History of Greenland

Brought to you by the Greenland 7th Grade G/T class.

The area that became Greenland was originally part of the Arkansas Territory called Lovely County.

In 1828 the government reached a settlement with the Cherokee in which the Indians were removed from Lovely County. The government then urged white settlers to homestead here. The White River valley near what is now Greenland and West Fork became a popular area for homesteaders.

First called Frog Pond, the name was changed to Rugby in 1882 by the Railroad. Then, in 1886, Greenland’s name was changed to Staunton. In 1909 the town became Greenland.

Greenland 1925 – 1935

NOTE: The history of Greenland quoted below is an edited (shortened) version of the Denele Campbell article found in the Shiloh Museum in Springdale, Arkansas.

Author’s note: The following based on interview with Richard Millsap at his home in Farmington
October 2005.

Then, as now, the heart of Greenland in the early twentieth century lay in the district school. The old two –story frame building that had served for many years had been retired in 1922 in favor of the new rock schoolhouse. Between the two buildings were the outdoor athletic facilities-outdoor basketball courts, one for the boys and for the girls, plus the baseball diamond all in the place where the new gym is now located. Basketball was just getting started-Winslow’s gymnasium with its dirt floor was the only one in the area. Baseball was the most popular sport, and Greenland winning team, even though in those days all schools competed with each other, large and small.

When the Greenland teams played, everyone in the community would come to the games, which were usually held on Friday afternoons. Wagons and horse riders from the east would cross the river at a wide graveled spot slightly southeast from the current school buildings. There was a swinging bridge at the location as well, so the pedestrians could get across the river even when the water was high. The old road that followed this path was tied onto Highway 71 just south of the old two-story school building. People from as far as Tilly Willy and up Slatey Gap road to the east, or out west along Cato Springs Road up to the Dowell property came down for the games.

Richard Millsap has memories about the athletic events because he was an athlete. His graduating class of 1935 included six girls and four boys. With enrollment so small the school could not field a football team but they excelled in swimming and baseball. Local jobs were scarce in those days, and most Greenland graduates tried to make money from the family farm or moved away.

Fruit production was a primary income for the farms and fertile valleys and hillsides around Greenland. Many small landowners grew strawberries; thousands of pounds of strawberries were loaded and shipped from Greenland’s railroad depot. Other cash crops included raspberries, blackberries, and apples. Most families also grew food for themselves and their livestock.

Aside from the school, Greenland hosted two general stores, a blacksmith, a soda fountain, a dentist, and a few other concerns. An older mercantile that had once occupied a two-story building near the blacksmith had closed. The new two-story Yoes store not only stocked everything from sugar to gingham, but also provided rooms upstairs for operation of the community government and lodge meetings. The Yoes house sat immediately south of the store, and south of that was the building partly rented by the Smiths for a soda fountain operation. The soda shop included a counter and a few tables where patrons could order the popular flavors of the day. Across the highway from the soda fountain was the old school house and the road that crossed the river at the swinging bridge.

On the south side of the “Y” at the railroad crossing in the current location of the Church of Christ, was the town well, the old mercantile building, and the blacksmith. In the center of the Y was the house of Doc Wilson the dentist, and to the north of the Y was Doc Wilson’s fancy barn where he housed his extensive mule operation, as well as his horses and the little cart he kept for racing. (The house still exists, but the barn is gone.) It was Doc Wilson who provided funds to build Greenland’s first gymnasium around 1940.

North of the Yoes store, immediately across Wilson Street and adjacent to the railroad tracks, was the Greenland Depot. The building was of standard design, about twenty-five by fifty feet, and included a long platform facing the tracks where passengers and freight could wait for the train. The Greenland depot was a flag stop, but mail and daily papers from Fayetteville and Fort Smith could be thrown from a slow moving train even when the flag wasn’t out, and a pole with a hook for the mail bag stood by the track so that the train men could grab the mailbag as they passed.

Area folks included parties in homes, where young people might play card games such as Pitch and Spoons or on rare occasions, might dance. Once in awhile an air show would come nearby field and barnstormers in bi-planes would thrill the crowd and kids watching from the hillsides with the amazing feats of flying upside down, wing walking and hanging from the wings. Many in Greenland also traveled to the yearly Washington County Fair, which was held in the old fairgrounds location at Razorback Road north or 6th Street up to Nettleship. Some walked along the four miles of the railroad track to reach the country fair from Greenland.

After leaving to play baseball, Richard did not return to Greenland school until late in life. Most of what he remembered from his school days at Greenland has changed. Doc Wilson’s house still stands, as does 1922 Greenland School building, although the rock house structure is surrounded by newer school buildings. The Yoes store and Crider Grocery are gone, and the lumber yard supported construction for miles around, as the district expanded dramatically when Marion’s son Bruce Crider served as County judge. Other than two gas station/convenience stores, and Fayetteville Municipal Airport, Greenland remains a place with a school whose young people go elsewhere for their livelihood, just as it did when Richard Millsap graduated in 1935.