Have you ever heard of Dansby, Arkansas? If you were to do a Google search today, you wouldn’t find too much information. Dansby, Arkansas was a small community of former slaves and sharecroppers located in Lee County off of Rural Route 1. Although small in size, the people were loving and close. Everyone knew each other, and they worked and worshiped together. One well-known family and a staple of the community of Dansby was the Hines family. The family was large and owned acres and acres of land.
Shelby Hines and his eight brothers all owned land in Dansby, which their father many family historians say was either white or mulatto, helped his sons obtain the land for purchase. They owned and worked their own land while being large contributors to the town. Shelby Hines was an entrepreneur, a man of faith, and a visionary, although later in his life he became blind.
Shelby (Jack), as many knew him in Dansby, operated Hines Grocery store from inside their home with his wife (Martha) and their 13 children. He also ran the Post Office which was connected to the grocery store. Shelby being a man of faith, loved to talk and share the word of God to many. He would often talk with many elders who would travel through the rural south spreading the word of God. One of these elders was William Christian, who became the founder of The Church of The Living God (CWFF). Shelby moved by his conversations with William Christian donated land for a church to be built in Dansby. The Church of The Living God (CWFF) Temple 98 was established and was the place of worship and praise for the Hines family and may others.
He loved God and was a firm believer in family praying together and staying together. The love of God has been inherited and continues to be a major part of being a Hines. The family continues to be active with the Church of the Living God, and many of Shelby’s children, grandchildren, and relatives have gone on to be ministers and evangelist spreading the word of God and establishing churches in other states.
Shelby, before he passed away in 1978, commissioned the state of Arkansas to recognize the Hines Family Cemetery located in Shadygrove (The Hills) not far from Dansby on land the Hines family owned and where he is buried. Many cemeteries are often found on hilltop locations throughout the south. The prime reason for this was the belief of “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Shelby Hines and many others were the fabric of Dansby, Arkansas. A town that is long gone but made its mark in history. The following are just a few of those from Dansby who made their mark in history or is a family descendant: Elisha Hines (brother of Shelby Hines)- Contributor of land for Dansby Elementary School/Grocery Store; John M. Llewellyn- Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives; and Reverend Al Green-Minister, Singer
There are many more whose names also rest in the Dansby Cemetery that helped weave the fabric of this long-gone loving community. You can tell a great deal about a people by what they deem important enough not only to make a mark in history but make sure the people are not forgotten.
Shelby Hines took the steps to ensure the preservation of the Hines Family. While African Americans have few traditions of giving land or leaving a historic black cemetery, it is crucial that more of our past not be forgotten. It is not only a part of our history but culture that should be passed down from generation to generation.