MOUNT COMFORT
3816 W Mt Comfort Rd

Fayetteville AR 72704

      


Mount Comfort is the name used for what was once an active community that is located north and west from Arkansas highways 16 and 112. Now the name only applies to the Presbyterian Church and cemetery located north of the intersection of Rupple Road and Mount Comfort Road.

According to a story in Flashback by Tom Lavender, the community began as early as 1828, about the same time Fayetteville was established. Founding families included the Solomon Tuttle and William D Cunningham families. Cunningham was Tuttle's son in law. Both are listed as major land owners in the land patent records. One of their first acts after settling there was to build a church and donate land for a school. The present church, built in 1874, dates from that period having been active almost continuously. The first church buildings did not survive the Civil War. The cemetery holds many of the original settlers of the area, including Solomon Tuttle.

Mount Comfort was the second school chartered in Washington County according to Julia Reed who wrote a family history of Solomon Tuttle and his descendants. She quoted Walter Lemke from a 1954 book on Early Colleges and Academies of Washington County. The Far West Seminary was chartered in 1844. Rev. Cephas Washburn who had been a missionary to the Cherokees and founded the Dwight Mission in then Cherokee land near Russellville, was a "leading spirit" of this school along with Robert Mecklin. Their brick building to house the school burned before completion in 1845. Mecklin bought out Washburn's interest and opened a school known as Ozark Institute. This school was in operation from 1845 to 1857, closed during Civil War and reopened in 1868, operating until 1872 when a new school, Arkansas Industrial University in Fayetteville put it out of business.

A school for girls, the Mount Comfort Female Academy was operated for a brief time in 1849 probably in a church building. It closed when the founder, a "Miss James", married and left the area with her husband. Miss James had been an assistant at Sophia Sawyer's Fayetteville Female Seminary.

Some of the buildings in Mount Comfort were used as hospitals for Civil War wounded from the Battle of Prairie Grove and other encounters. Another historic note is the passing of at least two contingents of Cherokees who had been removed from the southeast to present day Oklahoma. One was mentioned by B B Cannon who lead an early contingent in 1837, and reported that on December 25, 1837 "halted a half mile in advance of Mr Cunningham's at a branch, 3 o'c P.M.". The next day Cannon's contingent went to Cane Hill. Cannon's party was made up of what was called "treaty party" people and not recognized by Cherokees as part of the Trail of Tears. A second mention was by Dr. William I I Morrow in his diary "March 21, 1839, passed through Fayetteville and met detachment at Cunningham's, 3 miles from town". Morrow was assigned as doctor to Richard Taylor's contingent of some 1,042 which left the southeast in September 1838 and arrived at Woodall's in Indian Territory on March 24, 1839 with 942 people. From Mount Comfort they went to Thomason's near old Cincinnati then on to Woodall's. Taylor's group was one of 13 official Trail of Tears contingents. The Cunningham House at Mt. Comfort, which was one of the first brick houses built in the County, survived until just recently when it was torn down for expansion of a subdivision. Nothing has been built on the lot as of 2010. It is possible the creek mentioned by Cannon is Clabber Creek just northeast of the present Church. Other parts of the land owned by Mt Comfort settlers includes part of the present University Farm, the Fayetteville Holcombe school and the park area around the Gary Hampton softball complex.

Bibliography:
150 Years of the Mt Comfort Presbyterian Church by Tom Lavendar Flashback May 1980
Solomon Tuttle of Old Mt Comfort by Julia S Reed published by Washington Co Hist Society
Journal of B B Cannon
Diary of Dr William I I Morrow



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