History of Eglantine
By Anna Shull Emmons
Eglantine is a name meaning “Wild Pink Rose.” The hills were covered with wild pink roses, therefore it received it’s name from that. It is located in eastern Van Buren County, Arkansas on the fork of the Little Red River Township. Sugar Loaf Mountain rises to a high peak south of the river from the bottomland. This river land was known as Wild River Bottom and it had been purchased under an early act of 1820. 100 acres for $80. They had to go to Batesville to purchase this land. William Gadberry purchased some of this land on the 1st of October 1860. Many people think the Indians had cleared some of the land. There were many Indians signs such as tomahawks, arrows, hunting knives, rocks that were hollowed out for pounding corn for meal, et cetera. There was also an Indian Cemetery at the intersection of Burnt-ridge and Choctaw Road.
The Civil War which was a terrible tragedy for the country did not allow Eglantine to escape the misery that follows such an episode. Many of the older people here had folks killed. Even though there were no battles fought on our soil or the surrounding areas, they didn’t escape the terror of the Jay Hawkers.
During this period the supplies were completely cut off from the factories. Therefore, all the clothing, food and everything including shoes had to be made at home. I have heard my grandmother tell about taking the soil from the smoke house and sieving it out and getting salt for their meat, et cetera. So all the necessities of life had to be provided for in the communities. (This grandmother would have been Maria Ann Goggins Anderson Gadberry).
The homestead act was passed in 1861. Many of the settlers homesteaded lowland. Soon they began moving their homes to the uplands which was healthier and they were not troubled with floods. They raised lots of corn, sorghum and any kind of food that would grow. They also raised cattle, sheep and hogs. They sheared the sheep and got wool for clothing. They also raised cotton for their clothing. They picked the seeds out by hand during this period. They had spinning wheels for spinning thread, looms to make their cloth and they knitted their socks by hand with knitting needles. Most of the farming was done by a yoke of oxen. In these days they built their homes of logs.
Since Eglantine had fertile bottom land and the range for stock they had lots of food and material that they had raised. It was an invitation to the Jay Hawkers. They would take cloth from the looms, the meat from the smoke house, the socks they had knitted or anything they could find to steal. The only way the farmer could keep anything was by hiding it.
The men who were not in the army would hide out, but the Jay Hawkers would kill them if they found them. Brud Bradford was killed down on Linn Creek, had seventeen bullet holes in his blanket. It is told that the Jay Hawkers killed one boy and just marched around his body. Uncle Bill Bradford, Nancy Linn’s father, was hiding out on Sugar Loaf Mountain. The Jay Hawkers were so close to him that he jumped off a bluff and broke his jaw bone. The Jay Hawkers got a boy at Gadberry Ford and were going to kill him, but they gave him a chance to say his last words. He knelt down to pray and when he had finished, even though he could not swim, he leaped in the river and somehow make it to the other side and excaped death.
David Bradford’s father, Daniel Bradford lived here during the Civil War. He was hiding in a cave west of where Eglantine Church of Christ now stands. The Jay Hawkers shot him through the hip and he just lay quiet and they left him for dead. He didn’t die but his hip got so bad that the buzzards flew around him.
The Bradfords and sons of their friends heard that the Jay Hawkers were staying in an old house across the river. They swam the river and killed all the Jay Hawkers that caused so much misery. You can imagine what happened to the socks and many other things they had stolen.
Brud (William C.) Bradford owned land at the time around the Church of Christ building. He is suppose to have had a shoe shop where he made shoes and tanned leather in a cave east of a highway going from Shirley to Clinton.
Daniel Bradford owned land on the hill around where Keith Bradford lives now. He had a blacksmith shop about where the government gate was in the early eighteen sixties. He lived in a small house at the foot of the hill. This house was destroyed by flood in 1867. David Bradford (b. 7 Feb. 1867) was seven days old and he and he mother were taken out in a little canoe. Sherman Bradford said his grandfather loved to play the fiddle. He saw his fiddle floating and Daniel Riley Bradford swam back in to get it.
Some of the homesteaders were: Henderson Hunt, Hollet Towery, Bill Bradford, William Linn, Jim Ruth Towery, William Bradford, Henry Gadberry, David Gadberry, William K. Shull, George Towery, Tom Hunt and many others.
EGLANTINE IN THE LATE 1880’s and EARLY 1900’s:
Eglantine was a thriving little town. The first post office was established in 1866. In 1894 there were four large general stores that you could purchase almost anything including furniture. Dick Poe had one of the largest stores in the county at that time. Dr. N. H. Daniels, Collins and Brown also had stores. Jeff Poe was a dentist, Ben Walley had a boarding house and kept drummers. There was two drug stores at one time. Calvin Gadberry and later Simp Gadberry had a drug store. Boss Witt had a business here. Sam Boone had a blacksmith shop. Ace Cottrell had a grist mill. Later William Linn operated the grist mill.
Joe Evans had the first cotton gin. It was pulled by a yoke oxen. Later Ace Cottrell and Ledbetter had the first steam cotton gin. There was also a shingle mill here. After the coming of the railroad Shirley was established and our post office moved we got our mail on a rural route. George Simpkins carried it for a short time. Henry E. Pierce carried it a few years, but in 1918 Luke Vineyard took over and carried it until 1961. For a long period it was carried by horse and buggy.
The Batesville Dover Road came through Eglantine, and during the westward movement which was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there were many covered wagons passing through Eglantine. Aunt Maggie Bradford said she fed a lot of people who traveled that road.
The first car that came through Eglantine was in 1908. It was brought through from Little Rock by Neiser Arnold. The name of the car was the Stanley Steamer. They crossed the river at the cow ford end up Red Hill, better known as Finch Cullum Hill. Many people were lined up along the road to see it pass through.
Sickness in the early days were mostly cared for in the home. Hospitals weren’t near and poor transportation made it hard to get there. People were always ready to help with children and sit up with the sick if necessary.
Editor’s Note: The term “jayhawker” once applied to predatory bands founded in Kansas, but through common usage came to be applied to anyone doing looting. As the Civil War progressed, “guerilla,” “bushwacker,” and “jayhawker” became synonymous in their meaning and usage. The term “bushwacker” was perhaps the most degrading and was often applied to anyone practicing the art of ambushing. “Jayhawking” became synonymous with stealing.