If you recall with condescending glee the Beverly Hillbillies television show and Granny's references to places like Possum Trot and Bug Tussle; and if you thought those were fictional place names concocted out of thin air for their rustic comedic value, think again.

This church is all that's left of the hamlet of Bug Scuffle, a handful of buildings clustered around Bug Scuffle Stop, a stage coach depot. It's not a ruin, but an up-and-running church with some forty members, about half of which regularly attend services. The unusual name of the place arose when people gathered at this church (or waiting at the stage coach depot, depending on which version of the story you decide to believe), began wagering on athletic contests between tumblebugs fighting over a pellet of dung.

If you want to visit Bug Scuffle, take highway 156 from West Fork to Hogeye, where you take 265 south to Strickler, where you turn right on county road 216 and drive on the dirt for about four miles. The church is on the left. You can look up more details about Bug Scuffle in Ernie Deane's book Arkansas Place Names. I also got some of this information from the woman behind the register at the Zip Trip in the nearby town of Hogeye.

The town of Hogeye, by the way, was originally named Haggai (the official spelling changed in a bureaucratic error) after a minor Old Testament prophet who encouraged the Jews to rebuild the temple after Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem in 538 bc. As prophets go, Haggai was lucky in that God used him as a walkie-talkie for only four months back in 520 bc. Haggai had only four things to say: 1) Get off your lazy butts and rebuild the temple (it seems the Jews had been screwing around in Jerusalem for eighteen years and little was getting done). 2) God promised to fill the temple with glory (whatever that means). 3) God promised prosperity to his people (Haggai mentions that before work was begun on the temple there had been a number of years of poor crops and bad investments.). 4) Zerubbabel was tagged as God's "signet ring." This last one is pretty lame, I think. To legitimize Zerubbabel as political leader is probably just Haggai brown-nosing for a civil service job. Zerubbabel at this time was already the son of the governor.

That brings up an interesting question, though. Might Haggai have been a false prophet approved by (or even created by) the religious authorities in order to generate support for the reconstruction of the temple? Just look at how his "messages" conveniently converge with the establishment's party line, particularly the one about Zerubbabel. And if he was the real thing, how does the local Sanhedrin tell the difference between a legitimate prophet and somebody who is just bitching? How do they differentiate between the word of God and the rantings of a lunatic. Thomas Jefferson considered Jewish philosophy to be little more than scholarly interpretations of the ramblings of the mentally ill. Of course he excepted Jesus, who was prone to the same kind of ramblings. And speaking of rambling....

Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament.


In the neighborhood: Devil's Den State Park | Prarie Grove Battlefield Park

Arkansas Travelogue home page