One of the first people I connected with at the Newton County Chamber was board member Regena Clark Cochrane. Regena is a familiar friendly face you may recognize from her 25 years at Harrison Wal-Mart. She and husband Bill have been married 50 years now. They moved to Springdale and then to Harrison after they married, and after 20 years away, returned to Boxley Valley where Regena was raised.
The Clark family has a long history in the valley, Abraham Clark donated the land for the famed Beechwood Cemetery where so many early pioneers rest. I may be the only one, but I have a distinct memory of Jessica Savitch reporting for NBC from Abraham’s headstone in the cemetery and referring to the Abra Clark who signed the Declaration of Independence as though there was a connection. The family persevered through the tumultuous times of Civil War and Park Service acquisition, but the hard times are heavily seasoned with births, weddings, celebrations, and an impenetrable sense of gratitude for having the privilege of growing up in Boxley Valley.
Regena and Bill own and operate Walnut Grove Cabins, The Summerfield, Smith Creek Retreat and Autumn Breeze. The Walnut Grove Cabin was the home of Regena’s grandmother. Often their guests are delighted to think or imagine what the experience of growing up in Boxley was like. Regena can share that experience, with its rich history behind her and the unknown ahead, Regena, her family, and siblings continue to add their threads to the fabric of the valley. She has many repeat lodgers and on a recent trip to welcome centers across the state I encountered former guests who raved about their experience as the Cochrane’s guest.
Like other families in the area, Regena’s family was able to purchase some of the family’s property from the U.S. Park Service whose website states: “The original intent of the National Park Service acquisition was to help retain the Boxley Valley as a living community. Some small family farms continue to operate today. They maintain some of the traditions that give the valley character, such as maintaining extensive garden plots near their farmhouses.” The U.S. Park Service offers an extensive informative article on what was first called “Big Buffalo Valley” in an article titled “Boxley Valley Cultural Landscape”. A great piece available at nps.gov (search Boxley) for those wanting to know more or thinking of visiting Boxley Valley.
It is important to the Cochranes to be engaged in the community, to do what they can to
continue to contribute to the growth and betterment of Newton County. They do that through volunteer work, mentorship, and involvement wherever they are needed. I got some good advice while researching this article, “just keep going” Regena said, “as long as we can keep going we are ok”… sounds like a plan I can get behind.
You may reach Walnut Grove Cabins at https://walnutgrovecabins.com
firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-861-5835
Photos courtesy of the Clark and Villines families in the Valley.