The Drennen-Scott Historic Site was featured as part of the Van Buren Centenial Commemoration of the American Civil War on October 8. Five hundred patrons visited Drennen-Scott along with other important sites related to the Civil War in Van Buren. As a special presentation, Tom Wing, director of the site, and a group of volunteers demonstrated firing a heavy artillery piece on loan from the Arkansas State Park System. In 1862, Union troops surprised a force of Confederates, driving them across the Arkansas River. The Yankees set up gun positions near the Drennen-Scott house and shelled the steamboat landing in Van Buren.
In the late 1820’s, John Drennen and David Thompson started a woodlot business on the north bank of the Arkansas River (near the present 540 bridge in Crawford County). They supplied firewood to the new and lucrative steamboat traffic. The community of Columbus rose up near the business site. The location was prone to flooding, and after rebuilding twice, Drennen and Thompson sought higher ground up river. They purchased the property that became Van Buren, for $11,000, in 1836. Arkansas reached statehood in 1836, this brought an influx of settlers to the Van Buren area, from Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. Thompson died in 1838 leaving John Drennen to become one of the most wealthy and prominent members of the community. John Drennen is the Father of the City of Van Buren. He died in 1855 and rests in the Drennen Family plot in the Fairview Cemetery. Drennen passed most of the estate his daughter Caroline and his son-in-law, Charles G. Scott, a business man and Confederate supporter during the Civil War. The Drennen House achieved National Register status in 1971.
The house contains furniture, papers, and a wealth of artifacts including a set of 12 solid silver tumblers made from John Drennen’s horse race winnings. Albert Pike, a Civil War Brigadier General and long time friend of John Drennen, mentioned the cups in his writings.
The Historical Interpretation Program at UA Fort Smith came into existence in the fall of 2004. A direct request by the National Park Service and Arkansas State Parks led the university officials to examine the prospects of a program to train future park rangers, tour guides, and historians for careers at historic sites, museums, battlefields and parks. The Historical Interpretation program is the only bachelor level program, of its kind, in the United States. Historic Interpretation facilitates an emotional or intellectual connection between a visitor and a historic site. Future plans for the Drennen-Scott House include certification for the National Historic Trail of Tears and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, both under the National Park Service. The twofold mission of the Drennen-Scott will be to provide real world opportunities for UA Fort Smith students, while preserving and displaying the significant aspects of the property for visitors to enjoy. Historical Interpretation students will share in the establishment and operation of the Drennen-Scott House.
The Drennen-Scott House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 10, 1971. At the time, the nomination stated that the house was "an outstanding and well-preserved example of the antebellum architecture." Subsequent research in recent years has brought to light the important role of John Drennen in the Indian affairs of the nineteenth century, including the eligibility process for settlement payments for the Cherokees who had been relocated to the Indian Territory.
5210 Grand Avenue • P.O. Box 3649 Fort Smith, Arkansas 72913-3649 479-788-7000
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