Berryville's 148-year-old Hanby Lumber is eighth oldest business in Arkansas

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Arkansas Business, the state's weekly business magazine, set off on a project in January to identify how many businesses in Arkansas were more than 75 years old.

They soon found out that businesses with at least 100 years of continuous operation would be a more feasible target, since there were so many companies that qualified for the 75-year mark.

The article in the March 15-March 21 issue by writer Gwen Moritz was revealing in many ways, especially for Carroll County.

The cover photo on the issue featured Butch Hanby, noting that Hanby Lumber in Berryville was founded in 1856, "In plenty of time for the yankees to burn it down during the Civil War."

The photo caption noted that Hanby Lumber was founded by Butch Hanby's great-great-grandfather.

Hanby is still president of the lumber company that has been a landmark at the corner of Church Avenue and Springfield Street for many generations.

It has changed over the years, but Butch still keeps his hand in the lumber business, whose day-to-day operations are handled by Vice President Hal Hudgens, Butch's son-in-law.

Hudgens has expanded the operation, and the company now owns Hill Country Hardware, which it established in 1993.

The magazine lists 161 of the oldest businesses in Arkansas, some of them in ties with other companies, and also includes The Eureka Springs Times-Echo and the Star-Tribune in Berryville.

Hanby's is listed at Number 8 all by itself, and the Star-Tribune is listed as Number 15, tied with four others for the spot as being founded in 1870. All five of the Number 15 spots went to newspapers, including the Advance Monticellonian in Monticello; the Courier Index in Mariana, The Daily World in Helena and The Osceola Times in Osceola.

What the magazine missed were two local banks, which were founded or evolved from previous institutions more than 100 years ago. The First National Bank of Berryville should have been on the list, having been founded in 1889. First National Bank of Green Forest was founded in 1901, according to bank historian Nancy Ratzlaff, making it more than 100 years old. Arvest Bank of Fayetteville made the list at Number 29, founded in 1871.

The Bank of Eureka Springs was chartered in 1912.

The Eureka Springs Times Echo, founded in 1879, is Number 46 on the list, tied with two other newspapers, the Madison County Record and the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway.

The Harrison Daily Times, founded in 1876 finished at Number 52, a younger paper than the Star-Tribune but older than the Times-Echo.

The oldest businesses in the state are the Rose Law Firm, founded in 1820 in Little Rock; Number 2, the Times Record of Fort Smith, founded in 1832; and Stinson's Jewelers of Camden at Number 3, founded in 1847.

Many of the businesses on the list are newspapers, which often have histories that began under other names and were combined into their present entities, so the magazine list with the oldest incarnations of their present names.

Newspapers often are merged from one or two or even three other newspapers, so the list can be a bit confusing as it was printed this year.

For instance, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, listed as being founded in 1878 is not as old as the Star-Tribune in Berryville, but of course it had several names before 1878, when it was renamed the Arkansas Democrat. In 1991 the Democrat acquired the assets of the Arkansas Gazette, which had been the state's oldest company and oldest newspaper, established in 1819, the year before the present Number 1, Rose Law Firm.

There's always plenty of room to argue when it comes to when a newspaper was actually born, since many of their origins are lost to history.

The Star-Tribune in Berryville is a recent merger of the Berryville Star-Progress and the Green Forest Tribune. But those companies are related to the old Carroll Progress, Carroll Farmer and the Carroll County Tribune, which have varying records of their foundings.

Since the pioneer days of the cities, the newspaper's legacy has involved numerous names and owners, from what is believed to be the original Carroll County Farmer in 1874 to the Star-Progress, and then the Star-Tribune last year.

The original building housing the Carroll Progress and old equipment can still be viewed today at Pioneer Park behind the Berryville Square.

The Green Forest Tribune was founded in 1889 and was more than 115 years old when it was merged with the Star-Progress. For many years, the Tribune was published by Ted Larimer and his sons, Tom and Roy.

The Times-Echo is another story, with an official founding date of 1879. But many believe the town at one time or another, supported two daily newspapers. An odd old daily was called the Daily Echoing Nemesis, and the Times-Echo itself was a daily newspaper for some time.

The 1870 founding for the Star-Tribune and the 1879 founding of the Times-Echo are apparently the official dates as listed by the Arkansas Press Association.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: