Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jennie, Jennie, Jennie -- Arkansas

Three Jennies, three stories, and how “several hundred acres of swampland” became McCrory, Arkansas.

“Around 1840, a traveler riding through what is now Woodruff County stopped at a cabin in the woods to ask directions. A woman who gave her name as Jennie came to the door surrounded by children of every size. Later, the traveler jokingly said he had asked his way at Jennie's Colony, referring to the multitude of children. The name stuck and for many years after, the area was known as ‘Jennie's Colony.’

“Or so the story goes. Other sources assure us Jennie's Colony was named for Jennie Edmonds, an early settler of Woodruff County. Still others confidently state that Jennie's Colony got its name from Jennie Barnes, whose husband first settled there. Whatever the true story of Jennie's Colony may be, it is a fact that a part of the Colony later became the site of the town of McCrory.”

By the 2010 census, McCrory’s population was 1,729. The largest population ever was 1,971 in the 1990 census. The 2015 population was estimated at 1,601. So, the town continues losing people.

McCrory is about 79.5% white, 19% black, and less than 1% Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander and whatever other designations the government puts on people or someone puts on himself. The poverty rate is about 16.5% of families, 21% of the whole population, 28% of those under 18 and 19% over 65.

No doubt you have often asked, “How do I know if I am poor?” Well, the U.S. Census Bureau has a whole bunch of relatively well-paid bureaucrats to figure that for you.

“The U.S. Census Bureau determines poverty status by comparing pre-tax cash income against a threshold that is set at three times the cost of a minimum food diet in 1963, updated annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI; see the last section of this FAQ for an explanation of the CPI), and adjusted for family size, composition, and age of householder. ‘Family’ is defined by the official poverty measure as persons living together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption. Thresholds do not vary geographically. The Census Bureau has created an infographic to explain ‘How Census Measures Poverty.’"

There is a big, not-so-easy-to-read bar graph. Hey, I didn’t say the figuring-out made any sense, only that the Census Bureau pays a lot of people good money to figure out who is poor and who is not. Note: The bureaucrats are not.

Just a few miles down Highway 64 is Patterson, population 467 by the 2000 census. Demographic breakdown there shows: 90.3% black; 2.2% white; 1.3% native American; 1.7% Hispanic; and 1.7% other.

Patterson’s overall poverty rate is 31%, with 25% of families, 39% of those under 18 and 30% age 65 or older meeting the official Federal line.

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