Some of our fondest childhood memories come from small-town America. Whether we grew up in a rural area or had summer visits to relatives on a farm, the sights, sounds, aromas, and tastes of the country linger pleasantly in our minds for decades. While some of these experiences can be found in any number of places, a few towns are unique. Industry may come and go, but the pride in these jewels across our nation withstands the test of time.
Did you ever hear someone mention a familiar town name and have no idea where it might be? Places like Centerville, Riverside, and Fairview have sprung up all over the country. It is hard to know which Springfield in which state someone is talking about without a bit more information. While there is no town name that exists in all fifty states, Riverside comes close, with listings in forty-six states. But there’s only one Stamps. Stamps, Arkansas is proud to be the only Stamps in the entire United States.
A small town in Lafayette County about an hour’s drive from Magnolia, Stamps made it humble beginnings as a short stop on the St. Louis and Southwestern railroad Cotton Belt line in 1882. A Post Office sprouted up in 1887 and shortly thereafter, then the town was incorporated under its first mayor, J. W. Parkers. Rich in timber and oil, the lumber industry drove the local economy, with Stamps at one point bragging the largest sawmill in the South. During World War I, the mills in Stamps supplied lumber to the U.S. government for building our war ships.
Today, the population of Stamps is about sixteen hundred, down a bit from the twenty-one hundred in the 2000 census. The Bodcaw Bank, which opened in 1902, is one of the oldest business establishments in the town. The First Presbyterian Church of Stamps, founded by the Bodcaw Lumber Company, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Sportsmen know the town for some of the best deer hunting in the state as well as it’s lunker bass population. People come from all over in May to participate in the Annual Lake June Fishing Derby.
Stamps was named after one of the first settlers in the area, Hardy James Stamps. Poet, actress, and singer Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps in the home of her paternal grandmother. She depicted the town in her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
What is your favorite small town in America? Do you have a good childhood memory from there?