Bentonville - The Prairie City of Northwest Arkansas (1883)
Bentonville, _____________ The Prairie City of Northwest Arkansas, _____________ And the Home of Gov. James H. Berry, _____________ Graphically Described for the Readers of the Gazette, _____________ Its Advantages as a Home Pictured by a Pen, ------------- Newspapers, Free Schools, Churches, Good Merchants and a Railroad, _____________ A Rich Soil, Producing the Finest Tobacco, the Best Wheat _____________ And Apples of Unparalleled Excellence - Inducements to Stock Raisers- Factories, Etc. _____________ Daily Arkansas Gazette, July, 1883
From Rogers to Bentonville is a trifle over six miles, and the means of communication between the two points is the Bentonville railway, which runs in a northwesterly direction. Boarding the train at the depot, The Gazette reporter proceeded to take in the surrounding country as the car was slowly pushed forward by the little donkey engine which does duty on the road. For about a half hour the train rattled along through one of the pleasantest and most attractive of countries. The general character is that of a prairie, rolling away on both sides in grand swells. The principal products, as seen from the railroad, are corn and wheat, and broad fields of corn, and acres of wheat, with their sheaves of gathered grain, dotting their surface, followed each other in quick succession. At last the suburbs of THE TOWN are reached and the lumbering coach gathers up its load and rattles through the streets with them to the door of the Western hotel, where they are received by the landlord, genial Charlie Hibler, and ushered into the dining-room to a good dinner. The town is the county seat of Benton county, and has always been the important place of the county. During the war it was all burned but seven houses, which still remain scattered about the place, landmarks of olden times. Its growth since the days of reconstruction has been slow but sure, and it stands today a monument to the pluck of old Benton--one of the prettiest towns of northwest Arkansas.
Photo of the Bentonville Railroad Company engine in Rogers, referred to in this story as the Bentonville railway
THE PLAN OF THE TOWN is similiar to that upon which the majority of the old county seats are built, but the center of the square, instead of being occupied by the court house, is used as a park, the entire space, surrounded by a neat iron railing, being filled with trees and shrubbery and the center occupied by a pump--the proverbial "town pump" but one of the most picturesque ever seen and giving forth the purest and sweetest of sparkling water. The court house itself is a source of great pride to the people. It is of brick, three-story, and occupies the northwest corner of the square. The ground floor is used for offices, the second is the courtroom and the third contains the jail, a little iron cage in one corner, in which are now four prisoners for minor offenses. Capt. W. F. Patton kindly showed the reporter through the building and at last took him through the scuttle hole to get A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE COUNTRY from the roof. At first there was not a breath of air stirring, and the faces of nature presented one of the most peaceful pictures ever seen. The quiet little town lay basking in the sunlight, and not a sound could be heard but the twitter of birds and the occasional faint tinkle of a bell from a neighboring clump of woods. The country round about is one vast prairie, away to the west, and its rolling character, smoothed down by distance appeared level as a floor. Every character of level country could be seen. The streets, with their heavy borders of trees, gradually dwindled away into narrow paths, which lost themselves in the distant fields and residences scattered out from the town until they appear at rare intervals on the plain as pleasant farm-houses. Acre after acre of orchard was followed by the vivid green of the corn, which in time gave way to the pleasant yellow of the ripened grain, until the whole blended into one rainbow of beauty in the west at the base of the mountains, whose western slopes are fanned by the breezes from the Indian territory, twenty-five miles away. To the southeast the roofs of the resdiences of Rogers are dimly seen among the trees; to the east, a trifle north, is Pea Ridge or Elk Horn, with its top reaching above its neighbors, where was fought one of the hardest battles of Arkansas during the war; while to the north the country is broken and rugged, covered with dense forests, which rise and fall with the unevenness of the ground. The wind, which in a country of this character, is seldom at rest, began to blow a stiff, cool breeze, and a descent was necessary. The earth was reached and an exploration of the town was inaugurated.
Old courthouse that sat on the northwest corner of the Bentonville square. In 1883, there would be a great view from the roof of that building.
Among THE BUSINESS MEN were found some as energetic merchants Arkansas can boast.
Graves Bros. & Whayne proprietors of one the best livery stables in Arkansas, are ranked among their best and most substantial business men. Their trade is always brisk and their stock is noted for its excellent qualilty.
S. D. McReynolds is proprietor of the Bentonville bank, in which he is doing an excellent banking and collection business. He is one of the most active business men in the town.
Craig & Sons are proprietors of one of the largest and best general stores in the northwest, Their stock is well selected and well arranged, embracing dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, etc. In connection with this they also have a saddle factory and always keep on hand a good stock of saddles and harness.
E.H. Looney is a young man and is doing a good business in the drug line.
Among the others may be mentioned Maxwell & Armstrong, who with a large and well selected stock of first class hardware and farming implements, command a rapidly increasing trade, J. H. & J. P. Burns, grocers; Ferguson & Co., hardware and tinware; W. A. Terry, general merchandise; C. D. Taliaferro, drugs; A. W. Dinsmore, dry goods, furnishing goods, groceries, hats, caps, boots, shoes, etc; Howard & Hodges, groceries; W. C. Lefors, general merhandise; D.H. Woods & Co., with a first class stock of dry goods and clothing, and N. S. Henry with a good lot of hardware and agricultural implements, are all doing a good and paying business. Among the other FEATURES OF INTEREST are the fruit evaporator of Wing Bros., of Rochester, New York, and the flour mill of D. H. Woods. The town boasts of a good two-story brick school house--public--and several private ones. There are four four churches, the old school Presbyterian, Methodist, Cumberland Presbyterian and Christian. One of the best things for the place is the excellence of the two good newspapers which it has, the New Bentonian, whose editor, Ed. Porter Thompson is absent in Colorado, leaving the sheet to the management of J. R. Grammer, and the Advance, the property of liberal C. M. Roberts, who is the conductor on the Bentonville road. The Advance could have no better editor than N. H. Bigger, who now has it in charge.
Image of the west side of the Bentonville square about the time this story was written
THE INDUSTRIES of Benton Ccounty are many, and nowhere are they better attended to, or are better results shown than about Bentonville. Tobacco is raised here which cannot be beaten in even the old tobacco states, and the other products are on a par--fruit especially being of unusual excellence. The raising of stock is gradually assuming larger proportions and occupying more of the attention of the people. Sheep raising is a feature, which is coming into great prominence and the mutton from Benton county always occupies a high place in the markets. The immense strides which this portion of our great state is now taking in advance, show what a glorious future is before us.