The town of Piggott was planned in 1882 and laid out along the St. Louis Southwestern railroad. When it was incorporated in 1891, approximately 150 people had established residence here. The town was named in honor of Dr. James A. Piggott, who was influential in securing the first U.S. Post Office in the settlement.
After the establishment of the post office, the town began to grow in size. This growth was due to the railroad tracks that had been recently laid throughout the area in order to allow the towns’ businessmen to haul off the valuable timber and other natural resources. The new timber industry would bring in enough people that by 1900, the population had increased to nearly 600 people and the towns’ size expanded by 2 miles. By this time, the existing county seat of Boydsville was deemed too inconvenient for travel, and in 1891 Piggott was awarded the position as the new Clay County seat.
The town would continue to grow modestly, until it saw an exponential increase in growth in 1912. This development was due to Paul Pfieffer, his wife Mary, and their children, acquiring 63,000 acres of land surrounding Piggott. Paul split the up land into farms, homesteads, and ranches. He then invited associates from his home town of St. Louis as well as various parts of the country to move onto these newly available lands. This would lead to the population rising to just over 2,000 by 1920.
The attraction of the area and the resulting growth led to the formation of a municipal water and sewer district in 1912. The town was first supplied with electrical power the next year. The first power plant was steam operated and financed privately by the locals. After the completion of a water plant and distribution system in 1923, a public power and light district was formed and a larger electric plant was established a few years later.
Until the 1930’s the only paved road in town was HWY 62, which would become Main Street. This would change after the Works Progress Administration, enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt, would put thousands to work building Americas Infrastructure. Some of the groundwork done was in the city of Piggott, where other well-traveled roads and sidewalks would be paved and improved. This local effort was bankrolled by the U.S. Government and Paul Pfieffer himself.
Though it was through the various civic and philanthropic efforts of Dr. Piggott and Paul Pfieffer that grew the town, its history has been made mostly by Pfieffer’s daughter. Pauline Pfieffer famously married the legendary author Ernest Hemingway in 1927. This would lead to Hemingway writing pieces of Farewell to Arms as well as several other short stories. Hemingway held so much admiration for Piggott that when asked by Esquire magazine in 1934, he claimed that the only other place he would rather be in than Paris was “Piggott, Arkansas in the fall.” The home he and Pauline shared has been kept and maintained by Arkansas State University as an educational center.
Piggott would also reach national attention in 1957 when scenes of A Face in the Crowd would be shot in town. This picture was the film debut for now famous actor Andy Griffith. The town was chosen because of its small-town attractiveness.
The small town would be recognized as an Arkansas Community of Excellence in 1997. This was awarded to the city as it boasts eighteen churches, a large community park and amphitheater and a modern community center hosting a gym, walking track, racquetball courts, and a computer room, as well as kitchen and dining areas. Piggott also hosts a city-owned hospital, airport, and school system which have undergone expansion to keep up with the needs of the twenty-first century.
We hope that this quaint town can instill the same emotions in the hearts of you and your family that the towns’ founders and leaders have held closely for over 100 years.