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Kirby is located on Highway 70 in Pike County, about halfway between Glenwood (Pike County) and Daisy (Pike County). It is six miles east of Daisy State Park, part of the shoreline of Lake Greeson. Although Kirby has nearly 800 residents, it has never incorporated.
Among the early landowners in the region were William A. Faries, who bought land just to the west of what is now Kirby in 1856, and Little D. Cantrell, who owned several parcels of land east and south of the community. The town was named for Joseph Lytal Kirby, who actually lived in Red Land (Pike County), several miles away. Before adopting Kirby’s name, the settlement was known as Cross Roads because of the intersection of two wagon trails at that location.
The Civil War disrupted the farming community, as men were drawn into the conflict while women attempted to maintain the farms. Historians relate that men from the area fought on both sides of the conflict—some for the South and others for the North—and that one area man, Dan Wilson, was executed by Confederate soldiers as a deserter. After the war, the farms slowly returned to normal, and additional settlers arrived. The post office of Kirby was established on April 25, 1879, with Sidney D. Sutton as the first postmaster. At that time, the community included one store and a school whose students met in a log building. Pleasant Grove Primitive Baptist Church was established in 1884 and Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in 1888.
Houses were built first, followed by businesses. By 1905, the community had seven stores and four churches, as well as a cotton gin, a grist mill, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a barber, a hotel, four doctors, and a Woodmen of the World insurance office. A tornado in October 1919 damaged several houses, two churches, and some businesses, as well as killing one child.
Robert Self opened Kirby’s first gas station as automobile traffic began to pass through the community. The Depression and the world wars resulted in a decline of population, as was true of much of rural Arkansas. Following World War II, jobs became available because of the construction of the Narrows Dam across the Little Missouri River. The dam was built to control flooding and to generate hydroelectric power. It also created Lake Greeson, which is used by many residents and tourists for fishing and boating. Daisy State Park opened on the northern shore of the lake in 1955.
Youth from the surrounding farms and communities were bussed into Kirby as consolidation closed the smaller schools of Pike County. The Kirby School District is one of four in Pike County that have survived and benefited from consolidation. As of 2011, the elementary school and the high school each reported enrollments of approximately 200.
Near Daisy State Park, the Kirby Landing Marina provides access to Lake Greeson. Other businesses in the community are a printing company, restaurants, and the Daisy motel. Kirby had a population of 786 in 2010.
For additional information:Kirby Landing Marina. http://www.kirbylandingmarina.com/index.html (accessed October 10, 2012).
Pike County Heritage Club. Early History of Pike County, Arkansas. Murfreesboro, AR: Pike County Archives and History Society, 1978.
Steven TeskeButler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 8/25/2016
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