Lookin' down Main: The World from an older point of view.

By W. E. Orr

The only thing that I ever did better than anyone else was to write a book about Judsonia. I know that it is the best book ever written about Judsonia, because it is the only one ever written about Judsonia. My one and only volume was published in 1957, and the edition was exhausted years ago. I hope that someday someone writes a better one, but I hope that when it is done the writer doesn't underestimate Judsonia's interest in its past as badly as I did. I could have sold twice as many as I had printed (between 600 and 700).

What really was bugging me at the time was that my first child was on the way, and I didn't really expect to live through childbirth. I had visions of leaving my widow with a big printing bill and a lot of books that nobody wanted on her hands. I did barely survive the child's arrival, but I do think now that Bonnie could have sold the books.

Anyway, copies of the book wound up in the most surprising places. One day someone sent me a copy of a book review it had received in a magazine published in St. Louis called
The Waterways Journal, which I had never heard of before. I am including the review in this week's LDM, because it includes some data not to be found in That's Judsonia. Perhaps you will want to clip it and paste it in your copy of Judsonia's history.

"U.S. highway 67 and the Missouri Pacific's main line, St. Louis to Little Rock and Texas, cross the Little Red River, a tributary of White River, at Judsonia, Arkansas. This tiny stream was once briskly navigated to and beyond Searcy, Arkansas, 34 miles above the mouth, by large size packets and towboats. It would probably be difficult today to open the MP drawbridge at Judsonia. However, there are no bridges below the town that we have heard of and that leaves the first 30 miles of the stream probably still navigable at favorable stages of water. The juncture with the White is near Georgetown, at a point 182.6 miles above the stream's mouth.

That's Judsonia, 328 pages for a large book for such a small town, says that the U.S. Engineer steamer Arthur Hider1 made regular trips before World War I — perhaps later too — to Bee Rock, well above Judsonia. The Waterways Journal has always understood from Alex W. Dann of Sewickley, Pa., retired chairman of the board of the Union Line Corporation, that at Bee Rock there was a large quarry from which rock was towed by not only the Arthur Hider but also the U.S. steamers Issaguena2 and H. St. L. Coppee. The 163 feet Hider, built by the Howards at Jeffersonville in 1898, was sold at public sale in September, 1935, to the late A. O. Kirschner, of Cincinnati. This boat was then active on the upper Ohio River into the mid 1940's, the last owner being W. C. Beatty, also of Cincinnati, who had her dismantled, if memory is correct, about 1948.

According to "That's Judsonia," no exact record exists of the first steamboat to ascend the Little Red to Judsonia, and perhaps beyond, except that the year was 1848. But it is known, definitely, that the second boat came into port in February, 1849. The book gives this vessel's name as J. B. Crow. However, there is no boat of that name in the "Lytle List" nor is a J. B. Crow listed in the custom house records in New Orleans."

(Columnist's Note — I didn't say that — what I said was that J. B. Crow, the grandfather of the late Judge Eugene Cypert, came to White County in 1849 on the second steamboat to ascend the river. (Page 20, chapter 1.) I hope they hunted and hunted and hunted.)

Continuing the review:

"In any event, Judsonia in the 1870's and 1880's, was a regular port of call for side trips up the Little Red by such splendid Memphis and White River packets as the Hard Cash and the Chickasaw. Both of these boats were owned by Capt. Ed C. Postal, and he seems to have had a soft spot for the Little Red and Judsonia. According to the book, both steamers included Judsonia in their regular trips, stage of the water permitting, and both usually arrived toward evening and laid at the town overnight. In the 1890's and the first 10 years of the 20th century" (Note — It was nearer 25 years) "steamboats still visited Judsonia but only on infrequent and special occasions, so much so that a boat's whistle always brought out the entire populace, especially the children. The Waterwavs Journal does hot recommend this book" (Note — What a thing to say!) "unless there is enough interest in the town itself to justify. But to any native of Judsonia the 328 pages of this book will indeed be prized."
(Note — That's better!)

Well, at least that's how I finally found out what happened to the Arthur Hider.


[1] Pg. 111
[2] In the book, it's spelled
Issa Queena