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Hickman is an unincorporated community in northeastern Mississippi County, near the Mississippi River. It is the easternmost community in the state of Arkansas. In the twenty-first century, Hickman is more of an industrial park than a residential community.
Native Americans traveling on the Mississippi River undoubtedly stopped at the future site of Hickman, and some groups may have lived in the area for a time. The first Europeans to see the location were the members of the Marquette-Joliet expedition in 1673. The United States first gained possession of the land through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The river landing was frequently used during territorial times, and a post office named Buford Landing was established there in 1836, the year Arkansas became a state. Later that same year, the name of the post office was changed to Barifield’s Point.
Elliott Hickman purchased a tract of land, roughly 1,000 acres, in 1840. He built a house with a view of the Mississippi River, clearing some of the forested land for cotton while leaving some forested areas for scenic value. His biography, recorded in the Goodspeed history of Mississippi County, reports that Hickman “became noted throughout the region for his polished manners. Although a slave-owner, he would never employ an overseer, and among his humble retainers, he was happy in making them happy. His advice was given freely to all, and in him they ever found a kind and liberal friend instead of a hard taskmaster.” The post office was renamed Hickman’s Bend in 1846. Hickman died in 1858.
The region and post office held a number of names in the nineteenth century, including Rion Styx, Forty Eight Gin, and Brolaski, as well as Hickman. In 1889, the Goodspeed history recorded that Hickman Bend “is one of the most desirable sections hereabouts. There are about 1,300 acres of land under cultivation, and the bend is being rapidly opened and improved. The shipping point at Brolaski has a store and postoffice, which give the people a convenient outlet.”
During the twentieth century, Hickman dwindled in importance as highway and rail traffic bypassed the area. The post office closed in 1941. However, around the end of the twentieth century, industrial development sprang to life between Blytheville (Mississippi County) and the Mississippi River. Kinder Morgan maintains a terminal on the river at what was once Hickman’s Bend, and several metal and recycling companies have plants in the area. The cemetery of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Blytheville is located in Hickman.
For additional information:Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889.
Edrington, Mabel F. History of Mississippi County, Arkansas. Ocala, FL: Ocala Star-Banner, 1962.
Mississippi County, Arkansas: Through the Years. Osceola, AR: Osceola–South Mississippi County Arkansas Historical Heritage Documentation Committee, 1986.
Snowden, Deanna, ed. Mississippi County, Arkansas: Appreciating the Past; Anticipating the Future. Little Rock: August House, 1986.
Steven Teske Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 8/4/2016
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