by Gene Milam
A small but ever-flowing spring on top of a hill in the area about eight miles north of Conway is credited as being the source of the name for Springhill, but the reason for the name for the nearby, but now faded into memory, Linder community is unknown.
Springhill is on Highway 65. The site of the Linder community is a bit complicated, as there actually were two. The record is unclear, but it appears that Springhill was the site of two graves almost before there were settlers. It was about 1860 when the first settlers arrived, and it was also at about that time that two burials occurred. Soon there were other burials, so that a community cemetery had begun.
W.R. Blessing came to Arkansas in 1860 with Bob Newberry having arrived earlier. Also from those earliest times is the name of John Brinkley for he was hired to take his yoke of oxen to Little Rock and move the Blessing family to their new home site. Blessing took 160 acres of land on the headwaters of Black Fork Creek and near the Woolly farms at a cost of twelve and one-half cents per acre or a total of $20.
Others living in the area at that time were William and Polly Milam. Their daughter, Mrs. Josephine Milam Tilley, had been born in Mississippi but came to live with her parents in 1870. James and Mary Rhea Milam came to Arkansas in 1872 and settled near Springhill.
The community never had a post office, but for many years there was a log schoolhouse with split log benches fastened with wooden pegs. A Baptist Church was another aspect of community life.
Springhill never had a post office, but continues to exist. There was a post office at Linder, but the community simply faded away commencing late in the 1930s. As Gene Milam recounted the story:
On a dusty road three miles east of Springhill there used to be a thriving little community called Linder. Time and progress have long since reduced this town to nothing but memories.
This was the second Linder in East Fork Township, as the first was known as Lone Pine and was located about two miles south of Springhill near Cadron Creek. When the founding fathers of this community petitioned for a post office with the name of Lone Pine, it was turned down for there was an office with that name. The community then decided on the name of Linder. No one knows why they chose this name for there was no family by this name living in the area. The petition was granted, and a post office was established in an old log cabin probably owned by the John Love family. They were among the first settlers.
A bustling little community was beginning to emerge east of Springhill in the 1880s with migrants from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama all looking for virgin soil to raise their crops. This community did not have a name at the time and considering that Old Linder was not prospering to any degree, the community moved the post office to the new Linder, Linder as we know it today.
The first store of New Linder was built in front of Ebby Loveless’ home by Rube Phelps. The post office was moved to this location from Old Linder in 1884 with H.B. Love as postmaster. In later years a Mr. Jones and Sam Hester became postmasters. The store remained the site of the post office until it was withdrawn in the late 1930s. Phelps ran the store for a few years and sold it to Ebby Loveless who later sold it to Jack Elsey. Bert Tilley had the store around 1926 when a stove caught on fire burning him severely. Roy Sims, later a county judge, bought the store. The building was burned completely in 1937. There were others who ran stores during these years. Willy Abrams had a store for awhile, and Aaron and Mary Milam ran a small store for a year or two.
Farming was the main occupation of the community, with the money or cash crops being cotton and corn. With cotton selling at times for eight cents per pound, no one became rich from their labors. “Canning bees,” when persons gathered to can produce from their gardens, were social events.
The community boasted of a gin, a grist mill, and a blacksmith shop. Jim Lea built a cotton gin around 1906 to save the farmers long trips to Conway or to another community. A blacksmith shop was opened by Tiny Dilbeck during this period, and shoeing horses and keeping wagons in good running order kept him busy. Col. Sims established a grist mill early in the 1900s, a service that delighted the wives of farmers who had previously ground their own corn into cornmeal, a staple of the time.
Changing conditions in the Linder area, as in many others of the county and region, began to affect life late in the 1930s and into the 1940s. Farming was no longer prosperous enough to sustain a family, so farm families left the area. The loss due to fire in 1937 of the long-established general store combined with closing of the post office – a star route was substituted – dealt the community heavy blows. The cotton gin closed, and the farmers who continued to grow cotton then had to take their loads to Greenbrier, Wooster, or Conway. Usually, it would be to Conway, and on a Saturday, for here were the best stores for the women to go shopping and buy their needed groceries. And while they did that the men would head for the race track to watch the horse races at the old fair grounds. They would all meet back at the wagon yard for the return trip home in the late afternoon, worn out but with a sense of fulfillment.
The truck replaced the horse and Tiny Dilbeck closed his blacksmith shop and moved out of the community. The grist mill was long gone and there was nothing to replace the businesses that had once made this small town so active. Corn and cotton fields were turned into grazing land, as cattle was the favored money item at that time.
Soon family homes sprang up along the highway and during the war years the people were working at factories in Maumelle or at the air base in Jacksonville. So Linder just faded away like footprints in a dusty road going nowhere.