Friday, March 10, 2017

Small county seat

The official 2010 census for Jasper, Arkansas, counted 466 people within the city limits. Jasper is county seat for Newton County, in the northwest part of the state, two counties down from Missouri and three counties east of Oklahoma.

Newton County’s 2010 population was 8,330. At least two other towns in the county have more people than does Jasper, but bigger does not always signify more important.

The 2000 census noted Jasper’s racial breakdown as 99.98% white, 0.01% Native American, 0.01% from “other races,” and 0.00% from two or more races. The “Hispanic or Latino of any race” official federal category showed 0.00%. Newton County is 99.29% white.

Overwhelmingly white populations are normal in mountainous areas of the South. Farms were small and in valleys and required no more labor than a farm family could provide, with maybe a farm hand or two. Food crops prevailed over cotton. Unlike in the lower, flatter areas of the state, slave labor was not a necessity.

What that meant during the American Civil War was a split in political loyalty or disloyalty in the area. Wikipedia says men from the Newton area served in both the Confederate and Union army regiments.

Depending on how you look at things

“Newton County as a whole mostly supported the Union; however, in 1863, while searching for (Confederate guerilla leader John) Cecil, Union troops burned Jasper to the ground and moved their sympathizers to Springfield, Missouri.”

Or: “Violence took a severe toll on the civilian population, and at one point, Captains McCoy and Vanderpool escorted 20 wagons of Unionist families from Newton County to Missouri to seek refuge.”,_Arkansas

Newton County is in that part of Arkansas that has scenery. The county lies in the Boston Mountain range of the Ozarks. The Buffalo River runs west-east through the county. says, “More than one third of the county is owned by some government entity (National Park Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, State of Arkansas and county government).”

Probably, the New Deal Resettlement Administration moved people from some of those areas now designated state parks or wildlife areas. Poor farmers got to go, deer got to roam.

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