Many families moving across the United States and in the Arkansas territory
before and afterthe Civil Way,settled in the Bennett Bayou area. In talking
with the older generations about this part of the county, they all agree the
trees were much taller and older with no underbrush, and the spaces of land
with no trees looked like prairie.
The first post office in the area, I'm told, was between what is now known as Vidette and Pickren Hall, called Bennett River. The mail was brought in once a week by horseback. Later, the post office was moved to what is now the Vernie Foster farm on the same road nearer Vidette.
Post office appointments for the period between 1869-1900 as researched by Donald S. Hubbell Jr., a resident of near Vidette, of surrounding area and Videfte post office were listed as:
Bennetts River - 1859 - 1867 - John MeMasters; Bennetts River - 1867 - 1869 - Franklin Purnphrey; Bennetts River - 1869 - 1872 - Matthew Brown; Bennefts River - 1872 - 1873 - Stephen Brown; Vidette - 1875 - Charles Gray; Vidette - 1876 - Stephen Brown; Vidette -1878 - Martin Reeves; Vidette - 1879 - William Sullivan; Vidette - (September) 1880 - Lee H. Gray, James W. Grisso; Vidette - (April) 1882 - Stephen A. Brown; Vidette - (January) 1883 - Dr. William B. Phillips.
The post office was discontinued in December, 1883. Mail went to Beall, Arkansas (pronounced Bell). The Beall post office and store were located on what is now the Buell Shrable farm where the school and church called Prospect was located.
After the Vidette post office was re-established in August, 1890 at the town of Vidette, the first Postmaster was Miss Viola Phillips, daughter of Dr. William and Elizabeth Phillips. Other Postmasters were: August 1893 - Frankie Grisso; December, 1894 - Josie Brown; -January 1895 - Josie Harris; May, 1906 - John Horn; January 1911 - Samuel Perryman; November, 1915 - Desmon Johnson; March, 1917 - Harris Grisso; October, 1918 - Oscar Foster; January, 1920 - Fred Wood; October, 1920 - John Shrable; May, 1925 - Roy Shrable; January, 1930 until the post office was discontinued between 1955 and 1960 - Nola Johnson.
At various times there were three stores in Vidette. Some of the store owners were Lark Johnson, John Horn, Henion David, Sam Perryman, Oscar Foster, Desmon Johnson, Jim Rogers and Buck Foster.
Wm. (Bill) Deatherage had a feed mill near Vidette, along with a cotton gin and blacksmith shop, which his son Sam Deatherage helped to operate. Bill Deatherage and his wife Rebecca Hall came to Fulton County in 1869 from Tennessee.
One of the first Methodist Churches in Northern Arkansas was built by Capt. Matthew Brown on his land near Vidette and was called Brown's Chapel. In 1895, the building was torn down and moved about one-half mile west, still on the same land where it was used as a Methodist Church and school. It is still used as a community church and the descendants of Captain Brown hold a family reunion each year on the church yard.
Some of the persons who taught at the Vidette School were Desmon Johnson, Lou Grisso, Artie Brown, Dell Brown, Little Joe Grisso, Ralph Shrable, Louis Shrable, Lula Barker, Orville Pendergrass, Donald Morris, Mary Morris, Mable Wagner, Cleve Shrable, Lilian Julian, Roy Perryman, Bill Scott, Rae Huese, Ollie Price, and Judge Carter.
The nearest cemetery to Vidette is a mile from Brown's Chapel. It is the Shrable Cemetery. Thomas J. Shrable was the first to be buried there in 1866. As the story is told, he was working in one of his fields when Bush Whackers rode up and shot him. There being no help available, his wife Ruth Shrable and her daughter dug a grave where he was killed and buried him there. Other cemeteries near Vidette are the Grisso and DeShazo Cemeteries. There are 7 or 8 slaves buried in the DeShazo Cemetery that can be identified. Many families in this area use the Fluty Chapel Cemetery, northwest of Vidette.
Among the early settlers in the area were James and Martha Patterson Johnson from Illinois. Their son Larkin (Lark) Johnson married Viola May Phillips (Vidette's first postmaster) and had two children, Desmon and Alpha. Desmon was postmaster of Vidette at one time, taught at Brown's Chapel School and was Justice of the Peace from that area most of his life, after serving in World War 1. He married Nola Thompson. Nola had one daughter Maxine Woods by a previous marriage. Alpha Johnson married Albert Cotter. Their children were Chloe, Elvis and Desmond. Alpha Cotter lives at Bakersfield, Missouri. The Lark Johnsons adopted a niece, Della Johnson, after her mother, Ada Ellis Johnson, died when Delia was 3 weeks old. Delia Johnson married Charley Wray and their children are Eunice, Louis, Dwaine, Charles and Robert Wray. After Mr. Wray's death, Delia married Asberry Davis of Bakersfield, Missouri.
Captain Matthew Brown and family and his married son Edward (Ned) Brown moved into the Vidette area from Ohio in 1869. (in a future issue of the Chronicle, the history of the Brown family will be printed). Arthur and Martha Collier Foster, the first of the Foster families, came from England, moving through South Hampton, Virginia, and Columbia County, Georgia, and the younger members of the family located in the northwestern part of Fulton County.
My grandmother, Cora Brown Cotter, used to tell us stories of the horse races at a track near Vidette. Her father, Edward (Ned) Brown, owned some fine race horses, one favorite was named 'Bitie", was killed during a race. My grandfather, Dow Coffer, was 12 years old and riding this horse, when she was crowded into a rail fence, and a rail went through her heart. She kept running but fell dead just before the finish line, the rail still in her heart. Grandma said she thought Bitie should have been the winner for being so determined to win.
Election time was another special time for people. Everyone was interested, and the people campaigned as much as a candidate. On 'speaking days' at Vidette they would have picnic stands, selling pink lemonade. Everyone liked these big days not only for their interest in their government but to visit with each other.
Several of these early families did more than build homes and schools; they were the unofficial bankers of the area, as there were no banks. Court records show that the Halls, Flutys, a partnership of S.A. Brown and William Jones of Bennetts River, and later on the Wilsons, loaned out a great deal of money, taking farm mortgages as security on the larger loans.
No one I can find can remember how Vidette got its name, but it was another happy memory town that reached out to bigger towns as better roads, transportation and jobs opened. When we look where we have come from, it's a small world after all.
Those who have helped with this article are Stella Brown Harbor, Doxie Shrable Cotter, Alpha Johnson Cotter, Chloe Cotter Cameron and information from Donald S. Hubbell Jr.'s BENNEM BAYOU, BENNETTS RIVER.
By Bess Northcutt
Vidette school, also known as "Brown's Chapel" is located about a mile and a
quarter west of State Highway 87, north of Highway 62 and south of
Bakersfield, Missouri. The old Vidette road was about a quarter mile west of
According to Glen Pemberton, the first school was made of logs. No exact location is known.
In the Fulton County Chronicles, Volume 1, Number 2 - Summer, 1983, Pauline Fore Hodges describes in her article the following: "One of the First Methodist Churches in Northern Arkansas was built by Capt. Matthew Brown on his land near Vidette and was called Brown's Chapel. In 1895, the building was torn down and moved about one-half mile west, still on the same land where it used to be as a Methodist Church and school. It is still used as a community church and the descendants of Captain Brown hold a family reunion each year on the church yard."
Glen Pemberton said that Dunk Brown gave the land for the school building and that Ned Brown and Steve Brown financed the building. He said that Dow Bryant helped haul the materials and Jim Barrett built the building. It is this writer's opinion that both descriptions are correct and fit together with the information I recall being told to me. I am a direct descendant of Capt. Matt Brown. Capt. Brown's daughter, Jennie Brown, was my father, H.A. Northcutt's mother.
I believe that what Glen said about the building was when it was moved to where it stands now most likely, some new building materials had to be brought in to go with the original building. All the Browns listed are related to Capt. Brown.
Vidette consolidated with Viola. The year is not know. Some of the teachers at Vidette were Thomas Trett (one of the first), Joe Gisso, Nora Harris, Oliver Thompson, Melissa Brown Trett, Bertha Brown Wadley, Cora Moss, Boney Roper, Artie Brown Pemberton, Grace Hughes, Clem Smith, Fannie Herton, Bill Scott, Cleve Shable, Flora Jullian, Lillian JuIlian, Roy Perryman, Desmon Johnson, Jimmy Roby, Iris Evertt, Lora Wilson, Archie Brown, Olie Brown Price, Ralph Foster, Raymond Wilson, Lewis Shrable, Don Welch, Onis Billings, Ted Wilson, Orville Pendegrass, Lula Whitchel Barker, Meredith Carter, Joe Stinnett, Donald Morris, Mable Wagner Shrable, May Morris.
Glen Pemberton; Stella Brown Harber; Maxine Woods Shrable; Marcus D. Brown; Pauline Hodges.
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