Letitia Morton McKissick was the daughter of Colonel James McKissick and Mary “Polly” Vance Greer McKissick. She was born in Tennessee in 1824. Letitia’s father, Colonel James McKissick first saw northwest Arkansas as he passed through on a trip to Indian Territory in the early 1830s. He was so impressed with the beautiful land and plentiful springs that upon his return to Bedford County, Tennessee, he began making plans to move to Arkansas. The McKissick family traveled to Arkansas in 1835 with a large group of influential family and friends including the Dickson family, who left their historical mark in both Benton and Washington counties.
Letitia’s parents, Colonel James and Mary “Polly” McKissick, owned plantation farm land on the Illinois River near the mouth of the Osage in Washington County, but their home was located at McKissick Springs, which today is known as the town of Centerton in Benton County. Letitia’s brother, Alexander Hamilton McKissick, served as a Benton County surveyor. With their Dickson cousins this family played important roles in the early development of Benton County.
Letitia’s sister, Sarah, was the wife of Joseph Lawrence Dickson who was an influential merchant in downtown Fayetteville. Joseph kept a diary which mentioned his sister-in-law, Letitia, and other family members who embarked on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee in 1854. Joseph endearingly referred to Letitia, who never married, by such nicknames as “Letsy” and “Tish”.
Letitia and her sister Sarah conducted a private school at the Dickson home. "Miss Tish" as Letitia was also called, also taught at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Block Street.
On April 12, 1861, Letitia’s sister, Sarah McKissick Dickson delivered a speech and presented a Confederate flag to her brother-in-law, Dr. Charles W. Deane, at a town ceremony in Fayetteville. The Arkansasian newspaper reported that a brass band played “Dixieland” followed by three cheers for Jeff Davis and the Confederacy.
Letitia and her family suffered great heartache and turmoil during the War Between the States. Her nephew, James McKissick, was killed at the battle of Elkhorn and her 75 year old Uncle David McKissick was shot and killed by Yankees in the doorway of his Benton County home. Her cousin Daniel McKissick raised one of the earliest cavalry units for the Confederacy in Northwest Arkansas. Letitia’s brother-in-law, Dr. Samuel Bell, was killed at the battle of Oak Hills in Missouri. In the days leading up to the battle of Elkhorn at Pea Ridge, Letitia’s family home property at McKissick Springs was the campsite of hundreds of Union soldiers under the leadership of General Franz Sigel and General Alexander Asboth.
According to McKissick family history, Union soldiers camped in the McKissick family cemetery where Letitia’s relatives were buried. While cooking breakfast, the soldiers built a fire on the five-foot long slab of limestone which was Grandmother Jane McKissick’s grave marker at McKissick Springs.
In his diary, Joseph Lawrence Dickson notes the death of Letitia Morton McKissick on February 5, 1876 at 8 o’clock p.m. in Fayetteville, Arkansas. However, he does not mention where she was buried.
Our appreciation and thanks to Monte Harris of the Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers, Arkansas for this submission.