Museum Presents Program on Batesville Fur Company

On Sunday, January 10 at 2 p.m., Joe Biard, former mayor of Batesville, will tell about his parents’ businesses and their past as he remembers it. He will focus on their Batesville Fur Company, which at one time was the largest fur market in Arkansas.

In the 1950s Ernest Biards’ fur company brought in over $250,000 annually, and most times dealt with New York fur buyers. The company not only carried mink and fox and other fine furs, but also marketed skunk tails. A seasonal business, it operated from November through March. Biard will include some of his own story as he tells how he learned to grade fur and take care of the office as a young man.

Ernest and Erma Marshall Biard also owned several other businesses. One was Batesville Shell and Pearl, which bought mussel shells and made button blanks for shipment to Iowa where they made the buttons. At one time Biard owned one-half interest in a Black River pearl believed to be the largest in the world and it was featured on the “To Tell the Truth” television show.

The Biard family established Red River Marine Sales in Heber Springs where they sold larger boats and outboard marine engines. And they also owned Hi-Way Lumber Company, along with Batesville Woodworks.

Audience members may be stimulated to remember their own families’ history as it related to a bygone era.

Normal museum hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.  Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children.  The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.

Old Independence is a regional museum serving a 12-county area: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff.  Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820’s Arkansas territory.