Holland School, Holland, Arkansas
Holland School (Courtesy of the FCHS and UCA Archives)

by Mrs. Green Mabry

Holland is a small community in Faulkner County located eighteen miles northeast of Conway (Faulkner County) on Arkansas Highway 287.

The origin of Holland’s name and the exact date of its founding are unknown. It is believed to be named after a hunter and trapper who camped near a place called Lavender Springs along the Little Rock–Clinton Road.

Settlers began homesteading the area in the 1820s. Many of the early settlers of Holland were from surrounding Southern states and were of English descent. Early settlers had to clear the heavily forested area for agriculture and build makeshift roads in order to pick up mail and get their goods to market. Farmers originally raised corn and cotton in the area. Some farmers, such as Alyes Parsons, operated cotton gins and grist mills and processed the crops locally.

During the Civil War, many farmers from the Holland area joined Company E of the Tenth Arkansas Infantry (Confederate). The unit was commanded by Colonel Thomas E. Merrick, a merchant and former mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and, later, Colonel Allen R. Witt. The poorly equipped, undisciplined unit participated in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6–7, 1862, and in the unsuccessful Confederate defense of Port Hudson, Louisiana, from May 23 until July 9, 1863, when it surrendered to Union forces.

Guerrilla raids were common in the Holland area, and upon returning home to find their homes destroyed, some veterans of the Tenth Arkansas Infantry were later reconstituted as a Confederate cavalry guerrilla unit under Witt’s command. It skirmished with Union occupation forces throughout northern Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas from the summer of 1863 until May 1865. Other veterans of the Tenth Arkansas joined the Third Arkansas Cavalry (Union).

The first church in the area was the Oakland Chapel Methodist Church, which was associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The church was established in 1849 by James Ford, a settler from West Virginia. Ford, a licensed class leader in the Methodist Church, led worship services at the home of settler Jonathon Hardin until the log structure of the Oakland Chapel Methodist Church was built in 1863. In 1869, four families founded Palestine Baptist Church. Its name was changed to Holland Baptist Church in 1931.

In 1878, Holland’s first post office was established, with Jesse B. Garrett as its first postmaster. In 1939, the post office was closed, and the community’s mail was rerouted to Vilonia (Faulkner County), fifteen miles to the southeast.

The first schools in the Holland area were subscription schools, such as the Frog Pond School, which operated on fees provided by the families of students. Classes were held in the one-room log building of the Oakland Chapel Methodist Church until about 1900, when the smaller schools in the area were consolidated at Holland. The first school in Holland was built near the present site of the Holland Baptist Church in the mid-1800s. By 1909, the school had 115 students.

In 1928, a new six-room brick schoolhouse was completed at the present site of the city park playground area. Arch W. Ford, future director of the Arkansas Department of Education, was named superintendent of the school. The school’s original gymnasium burned down and was rebuilt in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration. This gymnasium hosted plays and was the site of several county basketball tournaments in the 1940s. In the 1950s, Holland’s schools were consolidated with larger schools in the area. The last high school class graduated in 1948. Elementary classes continued until 1954. Today, Holland is in the Greenbrier School District. The town contains no schools of its own; students attend schools in surrounding districts.

By the 1920s, farming in Holland and the rest of Faulkner County began to drift away away from corn and cotton. A boll weevil epidemic raised production costs for cotton, which was in great demand. By the 1980s, agricultural products produced in the area included hogs, beef cattle, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, and rice, as well as dairy and forestry products.

In 1964, Highway 287 was constructed through the town. It closely follows the Little Rock–Clinton road that was originally constructed in 1825.

By the 1990s, development in the area and the resulting crime that followed required management by a formal government. Holland was incorporated in 1998. In 2010, its population was 557.

For additional information:
Dunn, Mildred A. “Museum Pictorial History Project Visits Vilonia and Holland.” Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings 35 (Fall/Winter 1993): 42–43.

Faulkner County Historical Society. Faulkner County: Its Land and People. Conway, AR: Faulkner County Historical Society, 1986.

Grisham, Lowell C. “A Brief History of Holland Schools.” Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings 35 (Fall/Winter 1993): 23–26.

Parsons, Charles D. The History and Records of Oakland United Methodist Church, Holland, Faulkner County, Arkansas. Conway, AR: Oldbuck Press, 1993.

“A History of Oakland School.” Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings XXXV (Spring/Summer 1993): 42-43, 55.

Aaron W. Rogers
Conway, Arkansas

Last Updated 1/2/2013

This narrative courtesy of The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.