Monthly Archives: July 2008

Demolition of Old Post Office/Bank Building, 1978

The following article, entitled “Big Store No More,” appeared in the Lafayette County Democrat of September 21, 1978, and is reprinted here by permission.  It contains a few minor inaccuracies, but is nevertheless an excellent narrative concerning the building it describes and early Bradley history.  It was written by John A. “Ardis” Manry, who was a resident of Plain Dealing, but had a keen interest in the history of this entire region.  In the later years of his life, his eyesight was quite poor, but it never stopped him from having a cheerful disposition, especially when he could talk about local history.  The photo below is quite grainy because is copied directly from the newspaper.

Big Store No More photo 

By John A. Manry

The tearing down of three old store buildings, brick by brick, is underway and if bricks could tell everything that had happened there since the beginning of this century, and if the land on which it stands could only tell something of its owners since it was bought from the Government before the Civil War, it might go like this:

The name of the buildings have been changed from time to time, depending [on] who owned them.

Records in the courthouse at Lewisville show that the land was bought from the Government by Alexander T. Evans.  Census records kept by the Lafayette County Historical Society show that he and his brother, James K. Evans, both born in Georgia, came here from Alabama with large families, built homes nearby, and both entered the Confederate Army.

Each married daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Elisha Waldrop and were active in the Methodist Church there.  It was in the winter of 1867 [when] they were instrumental in arousing the countryside by preaching that converts came pouring in.

It was a part of the “Great Awakening” prevalent over our country at that time, but descendants of these people living at Bradley still refer to the great awakening at nearby Walnut Hill as that “Christmas meeting.”

The records are not too exact why the Bradley land was sold or lost, but possibly it was lost because of educating so many of the Evans family to the ministry.  Some say eight of the boys became ministers, mostly Methodist, of course, but there was a sprinkling of Baptist, too.

By 1885 Cassius Leigh owned the land.  That year he deeded it to a H. G. Allis, who is believed to have been a land speculator anxious to make a profit.  He sold it to the Southwestern Improvement Association just before the Cotton Belt decided to extend their railroad from Lewisville to Shreveport in 1888.


The Southwestern Improvement Assoc. had played an important part in laying out the town of Galveston, where Lewisville is now, and other towns along the Cotton Belt by selling off lots, making a profit and moving on.

It was 10 years later that the Improvement Association sold this part of land to D. D. Hamiter, a son of John H. Hamiter and a grandson of John Hamiter who had moved to the northern part of Bossier Parish in the 1840’s from Houston County, Georgia.

A glance at the valuation of this land showed that it was tripled in value during the year 1900, indicating that some improvements had been made on the property then.  Sometime later another brick building was built alongside it.


While D. D. Hamiter operated the store he was acting depot agent.  In time his brother Eugene became a partner, and they called their store the Hamiter Brothers Mercantile Company.

Mrs. Aletha Hamiter Barker, now a resident of the Homestead Manor Nursing Home in Stamps, in her “Scrapbook of Roane Township,” writes that “when the telephone system was first organized (1901, in Walnut Hill), there was only one phone in Bradley and it was in Hamiter Bros. store.  Anytime, day or night, a person wanted to call a doctor, or on account of a sudden death or accident, some member of the mercantile company had to get up and go open the store and stay until the necessary call was completed.  Usually, some of the clerks slept in the store for this purpose,” she said.


By 1905 the residents of Bradley petitioned the County Court to become a village and the streets were laid off into 21 blocks, starting from present-day Highway 29, which was called Express Street, and all but one street running parallel with it were named after parts of a train.  They were Coach Street, Cab Avenue, Pilot Avenue, Pullman Street, and then Woodruff Street, perhaps named for the publisher of the Arkansas Gazette.  Cross streets were numbered from First to Seventh from the Methodist Church on the south, to the present-day Baptist church on the north.

This placed the brick store buildings on the corner of Pilot Avenue and Fourth Street, now known as Highway 160 West.

In 1911 J. B. Burton, Sr., bought the property from the Texarkana National Bank and Olin Longino [began] operating a store there known as Burton and Longino.  Burton’s heirs sold to B. G. Jester and the Jester heirs sold to Richard D. Smith of Bradley.  This year, the building was sold to Lane Pierce, president of the Bank of Bradley.

In the early days the stores all faced the railroad, but the coming of the automobiles cause them to face the highways and such happened to this old store building.


In 1939 the U. S. Government leased the corner building for a post office.  It remained here until their present post office was built.


The Bank of Bradley was organized in September of 1912, and the third brick building was built.  A big barbecue was given and this event attracted crowds of hungry visitors, the Democrat reported.

This building came into the news again when it was robbed  by three professional bank robbers escaping with $312, all the money they could find in the open trays on the bank’s counter.  The vault, they could not open.  It became such a bastion in time that Frank M. Cochran, Jr., bought the old vault door as a reminder of how it had withstood the robbers.

Eventually one of the robbers was sentenced to Alcatraz and is said to have offered to return his part of the loot, but it was never received.

It’s gone today.  It will be missed.  It was THE big store in its day and old-timers will never forget how majestically it reared its head through its 78 years of service.  Peace to its brick dust!

Dedication of Methodist Church Sanctuary, 1949

One of the most beautiful buildings in Bradley is the Bradley United Methodist Church sanctuary:

 IMG_0091 B

This building was dedicated in 1949.  The following article appeared in the Lafayette County Democrat of Friday, May 13, 1949, and is reprinted here by permission.


Sunday, May 15th, at 11:00 a.m., Bishop Paul B. Martin will dedicate Bradley’s new Methodist Church building.  He will be assisted in the service by Rev. J. M. Hamilton, District Superintendent, and several former pastors.  Rev. Edwin Keith will preside.

Mrs. J. M. Allen and Miss Hortense Hamiter will have charge of the music.  Dinner will be served on the lawn.

Mrs. J. W. Camp and Mabel McGill were appointed to select the committees for the occasion and have chosen the following:

Invitation—J. M. Allen, Mrs. J. W. Camp.

Worship—Miss Hortense Hamiter, Mrs. J. M. Allen, Mrs. J. W. Camp.

Reception—Mrs. W. A. McGee, Mrs. L. B. Hamiter, Mrs. Mabel McGill, J. B. Edwards.

Decoration—Mrs. Mabel McGill, Mrs. Ed O’Neal, Mrs. T. H. Dismukes.

Dinner—Mrs. George Davis, Mrs. L. G. Middlebrooks, Mrs. L. B. Hamner, Mrs. J. W. Meek, Jr.

Publicity—Mrs. Aletha Allen.

The church building was started in 1946, under the leadership of our pastor, Rev. M. E. Scott, and was completed in the summer of 1947.  The first service was held in it August 9, 1947, with Rev. M. E. Scott preaching and Rev. J. A. Simpson, pastor at that time, presiding.

The building is a brick veneer which cost approximately twenty thousand dollars.  It has a seating capacity of approximately one hundred and twenty-five, pastor’s study, seven Sunday school rooms and two rest rooms.

The building committee was comprised of the following members:  J. B. Edwards, J. W. Meek, L. E. Taylor, Lee Crabtree and J. M. Allen.

This summer marks the forty-sixth anniversary of the organization of the Methodist church here.

Plans for this church began to be formulated in the summer of 1902 by the late D. D. Hamiter.  The first step was to get a building site.  On September eleventh, 1902, an acre of ground was deeded to D. D. Hamiter, J. H. Hamiter, and T. J. Evans, trustees of the Walnut Hill Circuit of the Little Rock Conference, by the Red River Land Company for that purpose.  On December 3, 1904 an adjoining strip of land was deeded to them by T. J. Evans.

For some reason the organization of the church was not consummated until the summer of 1903, when the late Dr. J. L. Cannon graduated from Southern Methodist University and was sent here as a substitute for Rev. George N. Campbell.

The charter members of the church were Mrs. Lula Brock, Mrs. Lena Adams, Mrs. Lucy Ham, Mrs. Henry Hanson, Mrs. Dora Garner, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Price, D. D. Hamiter.  All have passed on except Mrs. Dora Garner, Mrs. Lula Brock and Mrs. Henry Hanson.

Under the direction of Dr. J. I. Cannon a frame building was started but was not ready for occupancy until the latter part of 1904.  In the meantime, preaching services were held one Sunday afternoon of each month in the Lodge Hall above what was known as Brock & Smith store and post office on Pilot Avenue.

During the left of the church the following ministers have served as pastors, J. L. Cannon, C. W. Musgrove, R. J. Roland, J. J. Mellard, R. J. Raiford, W. C. Hilliard, H. W. Hansford, M. K. Rogers, A. P. Flowers, Roy E. Fawcett, J. A. Save, G. W. Cannon, C. E. Whitten, R. R. Moore, A. W. Hamilton, M. E. Scott, J. A. Simpson, [and] Edwin Keith.  D. D. Hamiter served continuously on the board of Stewards from the Church’s organization until his death in 1931.

Under the leadership of Rev. Edwin Keith, last year, the old frame church building was converted into a lovely six room and bath parsonage.

During World War II, the church kept a list of all its members entering the services.  This list contains 34 names.  All the boys returned except one.

Sunday School has been held regularly since March, 1912.  Jack Meek is the present Superintendent.  The Sunday School assumed the responsibility of furnishing most of the parsonage when it was completed last year.

The W. S. C. S. was organized in 1920 and has met regularly since that time.  Mrs. J. B. Edwards was the first president.  The present incumbent is Mrs. F. P. Adams.  They have chosen as their special project the beautifying of the grounds of the church and parsonage.

The Methodist Youth Fellowship was organized in 1946.  Mrs. J. M. Allen is Superintendent of Youths’ Work.”

– – –

Below is an image of the cornerstone of the Bradley United Methodist Church:

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A Tale of Two Sanctuaries

Below is an image of the 1903 sanctuary of the Bradley Baptist Church which appeared on the church bulletin on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Church in 1992.

BBD 1903 Sanctuary

On November 17, 1963, the Bradley Baptist Church celebrated Dedication Day of its new (current) sanctuary:

BBC Dedication Program 1963

“Bradley Baptist Church

Jim Powell, Pastor

Bradley, Arkansas

November 17, 1963


To dedicate a sanctuary built by our hands to the total honor of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it…” —-Psalm 127:1a.’”

– – –

Space limitations prevent a full transcription of the program of the morning worship service on that day, but the individuals listed on the program were as follows:  Prelude by Mrs. T. E. Cason; Greetings From Hope Baptist Association by M. T. McGregor; Solo—”Dedicatory Hymn,” by Mrs. L. A. Bishop; Solo by Mr. Mack Jackson; and Message of Dedication by The Pastor.

(As a point of historical reference, it can be noted that this service occurred just five days prior to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.)

– – –

A little over three years later, on Sunday, December 25, 1966, Christmas Day, the Bradley Baptist Church gathered to say goodbye to the 1903 sanctuary.

Bradley Churches red notebook 075 B

“A Convocation of FAREWELL

Old Church Building

Bradley Baptist Church

December 25, 1966

Hymn 8

Scripture – Romans 12:1–12


Hymn 167

Announcements concerning our New Building”

– – –

The third page of the program for this event contained a brief, but very useful history of the various buildings of the Church at that time.

Bradley Churches red notebook 076 B


The spiritual progress of almost any congregation can be measured by the facilities it dedicates to God.

This Church was organized on Wednesday, July 30, 1902.  The meeting place was a cottonseed warehouse where Tylers [sic] store now stands.  On Friday, August 1, the church elected a Building Committee and instructed it, “to take charge of Building Funds, purchase a church site and have church built.”  The committee was composed of the four male members of the church plus Dr. J. F. McKnight and Mr. J. B. Herndon.  This Building was completed in 1903.  It is this building we are meeting in today.

Due to the growth of our Sunday School, rooms were added to the auditorium sometime between 1923–1929.   With still more room required an educational building was erected in the early 1950’s.

In 1963 our new Auditorium was built and dedicated.  On January 1, 1967 we enter our new Educational Building.”

– – –

For those who may not be completely familiar with which building is which, in the color picture of the three buildings in the July 9, 2008, post on this blog, they are, from left to right:  1966/1967 educational building; 1963 sanctuary; early 1950’s educational building.

– – –

And for the benefit of anyone who may demand equal time, the next post on this blog will deal with some of the historical aspects of the Bradley United Methodist Church.  If any readers have information they would be willing to share with this site’s other readers on the history or buildings of any of the other churches in the Bradley area, I would be most interested and appreciative.

Bradley Baptist Church, circa 1960

The image below, courtesy of Mrs. Marjorie Bishop, shows the Bradley Baptist Church after a snowstorm in 1960.  Following that image is a picture taken from approximately the same place and angle on the hot summer afternoon of July 6, 2008.

010 C

IMG_0007 B

The sanctuary in the top image was replaced by the one in the bottom image in 1963.  Below is a picture taken during that construction, which shows the old sanctuary moved to the rear of the property during that construction.  It continued to be used in its new location until the construction of the new sanctuary was completed.

011 B

As is apparent, the colonnade between the educational building on the right side of the 1960 image was severed, then reattached to the new sanctuary when it was completed.

Sometimes history is right out in plain view, staring us in the face, and yet we seldom notice.  One example is cornerstones.  Although it is now partially obscured by a shrub, the cornerstone for the present (1963) sanctuary is shown below:

IMG_0033 B

It reads:





JULY 30, 1902





STONE’ EPH 2:20”

The building on the left side of the current (color) photo was completed in 1966.  Below is an image of its cornerstone:

IMG_0035 B

It reads:
















There is an enclosed hallway between the rear (north) end of the 1963 sanctuary and the 1966 building which also has a cornerstone/commemorative marker, shown below:

IMG_0038 B

It reads:


MATT 28: 19–20

ERECTED A. D. 1966



*BILLY LEE ALLEN               H. M. BURKS

*H. C. BARNETT                 M. M. McCALMAN, SR.


*J. B. W0RKS                     L. C. THOMAS


– – – – – – – – – –

Again, thanks to Mrs. Marjorie Bishop for the use of the two black-and-white photos.

Wet Or Dry? 1949 (Part 3 of 3)

There was yet another county-wide local option election on the question of alcohol sales and transfers in 1949.  It is not clear from the County Court’s Record Book who the petitioners were or what their motives were.  On August 2, 1949, County Judge A. B. Parker considered “certain petitions” for such an election and ordered that election to be held on August 30, 1949 (County Court Record “T,” at page 500).

On September 2, 1949, Lafayette County Election Commissioners A. S. Bray, T. M. Black and A. L. Mashaw reported the results of the election to the County Court (County Court Record “T,” at page 505).  The “drys” won the election by the most lopsided margin of any local option election to that time, 1,234 dry to 269 wet.  The only precinct in the entire county that voted wet, by a margin of 21 to 16, was the Boyd Hill precinct in the northwest part of the county.

One of the more interesting facets of this particular election is the list of poll workers in each precinct, the great majority of whom were paid the princely sum of $4.00 for their efforts on the day of the election.  Results from the precincts in the southern part of the county and the poll workers for each precinct are listed as follows:

Bradley:  10 wet, 147 dry; Charlie Crabtree, J. R. Cochran, Homer Enyart, Mrs. Allie McDonald, Miss Birdie Crabtree, Mrs. Bessie Cochran.

Gin City:  3 wet, 47 dry; Byrd Powell, Herman Barnett, Mrs. Herman Barnett, Wylie P. Cryer, Mrs. Clyde Jackson, W. L. Blunt.

Hackney:  0 wet, 27 dry; Mrs. Mabel McGill, Mrs. Roy Barker; Mrs. L. G. Middlebrooks, Mrs. W. E. Rich, Mrs. W. A. McGee.

Canal:  1 wet, 15 dry; C. G. Taylor, L. M. Poole, Mrs. L. M. Poole, J. L. Wilson, Johnie Keahey.

Canfield:  6 wet, 31 dry; Ura Lynn, R. M. Moncus, Mrs. W. R. Smeltzer, Mrs. Odell Clary, L. D. Stuart, W. E. Copeland, Jr.

State Line:  0 wet, 19 dry; E. C. Allen, Mrs. E. C. Allen, Mrs. Jessie Watkins, Clyde Berry, Lee Maness, J. F. Tyler.

Walkers Creek:  13 wet, 33 dry; Phoenix Fish, N. L. Fish, J. N. Barnes, Earl Owens, Jess Taylor, Marvin Whitehead, E. H. Orr.

With this election in 1949, Lafayette County, including Bradley, remained “dry.”