Green Forest, AR - Carroll County
Made in the Shade
The historic town of Green Forest was originally developed near an area of Carroll County known as "Scott's Prairie". It was so named for John Scott, an early settler of Indian descent born in 1788. Scott was a well-known blacksmith and bellmaker in the county. Scott's Prairie was actually west of present day Green Forest, with the homestead of John J. Grim to the east. Other early settlers in the area by 1836 included William Martin and John Yocum, followed by George Buell, Anderson Cox, Jonathan Norris, John J. Grim, Henderson B. Phillips, David Faulkner, Ben Jennings, Samuel Braswell, John Hayhurst, John Shahan, Joseph Fanning, Benjamin Dooling, Lewis Russell, Alpha Orrell, and Billy Rush.
A Post Office was established on November 16, 1855, with A.M. Deshields serving as first postmaster, though it was shortlived, closing temporarily on August 8, 1856. John J. Grim then reopened the post office on July 29, 1867 and acted as the new postmaster. The new name "Green Forest" was reportedly suggested in honor of a stand of shade trees near the edge of Scott's Prairie that were preserved by John Grim for the new public square. The first structures in town consisted of a log church and school. Early stores built before the Civil War were destroyed by fire. Once Green Forest had been established, Scott's Prairie to the west came to be known as "Dogtown".
Early Town Development
The first home within Green Forest proper was constructed in 1870 by William M. "Billy" Ward, who also operated one of the first stores in town after the war. Richard David Galloway was also an early post-war store operator in Green Forest. By 1874, three houses had been constructed within town limits. Elija Wise would become the town's new blacksmith and serve in that capacity for over 50 years. J.R. Hanby established a flour mill, saw mill, and cotton gin in 1887, and within two years the town also featured its own general stores, drugstore, hotel, grocery store, and legal offices. The town was incorporated on February 22, 1895. The first passenger train to stop in Green Forest arrived on April 15, 1901. In the same year, the first bank in town was established by W.L. Sneed. It was called the Bank of Green Forest.
Many of the public square buildings in Green Forest were built by Charles Pyron, Sr., an experienced mason who also played a major role in the construction of the public square in Berryville. Pyron's sons were also accomplished masons, whose work could be found across Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri along the railroad routes. Another man responsible for the construction of many structures in Green Forest, and throughout Carroll County, was James B. Reeves. Born in 1867, Reeves constructed numerous buildings, bridges, roads, and churches. He built government buildings in Harrison, as well as the Jefferson Highway between Berryville and Huntsville. Throughout his life, Reeves wore many hats. In addition to his success as a mason and contractor, he was an accomplished farmer, lumberman, and business owner. He established the Green Forest Canning Factory, boosting the local economy, creating jobs, and earning himself the nickname of "Father of the Tomato Industry". He also served as President of the Green Forest School Board and the town's Mayor.
Mr. F.O. Butt was also an important figure in the history of Green Forest. He had settled in the area in 1885 with his family, and would soon become a driving force behind the development of the town. Throughout his career, he would also serve as mayor, city treasurer, and the vice president of several area banks.
Green Forest as County Seat
After the burning of the Berryville jail in 1887, residents of Green Forest pushed to have the county seat removed to their town. They argued that the cost of rebuilding the jail could be avoided, and also that the recent formation of the Western District of Carroll County rendered Green Forest closer to the center of the Eastern District. A newspaper called the Arkansas Tomahawk was created to further that cause, but after some politial quibbling, the seat remained in Berryville.
Early Education in Green Forest
By 1883, a 30 x 25 foot frame structure had been erected to serve as the first school in Green Forest. This was replaced ten years later by a more substantial 3-story structure measuring 28 x 50 feet. Then in 1905, a new school building was constructed at a cost of $5,000, but it burned in a fire prior to opening. A year later, a new school opened in Green Forest and served the community for many years, until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1927. The bricks were salvaged, however, for the next school facility, which was utilized until 1967 when a modern school building was constructed. The first college in Green Forest was the Ozark Normal School opened in 1904 by W.D. Crawford. It was destroyed in a fire in 1907.
The first musical organization in Carroll County was established in Green Forest in about 1890. The group was known as the "Green Forest Cornet Band" and was well received throughout the county at numerous festivals and commencements. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F) Lodge # 135 in Green Forest was instituted on March 22, 1895. The charter was picked up on January 21, 1935.
Early Ammenities in Green Forest
- Historical records indicate that by 1892, one could find the following establishments in the town of Green Forest:
- (2) Barber shops
- (2) Blacksmith Shops
- (1) Boot and Shoe Store
- (2) Doctors
- (2) Drug Stores
- (5) General Merchandise Stores
- (2) Grocery Stores
- (1) Hardware Store
- (1) Harness and Shoe Shop
- (1) Hotel
- (1) Lawyer
- (1) Mill
- (1) Newspaper
- (1) Tin Shop
About twenty years later, the town of approximately 1,000 people had added a successful canning factory, meat market, jewelry store, produce buyers, banks, bakery, lumber yard, furniture stores, millinery, and monument works to its offerings. By 1926, the Green Forest Motor Company had been established.
Hopes for a New Town
When the railroad arrived in town in 1901, a number of business owners attempted to move most of the downtown commerce closer to the new depot, which was located about a mile from the Green Forest Public Square on land owned by Allman Wyatt. They hoped to create a new business center that they called "New Town". At its height, "New Town" boasted a population of about 500 people, and had its own barber shop, blacksmith, canning factory, cotton gin, drugstore, flour mills, general stores, grocery store, hardware stores, hotels, insurance office, lawyer, lumberyard, meat market, millinery, newspaper, physician, planer and grist mill, produce market, printer, racket store, real estate office, roller mill, saw mill, and undertakers. A fire in 1902 destroyed the local drugstore, printing office, produce market, and a popular stone hotel. Very little remains in the area of New Town today.
Quick Booms and Busts
Gold was discovered while a well was being drilled in 1904, inspiring a small "boom" of prospecting interests, but it resulted in nothing. Rumors of oil in 1909 had the same effect.
On March 18, 1927, a tornado hit the town, killing several residents, and damaging much of the city, including the high school.
Green Forest Today
Green Forest has grown to become a significant agricultural center for Carroll County, and like their neighbors to the west in Berryville, poultry and turkey farms have also become a major industry. The Green Forest Arts and Crafts Fair has also been a highlight for many citizens of the county and surrounding areas.« Click here for sources