Biography of Capt. Joseph Thompson McCracken

CAPT. JOSEPH THOMPSON MCCRACKEN. Among the well-known farmers and stock dealers of Marion County, Arkansas, none has a better or more thoroughly cultivated farm than he whose name is here given. He is a product of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he was born November 29, 1830, a son of Joseph R. and Isabelle (Thompson) McCracken, the former born in North Carolina in 1776, and the latter in Virginia about 1780.

They were taken to Rutherford County, Tennessee, in their youth and were there reared, married and made their home until 1851, when they came by wagon to Marion County, Arkansas, the journey thither occupying three weeks. The father purchased a small farm on James Creek, on which he spent the rest of his life, dying in 1865. His wife died in Tennessee and later he married a Miss Lorance, who died in 1862. He was a slave holder, a man of unblemished reputation, was for some time sheriff of Rutherford County, Tennessee, and for many years was treasurer of Marion County, Arkansas, which office he was filling at the time of his death. He was a soldier of the War of 1812 under Gen. Jackson, and was with him at the famous battle of New Orleans. He was a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, but took no active part in the struggle. His father, John McCracken, was a North Carolinian, where he spent all his days, and his wife, Sarah Luck, also died in that State. The great-grandfather McCracken was an Irishman and is supposed to have passed from life in the Old North State. The maternal grandfather, Joseph Thompson, was a Virginian, but an early settler of Tennessee and followed the calling of a farmer in Rutherford County until his death. He was of Scotch descent and became a soldier of War of 1812. The children of Joseph and Isabelle McCracken are as follows: Sarah, widow of John Pace, resides in Texas; Isabelle became the wife of Willis Sanford and died in Rutherford County, Tennessee; Elizabeth is the wife of F. D. Hall of Rutherford County; Minerva is the widow of Hugh Bell of Conway County, Arkansas; Emily died in Marion County, Arkansas, the wife of W. C. Pace; Caroline is the wife of John Gum of Rutherford County, Tennessee; Joseph Thompson and Eliza Ann, widow of John Brown.

The subject of this sketch was reared on a farm in Tennessee and unfortunately received but meager educational advantages. He came with his parents to Arkansas and was married in 1854 to Josephine, daughter of John and Hannah Kellough, the former of whom died in Kentucky, after which the widowed mother came to Arkansas and died at Mountain Home. Mrs. McCracken was born on Blue Grass soil, and by Mr. McCracken became the mother of nine children: Joseph R.; John N.; William, who died at the age of twelve years; Hannah Ann, wife of Matthew Mitchell; Isabelle, wife of Frank King; Thompson; Kirk; Emma and Helen. Mrs. McCracken has been a resident of Marion County since 1851.

When the war broke out he was one of the first to enlist from Marion County, and in May, 1861, became a member of Company A of a Missouri regiment. Soon after the battle of Wilson’s Creek, in which he participated, his company was disbanded, and he then became a member of Company A, Fourteenth Arkansas Infantry, with which he served twelve months as orderly sergeant, after which he was in the battle of Elk Horn, where he commanded his company. His command was then sent east of the Mississippi River, and he took part in the engagement at Iuka. Succeeding this he was honorably discharged from the service on account of ill health, but at the end of about two months he joined Company F, Col. Suavel’s Battalion of Gen. Jo Shelby’s command, with which he remained until the war closed, acting as captain the most of the time. He took part in Price’s raid, during which time he participated in many engagements, and after his captain was killed at Booneville, he was placed in command of his company and continued to hold this position until the cessation of hostilities. He was captured once in Marion County, but made his escape a few hours later. He had two horses shot from under him at different battles, and without doubt received a hundred bullet holes in his clothes, but was himself never even scarred. He surrendered at Jacksonport, Arkansas, June 6, 1865, and left the service in very poor health. He returned home to find his family in a starving condition, his eldest son being so weak that he could scarcely stand alone, and had it not been for the rations Mr. McCracken brought home with him, his son would undoubtedly have starved to death. Mr. McCracken at once began the work of putting in a crop and by fall was much improved in circumstances.

He has since led a very active and industrious life and is one of the most prosperous men, financially, in the country. He has followed farming all his life and for the past twenty years has been an extensive stockraiser and trader. He is the owner of several fine White River bottom farms, and a fine stock ranch on which he resided, fifteen miles north of Yellville. He is a partner in business with Col. D. N. Fullbright of Boone County, and together they own about 4,000 acres of land, much of which is very valuable mineral land. During the Brooks-Baxter war Capt. McCracken was commissioned captain of a company, but was not called into service. He has frequently been solicited to run for office, but has always refused. He was formerly a Whig in politics and in 1856 voted for Gen. Fremont, but since the war he has been with the Democratic party, of which he is an active supporter. He wields a wide influence in a political way, but of late years has rather retired from the political arena and is not an active worker during political campaigns. He is a prominent member of Yellville Lodge No. 117 of the A. F. & A. M.,and he and his wife have for many years been members of the Christian Church. Although he has reached the sixty-fourth milestone of his life he is very active and in robust health, being perfectly preserved. He owns some of the best saddle horses in Arkansas and frequently makes a horseback trip of sixty or seventy miles in one day. He is a great lover of fine horseflesh and takes great pleasure in caring for them and living among them.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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