What He Saw in Arkansaw

A travelogue by F. N. Campbell, as printed in the January 5, 1900 Skidmore Standard, right on page one:

What He Saw In Arkansaw.
An Interesting Letter From F. N. Campbell.

Springdale, Ark.: – Tuesday morning, January 1, 1900. There! I started to write it 1899, but the new year is young yet and force of habit is strong. The compositor will “set” it right, however, so you readers would have never known anything about it if I had not taken the trouble to mention my thoughtlessness. One week ago today about 1 o’clock a.m., I arrived in Springdale. The mission – to witness the burial of my mother – was an exceedingly sad one and the dark shadow which the event cast over life’s pathway still remains. No greater loss than the death of a mother can come into the life of a son, so home has lost its greatest charm to me; but the world is not interested in other people’s troubles and it is not my intention to inflict mine upon the readers of the Standard. Suffice it to say that the neighbors and friends here have been very kind, especially the ones who used to reside in Old Nodaway county.

It is really surprising to find how many Missourians there are in Arkansas – that is Northwest Missourians. As the out-of-town Arkansawyers would express it, I have “met up with” several of the former Missourians and┬áhave heard of others. Theodore F. Jones, who was clerk in the recorders office of Nodaway county about 17 years ago while Henry Toel and Henry Graves held the office, has a land, loan and abstract office in Fayetteville, the county seat, ten miles south of here. He has been in Arkansas so long that he has forgotten the many good qualities of Nodaway county and actually tried to convince me that the crops sometimes fail in Nodaway county and that the crops here are more uniform here than they are there. One redeeming feature in Mr. Jones’ case remains, however. He has been a reader of the Nodaway Democrat ever since he came to this state and if the truth were known, he was arguing more for the purpose of convincing himself than anyone else that he is located in a good country. H. W. Monroe, a resident of Springdale, used to live near Quitman about the time the war broke out – not the one against the Spaniards or the Philipinos, but the Civil war. J. H. Spohnhauer also lives near here on a fine fruit farm. He is well known to many of the Standard readers because he resided for several years northwest of Skidmore and has been here only a comparatively short time. He is the father of triplets and several other children, all of whom are fat and hearty. Mr. Sponhauer is as fine a man as one could “meet up with” in traveling several weeks and ten days longer; and the present indications are that he will soon be a Missourian again.

Joseph Hutchison has been here only two months but he is as happy and contented as a possum in a persimmon tree. He inadvertently remarked that he had quit drinking water, had not drank a quart of it since he came to Arkansas; and this may, in a measure, explain why he feels so well all the time. Mrs. Hutchison is just recovering from a three weeks illness. Asthma has been a total stranger to Ira since he came here. Mr. Hutchison and wife expect to return to Skidmore, soon.

This is a town of about 2,300 people. The country all around for several miles is very level and very beautiful, but the soil is so thin and unproductive that it gives a Missourian a bad case of the blues to attempt to raise corn or potatoes or anything else except sassafras and cockle burrs. The latter do not grow well, however.

The people in the towns here are intelligent, refined and up-to-date; but the typical Arkansawyers live in the mountains and it is a regular circus – side show and all – to watch their actions and hear them talk. They are traders from the first letter in the word, all through and all over. It is very common to see groups of 15 or 25 astride of poor, old, skinny, diseased horses swapping them. The whole bunch of animals are not worth two bits, but those fellows look into the mouth and examine the animal for which they are about to trade with as much caution and deliberation as if he was a “blooded racer.” One fellow near here actually traded off one of the wheels of his wagon the other day and now uses a rail in its place when he comes to town.

There are a great many interesting phenomenas to be seen here and I have spent considerable time driving over the country. Just south-west about 500 yards from where I am writing is a large cave which has never been explored thoroughly. No one knows how large it is nor what its numerous recesses contain. I stopped at the Crescent White Lime works, about five miles south-west of Springdale, the other day and was shown just how and where the lime is burned. There is an entire mountain of solid lime rock; the supply is almost inexhaustible. Only 20 men are working now and the output is 200 barrels per day which sells readily at 75 cents per barrel.

On another trip to White river from Springdale, we had a beautiful view of that picturesque stream as it winds its way towards the Father of Waters. The road took us to Neils Bluff, remembered by many as the hiding place of desperados away back in the sixties when lawlessness was at a premium. The bluffs are on the west (our side) of the river. They are perhaps 1,000 feet high and are apparently of one solid rock. The river, with the bluff, forms a semicircle, and here and there from out the face of the bluff, a rippling spring of clear water gushes and a few pine trees – some quite large – are growing, as it seems, from out the face of the rock. How I did wish for my kodak that I might preserve the scene! They told me of the fine fishing in the stream. Here and there log houses, of one room each with large cracks, were scattered along the road and reminded me of the fabled “Arkansaw Traveler.”

Quail are very plentiful. Hi Montgomery and Bob Linville would be in the seventh heaven of happiness if they were turned loose down here for about two weeks.

Now for how the state received its name and I must close. In early years, so the story goes, a band of white people came down to the Missouri line one evening and looked over into the rough region whence came queer noises and sounds. Suddenly the cry of a mule’s father arose on the air. It was a strange sound to those people and they interpreted it. Ark-an-saw, A-r-k-an-saw, A-r-k-a-n-s-a-w.