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History of Mansfield, Arkansas

Incorporated on August 29th, 1888, the City of Mansfield is located in northwest Arkansas, on state highway 71, about 25 miles south of Fort Smith. Folklore has it that the town was named by a railroad surveyor, who when asked how far he had progressed, stated that he had made it to the middle of some man's field. Another report, perhaps more likely, is that the town was named in honor of Arkansas Supreme Court Judge W.W. Mansfield who served on the Court at the turn of the 20th century.

In early years, Mansfield prospered as a hub for the shipment of coal from area mines by the railroad. By 1905, Mansfield had several blocks of store fronts, banks, and other businesses. Around 1925, due to a decline in coal prices, and the increased cost of production, the coal industry began cutting jobs. This hardship on area residents was compounded in 1929, when the crash of the stock market signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.

As in most other small towns across the country, many families had to leave the area in search of work. Many others stayed, rebuilding the town to where it is today. Today, the City of Mansfield is growing again, lumber and poultry are filling the void left by the loss of the coal industry. As are the need for small town safety and values.

Mansfield was important to the coal industry as a shipping and receiving point, as it was located on a Junction of the East-West Rock Island Railroad, and the North-South St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. Coal was shipped out, and machinery and supplies were shipped in.

Mansfield was and is an agricultural and trading center, and still remains a shipping point for pulp shavings from the old Didier Lumber Company Sawmill. Mansfield applied for incorporation in 1887, with the incorporation being approved early in 1888.

According to area natives, and to Vol. I: Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, by Fred W. Allsopp, and according to an article published in "The Invincible" (A Mansfied High School Newspaper) in the 1920's, Mansfield received it's name when a railroad engineer ended his survey down in some "man's field" and the name stuck. There is also version that Mansfield was named after a W.W. Mansfield, who was a famous Arkansas Jurist in the 1880's. We have been unable to find any early documentary evidence to back this up.

The Post office at Chocoville, a trading post located about a mile and a half West of Mansfield, was moved to Mansfield in the 1880's, and John M. Paule served as Mansfield's first Postmaster. Mansfield lies in two counties, Scott and Sebastian.


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