Historic Places: A.C. Jeffery Farmstead

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Historic Places: The A. C. Jeffery Farmstead was constructed in 1848 by Augustus Curran Jeffery, the son of Jehoiada Jeffery, an early pioneer settler in Izard County and founder of the town of Mt. Olive. The Jeffery family first arrived in the area September 10, 1816, when Jehoiada Jeffery, his wife Mary Weir Jeffery, and three children settled on 160 acres (on the eastern bank of the White River at the site that would later become the community of Mt. Olive) that he received for having served in the war of 1812.

Jehoiada constructed a two-story log dog-trot and cleared land for farming, creating with his farmstead the first permanent settlement between Batesville in Independence County and the Missouri state line. The Jeffery farm became known for miles around as a haven for strangers traveling through the area. Two famous visitors during that time were Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who stayed with Jehoiada and his family during part of his journey through the Ozarks, and Sam Houston, who visited on his way through to Texas.  
Jehoiada prospered over the years, becoming a wealthy, respected farmer raising cattle, hogs, wheat, and corn (which were shipped by flat boat to market in Memphis and New Orleans), legislator (introducing the bills which created Izard and Fulton counties), surveyor (laying out the roads for the town of Batesville and planning the route of the old military road through Arkansas), and peacemaker (serving as Justice of the Peace for twenty five years and Izard County Judge for twelve). He died at Mt. Olive on October 19, 1846. Jehoiada's family had increased during the years ultimately numbering twelve children. Augustus Curran (builder of the A. C. Jeffery Farmstead) was the sixth child, born March 4, 1824. In February, 1847, shortly after his father's death, he married Elizabeth Harris. It is fairly safe to assume that A. C. Jeffery built his house at or just after this time, as he would have received his inheritance from his father. Elizabeth Harris Jeffery bore five children before she died. A. C. then married Maggie Cunningham and sired four more children before his death in 1880. During his lifetime Augustus Curran Jeffery continued to farm the land he inherited from his I father as well as serving as County Clerk for two years and County Judge for four. He also authored a series of articles published in the Melbourne Clipper and Yellville Mountain Echo. These articles were later consolidated into a book: Historical and Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlement of the Valley of White River Together with a History of lzard County

The Jeffery Farmstead still retains much of its original ambiance. The rural setting is largely unchanged and two original outbuildings still stand. Foundations of other structures still exist south of the main house. The house is largely unaltered. The characteristic single pile, central hall floor plan still retains its original tightwinder staircase leading to the second floor. Original stepped mouldings frame the windows and doorways and over-size two panel doors separate the rooms. Original horizontal flush boards sheath the walls of the upper and lower center hallways. Original mantels (plain in design) exist in three rooms. Historic landscaping elements - including stone walks and plantings- still grace the front yard. With such a number of original features existing the A. C. Jeffery Farmstead remains the finest example of an antebellum I-Rouse and farmstead in the Mt. Olive area, and perhaps in all of Izard County. The farmstead was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 1994. Read the entire National Register nomination hosted online by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

[Images courtesy Denny Elrod.]