220 Arkansas Companies Have Survived More Than 100 Years

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs has survived more than 100 years.

(To see the list of the oldest companies in Arkansas, click here. A spreadsheet version is also available.)

Arkansas Business is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special publication, but, as an advertisement for Meadors Adams & Lee insurance company notes, we're just "rookies."

Meadors Adams & Lee, founded in 1909, is one of 220 Arkansas companies that have survived at least 100 years – through bubbles, recessions, the Great Depression, two world wars and, in a few cases, the Civil War.

Arkansas Business has published its list of centenarian businesses twice before, in 2004 and 2007. The ranking includes private, nonprofit organizations such as private colleges and trade associations.

As long as the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock stays in business, it will hold the title of the oldest Arkansas company. The full-service firm based in Little Rock was founded in 1820. To put that in perspective, the Rose Law Firm formed only 17 years after the United States acquired the land that is now called Arkansas as part of the Louisiana Purchase. And it would be another 16 years before Arkansas achieved statehood.

About 12 years after Rose opened, the Times Record, now the Southwest Times Record, set up shop in Fort Smith.

Shortly after that, in 1834, the institution now known as University of the Ozarks at Clarksville was founded in Washington County as Cane Hill School, making it the oldest institution of higher education in the state.

Seven companies that we know of have turned 100, give or take a few months, since the last publishing of Arkansas' oldest companies list in 2007. The birthday businesses are Farmers Bank & Trust of Blytheville, HomeBank of Arkansas of Portland, C.J. Horner & Co. of Hot Springs, First National Bank of Lewisville, Meadors Adams & Lee Inc. of Little Rock, Merchants & Farmers Bank of Dumas and Shepard's Inc. of Little Rock.

Since the last list, some of Arkansas' oldest establishments have been scooped up by other businesses.

The Brinkley Argus, Brinkley's newspaper since 1876, was merged with the Monroe County Sun in Clarendon around June 2007.

Lancaster Management of Gadsden, Ala., purchased the De Queen Bee and the De Queen Daily Citizen from the Ray Kimball family in a deal announced in March 2007. Shortly thereafter, the De Queen Daily Citizen (founded in 1897) folded. However, the De Queen Bee, a weekly publication that also dates back to 1897, still hits the racks every week.

Arkansas witnessed a high-profile casualty when the aged retailer M.M. Cohn closed after 133 years of business.



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