July 27, 2011 Edition

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NEARA holdings continue to grow

Gretchen Hunt

When the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives opened in Powhatan, a wealth of research information was immediately made available.

Since then, more materials have been donated, including most recently a significant donation of Sharp County records from the Arkansas State University Museum.

"These historical records, including records from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, will be a tremendous benefit to historical researchers and genealogists with ties to Sharp County," said Dr. Lisa Perry, archival manager at NEARA.

The new additions include more than 100 county ledger books - tax, assessment, school, road and court documents - and additional documents related to the county.

In a separate donation, the archives also added several other items of interest to researchers. These items include:

  • The Civil War History of Milligan's Campground (Sharp County).

  • Search for Ancestors and Siblings of Roswell Davis (Lawrence County).

  • The Biography of John Milligan II.

  • Pioneers to Ol' Lawrence County Volume I: The Northern Families.

  • Pioneers to Ol' Lawrence County: Volume II: A Southern Family, The Jefferys, Parts I, II and III.

Maps tell WR's story

Lawrence County Historical Society President Lloyd Clark also reports that a set of Sanborn Maps of Walnut Ridge made in 1929 just before the Great Depression began, are helping show what life was like in Walnut Ridge back in the "good ole days."

"These maps were made for insurance companies, so they could set fire insurance rates," Clark said. "They say the population was 4,000 and are scale maps showing every building site, water main and resource in the city. They tell whether the buildings were wood, stone, cement or steel/iron framed."

Some of the buildings listed on the maps include: African Methodist Episcopal Church, Barnes Ice Cream, Bench Coal House, J.M. Burrow wholesale grocers, Christian Church, E. Arkansas Lumber Co., Federal Compress and Warehouses, First Church of Christ Scientist, Methodist/Episcopal Church, Grimes Manufacturing Co., which made sodas and distributed candy.

"Many buildings are not identified as to what was in them," Clark said. "There were many auto service shops and 'merchandise' stores. I knew we had a bottling company, but I don't know much about the ice cream plant."

Also listed are: Hotel Thomas, Lawrence Hotel, Magnolia Petroleum, Meyer's Department Store, Missouri Pacific Railroad freight and passenger depots, Murta Gins # 1 and #2, Ozark Oil and Gas Co., Phoenix Cotton Oil Co., Pierce Petroleum Co., Pitzele Cotton Gin, Planters Gin Co., Presbyterian Church, Church of Christ, Standard Oil Co. of Louisiana, Telephone Exchange, Walnut Ridge Boiler and Machine Works, Walnut Ridge Lumber Co., Walnut Ridge Steam Laundry, Walnut Ridge Water Works, Walnut Ridge Elementary School, Walnut Ridge High School and Negro School.

Clark said there was a movie theater listed on Northwest First Street, as well as Sharum Theater. There were also undertakers, auto sales and service, a tourist camp, numerous laundries and dry cleaners, tractor sales and service, Henry's Building Supply, American Legion Hall, pottery warehouse, First Baptist, a rooming house and many others.

Individuals are welcome to visit NEARA in Powhatan and the Lawrence County Historical Society's website at lchsar.com and find out more about life "back when."

"If you have information about any of these businesses or churches, or photos of any of these or other buildings, we would love to have copies of them to add to our website and the records at Powhatan," Clark said. "With today's digital cameras and scanners it is quick and easy to copy them and get them back to you quickly."

The NEARA facility, a division of the Arkansas History Commission, serves a 16-county area of Arkansas, including Lawrence County.

"Holdings include original county documents from Lawrence, Sharp and Randolph counties, over 1,400 rolls of microfilm, over 2,000 books and thousands of other records and documents of historical interest," Perry said. "Visitors come from across the country to engage in family research in our collection."

The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except state holidays.

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