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Home / Browse / Midland (Sebastian County)
Latitude and Longitude:
0.346 square miles (2010 Census)
325 (2010 Census)
May 14, 1904
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
Midland is a town in southern Sebastian County; in a journal article in the 1970s, it was described as “a small place in the middle of the road.” In the early years of the twentieth century, however, Midland was a prosperous community of coal miners and supporting industries.
The area that would become Midland was sparsely settled in the early history of Arkansas. William Moore obtained a land grant in the vicinity in 1848. He was joined by Francis Daniels in 1855, and Edward Moore and John Moore became their neighbors in 1860. (These Moores are not sons of William; they may have been brothers or cousins.) A school was built in the area in 1866. In 1878, it was torn down and relocated.
The discovery of coal brought many workers of various nationalities to Sebastian County. A post office named Burma was established in 1901; in 1904, the name was changed to Midland after consideration was given to the names Alamo and Mohawk. The Bates and Denman Coal Company surveyed the area and platted a town, building the first six houses of Midland. The town was incorporated in May 1904. By 1908, according to local historians, the population had grown to 1,200 and it is said to have peaked at 3,500 during the following decade, though these numbers (possibly inflated) do not register on the census.
Around 1910, Midland had a hotel, five butcher shops, two lumberyards, four restaurants, three barber shops, two millinery shops, one bank, three blacksmith shops, one livery stable, one saloon, two moving-picture shows, four general stores, and a printing shop. The community was also home to five doctors, two lawyers, and four coal company offices (although workers from twelve different coal companies lived in the town). The Central Coal and Coke Company reportedly paid its employees in gold until 1917. A new, larger brick schoolhouse was built in 1910. There were also two churches.
A fire in 1912 destroyed twenty-two businesses on Main Street. Two years later, labor trouble—dubbed as the Sebastian County Union War—disrupted the town. The immediate effects of the struggle were felt in April and May 1914 with gatherings of workers, responses by company officials and guards, rioting, shootings, destruction of company property, and the closing of mines. U.S. Army troops were required to quell the violence. Long-term results of these activities included more than a decade of litigation, twice rising to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a substantial decline in union membership among Sebastian County coal miners by the middle of the 1920s.
With these two crises, Midland entered a long period of decline. School consolidation with Hartford (Sebastian County) closed the high school before World War II, but the Hartford School District continued to conduct classes in the elementary school in Midland until the 1970s.
Although coal mining is no longer part of Midland’s life, the community does have several businesses, including a plant of the Austin Powder Company (a munitions industry), a JPM Fire Equipment plant, a construction company, a convenience store, and an eatery. Midland has a volunteer fire department. Several churches—including a Baptist church, a Methodist church, a Church of Christ, an Assembly of God, and a non-denominational church—are active in the town. The population in 2010 was 325 residents, of whom 306 were white.
To the west of Midland is a large rock formation known as Sugarloaf Mountain (not to be confused with a formation of the same name in Cleburne County). A dam was built across Sugar Creek by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), creating Sugarloaf Lake. The AGFC keeps the lake stocked with largemouth bass.
For additional information:
Moore, Jerry H., and Lonnie C. Roach. No Smoke, No Soot, No Cinders. N.p.: Frank Boyd, 1974.
Phelps, Juanita. “Midland.” The Key 13 (Summer 1978): 18–19.
Sizer, Samuel A. “‘This is Union Man’s Country’: Sebastian County 1914.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 27 (Winter 1968): 306–329.
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 12/21/2016
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