Sunday, September 25, 2005


Marcella Pry

I enjoyed the piece on Doniphan so much so that I read the whole thing. (I can’t believe Dear Ole Mom read the whole thing! –tlp-) There was a complete town there, and the mill. The Doniphan mill was about a mile from Kensett. Daddy worked at Blytheville and, when my mother got sick, Aunt Ophelia, "Felly," who lived with her husband, Fred Bass, at Doniphan, came to Blytheville to take care of us two kids. Manuel (my little brother) was just crawling, ‘cause my job on the fishing trip was keeping him on the quilt. Daddy had a flat tire on his King, and that was the day my mother got sick. We were going to the Mississippi River to fish with Uncle Wyman (daddy’s older brother) and Aunt Mary.

I started to tell you about Doniphan. It was a busy place. Everything centered around the Mill.

We lived in a house just two houses from the corner, with Aunt Felly and her husband, Red Lake, and Daddy. The houses were all in a row, several rows of them. That's where Daddy met Mama. Her mother, Mrs. Fry, ran the hotel (a glorified boarding house); the only one in town. Mama worked for Mrs Fry, and did the washing for Mrs. Mills (Wilbur’s mom) and anyone else she got a chance to. After all, women who were widows and had 2 kids to raise would make money any way they could.

They eventually moved the original Doniphan mill to Oregon. Don't know how many towns it's stopped in after Glenwood but, when I saw it, it had been at Springfield. Now it is at Bend, OR, which is about 300 miles from Springfield. I know that because, when we went to a fancy restaurant while I was visiting up there a few months ago, we passed a place that says Doniphan Lumber Co. It was unloading something at the new place that they had made. They made the fancy restaurant out of the old mill.

For those interested in more of mom's memories of the 20s in Arkansas, go to: .

More memories from Harold Gene Sullivan

Tom, thanks for the background on Doniphan.

As I've have pointed out before, during the 1940s, my dad had a Pepsi route, delivering cases of drinks to small stores in White County. One store that I remember was at Doniphan. At that time, the town was really a going place with quite a few houses; it had a “company town” look with the houses all similar.

After arriving in the town, one took a right turn down to the store; the house one turned at was the home of Lonnie Glosson . For those of you who are less educated in the cultural things of life, he was a performer on the Grand Ole Opera, played a harmonica, if I remember correctly.

This reminds me of a story about how Kensett got its name, true or not, I don’t know. Supposedly, they were looking for a place to locate the railroad station after Searcy leaders declined to have the main tracks through their town. They had located a site but there was still a problem of some sort. One of the black workers said, “You can’t sit it there but you kin sit it here.” Don’t know why I really don’t believe the story.

Speaking of small towns that have all but disappeared. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in El Paso AR. He was the rural mail carrier out of there. In fact, I lived there in the late 1930s for part of a year. In the 1940s, it was a real going town with a service station, two general stores, a dry goods store, a movie theater, plus several other stores. Now it is all but gone.

The same thing is true with West Point. In the 1940s, it was a thriving town with wood sidewalks and several stores plus a good size school. There was an old house that had a cannon ball in the side from the Civil War (or should I say War Between The States). There was a dock there where commercial fishermen brought in their catch to sell. I remember my dad buying drum and buffalo fish there. One time they had an alligator gar hung up on a tree when we went by, it was over 7 feet long, looked like a whale to me.

Good roads, everyone owning a car, and chain stores have sure destroyed the small towns around White County. I’m sure most readers can think of similar small towns that have almost disappeared. It’s sad to see these little towns die.

Tom Pry

Talk about coincidence biting you in the butt …! Harold made the reference to Lonnie Glosson … who ended up as my mom’s companion during the last years of his life. (One of his grandkids runs a web site about him: ). Mom met him, the first time, in Doniphan, and he became a lifelong friend of my grandfather’s, before ending up in my mom’s life again, after my father died.

Lonnie and his buddy/partner, Wayne Raney (from Drasco, where his son still has a recording studio) sold harmonicas and instruction books on radio all over the U.S. Lonnie, besides doing the Grand Ole Opry, also hosted and/or appeared on such legendary shows as The Louisiana Hayride, The WLS Saturday Night Barn Dance, and the Renfro Valley Gang.

He died shortly after his Valentine’s Day 93rd Birthday in 2001. His last performing appearance had been at the White County Fair the preceding September.


Blogger Jim Shelton said...

I just found your site and it is very interesting. My hometown is Kensett. Yes, the story about how Kensett got its name is one I have heard many times. However, I don't believe it is true. It may be in Ray Muncy's book on the history of Searcy (or another book, I'm not sure) where it tells that Kensett was actually named for a railroad man named Kensett.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Ms. Body said...

Can you tell me which cemetery in Kensett that he is buried in?

10:12 AM  

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