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Home / Browse / Moro (Lee County)
Latitude and Longitude:
0.945 square miles (2010 Census)
216 (2010 Census)
May 22, 1914
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
Moro is the second-largest incorporated community in Lee County, exceeded only by the county seat of Marianna (Lee County). With a population exceeding 200 residents and with about thirty businesses, Moro is also one of the more thriving communities in the Arkansas Delta region.
The community of Moro was established in 1850 by Dr. James A. Sullivan, who had come to Arkansas from Virginia. The settlement was named for Moro Bay in England. At this time, Moro was in Monroe County, as Lee County would not be formed until 1873. Sullivan encouraged his former neighbors from Virginia to join him in Arkansas, offering each family two acres of land, a house, and a mule. Because of Sullivan’s generosity, the community had grown to approximately 700 residents by 1861. The post office was established in 1855.
Federal troops entered the region in 1862, having taken the city of Helena (Phillips County) in July. On November 7, 1862, a large group of Federal troops, armed with six cannon, camped at Moro. The next day, the troops were attacked near Moro by Confederate forces. Twenty-two Federal soldiers were injured, but fifteen Confederate soldiers were captured, and many others were injured or killed. The next year, Moro was used by Confederate forces advancing upon Helena. General John Marmaduke’s cavalry camped at Moro the night of June 30, 1863, and General Sterling Price also established a headquarters at the settlement. The Confederate troops proceeded south to Helena, where they were thoroughly routed by Union defenders.
Following the war, the settlement revived. The post office was closed from January 11, 1867, until it reopened on August 1. Businesses were established, and the timber industry thrived, as did cotton, livestock, feed grains, and other agricultural products. Although Moro did not incorporate, it is thought to have had more than 1,000 residents in the late nineteenth century. However, a tornado that struck in 1900 devastated the community, and many of the damaged buildings were not rebuilt.
The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad brought new life to the region when it was completed through the area in 1908. The new settlement continued to use the name Moro, although it was a short distance from Old Moro, as the former settlement was identified. The Moro Mercantile and Gin Company opened in 1908, followed shortly by the Moro Mercantile Company. Other enterprises in the town included a butcher shop, a blacksmith, a barber, a bank, and a machine shop, as well as several churches. Three small school districts in the area were consolidated with Moro. A new brick schoolhouse in Moro was completed and opened for classes in September 1911. The town was incorporated in 1914.
A devastating fire struck the town in 1925, and then residents faced the difficult Depression years. The railroad curtailed operations in 1946, and both the Mercantile Company and the Gin Company went out of business in the 1960s. Another wave of school consolidation created the Lee County School District in Marianna, which serves children from Moro in the twenty-first century.
In spite of this decline, Moro remains a vibrant town. Located on State Highway 78, the town’s businesses include a bank, agricultural suppliers, construction companies, automotive services, and a restaurant. Most businesses have fewer than ten employees. The town has four churches: Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal, and a House of Prayer. The population in 2010 was 216, of whom 202 were white and twelve were African American.
For additional information:Lee County Sesquicentennial Committee. Lee County History. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Company, 1987.
Steven TeskeButler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 3/3/2017
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