LINCOLN
211 S Main

Lincoln AR 72744


Washington County land records report that a man named Samuel Starr was appointed Osage Indian agent in about 1828 and established a presence near what would become North Street and West Avenue in Lincoln. North Street was the principal route to the Cherokee Nation at Tahlequah, the Creek Nation just west of Fort Gibson, and the Arkansas River at Muskogee. The name Starr Hill, the township in which Lincoln is situated, was probably so designated because of Samuel Starr’s long tenure. Others attribute this designation to James Starr, who moved to the area from Illinois in the 1870s.

Early settlers of this part of Arkansas brought two primary commodities: corn seed and apple sprouts or shoots, with corn being their primary staple. The soil around Lincoln seemed well suited for orchards. Earl Holt, son of early settler Jack Holt, established the first known commercial nursery in 1850. Although other crops, especially corn, were being cultivated in the area around Lincoln, most attention in these years was given to the production of apples.

In the 1870s, a school was built amid a patch of thorny blackjack trees near what would become the Lincoln Rodeo arena. The school and the community came to be known as Blackjack. In 1884, Starr Hill Township was formed, and some began to call the settlement Georgetown instead of Blackjack. The post office was established in Joseph Liburn Carter’s store that year. When they applied for postal service, townspeople learned that a Georgetown already existed in neighboring Madison County. After consultations with many residents, Carter began using the name Lincoln for the post office. At the time, Lincoln was a settlement of houses on land described by metes and bounds, and no formal town plat existed. No account has been preserved to explain why Carter chose the name Lincoln for the community.

About the turn of the century, the Ozark and Cherokee Central (O&CC) branch of the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway began its acquisition of rights of way across Washington County. The settlement called Lincoln was clustered north of present-day North Street. Paul Easby, an employee of or agent for the railroad company, bought twenty-two acres for a town site south of North Street from former slave Wesley J. Bean. The site fit neatly between North Street and the railroad track that paralleled it. The plat was filed in 1903 but modified in 1907. The city was incorporated in November 1907 with Jim Leach as its first mayor. Easby talked local business leaders into putting up $1,500 for a depot. On opening day, January 22, 1902, many barrels of apples were taken to the depot for shipment. The railroad had an immediate impact on business.

The Depression was hard on the town because the railroad line died, meaning that the shipping point for local produce was lost. Residents struggled to work their way out of the economic stagnation in the late 1930s. U.S. 62 was graded and graveled and became an all-weather road. It was paved about 1941.

The apple industry suffered through difficult times during these years. Badly damaged by insects and disease, trees succumbed to drought and to unseasonable frosts. Grapes and livestock began to replace the once-thriving orchards. World War II also deprived the area of labor, as Washington County suffered more than 100 casualties. After World War II, a new phenomenon arose in northwest Arkansas: commercial production of broiler chickens. Owners of small farms began to grow chickens on contract for the early pioneers in the industry.

Meanwhile, residents of rural Washington County including the Lincoln area were relocating to larger cities. While Lincoln had once been home to an African-American community with its own church and cemetery, by the end of the twentieth century, its population included no African Americans.

A citizens group started the Arkansas Apple Festival in 1976. By 2008, this annual festival, held the first weekend of October, was drawing 70,000 people to Lincoln for crafts, music, contests, and a parade.

Bibliography:
Encyclopedia of Arkansas - Lincoln(Washington County) by Boyce Davis



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