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In the mid-1830s, at the intersection of the Powhatan-Smithville Road and Military Road, one of Lawrence County’s earliest unincorporated communities developed. If it still existed today, Denton would be located about six miles west of Powhatan (Lawrence County) on State Highway 117.
The nearby Black River and the fertile land of the Flat Creek valley attracted many settlers to the area prior to the Civil War. In about 1818, a Baptist church known as Bethel was organized as a missionary meeting house. Disagreements among the congregation resulted in a split. As a result, the New Hope Baptist Church was founded on July 22, 1844, with a building constructed in 1853. A new building was constructed in 1940. The church has remained in continuous operation.
The community grew slowly and, by the late 1890s, was home to a thriving business sector and its own school. Before its demise in the mid-twentieth century, Denton had approximately fifty homes and businesses. Acting on a petition by Ceber Denton, the federal government established a post office for the area on March 6, 1894. The community officially became Denton. The post office, though closed from October 31, 1927, to September 29, 1934, remained in operation until permanently closing on April 30, 1954.
By 1910, the community, described as a “village,” was home to both a Masonic lodge and an Odd Fellows lodge. In 1912, a brass band led by Henry Cove was organized. Among the unique businesses was a millinery (hat manufacturer) operated by Flora Davis. Later, there was a mouse trap factory operating out of T. C. Jones Grocery.
The community was still thriving in the early 1930s. But with the competition of the nearby Smithville highway and the growth of the county seat at nearby Powhatan, the community slowly decreased in size. On November 21, 1979, Everett and Loma Moore became the community’s last residents to move away. Today, nothing remains of the community save the nearby Bethel Cemetery, where many former residents were buried; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. The area it once occupied is privately owned farm property.
For additional information:Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.
Cole, Gussie Davis. “Continuation of the Denton History.” Lawrence County Historical Quarterly 10 (Winter 1987): 5–32.
———. “A Look at the Earlier Denton History.” Lawrence County Historical Quarterly 9 (Fall 1986): 5–12.
Lawrence County, Arkansas: 1815–2001. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2001.
Mike PolstonEncyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 7/1/2011
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