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Yocum (Carroll County), one of the county’s earliest settlements, was founded on a small stream near current State Highway 103 north of Green Forest (Carroll County). Little remains of the once prosperous unincorporated community other than a few homes.
One of the earliest white settlers recorded in the area, Louis Russell from Illinois, established a homestead in 1822 along a small stream that today bears the name Yocum Creek. Some historians believe him to be the first to settle within the present boundaries of Carroll County. Soon, others arrived. In 1835, the creek and town’s namesake, John Yocum (sometimes spelled Yoachum), built a log grist mill and dam on the creek. His mill was soon processing up to four bushels of wheat or corn each day. With the success of the mill, other families were attracted to the area, and a steady migration began to develop.
During the Civil War, the area was overrun by military forces including irregular bushwhackers and guerrillas. The area supplied men to both Union and Confederate forces. On November 15, 1862, Federal soldiers fought to evacuate families loyal to the Union. On April 16, 1863, a detachment under the command of Captains Roan Mack and Theodore Youngblood of the Union’s First Arkansas Cavalry was attacked by local Confederate troops while assisting in the evacuation of Unionist sympathizers. A total of eight combatants were killed, with the Confederates gaining the advantage. Some members of the O’Neal family, who were early settlers and strong Unionists, were forced out of the area due to their beliefs.
As things began to return to normal after the war, the town began to experience growth. In 1873, Yocum Township was created, increasing the importance of the small town. Mount Zion Baptist Church was established in 1868, followed by a Methodist church in 1871. A school also opened about this time. On June 8, 1882, a post office was established, officially establishing the town’s name. Henry Hart was the first postmaster. After its closure on October 31, 1907, patrons were required to use the Green Forest post office.
During the 1880s, the town was a busy commercial destination including two general stores, a flour mill, a cotton gin, a grist mill, a blacksmith, and a tomato cannery operated by the Stafford family. In 1894, a substantial operation, the Rhodes and Massey Roller Mills, opened with a large celebration, including speeches and a picnic. The mill spurred growth, and by 1900, the town was said to have supported a population of sixty. On any given day, that number was larger with area farmers bringing their grain to the mill.
By the 1920s, in part due to the isolation of Yocum and the growth of other nearby communities, the town began to decline. By the late 1920s, after the large roller mill burned, one grocery store, Barrett’s, and a smaller mill were the only businesses that remained in operation. The cannery had closed in 1928 due to stricter government regulations. Once the last mill closed in 1938, decline was certain. In 1941, Barrett’s grocery store closed its doors, ending the commercial history of Yocum.
All that remains today of the once prosperous Ozark Mountain community are a small number of residential properties and a cemetery.
For additional information:
Braswell, O. Klute. “The True and Legendary Story of Yocum Carroll County Arkansas.” Carroll County Historical Society Quarterly 49 (June 2004): 62–69.
The History and Families of Carroll County, Arkansas. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2003.
Lair, Jim. An Outlander’s History of Carroll County, Arkansas, 1830–1983. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 1983.
Norris, R. E., IV. “Yo Cum and the O’Neal Family.” Carroll County Historical Society Quarterly 32 (Autumn 1986): 3–7.
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 3/21/2017
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