THE EAGLE DEMOCRAT
FIFTY-FIRST YEAR - Number 11 WARREN, BRADLEY COUNTY,
Gives Accurate Word Picture Of
As Youthful Editor Of The Warren
News, John H. Page
(Editor's Note: The author of the following, enlightening article, for several years served as editor of The Warren News. At the request of The Eagle Democrat, he has written this account of Warren in the earlier days; giving the best word picture of this period that it has been our good fortune to come across. Former editor Page, though just a youngster when in Warren, later became a strong political figure in Arkansas. At the present time, he is connected with the Federal Housing Administration with offices in Little Rock. Frequently, he returns to Warren for a brief business visit, at which time he manages to see many of his friends and renew old aquaintances.)
BY JOHN H. PAGE
This is the first Centenial article I have ever attempted to write. In fact, this is the first Centenial in which I have ever lived, or know anything about from actual experience or observation. Upon this premise I lay hope to have the indulgence of a generous reading public for that which is lacking in merit or interest in this, my first Centenial effort.
If I had lived in Bradley County in 1836, the beginning of Arkansas' Centenial of statehood, and had as intimate knowledge of it's vicissitudes, it's mutations and it's history, as I have had for almost all of the last half of the century, I am sure I could write a great deal more, and of many things of greater interest. When in retrospection, the pioneer days that extend beyond the period of one's memory, seem to hold the most charming and pleasing incidents and circumstances in human affairs. Where memory ceases, imagination serves to embellish what we have transmitted by the fragments of history.
My first arrival in Warren was on August 30, 1888. I was just 21 years of age, and thought I was a newspaper man --- an editor, if you please. In fact, I had already enjoyed the experiences of having been the editor of three newspapers at three different places, two of which I had been both editor and proprietor. The following week I was to become the editor of the fourth newspaper, in my journalistic career, for two days after my arrival in Warren I had purchased and taken charge of the Warren News, founded and formerly owned and edited by John E. Bradley, who was a pungent paragrapher and pleasing writer, to the extent that he had attracted the favorable attention of other newspaper men in the state, and was then preparing to remove to Texarkana, where he was to join two other leading newspaper men in establishing a daily newspaper, of which he was to become the editor.
I reached Warren via the Warren Branch of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, arriving about 7 p.m.. Alighting from the train and stepping from the depot platform on my way up town, I was impressed by the apparent abundance of red clay, and the first thought that occurred to me was that Warren would be a splendid site for a brick plant. I followed the path that led from the depot up to the courthouse square, somewhere near where the city hall or fire station now stands. There was one hotel in town--the Kemp House, probably fifty feet west of where the Southerland Hotel stands today. The Kemp Hotel was owned and operated by Mrs. Kemp, a widow, and the mother of J. C. Clary. She was assisted by her daughter, who later became Mrs. W. A. Martin. No better meals were served at any hotel than those at the Kemp Hotel. Mrs. Kemp personally supervised their preparation. Often she would prepare a meal with her own hands, in order that it might be just to her liking. There was no better cook than Mrs. Kemp. And there was no better woman--bless her memory. The hotel was not pretentious, but it was neat, clean, tidy and well-kept, and the old-time drummers who traveled much in drummer buggies, with big trunks, over mud roads in winter and through dust in summer, liked to congregate in Warren and stay over night or over Sunday at the Kemp Hotel. They had assurance of being well-fed and well cared for with the simple comforts of the day, including a cheerful wood fire in a wide fireplace, with a real back-log in the wintry season.
May I digress just to say that Mrs. Kemp prepared at frequent intervals, with her own hands, two dishes I do not recall of ever having seen served at any other board, public or private. One was what she called "beef heels". The other was "sweet potato biscuits". They were both delicious, according to my recollection. The former was a meat preparation, derived from the shank or foot of the beef, and rather difficult to prepare. The sweet potato biscuits consisted of well-seasoned biscuits, with a liberal proportion of baked sweet potato well kneaded in with the biscuit dough. It takes a culinary artist to make them, but they are worth the effort.
When I came to Warren there were three brick buildings, one of which remains. They were, the court house, the 2-story store of Martin & Goodwin, facing east on the present site of the Merchants & Planters Bank, and the store building of John T. Ederington, now remaining. Capt. W. H. Wheeler had a large frame store building, just south of the Ederington store, facing west. The three stores mentioned were credit, or furnishing stores. They sold goods and supplies to farmers and took crop mortgages as security. Judge W. F. Mack had a general store just west of the Kemp Hotel. It was a cash store. C. W. Hankins owned a hardware store, at that time located on the corner across the street north from the M.& P. Bank. Henry L. Turner had a grocery store two or three doors further north, facing court square and east. There were two drug stores, one by J. M. Bailey, on the south side, and one by Dr. C. C. Gannaway, on the east side of the square. There were two livery stables. One was operated by J. C. Clary and James Jolley, just about where the Southerland Hotel is now. The other was operated by J. Nick Martin, on the west side of the square. J. Nick was my neighbor, just north and Henry L. Turner on the south, with one vacant lot between us, when I edited the Warren News in the old John T. Hamilton saloon building, operated as such in the days before I went to Warren, which was then a "dry" town, but enjoying a good jug traffic from Dermott and Arkansas City, which were "wet" towns.
Henry L.Turner, the grocerman, did both a cash and credit business. There was another grocery store, owned by Martin & Goodwin, located about where the Warren Bank now stands. It was operated by R. F. Powers, who, as I recall, had a working interest, or who shared in the profits without investment. Martin & Goodwin did both a credit and cash business in the big store, but the grocery store, operating under a different name, sold strictly for cash. Later, R. F. Powers resigned from the management of the store to join S. B. Meek in partnership in a new grocery store, and was succeeded by M. P. Russell, who later removed to Pine Bluff.
I do not recall the number of blacksmith shops in Warren in that early day, but I do remember Frank Hickman. Another familiar name to me is that of T. R. G. Smith. In my journalistic youth I used to conjure with his name in connection with news items, by printing it as "T. R. G. Richpool Trigger Smith", using all of his initials, parts of his name, and his nicknames. It was all in fun, and he enjoyed it too, and took no offense.
There were quite a number of outstanding characters among the business men, professional men and citizens, in and around Warren in 1888. Most of them unreconstructed Confederates. There were a few Republicans - about enough for committeemen, but not enough to hold a township convention. Captain Huey was perhaps the leading one in point of residence at any rate. He lived a short distance from town. H. F. Butler was another of the prominent Republicans. H. Clay Hale, who for years served as baggage and expressman on the railroad, was yet another Republican, but not of the active partisan type. Maj. A. C. Jones, a lawyer, was perhaps the most vocal Democrat of them all, although he never held office, and to my recollection never was he a candidate for office. He was, however, a 100 per cent Democrat on all occasions, and enthusiastically so in election years. Dr. J. W. Martin, of the firm of Martin and Goodwin, was a staid old Virginian, as I remember, and a leader in the Presbyterian church. I attended the Presbyterian Sunday School, and was a member of a class taught by Dr. Martin. He had been engaged in business for a number of years, and did not practice his profession. He had a large family, most of whom were of mature age, including Dr. C. N. Martin, active as a practitioner, and W. A. Martin, who was identified with the firm of Martin & Goodwin. The Martin family was prominent in Warren and Bradley county. Aside from the immediate family of Dr. J. W. Martin there were Henry G. Martin, bookkeeper for Martin & Goodwin, and later identified with one of the banks--the Warren Bank, if I mistake not. Then there was Jim Nick Martin, who operated a livery barn, and other Martins in and out of town. T. M. Goodwin was a partner in the firm of Martin & Goodwin. He was the father of ex-Congressman W. S. Goodwin. His hobby was Jersey cattle, and he owned a hill farm a few miles from Warren, where he kept them. It is my impression that he bought the first cream separator ever brought to the State. It was a Swiss machine, shipped from Switzerland, and I remember the degree of pride and interest with which he would explain the principle of it's operation. It was a wonderful invention, to the local populace, and they were keenly interested to see it in operation, where whole fresh milk would be poured in, a crank with a fly-wheel would be turned by hand, and cream would pour out of one spout, while the milk, devoid of cream, would pour out of another spout. It seemed little short of a miracle. Mr. Goodwin was an enthusiast about Jersey cattle, and his herd consisted of the best and registered pure-breds, some of which were imported from Jersey Island. He had a butter machine also, and shipped butter mostly to the Pine Bluff market. It is my thought that Mr. Goodwin kept his Jersey herd until his death. Later it was acquired by John W. Richardson. In later years, from 1901 to 1907, I was the secretary and purchasing agent for the Board of State Charitable Institutions, having under it's supervision the State Insane Asylum, the Deaf Mute Institute, and the Arkansas School for the Blind. About 1905 the Board decided to purchase a herd of dairy cattle to be kept on the grounds of the Insane Asylum, to supply milk for that institution. I remembered the Goodwin herd of Jerseys at Warren. Upon inquiry it was learned that it was the property of John W. Richardson. He was advised of the proposed purchase and submitted a proposal to sell to the State. The result was that the Board bought a herd of fifty of the best, all registered Jerseys, at fifty dollars per head, according to my recollection. Thus was perhaps the end of the best livestock or dairy foundation Bradley county ever had--except, that no doubt many members of the Goodwin strain of Jerseys remained scattered about in the hands of local citizens. Mr. Goodwin, through his hobby, made a splendid contribution to livestock and dairy development in Bradley county.
Dr. A. N. Bond, was another outstanding and noble citizen of the earlier days of Bradley county. When I went to Warren he no longer practiced his profession. He had retired, and was the secretary of the County Fair, which was then quite an institution in Bradley county, stimulated somewhat by the friendly rivalry of the Southeast Arkansas Fair, held annually at Monticello. It was held annually in the month of October, and was the occasion for the assemblage of a large part of the population of the county, besides the hundreds of visitors that came from surrounding counties. Dr. Bond was definitely wedded to the destiny of the Bradley County Fair, and devoted much time to it, with the result that it was one of the best in the State. He was a kindly and gracious character, guileless, credulous, and completely innocent of any thought of wrong-doing or act that would injure or even offend any of his fellowmen. He was one of god's noblemen, and though not rich in material substance, he went about doing good, a messenger of good will among men. He was the father of Dr. Joe E. Bond, deceased, and Henry E. Bond, who survives him.
John T. Ederington was a pioneer merchant in Warren, and was a member of a large family of brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and cousins. He did an extensive business, largely of the credit or furnishing character, and was prosperous. The Ederington family in Bradley county had many members, all of whom held the esteem of the people among whom they moved.
Capt. W. H. Wheeler was another pioneer merchant, who operated extensively and had a large credit and furnishing trade. He was of the progressive type, had large land holdings, and also owned stock of considerable amount in the old German National Bank of Little Rock. Prior to the time I went to Warren he had been elected as a member of the legislature.
Another distinguished citizen of Warren was James M. Bailey, who for years operated a drug store across in front of the court house. He was a quiet, unassuming character, a good business man and public-spirited, with many friends and no enemies.
Dr. C. C. Gannaway also had a drug store, and his son, Dr. C. E. Gannaway--now a druggist in Warren--was associated with him for a time. Dr. Gannaway was one of the leading family doctors in Warren, at a time when doctors were not dignified by the title of physicians, and had an extensive practice, both in town and in the surrounding country. He was a splendid and lovable character, with a keen sense of humor, always looking upon the bright side of life and spreading good cheer among men as he went about his duties. Dr. C. C. Gannaway was the father of Hon. John R. Gannaway, Dr. C. E. Gannaway and several other children. He lived a long and very useful life.
Another striking character of the early days in Warren was my old friend, Uncle Sam Turner, the father of Henry L., J. S. Turner of Ozark, and Mrs. Frank Mack. He was full of good humor, loved a good joke, loved to tell jokes on his friends, and loved his friends. He was a friend to all and an enemy to none. He was one of the town's philosophers, knew all the weather signs for either good or bad, and carried a buckeye in his pocket for local physical ailments. When I knew him he was old enough to be in the retired class, having reared a worthy family to maturity, and spent much of his time in company with James Frasier, Captain Pace and a few others of about the same age, who would almost daily assemble at some comfortable store front porch or elsewhere, and philosophise, joke each other and discuss public issues. It was an interesting group, and I use to find pleasure in giving the group some publicity in a good-humored way from time to time.
Ben F. Langston was the postmaster when I went to Warren. He was a Confederate soldier, and lost a leg at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Later he was elected county and circuit clerk, defeating my old friend, Horace B. VanValkenburgh, who had held the office several terms, and who also employed the use of crutches.
It seemed to me that there were more of the Bradleys in Bradley county, than those of any other name. There were a number of branches of the Bradley families, and their history in that section dated back many years. My recollection is they were all natives of the county, as were likewise the Turners. There were a number of Turners also, of different families. Judge John M. Bradley, who died a short time before I went to Warren, had been circuit judge of that judicial district, having been defeated as an independent candidate two years previously by Judge Carroll D. Wood, who was then serving his first term. John E. Bradley was a lawyer and editor. Uncle Hugh Bradley was a farmer, but subsequently became sheriff, and perhaps county judge.
Ned Bradley, another son of Judge John M. Bradley, was a printer and worked for me at the Warren News for several years, as did also his brother, Barton. John E. Bradley was elected to the legislature from Bradley county and later removed to Arkadelphia, and was afterwards elected to the legislature from that county, and subsequently prosecuting attorney from that district. Judge John M. Bradley was perhaps the most colorful character of the Bradley family. Although I did not know him personally, I learned much about his career from friends and acquaintances of his. It seems in his early manhood he was a blacksmith, and with limited education. While yet a blacksmith, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar. He was noted for his power as a public speaker. He was also noted for brilliancy, more than he was for being learned in the law. On one occasion Col. Met L. Jones, an able lawyer and a brainy man, then practicing law in Pine Bluff, in speaking of Judge Bradley as a lawyer, said that sometimes he would become confused about the law in the trial of a case by referring to the law books, but that if he left the law books closed he would do better, for he knew not only what the law was, but what it ought to be. He had a keen legal mind. Judge Bradley's weakness politically was his instability. Originally a Democrat, he embraced the isms and off-shoots of political parties. He became a Greenbacker, took up other isms and finally turned Republican. One of the old citizens of Bradley county told me that the first time he ever saw Judge Bradley to know him was when he and some neighbors were working the public road, near the Saline River. He said Judge Bradford was on horse-back, with a pair of saddle-bags. He alighted, tied his horse, some distance from them. Then he went down to the water's edge, took off his shirt and washed it, and hung it on a bush to dry. When noon-time arrived he donned his shirt and approached the crowd of workmen, told them he was a candidate for Congress and wanted to make them a speech. They assembled, and he spoke to them, and to their surprise made a powerful speech, marked for its eloquence. Judge Bradley had a checkered career in political life, and his political activities were far beyond the confines of his native bailiwick. He also became an ordained Methodist minister, and made a reputation as such. However, even afterwards, he was beset by one of the human frailties of the early days, and sometimes relapsed into the habit of drink. Due to this he was at one time brought before the Conference, which met at Camden. After the charges were preferred and presented to the Conference for deliberation, he was permitted to speak in his own defense. He did so, the story relates, and without entering a denial, he spoke so eloquently upon the weaknesses and frailties of human nature, the power of temptation, and alternatively of the divine attributes of mercy and forgiveness, that there was not a dry eye in the congregation, nor a voice raised against his restoration to good standing. He must have been a man of many fine parts.
In Warren and in the surrounding _____ _________ parts were many fine men and women, in the days when in my memory, almost half a century ago. Most were natives and sons and daughters of pioneers, but had come from other states. The Carolinas had made their contribution to the substantial citizens of Bradley county. Of the pioneer stock as I remember it, in addition to those mentioned, were the Beards; the Singers; the Glasgows; the Roddys; the Balfours; the Moseley's; the Seays; the Adams; the Bakers; the McLeod's; the Watsons; the Manns; the Trussells; the Colvins; the Childs; the Lees; the Parnells; the Belins, and many others, practically all of whom have descendents now in Bradley county.
When I went to Warren in 1888, it was an incorporated town, but it had the semblance of a distinctly country village. There did not appear to be any surveyed and platted town lots off of court square. Most of the homes were located upon what apparently was acreage, with sufficient grounds for barns, horse-lots, cow-lots, gardens and in some cases truck patches. Cows, hogs, dogs and fowls roamed at large through the streets and by-ways. There were no sidewalks, save here and there short pieces of board walks, and possibly a brick side-walk from the Kemp Hotel to the corner at the John T. Ederington store. Everybody had fireplaces, with some heating stoves to supplement, and wood was the fuel used exclusively. The women wore silk apalca dresses and had trains that swept the floor or ground when walking, if not held gracefully and charmingly in one hand for protection and grace combined. The men not infrequently wore Prince Alberts of the conventional black, and especially for dress occasions. Bird feathers, flowers and foliage decorated the fashionable hats of the ladies, and the men delighted in derbies of various designs and colors. Low-quarter shoes would have been as much out of place in winter or fall weather as bed-room slippers, for out-door appearance. The young men never called upon the young ladies or sought to accompany them places except through the medium of a note couched in the most formal language, sent by special messenger, who waited for an answer in like kind. A form, for instance, something like this: "Mr. Morgan Little, presents his compliments to Miss Lucille Redwine, and would most respectfully solicit the pleasure of her company to the evening entertainment at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Duncan."
Bradley county in those earlier days was strictly an agricultural county. Warren depended upon agriculture exclusively. There were no industries of any character, save the conventional cotton gins and grist mills, and a few small saw mills. It was two or more years after I went to Warren before the first planing mill was established. It was established by a Nebraskan named Carpenter. He bought rough pine lumber from small local mills of the portable type, and finished it at his plant on the northeast corner from the courthouse, and I remember that he sold ship-lap lumber as low as six dollars per thousand. He shipped out most of his product, and in the beginning had a hard time of maintaining his enterprise as a going concern.
In those days the most magnificent and stately pine forests I have ever seen anywhere, were growing and undisturbed in Bradley county. Apparently a rich heritage to the people, but unhappily there was no demand--no market. A year or two later there came into the county agents for land companies of the north. One such agent was Walter P. Ritchie, of Pine Bluff, who remained stationed as such in Warren long enough to find a sweetheart, and later to make her his wife. These land company agents offered a market for the pine lands of the county--and also in adjoining counties. Their price for the lands was based on the pine timber growth, fixed, or limited to fifty cents per acre, according to the estimate when cruised, but the maximum price was $2.50 per acre, for the land in fee. Nothing was counted but the pine. Other growth was not considered. At this price large acreages of pine lands were assembled. In the estimate made by the timber cruisers nothing under 12 inches was considered.
After the large purchases of pine timber lands, it became the hope of the business men and people generally that a large lumber manufacturing plant would be established in the town or in close proximity by the owners of those thousands of acres of fine pine timber lands. In common with others, I indulged this hope, and incidently did all that I could personally and through the "power and prestige of the great newspaper of which I was the editor," sought to in every way my resourcefulness could suggest, induce the owners of those great bodies of fine pine timber land, to establish manufacturing plants to convert the timber into the finished product. In the _____ of success, we all thought we could see a great future in the growth and development of Warren. We visioned great latent commercial possibilities for the town, if we could only stimulate the owners or someone else to action. In the course of time, A. H. Gates, who was interested in the ownership of a considerable body of pine timber land, came to Warren. Among others he came to see me, and let it be known that he contemplated selecting a site for a large lumber manufacturing plant, to cut 100,000 feet per day. I, with others, did all we could to persuade him to select Warren as the site. He considered the matter for several weeks. Finally one day he came in to see me again, and then told me he had finally selected the site for his plant, and that it would be located at Wilmar. Great was the disappointment thereat. It looked like Warren was doomed to sit snugly almost within the shadows of the most wonderful pine forests in the country with no hope of a manufacturing plant to consume this vast wealth of raw material.
And so it was when I left Warren a few years later. It was one of the major disappointments of my life that I was not able in some way to aid in accomplishing our long-sought objective during my stay in Warren. Perhaps I did not have the patience. Certainly I did not have knowledge of the lumber industry. I only knew that we had in Bradley county some of the finest pine forests in the United States, and that we wanted the owners or some other agency to come in and cut it up into merchantable lumber and ship it out, so that Warren might grow and boom and become a big town with waterworks and electric lights and all the trimmings that would nourish our pride and bring money into our midst and business volume ample for the support of the kind of a town we wanted Warren to be. When all those things came, and the big lumber industries were in full blast and the town grown up, with modern improvements, sidewalks, paved streets and everything, I looked over the wonderful change with consolation and pleasure, and with the satisfied sense, that after all, it was little more or less than the substance of the visions of the years before, that arose to my mind, born of optimism and hope.