Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rollercoaster Recon!


The last couple of months has been completely unpredictable! One should wonder why, though.

One would think that...considering it happens the same way every danged year...that a person would realize that the period of late-Spring to early-Summer is the very BUSIEST time of year. At least if you have kids involved in baseball/softball and church activities!

Heck - One should likewise have come to the conclusion LONG AGO that this time of the year is the most brutal time to be trekking through the bush to see the wonders hidden there. After decades of experience, one should also recollect that hiding among the hidden wonders of Izard...are the hidden MONSTERS of Izard.

Monsters that cling to every blade of grass...leap from every tree - eight legged critters that suck the juices out of you and leave you clawing in agony for over a week! Flying leviathans that likewise leave you scarred...some so stealthy you never know they were even there!

And...though I've personally only had a couple of years to develop my own "dos and dont's" of nature photogtaphy and historical should also quickly retain the knowledge that the Ozark Jungle does not give good visibility of photographic subjects. There are photos (especially of buildings and structures) that are just unachievable this time of year.

And then there's the HEAT!

And the blasted HUMIDITY! should know not to make predictions or plans during the two to three month period of late-Spring and early-Summer! Getting one's self...or gracious landowners out of the A/C to take photos is just too UNPREDICTABLE andsets up a rollercoaster-ride for the enthusiastic explorer.

One should think, anyway.

Now...though we haven't plodded off the beaten track...much...this Summer (the times we have DID spark our memories), we have visited some sights either on...or not far off the highways and backroads. We've seized the season and used this time to get some of the old buildings and historic structures in the county documented for Exploring Izard County. As a matter of fact (I'm making no prediction here), I'm calling the owner of the old Trimble Homeplace today to see if we can set up a visit. The Trimble family made the journey west from Kentucky with members of the Lafferty family and were among the very first white-settlers in the county! The house still stands...and because it has been officially carbon-dated...we know it is the oldest known house standing in Izard.

Though we'll make no predictions for a month or two, one thing's for certain!

We'll continue to take every opportunity to seek out and visit the amazing wonders that Izard County offers!

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Note from Mrs. Mary Lafferty Wilson

"I started to write this two weeks ago and got side tracked. I just want to say that I really enjoyed the road trip to see the schools and other sights. I enjoyed meeting everyone there. Listening to the stories about your lives and those of your parents and grandparents. Seeing the photos of your parents, grandparents and great grandparents. It was such a delight.

I had been in Izard County twice before but both times we went down toward the town of Lafferty and the first time the Mill was still standing but I do not remember if it was still there the second time. The house of Sarah Lafferty Lindsey we were told was down a road that we needed a 4 wheel drive to get through. I am not sure that it is even standing now. We never did get down that road as it had rained we were afraid of getting stuck.

I really enjoyed this trip to Melbourne and the areas that I did get to see. The old history book says that people in Izard county are nice and polite and I you are all evidence of that.

I was wondering if there was a genealogy group in Melbourne for Izard county. There is so much history left there and someone should take time to interview all the older generation that remember their parents and grandparents and put a book together for the County, for future generations and for those whose roots are in Izard County.

When I talk about Izard County I feel like I am in a genealogy time warp. My ties to the county are to the first settlers there.

My father James A. Lafferty was born in 1875 in Young County, Texas, my grandfather John Annis Lafferty in 1838 in Carrolton, Arkansas (my grandfather was born 104 years before I was born), my great Grandfather Jacob Binks Lafferty in 1796 in Franklin Co., Georgia he arrive from Sumner county Tennessee in 1810 in Izard County as a young man along with his father John Lafferty born 1759 in Ireland Also with them was the mother of the Lafferty children, Sarah Lindsey.

Sarah was related to Caleb Lindsey, who started one of the first schools in the area, and Eli Lindsey who brought the word of God to the area.

It was interesting that you all knew your grandparents and some of you your great grandparents. I enjoyed the stories you told about your parents and grandparents and the part they took in building a community that you have all been part of."


"I was the last child of James Lafferty (number 15) that he had with 3 wives.

My lack of knowledge of my fathers family spiked my interest and I tracked down my half siblings and we put together a book of descendants of Jim Lafferty. His first child born in 1904.

From there I wrote "Lafferty, genealogy, legend, history, myth". a 400 page book copy written 1995 and I traced the descendants of the old Izard County pioneer and at that time I had found 1200 plus descendants and their stories and history. Since then I have continued to add to my database and if God gives me time, I will do another book next year.

The Lafferty's of Izard County married into many of the early families there and the Lafferty genealogy links with the Criswell (5 Lafferty/ Creswell marriages), Hankins, Bundy, Dillard, Hams, Billingsley, Shell, Denton, Sheid, Herman, Clem, Guffey, Clay, Campbell, Hickman, Curtis, Caulder, Brazaele, Nailor, Fletcher, Reinhart, Hooper, Sipes, Slover, Maples, Woody, Hodges, Harris, Tinkle and many more.

It has been interesting to follow the families and find descendants in many parts of the country. To know that their ancestors and kin played a part of the history of the early settlement of Izard County.

I am excited that some people have spiked interest in working toward the preservation of the Schools. The School played such an important part in the settlement of the area. Those one room schools were a long way from the first school in the area where Caleb Lindsey gathered the children of the neighborhood in a cave in what is now Randolph County and taught Elementary school there.

I hope to see you all again when we have another road trip in April of Next year. Maybe even sooner."

Mary Lafferty Wilson

You can find the website Mrs. Mary hosts for on the sidebar. Mrs. Mary wants everyone to "please feel free to contribute information".

Monday, April 28, 2008

EIC...Two Years On's the second anniversary of the first post at Exploring Izard County!

Our event this past Saturday, the Ozarks Skoolin' Road Trip, was a wonderful success in every area and the perfect Birthday Party for EIC. We had some wonderful stories shared by interesting people swapped our own stories with those of our readers ...other lovers of Izard. While having a fun day enjoying the Izard County spring at some very special places, we also were able to raise money for the restoration/preservation of the Old Schoolhouse at Lunenburg. We were also successful, I believe, in getting across to those who participated in the event the importance of doing what we can to help restore/preserve other historic sites in the county including Lunenburg's sister, Te Old Scoolhouse at Mount Olive.

We visited the Clay Cave, Athens Courthouse Site, Piney Creek, and the delightful arroyo above Piney Creek on the Gorby Road before driving on to our final destination, Knob Creek Church.

We were graced by the presence of Mrs. Mary Lafferty Wilson (the great-great grandaughter of John Lafferty himself and avid family historian) and her husband Art. I met Mrs. Mary online by accident sorta...and have enjoyed our e-mail exchanges since. Her passion for the history of her family and its role in the development of this area is inspirational to me.

The deeper I get into the land and the people who dwelt in the land...the more determined I am to learn, document, and share all that I can share. This county deserves to be noticed. Its history deserves to be re-discovered!

Thanks everyone, for encouraging us to do more of what we've been doing. I know that your interest is what drives me personally.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lunenburg, Hunter Mountain, Pumpkin Central, and Mount Olive

We were busy this weekend! Finally...the flu-bugs and the weather took a breather and allowed us a constructive couple of days.

Saturday morning, Newburgian and I drove out to Lunenburg and got some shots of the old stone Schoolhouse there. The people of the community have recently been working hard to clean up the grounds of the school...which is also the site of the old wooden structure that finally fell down in the late 1980s. The steps and parts of the foundation of that building can still be seen. The community has very recently received a grant to go towards restoring the old stone building and the check was presented to them last week at the Capitol in Little Rock by Governor Mike Beebe.

While in Lunenburg, we took the opportunity to document some of the old abandoned homes along the main street through the old town. There truly is a ghosttown atmosphere in this ancient little of the oldest in the county.

Later in the day, HillbillyRecon and I drove out Jumbo Road and onto an old, old track that led to an old one-room wooden schoolhouse that we were unawre of until very recently. We still are not quite sure what ti was called in its day. It sits atop a little rise above a "branch" and sports quite a long rock retaining wall complete with steps. It was a surprise to find such a well-preserved example of one of the old wooden one-room schools so far off the beaten track.

From there, we drove the track down to where the old Richardson house stands. The Richardson house is a period log cabin that is slowly wasting away but is still restorable. It sits a few yards above the bank of Mill Creek downstream a little ways from Pumpkin Central.

After leaving the Richardson place, we headed back around through town and out Knob Creek Road to climb the steep slope of Hunter Mountain to visit the Hunter Mountain Cave. The cave's entrance is similar to that of Stone Box Cave...a deep crater in the side of the hill. There are two entrances once one descends the conical slope to the bottom of the crater. A quick look inside afforded a view of a seemingly unstable structure but also the promise of an intersting cave-crawl in the future. This cave is rumored to go through the mountain to another opening along a bluff...another excursion, perhaps.

Sunday afternoon, HillbillyRecon and I drove to Mount Olive where we documented the old stone schoolhouse there...the sister to the school at Lunenburg. The building is an almost exact copy of the one at Lunenburg and still has the original tile roof! Though the floor is a bit rotten, and the widows are all but gone, this building is awe-inspiring. Great craftsmanship is apparent in the structure of this amazing old fieldstone schoolhouse. Even the large cistern in the rear that serviced the school and its patrons is an example of great workmanship.

After visiting the school at Mount Olive, we explored the grown-up area between the old Presbyterian Church and the railroad track to find the old depot building which is rumored to still partially stand. Although we didn't find that particular building, we came across a giant double chimney towering above the low brush among the thick stand of trees. The chimney must have been a central one in a large home at one time. The perimeter of the old structure can still be made out on the leaf-covered ground. Nearby, we found another foundation of a sizeable building along with its collapsed cistern.

It's not often we have posts stacked up for Exploring Izard County. But this week, we were blessed with good weather and were able to get some amazing photos of some even more amazing places around the county.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Young Americans!

Yesterday Rick and I had the extreme pleasure of spending the afternoon with a friend of EIC, Jeffery Hodges, and his wonderful family.

Jeffery teaches at a University in Seoul, South Korea but was raised right here in the Ozarks. His childhood home was in Fulton County around Salem. His children, 8 and 11, are visiting the 'States for the very first time and we are so happy to have been able to give them a taste of the Ozarks!

Our group, consisting of the Hodges, My family, and HillbillyRecon and kids, first visited the high bluff across the White River from Calico Rock known as City Rock Bluff. After enjoying the awesome views from that vantage point, we stood in the Fuh-REEZING breeze and ate a bite before heading north to visit the Natural Bridge near Dolph.

The children enjoyed the various natural features of the deep hollow that is bridged by the massive stone arch...climbing rocks, challenging the icy spring-fed Calico Creek as they stepped from stone to stone to cross it. They stooped into cave-openings and examined crevices in the rocks.

The parents tried desperately to keep from falling on butts because of the heavy blanket of leaves obscuring the loose rocks beneath.

A typical day in the Izard County Outback! Sharing the Wonder!

I hope we didn't wear Sun-Ae, Jeff's wife, out on her first excursion. The Calico Creek "Gorge" is certainly rough and rugged terrain to navigate when one is used to clearly marked and relatively level trails. We'll know next time the family comes home to visit, though. Because no-one...from any place...who cherishes natural beauty...can resist a trek into these beautiful hills.

We welcome your return, Hodges Family. We so enjoyed your visit!

You can read Jeff's account of the trip at Gypsy Scholar.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Snowed Under!

The past week has been exciting in the county and on the blog. Earlier in the week, we had a major wind-storm sweep through the county that blew some structures down and started a brush-fire that threatened several homes. On Thursday, we had snow that lasted until Friday before it began thawing due to welcomed unseasonably warm temperatures.
This, of course, offered us various opportunities for photos which you can see at Exploring Izard County.

Also exciting the past week was finishing up the single best month we've had concerning visitors and page-views at the blog. Thanks to everyone who has interest in this amazing place.

Also, a "thanks" needs to go out to whoever has shared the site through e-mail with others. Yesterday saw the single best DAY we've had on the blog with around 170 visits and well over 1000 page-views!

So...Thanks to whoever you are!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vickery Cave Leads to Gid

To get the kids out of the house today, we braved the icy weather to go to a cave located just off the highway on the Guion Road (Ar-58). It's been on our agenda since beginning the site so we decided to use it to get the young'uns away from the X-Boxes and Tivos for a few hours.
The Vickery Cave doesn't appear to be much more than a deep hole in the ground. The opening of the cave has collapsed in the not-too-distant past and to enter the cave proper, one must negotiate a tight crawl under that collapsed rock. The cave is known to have been rich in artifacts and was well occupied in ancient times.
As we approached the cave, we noticed a plume of steam jetting from the mouth of the cave into the crisp January chill. Upon making the descent into the hole we found that very warm air was gushing from the small entrance at the bottom! It is an amazing phenomenon and the kids absolutely loved it.
Since we didn't go into the cave, we didn't spend a long time at the site because...well...there wasn't much more to see than what I have described.
So we decided to go down the raod a piece to Gid and show the kids the waterfalls there.
We were rewarded with clear flowing water over green-mossed ancient flowstones sporting long, glistening icicles at the Gid Waterfall.
As the kids approached the Old Gristmill waterfall a few minutes later, they actually yelped with delight upon seeing the broad rockface of the falls covered in massive white sheets of ice with great icicles hanging over the frozen spray at the bottom.
It was cold cold it would have been easy to stay at home and watch football or something really crazy like that. But we didn't...and I at glad!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The First and Second Lookouts have delighted the crew this past month. We've been on several excursions to both of the lookouts and found some pretty cool stuff! For a few days, we were enamored by the Chamber of the Morning Sun, a cave a landowner told us about, and which we were delighted to find catches the morning sun a casts a beam on the cave floor.
We've taken several trips to the second lookout and explored below the bluffs there. We located a small cave, a very interesting shelter and a bluffline that sports many cvisual and geological delights! The panoramic views experienced at different points along the bluffline - both along the top and the bottom - are worth the energy expended negotiating the steep hillside.