Augusta, the quiet, cultured Woodruff County seat of almost 3,000 population is situated on the east bank of White River.  It has several houses that were built before the Civil War, including a courthouse, once the residence of the town's founder, Thomas Hough, it has a church where a president of the United States once worshipped and a cemetery where a notorious Civil War character is buried.  In nearly every street may be found something of historical interest.

   Long before the white man came to Woodruff County, the site of Augusta was a popular camping spot of the Indians.  The name of Chickasaw Crossing, which it then bore, is self-explanatory. For many years it was a favorite place to cross the White River.

   The first white settler was a Mr. Hamilton, who arrived about 1820.  A few years later, Rolla Gray, who came up the river with his family from a point near the present town of Clarendon, bought Mr. Hamilton's right, "good will of possession."

   In 1847, John R. Elliot and William Polite opened the first store at Chickasaw Crossing.  A few months later, Elliot retired from business. Polite moved the store to an adjoining lot, and Thomas Hough began business in the building they  had first occupied.  The next year, Hough employed Thomas S. Carter of Independence County to survey and lay out the town, which was named Augusta, in honor of Hough's favorite niece, Miss Augusta Cald of Virginia.  Public records show that the name was to be used for 100 years - so legally the city has been nameless since 1948!

     One of the older residents is the Ferguson house.  That the history of the Ferguson House is so well known is due to the remarkable memory of W. E. Ferguson, whose father built the house in 1861.  W. E. Ferguson was 12 when, in July 1862, General Steele and his Union Soldiers spent a week in Augusta, making their headquarters at the residence of Thomas Hough, just across the street from the Ferguson House.  He remembered the consternation and indignation that reigned in his father's household when the Federals decided to celebrate the fourth of July by placing their flag on   top of the Ferguson house.  The loyal Confederate family knew that it was useless to protest.  Their only chance at revenge came when the Union  soldiers, on leaving Augusta, had the audacity to present to Mrs. Ferguson the flag which adorned    her roof.  Her son said that she told them in no  certain terms that as soon as they were gone she would take it down and burn it, which she did.


   General Steele showed good taste when he selected for his headquarters during his stay in Augusta, the residence of Thomas Hough.  The large two story house was one of the finest in the town.  On April 21, 1870, Hough sold the house and the block of ground where it stands, to the County for $28,000.  The building was remodeled into the courthouse of today.  Many remember the old jail that was torn down and replaced a few years ago. This was the slave quarters of Mr. Hough.

   The Augusta Cemetery located near the center of the town is the burial place of one of the most notorious characters of the Civil War history.  Before his death in 1917, Capt. L. J. Crocker admitted to W. E. Ferguson, a brother Mason, that he was the guerilla Quantrill, who was said to have died in prison.  He related how his wife, visiting him in prison, had helped him place his clothes on a dead solider in the same cell.  His wife then donned the dead soldier's uniform while Quantrill escaped in her clothes.  Ever since Crocker came to live in nearby Gregory, soon after the close of the war, there had been numerous indications that he was Quantrill, and Mr. Ferguson was not surprised.

  Down the street from the Courthouse is the Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in Augusta.  Exactly when it was built is not known, but Thomas Hough and his wife, Fannie, gave the two lots to the trustees in 1869 and 1876.  The building was completed and out of debt in 1879, when a dedication service was held with the Rev. Thomas R. Welch of Little Rock preaching.  The pastor from 1878 to 1881 was the Rev. Anderson Ross Kennedy.  The church does not appear the same as the tall spire that originally graced it was replaced with a shorter one, but it is the same church and a small sign near the door reads "President Woodrow Wilson worshipped in this church as a boy."  Services were discontinued in 1970, but the building still stands.  Thomas Hough, in his lifetime, set aside a place behind the church for his own burial ground, he having given the ground for the public cemetery to the town of Augusta.  Mr. Hough died about 1876 and in his will he requests his wife to erect a monument just west of his grave, one suitable to his station in life, and with the request that at the death of his wife, that she be placed on one side and at the death of his true and trusted friend, Thomas E. Erwin, be placed on the other side.  About the year1880, Fannie Hough, his widow, married Thomas. E. Erwin.  In her will she requested that the wishes of her deceased husband be carried out.  She also instructed her Executor to place $1,000 in the bank to be kept there forever, and only the interest be used in keeping the cemetery clean and to be a place of beauty.  In the depression years when the banks failed, the money was lost.

Click here for more information on Quantrill.



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