The Saline Courier Weekend

Mozart, Arkansas


“Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ... . ”

— From the First Amendment to Constituti­on

Every time there is severe weather in Arkansas, I always learn of towns and communitie­s I’ve never heard of. One might think that a lifelong Arkansan who worked for years in the state Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism would know every part of the Natural State. But I’m constantly learning about new places.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were watching the severe weather coverage on one of the local TV stations and a peculiar name stood out on the radar map — Mozart. While I know who Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, I was curious as to why there would be a community in Arkansas bearing the name of the famous Austrian composer.

Mozart is located on Highway 263 near Lick Fork Creek in Stone County, between the towns of Timbo and Fox. The community that eventually became Mozart was an extension of those towns.

In 1926, Mozart got a post office. Previously, Mozart residents picked up their mail at the Timbo post office. One of Mozart’s founding families, the Harpers, owned a general store and put the post office there before a separate facility was built.

Nancy Harper was appointed as the first postmaster of the Mozart post office. But the post office permanentl­y closed in 1959 and postal services were transferre­d to Fox. According to a local legend, the Harpers’ daughter, Lucille, picked the name for the post office because she was a devoted fan of the composer. But there’s another tale about the origin of the community’s name.

Native Austrians Dominikus Kocher and his brother, Achatz, came to the United States and eventually made their way to Rushing, in Stone County, in 1904. Their cousin, Matthew Schiefer, arrived in 1923. A long-standing legend says that the immigrants submitted the last name of their fellow Austrian as the name of the new post office. In 1966, descendant­s of the Kocher family establishe­d the county’s first Catholic Church, in Mozart.

By 1925, the Stone County towns of Fox, Meadowcree­k, Mozart, Parma, Rushing, Sunnyland and Turkey Creek all had their own schools. The school in Mozart was called the Skyland School. Starting in 1946, the small towns decided to combine their schools into one, the Rural Special School, which was located about 2 miles from Fox along Highway 263. The schools operated independen­tly until 2004, when the state Legislatur­e consolidat­ed small school districts across the state. Rural Special joined the Mountain View school district but was allowed to keep its own campus because of its isolation.

A Baptist group briefly used Mozart’s old Skyland School as a church; it later became a Pentecosta­l church. The building is still standing but is in terrible condition.

The first Catholic church in Stone County, Our Lady of Victory Church, was built in 1966 in Mozart. The local Southern Baptist organizati­on purchased the Our Lady of Victory church building and began having regular worship services in August 1994.

Several towers stand atop the mountains that surround Mozart. One such tower belongs to Arkansas’ public television station, Arkansas PBS. Bear Pen Falls, located near Mozart, is a popular fishing spot for fly fishing and bait casting.

Sadly, not much is left of Mozart. There are no stores, no schools and no post office. The few Arkansans who still make their home there travel to Fox or Mountain View for shopping, health care and restaurant­s.

While I never hope for threatenin­g weather to strike, I’ll be watching the next round of severe storm coverage to see if there’s a Bach or a Beethoven, Arkansas.


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