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The small community of Saddle in Fulton County was first known as Sharp’s Mill, having been founded by Ephraim Sharp of Fulton County, the nephew of Ephraim Sharp of Sharp County—for whom he was named. It is located in eastern Fulton County on Arkansas Highway 289.
Sharp left Indiana for Arkansas around 1850, eventually settling in Fulton County. He married Mary Elizabeth Wainwright, the daughter of William Wainwright, a prominent businessman in Fulton County. Sharp purchased 120 acres on the South Fork of the Spring River and continued to add to his tract, reaching 400 acres or more. In about 1868, he and his father-in-law established a mercantile business, and Sharp became the sole owner of it in 1873.
About 1870, he erected the Sharp’s Mill, a gristmill and cotton gin. A community grew up around the mill, becoming known as Sharp’s Mill. In 1877, Sharp applied for and obtained a post office for the community under the name of South Fork. The South Fork Post Office began business on July 13, 1877. The people who lived in South Fork were a close-knit group of settlers who came from other parts of Arkansas. The post office was first located in a stone building close to the nearby dam.
In 1903, Ephraim Sharp sold his property and moved to Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), where he died on October 22, 1904; he is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Mammoth Spring. Dee Sutherland then purchased the Sharp property. The thriving community had several general stores, cotton gins, a gristmill, a lumber mill, furniture stores, the South Fork School, a church, a canning factory, and, at one time, a hotel. Property was donated by Sutherland for the Saddle Cemetery, while others donated land for the school and church.
The post office was discontinued on May 29, 1925, but resumed service on March 20, 1928, moving to Joe Hatman’s general store, where it remained until the 1950s. The post office was forced to change its name due to another post office then using the name of South Fork. There was a blacksmith shop behind the general store, and when people in front of the general store were talking about what the new name of the post office (and, by extension, the community) should be, a man came around the corner of the store carrying a saddle he had purchased from the blacksmith. Someone in the group said, “Just call it Saddle.” The name Saddle was sent to Washington DC and was accepted as the new name.
As the older generation died off or moved away, the community began to dwindle. The school was consolidated with the school in Ash Flat (Sharp County) in the 1950s. The gas station and general store stayed opened until 1988. However, many descendants of the early settlers still remain in Saddle in the twenty-first century, and the church is still active. A resort was built on the banks of the South Fork of the Spring River, where the mills once stood. Saddle also hosts a community building and volunteer fire department.
For additional information:Biographical and Historic Memories of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.
Fulton County, Arkansas: History and Families. Morley, MO: Acclaim Press, 2008.
Ira Sharp Dennis Amarillo, Texas
Last Updated 8/24/2016
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