U S Highway 71

West Fork AR 72774

Some early settlers of the West Fork area, Benjamin Hardin and Robert McPhail recorded land entries in April 1836. Eli Bloyd, who was born in Maryland and lived in Virginia and Kentucky, is said to have settled in the neighborhood of West Fork as early as 1828, but did not register a claim to his land until 1840. At the time of early settlement, the nearest store was in Missouri, the nearest mill at Natural Dam and nearest neighbor was John Billingsley probably at Cane Hill some seven miles to the west. Other early settlers of West Fork were Zadok Winn, Ambrose and Strangeman Hutchinson, Dicke Dye, John Rutherford and Andrew Karnes.

The settlement, about ten miles south of Fayetteville,was likely always known as West Fork after the West Fork of the White River. As early as 1838 Gilstrap's Mill was built some four miles south, and was used for both grinding grains and sawing lumber. Several steam driven mills also were built.

In 1838 the first post office was opened. The West Fork Christian Church was started in 1837. Citizens of the town passed a resolution in April 1861 opposing secession and any act that united them with the Confederacy. Like all towns in this area, West Fork suffered from the War, especially from bushwhackers or guerilla forces.

The St.Louis & San Francisco Railway was built through West Fork in 1881 and the town was incorporated in 1885. Commercial development continued for a number of years with a large canning operation starting for tomatoes and evaporating apples in the 1890's.

Early Days at West Fork by Bernice Karnes Flashback November 1956
Goodspeed's History of Washington County 1889
Washington County History by Shiloh Museum 1989

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