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Black Fork to hold History Day and Fundraiser for volunteer fire department

Heather Grabin/News Director

   One of the first settlements in this area of the rugged Ouachita Mountains was established in 1850. The city of Mena was established as a township 46-years later in 1896 and Heavener, OK was formed in 1898.

   A group of innovative and determined families discovered a fertile valley with plentiful game along the Black Fork River nestled alongside Black Fork Mountain. The settlement was originally known as Lafayette Township.

   As the community grew and proved to be not only a beautiful place, but also a viable place to live the name was changed to Black Fork in 1861.

   Some founding families that carved the settlement out for a new and permanent spot included the Wiles, Davis, Yandall, Morrison and Byford’s.

   They established schools for their children which also served as churches, a post office, a general supply store, and a blacksmith shop.

   A cotton mill and a gristmill were also built in the valley.

Black Fork had grown to the booming number of 629 residents in 1900.

   Their occupations were based off of the land and included farming, ranching, logging, trapping and beekeeping.

  On Saturday, October 27 beginning at noon the Black Fork Volunteer Fire Department will be holding a unique fundraiser-a “Fundraising History Day”

   This event will not only help raise funds that the community needs for the volunteer fire department, but it will also help the people in the community learn more about the early days of the settlement and families that founded Black Fork.

   Everyone is invited to attend, especially the descendants of any of the previously mentioned families or any other families that helped give Black Fork it’s spot in Arkansas history.

   Other than raising funds for the fire department, learning the history of Black Fork is a key reason for the day. It is a chance for the community to learn about itself and pull the pieces of their past together and honor the people that carved a town from the wilderness.

  The event will be held at the Black Fork Volunteer Fire Station, located at 34655 Black Fork Trail, beginning at noon with a chili lunch that includes all the trimmings.

    Plates are $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-10-years-old, children 3 and under will eat free.

  At 1 p.m. homemade desserts and other items will be auctioned. Immediately following the auction a 50/50 raffle, a “Guess the Candy” drawing and a “Guess the Money” drawing will be held.

  Children will be reading old time poetry and people will be sharing their knowledge about the history of the town and surrounding areas while reminiscing about the past.

   For more information about the event or if anyone has information to provide, contact Elaine Staines at 479-923-4535 or by e-mail at


  (This article was written with the help of Elaine Staines.)

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