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Home / Browse / Gilmore (Crittenden County)
Latitude and Longitude:
0.222 square miles (2010 Census)
188 (2010 Census)
November 23, 1955
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
Gilmore is a small incorporated community in northern Crittenden County, situated along U.S. Highway 63, about two miles south of the Poinsett-Mississippi county line. Gilmore attracted interests in the timber industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and later became an agricultural community after the land was cleared.
The first white settlers began immigrating to the Gilmore area in the 1850s, about thirty years before construction of the first nearby railroad. Virginia-born John Gilmore, for whom the community and later rail station were named, moved to the area with his family by way of Missouri in the late 1850s. As a young man, he distinguished himself as a hunter and outdoorsman and made his fortune as one of the largest cattlemen in Crittenden County, owning over 800 head of cattle and 2,500 acres at the time of his death in 1883. Another influential citizen was Levi Barton Boon, who settled in Gilmore after fighting for the Union army during the Civil War and doing railroad work in Tennessee. Boon hailed from New York and settled in Gilmore in 1883, serving as its first postmaster; he also owned a farm, store, livery stable, and the first cotton gin in town.
Illinois native Edward Thornton Talbott worked as a stone-setter, farmer, horse trader, and cowboy before arriving in 1882 to work with a sawmill company. Talbott owned and operated a local farm, a large gin, and the major store in Gilmore from 1912 until his death in the 1930s. The brick structure of Ed Talbott & Company was built in 1928 on Front Street, facing the train tracks. Following the death of Ed Talbott, the store was owned and operated locally until its closure in 1981; subsequent other businesses briefly operated there before its conversion into an apartment building, as it remains today. Talbott further distinguished himself as the Crittenden County representative to the Arkansas General Assembly from 1919 to 1920.
An established community arose around Gilmore Station, so named when the Springfield and Memphis Railroad built its line through the area in 1883. The transport of cut virgin timber throughout north Crittenden County was made possible by the arrival of the railroad. The Chapman & Dewey Lumber Company operated numerous businesses around the Gilmore area and was responsible for clearing most of the forested acreage nearby. Chapman & Dewey also owned a company boarding house, grist mill, and wood veneer mill in Gilmore. Before it was dredged and drained for use as farmland, Marlin Swamp to the west of Gilmore (and present-day U.S. 63) furnished much of the virgin timber cut by Chapman & Dewey and other lumber firms. Once the timber industry had cleared wide swaths of acreage, farming pursuits began to take preeminence in Gilmore starting around 1910.
The imprint of the Springfield and Memphis Railroad, later reorganized as the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis (KCFS&M) made large-scale cutting and transport of timber possible but also impacted Gilmore in other ways. Twenty-five miles to the south, the KCFS&M finished constructing the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1892. The railroad (and its successor firms) utilized the Gilmore depot until freight and passenger stops were suspended in the 1960s.
Gilmore was formally incorporated in 1955 and has since remained a small agricultural community. A branch location of the Crittenden County library system is located in the Gilmore City Hall, which also houses a community center. Children in Gilmore once attended school in nearby Turrell (Crittenden County) after the districts were consolidated in 1921; the desegregated junior-senior high school in Turrell opened in 1968. The population of students has diminished over the years, and, in May 2010, the Arkansas Board of Education consolidated the Turrell district (which includes Gilmore) with that of the county seat, Marion (Crittenden County).
In the 1990s, Gilmore and a handful of other small towns in northeast Arkansas gained notorious reputations as speed traps, which prompted investigation and legislative action by the state government. Investigations by the Jonesboro Sun and state legislature hearings into the police departments of Gilmore and nearby Tyronza (Poinsett County) led to the passage of a speed trap law in 1996, which forbids a city from collecting more than thirty percent of its revenue from traffic violations. Subsequent court challenges to the Gilmore police department abusing the terms of the 1996 law have arisen at times.
Gilmore has been impacted by the recent renovation of U.S. Highway 63 and its part in the Interstate 555 project, which seeks to connect Interstate 55 southeast of Gilmore to Jonesboro (Craighead County) with a controlled-access interstate highway via the current route of U.S. 63. Once I-555 is completed, Gilmore will play host to increased traffic flow between the cities of Jonesboro (Craighead County) and Memphis.
For additional information:Campbell, Phil. “Speed-Trap Blues.” Memphis Flyer, Issue 396. Online at http://www.memphisflyer.com/backissues/issue396/cvrstory396.htm (accessed June 30, 2010).
“Speed Trap at a Crawl.” Commercial Appeal. September 23, 2003. Online at http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2003/sep/23/speed-trap-at-a-crawl/ (accessed June 30, 2010).
Woolfolk, Margaret Elizabeth. A History of Crittenden County, Arkansas. Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1993.
Adam MillerSearcy, Arkansas
Last Updated 11/29/2016
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