July 26, 2011 by wcobserver
Last time we talked about the early history of the stagecoach station in Strickler and how Ross Earl Sherry, the current site owner, was a direct descendant of Benjamin Strickler, who bought the place after the stage line went bankrupt. This time I want to explore the more recent history of the station starting with Ross Earl’s grandfather, Charlie.
Charlie added a lean-to kitchen, another bedroom, and a little porch. Sitting around a fire by the original fireplace on a winter evening, Charlie liked to tell the story of a wise, old country doctor. Not unlike today, people wanted drugs to cure everything, but many of the drugs available then were addictive and caused more harm than good. Charlie told about going over to the doctor’s place and filling capsules with soda. Though the doctor gave the harsher drugs when needed, he also gave good healing advice along with placebos. Because people believed they would get better, many did, and the old doctor was often able to help without harming patients with unnecessary drugs. Wisdom and belief have always been powerful tools.
Troy, Ross Earl’s father, grew up in the old station and lived there with his wife Evelyn for the first year of their marriage. Evelyn said, “I have many good memories of that place, and when Troy went to war, I lived with Charlie and Stella until Troy returned. They were good people and worked hard.” Evelyn also said Charlie grew an amazing garden by hand, that is without horse and plow, and always prepared the vegetables for Stella so all she had to do was can them. Evelyn said, “sometimes during canning season, the house was fire hot from Stella canning all day and sleeping was hard.” According to Evelyn, Troy tried to donate the station to Prairie Grove for Battlefield Park, but the details never got worked out so he sold it to the Mike Smiths in Siloam Springs in the mid 1970s, who moved it to their home site.
When Ross Earl and his siblings were young, Evelyn had to work in the fields so their grandmother watched them while their mother worked. Evelyn said that the boys liked to fish in Fall Hole which was part of the property, but Granny always warned them not to go into the water until they learned to swim, which, as far as anyone will admit, they did. Charlie sometimes let an old guy named Harry, who had epileptic fits and often walked in his sleep, sleep at their place. One hot summer night when Ross Earl and his brothers were sleeping on pallets on the porch, old Harry got to sleep-walking and put his hands around Lawrence’s neck. Ross Earl woke, saw what was going on, and yelled to his dad, “Harry’s up.” No harm was done, and everyone went back to sleep. Ross Earl’s father would occasionally take him fishing at Cove Creek, but he didn’t like it much. He said, “By the time we walked cross country, I was so scratched by brambles and so covered with bug bites and ticks that I didn’t want to fish anymore.”
Listening to Ross Earl talk, I could tell he still loved the place and wished it were closer to home. Now that the Smiths are trying to sell it, perhaps his wish will come true. Anyone interested?