Delta Roads and Travels - Moro

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James Dean

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Friday, January 20th 2023
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Arkansas Delta Arkansas History Delta Roads and Travels LeeCountyArkansas MoroArkansas
      Moro is the second largest incorporated community in Lee County and located at the intersection of State Highway 238 and 78. Although this well-maintained town has a population of less than two hundred citizens, it has a unique history. The present town of Moro is actually the second community with that name in Lee County. The original Moro vanished about ten years before the current town was founded. It was also not in the same location. That earlier village is remembered as Old Moro.
      Old Moro could trace its creation back to 1835 when settlers moved into the region around an intersection. James W. Sullivan was made the first postmaster on May 22, 1855. Old Moro was located in Monroe County until the creation of Lee County in 1873. Although only legend, it is believed Sullivan named this new town and post office Moro.  During the Civil War, both armies camped in Moro and the confederate army that attacked Helena on July 4, 1863, passed through town. Even though Moro survived the hardships of war, the town was doomed to mother nature. On Tuesday, November 20, 1900, a tornado struck Moro, wiping out every business and house. At least three people were killed and many injured. The village was never rebuilt.

      In 1907, the Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad announced plans to come through western Lee County about a mile from the site of Old Moro. This new town was financed and built around the railroad. Since the company was leasing the right of way from Jonas Miller, he was allowed to name the new settlement. Because he had grown up in Old Moro, he named new this town Moro. Miller, a merchant, remained postmaster as well. By 1908, the town had been laid out and six new brick store buildings were being built along Front Street. On August 10, 1909, a large barbecue and picnic was held at Moro with enough food for five thousand people. Speakers bragged on the community and a baseball game was held. It was all done to promote investment in the town and a real estate company offered lots for sale. Soon a gin, a barbershop, and a machine shop were opened. At least three churches were established. There was also a depot with livestock pens. The Bank of Moro opened in 1911, followed by a school. Three surrounding school districts were consolidated with the Moro district, which provided covered and heated wagons to transport children. By 1912, another block of brick stores had been built with Jonas Miller constructing his own mercantile. This new Moro incorporated in 1914 and had a telephone system by 1915.

      In 1915, Moro set up an agricultural school on an 80-acre farm and employed an expert to teach agriculture. In the Arkansas Democrat, a representative from Lee County bragged that Moro with its population of 400 people could show the larger towns how to advance. According to him, "Moro was the first town to establish a free school delivery system, first to erect its businesses of brick, first to have a waterworks, first to have an electric light system before incorporation, and first to have a 14-year-old boy as bank stockholder." The future was bright for Moro.
     That all changed soon after this boast. In 1918, Moro was stricken by the influenza epidemic. Then in 1921, the railroad halted service briefly and took bankruptcy. Four years later, a fire destroyed an entire block of stores along Front Street. This was followed by the Flood of 1927 which wiped out bridges and stopped the railroad again. After World War II, the railroad filed for bankruptcy the third and final time. In 1952, the rails were removed. Even though a new school was built the next year, it was soon closed and consolidated with another. Although there were still some good times ahead, Moro had peaked. Since then, the population has continued to decline. Today a city park can be found along Front Street where the once thriving commercial center was located. Most people are employed with agriculture, but there are still a few businesses. The town is still neatly kept though and there is pride in this second Moro as a good place to live. #MainStreetMonday #moroarkansas #ArkansasHistory #ArkansasDelta #leecountyarkansas
Smith, William Ramer. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 11/5/2022.
Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) 8 Aug 1909, Sun. Page 11.
Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas) 23 Feb. 1915, Tue. Page 6

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