The old house at Smead

old house at Smead Arkansas

The cedar tree in the foreground may well be older than the house. The house was built in the late 1800s. When the tree was a sapling, we don't know. One thing we do know, it displays the gnarled and scarred characteristics of old cedar trees − the looks of a hardy survivor.

The old house, and not a lot else, is at Smead, Arkansas. It is the childhood home of my friend Bob Abbott who graciously pointed me in the direction of his former domicile. The story of the old house started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see how the story started plus two other pictures, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Almost, bit not quite

From the front, the old home almost appears marginally habitable. Unfortunately, looks, in this case are deceiving. The house faces east, as you see it above. The rub is, the weather, in this neck of the woods, mainly comes to us from the west. So the back of the house, for well over 100 years, has taken the worst hissy-fits Mother Nature can pitch, on the chin. It has collapsed in several places.

Outside looking in and vice-versa

old screen doors

Left, "outside looking IN, with the front door open, you can see down a hall where the back wall of that part of the house has collapsed. Right, looking OUT the same door, it is almost good enough to tell your friends to "come on in and make yourself at home."

Dog trot

The house was originally of the dog-trot style, common in that day and time. Although the domicile was under one roof, there were two distinct areas separated by a breezeway. Usually, one side was for cooking and passing the time of day and the other side was for sleeping. At some time, the breezeway ends were closed and it became a giant hallway.

hall way and rooms

The front door is just out of view to the right hand side of the pictujre. The first room has all the appearances of a living or "front" room. This hall was originally a breezeway. The ceiling material is "beadboard," a popular milled wood stripping of the time. There is a dirt dauber nest by the ceiling light fixture.


Rural residents of the era of this house almost always had some livestock for food and work. These critters require accommodations, most always manifested as a barn. This location was not exception. There are two barns on the property, a cow barn and a horse barn. The cow barn is below. The left side is for the cows. The right side is a tool shed, hay storage area and general purpose hideout.

old cow barn

The smoke house/tool shed is in better condition than the house.

We’ll have more on this location next week. More looks at the house and nosing around the barns. There always more questions asked than answered on these explorations, but perhaps that’s the appeal.

I am running a bit late this evening. Production was halted while I watched one of my fondest wishes come true during Super Bowl 44. Geaux Saints. Who Dat?

Click here to see a gallery of 21 high resolution pictures from this location, including those you have seen here and on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We always shoot more than we have room to publish.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


8 Responses

  1. I like the beadboard finish – but wait – Bob wants to move the house? I understand the significance to him, but how well will it travel?

    Thanks for the dogtrot info … definitely something I’ve never heard of before. 🙂

    As always, thanks for your work.

  2. Bob is indeed dickering around with the idea to move it. If not, he may have it disassembled for later reassembly. He is truly a “can-do” guy.

  3. Joe,
    I’m A 2nd cousin to Bob Abbott and he forwarded the link to your site. Bob’s mother and my maternal grandfather were siblings. I visited the Home Place a few times as a child then when I was 18 I visited and visited uncle Carroll and Pauline and aunt Ola. Thank you so much for the great photography and info. about the Beard Place. I was born and raised in central Florida so I missed out on getting to know relatives as much as I would have liked. I’m 53. Also my father’s father was a JP in Dallas Co. AR for 58 years, Willie Frank Amis was his name.
    Kenny Amis

    • Kenny, I’m glad you enjoyed the articles and pictures. The old home place is impressive: two barns, a smoke house, chicken house and some other out buildings. It was well organized and speaks well for your family. Thanks for taking a look.
      Kindest regards,

  4. I can’t express just how much I enjoyed these pictures of the old John Beard home at Smead, AR. I loved all of them. You did an excellent job capturing the place. As a granddaughter of John and Nancy Beard it brought back
    many good memories that still linger about the family and
    especially the old home place.
    Thanks for the article. It was great.
    Cherrynell Abbott Weatherly

    • Cherrynell it was my pleasure to step into this great story about your family and the “home place.” I am glad you enjoyed it.
      Thanks for looking and commenting,

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am an great grandchild to John Beard. My grandmother is Lula Beard Brazeale and my father is Harold Brazeale. My father is the one that built the new house that is on the property. I can remember going down there and helping build the new house and staying with Aunt Ola and Uncle Carroll in the old house. Is there any way that I can get a copy of all of the picture that you have taken of the place. I do remember that the out house was in the chicken yard (of all of the things to remember). I stayed a lot of summers down there with them. At one time there was a truck that would come to the home every so often to sell grocieries out of it and I thought that was the wierdest thing as a young child.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Terri Brazeale Williams

  6. Terri, I am glad you enjoy the pictures. It was Bob Abbot who suggested that I make the trip to shoot the buildings. It was an enjoyable process and I could feel the presence of history. Bob bought the house and had it moved to his place in Rison where he is having it restored.


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