The hurried formation of Fort Chaffee in the early days of World War II resulted in the relocation of many Sebastian County families and the dissolution of such communities as Cornish, Oak Grove, Center Valley, Auburn and Biswell Springs. The South Sebastian County Historical Society will honor the memory of the many families and communities of the area in a special program Monday, July 15, at 7 pm at Greenwood’s Performing Arts Center.
Jerry McConnell, retired reporter and editor of the Arkansas Democrat, born in the Oak Grove community, will reminisce about his father, W. M. (Bun) McConnell, and his country store at Cornish, the hub between Oak Grove and Union Grove. Betty Mayo, local historian and merchant, will relate her experiences growing up in Union Grove during the 1920s and 1930s. She’ll share her memories of friends, housewives’ remedies, entertainment, school days and games she played. A national award winning tribute to the families and communities, entitled "You Can Never Go Home Again," will be presented by Dr. Aaron White, Jeff Turner, Brant Warrick and Clifton James. Music will be provided by Mansfield’s "Just Us" and Hartford’s Shankle Sisters, who will perform a medley of tunes, including one famous melody written at a kitchen table in the area we now call Fort Chaffee. Ken Edwards will serve as master of ceremonies.
This program offers a unique opportunity to learn history firsthand through the storytelling of two celebrated and respected Sebastian County citizens and to hear the how the displacement has impacted families two generations later. The Historical Society invites all to attend. For more information, call Ruth McConnell at 479-996-2962 or Donna Goldstein at 479-252-6183.