Faulkner County Historical Society: “Looking Back”

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

When the Faulkner County Historical Society (FCHS) was organized on April 16, 1959 under the sponsorship of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, its stated purpose was to bring together those people interested in the history of the county.

The society’s major function would be to promote the discovery, preservation and dissemination of any materials that would document or illustrate that history. It would also publish historical material in its journal as well as other media, mark historical sites, and hold events that would inform and arouse interest about the history of the county and its cities, towns and communities. There were 42 charter members.

The first officers were George Hartje, Jr., president; Victor Hill, vice-president; and Guy Murphy, secretary-treasurer. The first directors were Myrtle Charles, Mrs. Dallas T. Herndon, and James Clayton.

One of the society’s first projects was the restoration of the Cadron Settlement marker which was found broken in pieces alongside old U.S. Highway 64 near Gleason. The monument, which had originally been erected by the Arkansas Centennial Commission in 1936, was restored and placed at Cedar Park (now Cadron Settlement Park).

FCHS worked jointly with the Chamber of Commerce to erect other historical markers throughout the county. Some of the more notable markers placed were at Sevier’s Tavern on Old Military Road; the Greathouse log cabin on the courthouse grounds and on the Faulkner County side of the Arkansas River where the Toad Suck Ferry Landing was located.

Over the years, the society has also led several historical restoration projects—the relocation and restoration of the Greathouse log cabin at the courthouse, the restoration of the Cadron Blockhouse, and later the rebuilding of the Blockhouse when vandals burned it. More recently, the society joined forces with city and county officials to relocate and restore the historic Springfield Bridge at Beaverfork Lake Park.

The society has also been diligent in preserving and publishing historical material. In September 1959, the society began publishing a journal,Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings. Many wonderful stories, written by various county residents, are found in the pages of these journals.

In 1986, FCHS published Faulkner County, Its Land and People, an attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the county, its communities and its pioneer settlers. It also conducted a census and published a Faulkner County cemetery book which has proven to be a valuable aid to genealogists as well as funeral directors.

In 1992, as the Faulkner County Library prepared to move into its new building on Tyler Street, the FCHS was able to secure the old library location by the courthouse to set up a Faulkner County Museum. The museum houses the many precious and priceless artifacts that have been collected about the history of Faulkner County.

This fall, the FCHS Society and the Faulkner County Museum, will kick off yet another great year of discovering, preserving, and sharing the history of our wonderful county. In November, there will be a local celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, the day World War I ended.

The Yesterdays 100-year-ago column, written by the late columnist Jenny Oliver, has highlighted many of the events that occurred in Conway during the “war to end all wars.” At the 11th hour on November 11, Faulkner County will join communities around the nation in ringing bells to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Next year, in 2019, the Faulkner County Historical Society will celebrate its 60th anniversary. The society and the museum are also beginning to make plans for an even larger celebration—the 2023 sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the founding of Faulkner County.

If you love history and love learning more about local history, get involved. Become a member of the FCHS, share your stories about our county’s past, and help plan some great activities which will help tell others about how great a place this is. For more information, visit www.faulknerhistory.org or swing by the Faulkner County Museum.

Cindy Beckman is a lifelong resident of Faulkner County and a retired Conway High School history teacher. She sits on the boards of both the Faulkner County Historical Society and the Faulkner County Museum. You may contact her at beckman@windstream.net for more information.

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