This is the third town in Washington County in population and importance. It is situated in the midst of one of the most beautiful valleys in Northwestern Arkansas, and within a short distance of the geographical center of the county. Its site was first settled by Rev. Andrew Buchanan in 1829, and by his influence a school and a church were established soon after. He died in 1857, leaving his real estate by will to his widow during her life-time. At her death, with the exception of eighty acres, it was to go to Cane Hill College, and in event of the failure of that institution it was to become the property of the Cumberland Presbyterian Book Concern, at Nashville, Tenn. The eighty acres were to go to two servants. This bequest naturally produced serious complications in the title. In 1871 Col. James P. Neal, a step-son of Mr. Buchanan, obtained deeds from the various parties interested in the property, and took up his residence on the old homestead. He then conceived the idea of founding a town, and soon after secured the establishment of a post-office, of which he was made postmaster. In 1872 a blacksmith and wagon-shop was opened by Rogers & Baggett, and in 1875 a store-house was erected, and a stock of goods put into it. The following year McPhetridge, Baggett & Rogers erected a large steam flouring-mill, and in 1877 the town was regularly laid out. The first sale of lots took place on March 24 of that year. Since that time the town has steadily improved, and now has a population of about 500.
In 1885 a weekly newspaper called the Prairie Grove News was established by Joseph Garrison, and published for about one year. In April, 1887, H. Milton Butler began the publication of the Prairie Grove Banner, which he has since continued. The Rising Sun was published for a short time in 1887, but was soon bought out by the Banner.
The two most important manufacturing enterprises of the town are the Prairie Grove Mills, now owned and operated by H. C. & G. W. Crowell, and the Prairie Grove Canning and Evaporating Factory, operated by a joint-stock company. The latter enterprise was recently established. The officers of the company are E. G. McCormick, president; D. F. McMillan, vice-president; W. I. Cook, secretary; W. T. McCormick, treasurer; D. K. Hulbert, superintendent. The directors are E. G. McCormick, C. G. Marrs, J. O. Parks, W. P. Dyer, D. F. McMillan, S. B. Hardy and J. H. Flood. The authorized capital stock is $25,000, of which $8,000 has been paid in. The factory is supplied with all the latest improved machinery for canning and evaporating fruit. It has a capacity of 10,000 cans per day by the canning process, and 250 bushels per day when evaporating fruit or vegetables.
The mercantile interests of Prairie Grove are represented by the following individuals and firms: General stores, H. C. & G. W. Crowell, B. A. Carl, W. N. Butler & Co., Hardy & Marrs, W. P. Dyer and D. F. McMillan; furniture, H. H. Collier; harness and saddlery, A. Dixon & Co.; druggists, McCormick & Co. and H. C. Crowell; jewelry, musical instruments, etc., Simmons & Henderson; marble works, Leach & Dorman; hardware, Baggett & Sanders; lumber, J. V. Rich.
Occidental Lodge No. 436, A. F. & A. M., of Prairie Grove, was organized March 20, 1886, with the following officers: J. E. Mock, W. M.; E. G. McCormick, S. W.; J. J. Baggett, J. W.; G. E. James, S. D.; J. O. Parks, J. D.; W. R. Wallace, Treas.; R. S. Staples, Sec., and W. D. Rogers, Tyler. The membership at present numbers twenty-eight. The meetings are held in the institute building. E. G. McCormick is now W. M.; W. W. Mahan, S. W.; A. Sanders, J. W.; W. N. Butler, Sec., and J. J. Baggett, Treas.
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.