The Legacy of John A. Rhea
John A. Rhea was born in Greene County on September 30, 1854, and came to Lawrence County when he was 12 years old. His father, Moses Bolling Rhea, was a prosperous farmer who owned hundreds of acres, and he gave each of his children a good farm.
On July 3, 1876, John Rhea married Elizabeth "Lizzie" Cooper, daughter of Thomas and lbbie (Willis) Cooper, who were early settlers to Lawrence County. After John and Lizzie married, he began farming for himself.
In 1877 he opened a hotel in Walnut Ridge. Years after his passing, Lizzie would build another, prominent hotel on Main Street, which she branded the Hotel Rhea.
In 1882 John Rhea went into the business of buying and selling horses and then started a livery, which he fostered into a complete success. It was the early version of a modern car dealership. The livery stable was the only one in the eastern district of Lawrence County.
He was also the first town marshal of Walnut Ridge. Another legendary facet of John A. Rhea's history is his passing. The story told over the years is that on February 15, 1893, Mr. Rhea was killed when he and his horse were hit by a train near the current location of Stewart Park.
And the most remarkable part of the story: It is said that his horse is buried with him! You can still see his (and the horse's) gravesite in the field across from Stewart Park, along Hwy. 34.
Above: A trolley makes the turn from Front St. onto Main in this early 1900s view of downtown Walnut Ridge. The Hotel Rhea is situated prominently on the right side of the street. The trolley between Walnut Ridge and Hoxie operated for many years and was the creation of John A. Rhea. This photo was taken near the current location of First National Bank, facing eastward toward the railroad tracks.
Left: The grave where John Rhea and, according to legend, his horse are buried. The burial site is near the spot where Rhea was killed by a train while riding his horse, across from the current location of Stewart Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals
Location. 36° 4.137′ N, 90° 57.414′ W. Marker is in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, in Lawrence County. Marker is at the intersection of SW 2nd Street and West Main Street (U.S. 412) on SW 2nd Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Walnut Ridge AR 72476, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Washboard Sam (within shouting distance of this marker); Beatles Park (within shouting distance of this marker); When The Beatles Came to Town (within shouting distance of this marker); We the residents of Lawrence Co. (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (about 600 feet away); Sonny Burgess (about 600 feet away); Valor (about 600 feet away); Conway Twitty (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Walnut Ridge.
Also see . . . Grave of a Man and his Horse Killed by a Train. (Submitted on April 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 315 times since then and 163 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.