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Located about twelve miles northeast of the county seat of Augusta (Woodruff County), Snapp was an agricultural, business, and postal center for that area of the county from the late 1800s until well into the twentieth century.
The community took its name from Lafayette D. Snapp, who moved there in 1866 from Missouri. Born on April 22, 1842, to a pioneer family of German descent in Taney County, Missouri, Snapp—along with two of his brothers—enlisted in Company E, Third Missouri Cavalry (CS), during the Civil War. Following the war, Snapp moved to Woodruff County, where on March 4, 1869, he married Mary Hester Luckenbill. Snapp established a general mercantile store and grist mill, as well as a cotton gin with a capacity of twenty-five bales a day. In 1882, he was appointed postmaster of Snapp. According to a local history of the area, he owned 3,000 acres of land in Woodruff County, with 1,000 acres in cultivation. In addition to Snapp’s large home, thirty-five tenement houses occupied the property.
In a series of letters written for the Arkansas Gazette in November and December 1885, newspaper correspondent M. L. DeMahler described the “White River country” as constituting White River Township in the northern part of the county, “the postal and business center of which is Snapp.” In flowery descriptive terms popular at the time, he described it as “a system of farm country known far and near as the White Church neighborhood,” which “shares with Gregory’s Point in the ante-bellum distinction of having been the best improved and most prosperous part of Jackson County, in which both areas were then situated.” This was based not as much upon money or large areas of cultivated land, DeMahler wrote, as upon its farm homes, intelligent population, social refinement, and hospitality.
At the time, DeMahler described the area of White River Township as 28,160 acres with 20,000 acres in timber, mostly in gum, dogwood, oak, and hickory. The 1884 and 1888 Polk Business Directories for Woodruff County describe Snapp as having a population of twenty-five. In an 1884 Arkansas Gazette article summarizing crops and trades in the area, the Snapp cotton gin reportedly produced 700 to 800 bales with an average yield of 315 pounds.
The first school in the neighborhood was held in the old Baptist church building, built of logs. In 1912, a schoolhouse known as the Snapp School or the White Church School was built south of the cemetery near the Snapp store, post office, and gin. It educated community children until the 1920s, when it was consolidated with the Fitzhugh School.
White Church Cemetery, located about one mile north of Snapp and known by some as the Snapp Cemetery or White Lake Cemetery, is divided into east and west sections. It is still used by residents of Tupelo (Jackson County) and surrounding area in the twenty-first century. White Lake, popularly used for fishing, swimming, baptisms, and picnicking, is located two miles northwest of the cemetery. The White Lake Baptist Church was located north of the east section of the cemetery, and the White Lake Methodist Church was located south of the west section. Before the Civil War, a church building called White Church stood there. It was used by both Methodists and Baptists for services and survived into the twentieth century.
L. D. Snapp owned land in Boone and White counties in Arkansas as well as in southern Missouri. He was active in politics, being a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1884. He was one of eight delegates selected in Augusta on July 1, 1889, to attend the state association of Confederate veterans from Woodruff County. He was also an incorporator of the Jackson County Telephone Company, organized on April 29, 1901, providing the first telephone service to Tupelo. The corporation built and operated a telephone line from Newport (Jackson County) to Tupelo and from Tupelo to Fitzhugh (Woodruff County). Snapp was one of the initial stockholders of the White River Hedge Company, incorporated on August 25, 1888. Its proposed business was the planting and growing of living hedge fences, using the native bodark tree, to create impenetrable barriers to mark boundary lines and contain livestock. Eventually, the use of hedge fencing gave way to the use of wire fencing, and the company relinquished its charter in 1923.
L. D. Snapp died of cancer on August 19, 1910, in Jasper County, Missouri, where he moved to spend his last remaining years. The post office at Snapp was formally discontinued in 1908, with mail subsequently delivered to Tupelo. Today, nothing remains of the Snapp community, except the farmland it served during its existence.
For additional information:“Crops and Trade.” Arkansas Gazette, October 22, 1884, p. 2.
Goodspeed Publishing Company. Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.
Gregory, Mildred Minor. “Early Days of Tupelo.” The Stream of History 11 (October 1973): 3–27.
Kittrell, Adelia C., and Curtis A. Houston. Cemetery Records of Woodruff County, Arkansas. Augusta and McCrory, AR: 1978.
Morgan, James Logan. “A Tour of Woodruff County in 1885 by M. L. DeMahler.” Rivers and Roads and Points in Between 6 (Fall 1978): 25–26.
Ryser, Ruth Gillis. “The Snapp Family.” White River Valley Historical Quarterly 4 (Spring 1971): 2–3.
“White Church School.” Rivers and Roads and Points in Between 4 (Winter 1976): 71.
Diane H. Norton Snowmass Village, Colorado
Last Updated 9/15/2014
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