Later Settlers of Benton County, Arkansas

About 1848 William Wells, from Washington County, Arkansas, settled one mile south of Sulphur Springs. In 1851 G. W. Mitchell, from Tennessee, settled on the site of the present village of Bloomfield, and H. T. Gillespie, from North Carolina, settled where he now lives on the Line Road, two miles south of Cherokee City. About the year 1855 James Ingle settled two and a half miles northeast of Bloomfield. In 1855 Jesse Benton settled where he now lives on Honey Creek, eight miles west of Sulphur Springs. He came from Georgia. Prior to 1853 the following persons settled in the upper Pea Ridge neighborhood, near the famous battlefield, to-wit: Enoch Trott, from Tennessee; James Wardlaw, from Illinois; Mat. Cavaness, George Miser, from Tennessee; Lewis Pratt, Rev. Jasper Dunagin, Wash. Ford, John and Samuel Reddick, Wiley Foster and his two brothers, and Granville Medlin. J. Wade Sikes and his father and family, from Tennessee, settled there in 1853. H. H. Patterson and his two brothers, William Marsh, John Lee and the Morgans were also early settlers in the Pea Ridge vicinity. In 1851 Young Abercombie and his sons, James, William, John, Samuel, Hiram, La Fayette and Floyd, settled on Round Prairie.

Nativity and Character of the Settlers

By far the greater portion of the first citizens of Benton County came from Tennessee. Many came from Georgia and North Carolina, and a goodly number came from Virginia and Kentucky, with here and there a man from the free States. Many were descendants of the first settlers of the States from whence they came, and were thoroughly acquainted with pioneer life, and thus well qualified to open the country and establish new homes on the wild western frontier. Nearly all were farmers and hunters, without much education or polish, and with moderate ambitions and wants easily satisfied. To establish a home on a farm of greater or less extent, to live plainly, frugally and honestly, to enjoy comfort and not to work too hard seems to have been their chief desires. The majority were poor and they never became wealthy. As is the case everywhere the few only became rich. Of cultured, scholarly, enterprising and ambitious men there were a few. Many brought some money, slaves and other property to the county, established themselves comfortably from the first, and soon or eventually reached conditions of affluence. Some of the merchants and other business men were shrewd and successful. The doctors and lawyers were fair representatives of their professions. There were no gentlemen of leisure, all had duties to perform, and though they were a little rough, uncouth and unpolished, they were free and hearty, generous and hospitable, and on the whole just the right kind of people to brave the storms, “subdue the wilderness” and press forward the line of civilization.

Some people sigh for a return of “the good old times,” but there was no more morality in the first decade of the county’s exist ence than in the one just past; and on looking over the first indictments in the courts one would conclude that there was not so much. There were not then so many churches, schools and school books in proportion to the population as at present. Indeed, some of the “noble old pioneers” were a little “tough.” One of the first enterprises was the establishing of whisky distilleries, and in those “good old days,” when the intoxicating fluid was cheap, and free from government gaugers and revenue collectors, nearly everybody drank it. And notwithstanding the declaration that some are disposed to make, that intemperance is on the increase, the truth is just the opposite, as there is not nearly as much whisky consumed now, in proportion to population, as there was then. It is customary to indulge in a great deal of ext ravagance in extolling the virtues of the first settlers of any country. Their good qualities are extolled immoderately, while it is seldom, or ever, hinted that they had any vices. Our first settlers were men and women, with all of the virtues and graces, and all of the vices and frailties possessed by their ancestors, and retained by their descendants. They were hospitable and generous, as a rule, and their successors practice the same virtues.

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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