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Casa (Perry County)

 

Latitude and Longitude:

35°01'22"N 093°02'52 "W

Elevation:

367 feet

Area:

1.101 square miles (2010 Census)

Population:

171 (2010 Census)

Incorporation Date:

May 10, 1900

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1910

1920

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

310

300

269

245

184

184

208

179

200

209

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

171

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casa may be one of the oldest settlements in Perry County, although it remained a small community until the arrival of the railroad and the discovery of coal in the area around 1900. The town’s name (the Spanish word for “house”) reflects the largely residential nature of Casa in the twenty-first century.

Local historians record that the earliest white settlers of Casa arrived during the 1830s. The first two families were named Grace and McGehee; they were joined by other families moving west from Georgia and South Carolina. A general store opened around 1850, and a post office was established in 1854. A log-cabin schoolhouse was also built before the Civil War. A cemetery was established around 1860. During the war, the homes of settlers were frequently raided by bushwhackers and other guerrilla forces, but no major military encounters took place in the region.

Following the war, the residents of Casa reestablished the school, eventually replacing it during the 1890s with a two-story frame building. The Ku Klux Klan was active in the area at this time. Construction of the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad (later to become part of the Rock Island) was completed through the area around 1900. A Baptist church was organized in 1897, meeting in an abandoned railroad boxcar until its first building was completed in 1905. Around 1900, coal was discovered and mining commenced, but the supply was quickly exhausted. Workers were then hired by the Fort Smith Lumber Company to harvest the yellow pine, oak, and hickory trees of the region. The rapidly growing town incorporated in 1900. Three lumber mills, four saloons, two newspapers, a bank, and four physicians became part of the town’s fabric. A Methodist congregation was also established. Former president Theodore Roosevelt made a five-minute campaign stop in Casa in April 1912.

By 1920, many of the trees in the area had been harvested, and attention turned to cotton farming, the price of cotton having been inflated by World War I. On July 4, 1920, the school was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. It was replaced by a brick schoolhouse that opened to students in 1923. A new lumber mill was built in the Rose Creek area. Fortunes soon turned against the town, however. A fire destroyed several downtown businesses in 1927. In 1929, the new mill closed, the bank failed, and many workers sought work in larger cities. The subsequent drought further damaged the town’s economic hopes as the Depression set in. Although the high school girls’ basketball team won a title at a national tournament held in Dallas, Texas, in 1932, Casa’s residents had few other reasons to celebrate during the Depression. Electric service to residents of the town was established in 1937.

By 1940, Casa’s businesses included three grocery stores, three general merchandise stores, a barber shop, a café, two garages, three gas stations, and a cotton gin. Late in the 1940s, school consolidation reduced the number of districts in Perry County from twenty-one to three. The Perry-Casa School District survived into the twenty-first century, when it joined the Two Rivers School District, most of which is in Yell County. In 2012, the Casa area had three Baptist churches and two non-denominational churches.

For additional information:
“The Day the Lights Came On…” Rural Arkansas 41 (February 1987): 12–13.

Living the Times, 1776–1976: A Bicentennial Tribute to Perry County. Casa, AR: Perry County Extension Homemakers Council, 1989.

Perry County Historical & Genealogical Society. Perry County, Arkansas: Its Land & People. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2004.

Steven Teske
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Last Updated 3/1/2017

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