Early Societies of Washington County, Arkansas

The organization of an agricultural and mechanical association early engaged the attention of some of the most progressive citizens of the county. Such a society was organized in 1856, and the first fair was held in that year. The court yard was used as a fair ground, and the agricultural and mechanical productions were exhibited in the court-house. A track was around the outer edge of the yard, and here several races were run. Capt. S. P. Pittman rode the winning horse, which belonged to Maj. W. D. Reagan. This fair was declared a success, and the next Legislature granted a charter to the association. Five acres of land were donated by Judge David Walker, and grounds, several acres in extent, were inclosed and improved. These grounds lay south of town, and there in October, 1857, the second fair was held. The third was held at the same place a year later. At each of these fairs from $150 to $200 were awarded as premiums. The first list of officers that could be found are for 1858. T. B. Van Horne was then president; J. W. Washbourne and John Enyart, vice-presidents; P. P. Van Hoose, secretary, and J. L. Dickson, treasurer. The last fair held by this association was in September, 1859.

In 1869 it was determined to revive the society, or rather to organize a new one. A meeting was held in Fayetteville on May 1, and preliminary arrangements made. After the matter had been thoroughly discussed throughout the county a permanent organization was effected, with Thomas Wilson as president; H. C. Botefuhr and T. J. Patton, vice-presidents; C. R. Buckner, recording secretary; James P. Neal, corresponding secretary, and J. D. Henry, treasurer. Fourteen acres of land lying west of Fayetteville were purchased, and the first fair was given, beginning on November 1, 1869. This was fairly successful, and a second fair was held the following year. The interest in it then failed, and the society was disbanded.

In 1872 the Prairie Grove Valley Agricultural and Mechanical Association was organized; held a fair in Prairie Grove Valley on October 17 and 18 of that year. The officers of the association were Samuel P. Pittman, president; Robert J. West and M. F. Lake, vice-presidents; J. J. Baggett, secretary, and B. F. Totten, treasurer. These fairs were continued for three or four years, but it was found that the interest in them was not general enough to justify the stockholders in maintaining.

In 1877 the Washington County Agricultural and Mechanical Society was once more revived, and this time existed for four years. Recently attempts have been made to organize a new society, and the prospects of success are much better than ever before.

The Washington County Medical Society was organized July 2, 1872, at the office of that veteran among Arkansas physicians, Dr. T. J. Pollard, of Fayetteville. Those who signed the constitution of the society on that day are as follows: Drs. T. J. Pollard, W. B. Welch, S. F. Paddock, R. J. Carroll, George W. Holcomb, E. F. Brodie, H. D. Wood, F. N. Littlejohn, John M. Lacy and John C. Grace. They elected as president, Dr. T. J. Pollard; vice-president, Dr. W. B. Welch; recording secretary, Dr. R. J. Carroll; correspondent, Dr. J. C. Grace, and treasurer, Dr. G. W. Holcomb. Drs. Littlejohn, Carroll and Holcomb comprised the credential committee, and those on publication were Drs. Paddock, Wood and Brodie. The society has a membership of seventeen at present, and always sends delegates to both State and national associations. Dr. T. W. Blackburn, of Boonsboro, Dr. O. L. Wilson and Dr. A. S. Gregg, respectively, fill the office of president, vice-president, and secretary and treasurer (combined).

The Western Arkansas Fruit Growers’ and Shippers’ Co-operative Association is composed largely of Washington County men, and has its headquarters at Springdale. It was organized June 30, 1888, at the latter place, with for its first officers the following: President, S. B. Wing; vice-president, G. W. Umbaugh; secretary, John B. Gill; corresponding secretary, W. G. Vincenheller, and treasurer, J. W. Kimmons. The following committees were also appointed: On transportation, J. L. Rea, of Van Buren; on commission merchants, D. D. Ames, of Avoca; on claims, E. Arkebauer, of Van Buren, and on handling fruits, John W. Phillips, of Springdale. The officers and committees show the scope of the association’s intentions, and it is thought that it will be a powerful agent in the development of the fruit growing of the whole region. It has seventeen members.

The Northwest Arkansas Horticultural Society, having its present headquarters at Springdale, was organized at that place in December, 1886, with sixteen members, representing Washington, Benton, Carroll and Madison Counties. Its first officers were: President, E. Arkebauer, of Van Buren; vice-president, George F. Kennan, of Rogers; secretary, John B. Gill, and treasurer, C. Petros, both of Springdale. The president and vice-president have since been succeeded by W. J. Todd, of Rogers, and I. D. Raders, of Springdale, respectively. The society is in a prosperous condition, and has a membership of about twenty persons. A successful fair was held by this society at Rogers in 1887, and at Springdale in 1888.

The Washington County Horticultural Society was organized at Fayetteville August 6, 1887. The first officers elected were Hon. W. J. Patton, president, and Dr. J. F. Simonds, secretary, and at the annual election in January, 1888, these gentlemen were retained for the coming year. Meetings for the discussion of subjects pertaining to horticulture are held on the last Saturday of each month.

Back to: Washington 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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