Page 4

  Seite 5 / page 5 of 24
zurück / back home

Rison: A Product of the Railroad

Creation of the Country
When the county was created in
1873 it was named Dorsey, in honor
of United States Senator Stephen
W. Dorsey. Toledo was selected
as the county seat. The home of M. T.
McGhee was purchased by the Board
of Supervisors and remodeled into a
courthouse. Senator Dorsey became
unpopular and in 1885 the name of the
county was changed to Cleveland in
honor of Grower Cleveland, the newly
elected president.

How Rison Got Its Name
The town of Rison is a product of the
railroad. Prior to the railroad coming
through the area in 1882, Rison did
not exist as a place name in Cleveland
County or any where else. The city of
Rison got its name as a result of a
private banking partnership formed in
Huntsville, Alabama in 1866. The firm
was named the Rison and Fordyce bank.
The two principals were William Richard
Rison of Huntsville and Samuel Wesley
Fordyce originally of Guernsey County,
Ohio. Rison was an officer in the
Confederate Army during the civil war.
Fordyce was an officer in the Union Army.
He was stationed in Huntsville during the
war. He was discharged in 1864 for
medical reasons. After the war he returned
to Huntsville and formed the partnership
with W. R. Rison. This relationship lasted
until 1876 when, for health reasons, Fordyce  

J.T. Renfrow
Rison's First Mayor

moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas,
to "take the water." At Hot Springs
his health improved and he was able
to resume his usual activities. While
at Hot Springs, he was approached
by James W. Paramore, whom he had   
known in the army, to become the
construction superintendent for the
Texas and St. Louis (Cotton Belt)
Railroad for the section being built
from Texarkana to Birds Point in
Missouri. Fordyce accepted the
offer and began to lay out the route
for the road bed in 1881. When the
railroad was completed and it came
time to name the towns along the

Cotton Belt route, Fordyce asked
that one be named for his friend,
Billy Rison, of Huntsville. And that's
how Rison got its name.

Location of Rison
An undocumented but plausible
story is that Colonel Fordyce
contacted the community leaders
at Toledo about routing the railroad
through that area. They declined the
offer, stating that Toledo had been a
trade center for several years which
depended on wagon transportation
for goods coming into and out of the
area with connections to Warren, Pine
Bluff, Camden and other points. They
stated that they wanted to retain this
status and saw no advantage for having
a railroad in their community. Colonel
Fordyce then relocated the railroad
three miles north of Toledo at which
point Rison was later developed.

Rison's First Resident
J. M. McMurtrey was Rison's first
settler. He built a home in 1880 in
an area that was to become the City
of Rison. He was the son of Colonel
Elisha McMurtrey and the grandson
of A. Campbell and Nancy (Lawley)
McMurtrey who had lived in Georgia
and Alabama before moving to
Cleveland County in 1840. Mr.
McMurtrey was a farmer in his
early years. Later in life he read law
and was a practicing attorney in Rison for

  Seite 5 / page 5 of 24
page 1  2   Index  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12
 13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24
zurück / back home