North Wedington Blacktop Road
Lincoln AR 72744
Wiiliam H Rhea, a prominent merchant in Cincinnati, got lucky at a
rare gambling event and won enough money to buy a store in Wedington
and a mill and farm a few miles northwest of Prairie Grove in the late
1850's. He set about refurbishing and modernizing the mill he bought
from John P Kellam. His Valley Steam Mill became one of the best
known and most up-to-date mills in the County. The settlement that
grew around the mill became officially known as Rhea's Mill when a
post office was established in 1867. Rhea also operated a large farm
and store similar to the one he first ran in Cincinnati.
In 1859 Rhea began construction of his eight room, two story house that
was completed just before the Civil War. Rhea's mill was commandeered
by the Union Army to provide grain for the troops. Rhea joined the
Confederate army. After the War, he was able to recoup his fortunes.
Rhea died in 1884. His wife and sons operated the store, farm and
mill for several years.
The village of Rhea continued to prosper so that by 1900, it had two
churches, several stores, two physicians and a local telephone company.
Having been bypassed by railroads and major highways, it finally went
into a decline, losing its school to Prairie Grove in 1946, the post
office in 1963 and the last business, a blacksmith shop, in 1979.
The old stone chimney from Rhea's mill was dismantled and moved to the
Prairie Grove Battlefield Park where it can be seen today.
The Prairie Grove Valley and its Communities part 1 by Willard
Gatewood Flashback Winter 2003
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