The town was named for an early pioneer Benjamin Imboden who settled here around 1828. W.C. Sloan a landowner decided upon the name as he held great respect for the Imboden Family. Benjamin was a descendant of a noble clan of Imbodens whose original homeplace were the mountains of Switzerland. The family was highly regarded for their active support of the Church, the schools, and their loyalty to government.
The first place of business was opened in 1884 by W.C Sloan, O.C. James and W.M. Childress and was named the Sloan-Mercantile Company. The Sloan-Mercantile was later re-named Sloan-Wilson Company after Childress sold his share of the store and W.J. Wilson was brought in.
Records show the town of Imboden was incorporated in April of 1889. The town consisted of three general stores, two grocery stores, two saloons, one hotel, a livery stable, a one room school, and a Catholic Church around this time.
In 1889 the saloons were voted out due to town people petitioning against them in part due to Dr. Darr a local physician being killed in a saloon on Main Street that later housed Mitchell Drug Store.
Imboden’s first hotel the Strawn, was built in approximately 1883, located on Main Street (where the old Mcleod’s store used to be). When they outgrew the building the large Delmonico Hotel was built in 1885. Within the Delmonico’s wall, a fight resulted in a man being stabbed to death.
During the 1890’s a firecracker fight burned down several businesses as there was no fire department during that time.
In October 1905 electric lights were installed in many of the Imboden homes in the section of town called Milltown.

Following the Civil War, the first ferry was owned and operated by Jacob Sherman Songer. The ferry passage ceased when a bridge was built over Spring River in 1898 based on donations of people in Imboden.

The Youngest Mayor in the United States
On May 6th of 1912, Imboden elected Joe F. Sullivan as the youngest mayor in the United States of that period. He was 21 years old and paralyzed so he relied on a goat-driven cart. Joe won the election maybe in part to his clever tactic of asking for the help of six pretty high school girls who became his campaign managers . Joe Sullivan wrote for the Imboden Gazette (the local newspaper at the time) and wrote several short stories for larger publications. Joe was quoted as saying ” For myself I am going to use three essentials to success Faith, Prayer, and Perserverence. They never fail you if you are in the right and you are already a failure if you are in the wrong.”
Joe F. Sullivan went on to write “The Unheard Cry” a book about the challenges people with disabilities face.

Another person of interest is a Byron C. Marshall who submitted specimans and information of reptiles, amphibians,and biological specimans that he collected in the Imboden area to the Smithsonian, Carnagie Institute, and many universities for further study in the 1930’s and 1940’s. He is even mentioned in a 1943 National Geographic Magazine article.
Over the years several small businesses were established such as a shoe repair, a jewelry repair, a clean and press shop, photography studio, mill , and lumber supply.
The first movie house in Imboden in the early 1920’s was an outdoor theater called the Hippodrome. It was operated during the summer months and was managed by King David Crouch and his son Otho.
Boys who wanted to see the show without paying the dime admittance would climb onto the Wilson Mercantile Store roof to watch the film across the street.
In 1938 a $225,000 concrete bridge and railroad overpass was completed. The completion of the span was possibly one of the most celebrated events in the history of Imboden. The Mayor of the time J. W. Jean called for all businesses to close between 12-4:00 pm on the day of celebration upon the bridges completion.

Imboden was plagued with fires for many years. Taken from old history of the town it is noted that most businesses were destroyed, at least once, by fire. One of the most unusual aspects of many of these fires was the fact that they occurred annually on Christmas Eve.
Another unique old tale is the story of a circus that came through Imboden. Their one and only polar bear died during their stay and was buried on the campus of Sloan-Hendrix Schools.


Skip to comment form

  1. Stephen Jones

    My grandmother was Hazel Marlowe McKamey and was from Imboden. Her brother was OH McKamey who still lived there the last time I was there some 45 years ago. My grandmother and grandfather are buried there and I am not sure if the name of the cemetery. Would also like to know any info on the McKamey family if any is available.

  2. Martie Noll

    My mother was Naomi Holt Miller and was raised in Imboden. Her parents were Mary (Artie) Johnson Holt and Lacy Holt. Her parents had a farm there. Lacy preached at the Imboden church of Christ on Sundays. If you have any stories are family tree connections, I would love to hear from you!
    Martie Noll

  3. Jeremy

    Can anyone tell me more about the house on 102 South Main Street in Imboden, Arkansas? The history of it, who lives there, and many more details and stories on it?

    Thank you! Please email me at StacynWill@yahoo.com

    All your help is appreciated! It’s a beautiful stone two story home that was built in 1895.

  4. Kaye Starr Ferguson

    My parents and grandparents are from Imboden .I have been there many times and live this out the town . My grandparents are Starr’s and Guthrie’s !! I am looking fir information regarding my great grandmother Who was married to Chris Burrow . Her name was Maude Fletcher Burrow . They lived in main st downtown Imboden when I saw them . I am looking for I information on her as to who her parents are or where they came from . I have been told she was a full blooded Indian . If anyone knows and info on her please let me know ! Thank you !!!

  5. spencer holder

    hello my name is Spencer holder i am native from this area and am looking for historical photographs or information on a small town around ten minutes outside of Imboden called Anniville Arkansas any help would be appreciated thank you.

  6. Michael Loney

    I am a descendent of Tom Davis, son of OS Davis. I am looking for any information about Tom Davis, including photos.

  7. Charles Davis

    I am Charles Ervin Davis, son of Ted Ervin Davis, grandson of Herschel Ervin Davis. They owned a farm on Muddy Lane.Herschel was a cattle farmer,went to the First Baptist Church in Imboden. Herschel ‘s wife was Mary Miller. GOT AN ORGANIAL Abstract of Randolph County. Dates back to the 1800s.Also got ORGANIAL Abstract of Lawrence county. If interested email 73bigc@gmail.com or call 870-573-9415.Also have other documents of the history of Imboden.

  8. Robert Wells

    Hello my name is Robert William Wells born 1956 – PRESENT. lives in San Anselmo, CA, Marin County, CA, son of Chester Dale Wells born 1923 died 1998. His Father was William Hatcher Wells born 1896 died approx. 1973
    Mother was Ona H. (Madden) Wells died approx 1930. I am doing research on my family history. I am amazed and fascinated by the Wells Family Tree. I would love to come to Imboden, Arkansas and see the Wells Cementary. If anyone has any information about the Wells family you can email me or I can be reached at 415-847-4565. Today is February 1st, 2016.

  9. David Hoaglan

    Ms Marilyn Walley,
    I just read with interest your post and sorry to say none of the names you referenced are known to me. However, your mention of the boothill section of Missouri did interest me. First of all I grew up in Walnut Ridge and my grandparents (Gertie and Walter Hoaglan) lived in Imboden for many years. I have chased my ancestry for almost 10 years with some successes and some dead ends. My great grandfather (William Bedford Hoaglan b. 1873) was born in Cottonwood Point, MO which as you may know is also is in the boothill area. My question to you does the family name Hoaglan mean anything. I am looking for any formation about him and his family. I contacted the local courthouse and unfortunately they were not much help because they had a fire years ago and many records were lost. I live 1,000 miles from there so it is difficult me to get there. Do you still have contacts in that area? I hope I haven’t imposed on you too much. Please feel free to contact me directly @ davestreasures@embarqmail.com.
    Thank you,
    Dave Hoaglan

  10. Leah Wilkinson

    I have recently discovered that my ancestry can be traced to Imboden and other communities in Lawrence County. Last weekend I visited Kelley Cemetery and found the graves of my 3x great-grandmother Rebecca Sharp Smith and many of her descendants there. According to my research the grave of her husband James Madison Smith (1826-1917) is supposed to be there, but I could not locate a gravestone. Does anyone have any knowledge of this or of any list of internments at Kelley? Kind regards, Leah

  11. Marilyn Walley

    Hello everyone ,
    I visited Imboden every year as a kid to spend some time with My Uncle John C .Wicker . He was a minister In Ravenden and Pocahontas at one time . He was also a barber in Walnut Ridge in 1961 . His daughter was Lila Jean I know she married, but I do not know married name wish I did so I could contact her They lived near the school, had a big chicken house . Uncle john saved me chicken feed sacks to make clothes for me .His wife made then while I was there . I remember the Cactus and Chiggers got into them every time I went to visit . I lived in Missouri bootheel If anyone remembers Lila Jean Wicker married Maybe I could find her again

  12. Melody Westervelt-Russell

    Hi, my name is melody reed westervelt-russell. My grandmother, Letha L. Imboden was born in this town.Her mother was Pearl Imboden. Her family was well known and had the “Pride of Dixie Syrup”, from what I have heard. Her family disowned her when she married my grandfather Virgil Reed, who was full blooded indian. This is information that I received from my family. If anyone can supply me with more information I would be grateful. Thank you.

  13. Charles Clements

    I am trying to write a story about Imboden and all the old big houses that lined hwy 63 from one end of town to the other. A lot of beautiful homes that have been torn down and are gone forever. If you have or know anyone who has any pictures I would like a copy and description of where the house was. I remember Dr. Gregory well.
    My e-mail address is cclements@suddenlink.net

  14. Kevin Davis


    My family came from Imboden Arkansas (well of course the Davis family). Does anyone have information on Thaddeus Davis (my great grandfather). My grandfather (Rupert Charles Davis) moved to Illinois in the early 50’s.

  15. Judy Durham Davis


    I am looking for information on Judd Durham and Mary L Durham who lived in Dent, Arkansas in 1910.

    My Grandfather Hester Melvin Durham lived with them when he was 18 years old in 1910.

    Does anyone know Durham History in this area you could share with me? Judd A Durham came from Illinois.

    Thank you so much, Judy Durham Davis

  16. Brian


    My best friend Ryan Joseph Sullivan, is Joseph F. Sullivan’s great grand son. As a personal project Ryan and I are trying to learn more about the man and his involvement in the progressive movement for disabled rights.
    We’re tying to piece together missing parts of the Joe’s history and writings about disability. Any assistance on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Teresa Jones Whitener

    I was born 9/6/1959 at the clinic Dr Gregory delivered me I was told

  18. Dave Hoaglan

    Hi Dale

    My name is David Hoaglan, I grew up in Walnut Ridge. My grand mother, Gertie Hoaglan Rogers, lived in the house right the street from the monument business, don’t recall the name. I believe your house was on the highest part of the hill. I believe it was turned into a restaurant in the later years. I do recall that my grandmother and Ms Henshaw were very good friends.

    Give a shout.


  19. Dale Hinshaw McMasters

    The old Hatcher-Hinshaw house that sits at the junction of Hwys. 62-63 is where I grew up. My family bought that house in 1945 and sold it in 1986. Imboden is a great town with wonderful families who take care of each other when need arises and that is one of its strongest virtues. I am the youngest of the eight children who grew up there and perhaps you remember me or some of my siblings, if so, I would really enjoy hearing from you. From oldest to youngest we are/were Robert, Glenn, Laura Belle, John, Louis, Donald, Milton and then me, Dale, and yes, I’m a girl. I’ve reached the age where there aren’t a lot of people left who remember me as a little girl, so if you do, I would so very much like to hear from you. Or if you remember me when I was older or remember my parents or brothers or sister.

  20. Dorothy Jean Crouch Helms

    I would like any pictures or history of the K.D.Crouch family of Imboden. Children were John Otho, Myrtle, Naomi, and Pearl. Any pictures of Front St. buildings across from the feed store back in the 20’s and 30’s.
    This was my grandfathers’ family.
    Dorothy Crouch, Helms

  21. Jeanne Hackenberger

    My dad, William Pitts went to school there. He was class president somewhere around 1936. I know he went back for hid 50th class reunion. His mother was Jessie Whitaker. Wish I had pictures of him back them. he passed in 1993.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>