In 1890, Goodspeed Publishing Co. of Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis, published its Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas, which was one of a series of many such books covering various areas of the southern United States. These books usually relied on information supplied by the subjects of the biographies themselves, and were hardly objective. Nevertheless, this particular book and similar books for other areas contain some interesting historical and biographical information.
The name of J. B. Herndon has previously appeared on this site as an incorporator and stockholder of the Walnut Hill Bank (see posts of 1/7/08 and 2/5/08). He is also profiled in this particular Goodspeed’s, as follows:
“J. B. Herndon, the popular merchant of Bradley Station, was born in the county on February 9, 1860, and here he attained his growth and was schooled, received the best education that common schools afforded. He was married September 20, 1888, to Miss Lola Velvin, who was born in Georgia in 1867. Her father, R. C. Velvin, is now living in Texas. Their marriage has been blessed in the birth of one child, a daughter—Ella W. In 1885 Mr. Herndon began life’s battles for himself by engaging in the saloon business on Red River, but in 1888 he disposed of these interests, and opened a general store in Walnut Hill, continuing there about one year, and then came to Bradley. Here he commenced a general merchandise business, which he has successfully conducted ever since, carrying a stock valued at $2,500, and he is conceded to be a very capable young business man. His wife is a member of the Baptist Church, in which she is one of the most active workers, and is an intelligent and amiable lady. J. B. Herndon is one of seven children—three boys and four girls—born to the marriage of J. D. and Eliza (Cramtree [sic?] ) Herndon, both of whom were natives of this country and are now deceased. The father departed this life in March, 1872, and his widow on January 1, 1880. The paternal grandfather was a native of Kentucky, and emigrated to Arkansas at an early day, being one of the early pioneers of this State, and here he passed the remainder of his life. He was a farmer by occupation, as was his son also, the father of our subject. Five of the seven children born to the parents are still living: “Zurie (deceased), Mattie (deceased), Ida, J. B., R. F., Lola and J. D.”
Glynn McCalman’s book, Bradley Connections, furnishes many more details regarding the Herndon family and the contributions it made to this area.
One wonders just how many saloons there were on Red River in the late 19th century, and whether Mr. Herndon “disposed” of his saloon because there were too many other saloons in competition with his or whether the river traffic had declined, probably due to the coming of the railroads, to the point where the business was no longer profitable.
The reference to “Bradley Station” is probably how the local stop on the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad was designated before the Town of Bradley was formally incorporated in 1905, some 15 years after the publishing of this book in 1890.