Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
A. C. Jeffery Farmstead
A. C. Jeffery Farmstead

A. C. JEFFERY FARMSTEAD, MOUNT OLIVE, IZARD COUNTY

SUMMARY

The main house of the A. C. Jeffery Farmstead, constructed c.1848 by Augustus Curran Jeffery, survives in its original location as the finest extant example in the area of the vernacular I-House type.  As such it and its associated outbuildings are being nominated under Criterion C with local significance.

ELABORATION

The A. C. Jeffery Farmstead was constructed c.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 one hundred sixty acres of land (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 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 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 Izard County.

The A. C. 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 (oral tradition in the family maintains these foundations are the remnants of the slave quarters.  Historic family documents indeed confirm that the family owned slaves).  The house is largely unaltered with the exception of the front porch which the current owners and descendants of A. C. Jeffery plan to restore.  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-House and farmstead in the Mt. Olive area, and perhaps in all of Izard County; it is thus eligible under Criterion C with local significance.

It should also be noted that the existence of the above-mentioned foundations on this property, along with other known foundations nearby that survive from the earlier Jeffery family residence, strongly suggest the potential of this and adjacent properties to reveal further information about the historic European settlement of this area and to answer important research questions about this and other human occupations.  Though significant testing and archeological research will be required to ascertain the quality and extent of any deposits, the rich archeological potential of the site should be noted.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dixon, A. C.  "A Brief Sketch of the Dixon Family", Izard County:  unpublished monograph, about 1928.

Dixon, Owen.  Jeffery Genealogy.  Grants Pass, Oregon:  published by the author, 1935.

Hanks, Dale.  A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of James Jeffery:  England, 1700-America, 1976.  Richmond Virginia:  Jeffery Historical Society, 1976.

Ingenthron, Elmo.  Indians of the Ozark Plateau.  Point Lookout, Missouri:  The School of the Ozarks Press, 5th printing, 1981.

Jeffery, A. C.  Historical and Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlement of the Valley of White River Together with a History of Izard County.  Richmond, Virginia:  Jeffery Historical Society, 1973.  (Printed by the Guard-Record Co., Batesville, Arkansas).

Shannon, Karr.  A History of Izard County.  Little Rock, Arkansas:  Democrat Printing and Lithographing Co.  1947.