Blackton (Monroe County)

Blackton, Arkansas

Blackton is a small community in Monroe County, Arkansas that is located in Hindman Township. Although the town has fell on hard times, it has a rich and colorful history. Blackton is located near the intersection of Monroe, Phillips and Lee counties and along Highway 39 and 49. The Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park is also located nearby.

Farming in the rich delta soil first attracted people to the area now known as Blackton, but it was the coming of rail traffic that led to economic growth. In the 1880s, a group of investors led by William Black of Brinkley constructed a rail line that became known as the Brinkley, Helena and Indian Bay Railroad. This would then be purchased by the Arkansas Midland in 1890 and a stop would be create at present day Blackton. Two years later, on December 16, 1892, Blackton petitioned the state of Arkansas for incorporation, but nothing ever became of it and no local officials were elected. The community was named after Brinkley businessman William Black, who passed away in 1889. A post office would not open until October 2, 1895, however, when mail service was transferred form nearby Dunn. Local merchant James Malone became the first postmaster.

Blackton seemed to continually face problems though, and these issues greatly impacted growth. In March 1894, a hotel at Blackton was destroyed by fire and then more negative news followed a few months later. Dr. J.T. Bridges, a prominent physician, was killed by Preston Rucks over a personal disagreement. Then three years later, another shootout occurred between J.T. Ballard and Dr. Simon Bevill at Dulop & Malone’s store. That same year, 1897, brought a new threat to the local community, when a group of white caps terrorized people around Blackton. In the South, white cap societies were usually made up of poor white farmers who attacked African American families and prevented merchants from acquiring land. At least two men were badly beaten by this group before the sheriff was able to stop the lawlessness. One more calamity took place at Blackton in 1897. The boiler of the stave mill blew up killing its operator.

Although it seemed cursed, Blackton continued to grow. By 1900, there were a number of stores and businesses located within the town limits. There was also a school and church. In May 1906, the Brinkley Argus published this description of the town:

“The Blackton merchants seem to be doing all right. We have three splendid, good men who comprise the merchants of Blackton. viz. Messrs. W.J. Patterson, T.B. Mathis, and J.C. Weidman. Mr. W.J. Peterson carries a full line of general merchandise. Mr. T.B. Mathis sells groceries, hardware, and medicine. Mr. J.C. Weidman, who now owns the Blackton Supply store, does a General Supply business and enjoys the confidence of his large line of customers. Our public school has made splendid progress this season and there will be preaching again next Sunday by Rev. Patterson of Lee County.”

In 1919, the Blackton Special School District was created, and a new building was constructed in 1929. It would operate until 1952 when the school was consolidated with Holly Grove. The town had already started to lose population, however. The Great Depression was hard on local farmers. After World War II, the local stores of Blackton began to close as families moved. Then the railroad ended, and the post office closed in 1966. Today, only a few people continue living at Blackton and there are several cemeteries, but most drivers travel along Highway 49 without even realizing this was once a town. No signs even exist to mark its location, but Blackton continues in the memory of those families who once lived there and the ones who still do.

Sources:

The Forrest City Times (Forrest City, Arkansas) 13 July 1894, Friday. Page 4

The Helena Weekly World (Helena, Arkansas) 29 September 1897, Wednesday. Page 3

Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) 21 September 1897, Tuesday. Page 1

The Helena Weekly World (Helena, Arkansas) 11 August 1897, Wednesday. Page 4

The Brinkley Argus (Brinkley, Arkansas) 4 May 1906, Friday. Page 4

Houser, B.J. Little Rock, Arkansas. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Blackton (Monroe County) 2019. Retrieved 12/12/22. https://encylopediaofarkansas.net/blackton-monroe-county


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