Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seasons Greetings

We're taking some time off and will resume posting the first of the year.

We send you our best wishes this holiday season. May you have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

This cozy cabin decked out for Christmas is located on Vineyard Creek Road, west of Highway 71S, Greenwood.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cozy Christmas Tea

Sunday's chilly winds didn't dampen the spirits of those who attended the Christmas Tea at the Vineyard Log Cabin. Fires roared in both fireplaces. Gingerbread men, homemade cookies,hot spiced cider and plenty of coffee helped keep the cold at bay. Thanks to the volunteers and visitors who made the day a success. Special thanks to tea chairwoman Louise Stewart, all-round go-to-guys Vernon Stewart, Joel Goldstein and Otis Edwards, historian Glenda Wallace and carolers Warren and Debbie Stewart, Katie Wallace and Katherene Hall.

Monday, November 29, 2010

You're Invited to Our Christmas Tea

Please join us Sunday, December 5 at the 1848 Vineyard Log Cabin for a cup of steaming spiced cider and a homemade cookie. We'll be there from 1:00-5:00 PM. The cabin will be decorated for Christmas and the fire will be blazing. Come by and say "hello."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SSCHS Featured in Arkansas Encyclopedia Online

The South Sebastian County Historical Society has been entered in the Arkansas Encyclopedia of History and Culture online. The site offers information about the Society and includes photos of some of the attractions and volunteers. Watch for the Old Jail Museum Complex to be added soon.

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a Happy Thanksgiving!

We'll return after the holidays with information about our Sunday, December 5 Christmas Tea at the Vineyard Log Cabin (1-5 PM).

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Museum- Out In the Community

Although the Museum is closed for the season, activities continue in the community. November 9, Greenwood High School EAST student Erika Lindsay presented an overview of the South Sebastian County Oral History Project to a group of parents and community members. Erika is the videographer and video editor for the project. Erika has donated many hours of service and her considerable talents to the project.

November 11 SSCHS member and former officer Vernon Stewart took helmets from the Museum collection to the veteran's celebration at Greenwood High School. ROTC members guarded the artifacts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Old Jail in the News, 1894

The Old Jail Museum Complex was buzzing this week with photographers and their subjects, taking family portrtaits on the grounds. The log cabin, jail and barn provide wonderful backgrounds for photos, especially this time of year.

There's always been a lot of activity around the Old Jail. Some events were reported in the January 1894 Fort Smith Elevator newspaper.

SEAB JONES, arrested on suspicion of killing MRS. R. S. BRIDGEMAN and confined in the Greenwood jail, made his escape last week. He was captured near Huntington, evidently Seab was not very anxious to get away.

These days the excitement at the Old Jail is confined to the visitors who enjoy the exhibits. As winter draws near, the old exhibits are coming down to make way for the new.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thanks for a Wonderful Season

Thanks to our patrons, volunteers, Board Members and SSCHS members for a great 2010 Museum season. We'll reopen Thursday, May 5, 2011. In the interim, we'll be busy gussying up and putting together Civil War exhibits for next year.

Come see us at the Fall Fest next Saturday at Bell Park. We'll be glad to tell you about the Historical Society and the Museum Complex and will have Key magazines, tee shirts and books for sale.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Big Thank You

Did you know that Sebastian County once had 32 post offices? This is one of many interesting facts you'll discover at the Museum's Post Office exhibit.

Many thanks to Vernon Stewart, Homer Dillard and Brenda Pryor for the loan of their personal postal memorabilia during the 2010 Museum season. The postal exhibit featured old photos, information about and articles belonging to Greenwood and South Sebastian County postmasters and letter carriers, including photos of the first known letter carrier in the county and fascinating early carriers such as Lavaca's Joe Carruth.

Pictured are (left to right): Vernon Stewart, Homer Dillard and Brenda Pryor. Vernon is the son of former Greenwood Postmaster Haltom Stewart. Homer is a former letter carrier. Brenda is the daughter of former Greenwood Postmaster Earl Pryor. They all have shared many memories with the community through their loans to this exhibit.

Last chance to see this exhibit is Thursday-Saturday this week. The last day of operation for 2010 is Saturday, October 30.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 Season Draws to a Close

The change of seasons brings changes to the Museum. Saturday, October 30 will be the last day of our 2010 season. We'll begin to clear out the current exhibits and prepare for the 2011 opening in May.

2011 initiates our nation's observance of the Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) of the Civil War and the Museum will be featuring the stories of families who lived in South Sebastian County during that difficult time. If you have a family story or a Civil War era artifact to donate or loan, please contact the curator via the link on this page.

During the period that the Museum is closed, we can accomodate your requests for information and the purchase of Key Magazines and other Museum publications. We can typically make arrangements for you to do research in the Document Room or view parts of the museum collection. For more information, contact the curator via the link of this page.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old Schools of Sebastian County

With last week's parent-teacher conferences, we are reminded of the old schools of Sebastian County. The Sebastian County website at Rootsweb has a wonderful collection of photos and information. You can see more at the Old Jail Museum's Redwine Pioneer Schoolhouse. Photos of area schools and pupils line the walls. You'll see the classroom rules and consequences for misbehavior that were posted to make any potential miscreant think twice. The portraits of Lincoln and Washington will remind you of your own school days. A jar of marbles recalls playground fun and the "little house" behind the school makes us thankful for modern conveniences.

The Museum sells two publications about early schools: "When the Old Bell Rang" and the 1998 edition of the Key Magazine. They are available for purchase at the Old Jail Museum.

The 2010 Museum season is drawing to a close at the end of October. Come see us this weekend and enjoy South Sebastian County History and the beautiful weather.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Festival Coming November 6

Mark your calendars and plan to join us at the Fall Festival at Bell Park Saturday, November 6. The weather promises to be beautiful and the food delicious. Lots to see and do. We'll be there to answer your questions about the Old Jail Museum Complex, the Society and all things historical. "I've Been to Jail" t-shirts and Key Magazines will be available for sale. And, of course, Louise and Vernon will have their homemade butter and churn. See you Saturday, November 6!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lighting the Night: The Betty Lamp

Ancient lamps, originally crafted of clay and, in later centuries, of iron, copper and bronze, burned grease, fish oil, or fat. The wicks were composed of twisted cloth scraps. When lighted, the lamps produced smoke and frequently dripped or spilled. The Betty Lamp was designed to eliminate the problems associated with these early lamps.

The Museum is pleased to have received the donation of a Betty Lamp. This lamp was the most commonly used lamp in America from colonial times until the 1850s, when it was replaced by the kerosene tubular wick lamp.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Familiar Face

Luan Hearn Moore (left), past president of the South Sebastian County Historical Society and guest Polly Johnston (right), toured the museum today. Along with her many other contributions to the Society, Luan was instrumental in the development of the Coal Miner's Memorial, the acquisition of the Vineyard Log Cabin and served as editor of the Society's publication, The Key. Many thanks to Luan for her dedication to SSCHS and committment to the preservation of the history of South Sebastian County.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yard Sale Saturday, September 18

Join us on the Square for our annual Yard Sale, Saturday, September 18. All proceeds benefit the South Sebastian County Historical Society. See you there!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Civil War Sesquicentennial Nears

As autumn brings welcome rain and relief from the heat, we are reminded that a new year is just around the corner. With 2011 comes the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
The Civil War exhibit at the Old Jail Museum is in its infancy. We are noted on the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission's website If you have family stories , documents or artifacts to share, please contact the curator. It is the Musesum's goal to share the story of South Sebastian County families during the War.

Our uniform, a centerpiece of the current display, is taking a few days off. It will return to the display Monday. Many thanks to Larry Puckett for loaning this- and other- items.

When The Old School Bell Rings

With the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, thoughts go to the early days of education in South Sebastian County. The Old Jail Museum's document room has an exhibit of early school records, photos and artifacts. The Redwine Pioneer Schoolhouse evokes memories of the days when children of all ages were educated in a single room. The Schoolhouse contains items used by teachers and students and many photos of old county schools.

The Greenwood School District's website has an interesting history of education in the city.

Copies of Mr. Redwine's book, "When the Old School Bell Rings" are available for purchase at the Old Jail Museum. Open Thursday-Satuday May 1- October 31, 11 AM- 3 PM.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saddle Up!

The Old Barn is home to three interesting new arrivals. H.B. and Barbara Stewart of Greenwood have donated a set of handmade saddles from the late 1800s- a man's saddle, a lady's side saddle and a child's saddle.

The large black man's saddle belonged to Stewart's grandfather, William John Alexander (Alex) Joyce. Mr. Joyce served during the late 1800s and early 1900s as a Deputy Sheriff and served papers all over Sebastian County (Barling, Central, Lavaca, Washburn, Dayton, Mansfield, Huntington, Hartford, Midland, Hackett, Bonanza and Jenny Lind.) According to Stewart, it would take Deputy Joyce about two weeks to travel the circuit. He made camp at night or stayed with friends along the route.Mr. Joyce used this saddle during the apprehension of notorious outlaw, Henry Starr, nephew to the husband of Belle Starr, in the Kibler Bottoms. The weapon that was taken from Henry Starr remains in the Joyce family. It is a 44 caliber gun with four notches in the handle.

The smaller woman's side saddle with tapestry inset was used by Emma Joyce, wife of Alex. Women at this time rode "aside."

The original owner of the child's saddle, from the same period, is unknown.

These items can be viewed during regular operating hours at the Old Jail Museum Complex.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Museum Featured in Online Encyclopedia

The brochure of the South Sebastian County Historical Society has been uploaded to the Arkansas Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Future articles on the Old Jail Museum and the Society are forthcoming.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Search for Sarah: Update

Our efforts appear to be panning out. We made contact this week with a descendant of Sarah's cousin, much to our delight. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hartford Music Company

Eugene Monroe Bartlett was searching for a way to teach singers to read and perform music with or without musical accompaniment. He selected Sebastian County's Hartford as the location because of the confluence of rail lines that would bring in supplies and students. Thus, in 1918 the Hartford Music Company was formed. Trainings were conducted twice a year and the resulting songs published.

Such gospel classics as "I'll Fly Away" and "Victory in Jesus" are products of Bartlett's efforts.

To learn more about the Hartford Music Company and hear recordings of "shape note singing," visit the exhibit at Greenwood's Old Jail Museum.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Search for Sarah: Author Nancy Dane Helps Sarah's Name Endure

There are many chapters of Civil War orphan Sarah Ann Campbell's life that we do not know- and may never know. But her name will live on thanks to author Nancy Dane. Nancy has been writing a novel about a six year old Fort Smith, Arkansas girl who was shipped north by steamboat when her parents were killed by bushwhackers. Nancy had called her Sarah. Now Nancy has given her a last name- Campbell.

We have shared photos of Sarah's uncle's family and the letters exchanged during the two decades that Uncle Samuel Pevehouse Campbell and Sarah's sister and husband searched for Sarah across Illinois. We hope the story of Greenwood's Sarah will be an inspiration to Nancy as she weaves this tale of Arkansas's Civil War days.

Nancy Dane is the author of three novels and one documentary about the Civil War in Arkansas. All of Nancy's books are being used as curriculum in Arkansas public schools. Read more about Nancy at .
Photo of unknown Civil War era mother and daughter from Library of Congress.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Walking the Talk

We suggested you put your own family stories on paper or into digital files of one type or another. We're practicing what we preach. The South Sebastian County Historical Society has begun collecting oral histories of South Sebastian County citizens. Residents are sharing their family stories and memories of South Sebastian County. Greenwood High School senior Erika Lindsay is shooting, editting and producing. Historian Glenda Wallace and Curator Donna Goldstein are interviewing. Our plan is to develop a library of digital family and community histories that will be available for viewing at the Old Jail Museum.

For more information, email

Monday, August 9, 2010

Collect Oral Histories: Create Your Own Family "Museum"

The members of your family and your community have stories to share. The sharing of the stories of their personal lives provides a wonderful way to deepen family relationships and opens the window so that future generations can have a peek at what life looked like during their lifetimes.

Much of what we know about the past we have learned from old letters, documents, books and shared family stories. People today seldom write their memoirs- or correspond in the form of letters- but you can document the events of your family or community through the collection of oral histories. They can be transcribed or digitally recorded as audio or video files.

This link is to the Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Guide. It offers suggestions for interview questions. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Search for Sarah Continues

We've been looking for some time for information regarding Sarah Ann "Annie" Campbell, a Civil War orphan from Greenwood. We know that she was transported by steamboat to Illinois at age six and that her Greenwood uncle, Samuel Pevehouse Campbell, and her sister searched extensively for her. Letters to the editor, published in the Fort Smith Elevator, document that her uncle became aware of her whereabouts when Annie was age twenty-five. It has become our quest to determine whether Annie ever returned to Greenwood. We've been assisted by a wonderful genealogical researcher from Fayetteville, who has donated many hours to the search.

We have learned that Annie owned land near Milltown, but have not yet documented whether her signature appears on any of the documents, hopefully indicating her married name and residence. We hope to make a trip to the courthouse to look into that this week. We have stumbled upon a number of business transactions in old postal ledgers by her uncle. And, at last, we have located a photo of Uncle Samuel Pevehouse (S.P.) Campbell. It was right under our noses-- in plain sight-- on the rear cover of the 1996 Key Magazine.

S.P. is pictured here with second wife Tennessee McClendon Campbell and family in front of the Campbell home. Front row: Clarence Cason, Samuel P. Campbell, Tennessee McClendon Campbell, Cyrus Walker Campbell. Back row: Lewis Cason, Martha Campbell Cason, baby Wendell Lewis Cason, Laura Cason and Claude Cason.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Document Room

The Old Jail Museum's second floor is home to a library of historical documents. Items available for researchers to review on site include cemetery records, records of the justice of the peace, postal and mine company ledgers, newspapers, original photographs, books, family Bibles, books written by area residents, historical medical and pharmaceutical texts, local biographies and various other materials. The Document Room is open during regular museum operating hours (11AM-3PM, Thursday-Saturday) and other days by appointment. Email for additional information.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Climate Change" at the Old Jail Museum

The South Sebastian Historical Society maintains historical documents in a library on the second floor of the Old Jail Museum. The twenty-four inch thick sandstone walls and flat roof of the jail have created a climate control challenge for the Society. Recently, a dehumidifier was installed. It has been effective in bringing the relative humidity within the library to the recommended 30-50% level. Many thanks to Rich McKinney and his assistant Joel Goldstein for their help in selecting and installing the equipment. In our next post, we'll discuss the documents available for research in the Old Jail's Document Room.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Adopt Sebastian County Historical Site

Many who are interested in Sebastian County history have enjoyed Lynn Risener's site at It is part of the U.S. and Arkansas GenWeb Project. GenWeb is a volunteer organization that produces free genealogical resources. The site contains a wealth of documents, records and images from the early days of the county. Lynn is stepping down and is looking for someone to manage the site. If you're interested, and we hope you are, contact Lynn at: This attractive and well organized site is a treasure trove of information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Greenwood...Scenes from the Past

The face of Greenwood has changed over the years. Today's photo shows one of the large homes that graced the city. As the caption says, this was the home of the Benjamin Dawson family. It was believed to be the Methodist parsonage at one time. The Dawsons added the rear portion of the structure. The home was struck by lightning and was razed in 1969.
This photo courtesy of
the Key Magazine (1971 edition), a publication of the South Sebastian County Historical Society. "Keys" can be purchased at the Old Jail Museum during operating hours.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Go, Garrett! Go, Vernon!

Garrett Lewis of Channel 5 interviewed SSCHS's Vernon Stewart this morning at the Old Jail regarding Vernon's tremendous generosity in donating his time and talents to the Society and many other local and area organizations and events. Catch it on the 10 PM news tonight or watch the video after 11 PM in the "Go, Garrett, Go!" spot on the Ch 5 website:

For those who may not be aware, Garrett rides his bright green bike across northwest Arkansas to focus on volunteerism. Quite a feat in these 100 degree plus temperatures. We thank Channel 5 for shining the spotlight on Vernon Stewart. And, thanks, Vernon, for all you do! A special thank you, too, to Vernon's wife, Louise, for her devotion and many, many contributions to help preserve the history of South Sebastian County.

Sabrina Edwards, A. C. Brown and Kim Brown were on hand to lend their support.

Pictured are Vernon Stewart, Mayor Ken Edwards and Garrett Lewis; Vernon Stewart, Curator Donna Goldstein, Garrett Lewis, President Ruth McConnell; President Ruth McConell with News 5 "Go Garrett Go Car."

Rich McKinney Presentation to SSCHS

The highlight of the July 19 meeting of the SSCHS was a presentation by member Rich McKinney on his archaeological digs in the Holy Land. Rich shared wonderful stories, artifacts and photographs and left members hungry for more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Old Milltown" and "Old Jail"

Among the many photos in the School album in the Document Room at the Old Jail Museum is one labeled "Old Milltown." Can you identify any of the students?

Only one has been identified to date, Amie Gipson (Davis), daughter of Francis Marion Gipson and Luda Wilhite Gipson. She is the fourth student from the right on the front row. Based on her birthdate, we estimate this photo to have been made circa 1916-1918. Can anyone verify if Stella Gipson (Norried) is to her right (fifth student from the right, first row)?

Pleases email names to

We have an answer to the query we posted in the "Greenwood Democrat," "What was the purpose of the four steel projections from the rear of the old jail?" Vernon Stewart tells us that they supported a large wooden cistern that supplied water to the jail. Vernon further tells us that the cell floors were kept covered with dirt for "sanitary purposes."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Keep a Journal, Write a Letter

Much of what we know about our forebears we've learned from their writings- daybooks, log books, diaries, letters. We live in a world of electronic communication. It's doubtful that much of it will survive into the next century.
It's time to think about beginning a written record for your family. A daily journal is a good way to begin. If you have old letters, save them. If you have none, write some. Your words will be treasured one day.

We have two such items displayed at the Old Jail Museum in our Post Office display. One is a postcard from a young Jenny Lind woman to her sweetheart at the turn of the century. The other is a letter written to his parents from a local soldier serving in Germany during WWI. When elementary school children visited the Old Jail in May, many commented that they had never seen a letter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Reading

There's no time like the summer for a book that reads easy-- a book you can read snippets from now and then when the notion strikes. We have two "easy reads" at the Old Jail Museum: "When the Old Bell Rang" and "Strings and Things."

"When the Old Bell Rang" was written by William David Redwine, former editor and publisher of the Greenwood Democrat, and father of Delma Joyce Woosley. The book chronicles the lives of early teachers. After reading the book, make a visit to the Redwine Pioneer School at the Museum Complex, see the Redwine family artifacts and imagine yourself sitting on one of the benches writing on your slate. And, yes, the school has an old bell.

For a look back at the Greenwood of yesterday, try "Strings and Things." This book, editted by Jane Babin Rogers, is a collection of the newspaper columns of Estella Wright Szegedin. Mrs. Szegedin, who wrote well into her nineties, shared her observations of life in Greenwood with her readers in the pages of area newspapers for many decades. Readers will recognize many familiar events and personalities.

Both books are available for purchase at the Old Jail Museum.

"When the Old Bell Rang".....$15.00
"Strings and Things".........$10.00

Did you know the South Sebastian County Historical Society maintains a Document Room at the Old Jail Museum? Visitors can read historical documents of local interest, view historic pictures, investigate cemetery records and read books about the past of South Sebastian County.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rain Didn't Dampen Spirits

The celebrants of Freedomfest 2010 were not deterred by a little rain. Brave folks with umbrellas ventured out and enjoyed the morning's festivities. By mid afternoon, the sun was shining and the Square was rocking to the sounds of “Mr. Cabbage Head and the Screaming Radishes”, “Common Thread”, “10 Spur” and “Fordamatic."

The Old Jail Museum had a steady stream of visitors. Many youngsters were guided by docents through the displays of artifacts from South Sebastian County's early days. They asked insightful questions. Here's hoping they left with a new interest in history!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrate Our Freedom July 3

Free trolley rides with a tour guide will be one highlight of Greenwood's Fourth of July celebration- occuring this year on July 3. When the bell clangs and the trolley stops at the Old Jail, step off the trolley and into the 19th century. Our docents will be happy to show you around. Admission is by donation. Hours July 3, 9AM-6PM.

The City of Greenwood has an old-fashioned fun-filled day planned on the town square. See you there!

9:00 AM Turtle Race- BYOT (bring your own turtle)
Firecracker Walk (musical chairs)
Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Contest
9:30 AM Watermelon Roll
Soap Bubble Buckets
10:00 AM Sack Races, Three Legged Races
10:30 AM Hoola Hoop Contest
Double Dutch Jump Rope Contest
11:00 AM Sponge Run
Uncle Sam Says (Simon Says)
11:30 AM Water Balloon Toss
Big Ball Balance Run
Noon Free lunch! (Hot dogs, chips, drinks, ice cream)
1:30 PM Free music events begin and run through 11 PM
9:15 PM Fireworks!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Make the Museum Part of Your Holiday Celebration

The Old Jail Museum Complex is extending its hours Saturday, July 3, from 9AM-6PM. Admission is by donation. Come see our exibits including WWI, WWII and Civil War artifacts, as you reflect upon and celebrate our liberty. Our 1848 Vineyard Log Cabin, Old Barn, and Redwine Old Schoolhouse remind us of the sacrifices and joys of pioneer life in rural America.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ESA Presents Gift to South Sebastian County Historical Society

Kay Voss and Martha Beshears of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) presented a check in the amount of $2,100 to Ruth McConnell, Chairman of the South Sebastian County Historical Society at the group's June 21 meeting. The donation represented the proceeds from the first annual "Airing of the Quilts" show. Mrs. Voss and Chairman McConnell announced that the show will become an annual event, held in May. McConnell expressed the Society's appreciation for the generous donation and the group's enthusiasm about establishing this new tradition and friendship with the wonderful ladies of ESA.