2016 Chocolate Roll Festival – Bigger and Better!!


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The 5th Annual Chocolate Roll Festival and World’s Best Chocolate Roll Contest is coming soon…..get those recipes ready!!

Come out on Saturday March 19th, 2016 at 10 am at Marshall High School for all the fun.

Be sure to purchase your ballot where you can sample all the chocolate rolls and cast your vote for the World Champion Chocolate Roll.

The 4th Annual Marshall High School Art Club Chocolate Was a Huge Success and the 5th annual 2016 Edition should be even better!!

This year’s event will be held on Saturday March 19th.   Be sure and check here and the Chambers Facebook page for upcoming information and to enter your chocolate rolls in the World Championship Chocolate Roll Contest.

To Enter the Contest check out the Event Facebook page.

There are some new events this year as well…..Highlights include:

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19, 2016!  It’s a new year and the MHS Art Club is already planning the 2016 Chocolate Roll Contest and Festival. We will again be having  a 5K walk/run and a classic car show with a Parade of Cars at 10am.

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5k walk/run @ 8am. Classic car show begins at 9am with parade of cars at 10am. Chocolate Roll contest begins at 10:00 am. You pick the winner of the best chocolate roll. Art show, vendors, Make and Take chocolate roll workshop, and entertainment. Something for everyone!



2014 Chocolate Roll Festival a great Success!!

For just the 3rd year of the festival, the event was a huge success, and a great fundraiser for the Marshall High School Art Club who sponsored the event.

The declaration of Searcy County as theChocolate Roll Capital of the World by the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce in late 2012, and promotion of the event by the chamber of commerce brought in visitors from all over the state.  There were people from Hazen, Huntsville, Springdale, Russellville, and more.   The weather was beautiful, and the car show, with 27 entries was well attended also.

There were  14 entries  competing in the contest this year!!   Nearly 250 people voted for their “favorite chocolate roll”, by purchasing a punch card, and then visiting all the chocolate roll stations, where they got a sample of each contestant’s creation.  Chocolate rolls were also available for sale at the festival, but went very fast.

The voting was very competitive, and the chocolate rolls were delicious.  It was truly a festival atmosphere, with Music, arts and crafts, and two chocolate roll classes that were also well attended.


Event coordinator Brenda Smyth commented, “The MHS Art Club would like to thank the volunteers who helped with the cutting the samples, conducting baking classes, organizing the arts and crafts, getting the fantastic car show organized, and the musicians who did a great job entertaining.  They really helped make it a huge success.”  Smith said a great big thank you to the sponsors for their participation.  You helped make it great!   Thanks also goes out to the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce for donating money for the prize money this year and for all their promotion of the festival.   Smith also thanked all who donated, including Kenda Drive In, Sonic, McDonalds, Daisy Queen, Boston Mtn. Market Pizza, First National Bank of North Arkansas, First Service Bank, Ozark Hardwood Flooring, Elk and Eagle Trading Post LLC, Girl Scouts, Simmons Bank and Homebank for door prizes at the car show.

Several people at the festival and several who took baking classes commented that they plan to enter the contest next year, so we expect the 3rd Annual Chocolate Roll Festival to be bigger and better than ever.  Everyone better hone up their recipes as the competition will be fierce.

Click on the pictures below for a slide show of festival photos.





26th North Arkansas Ancestor Fair June 5-6, 2015




26th North Arkansas Ancestor Fair June 5-6, 2015

Searcy County Civic Center, Marshall, AR

Writing and Interpreting: Civil War Resources Authors Use


After months, or years, of collecting Civil War information, what does one do with it? How does one organize to tell an intelligent narrative? How does one evaluate the information?  What to put in the text and what in the footnote?  And most importantly, what resources does one use to write a good story/tale/narrative?


The 26th North Arkansas Ancestor Fair will have authors who have and are writing books about the Civil War in Arkansas tell how they have written their books, or are putting their books together.  This is an unprecedented opportunity to hear and talk to authors who have dealt with problems of Arkansas research, and have put it together.  Our authors Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack, Arkansas Tech University, has written “With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861-1874″;  Mark Christ, Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, has authored “Civil War Arkansas, 1863″ and edited “I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Overt” and other Arkansas Civil War tomes, and  David Schieffler, doctoral candidate at University of Arkansas-Fayetteville is putting together “Lincoln’s Foothold in the South: Phillips County, Arkansas, 1861-1865.”


This opportunity will be available Friday, June 5th, 2015, from 9:30 a. m. to 3:30 p. m. in Marshall, Arkansas at the Civic Center on Zack Road.  There will be a fee: $10 for all day and $5 for a half day. The following day at the Marshall Civic Center family historians, county historical and genealogical societies and other genealogical/historical organizations, authors and vendors can set up for free to exchange information, advertise themselves or sell their wares.  Saturday admission and set up are free. Details and accommodation information is available at: www.ancestorfair.us.  For more information contact Shirley Gray at: 870-448-3308 or shirleysdream@windstream.net


Veterans Program on Memorial Day

Please make time for Remembrance on Memorial Day.

The Veterans of Searcy County have a special Memorial Day speaker this year in Marshall on the courthouse square on Monday, May 27th at 11 a.m.  Major General (Retired) Ron Chastain, a former Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, will be the guest speaker.  General Chastain is a veteran of two wars and received his military commission through ROTC at Arkansas Tech.  He worked for over 30 years for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.  He currently serves as Senator John Boozman’s agricultural liaison in Arkansas.

After the ceremony on the square, you are invited to have a free lunch provided at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Marshall.


Historical Society Meeting – Essie Ward

Painter Essie Ward, “Grandma Moses of the Ozarks”, and former Searcy County Resident, will be the topic at the Searcy County Historical Society meeting on Friday, May 24th.

The meeting will be held at the Petit Jean building on Airport Road in Marshall at 7:00 P.M.

Every popular Susan young of Shiloh Museum in Springdale will be the presenter.   She has been involved in Essie Ward research for several years and has helped produce the award-winning video of Essie Ward’s life and painting.

People are encouraged to bring unique and one-of-a-kind Ward paintings to show at the meeting.

Refreshments will be served.

Essie Ward

Buffalo River Hiking Trail Completion Near

Buffalo River Trail Completion Now Somewhere In Sight

By Ken Smith

“Somewhere in sight”?  What does that mean?  It means a 28-mile stretch of the Buffalo River Trail that volunteers have been building here in Searcy County during the past seven years could get completed in 2013.  Like, sometime next year.


We don’t know exactly when.  Or where, or how, that can happen.  Next year the volunteers will be joined by the National Park Service’s (NPS) trail crew.  Volunteers will continue building trail through isolated country north of Morning Star, moving upriver.  The NPS crew will start at U.S. 65 and build trail downriver—toward the volunteers.


So sometime next year we hope, NPS crew and volunteers will meet up.  The guys (gals, too) can drive the Golden Spike.  The trail will be complete.


The entire trail is located within the Buffalo National River’s park boundary and is called the Buffalo River Trail.  Officially it’s the Buffalo River Hiking Trail (though part of it will be open for horseback travel).  Also it’s an eastward extension for a long trail—the Ozark Highlands Trail—that from U.S. 65 goes 180 miles farther west.  When the new segment in Searcy County is completed, a hiker will be able to hike from Lake Fort Smith State Park all the way to the Highway 14 Bridge in Marion County.


The 28-mile trail segment currently being built will go down the south side of the BuffaloRiver from Highway 65 to Highway 14.  There will be public access to the trail at the two highways and along the trail segment where it crosses the Zack Ridge, Red Bluff, South Maumee, and Spring Creek Roads.


Thus the trail is in five parts or segments, from one of these roads to the next.  No segment is longer than about six miles.  At each road a public trailhead will have parking space and direction signs.  Almost everywhere else the trail is located past private property that surrounds the park, with no public access.


The trail is like a little highway, 24 inches wide, very often going across steep hill sides.  But the trail itself is designed to avoid any grades steeper than 10%.  (That means no more than ten feet up in a hundred feet of trail).  Thus it’s designed to make it easier for us old folks.  And it’s easier to get to many nice back-country places along the Buffalo.


For those who want big scenery, there are 24 overlook areas where the trail goes across the tops of high bluffs, providing wide views of the river and surrounding hills.  There are good side trips.  River gravel bars (fish, swim, camp).  Historic sites (the old M&NA railroad), and Red Bluff (not red, but impressive).


There are natural curiosities such as Rattlesnake Rock and The Dog’s Head.  Nature’s interest is everywhere—in the trees, rock formations, wildflowers, wild animals, and much more.  The new trail will be easy to find and use.  It can appeal to many kinds of folks—trail-strollers, trail-hikers, trail-runners, and backpackers.  Enjoying the trail should be young folks, retirees, and those in between, as well as nature lovers, ladies bird watching, kids curious about everything, and locals hiking to new hunting and fishing spots.


Almost the entire new 28-mile trail segment lies within Searcy County.  The last quarter mile of the trail to the highway 14 bridge is in MarionCounty.  It’s one more thing that can make SearcyCounty attractive to visitors and provide a positive economic impact locally.


The trail, combined with the county’s other attractions—including historic Gilbert, historic Leslie, floating the Buffalo River, exploring Richland, enjoying scenery everywhere—can help put Searcy County on the “to do” list for people who come and rent cabins, buy fishing tackle, and eat in restaurants.  These visitors, then, would not be quickie pass-through tourists.  They would be people seeking escape from city noise and clutter.  Visitors from Dallas, Memphis, and St. Louis.  Yes, SearcyCounty can be well positioned to offer escape.


If visitors find that escape, peace and quiet here, they’ll want to come back and stay longer.  Having the trail here can give them one more reason.


Ken Smith, Coordinator of volunteer work on the trail


See more pictures of the Trail work and beautiful sights along the trail below.



All Things Chocolate Roll Contest Winners Named

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The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce recently held the “All Things Chocolate Roll” contest.    The submissions of stories and photos for the contest are going to be used to in the Chocolate Roll book that the Chamber is in the process of assembling.   Several written and photographic entries were received by the deadline date of January 8th, and the winners were judged by the Chocolate Roll Committee on January 10th.

The winning Photography entry “Serving Chocolate Rolls” was submitted by Shirley Patterson of Marshall, and is shown above.   We’ll post several more of the Photography Entries in the gallery below.

There are 3 winners in the written story category.  Placing for the 3 prizes will be announced at the 2nd Annual Chocolate Roll Festival on March 16.   The 3 winners, in no particular order are,  Edna Mae Wells, with her story titled “Chocolate Rolls For Christmas”.  Georgia Mae Brown Long for her story titled, “The Chocolate Roll Goes to College”.  Dana Treat for her story titled, “Love at First Bite”.    Prizes of $100 for first place, $50 for 2nd place and $25 for first place will be awarded at the Chocolate Roll Festival.

Everyone needs to practice and get their best Chocolate Roll Recipe ready for the contest on March 16!!!

Art at the Searcy County Courthouse!!

Searcy County has a storied history of talented artists, probably the most famous of which is Essie Ward, who painted numerous scenes of life in the Ozarks in back over 30 years ago.  But you may not know that there are many very talented artists continuing that tradition today.

To show their talents, on Thursday, October 11th, from 4:30 till 6:30 PM, there will be a reception of a group of local artists gathered at the Searcy County Court House in Marshall to hang their art work in the old court room.

This effort is the brainchild of Brenda Smith and Thereisa Housley, with the cooperation of our county government officials and with a donation from the Searcy County Chamber of Commerce, the upstairs court room is now an art gallery that is open to the Public.

There will be over 40 pieces of art to see.

For more information about this event or to possibly hang your artwork in the courthouse gallery, e-mail  Thereisa or Brenda.

For now, the next time you are around the Marshall Courthouse Square, take a trip upstairs and and check out the public gallery.

Click on one of the smaller images below for a slideshow of photos of some of the art at the courthouse.


Dedication of Historic St. Joe Depot

The official Grand Opening of the Historic Missouri and North Arkansas Railway Depot was held on May 28, 2011 from 9:00 AM till 4:00 PM, in conjunction with the Buffalo River Spring Fling.  Official Dedication of the Depot was at  2:00 PM, with the Honorable Judge Charles Clawson serving as Master of Ceremonies.  Dedication of the Civil War Monument was at 2:30.   Be sure and visit this beautiful piece of restored Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad history.  A 2 year project of Renovation is nearing completion.   The people of St. Joe and all the people of Searcy County should be very proud of what has been accomplished.   The Depot structure itself, which sits on the original site is nearing completion.  The exterior is complete, and the interior is nearing completion.  Some items will be added later, such as the original deck that went around the depot (see the old photo below) , and additional museum items inside

Opened in 1902, the St. Joe Train Depot was a stop on the Missouri and North Arkansas (M & NA) Railway running south from Joplin, MO to Helena, AR. The 365 mile railway cut a path through the Ozark Mountain Region of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas encompassing the natural beauty, vast scenic landscape and mountainous terrain of the area. This smaller connector rail line was a lifeline between the happenings of the big cities, international commerce and the rural country lifestyle by exporting timber, minerals and local goods in exchange for supplies and products from around the United States and beyond. The M & NA was vital to the development of the culture and the economy in every respect. It helped in the creation of colorful lifestyles and history in this region. This rail line paralleled the Buffalo National River for a distance, crossed it as well as other rivers and streams along its journey. Unique vegetation and spectacular cliffs abound along this rail line.

The railway closed for regular service in 1946. It since has served the community as a church, temporary classrooms for the local school and a feed store until it became vacant and fell into disrepair. The City of St. Joe purchased the building in 2009, completed repairs to the structure and has restored it to its original colors. On the National Registry of Historic Buildings since 1991, the property recently acquired a Civil War historic marker for the local area.

The City is currently developing and furnishing the building to be used as a train museum, a local history museum and an information center. Due to limited funds, at this time, the depot is unable to be opened to the public on a regular basis. Located at 110 Highway U.S. 65 South in St. Joe, AR, viewing can be scheduled by calling the City of St. Joe, Mayor John Henley, at 870-439-2012 or Councilman Norman Morrison at 870-439-2369.

See a slide show of more photos of the renovations by clicking on a smaller picture below.

Photo of the Missouri and North Arkansas - St. Joe, Arkansas Railroad Depot nearing completion in 1902











































Latest Story of Lost Silver Mine in Searcy County

Re-Printed from the Marshall Mountain Wave  –  Friday May 30, 1924


It is believed that the lost silver mine for which many have searched in Searcy County for the last seventy-five years and in quest of which some have devoted much and their lives and fortunes have been dissipated, has at last been discovered by a daughter of Hulse Tyler near her father’s farm in the rough country between Bear and Calf Creeks about ten miles from St. Joe, and five miles from Gilbert.

The tradition prevalent in this part of  the state is that the section of the country embraced in the above named territory and known as the Silver Hill settlement, has been the scene of mining operation by the Indians in prehistoric days and that later the Spaniards had mined much silver in that locality.  The story is that with the varying fortunes of war between the Spaniards and the Indians and their enemies, that the location of the mine was lost.

The story is also related by old timers that about seventy-five years ago, a man by the name of Tabor located one of the mines.  It is said he uncovered a cave of almost pure silver and that he began to mold silver coins.  He was apprehended for counterfeiting and was forced to leave the country, but the place of his mining operations remained a secret.

About thirty years ago, Mark Boyd, who came to this locality from Little Rock, purchased 1200 acres of land in the Silver Hill neighborhood.  Soon he announced he had been visited by an old Indian, who blindfolded him and led him several miles through the rough country, finally leading him into a cave.  There the hood was removed and Boyd was allowed to view a great accumulation of pure silver and high grade ore.  Continuing his story he related that he was again blindfolded in the cave and conducted away for several miles before the blindfold was removed and he was restored to liberty.

Then began Boyd’s search for the hidden treasure, which extended over many years.  He hired men to assist him and numerous holes they bored into the hillside in the Silver Hill locality are still visible.  Boyd persisted in the search until he used up all his substance and eventually he was forced to sell his land to pay the debts he had incurred in his prospecting operations.  Later he enlisted some friends in Little Rock in the venture and these spent considerable money in the prospecting with no results.  Almost penniless, Boyd left this country for Texas, where he died four years ago.  Many of his kinfolks still live here.

Twelve years ago a large mining company was organized and bought a large tract of land in the neighborhood but they too were unsuccessful in locating any mineral.  Now the story which is being related is that the daughter of Hulse Tyler, while hunting for a cow which had strayed away, found an opening to a cave in an almost inaccessible gulch.  The entrance to the cave was overgrown with vines and brush, a recent storm had blown aside leaving it partly exposed.  She at once summoned other members of the family and the cave was explored.  It is claimed that the silver was found as described with the mining tools, which had been there seventy-five years.   Now that the deed is on file, the story has come out.

Searcy County, Past and Present

This is a place to talk about what’s happened Recently