A SHORT ACCOUNT OF SHOAL CREEK AND PRO-TEM
By S. C. Turnbo
Shoal Creek has Its source in Taney County, Mo. and enters White River just over the line in Boone County, Arkansas. Though a small stream, yet it was well known to the early settlers. Allin Trimble said that the first deer he ever killed was on Shoal Creek when he was 10 years old or in 1825. The little town of Pro-Tem is situated on this brooklet and stands in the forks of the creek and Big Spring Hollow. The village began its existence in 1872 when A. Shafer and Wm. Vaux sold goods here. Capt. C. C. Owen was the first Post Master. But at first he kept the Post Office at his residence one mile and a half south of the present site. When Capt. Owen established the office he thought it would soon play out and called it Pro-tem. But instead of vanishing, the office turned out to be a permanent affair and was moved to the village. On the east side of Big Spring Hollow at the bast of the hill is a fine spring of water which is cola pure and invigorating and the site of this spring was once a famous camping place for the pioneer hunters and is no less prominent now in quenching the thirst of hundreds of farmers and others who visit Pro-tem during the hot summer days. "Jet" Chaffin was the first settler on the present site of the town. He erected a small cabin here in July 1857 and lived in it until the Civil War broke out when he enlisted in the Confederate Army and gave up his life for the southern cause. He was fatally wounded at Booneville Mo. during Gen. Prices raid in October 1864. The bullet took effect in the thigh and broke the thigh bone and he soon died from the effects of the wound.
The beautiful fine spring here bore his name for many years after the Civil War closed. On the west bank of the creek is situated the cemetery which is high above overflow. It is a pretty plot of ground that the village of the dead occupy and slopes gently toward the creek. I am told that the first interment here was the dead body of a Mrs. Fisher who died in 1873. The body of Tom Miller brother of "Bulger" Miller was the second interment here. Jess Biar is said to be the first settler on Shoal Creek locating here in 1832, on what was known afterward as the Lewis Herrean Place. Henry Tabor lived on what is now the Jim Ewing Place in 1848. Other settlers who lived on this water course previous to the war were Frank Pumphrey and John Jone, who lived on what is now the Herve Graham Place. Hue Smith and Sammy King lived on what is now the George Owen Farm. Among others who lived on this stream or in the valley of it were John Lane, Ben Jacobs, Feilden Smith, John Darest, Joe Hopper, Tempey Allin and his two sons Joe and Bill Allin. Joe Hopper and Feilden Smith belonged to the Confederate Army, enlisting in the 14th Ark infantry. The first religious service held on Shoal Creek was at the residence of John Jones in the fall of 1857. James H. Sallee a young Methodist preacher held the services. The first preaching done where Pro-tem is now was at the spring one warm day in 1860. The audience was small and the preachers name was Elias Chaffin father of "Jet" Chaffin. He was a Hard shell Baptist and it was said of him that he was the hardest of hard shells. The first religious service held at Pro-tem after the close of the Civil War was at this same spring one Friday afternoon In August 1867. Not a lady was present. The congregation consisted entirely of men only and were all ex-federal soldiers except myself and I was an ex-confederate. Jimmie Cole a Missionary Baptist, did the preaching. Mr. Cole also organized the first church at Pro-tem. which was done under a bresh harbor and logs that were hauled there by omen were used for seats. 9 or 10 members were the number that attached themselves to this church. Mr. Cole died a few years afterward and is buried in a small graveyard on the Dick Drake land one mile east of Pro-tem.
Springfield-Greene County Library