Caraway history

Monday, July 3, 2006
Lynn Haag of Caraway displays a variety of antiques from various stores and businesses in Caraway. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Lynn Haag of Caraway has been interested in the history of Caraway for a long time. He has been gathering information, talking to early settlers, saving items older stores and businesses of the area, and compiling his own family genealogy. One of his latest projects is collecting and compiling information and pictures of the History of the Caraway School District. He and several other men have been working on the project for several months in an effort to have the book complete by the annual school reunion scheduled on the Fourth of July for people to view.

The book contains pictures from each school year from 1923 through 1985. The History of the Caraway School District and its many parts include Caraway Central, Hog Wallow, Shaw, Bunney, Upper Mangrum, County Line School, Middle Mangrum, Lower Mangrum, Sixteen, Hancock No. 1, Hancock No. 2, Hancock (Rocky) or New Hancock, Hackberry Ridge, Old Shaw Farm, Caraway Grade School, South Central School, and Riverside.

As it is printed on the cover of the book, "No matter by what name you went to school as, they all meant "Caraway," our hometown.

"We have been able to acquire pictures of every graduating Caraway Class from 1933 to 1985 except 1935," Haag said. "Caraway had the number one school in the county at one time."

He and five other area members of the community, Melton Emery, Trumann Reams, Gary Jeffers, David Roberson, and Mark Shasteen have been gathering information on the history of Caraway, Caraway schools. They are also compiling an updated record of the Caraway Cemetery.

Caraway was incorporated into a town in 1923 but some of their information goes back further.

Haag said people who know what we are doing have been great bringing in old newspapers, sharing their family history stories and old pictures of Caraway (including pictures of main street, the stave mill, the 1937 flood, family pictures of early settlers and much more).

Haag has documented his family's history through his genealogy research. His great-grandfather was part of the Hatfield family of the famous Hatfield/McCoy feud. He has old promotion posters of the Haag Bros. Circus from 1894 to 1925. According to legend, an altercation between the Hatfields and McCoys took place at the Haag Bros. Circus.

Haag has a building (the old theatre building) next door to Haag furniture store housing several antique items from old businesses and stores.

Haag has been part of Caraway for almost 60 years. Haag's family came to Arkansas from California in 1947 just after the war. Haag's father, Nelson Haag, opened the Western Auto Store in Caraway after working a short time at the Western Auto Store in Jonesboro.

Haag grew up working in the store and went into business with his father and continued in the business after his father retired. Nelson Haag passed away in 2001 and his wife, Imogene Haag, passed away in 2004.

Haag said he remembers well those first years in Caraway.

"I was about 11 and my brother was about 13," he said. "Dad sold a lot of televisions that year and we put antennas all through this area. For some reason no one could get the Memphis Channel, the only one available. We had to go back, climb on top of all the houses again, cut off about one inch of the rod."

In the "Caraway history room," Haag has items such as the first tire and the first television sold from Caraway Western Auto. The first television featured a four inch screen and sat on a stand. If people wanted to enlarge the picture they could purchase a flat glass type bottle and fill it with water. When it was moved to the right position, the picture would reflect off the front and everyone in the room could see the picture larger through the glass bottle. He also has a 1935 Western Auto oil can. People would bring their cans back to the store and refill them from a 55 gallon drum.

Other items include an old coffee grinder from Pritchett Store, a cash register from Murphy and Vice store (later Murphy and Kincannon), an old cash register from Jennings Grocery, cabbage cutters, stave mill tools, a cabinet used from the old Caraway Post Office, a cotton pick sack, a corn processor, rub board, wringer washing machine, and lot of other items.

Some of the stories of the early years of the Caraway area may never make it into the academic school books but are definitely a part of the history of the area.

Some of the information gathered even includes details of the moonshine war of 1919.

"It has been told that there were at least 100 stills in Hancock, Arkansas," Haag said. "There was even a shooting when the revenuers came to shut them down."

In addition to the compiling the history of the area, the men are also working on updating the cemetery.

"Mark Shasteen has done a lot of research and leg work on the cemetery project," Haag said. "He has worked hard on the records of the cemetery."

Haag said they are always looking for more information and pictures on early pioneers of the area, or antique items from the area.

Haag said he hopes the information they are compiling will let future generations know how things really were in the "good old days."

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