The Sheeks House is an important historic landmark in the small northeast Arkansas community of Corning. The house was built in 1872 by a prominent Arkansas attorney, E. Foster Brown. In 1879 Brown moved to Jonesboro and sold his home to Edward V. Sheeks, one of Corning's early businessmen. Since 1878 the house has remained in the Sheeks family.
E. Foster Brown was born in Tennessee in 1844. At age fourteen he moved with his family to Randolph County, Arkansas. In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate army and served throughout the Civil War. Afterwards he returned home to complete his education by studying law. Brown was admitted to the Arkansas Bar in 1871. After a year of further study in Lebanon, Tennessee, Brown began practicing law in the newly organized Clay County (On March 24, 1873, Clayton County was created from portions of Randolph and Green Counties. The name was later shortened to "Clay").
Despite his youth and inexperience, Brown was elected as a delegate to Arkansas’ 1874 constitutional convention. His active participation contributed to the formulation of the document which still governs Arkansas a century later. In 1875 Brown served as state senator from the first district, and in 1878 he was elected as prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' Second Judicial District. In 1883 Brown moved to Jonesboro in Craighead County, thus terminating his political career in Clay County.
In the early 1870's Foster Brown built a two storey frame home in Corning. On the lot just west of the house was his law office. According to the present owner, Brown sold his house to E. V. Sheeks in 1878 (The present owner is the daughter-in-law of Mr. Sheeks). The house was ideally located for Sheeks whose mercantile store was located just east of the house.
Edgar Van Buren Sheeks was a native of Indiana who moved to north Arkansas as a young man. On arriving in Clay County in the late 1870's Sheeks opened a saw mill just north of Corning. Later he went into partnership with George W. Stephens to open Sheeks-Stephens Store on the northeast corner of Corning’s courthouse square. Sheeks and Stephens also owned the first cotton gin in Corning. In 1906 Sheeks was manager of the electric light plant in Corning. His many successful business ventures made E. V. Sheeks an important factor in the early economic life of Clay County.
The Sheeks House was originally a provincial style house distinguished by the projecting center bay. The two storey house had a one storey wing on the rear elevation, thus giving the structure an ell-shape floor plan. In 1903 the house was remodeled by adding both a two storey and one storey addition at the rear, and a two storey portico and one storey porch on the facade. The alteration of the house made it more in vogue with early twentieth century architectural styles.
Though architecturally interesting, the significance of the Sheeks House lies in its association with two men prominent in Clay County history. The house typifies the home of a successful northeast Arkansas businessman at the turn of the century.
Arkansas State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1906-1907. Vo1. X. Detroit: R. L. Polk and Company, 1907.
Clay County Courier (Corning, Arkansas), March 6, 1975.
Goodspeed Publishing Company. Biographical and Historica1 Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891.