Saturday, March 22, 2014


I have been to the little Searcy County, Arkansas,  community of Gilbert (population less than 3 dozen folks) on several occasions, and I was always curious about this boarded up building that sits on a corner lot in the center of town.  I could see no indications of what kind of past history this building had.  That is in sharp contrast to the Gilbert General Store, which was built around 1901, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Gilbert General Store is still in operation, selling supplies, hunting/fishing licenses, and snacks.  Gilbert started out as a railroad construction camp for the MNARR (Missouri North Arkansas Railroad, and was named after Charles W. GIlbert, who was the secretary-treasurer (and later president) of the MNARR.  Gilbert was a hub for commerce, with the transportation of cotton, logs, ore, and grain passing through the town on cargo trains regularly.  In fact, Gilbert was the home of a railroad repair shop until 1946.  Even though the tracks have been removed, the former rail bed is now a hiking trail along the river.  If you follow it long enough, you will come to the concrete supports of the railroad bridge that used to cross the Buffalo River.  But that history still does not shed light on the building in the photo.  Rather, the stone building relates to a time after World War I, when a man named C.E. Jordan bought land in the Gilbert area and divided it into lots.  He wanted the lots to be ready for the "colonists" from the Incoming Kingdom Missionary Unit, who preached that the world would end in a war between Catholics and Protestants.  People who believed this were what we would call "survivalists", and chose Gilbert to be their refuge from such a war, because of its remoteness.  It was, in effect, a Utopian Village experiment, and might be called the "first economic self-sufficient colony" in the United States.  It was these colonists who erected this brown stone building, and used it as both a meeting house, and a print shop for their weekly newspaper, called "The Kingdom Harbinger".  I am using this photo as a visual aid to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health memory verses that says, "Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past."  Isaiah 43:18.  Considering I have lived in this area all of my life, and had never heard the story of  "The Harbinger", I would say that verse has been heeded!  Finding out "the rest of the story" about this building's history has given me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia