The railroad changed everything.
A new era in transportation had
begun. No longer were the people
of the area forced to use horses and
boats for transportation. They could
get on the passenger train and make
connections to a number of other
places. Goods could be brought in
and distributed directly from the
depot to store shelves. By 1882
the railroad had been completed
to Pine Bluff and Rison. By August
of 1883 the Cotton Belt was in
operation from Birds Point, Missouri,
to Gatesville, Texas.
In December 1883 the Southwestern
Improvement Association, a subsidiary
of the Cotton Belt located in St. Louis,
Missouri, presented a parcel of land for
use as the city of Rison. The SIA also
had lots for sale in Rison.
In the late 1880's Rison had long distance
telephone service in a booth in the City
Hotel. By 1905 residential telephone
service was established. Mail service was
established when Rison became a
post office on November 1, 1883
with Nelson J. D. Johnson as the first
postmaster. Charles B. Johnson served
as postmaster twice - once in 1891 and
again in 1899. Mr. Johnson has the
distinction of being the only postmaster
to serve more than one term.
The first commercial building erected in
Rison was a mercantile business started
by John T. Niven. Most of the early
buildings were constructed of lumber
which led to numerous fires. There was
an especially devastating fire in 1906
that burned most of the buildings on the
west side of Main Street. On August 11,
1909 , ordinance No. 43 was passed by
the city council that required that all new
construction For business must be of
brick and mortar, or stone and mortar,
or concrete for the outer walls.
By 1885 the businesses in Rison included:
D.B. Attwood, Cotton Gin;
J.L. Batchelor, Dentist;
W.M. Cash, Constable;
T.W. Chowning, Physician;
R.F. Foster, General Store;
Mrs. Mattie Graham, Restaurant;
J. Harrison, Justice and Propri.
Isaac Hays, Blacksmith;
W.A. Holmes, Carpenter;
D.B. Johnson & Co., General Store;
J.S. McMurtrey, Physician;
LR. McWilliams, Carpenter;
G.A.J. May, Saloon;
Moore & Niven, General Store;
F.E. Renfrow, General Store;
P. Stubblefield, Restaurant;
Toledo Advance, J. Harrison, Propri.;
and Williams & McMurtrey, General Store.
The list shows eighteen businesses.
By 1913 the number reported by Polk
and Company had climbed to 37.
One business that grew up with Rison was
the Rogers Brothers General Store. They
began their business in the late 1880's in a