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Newton County

Newton County was the 47th created in the state and was named for Thomas Willoughby Newton, who was United States Marshal for Arkansas at the time. Newton was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1893 and came to Arkansas Post, which was then the capital of the newly created Arkansas territory in 1818. He soon accepted a position as a mail carrier, serving a route from Arkansas Post to Caldron on horseback. Newton County was created out of part of Carroll County on December 14, 1842. Archibald Yell was governor at the time. Many Newton County communities were simply named after their first postmaster. Among these, and the dates they were established, are Arbaugh (Mrs. Rebecca Arbaugh) March 2, 1928; Carver (Pembrooke Carver) November 25, 1913; Cassville (Thomas H. Cass) January 10, 1868; Compton (John T. Compton) April 8, 1887; Cowell (Joab A. Cowell) May 3, 1902; Killgore (Jackson Killgore) October 23, 1891; Wilcockson (now Dogpatch) September 24, 1883 (Mander Wilcockson); Murray (William F. Murray) April 28, 1884; Ryker (Jacob A. Ryker) December 27, 1897; Snow (Calvin H. Snow) March 21, 1892; and Wayton (Lois A. Way) November 26, 1895. 


No one really knows where Jasper got it's name and some have suggested that it comes from the green color of the waters of the Little Buffalo River, but Frank Villines told a color­ful story that has become a favorite explanation.It seems the early settlers of the area had been well treated by the Cherokees who were in the area when they arrived and when they heard about the hard­ships on the Trail of Tears, they resolved to return the kindness they had been shown. They went out to meet the Indians, many of whom were cold, hungry and sick. They shared their food, shelter and medicines, opening their homes so the Cherokees could stop and hunt, gather herbs, and recuperate. As the visitors were preparing to move ,n, the local residents, who had been unable to agree on a name for their new village, invited the Cherokee to help them decide. Chief John Ross, according to the story told by "Uncle" Frank, went up into the hills and prayed for many hours about the question. When he returned, he said the name should be Jasper. "Jasper," the chief said, "is a hard and strong stone, lighted from inside by love. It is like the men of this ridge, strong men, good men, lighted from within by love."


Dr. Silas Shruggs Stacey, who is also credited with having a hand in naming Yardelle, reportedly suggested the name Vendor to Ephraim Greenhaw for the community on Big Creek where a post office was established on October29, 1889 with Greenhaw as postmaster. Dr. Stacey had started a trading post and health resort at a sulphur spring on Big Creek and chose the name Vendor, meaning a seller of goods, as representative of his hopes to build it into a strong trade center. 

Dr. Silas Shruggs Stacey was born in Kentucky in 1829. He grew up in Douglas County, Missouri and lived after his marriage at Sparta. In 1874, when his health began to fail, he began seeking some treatment that would help him and found the Sulphur Mountain Spring near Mt. Judea. He moved there and began to study the curative value of mineral water, which he claimed restored his health. He was also an advocate of using wild plants and roots, and gathered them himself and compounded them using recipes he never shared with anyone else. One of the plants he used was yarrow and some speculate he chose the name for Yardell by combining the words "yarrow" and "dell". However, others maintain the name comes from a large tanning yard once operated there by Eb Wallace and comes from the combination of the words "yard" and "dell". 

Mt. Judea

A lot of local communities got names chosen from the Bible or associated with lands of the Bible For instance, Mt. Judea, Ben Hur, Shiloh and Parthenon all have some connection to ancient times and locations The first white settlers of Mt. Judea were Ephraim Greenhaw and John Nichols and Greenhaw reportedly chose the name from the Bible. Some local communities began their history with names that were somewhat unflattering. Fallsville was known in earlier days as Loafers Glory because it was the stopping off point for men and boys on their way down from the mountains to pick cotton along the Arkansas River bottoms to earn some cash money. Salus, too, would seem to have had an image problem with its first name, Devil's Knob. Hasty Ridge, later shortened to Hasty, drew its name because of a sudden flood of settlers that followed the opening of a grist mill; families who moved in and built hastily. Of course some places took their names from geographical features. The reason for the selection of Marble Falls, Falling Water and Red Rock are easily found in the surrounding terrain. 


Addison Villines, an early settler of western Newton County, once owned all the land where Ponca stands. he sold it to O.P. Wymer, who then sold it to the Ponca City, Oklahoma Mining Company. They subdivided the land and plotted city lots. With a few years, the narrow valley was dotted by homes and miner's cabins. Several stores, a smithy, a saw mill, grist mill and three story hotel opened for business. The post office was established in 1903 and for nearly 50 years the town, named after the mining company that made it boom, produced tons of lead ore. Sometimes there is a musical sound to the names or a touch of whimsy and that is nowhere more apparent then in the names of long closed rural schools in the county, names like Flat Rock, Lone Beach, Lick Creek, Macedonia, Hurricane, Elk Horn, Ben's Branch, and Valley View. What's in a name? Many, many things, but always a sound treasured by those who call the place home.

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