, W. A. Terry & Co., Craig & Sons, Woods & Claypool, George Jackson; auction store, W. E. Goodwin; groceries, J. C. Knott, Morris & Co., J. H. & J. P. Burns, Wagner & Jefferson, G. M. Bates & Co., P. S. Powell, drugs, Dr. C. D. Taliaferro, E. H. Looney, W. S. Black; confectioneries, Inson & Larick, W. R. Hoffman, M. M. Harkins, P. McBride; furniture, T. C. Barney, J. L. Pluck; hardware, Hobbs & Co., Maxwell & Hickman; harness and saddles, H. A. Rogers, Stahl & Crough; clothing, Lincoln & Arthur; boots and shoes, Laughlin & Brashear; watchmakers and jewelers, R. J. Laughlin, M. M. Hawkins; undertakers, J. Huffman & Son; marble works, McWhirter & Robbins; bakery, J. K. Putman; candy factory, H. C. Turner; agricultural implements, C. W. Clapp, F. C. Hawkins; millinery, Wakefield & Deming, J. A. Sanderson & Co., Miss Julia Loomis; boot and shoemakers, Roberts & Thomas, D. R. Thompson; produce dealers, McHenry & Bryan, R. Y. Nance; blacksmiths, W. H. Ferguson, W. A. Smith, A. Marcum; feed store, Corley & Son; meatmarkets, S. N. Price, J. H. Houston; livery, Smartt & Brown, Faircloe & Brim; brickyards, J. Haney, Z. Mitchell, M. T. Carroll; contractors, J. Haney, C. A. Blanck, A. W. Duffie, J. Cook, Carney & Dodson, Robert Carley; Eagle Mills, H. W. Schrader, proprietor; Bentonville Mills, John Curtis, proprietor; tobacco manufactory, Arkansas Tobacco Company; canneries and evaporators, Bentonville Canning and Evaporating Company; wagon factory, McGruder, McAdams & Co., proprietors; lumber yard, Hall, Guthrie & Co.; cooperage, Dungie & Hunter; hotels, Rogers House, Western Hotel, Eagle Hotel, Eclipse Hotel; physicians, T. W. Hurley, J. M. Thompson, John Smartt, C. D. Taliaferro, B. F. Smith, J. R. Lucas, W. R. Davis, J. M. Hobbs, J. A. Gill, N. B. Cotton; dentists, D. A. Watson, S. H. Petit, M. B. Vaughter; collector and conveyancer, F. M. Bates; insurance, C. E. Bruce, Cotton & Craig; attorneys, see “Benton County Bar.”

Bentonville Churches

Cumberland Presbyterian, Rev. F. T. Chaston, J. D. Ritchie, temporarily in charge; Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Rev. T. J. Reynolds; Presbyterian, Rev. D. C. Boggs; Baptist Missionary, Rev. J. M. McGuire; Christian Church, J. R. Lucas, M. D.; Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. W. M. Brock.

Bentonville Mercantile

Four dry-goods, notions, etc., $122,000; five groceries, $90,000; one clothing and gents’ furnishing, $21,000; one boots and shoes, $10,000; two furniture, $20,500; one undertaker, $1,500; two saddlery and harness, $11,000; two hardware, $37,000; two agricultural implements, etc., $61,000; two drugs, $17,000; one watch-maker, $4,000; two millinery and ladies’ furnishing, $5,000; four hotels, $10,000; two butchers, $11,000; one bakery, $2,600; one tobacco, $15,000; one lumber, $25,000; two produce and fruit, $81,000; one evaporating plant, $25,000; grain and grain products, $116,000; live stock, $41,000; railroad ties, $16,500; railroad earnings, $12,953; miscellaneous, $100,000. Total, exclusive of banking and loans, $896,000.

Bentonville Railroad Company

Length of railroad in miles, 5¼; cost of construction, $42,000. Passengers carried west, 5,077; passengers carried east, 4,182; total tickets sold in 1887, 9,259. Tons of freight received. 2,833; tons of freight forwarded, 5,477; total tons of freight handled in 1887, 8,310. Tons agricultural products handled, 661; tons animal or live stock, 260; vegetable foods and products, tons, 738; manufactured articles, tons, 168; merchandise, tons, 2,838; products of forest, tons, 3,450; eggs, 195. Total tons handled, 8,310. Officers Bentonville Railroad President, John Smartt; vice-president, J. H. McClinton; general manager, N. S. Henry; traffic manager, D. H. Woods; conductor, C. M. Robinson.

Bentonville Banks

The Benton County Bank was organized in May, 1885, by John Black, president; J. A. Rice, vice-president; S. F. Stahl, cashier; Jesse Motter, assistant cashier, and J. G. McAndrews, with a paid-up capital of $20,000. In May, 1887, the bank was reorganized, and the capital stock was increased to $50,000, all paid up. The present officers are W. A. Terry, president; A. J. Bates, vice-president; S. F. Stahl, cashier; N. B. Cotton, assistant cashier; J. A. Rice, attorney. Other stockholders aside from the officers named are J. W. Langford, John Black and J. G. McAndrews. The bank is located in the Terry Block, opposite the People’s Bank, at the southwest corner of the public square. This fine brick block is three stories high, and is the most attractive and imposing structure in the city. The lower story contains the banking room on the corner and a large store-room, with one front on the north side of the bank facing eastward, and another front west of the bank facing southward.

The People’s Bank was organized and began business in June, 1888, with a capital stock of $50,000. Its first and present officers are John Smartt, president; I. B. Gilmore, vice-president; F. E. Gilmore, cashier; A. W. Dinsmore, assistant cashier. Board of directors: John Smartt, J. A. C. Blackburn, I. B. Gilmore, A. W. Dinsmore, W. R. Davis, I. R. Hall, W. H. Fry. Stockholders: John Smartt, J. A. C. Blackburn, A. W. Dinsmore D. H. Woods, I. B. Gilmore, George T. Lincoln, E. S. McDaniel, C. A. Blanck, W. R. Davis, James Haney, F. E. Gilmore, J. B. Mayo, W. H. Fry, Leonard West, G. Ambrose, T. A. Woods, I. R. Hall, F. M. Bates, B. F. Dunn, A. W. Taylor, G. H. Moore.

Bentonville Mercantile Company

This is a joint stock company, with a paid-up capital of $30,000, the stockholders being W. A. Terry, R. E. Brashear, Alex. Hall, B. F. Burks and J. W. and Asa E. Langford. This company keeps a wholesale and retail general store in the Terry Block, occupying all the stories and all the space in the entire building, aside from the banking room, with their goods.

The Eagle Mills were erected in 1881, and have since been equipped with the roller process apparatus. The capacity is sixty barrels per day. The business is so pressing that the mills are being run both day and night.

The Bentonville Canning and Evaporating Company is of recent origin, and its officers are I. B. Gilmore, president: W. B. Lyon, secretary, and F. E. Gilmore, treasurer. The capital stock of the company is $20,000; cost of plant, $10,000. of which $5,000 was for machinery. Their main building is 30×80 feet, and three stories high. It was built in February, 1888, by Plummer & Son, of Leavenworth, Kas., and is equipped with the Plummer process for evaporating fruit. Its capacity is 800 bushels of apples per day, and from fifty to sixty hands are employed. The contemplated canning factory is not yet erected. W. L. Plummer & Son have received for their process of evaporating fruit the medals from five world’s fairs: Centennial, in 1876; Paris, in 1878; New Orleans; Melbourne, Australia, and Chili. South America.

The Arkansas Tobacco Company, dating from October, 1887, is a succession of Trotter & Wilkes. The secretary and general manager of the company is J. W. Trotter, of the former firm. The president is W. B. Deming, original proprietor of “Deming’s Additions” to Bentonville, formerly of Kansas. They manufacture several brands of plug and smoking tobacco, and do an extensive business.

The Bentonville Mills, located on the spring branch below town. were erected in 1869 by T. K. Blake and J. Claypool. John Curtis has been proprietor since April, 1884. It is supplied with two run of buhr stones, with a capacity of 100 bushels of wheat and 200 bushels of corn per day. A carding machine is run in connection with the mills.

Bentonville Societies

Bentonville Lodge No. 56, A. F. & A. M., was chartered November 4, 1852, with J. D. Dickson, W. M.; J. H. Hobbs. S. W., and James M. Rogers, J. W. The present membership of this lodge is about sixty-five, and the present officers are R. J. Laughlin, W. M.; T. T. Blake, S. W.; C. W. Clapp, J. W.; C. R. Bruce, Secretary; S. F. Stahl, Treasurer; Josephus Huffman. Tyler. This lodge is in a good financial condition, and dispenses all its surplus for charitable purposes.

The Benton Chapter, R. A. M., was chartered October 23, 1874, on petition of R. S. Armstrong, John Black, W. B. Roper, S. H. Kelton, Josephus Huffman, Thomas J. Webster, H. W. Glover and others. It was reorganized under its first charter in June, 1887. The present officers are R. J. Laughlin, H. P.; J. M. Thompson, King; J. H. Burns, Scribe; R. N. Corley, C. H.; T. J. Reynolds, P. S.; P. Gotcher, R. A. C.; G. T. Lincoln, T. T. Blake and Isaac Cook, G. M. S.; J. P. Burns, Treasurer; J. W. Taliaferro, Secretary; Josephus Huffman, Tyler. The chapter has twenty-seven members and applications for several more. Its financial condition is good, and it dispenses charity with a liberal hand.

Bentonville Lodge No. 37, K. of P., was organized in June, 1887, with sixteen members. Its present officers are F. E. Gilmore, P. C.; E. H. Looney, C. C.; J. W. Taliaferro, V. C.; C. C. Huffman, Prelate; S. H. Claypool, K. of R. S.; T. T. Blake, M. F.; W. B. Deming, M. E.; J. D. Bryan, M. A.; present membership about thirty.

Benton Lodge No. 33, I. O. O. F., was organized under a warrant or dispensation dated November 25, 1870, granted to H. S. Coleman, T. K. Blake, Leonard West, J. O. Alexander and J. W. Simmons. The present officers are R. B. Lawson, N. G.; G. W. Hurley, V. G.; Lewis M. Dailey, Secretary; George M. Bates, Treasurer. The membership of the lodge is about fifty, and its financial condition is good, having money at interest. Nearly three-fourths of its membership have been acquired within the last year.

Burnside Post No. 4, G. A. R., was organized in June, 1887. B. F. Hobbs was the first Post Commander, and still holds that office. The other officers are M. Starbuck, S. V.; A. H. Gingrich, J. V.; George Bill, Adjutant. This post has about thirty-five members now in good standing.

The Masonic Hall and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, a large two-story brick building erected in 1869, was built conjointly by the church and the Masons, the church occupying the first and the Masons the second story. The building cost $3,000. All of the above mentioned societies except the G. A. R. meet in the Masonic hall.

The Bentonville Press

The Advance, a Democratic newspaper, was established early in the seventies, and was published for a number of years, frequently changing hands, and was finally sold to the founder of the Bentonian, and consolidated therewith.

The Bentonian, also a Democratic paper, was established in the fall of 1881 by S. D. McReynolds, with S. M. Wamack as editor. McReynolds continued its publication until October, 1885, when he sold it to J. B. Thompson. The latter then changed the name of the paper to the Benton County Journal. Soon thereafter W. M. Bumbarger bought a half interest, and in the fall of 1886 became sole proprietor of the paper, and in July, 1887, he sold it to S. M. Dailey, who still continues its publication. The Journal is an eight-column folio, well printed and ably edited in the interest of Benton County. In politics it is stanchly Democratic.

The Benton County Democrat was established in January, 1885, by John W. Corley, who continued its publication about one year, and then sold it to J. B. Thompson, who published it about the same length of time, and then sold it to H. A. Cook. The latter published it a few months, and until July, 1888, when he sold it Hurley & Stevenson, two young and energetic men, who are now publishing it. It is located in the new Peoples Bank building, and has one of the most convenient and commodious offices in the State. It is also neatly printed and well edited, and is Democratic in politics. Both of the Bentonville papers have a large circulation, and both do a good business.

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.