Sheilla Lampkin

This is the sixth in a series of columns by State Rep. Sheilla Lampkin about historic sites in Monticello. Lampkin is active in historic preservation in Arkansas and has received several awards from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Association. She  writes a regular historical column for several area publications.

Since we began taking our little “imaginary stroll” down historic North Main Street the Hyatt family name has emerged several times so I wanted to begin this week by enlightening readers about this legendary family’s history.

The first Hyatts migrated from Chester County, South Carolina, in 1846 when Rev. Benjamin Culp Hyatt bought 40 acres for $80 on Rough and Ready Hill and moved his family to Drew County. There he operated a boarding house, preached at Scrough Out Church, practiced medicine, taught school and was a carpenter.

In 1853 he bought 480 acres where the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children is now located and moved there. The Rev. Benjamin Hyatts had eight children; one son died at the age of 5 and three others died during the Civil War. The remaining four were prominent in Monticello and Drew County history.

One son, Robert Fee Hyatt lost a leg in the war, and returned to Monticello to become a successful banker, while youngest son, David Taylor Hyatt, became a pharmacist and opened Hyatt Drug Store in 1884, serving there nearly 33 years.

David Taylor Hyatt, the pharmacist, had a son, Dr. David Taylor Hyatt, Jr., who became a physician and practiced in Little Rock.

Another son, Dr. Robert Fee Hyatt, Sr., optometrist and pharmacist for 52 years, was born in Monticello and also fathered several children, including David Taylor Hyatt, Dr. Robert Fee Hyatt, Jr., Dr. Lewis Hyatt, and Dr. Ross Hyatt. In 1903 the white stately two-story house at the corner of Main and Oakland that we see today was built after fire destroyed an earlier Hyatt family home. A granddaughter’s family recently restored it and now six generations of Hyatts have lived there to the present day.

David Taylor Hyatt became a pharmacist. The three brothers and Drs. Hyatt – Robert, Lewis and Ross – served their country during WWII before returning to Monticello. Then Dr. Lewis Hyatt practiced with Dr. Johnnie Price for a time while Dr. Robert Fee Hyatt practiced in the old Potts building near the old post office. Later the three brothers practiced together with Dr. Robert and Dr. Lewis’ medical offices downstairs and Dr. Ross Hyatt’s dental offices upstairs in the long gone house that sat where First Baptist Church now has a parking lot.

In 1957 Dr. Robert Hyatt was killed in a tragic car crash on a return trip from El Dorado. Dr. Lewis Hyatt remained in the old office building until his death in 1976, according to Charlotte Hyatt McGarr, daughter of Dr. Lewis and Wanda Hyatt, Sr.

Incidentally, Hannah Hyatt, a daughter of Benjamin Hyatt, founded and later donated the land for the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children. This site was the 1853 home place of the Rev. Benjamin Culp Hyatt family.

Now we’ll resume our walk down the east side of historic North Main as some of our most knowledgeable citizens remember it. We stopped last week at the grand Cavaness home across from W. C. Whaley. Let’s go south from there.

The next one-story home is actually a fairly new structure built next to the old Sam McCloy home by the Biggadikes. Mr. Sam had two daughters, Myrtle Easterling and Reba Marks, who inherited the property upon his death. Myrtle’s daughter, Martha, married a Biggadike. The Biggadikes returned to Monticello in the 1980s and built the red-roofed gray siding house on the family property. Sometime later the house was sold to a younger couple.

Now we come to the Sam McCloy house. Sam was the brother of J. D. McCloy, who built the red brick house at the north end of the street. Built around the turn of the century, the large two-story wood frame home is one of the grandest old homes in Monticello. Once white, its light gray exterior with maroon trim defines its Victorian style and gingerbread features. Its’ tall columns and wide porches are magnificent, as are some of its unusual windows and insets. The majestic two-story was the home of Sam’s daughter, Reba Marks, for years. A sister, Myrtle Easterling, lived in a smaller house behind the main house. The house has had several owners but more recently has been acquired by Mary Wallack who is gradually restoring the home’s stately interior.

Next to the McCloy house, the smaller orange-shaded brick house with the dark green trim was the original home of Virgil D. McCloy, a former mayor of Monticello. He was also a landowner in the “bottoms” or the Delta. Finn McCloy, V. D. McCloy’s son, lived in the house until his untimely death. The Victorian cottage is a jewel between the larger McCloy homes and is owned by the Chad and Tiffany Curtis.

Next week: “another” McCloy house!

Previous stories in series:

Touring Monticello I

Touring Monticello II

Touring Monticello III

Touring Monticello IV

Touring Monticello V