Cleveland Post Office

The Cleveland Postoffice and Halbrook Grocery
Doyle O'Neal, Rural Route Carrier, and Lyonell Halbrook, Postmaster
September 1965


After World War II, my mother married Lyonell Halbrook, who was born and raised in Cleveland, Arkansas, in the north end of Conway County. He probably remembers everything that has happened in Conway County for the past 100 years. When I told him that I planned to introduce the stories this way, he said that he would have to have something to 'jog' his memory to be able to remember everthing! Then he started telling more stories. Some of the stories are about family events, some about interesting things that happened in the community, and a few seem to be 'urban legends'. The Halbrooks would help anyone in need and this first story illustrates that:

Ice for the Dying Baby

I was interested in the availability of ice early in the 1900's and asked if there was a regular delivery of ice out as far as Cleveland (20 miles from the county seat). He said that there was no regular delivery, but that men from the community who drove to town in trucks would sometimes buy a block or two of ice and bring it back to Cleveland. He said that they knew who usually would want ice and they chipped off chunks to re-sale. This reminded him of the baby. A couple named Swain, I believe, had a baby named Clyde, who was dying. He told me what house they lived in for the house is still there. The mother of the baby wanted ice to sooth its final hours and asked a friend (or relative) to bring some back from his trip to town. He expected the baby to be dead before he got back, so he didn't bother with the ice and he probably thought it wouldn't make much difference to the baby anyway. When my step-dad's father heard of it, he hitched up his team and wagon and made the daylong trip to town and brought ice back before the baby died. It didn't keep the baby from dying, but it brought lots of happiness to the family during those final hours.

Grandpa Rhodes and the Bushwhackers

This story is about my step-dad's mother's grandfather. After the Civil War, ruthless men, some of them civil war veterans, terrorized the South stealing and killing. Eventually any criminals were referred to as bushwhackers. Granpa Rhodes had a young mare and $100 in cash and three men came to his place to take the mare and the money. He refused to reveal the location of either so they led him away and he was never seen again. This story is usually told as we drive past the last place he was seen alive, a wooded ravine leading up into the mountains. Someone who lived there at the time said that they had seen him being lead up the ravine by the three men. Someone in the community, a distant relative or close friend, learned the identities of the bushwhackers and he went to "call them out" about it and shot them as they came to their doors. I think he only shot two and the third one left the community.

The Cruel Brother

Hi, the one-armed man.
'Hi' Bowling, the One-Armed Man of Cleveland, AR

Hi was an avid hunter and fisherman. He is pictured here seated on the back bumper of his old car with his coon dogs at his knees and four fat raccons at his feet. He could roll his on cigarettes. He would put the paper on his elbow stub, open the tobacco pouch with his teeth, pour the tobacco on the paper, close the pouch, and then roll the paper around the tobacco with his right hand.
When little boys pestered him with questions about what happened to his arm, he would say, "I'll tell you what happened, if you won't ask any more questions." Of course they would agree and then he'd say, "A horse bit it off!" I still don't know what happened to his arm!
This image is from one side of a stereo pair made on Kodachrome roll film. I think it was 626 film. It was made around 1958. I think the licnese plate on the car is for 1955!
We were reminiscing about Hi, the one-armed man in our community, a kind old fellow who loved to fish and hunt, and Daddy (my step-dad) said that Hi's brother Fred had a cruel streak. This incident probably occurred in the 1920's. A family had an old mule that was getting so feeble it needed to be put out of its misery. The father told the son to take a pistol and lead the mule out to a certain location in the woods and shoot it in just the right place so that it wouldn't suffer. The son loved the old family mule and didn't want to shoot it himself so he asked Fred and Hi to go help him. When they got to the right location in the woods, the son explained to Fred how the mule should be shot so that it wouldn't suffer and then said to wait until he could leave the area before they did it. The son had had only taken a couple of steps when Fred said, "How was I supposed to shoot him?" And then when the son turned to explain again, Fred shot the mule right in front of him.

The Rough Williams Brothers

Andrew's brother Allen was much older than Andrew. One day Allen was hauling a wagonload of cotton to Scotland to have it ginned. As he passed the gin that was run by the Williams brothers and their father, some of them came out to see wheter he was going to stop and let them gin the cotton. They got into an argument about it and one of the boys jumped up on the wagon and started to cut a 'W' on top of Allen's bald head. Allen bled so much from the first cut that they ended up holding a cloth compress on it and helping him get on to Scotland.

One of the Williams brothers fell into the gin blades and the blades ripped several gashes through his ribs. The folks could see his heart beating through the holes. His brother Jack held him in his arms and said, "G--- d--- you! Don't die on me here!" But he did.

The Urban Legend?

Daddy could mimic the accents and speech impediments of the people in the community. One older man had a halting speech impediment and Daddy told this story imitating his speech. The man's business was to pick up cattle from farmers in the country and haul them to sell at the cattle sales in town. This was when the larger cities were beginning to use one-way streets for traffic control. The old man was confused and turned the wrong way on a one-way street and was stopped by a policeman who said, "Say, old timer, don't you know you can't drive down the street this way?" The old man replied, "Well, if you'll get out of my way I'll show you I can." I have since heard this story told about other people in other locations, so it may be an early urban legend or it may have actually happened to someone somewhere and was passed on and on throughout the country.

The Smart-Aleck Cotton Farmer

Can you imagine a time when there were no automobiles on the roads, no noisy machinery around the farms, and no mechanically reproduced sound? This story is from that time. There was no TV, no radio, and no phone for keeping up with the news, but you could hear a team and wagon coming from a distance and walk to the road by the time it arrived at your place. Perhaps the traveler would stop for a few minutes to be sociable and exchange news. Andrew McCoy was known as a gruff smart aleck kind of fellow and one day when he hauled a bale of cotton to town, a resident along the road noticed that he had gone by toward town. As the Andrew returned from town that afternoon, the resident went out to the road to visit and asked, "Wha'd ya git for cotton?" Andrew didn't stop, but just said, "Goods last spring." (Meaning he had received enough to pay for the purchases he had made in the spring.) The resident said, "You're a smart-aleck, aren't you!" Andrew replied, "I've been told that!" The resident said, "Well, if you'll get out of that wagon I'll beat you up!" Andrew said, "Nah, I turned down a better deal back down the road. A man offered to pull me out of the wagon and beat me up!"

The Teacher with the Ax

Old Men on the Store Porch In the old days, teachers not only disciplined the children, who sometimes were 19 to 20 years old, but also did chores around the school. A teacher had disciplined a man's older sons and the man was upset about it because he thought they were too old to be disciplined. He came to school the next morning to "call out" the teacher. The teacher was splitting fire wood for the school and was holding an ax. The father said, "If you didn't have that ax, I'd beat you up!" The teacher slung the ax about 30 feet away and replied, "Now I don't have one." The father said, "Well, there's no one here to pull me off of you and I'm afraid I'd kill you, so I'll let you go this time."

If you have heard similar stories in different settings let me know. The old fellows in our town loved to sit around the stove at the post office or store and exhange stories like this whether they were actual events or not. Here it is summertime and they are sitting on the porch.

Halbrook Family in Arkansas in the 19th Century

Joseph Halbrook Tombstone The Halbrooks migrated to the Wolverton Mountain area of Conway County Arkansas in 1845. William Halbrook, his stepson, John Reynolds; and sons Jerry Halbrook and Joseph Erwin Halbrook made it to the area of the valley where East Point Remove Creek begins. William had been born in North Carolina in 1782 so he was 63 at the time. Joseph Erwin was about 35. John Reynolds was the son of Judith McGee Reynolds. She was a widow when she married William Halbrook. The story is that Judith stayed in Memphis because of Indian trouble and didn’t join the men until later.

Joseph Erwin Halbrook was the father of John Reynolds Halbrook from whom the Halbrooks of this story descended. Another of Joseph’s sons was Wiley, who is mentioned in a later story. John was born July 8, 1840, so he was only five when his grandfather William, his father, and his uncles made the trip into Arkansas. John must have stayed in Memphis with his mother and the other women and children. Joseph died in 1897 and was buried in the Halbrook Cemetery at the foot of Wolverton Mountain in northeast Conway County.

He has out soard the night.
Hate pain and strife.
Which never miscall delight.
Can touch or torture him again.

John Reynolds Halbrook married a Huie woman and they had William Thomas Halbrook. She died during a subsequent childbirth and John then married Frances Driver. John and Francis had nine children: Allen, Paralee, Matthew, Judie, Prudie, Andrew, Minnie, Sallie, and James. Andrew Jackson Halbrook is the main subject of these stories. John had a $4.00 per month pension from the Civil War so he ‘had money.’

Sometime around 1880, John Halbrook and his family moved to Texas. The move was just before or just after Andrew Jackson Halbrook was born in 1882. Andrew was just a little boy when they moved back to Arkansas. What Andrew remembers is based on what his father told him. The group had a goal of traveling ten miles per day. At a speed of two miles per hour, that would have meant five hours of travel each day. The rest of the day would have been spent preparing meals and making and breaking camp. In their travel through one area they cut down holly trees for the cattle to eat. Even though holly leaves have sharp points on them, the cattle loved them and came running when they heard the men cutting down the trees.

The distance from northeast Texas to northeast Conway County Arkansas is about 200 to 300 miles. At ten miles per day, it would have taken them nearly a month to make the trip. The trail took them through DeQueen, Arkansas. Some distant relatives had settled there and Andrew always wanted to go back and check on them when he grew up, but he never did. Not long after little Andrew and his family got back to Conway County, Hettie Rhodes was born. The family told Andrew that he now had a little girlfriend and he always claimed that she was his girlfriend. I guess they were boyfriend and girlfriend all her life.

The Newlyweds Win the Informal Cotton Picking Contest

Andrew and Hettie got married in 1902 and for awhile lived with relatives. They got a job picking cotton with a family that farmed west of Wonderview High School where the road turns north toward Jerusalem and crosses the creek. One of Andrew's older brothers and his wife were also picking cotton. They got room and board with the farm family and wages for the cotton by weight. It was only natural that a rivalry would develop between the couples about who could pick the most cotton. It may not have been a spoken challenge, but each kept an eye on how the others were doing. Hettie and the other wife stayed just about even, but Andrew was a little faster than his brother and he and Hettie had picked the most by the time the crop was finished. It seems that it actually hurt the feelings of the older couple to be beaten by the newlyweds.

Setting Up Housekeeping

Andrew and Hettie took the money they had earned picking cotton and went to town to buy what they would need for their new home together. They bought a small cast iron cook stove, a can of kerosene, a box of matches, and some staples and had enough money left over to last the winter.

The Halbrooks' New Cabin

Andrew and Hettie had a piece of land to settle on and their relatives and friends came to help them build a cabin. Someone had a mule and used it to pull logs to the site. Two men would work a log to notch it for the walls. Part of the procedure was to cut the ends of the logs off even at the corners of the walls after the walls were up. Andrew was anxious to get it all roofed and ready to move into and told the helpers not to worry about the logs ends, he would cut them off later. Someone said, "I'll bet you a goose you'll never cut them off!" But he still wouldn't let them and he never did cut them off. The family has a sketch of the cabin made later from memory and it shows the uneven log ends. The sketch shows a "lean-to" behind the cabin with a floor at ground level. The family thinks that the lean-to was the kitchen with a dirt floor. This story came up when I asked about yard maintenance in the old days. The area around the homes was often bare dirt because the animals or chickens had eaten the grass. Some women actually scrapped the yards bare. I had asked if this might be because they were accustomed to keeping a dirt floor in the old cabins.

A Message in the Night

Wiley's Tombstone Sarah's Data One day John Halbrook and his sons Andrew and Allen had gone to the creek not for from where John's brother, Wiley, lived to do some trotline fishing and camp overnight. The men had set out the trotline, prepared camp, and had gone to bed for the night. Late in the evening, Wylie's son, Clarence, made his way along the trail by the creek and up to the camp. He slipped into his Uncle John's bedroll, crawled up close to him, paused, took a deep breath, and whispered, "Uncle John! Uncle John, Daddy died!" John said, "Surely not!" But they knew Clarence couldn't be joking. They broke camp and went over to Wylie's house to comfort the family and lay out the body. They never went back for the trotline.

Wiley was buried in the Wolverton Cemetery up on Wolverton Mountain not far from Clifton Clowers' old home place. His wife, Sarah, lived another 50 years. She was buried beside him and her vital statistics were engraved in the side of his tombstone. The stone is located between them at a forty-five degree angle rather than 'square.' His information is toward him and her's is toward her.

Andrew Gets A Job

There was a stave bolt mill in the area. It made wood boards for barrel heads. Blocks of wood were carried to a saw and the sawyer cut the short boards. The man who carried the blocks couldn't keep up and, periodically, the other workers had to stop and help him catch up. One of Andrew's relatives was aware of this and asked the owner if he would pay two men's wages for someone who could keep up. The owner promised he would. The relative told Andrew that he would lend him a mule and sled if he would take the job and bring the mule back for the relative to care for each night. Andrew took the job, and not only kept an adequate supply of blocks at the saw, but had time to do other jobs around the mill as well. The owner was very happy to pay $2 a day for such good help and the relative was happy that he could be of help to Andrew by lending him the use of the mule.

Hettie's Widowed Mother's Short Second Marriage

Hettie's mother married 'Phrony' Newton, but he was hard to get along with. He wouldn't let her sons, Ed and Elbert visit her. Actually they did get to visit sometimes, but he wouldn't feed them when they came. Finally she went over to Andrew and Hettie's and said she was going to leave Phrony and she wanted Andrew to go get her things. Andrew (who would have been Phrony's stepson-in-law) went over there and told Phrony why he came. Phrony said he didn't know she was leaving. Andrew said that if he had known Phrony didn't know, he would have brought her over to tell him herself. Phrony said just to go ahead and take her stuff anyway.


Clyde and the Colt
Clyde was Andrew and Hettie's first child. He was born in 1904 and in those days the babies and little children went to the fields with their parents. Clyde was left on a pallet in the shade at one end of the rows and the family's little dog stayed with him. On day a young colt was allowed to follow its mother during the plowing, but it got bored walking up and down the rows so it started exploring. When Hettie went to check on Clyde, she found the colt nosing around the pallet with the little dog standing between it and Clyde to make it keep its distance.

Baby Rose and the Snake
A few years later they had Rose. Clyde now stayed at the pallet to watch Rose while his parents worked in the fields. One time they came to check on the children and found a large snake near the pallet. They asked Clyde, "What would you have done if the snake had crawled onto the pallet with Rose?" and he replied, "I would have dwagged her off!"

Clyde's First Day at School
The Halbrook’s were living near the Old Liberty School when Clyde started school around 1910. Andrew rode the horse and took Clyde to school. He told Clyde that he’d be back to pick him up at the end of the day. When school was out, Clyde stood and waited on the trail looking for his father but there was no sign of him. Clyde was getting worried, but two older boys, Martin Bost and Monroe Scroggins, told him not to worry they would get him home. Monroe put Clyde on his shoulders and headed toward the Halbrook’s. They met Andrew in just a little way. Clyde had a strong feeling for Monroe Scroggins from then on.

Crossing the Flooded Creek in a Wagon
My step-dad was about 15 years younger than Clyde. In the 1920s they still used wagons and mules around the farm. (Probably on into the 40s too.) Andrew owned several hundred acres down on the creek bottoms where Brock Creek and the west fork of Point Remove Creek join. Silt from occasional floods made rich farmland but, of course, the floods sometimes caused problems. When Daddy was about 5 or 6, he and his father, Andrew, were at the creek in a wagon pulled by mules with a riding horse tied to the wagon. The horse pulled loose and crossed the creek, which was flooding and almost too deep for the wagon. They crossed the creek in the wagon and caught the horse, but on the way back across, the bed of the wagon floated free of the wagon wheels and frame. Andrew braced his feet against the front of the wagon bed and held tightly to the lines so that the mules would pull the floating wagon bed along with the wheels and frame that rolled along the bottom of the creek. As the wheels rolled into a shallower part of the creekbead, the frame rose enough for the bed to settle onto it again.

The Runaway Wagon
One time Brock Creek flooded and washed a narrow ditch across the field to the West Fork of Point Remove Creek. Weeds had grown up head-high so the ditch was not visible. Andrew was standing in the front of the wagon bed to get a better view over the weeds, but didn't see the ditch. Daddy was in the back of the bed. The ditch was narrow enough for the mules to step across, but when the front wheels of the wagon dropped into the ditch, Andrew was thrown onto the rigging behind the mules. That startled the mules and they began to run. Andrew fell under a front wheel of the wagon but held the lines as he was dragged along on his belly until he got the mules stopped, thus saving his little boy from a run-away. Daddy said his father had a 'whelp' across his back that stood out the size of a man's forearm.

Give That Kid the Rifle and Get Him Out of the House!

When Lyonell was born, Clyde was about 15. He was too old to be hanging around the house during the birth; so, since he had not been allowed to go out hunting alone with the rifle before, he was given the rifle and told that he could go hunting. That kept him away until the baby came. Rose was about 12 years old and she probably took care of Opie, who was five.

At the time, they lived north of Cleveland on the west side of SH 95 and owned property on the east side where Mr. Gilkerson used to live. Hettie's mother, Grandma Rhodes, lived across the lane from the Harmston house. Apparently Grandma Rhodes was with Hettie during the birth.

They soon moved closer to town to a place on the east side of Highway 95 north of the gin and west of the school. It was across the road from where Jerry Roberson lives.

The Misfortunes of Hettie's Brother Elbert

Elbert's Gunshot Wound
When Elbert was a little boy, his older brother Ed accidentally shot him in the shin with a shotgun shattering the tibia. There was too much damage for the bone to grow back but not enough for the leg to have to be amputated. The fibula is weak, so Elbert limped along on a limber leg for the rest of his life. Doc Coley helped Hettie get some silver 'nippers' to use to pick bone splinters out of Elbert's leg.

Elbert's Death
Hettie cared for her little brother, Elbert, who was dying of TB, during his last days. He was too weak to raise his head and spit the material he coughed up into a container . He would just spit over the side of his cot. They kept papers on the floor to keep the spit off the floor. Doc Coley came to check on him every day and he always had the latest newspaper under his arm. He would 'absentmindedly' leave the paper behind when he would leave. He knew that they couldn't afford to buy paper to put on the floor. Elbert was in his 20's when he died. When he died, Andrew took a large plank from a cattle trough in the barn to 'lay' Elbert 'out' on. Lyonell was sad that there wasn't anything better for his uncle to be 'laid out' on. 'Avuncular' is the word for that special relationship of an uncle to his nephews and nieces, especially for the children of his sister.

Elbert's Bequest
Hettie was the family nurse and had nursed Elbert most of his life. Although he had a wife, Elbert made his insurance policy out to his sister, Hettie. They used the proceeds of the insurance to bury him and had about $300 left over. Hettie offered it to Elbert's wife but she said for Hettie to kept it for taking care of Elbert. But the relationship between Elbert's wife and Hettie was a little strained after that. Elbert's wife got his new Model-T.

Shooting Fish for Dinner

Andrew would often be behind the plow at the end of a row waiting for the sun to come up so he could see how to guide the plow. When he was working the place down on the creek he would stop at lunch, climb a particular tree on the bank of the creek overlooking a nice hole of water, and shoot a fish for lunch. He would take it to Rose's and she would cook it while he plowed some more. The tree was in an ideal location and leaned over the creek so that he had a good shot at the fish. However, he started up the tree one day and his rifle went off accidentally and shot a hole through his hat brim. He climbed back down, went back to plowing, and never tried to shot a fish from a tree again.


In the early 1920s, the state started a program of dipping cattle to reduce the tick problem in the country. Dipping vats were built in various neighborhoods and the farmers were told that they would have to have their cattle dipped at no cost. The Arkansas hill people were a pretty stubborn bunch and they didn’t like being told what they had to do, so some of the worst bunch blew up some of the vats. The sheriff asked Andrew if he would like a job guarding a vat in the Lanty area. Andrew asked how much it paid and the sheriff told him $10/day. That was a time when a typical job paid $1/day. Andrew said he wouldn’t be a guard for $10/day. The sheriff asked, "What would you do it for?" and Andrew said, "$20/day." The sheriff said, "Get your things together. You have the job."

Andrew cleaned up his Winchester and a pistol and took a cot to the dipping vat. Eb King lived near the dipping vat and he didn’t like the vat or the fact that a guard was there. He was in V. H. Merrick’s Lanty store and told V. H. that he was going to go over to the dipping vat and "beat that young fellow like a dog." V. H. said, "Eb, don't you owe a little balance here at the store? I’d sure appreciate it if you would pay that off before you go!" Eb said, "Don’t worry about me. I’ll beat him like a dog!"

Eb headed down toward the dipping vat about dark and Andrew heard him coming. When Eb got within earshot, Andrew levered a shell into his Winchester. Eb stopped and called out, "Hey, careful! I'm just coming over to talk for awhile." Andrew said, "Who are you?" Eb told him and Andrew said, "Well, come on over like a man and we’ll talk."

Andrew made Eb sit on the cot beside him, but it turned out Eb didn’t have much to say and soon left.

A Farmer Decides To Have His Cow Dipped

The State forced all the farmers to get their cows dipped to get rid of the terrible tick problem. They were dipping cows in the community a mile east of the current location of Wonderview School and one of the farmers said he’d shoot anyone who came into his lot to get his cow. The sheriff told the men to go on and dip the cattle from the other farmers and then he would arrest the one who was refusing. When the sheriff called the man out and started to arrest him, the farmer said, "I’ve decided I’m going to dip my cow."


The post office in north Conway County was originally at Rhondo, a place about ½ mile north of Cleveland. There was schoolhouse on the east side of the road and a store on the west. Mail was dropped through a slot in the door of the store. A Massey was postmaster there.

Parker Riddling was postmaster when the office was moved to Cleveland. Ludy Carlisle was postmistress in a building on the east side of the road. Parker was the postmaster in the old store on the west side of the road through F. D. R.’s presidential term.

In the early days of the post office in Cleveland, mail was exchanged with the post office in Solgohachia which in turn exchanged mail with the post office in Morrilton, the county seat. Postmasters operated the post offices as government appointees, but the mail was carried from post office to post office by contract mail carriers. Men interested in the job had to be bonded and bid for the job. They had to provide their own transportation. Mathew Pack had some money and won the bid to carry mail between Cleveland and Solgohachia. Andrew bought Mr. Pack’s two-horse mail hack and the contract. Andrew would sometimes let his son, Clyde, carry the mail.

The mail was supposed to leave Cleveland at 8:00 a.m. That allowed time to reach Solgohachia at noon to meet the carrier from Morrilton. After the mail exchange, the return trip could be made by 4:00 p.m. During cold weather, a stone warmed in the fireplace and wrapped in a blanket and was placed in the hack to provide heat during the trip. The stone was reheated at Solgohachia for the return trip.

Later in the ‘20s, Andrew bought a Model-T Ford. The bridge across East Point Remove Creek was probably in place by then. Andrew could now make the 10-mile trip in less than an hour. He could exchange the mail at noon and be back to Cleveland by 1:00. This pleased the Cleveland postmaster and left Andrew time to do other work around home. Andrew asked to be allowed to wait until 10:00 a.m. to leave with the mail since that would give him plenty of time to get to Solgohachia to meet the Morrilton mail and allow him more time at home to get work done there. The postmaster finally agreed to letting Andrew leave later just to insure that Andrew would use his car and be back by 1:00. He said he couldn’t change the official start time, but he wouldn’t report Andrew if he left at a later time.


The farmers and moonshiners in the hills of Conway County weren’t interested in paying taxes. But when the folks down at the county seat decided that a bridge was needed across the Arkansas River, a taxing district was formed and everyone within a twenty-mile radius was taxed to build the bridge. The farmers out on the northern fringes of the district refused to pay. The county started foreclosing on the land, but finally realized that they weren’t going to get anywhere that way and a text amnesty was declared. All the farmers who paid the current year’s taxes were forgiven their tax debts from previous years.

When Lyonell was about 6 or 7 years old, the river flooded and almost washed the bridge away. Someone took him to see the flood and they saw animals and houses floating by. A rumor went through the crowd that a certain man had been caught down in his bottomlands and was trapped in a tree. Someone else said not to worry about him because he knew the river and could cross it even in flood. He said to expect him on this side of the river at the end of the day. The man did show up later in the day. He knew to paddle upriver along the edge where the current was slow and then paddle across as the flood swept him downstream to where he wanted to get out.


In the early days of highway building for automobiles, counties were given responsibility for the roads within their borders. Apparently the roads weren’t being built and maintained and the counties were going broke, so the state took over the highways and established a system of state highways. The counties were still responsible for local roads.

Local residents contracted to bring the existing roads up to state standards and to build new road. Andrew had a contract to work on Highway 95 in the Cleveland area. Lyonell was old enough then to be of some help. Horses were used to power the equipment. One of the dirt moving devices was like a big scoop with wheelbarrow handles. A team was connected to attachments on each side of the scoop back toward the midpoint. The operator would lift the handles to dip the front edge of the scoop into the dirt as the team pulled forward. By controlling the scoop angle, the operator could scoop out a quantity of dirt. The team then pulled the scoop to an area to be dumped. Lyonell was old enough at 9 or 10 years old to guide the team and the scoop to the dumpsite where an adult would dump it. Lyonell would then drive the empty scoop back for another load. There were other scoops in this filling and emptying cycle so that the strong workers were kept busy filling and dumping the dirt while the younger ones shuttled the scoops back and forth.

Death of George Rhoads

George Rhoads and his family lived in a community on the bank of the Arkansas River east of the foot of Petit Jean Mountain called Paw Paw Bend. One of the families had sold a piano to another family and George Rhoads was providing his wagon and team to haul it. Several men were there to load the piano and one of them suggested securing it some way to keep it from shifting. George said it wouldn't be a problem and hurried his team down a bank to the road. The piano fell over and crushed his head.

George, Jim, and Ed Rhoads were Hettie's brothers. Ed was also living in Paw Paw Bend when George was killed and he decided to move back to Cleveland. Some of their goods may have been moved by truck, but Ed also moved some by wagon. Ed with Hettie's son, Clyde who was about 24, were making a trip from Cleveland back to Paw-paw Bend to haul another load. Lyonell, Clyde's little brother, was about 8 years old, and he got to go with them. It was about a 10-hour trip by wagon. They left at sundown and arrived about sunup. Lyonell rode on a quilt in the wagon bed, but since only the seat had springs, the ride was pretty rough. He did sleep some and woke during the night to see a large bird fly past the moon.

Lyonell and Louise as Children

My mother's father was teaching school about that same time. They lived in a house near the middle of town. Momma and Lyonell were about five years old, but he remembers watching her from the barn as she walked from her house and through the field by the cotton gin to the schoolhouse to meet her father after school. Her family probably moved on before she started to school and by the time the consolidated high school was built in the 30s, she had been sent to school in Morrilton. So they were acquainted when they were young, but didn't really know each other until she was a widow after the war.

Bringing Grandpa to the Fish Fry

My step-dad, Lyonell, likes to get away from the house sometimes when someone is there to care for my mother. He usually asks me to drive him a few miles up the road to the area where much of his early life was spent. As we drove along one time talking about family, I mentioned to him the odd fact I’d noticed in my family line. My children never got to see their Grandfather Skipper because he was killed in WWII when I was small. I didn’t see my Grandfather Skipper because he died the year before I was born. My father was born after his Grandfather Skipper died and my Grandfather Skipper was born after his Grandfather Skipper died. Lyonell seemed to be affected a little by this and he told this story:
Andrew, the subject of most of these stories, was Lyonell’s father and John Reynolds Halbrook was Andrew’s father. Andrew didn’t do much fishing because of all the farm work he had to do, so when he did go, he took all the family along to have a big outing. Lyonell recalled a fishing trip they took around 1925 when he was about five years old and his Grandfather Halbrook was about 85. They loaded all the gear they needed for cooking and camping into a wagon and traveled the three miles from Cleveland to a small creek that ran between the Liberty Cemetery and John Halbrook’s home. Andrew's brother, Will, and several others had wagons there. Some of the men cut down a tree, hooked their horses to it, and dragged it through a ‘hole’ upstream to muddy the water and make the fish come to the surface. They got so many fish, including a very large trout (or bass) that they decided to bring Grandpa down to join in the fish fry.
Andrew had also brought the T-Model that he used for carrying the mail. Andrew's brother, Allen, offered to drive it to get Grandpa and they agreed that Lyonell could ride along. When his Grandpa got into the single bench seat, Lyonell crawled over the back of the seat and rode in the homemade mailbox. He leaned over the seatback to be between the men so that he could listen in on their conversation.
Lyonell said that when they got to the camp and his Grandpa saw the many big fish, his grandpa’s eyes just ‘danced’ and ‘flashed.’ He said that Grandpa’s eyes always did that when he was pleased and excited. Lyonell's Granpa Halbrook died within a year or so of that time.
I think Lyonell’s eyes ‘danced’ a little, too, at the memory of that long-ago event.



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Re-posted: 11/12/02