LITTLE ROCK — Blackville in southern Jackson County was founded by and named for a former slave, Pickens Black, in 1891.
Black was a former slave who came to Jackson County from Alabama, and the community came to be an important area in Jackson County with thriving farms, churches, schools and even an airport.
Black was 14 when he came to the area after the Civil War. The teenager who worked odd jobs so he could buy a 40-acre farm eventually owned thousands of acres, 8,000 or more, and was one of the more prominent landowners in the area.
The deeds to some of his earliest land purchases were recorded in the Jackson County Courthouse clerk'soffice. A large paperboard cutout of Black is now set up in the very same room where Black came to record his purchases. Researchers can take a look at some of Black's documents in this room, now one of the exhibit rooms at the Jackson County Courthouse Museum.
As his landholdings and farm operations grew, Black employed more than 300 families, both black and white.
Although he became one of the area's largest landholders, Black continued working hard as a farmer. R.C. Laird,a retired farmer, recalled seeing Black working along with everyone else in town. The community named for the hardworking former slave was quite a busy place many years ago. In the area right around the home Black built for himself - his grandson Joseph Black and wife Darlene now live in the house - were Pickens Black's mercantile, churches, a meat-packing plant, a rice dryer, a gin and an airplane hangar.
The school was close by.
The store's concrete slab still exists, as does the now-vacant meat-packing plant and the building that was attached to the airplane hangar.
The airplane hangar was used by Pickens Black Jr., who built and flew planes and was the first black aviator in Arkansas.