Read the local newspaper for the time period to gain an understanding of hardships your ancestors endured. You can never be sure how accurate an index is. Page by page searching can increase your chance of finding genealogical material. If a local newspaper did not exist for a time period check metropolitan newspapers indexes that circulated in the area as they reported regional news.
History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More By Frederick William Allsopp 1922 page 267
Montgomery County has been somewhat backward in a newspaper way. The Arkansas Mining Journal was published at Mt. Ida from June 4, 1880, until June 28, 1881 when it suspended and no paper was published in the county that is of record until about 1886. In 1886 the Bear Mountain News, at Bear, or Black Springs, was started by J. L. Wadley, of the Hot Springs News, who printed the paper at the office of the latter paper. He sold it a year later, and it soon suspended, leaving the entire county at that time without a newspaper. The Montgomery County Times, which had been started shortly before, was in 1911 bought by P. A. Tofft and Miss Cecelia Tofft, who in 1887 came to America from Australia. The paper was discontinued before 1916. The News, at Caddo Gap, was started in 1911 by H. A. Norton, who leased a dead plant for the purpose, but after a short time it proved unsuccessful. The News, at Womble was started about 1911, by W. E. Womble, a merchant and postmaster of that town, who is also known in politics. It appears to have been succeeded by the Womble Review, which commenced publication in 1913 with J. Milan as publisher. A. H. Chapin became its editor and publisher in 1920. and he was succeeded by P. A. Tofft, who had published the Montgomery County Times. C. R. Sanders became its editor and publisher in 1922. The Montgomery County Democrat at Mt. Ida. was started in 1914. Elbert Howell was its editor., lie was succeeded by L. L. Beavers in 1920, and he sold to Ernest C. Rauert, of El Dorado, in 1921. The Arkansas Hillbilly, a fortnightly humorous publication, was started in 1920, by P. A. Tofft, who had been the publisher of two weekly newspapers at Mt. Ida. Mr. Tofft is known as "Sorghum Pete," under which pen name he writes witty sayings and spreads homely philosophy, but his paper has not made its appearance late.
Publications at the beginning of the year 1921 for Montgomery County
Montgomery County Democrat, Mount Ida
Montgomery County Review, Womble.
The Atchison Daily Globe,
(Atchison, KS) Monday, December 05, 1887; Issue 3,117; col B
Business recently called a citizen of Atchison, Frank Everest, to Montgomery County, Arkansas, and he writes about the county which is still a primitive backwoods.
TNY Times Oct. 17 1900 Family
killed by Dynamite.
Outrage near Hot Springs, Ark., supposed to be result of a land dispute.
Hot springs, Ark., Oct. 16- A father, mother, and four young children were blown to atoms last evening at Sells, Montgomery County, fourteen miles from Hot Springs. While the family were at supper their home was wrecked by an explosion of dynamite. The names of the adult victims are Jefferson and Maggie Jones. it is believed that a dispute over a homestead claim prompted the outrage. The county officials say they are close on the track of the guilty persons.
Atlanta Constitution - Nov 6, 1920
Arkansas Bank Robbed. The Montgomery County bank at Mount Ida. Ark,. was robbed last night. The outer door of the vault...
Jonesboro Daily Tribune
Jonesboro, Craighead County, Arkansas
October 13, 1928
ONE DEAD; OTHER DYING IN DUEL
Mystery Surrounds Cause of Fatal Gun Battle
HOT SPRINGS, Ark., Oct 12 - H. V. Taylor, 40, deputy sheriff of Montgomery County, residing at Caddo Gap, 35 miles southwest of this city, died this afternoon at St. Joseph's Infirmary from two bullet wounds in his abdomen.
O. J. Leffler, 36, employed by the Caddo River Lumber Company, is in the Army-Navy Hospital and is not expected to live. Leffler also was shot twice, one bullet shattering the left shoulder blade and the other hitting his spine, paralyzing him and setting up internal hemorrhages.
The men, according to residents of Caddo Gap, who brought them to this city, met near Taylor barber shop Thursday night shortly after 9 o'clock. Leffler claims that Taylor opened fire on him and that he was on the ground when he succeeded in getting his revolver working. Leffler is a veteran of the World War.
Both men are married. Taylor leaving a wife and three children, and Leffler has a wife and four children. The latter today would not permit his wife to see him.
Caddo Cap residents claim the cause for the shooting was the attention that Taylor was alleged to be paying Mrs. Leffler, although the men, so far as could be learned, were not enemies and never had any previous trouble.
1930 census for Gap Twp
York Times Nov 1, 1951; p. 1
Leopards and Bears Flee Circus; Lion in Same Show kills a child.
Mount Ida, Ark, Oct. 31.
A leopard, one of several circus animals that escaped in this wild mountain area of western Arkansas, was shot and killed this afternoon. Another leopard, two black bears, one polar bear and six rhesus monkeys still at large, Ben Davenport, owner of the Campa Brothers circus, said. A heavy rain was hampering efforts of a posse to track down the animals, which scampered into the woods earlier this dreary Halloween when a circus truck overturned on a slippery highway near Mena, Ark, en route to Mount Ida. Sheriff Wilbur Tidwell of Montgomery County, of which Mount Ida is the seat, said a leopard had been spotted about 100 yards from the scene of the wreck. He reported that nineteen persons shot at the cat and that five hits were registered. The search for the animals was being conducted in bad weather and over urged terrain in the Ouachita National Forest section about fifteen miles northwest of Mount Ida. The area is inhabited by native panthers, bears and other wild animals. Meanwhile, at Mena, the child killed by the lion was buried. Two circus officials, Mr Davenport and Huh Reeves, were released after a hearing on charges of manslaughter. Police Judge Clem Brown said there was not sufficient evidence of negligence on the part of the circus officials to warrant holding them. The lion had been tied to a short chain outside his cage when Maria de la Lues, a member of the troupe, ran by the lion grabbed the girl and killed her with a bite.
Life 12 Nov. 1951 page 58
Last week a jinx hit the Campa Bros. Circus on tour in Arkansas. First a 9 year old girl was killed by a supposedly tame lion. Next day a big circus truck turned over on the wet roads near Pencil bluff and spewed two leopards, two tame black bears, four monkeys and a polar bear into the rough. Sheriff Wilbur Tidwell promptly organized a posse of more than a hundred men armed with rifles and shotguns. Within a few hours after the crash a group of 19 men found one leopard. They all blasted away, but a state trooper, who was using a submachine gun, got credit for the kill. At dawn the next morning lumberjack M. Ralston Fair, 28 year old, stalked the other leopard with a little mongrel pup called Tony and a deer hound. Tony first spotted the leopard and bravely charged it. he was instantly killed. Fair stunned the beast with three quick shots and then clubbed it to death with his rifle. By the week's end one black bear and a monkey had surrender meekly, but the other animals were still at large. Fair who shot the leopard and gets to keep pelt.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Nov 1, 1951
The leader of hunt, Sheriff Wilbur Tidwell of Montgomery County, was optimistic over the chances of bringing back the four-footed fugitives- dead or alive. Several ours later, one of the leopards was shot and killed when it ventured onto a highway not far from the scene of the wreck. Although several persons fired, Sheriff Tidwell credited Arkansas State Highway Patrolman Clarence (Red) Montgomery of Malvern with the kill and was allowed to keep the pelt as a prize. The leopard weighed 128 pounds. Montgomery shot the animal with a sub-machine gun.
It was the second misfortune in a 12 hour period for the circus, made up mostly of Latin-American employees. On Tuesday night, while showing in Mena, Ark., a young lion clawed to death the nine year old grandaughter of a woman animal trainer. Davenport and another show official, High Reeves, were charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of the child, Maria de la Luez. They were freed, however, after a hearing at Mena Wednesday, Police judge Clem Brown said there wasn't sufficient evidence of negligence. The circus was to have performed here Wednesday night but the show didn't go on.
The Lewiston Daily Sun - Nov 1, 1951
Sheriff Wilbur Tidwell said the leopard was spotted about 100 yards from the scene of the wreck. he reported 19 persons shot at the cat and that five hits were registered. This section of the Ouachita national Forest about 15 miles northwest of Mt Ida is inhabited by native panthers, bears and other wild animals.
Movie featuring Montgomery County
The White River Kid, a movie, starring Randy Travis was filmed in and around Mt. Ida, June 1998. The name of the county newspaper office on the town square was changed to 'Wexas County News' for the occasion. The 'clabber girl' sketch on the buff colored building on the town square opposite the courthouse was left behind.
The season for wishing
By Tom Dillard
Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
My birthday is December 24, and my wife always prepares a wonderful meal in celebration. While I normally prefer to obscure the aging process in the glitter of the holiday season, a special meal by Mary Frost Dillard is some recompense for being a year older. This year I'm asking for a meal made of Arkansas products. No single food is distinctive to modern Arkansas cuisine. But many different foods are produced in the Natural State, indeed far more than I can include in this brief essay. Petit Jean Foods of Morrilton produces a line of excellent meat products. Few competitors come close to the fine taste, texture, and moisture of a Petit Jean ham. Maybe I'll also ask for a smoked chicken from Burge's of Lewisville (Lafayette County) and Little Rock. Our ancestors ate hams and other pork products in great quantities. Bear meat was popular in antebellum Arkansas, when bears were found in large numbers throughout the state. Most settlers, however, found a herd of hogs indispensable. The rise of pork as the meat of choice in Arkansas and the rest of the south made good economic and ecological sense. As historian Joe Gray Taylor has noted, a pig born in the spring was ready for slaughter in early winter. Moreover, until well into modern times, hogs were turned loose to feed in the wild on roots, grasses, and especially acorns. (Hogs also had a taste for meat, as was discovered after the Civil War battle at Prairie Grove when some of the dead soldiers were fed upon by hogs.) Of course, I will insist on a pan of cornbread. It will be made of yellow cornmeal and cooked in a well-seasoned skillet. Corn was the literal staff of life for most Arkansans in the 19th Century. Even though wheat, rye and other grains were grown on many farms, for most areas it was corn that fed both man and beast for generations. Wheat flour was more expensive to produce than corn. While a farmer might expect his hogs to forage for a living, his horses and mules usually received supplemental feedings of corn in addition to fodder. Among my wife's cooking specialties are deserts. I am partial to pecan pies. Actually, I like pecans in just about any way, but they make a fine pie. Maybe after dinner, I'll have a piece or two of peanut brittle from Arkadelphia-which is home to two commercial peanut brittle companies. After dinner, I might sip a bit of muscadine juice by Post Familie Winery of Altus. Continuing this theme, I think I'll ask for Arkansas products as birthday gifts. As a collector of Arkansas art, I would like to have a wildflower photograph by auto dealer-turned-photographer Don Nelms of Newton County. I like his works for their composition, striking and natural color contrasts, and the texture that comes with printing onto canvas. For years I have been dropping hints that I'd like a piece of pottery by the late Rosemary Fisher, a popular instructor at the Arkansas Arts Center. Speaking of the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock's MacArthur Park, it is a great place to do holiday shopping. But then, so is the Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro, or the Shiloh Museum gift shop in Springdale, or the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View. The Historic Arkansas Museum and the Old State House Museum, both of downtown Little Rock, have fine gift shops. Quality and variety is very high in both these shops, including generous offerings of books about Arkansas. My wife is not too keen on burdening our crowded bookshelves, but the new UA Press catalog is releasing Professor Brooks Blevins' new book, Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State.
This article was published December 6, 2009
Editorial, Pages 86 on 12/06/2009
Before Rachael Ray
Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
By Tom Dillard
Lately I have been reading up on the history of food, cooking and dining in Arkansas. This is because the University of Arkansas libraries� Special Collections Department, which I head, is creating a journal on Arkansas foodways. Tim Nutt, assistant head of special collections, suggested the name for the journal�Arkansauce. While this journal will cover the whole food studies waterfront, I plan on it having a good grounding in Arkansas history. A surprising amount of food history and lore can be found in the record, which should not surprise us given that acquiring food, preparing it, and eating the final product is a basic part of everyday living. One aspect of food history is the amount of hard work involved in preparing meals. This was especially true before the arrival of the cook stove or range. While the wood-burning stove was common by 1855 in northern urban areas, it did not make its way into rural Arkansas until after the Civil War.
Wayman Hogue, who grew up in the southern Ozarks in the late 1800s, recalled that he was 10 years old before even hearing about a cook stove. "We did all our cooking on the kitchen fireplace," Hogue recalled in his outstanding memoir, Back Yonder (1932). He continued, "This necessitated fire in the kitchen every day in the year. . . . My mother would rake out some coals, and put over them a three-legged skillet in which she placed biscuits. She then put a lid over the skillet and heaped coals on the lid." The result, Hogue wistfully recalled, were "wonderful biscuits; I have never eaten any since as good." The Hogue family, like many Southern families, had a detached kitchen in the back yard behind their two-room log home. This arrangement avoided heating the home during warm weather. Women and girls spent hours daily on meal preparation.
Cornelia Dickson, writing from her home in rural Ouachita County in March 1872, complained of the drudgery of laboring over the fireplace: "I have not had a leisure hour until now, for this cooking business exhausts me entirely." Happily, she reported that her half-brother George-whose family she lived with-had ordered a stove. Six weeks later, Miss Dickson happily reported "we have a stove at last." Cornelia's new stove bore the brand name of Philanthropist, and was obtained from a New Orleans merchant. The stove must have been important to Cornelia for she could name the brand of stoves in use throughout the community. "Clara [her sister] has the Olive Branch; Mrs. Alston a Charter Oak; Mrs. Annie Stone, Pacific; Mrs. Moseley a Buck's Brilliant." These wood-burning cook stoves were large, impressive contraptions. The 1871 Little Rock city directory carried a full page advertisement noting "the great excitement over the wonderful success of Buck's Brilliant cooking stoves!" The ad contained a drawing of the stove, a cast iron contraption standing waist high and loaded down with five large pots. In the excessive style of the times, the stove bore numerous decorative flourishes, including a large bas-relief of a stag's head. As the century wore on, the stoves grew larger in size with many models having warming compartments.
While cook stoves were considerable improvements over hearth cooking, they could be finicky. They did not have thermostats, so excessive heating required opening oven doors temporarily. Cooks soon learned that the top of the stove was not evenly heated, so pots had to be moved about to reach the desired temperature. As one historian has written, "Cookstoves were notoriously eccentric. A good cook learned their vagaries and adapted." While cook stoves might have made a belated arrival in rural Arkansas, that does not mean the state did not have a stove pioneer of its own. Historian Margaret Smith Ross published an article in 1956 that included a tantalizing tidbit of information: "Henry Jackson, [a] free Negro, operated a confectionery earlier [than Nathan Warren], but he invented a cooking stove which proved to be profitable, and he moved to Evansville, Indiana, where the stove was manufactured." I have some research to do on this early Arkansas black inventor.
This article was published September 19, 2010 Editorial, Pages 82 on 09/19/2010
Silver in dem der hills!
By Tom Dillard
Editorial, Pages 78 on 03/21/2010
Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
Recently I received an email asking if gold had really been
mined at Golden City, a rural area near Booneville in Logan County. Yes, Golden
City was one of many places in 19th-Century Arkansas which were believed to have
valuable minerals, especially gold or silver. In almost every instance, however,
the flocking miners were destined for disappointment. The earliest instance of
mining for precious metals that I know about was in 1816 when the Spanish sent a
party up the Arkansas River to spy on the Americans who were flooding into what
is now Arkansas. The espionage party, which included the famed pirate Jean
Lafitte, traveled under the guise of being prospectors, and they actually did a
little silver mining in what is today the Kellogg Acres area of North Little
Rock. Indeed the original name of North Little Rock, Argenta, means silver in
Most of the gold and silver rushes in Arkansas occurred during the 1870s and 1880s, but a Saline County immigrant thought he found gold in 1843. When he learned a few days later that he had discovered fool's gold, or worthless iron pyrites, the settler fell into a deep gloom. But, that despair was broken when his wife picked up an axe and began cutting trees for a home. The downcast settler then spoke a memorable line: "Had it not been for her I might have died of chagrin . . . ." The 1878 gold strike in southern Boone County, which resulted in Golden City, also turned out to be a lode of fool's gold. A more prolonged gold excitement occurred in Searcy during the summer of 1887 when two shafts were sunk only a few yards from the county court house. The late Margaret Smith Ross has written about the Searcy strike, noting that the location of the digging in the center of the small town provided a certain entertainment value for the locals. "An interested crowd of sidewalk supervisors came to the shaft every day while the work was in progress," wrote Ross. After a hot summer of digging to a depth of 41 feet, the weary prospectors gave up.
While efforts have been made across Arkansas to mine precious metals, the area between Hot Springs and Mount Ida in the Ouachita Mountains became popularly known as The Mineral Belt. Two locations in eastern Montgomery County, Silver City and Bear, became the scenes of intense prospecting and mining before being debunked by the Arkansas Geological Survey in 1888. Silver City was the first big silver rush in Arkansas. Located about 15 miles east of Mount Ida, the area that would become known as Silver City first attracted prospectors about 1875, according to the author of the entry on mining in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Leonard M. Sherman of Little Rock. During the first week of 1879, the Arkansas Gazette began publishing features on the Silver City area. In June 1879, the Gazette reported that "silver fever" was running high in Montgomery County, followed a week later by a report that "wild excitement" prevailed in nearby Hot Springs. By the end of the year, over 1,000 mining claims had been filed in Silver City. The silver boom spread across the state, with reports of new discoveries in Saline, Stone, Searcy, and Boone Counties. The old Kellogg mine in Argenta was brought back into service. Meantime, Silver City was prospering with riverboat and railroad magnate Joseph "Diamond Jo" Reynolds establishing the Minnesota Mine, while wealthy Joplin, Missouri, smelter and "lead king" Elliott R. Moffet opened the Walnut Mine. Many claims were worked at Silver City, but the yield of silver was never enough to turn a profit for any of the mines. Miners and prospectors gradually left Silver City, a process that accelerated after 1884 when rumors spread that gold had been discovered at nearby Bear. By 1887 Bear was bustling, with 35 mining companies operating and speculation out of control.
Rush to Bear City
By Tom Dillard
Editorial, Pages 78 on 03/28/2010
Publication: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
Last week I wrote about Silver City and some of the other places in Arkansas that were the scenes of gold or silver rushes during the 1800s. Today's topic is the mining settlement of Bear, west of Hot Springs in what is today Garland County but was in Montgomery County until 1917. Many if not most of the gold rushes in Arkansas came about due to the discovery of iron pyrites, fool's gold. Or, in some cases small amounts of gold or silver were actually found-but never in paying amounts. In the case of Bear, no one is quite sure how the rush began, but in a lusty mingling of adrenaline and greed, the rush was feverish and many people innocently bought stock in worthless mines.
Bear City, as it was officially named, was platted in 1884,
when rumors of gold were already being heard, and the settlement grew steadily.
On July 4th, 1887, the Hot Springs Daily News published a special mining
edition, with a detailed description of Bear. Two months earlier, the reporter
wrote, "the place was but an unattractive miner's hamlet, but it is today a
young city of nearly a thousand souls, full and bustling with the life and
activity characteristic of a booming new mining town." The reporter noted that
people had been flooding into Bear "charmed with the stories of Arkansas mines."
A building boom supported seven steam saw mills, and "from dawn till dusk the
clatter of hammers and the sound of the saw" could be heard. Boarding houses and
hotels sprang up to house the prospectors and miners. Two businessmen began a
bank and real estate office, and three newspapers sprang up to spread the word
about the riches to be made. People were anxious to believe in the mines at
Bear. An aging veteran of the California gold rush of 1849 proclaimed: "I have
seen all the mining camps in the United States and I know Arkansas has the
greatest mines in the world." A reporter concluded that the "great rush of
people to Bear City [has] given it a magical impetus." Like mushrooms after a
spring shower, mining companies sprang up overnight. The late Donald Harington,
who wrote about Bear in his wonderful book Let Us Build Us a City (1986), stated
that 47 mining companies "with such names as Eureka, Ozark, Accident, Nonpareil,
Phoenix, and Champion," were incorporated, and more than $80 million worth of
shares were reportedly sold. Money was indeed being made, but it was from
selling stock, not finding gold.
While the state of Arkansas has never been known for its consumer protection, it did step in to bring an end to the runaway speculation that held sway in Bear. In 1887 the General Assembly appropriated funds for a professional geological survey of the state, and the highly regarded John C. Branner became the new state geologist. Branner, who would later become a renowned geologist and president of Stanford University in California, issued a report in August 1888 that knocked the wind out of the Bear gold rush. "Gigantic frauds" read the front-page headlines as the Arkansas Gazette reported Branner's findings. Branner pulled no punches, stating "we are brought to the irresistible conclusion that ignorance or fraud, or both, are at the bottom of the high gold assays reported from Montgomery and Garland counties." Branner concluded with a sober but positive note: "The future of Arkansas, as a mining state, must depend upon her coal, iron, manganese, antimony, and possibly zinc, lead and graphite . . . . The geology of the state is not favorable for the production or mining of the precious metals." Legend has it that Branner was hanged in effigy at Bear. Sputtering with indignation, some miners held out hope, but by 1892 only four mines remained open, and the population stood at a mere 120 souls. Interestingly, one business enterprise did survive at Bear long after the mines closed and prospectors drifted away-chair manufacturing. The Rouse and Bump families hand-made wooden chairs with woven oak bottoms at Bear for more than a century.
The weekly newspaper is not dead. Community weeklies in general, seems to flourish in the face of the Internet, compared to their big city cousins. Local district columns, keeping football fans up to date, obituaries and funerals, church activities and picnics are stock in trade. The newspapers operate with a few staff or just one who wears many hats- he might be the editor, reporter, photographer with a digital camera, ad salesman, office manager, headline writer, layout artist, bookkeeper and newspaper deliveryman for the weekly. But the company is a 21st century one, electronically transmitting completed pages to a distant printing plant. "It is the bond that holds the community together." " In a community paper everything is more positive. You want to share who's born, who's getting married, who's gradating from school, promote the town and still be prepared to blow the whistle and cover the court cases." The Montgomery County News typically ten pages, with some colored photos and ads and bolstered by classifieds and weekly grocery ads. Such papers will continue to do well. In smaller, rural communities, they're more insulated from technological advancements and already have the notion of community and getting closer to the readers. Life in Mt. Ida, Oden, Norman, Pine Ridge, and Hurricane Grove is typically tranquil. "You have some elbow room. You have a slower pace, You can see the stars at night. Even here, though, tribulations loom. "Good people can do bad things." The newspaper sells for 75 cents a copy as of June 2012 and 2015. Mike Graves - CEO-publisher. Office manager/ circulation -she handles the advertising needs and subscriptions for the Montgomery County News. Mike Wallace was the the sports editor and Jimmie Jackson - Emeritus still in 2015.