Harrisburg, A High Spot On the Ridge

HARRISBURG (KAIT) Crowley's ridge is a prominent feature in Region 8.

In the early days before the swamps were drained and the flooding controlled the only easy way to travel was along the ridge.

Harrisburg sits on the ridge it's courthouse shining out over the county the square around the courthouse looks much the same as it did a hundred years ago.

Clyde Ford, "Poinsett county was much larger when it was established than what it is now. It went up almost to Brookland in Craighead county and almost down to Wynne in Cross county."

Initially the county seat was located at Bolivar about three miles North on the ridge.

Ford, "Because the county was so large there was a movement to try and get the county seat more centrally located.  The people that wanted to move the county seat won and so the county seat was moved and a man named Benjamin Harris donated some land to put the court house on and the town square so they named the town Harrisburg after that man."

Ford, "The earliest courthouse in Harrisburg was rented out most of the year. Schools were held there. Papers were printed and published in the courthouse. They rented them most of the year because the county officers only came to the courthouse a few times a year to conduct business and hold court."

Talking about stepping back into history. The square around the courthouse looks just about the same it did a hundred years ago.

With the coming of the railroad in 1882 the town began to prosper.

Ford, "We had tractors that were made here, the Diehl tractor company, we had a canning company here. We had lots of gristmills and sawmills. The economic basis for Harrisburg and the surrounding area was farming and timber, lots of timber."

By the time the depression hit most of the big industry was gone from Harrisburg. But since Harrisburg was somewhat isolated still and self contained it survived perhaps a little better than others.

Ford, "We had lots of retail business, we had cotton gins, we had rice mills. It was a small little town with lots of business around the square nobody had two nickels to run together but they were all in the same boat. People subsisted in large measure off what they grew and raised. "

And there in may lie the true story of why this small town exists today. The people wanted it to survive. The faces out of history that made the town what it still is a true high spot on the ridge.