Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.
Although the city of Conway gets a lot of attention as the county seat and center of much commerce, Greenbrier is actually the oldest town in Faulkner County. It predates Faulkner County, being a village in Conway County until 1873 when Faulkner County was carved out.
The first non-Native American settler on the site of present Greenbrier was a squatter named Hubbard who cleared the timber from a spot near the spring just west of the present-day Greenbrier junior high complex. He built a little stick and mud house and later cleared two more acres so he could begin farming. The surrounding woods were inhabited by wild turkeys, screaming panthers, deer, black bears and a few Indians who lived in the caves nearby.
In 1853, he sold the section of land to Henderson Moore for $2 an acre. Moore, who came from North Carolina in a covered wagon, was looking for a place to settle along with his double cousin, Sid Moore. Sid and his wife came in a two-wheeled cart drawn by oxen and built a small log house about one-half mile west of Greenbrier.
Henderson opened a horse-driven gin and blacksmith shop as more settlers began to move into the area. He also built a waterfall on Mill Creek where settlers went to get their corn and wheat ground. The little settlement that developed became known as Mooresville. It would later be renamed Greenbrier, because of the tangled green briers on the creek nearby.
The stagecoach which ran from Des Arc to Springfield, part of a larger route that ran from Memphis to Ft. Smith, made Henderson’s place a relay station. There stagecoach passengers rested while horses were watered and sometimes changed.
Land in the area, with great stretches of green grass but also lots of timber, was cheap and very fertile. Most plots sold from 10 cents to a few dollars an acre. The country was full of wild game and most settlers hunted and fished as much as they farmed. Deer, wild hogs, quail, wild pigeons, wild turkeys and red squirrels were plentiful.
One of the first stores in Greenbrier was run by a man named Britten. He carried only a few articles including, salt, snuff, soda and pepper. When he first began to sell sugar, he allowed only five pounds to the customer because it was so scarce. Other early merchants were J.D. and J.L. Martin, I.R. Hall, Jim Walton, Jim Moore, George Clark and “Sain” Wofford.
Church were established in Greenbrier by the time of the Civil War started. There were two Baptist churches—a log church with a stick and mud chimney known as Macedonia Baptist Church and another known as the Greenbrier Baptist Church. A two-story frame school building was erected in the 1870s and church services and Masonic meetings were also held in this building. Baptist and Methodist circuit riders regularly came to hold services.
In the 1880s, a new Methodist church was built. It stood for 30 years until it burned one Thanksgiving Day while church members were preparing for the Thanksgiving program. In 1910, a new Baptist church was built but it was destroyed by a storm in 1926. A new building was built to replace it. The Nazarene church was established in Greenbrier in the 1950s. A new stone church building was erected in the 1970s.
At one time, there were three saloons in Greenbrier, but a group of citizens headed by J.R. Wilson, Elliott Moore and Gus Carrington, succeeded in petitioning the saloons to be closed under the three-mile law. It was said that on the last day the saloons were open, a drunken man fell from his horse and froze to death on his way home from the saloon.
Greenbrier was on what was formerly a much-used route from Springfield, Missouri to Little Rock and in the early 1900s, great droves of cattle, horses, mules, hogs and turkeys were driven to market in Little Rock. In the 1940s, state Highway 65 was rerouted east from its original path across the Cadron Creek through Wooster to a path that took it through Greenbrier before going on to Damascus. Paving was completed on the road just as the country was mobilizing for World War II.
A new brick school building, the first in the county, was constructed in 1930. Due to the consolidation of sixteen school districts into the Greenbrier district, Greenbrier became the largest rural school district in the state by the 1930s. Greenbrier was then able to offer its students a high school education.
Information used in this article was first published in the Log Cabin Democrat in May 1940.