The History of Eros

by Mrs. Ray Blankenship

Eros, Arkansas, is located in Prairie Township in southwest Marion County. It is only four miles from the Boone County line as Prairie Township borders Boone County for several miles.

The residents of Eros should be proud of its name. According to the encyclopedia, the word "eros" means love. In Greek mythology Eros was the God of Love from whom the Romans derived their Cupid. In classical literature he is described as a nude and beautiful but mischievious boy. Often crowned with a chaplet of roses, ordinarily sprouting tiny wings to waft him toward his victims, he usually wears a quiver whence he draws arrows to shoot from a bow, into human hearts. His eyes are frequently bandaged to denote that love strikes blind and he carries torches to symbolize love's fire which none can touch with impunity.

The Old Military Road which found its way into Eros in the early days probably brought the first oxen-drawn wagons to this area. The pioneers must have been impressed with the prairie land, smooth and rolling with a look of the Old West, as well as the clear, running streams that flow through the area. They knew that wheat, corn, and other grain crops could easily be grown here so they stopped and made it their home.

One of the first families to come into this area was the Bernard King family who left Rutherford County, North Carolina, before the Civil War and came to Missouri. In 1854 the family, with a Negro slave, came to PrairieTownship and homesteaded 480 acres of land. We do not know how many children were in the family but one son, Joel King, homesteaded the farm where Buell and Joann King now live. Barnett B. King, another son of Bernard, married Martha Hurst who lived near Yellville. Their children were four sons: John, Fount, B. B. (or Shelby), and Marion King, who died at the age of 17. The daughters were Martha (or Matt), Nancy Adeline (or Aunt Sis), and Louisia Council. They all grew up on their farm on King's Branch. The small stream was given this name in the early days because of all the King families living near. The prairie land nearby was called King's Prairie for the same reason. Barnett B. King cleaned out an old well on his property (either the Buell King or Venita Taylor land today) and, although he was only 44 years of age, he became ill shortly afterward and was never able to work any more before his death. His oldest son, John, married Jennie Stanley, daughter of Harrison Stanley of Bruno. Mrs. Jennie King's mother died and was buried in Idaho. The family was traveling by wagon to the West but when Mrs. Stanley passed away, they turned around and came back to Arkansas. Mrs. King was only a small child at the time and her sister, Lena Stanley Rose was a tiny baby. Mrs. Rose was born October 23, 1872, married James Rose and raised a large family in the Eros community.

John King's oldest daughter, Grace, helped her mother during the cold winter months by weaving blankets on their loom in an upstairs bedroom. The smaller children kept pans of live coals of fire at her feet to keep her warm. Grace and some of her girl friends wrote their names and addresses on hen eggs and sold them in the local store. Eventually a young man from just south of Des Moines, lowa, wrote Grace a letter, telling her that he had received the eggs and was interested in corresponding with her. They began to know each other quite well and, as time progressed, the romance flourished. One day the young man, Lawrence Shaw, came to Eros and took Grace King back to his farm in Iowa as his wife. There they raised a family and sent them all to college. Others of Grace's family drifted to Iowa and lived near her. Another of the John King daughters, Essie, married J. C. Blankenship and lived all her life in Prairie Township. They were the parents of Ray Blankenship of Yellville and his sister, Blanche Karnes of Berryville.

Fount King, the second son of Barnett B. and Martha Hurst King, married Sarah Azeliah Jobe, a daughter of Dr. G. W. and Minnie Wilson Jobe. W. T. Gooch was the Justice of the Peace who married them on November 22, 1885. They bought a farm and lived near the old homeplace at Eros. Their children were Bertie, Marion, Minnie, Thelma, Hattie, Edith, Mettie, Doris, and Pauline. Some of the children have passed away or moved away. The only member of the family living in the immediate area is Doris, who married Claude Hudson. They live at Bruno. Fount King was born November 30, 1860, and died on July 25, 1948. Azeliah (or Zee) was born November 9, 1868, and died on December 8,1930.

Shelby King, the third son of Barnett B. and Martha King, married Laura Phillips, daughter of John Phillips. Mrs. Eula Rose, Thurman King, and Dewey King were born to them before Mrs. King's death. Later Shelby (or B. B.) married Gertie Richardson and their family was: Karl of Yellville, Raymond, Faye (Mrs. Paul Elam), and Farl King. Mr. King had his 91st birthday January 15,1958, and the Editor of the Mountain Echo called him one of Marion County's oldest and best-loved citizens. He continued that Mr. King had spent all of his life in Marion County and most of it within one mile of the old King place where he was born at Eros.

Martha King (Matt) married Charley Willingham, former sheriff of Marion County and they were the parents of Berniece Berry and Winona Willingham of Yellville.

Nancy Adeline (Aunt Sis) married J. Y. Phillips, Sr., and they were the parents of Bascum, Pierce, Dee, and J. Y. Phillips, Jr. Mr. Phillips died quite young and Aunt Sis lived on the 80 acres of land that her father gave her at his death. This is the same land that her granddaughter, Mrs. Venita Phillips Taylor, lives on today. It has been in the family for 122 years.

Dr. G. W. Jobe, an Army lieutenant, came to Arkansas from Ring Gold, Georgia. He married Minnie Wilson, sister of Tom Wilson of Valley Springs. Dr. Jobe and his family lived in Yellville for several years where he was active in the medical profession. At that time Marion County had no newspaper but D. B. Dallam, who promised the town a weekly paper, ordered his press and type to be shipped by rail to Batesville, Arkansas, and up the river to McBee's Landing, then on to Yellville by wagon. "The only thing is," Mr. Dallam said, "What shall we call the paper?" No one could suggest an appropriate name so Mr. Dallam offered a prize to the person who would give the best name. A few davs later Dr. George W. Jobe suggested Mountain Echo, so it was named. In 1882 Dr. Jobe moved his family to a home south of Eros near King's Branch. It was here that Zee married Fount King.

Another daughter, Clara, married Marion Potts. She taught school at Eros for many years and her son, Buell, taught there in later years. Una Jobe married Fred McChesney who owned a sugar plantation in Hawaii. When Euna came back to visit relatives in Arkansas, it took seven days for the ship to cross from Hawaii. Dr. Jobe's son, Wattie, was also a doctor and lived in Waggoner, Oklahoma.

It was important to have a small country school every three or four miles as most of the children walked over crooked paths to school. So, at one time, Prairie Township had five schools; one was at Eros, another was east of Eros known as Jefferson Hall, one was to the north known as Enon, one on King's Branch was called Blackie, and on the road to Boone County was an old log school house named Pine Hollow. Many students took advantage of the three-month school terms of learning.

There were many members of large families attending school. Since hot lunches at the noon hour were unknown, the students sat on the ground with huge baskets of food to satisfy grown boys as well as the smallest boys and girls. Often 7 or 8 ate from one basket of food that consisted of biscuits, meat, eggs, fried pies, baked sweet potatoes and, sometimes, jars of molasses and butter. The favorite Friday afternoon pastime was the spelling matches.

In 1881 the Joe Sasser family came to Eros from Kentucky. They settled near Eros but, after two years, they moved a few miles south of Bruno, where they raised cotton on their sandy soil. Later Mr. Sasser moved to Bruno and operated a country store. He bought cream, eggs, chickens and other farm produce. His son Dee helped him in the store which included a barber shop. Joe Sasser's children were: Ida Sasser Anderson, Mahalia Sasser Stewart, Rusha Sasser Jackson, Anita Sasser Jackson, Arkie Sasser Minton, Lindsey, Joseph, Arthur, and Dee Sasser. Some of the children still live in this area and many grandchildren and great grandchildren are here. Among the grandchildren who still live near Eros is Kathleen Stewart McEntire and her husband Ulis, who live on King's Branch where they have spent most of their married life. Mrs. McEntire took care of her aged mother, Mahalia Sasser Stewart, until her death a few years ago. The McEntires have been very active in community affairs and at one time operated the Eros general store.

The oldest living couple in Prairie Township or surrounding area is Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Slover who live between Bruno and Eros. Mr. Slover (Jim) was born just across the Boone County line, near Everion, 87 years ago to John B. and Sarah Slover. Of this family of seven children, only Jim and a sister, Mrs. Jettie Bayford of Harrison, Arkansas, still live. Mrs. Bayford spent most of her married life in Houston, Texas, and came back to Arkansas a few years ago after losing her husband. The Slover family moved to Prairie Township in 1903 where they engaged in farming and Jim attended school at Eros. His wife, Pearl Lowery Slover, was born in Prairie Township near the old Jefferson Hall School 84 years ago. She was the youngest daughter of George F. (Doc) and Minerva Lowery. Her parents homesteaded their farm and raised nine children but only Pearl and a brother, P. R., of Harrison still survive. The Lowery children attended school and church at Jefferson Hall. In 1918 Pearl Lowery and Jim Slover were married and began making their living by raising cotton and corn. Mrs. Slover liked to care for chickens so for many years she sold eggs with the other farm produce of cream. The Slover's only child, Howard Grant, attended Bruno school and graduated in 1941. He then joined the Air Force and made it his life's career. In 1975 Howard's wife passed away and he came home to help care for his parents. Howard's only son, Douglas, is a college student in Yuma, Arizona.

On April 15,1871, five wagons left Dayton (Mieggs County) Tennessee, and began driving toward North Arkansas. Among them were the Albert N. Choate, Sr. family of thirteen children. Mr. Choate was born February 12, 1844, in Tennessee. He and his family settled on King's Branch on the farm known today as the George Campbell place. Albert N. Choate, Jr., who later married Winnie Campbell, lives in the Pine Hollow area near the homestead of his grandfather.

Other families in the wagon train included Marvel Couch, the grandfather of Henry Couch, who lives on the old homestead today. Newt Couch, the father of Henry, was in his late teens when the family left Tennessee. It is told that he walked along with the train and killed meat for them to eat. Newt homesteaded the present Couch farm in 1884. He married Lucy Smart and they had two sons. Henry is the surviving one. He married Amy Mears of Monarch. Any community could be proud of the two daughters, Donna and Charlotte. Both graduated from Bruno High School, both are college graduates, and Charlotte is working on her Doctorate.

Eros first began to grow up and down King's Branch and the first post office was located near the Newt Couch home. In the late 1880's Mr. Couch was appointed Eros' first postmaster. He operated a country store, taught school, and was a Bible School teacher for many years at the Union Chapel Church.

During these early years women and girls often walked to the neighbor's house with a "dish order" catalogue. It contained many beautiful pieces of china and crystal at reasonable prices. Premiums were given with an order and the "salesmen" were especially proud of this bonus. The rural home makers took pride in this beautiful kitchenware.

Life was somewhat dull in these areas and work was hard, but if a father became ill during crop time his friends came and cultivated or harvested the crop. In winter they found time to cut wood for a widow and her children. The better farmers left rows of corn or other grain in their fields at harvest time and invited the less fortunate to go in and finish the harvest.

Sorghum-making was always a late summer job. Every farmer planted a field of his favorite sorghum cane in spring, and kept it well cultivated during the summer. When the days began to shorten and become quite cool, the cane heads began to mature and the real work began. First, the fodder had to be pulled from the cane stalks; second, the cane had to be cut down and the heads removed; third, the cane had to be hauled to the sorghum mill. Meanwhile wood had to be cut to cook the molasses in a huge copper pan after the juice had been squeezed from the cane and strained. After much cooking and stirring constantly, the finished product was run into pails and sealed for winter use. The women and girls carried huge pails of food to the mill for all the men to eat. The mill man charged a third of the product for his labor. If a farmer had to hire very much labor to be paid in the finished product, he might find himself without much for himself. The story is told of an elderlv man known as "Uncle Pete" who hired his cane stripped, cut, hauled to the mill, and processed. After paying for all this, there was hardly any molasses left for Uncle Pete and he couldn't understand it. His friends tried to explain it but to no avail. One of the friends thought surely he could explain the situation so he went into detail. When he finished, he said, "Now, don't you see, Uncle Pete?" To this the old man replied, "Yes, Pete sees he ain't go no "lasses."

Amusements in and for the community were Fourth of July picnics, house raisings and neighborhood song services. During the summer months, after crops were laid by, there were singing schools and Brush Arbor meetings. The men got together and built the arbor, the dirt floor was covered with sawdust, and lanterns were hung from poles around the structure. People from miles around came in wagons; mothers laid their sleeping babies on quilts on the ground. Sometimes the meetings lasted three or four weeks and evern,one was thoroughly revived.

King's Prairie was ideal for growing wheat and other small grain such as oats, barley, etc. Every fall the farmers planted many acres of these grains, so they were ready for harvest by early summer. That was a hard job, especially cutting the wheat with a wheat cradle, round and round the fields. A second man followed the farmer and picked up the grain, tied it in bundles and shocked them in the open field to finish drying. After the grain binder began to be used, labor was reduced. When the threshing season came, everyone got busy. Several men went with the thresher, working from place to place, until all farmers had their grain threshed. Many times the crew drove up to a farm home just at dusk to eat and spend the night. Needless to say, the women and girls had a big job of cooking for all the hungry men.

Benjamin Rush Stovall, his wife Mary Caststeel, and eight children came to the Eros area about 1880 from Franklin County, Tennessee, and settled between Eros and Bruno on what is known as the Joe Stovall place. As the ox wagon moved slowly, the barefoot girls sat in the back of the wagon to run their feet through the water whenever they crossed a stream. One of these little girls was Ella, later married to J. K. Dobbs. They operated a store in Eros and lived in that area all their lives until old age made them move to Springfield, Missouri, to live with their youngest son. Their son, Loyd, with his wife Essie, lives on the old Dobbs farm. Another daughter, Mrs. Nannie Trimble -- mother of Mrs. Nora Campbell -- died when Nora was 9 years old and the Dobbs family raised her. Mrs. Hershel Lowery of Eros is a daughter of the Campbells. John R. Stovall, son of Benjamin Stovall, married Flora Coker and they raised a family here but all have moved away.

Joe Stovall, the father of Mrs. Cletis Harris and Mrs. Ott Brown who still live in the Eros community, married Clara Williams, daughter of William and Mary Williams who came here from Illinois. Joe was a casket maker, in addition to farming. At this time, it was necessary to start making the casket as soon as death occurred because the body was prepared for burial and kept in the home until burial. Many times Mr. Stovall, with help, worked all night to prepare the casket. The best lumber available was used and the inside was padded with cotton and covered with black cloth. Often black lace was used to decorate the casket. Because embalming was unheard of, many bodies were buried late in the afternoon of the same day they died, so Mr. Stovall had to discontinue any other task that he might be doing until after the funeral. While a person was ill, neighbors and friends sat night and day with the person until a change was made for the better or worse. If the patient passed away, friends sat with the body until after the funeral. Neighbors and friends were never too busy to help in time of need. Mr. Stovall played the fiddle, his daughters played the piano, and all had beautiful singing voices.

Presley D. Blankenship was born in 1841 in North Carolina. He married Louisa Koon about the time the Civil War began. About 1870 they and some friends started toward Arkansas. They had a part of their family. They stopped in Boone County. The young family that accompanied them front North Carolina stayed above Everton but the Blankenships moved to a farm on Hampton Creek, where they lived until Mr. Blankenship died in 1896, after a horse kicked him. One of the older sons was Phalis. He married Molly Gilley and they had three sons -- P.V., Homer and Steil. P.V. was a school teacher in Marion County for many years. Joe Blankenship, father of Ray Blankenship, owns a part of the original farm of Presley D. Blankenship. A daughter, Bell, married Joe Ogden and spent all her life in the Prairie and Hampton townships. Her granddaughter, Mrs. Joann Buell King, is the only survivor in the township.

In the early 1900's two brothers, Tom and Pleas Lancaster, put a general store in Eros. Their brother Jim operated a blacksmith shop and cotton gin. In 1918, these brothers built a large native stone store building and operated it themselves. In 1947, old age made them sell the store to Ray and Hilda Blankenship. It is still the local store in Eros today.

Dr. J. F. Elam, who had moved from Bruno to Eros in the early days, had a drug store on King's Branch before moving to Eros. Dr. Elam was instrumental in saving lives of many local people and delivered hundreds of babies.

In 1914 a wealthy man by the name of Joseph (Big Joe) Miglorie drove the first automobile into Everton, Arkansas, just over the Marion County line. He was interested in investing his vast wealth in land on Clear Creek in Prairie Township. Mining was popular then so Big Joe began mining for zinc, He bought a lot of land and his hopes were high but the mining business began to fade. It was then that Mr. Migiorie built a store building, which he ran, and an expensive and most elaborate native stone home. He then became interested in a cob pipe factory so a building was erected and people began planting corn and contract the corn to Big Joe for his pipes. From 1920 until 1930 about ten people were employed in his pipe factory. He not only made corn cob pipes but also hickory pipes. Many people cut hickory trees and sold Big Joe the hickory sticks. He lived to be quite old and spent the rest of his days here in Marion and Boone counties.

In the late 1930's a Civilian Conservation Camp was built about one-half mile west of Eros. Many local boys were residents of the camp. Times were hard and the families at home received a part of the boys' salaries. The boys did soil conservation work on many farms and the evidence of their work can still be seen. In the early morning, scores of boys loaded into trucks and went out to work on the local farms. When noon came, the kitchen crew brought huge baskets of food.

It was Sunday, December 7, 1941, and Eros was, as the rest of the world, unsuspecting that the Japanese were about to attack Pearl Harbor. Most of the homes had battery radios as there was no electricity but some farms had Delco power. Many heard the first news of the attack. Two families of Prairie Township had every reason to be concerned because their sons were in the center of the action. Sam Kisner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Owen Kisner, had attended Bruno and Eros schools and had enlisted in the Army before Pearl Harbor and was on Corregidor. Ernest Crunkleton, son of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Crunkleton who lived on King's Branch, was making a career of the Army. Both were taken prisoners on Corregidor and survived the Death March. Crunkleton was in captivity for 33 months and when he was rescued by General Douglas McArthur he only weighed 130 pounds. His normal weight was about 190 pounds. He had survived on the water in which sweet potato vines were cooked. If a stray dog or any other animal came around the camp. the boys had meat to eat. Sam Kisner almost lost his eyesight because of the lack of vitamins and the proper food. His vision improved when he was taken to Japan and he worked unloading rice. Food was better there. Needless to say, many prayers were offered for those two young men. When the boys came home, the entire community got together and set a big feast for them. Crunkleton has since passed away and Kisner recently moved to the West.

The consolidation of the Pyatt and Bruno schools has added much to Eros. In addition to a fine new school, we have a paved road from Eros to Pyatt. Signs of progress are seen in all the homes. We shall never be ashamed to admit that we live at Eros.

In the hills of Marion County
where the waters ebb and flow,
There's a spot to us most precious
Known as Eros and Bruno.
We need to shout it from the mountains
So the world can really know,
That we truly have a treasure
Known as Eros and Bruno.
Friendly people all around us,
With their faces all aglow;
They've not lost their sense of values
Around Eros and Bruno.
Childhood memories of these places
Are fondly shared with those we know,
And no matter where we wandered
Our footsteps led us back to Eros and Bruno.
Sure, the valleys are deep and narrow,
But the hills bloom like a rose;
Wouldn't exchange for anything,
This spot of ours between Eros and Bruno.
We have heard of a land that's fairer than day
Where the milk and honey flow,
We've got it right around us --
This area known as Eros and Bruno.
When we have left this world down here,
To a better place we hope to go,
It'll truly be heaven to us
If it looks like Eros and Bruno.

Southwest Quadrant

Reprinted with permission from History of Marion County edited by Earl Berry, copyright 1977.