Nevada County

PRESCOTT -- The Nevada County Courthouse filled Thursday morning with people on hand for the Sesquicentennial of Nevada County.

Jamie Hillery, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, said the actual event should have taken last year, but this wasn’t possible. She pointed out the centennial celebration in 1972 was also held a year late due to uncontrollable circumstances. Regardless, people gathered, enjoyed the slide show and year books, while partaking of cake and punch. Quite a few participated in the “burial” of the time capsule, which will be opened 50 years from now.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass thanked everyone for coming, recognizing state and federal officials attending.

Revis Edmonds, research historian of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, talked about growing up in the area, and the importance of preserving the story of Arkansas. He pointed out some of his favorite memories are from Nevada County, as he lived in Hempstead County growing up. He said in 1871 they were both part of the same county. He talked of how Gov. Thomas McRae fought for education and the highway system, while commuting the sentence of six men. He talked of going to see another historic figure in the county’s history, “Old Mike”, saying he was expecting to see an old man on his front porch and was surprised to go to the funeral home to see the remains of Old Mike.

Edmonds said his first serious girlfriend was from Bodcaw and he still has friends there, and how a trip to Falcon was always a highlight as the family went for steaks. He added the county had its own “theme park” in Arkla Village, but Whit Stephens didn’t make anything on it, though people loved it. He said no trip to the village was complete without getting a sarsaparilla at the saloon and taking a ride on the train. Interstate 30, he continued, claimed the village, though the Gaslight Bowl managed to survive.

He talked about the football rivalry between Hope and Prescott, how Firestone and Potlatch were a big deal in the county, providing people in both county with good jobs. “I’m grateful for my memories and am honored to share this special day.”

Tom Mitchell, former pastor of Central Baptist Church, was up next. He provided the audience with a history of the county, saying the name “Nevada” was the popular choice of legislatures in 1871, and how Moriah was the location of the first county government, though the first county seat was in Rosston, later moved to Prescott, a community most-likely named for the man who platted the town. In 1880, he said, 1,250 people lived in Prescott.

Mitchell provided several “firsts” in the county’s history. The first church as the Cumberland Presbyterian in 1875 on East Main where First Baptist no is. The Banner was the first newspaper, begun in January 1875, followed three years later by the Nevada County Picayune. He told the crowd what picayune means – small, petty and meaningless, though he always thought the Picayune was a good paper. The first mayor was E.A. Warner, with the first bank opening in 1880. The Nevada County Courthouse was erected in 1884, razed in 1911 with its replacement demolished in 1963, replaced by the current courthouse. The Ozan Lumber Company opened in 1890 and later became Potlatch. Also in 1890 R.L. Powers began the P&NW Railroad. The fist phone system arrived in 1891, and in 1899 Prescott became the new county seat and was one of the first cities in the state to establish a public utility board, passing bonds for electric and water services.

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