A Little History...Occupying a prominent and influential position in the Tenth Judicial Circuit and Third Congressional District of Arkansas, Drew County owes its prosperity and existence to a worthy class of pioneer settlers, whose determined efforts and heroic labors opened the way for civilization and aided greatly in transforming this wilderness into a community of culture and prosperity. Among these early immigrants was one well known to the present generation, John S. Handly, who came here in March, 1839, and to him is accorded the greater majority of facts gleaned regarding the first early settlers of Drew County. At the time of his location, besides his brother, Jack Handly, there was but one other man in the present limits of Clear Creek Township. In 1835, James Ferguson removed from Mississippi, and settled in the same neighborhood, on Handly Creek. South of the Handly settlement, on Hungry Run lived J. W. Ridgell, Bynum Nichols and Fountain Brown, the last named, a Methodist preacher. All of these men came to the county in 1835. Ridgell and Nichols came from Mississippi, and Brown from Tennessee.
Toward the northeastern part of the county lived Jesse Whittacre and Hugh Fannin. These men were Kentuckians, who became citizens of Arkansas in 1835 or 1836. Stephen Gaster and Reece Bowden came from Louisiana about 1832, and settled on Bayou Bartholomew. It is said of Bowden that he is the only man on record who discovered that a gray squirrel could beat a flash of lightning down a black gum tree, and as he was an eyewitness to this strange feat, the statement can not be questioned. He explained it by stating that the lightning had to run round and round the tree, while the squirrel went straight down.
Ezekiel Owens came from Tennessee and settled here between 1836/1839, purchased his first piece of land there in 1843/1884, and settled on the Bayou. In 1836 John Oneal (probably O'Neal) a South Carolinian, settled on Ten Mile creek. In the same neighborhood lived Jesse Hunt, Benjamin Nettles and a man named Arnold, who came from Mississippi with Ridgell. These men and their families embraced the entire numerical strength of the county. Settlements grew slowly, and those new comers who followed made their homes near the older settled habitations until finally the neighborhoods merged one into another. The pioneers were mostly from Tennessee and Mississippi.
The first post-office established in the county was named Montongo, and was in the store of Carney Oneal, situated about three miles west of where Monticello now is. The first election in the county's present territory was while it formed a part of Bradley County. This was in what is now Marion Township, the voting place being the Gaster schoolhouse, or what is called Gaster Hill. At that early days the forest abounded in game and hunting was the chief amusement; encounters with bears were numerous, nor was the danger attending them sufficient to deter these dauntless spirits from engaging in the fascinating sport.. Read More from Goodspeed's History...