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The unincorporated community of Bertig, named for Jewish Greene County businessmen Adolph and Saul Bertig, was located in the cypress swamps of the St. Francis River near the Missouri–Arkansas state line. It once served as the end of the Paragould Southeastern Railway and home to a profitable timber industry.
In the early 1890s, Adolph Bertig and W. C. Hasty purchased a tramway that traveled east out of Paragould (Greene County). Later, they extended the line across the St. Francis River and established the town of Bertig.
Multiple lumber businesses were drawn to Bertig because of the rich cypress forests that developed in the swampy waters of the St. Francis River. The initial success of the timber industry led to the establishment of a post office in 1894 and a so-called flour-and-bacon store to provide millworkers and visitors with the necessities. In addition to housing workers, the town became a popular hunting and fishing location along the St. Francis, with visitors coming from the surrounding area, including St. Louis, Missouri. At the community’s peak, both the Knobel Club and the Buffalo Island Hunting and Fishing Club had clubhouses at Bertig, with docks for boats.
The post office at Bertig closed in 1914, and the town rapidly declined by 1916. During the Flood of 1927, Bertig made headlines in January when two levees near the community broke, flooding thousands of acres of land and destroying hundreds of homes.
All that remains of Bertig in the twenty-first century is Bertig Cemetery off Highway 139 near the Missouri-Arkansas state line.
For additional information:Johnson, Elizabeth Elaine. “Prejudice, Progress, and Preservation: The ‘Bertig Dynasty’ of Northeast Arkansas, 1870–1950.” MA thesis, Arkansas State University, 2016.
LeMaster, Carolyn. A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas 1820s–1990s. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.
“The Sportsman’s Paradise on the Buffalo Island Route, Arkansas.” Woodward & Tiernan Print Co., 1897. Online at http://www.argenweb.net/greene/CLUBS/sportsmap.htm (accessed December 16, 2017).
Middle Tennessee State University
Last Updated 8/23/2018
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