Formation Of Government For This Great Region Of Benton County
Formation Of Government For This Great Region Of Benton County - By Alvin Seamster From The Benton County Democrat (1950) Now the NWA Democrat Gazette - The Century of Progess Edition
About the time the county was formed in 1837 and soon thereafter, friends and relatives in Tennessee and other states heard what kind of climate and soil was to be had in Benton County, and many of them moved here. A few of the names of some of the earlier ones are listed here. We do not have room to list all the names and there are a few that we have unable to locate as the early records were destroyed during the Civil War.
Elias Conway, R.M. Mecklin and Mathew McClellan made the first survey of the county. The county contains 576,000 acres, or 900 square miles,
The first road was one across the west side of the county. along the Cherokee Nation, known as the Old Military Road, having been cut out and established by the general Goverment from Ft. Scott, Kansas, to Fort Smith, in Arkansas, for the purpose of establishing communications between those important places. This road passed through Maysville, Cherokee and Silvan, in Benton County. Another road on the east side of the county came to be known as the Old Wire Road. The first telegraph line from East to West, ran along this road, as did all the early stage coaches. This road ran almost parallel with the Frisco Railroad at this time. Besides the stage coaches traveling this road, there were large herds of cattle driven over this road from Texas to St. Louis. To have convenient places to water the cattle, tanks or large ponds were built and Taverns also erected where the drovers might stay. There were two of these places in Benton County, one at Brightwater and the other at Cross Hollows. Large yards were built for handling the stock as all stock had to be inspected before they were allowed to enter Missouri.
It has been said that at one time the grafters influenced the Inspectors to such an extent that the cattle would be held for months, until they could be bought cheap, then allowed to enter. One man driving from near Dallas, made three trips back to Texas and wintered his cattle in Benton County, before being able to pass the inspection.
We also had two lIcensed Ferries across the White River, Jennings Ferry and one established by William Early. The ferrymen were charged one dollar per year to operate the ferry and the fees ran from 2 cents for a single animal, 5 cents for a man, 25 cents for a man and his horse, up to $1.50 for a six horse team, or oxen, with wagon.
We did not have a system of county roads until 1857, when several overseers were appointed by the court to locate certain roads. The overseer for the road beginning at Bentonville, was John F. Jenkins. Commencing at Bentonville, on the line near James Woolseys, thence to A. C. Youngs; thence along a neighborhood road to near the corner of Mrs. Jeffersons field; thence along said road to where the same interesects the old Springfield road near Warren Wrights, on Sugar Creek road; thence along said road to the first crossing of the river channel of Sugar Creek.
We now have about 2500 miles of public roads, 150 miles of which is concrete or blacktop; also between 700 and 800 bridges in the county.
The first mail system was by stagecoach, then by hack. The first route was established from Southwest City, Mo., the mail being carried each way once each week; then a route from Elkhorn to Bloomfield and Maysville.
Among the early colored folks coming here with their owners were Belle Scrimpshire, Bob and Jane Jackson, Milt and Clarissa Sanford, Milt being the step-father of Ann Gilbert, she belonging to the Womack family, and was born on the 7th of Dec. 1859; also Will Troutt, Betty Yates, Kim and Sarah Lambeth, Monroe Derrick, Mary Elliott, Bob and Lucy Perry, Charley Claypool, Tabitha Banks, Sarah Luke and husband, Elizabeth Bennett and Henry Harrel Lennox, Sammy Shelton, Harriett Troutt, Aaron and Jane Van Winkle, Amanda Maxwell, Ed Dickerson and some by the name of Crowder. These colored people were treated as servants here and after the war they practically all remained with their former masters. Ann Gilbert is the only one left to tell the story, but at 90 she has a clear mind and remembers things that happened when she was moved between Centerton and Bentonville, to Frog Bayou, to try to save some of the family belongings. They were near the Old Wire Road and the soldiers found them and took all the stock but one jack and an old cow. The women folks made crop with jack, and after storing the corn in the 'loft,' the soldiers found it and took it.
The census of 1860 gave the whites 8,905, colored 385, Indians, 16.