1820s – 1840s Rural Trading Center
FROM Lydia of the Valley
…this place was known for miles and miles…
Melissa Ozella Miller Upshaw
Rural trading centers in early Arkansas were not unique. The fact that structures and documentation of trade at Reuben Rice’s 1820s – 1840s rural trading center have survived is unique.
As described previously, architectural and archeological analysis revealed that the existing log structure interpreted presently as the Rice-Upshaw House was originally a one-story structure with a floor plan consistent with its possible use as a ‘shop’ or loom house. Further support for this conclusion comes from historical research. Coupled with the existence of the over-sized Granary, the historic Rice site and its function within the Eleven Point River Valley in the early-nineteenth century is being viewed in a broader perspective.
The existence of Reuben Rice’s 1820s – 1840s rural trading center, known simply as Reuben Rice’s, is well documented in official records as are the types of trading activities. Lacking a post-office or business professionals, it existed primarily to serve the needs of the yeoman farmers of the region. Such trading centers were numerous in early-nineteenth century Arkansas. At the present time, research in Arkansas has not revealed other documented rural trading centers of this antebellum time period that include surviving structures making the existence of Reuben Rice’s a unique (one-of-a-kind) historical site.
Official records document that Reuben Rice was trading outside of the Eleven Point River Valley as early as 1820. Arriving in a previously unsettled region in 1812, Rice obviously proceeded to build with intent. He may have been trading blacksmithing services very soon after his arrival in the valley. The artifacts and period material culture produced by either Reuben or his sons, who as adults located on land adjoining or near their father, speak to the skills that placed them in a position to trade in both services and products of their own manufacture.
For more information about the Rice-Upshaw House and Site see the 1820s Trading Center and Pavilion.