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Uno, at one time a thriving timber and farming community, is located in western Poinsett County near the Jackson County and Craighead County lines at the intersection of State Highways 18 and 214. All that remains of the community in the twenty-first century is a cemetery. All other physical reminders have been claimed by farm fields.
Several western Poinsett County communities were established in the late 1800s and early 1900s during the exploitation of the area’s vast acreage of timber. Millions of board feet of lumber and railroad ties were processed from the virgin timber. Soon, communities such as Cash (Craighead County), Pitts (Poinsett County), and Grubbs (Jackson County) were attracting settlers, with Uno being one of the last to form.
In 1918, John Tennyson and his family were the first to settle in the Uno area. While the Tennysons are credited as the first settlers, the area had been the temporary residence of many timber workers for several years. As the timber was cleared, farm families began to arrive. Farmer Jacob Kinard, who arrived in 1924, established what may have been the first store. His wife rented rooms of their house to railroad and timber workers. Another store was opened by Andy Barrett, and at the peak of the community, there may have been at least three stores. Since Uno was somewhat isolated, these stores provided a vital service to a wide area.
The name of the community is believed to have originated from a conversation in one of these stores. Goods for these businesses were obtained from salesmen from Jonesboro (Craighead County), approximately twenty-seven miles to the northeast. A salesman informed the owner of one of the stores that a name was needed for the stop to make the delivery of goods more efficient. Respected justice of the peace John Howard, who was in the store at the time, was asked for his advice. A witness reported that he stated “Uno (you know) this is your store and you can name it Uno.” The owner said it sounded good to him, and thus Uno was named (pronounced “you know”).
Though the stores served as a gathering place, no substantial town ever developed. Children attended school at nearby Long Creek, where the school house doubled as a church. As was typical of the day, the school consisted of grades one through eight.
As the timber was cut out, the surrounding land soon came under cultivation. Cotton and corn were the chief crops until the Great Depression. With dropping cotton prices, the farmers turned to rice, which is the main crop today. Over the years, people began to leave the farm, seeking employment at some of the more substantial area towns. The community no longer exists, other than a road sign. In 1983, a Jonesboro High School bus accident in which several students were killed occurred at Uno.
Nellie May Wall, mother of Academy Award–winning actress Mary Steenburgen, was residents of Uno for a time.
For additional information:Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago, IL: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.
Poinsett County, Arkansas: History and Families. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 1998.
Mike PolstonEncyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 6/25/2012
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