Stamps is a small town
in Lafayette County. It’s the only town in the nation named ‘Stamps’ and is
around 2.5 hours from Little Rock. The town was named in honor of Hardy James
Stamps, an early settler of the area, and was the childhood home of author Maya
The town was a flag
stop on the St. Louis and Southwestern railroad (known as “The Cotton Belt”
line), which was built through town in 1882. The town was incorporated six
years later with J.W. Parkers serving as first mayor.
Early Stamps owed its
development to the lumber industry. At one time the town had the largest
sawmill in the South. One of the largest of these was the Bodcaw Lumber Company
of Louisiana, in town from 1889-1931. From a small beginning, the company
became the target of three major corporations. After the mills were built and
in full operation the town was thriving a decade later. The company included
two saw mills and a tramway that eventually grew in the Louisiana and Arkansas
Railway Company, later a part of the Kansas City Southern Railway System. The
mill was associated with the interests of William Buchanan, the largest
manufacture of yellow pine lumber in the world at the time. The area also has
oil production with the Dorcheat, Stamps-Lewisville, and Bodcaw Fields nearby.
As the lumber company
thrived so did the L. & A. Railroad,which transported the huge timbers to
the mills. This railroad and the Cotton Belt railroads transported the finished
lumber throughout the nation.
Industry was at a peak
during World War I as lumber was in great demand for ship building. As the
virgin forests of south Arkansas were cut out, the mills closed and moved
elsewhere in the 1920s and 30’s. The 1930s and Great Depression signaled the
end for the lumber mills.
Stamps was the
childhood home of author Maya Angelou and was depicted in her book, I Know Why
the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou spent much of her youth in the town in the home
of her paternal grandmother. Her grandmother ran the only African American general
store in the African American community.
One of the oldest business
establishments in town is the Bodcaw Bank, which opened 1902. The First
Presbyterian Church of Stamps is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The church was founded by the owners and operators of the Bodcaw Lumber
Company. The abundant natural resources of the Timberlands attract sportsmen to
the area. Some consider southern Arkansas the best deer hunting region in the
state. They also come in search of the lunker bass that reside in the area’s
legendary lakes and rivers. A popular lake in town is Lake June, named after
Mrs. June Brown, wife of one of Bodcaw’s officials, and site of the Annual Lake
June Fishing Derby held in the Spring.