Saturday, November 14, 2009


Jim and I got out this weekend and explored around the Wideman area. We had already visited the Hammett House and the Wideman School but have never taken time to stop and get photos of the old Post-Office and feed-mill.
Wideman was once a thriving little town having at one time hosted a band concert featuring musicians from the Batesville Oddfellows' orphanage which drew attendants from all over the surrounding county.

Here is an excerpt from "Wideman Then and Now", an article featured in the October 1975 issue of the Izard County Historian (Volume 6 Number4).

Miss Frankie Thompson writes:

Wideman is a picturesque little village being situated amid beautiful wooded hills bounded on the north, west and south by free-flowing streams. These streams with their fertile valley afforded an ideal location for farming which years earlier was carried on quite extensively. Hence the need for blacksmith shops, cotton gins and grist mills.
Various gristmillers plied their trade there, the last of whom was Lewis McVey. Mr. McVey closed his doors in the mid or late 1940’s, thus ending that industry in Wideman.
There is now only one store in Wideman. It is owned and operated by the Hayden Kankeys. The Post Office is located in the store. Miss Mildred Kankey, sister of Hayden Kankey, is the Postmistress.

Note-The white post-office (Kankey Store) is no longer in use...a new modular building stands across the road. Al-Ozarka

Only a few decades ago there were three general stores in Wideman and a drug store owned and operated by Dr. Steve Jones, a well known practicing physician in the area for many years. Some of the operating merchants of the time can be remembered as: Bill Craig, Jim Shaver, Sam Harris, Bob Wood, Jim Dockins, Homer Jones, Dolph Wyatt, Jim Kankey, Ab Hammett, Jim Blankenship, Richard Reynolds, Joe Acklin, Joe Garner, Marvin Webb, and perhaps others.
About the year 1921 the Craig store, in which the Post Office was housed, Mr. Craig being Postmaster at the time, burned destroying all the postal books and records. The Postoffice was shortly rebuilt on the original site and continued in operation.
Some few years later a nearby store operated by Jim Shaver and Sam Harris burned to the ground. This, also, was a total loss and was never rebuilt.
At one time in its history Wideman had two blacksmith shops at the same time, each doing a thriving business. Among the operators were Lawson Stroud, Andrew Montgomery, Henry Gifford and Henry Martin.
On the opposite side of the creek from the business part of town, and some fifty yards above the confluence of Garner and Indian creeks, stood the old cotton gin which served the cotton farmers of the area long and well. The first gin was a treadmill affair powered by oxen and was owned and operated by Sanford Hames and son-in-law, Jim Kankey.
The old gin later evoluted to steam power and a number of gin masters exercised their skills there, among them was Ab Hammett and nephew, John Hammett, who will be remembered as former County Judge of Izard County, 1935-1939. John Hammett had earlier built and now lived in the big two-story house across the way from the cotton gin. An amusing story is told that one day during the busy ginning season, the Hammetts, John and Ab, rushed over to John’s house to eat dinner. John asked his wife, Allie, if dinner was ready. She, with her witty sarcasm, replied, “I don’t know. I put it on to cook, but you left no stovewood cut and I doubt if it is ready.” Mrs. Hammett was the former Allie Bray, a daughter of the George Bray of this story.

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