It is known to be the oldest house still owned and occupied by descendants of the same name as the original owner, and never to have been out of one family's hands.
It was built by George Strain in 1828. Strain came to Arkansas in that year with members of the families of McGarrah, Wood, Williams, Maguires, Simpson, and Campbell, forebearers of such distinguished residents as the late Dr. H. D. Wood, Judge B. F. Campbell, the late Alf Williams, and Oscar and Guy Williams, and others.
The group settled around what is still called Strain, near Harris. Grants were taken out by the pioneers upon arrival and log houses were built, the above being the only one still standing.
Ten years later, in 1838, the homesteaders were given deeds to their property by the Government.
The house shows bullet holes made when the occupants years later were fired upon and gave battle to a group of "Bushwackers" and "Carpetbaggers."
George Douglas Strain, builder of the house, was son of Robert. George had five sons, Ben whose son, Ben 2nd and grandson, Vernon, still live in the old home; Robert, Andrew, James and William J. Strain, eldest of the five brothers, and whose family of four daughters and a son live together on the other half of the estate where William built a log house also. This burned only eight years ago. The old Strain cemetery adjoins both estates and has graves dated as early as 1810.
Ben, Sr's children were numerous and include besides Ben of the home, Annie, now Mrs. Clarence Williams of Elkins.
William J.'s family included Mary, Sarah, Kate (who passed away last fall), Belle, now Mrs. Wallace; Maude, William D. -- all of whom live on the William J. estate, and George E., deceased, husband of Mrs. Nora Wood Strain of Fayetteville and father of Allan Douglas Strain, Mrs. Lucille Strain Mitchell, and Ellis Strain, all still of Fayetteville.
John Strain (brother of Ben, 2nd, present occupant) now owns the property and is a resident of California.
Lofty ceilings, a huge rock fireplace, a lovely old rock chimney and huge hand-cut logs 15 and more feet long are all in a fine state of preservation. Two generations ago a wave for "modernizing" hit the family and they weatherboarded up the logs, but these are being removed.
Deed to the property was signed by President Van Buren. It is one of the few original deeds intact, and represents a piece of property that has never changed hands since the Government granted ownership to the family's founder 113 years ago.
OLD STRAIN HOME (Caption under picture) Lofty ceilings, a huge rock fireplace, and a lovely old rock chimney characterized this 113 year old home constructed of hand-hewn logs more than 15 feet long and 12 inches square. Present residents hope to remove the weather-boarding put upon some of the logs during a wave of "modernizing" that hit many old homes a couple of generations ago. Deed to this property was signed by President Van Buren, and is intact in the original. (Times Photo)
Attached are 2 JPEG files containing a plat from the 1908 Washington County Atlas showing the Strain name on almost 200 acres east of the middle fork of the White River and a modern map showing how to reach the property.
According to our assessment records, the J. O. Strain property is now owned by Ronnie Glen and Sondra J. Williams. (I believe that Mr. Williams goes by Glen). We are showing a VERY old 1,080 square foot house on the property. This leads me to believe that this is the house for which you are looking. I've been told that the old school/church building burned last year, but the cemetery is still there and shows on the tax records to be about 4 acres in size.
-From Fayetteville take Arkansas Highway 16 East toward Elkins.
-You will cross 2 bridges, the first over the West Fork of the White River, the second over the Middle Fork of the White River.
-Turn right/south on the first road Harris Community Road past the 2nd bridge.
-When you come to a T in the road, turn right/west with the main pavement.
-This will turn back left/south and become Harris Road in a quarter mile.
-Follow harris Road about a half a mile until it turns right/west, but DON'T TURN with it. Instead, continue on south on Strain Community Road a little more than 3/4 mile, then follow it as it turns right/west.
-Go about a half mile until Strain Community Road ends at Harris Road and turn right/north on Harris Road.
-The house should be in the 1st 1/4 mile of Harris Road north of Strain Community Road.
Keep in mind that I have never been there. I've written these directions from the available maps and accounts from others. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I hope that you enjoy your trip!
Lee Ann Kizzar
Washington County Assessor
From: "HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE FORK" by Frank M. McConnell; "Flashback", a quarterly published by the Arkansas Genealogical Society.
Strain school house is located on the east side of the Black Oak-Harris road, and the Strain Cemetery is just north of the school house. Sleeping here are Hosea M. Benbrook, John M. and Susan Colclasure Fincher, Smith and Pat Moulden, Susan F. Prather, Andrew S. (Patson) Wood, George Strain, and Menerva McCuistion, who was the daughter of Wm. J. Strain and the wife of Walter Mills, son of Seth Mills.
Strain had a mill known as the Prather Mill. It was located on the east bank where the Wood Branch enters the Middle Fork.
* * * A QMS Deezyne * * *