Cincinnati was known as Silvia and Buzzard Roost in its early years but assumed the name of Cincinnati in 1857 possibly because of a nearby creek by that name. The first post office there was called Silvia in 1838. The post office closed in 1911 and mail was diverted to Summers just to the south. The area was settled in the 1830s to early 1840s. Farms in the area used a sizable numbers of slaves. Goodspeed’s history in 1889 called it “one of the best inland towns in the county” situated in the “center of a rich grain and livestock region.”
Businesses in 1890 included wagon and farm implement makers, merchants and millers of grain, as well as buying and selling of cattle, sheep, hogs and mules. There were five general stores, blacksmith shops, tanneries, harness shops, an undertaker, a hotel and livery stable. In addition, the village had two churches, an academy school, a Masonic Lodge, two physicians, one druggist and one dentist. Gatewood reports the business transacted that year amounted to about $225,000. By 1900, the Cincinnati Argus weekly newspaper had started. A local telephone company operated from the early 1900s to the 1940s when Prairie Grove telephone service was extended into the area.
Buzzard Roost, then Silvia, was so advanced commercially in the early years, that people from Fayetteville came by wagon to Silvia and Cane Hill for supplies before commerce developed in Fayetteville. At the peak of the town’s growth, there were two mills in operation within a mile and half of the business area. One was southeast of the town in a valley called Rag Hollow, so named because a man named May was often seen wearing ragged clothes while he built the mill. This mill was operated by Dave Moore. The other mill was called the Silvia Mill and was northeast of the town.
One of the largest general stores was operated by William H. Rhea. Rhea won a large sum of money gambling and opened a store in the Wedington community several miles north of Cincinnati, and eventually he bought out a mill just north of Cincinnati. That mill became the site of a small town called Rhea’s Mill.
One of the Cherokee contingents on the Trail of Tears stopped overnight at the Thomason farm just southeast of Cincinnati. Thomason had settled on this farm in 1832. This group of Cherokees was lead by Richard Taylor and accompanied by Dr. William Morrow who kept a journal of the trip and mentions stopping at Col. Thomason’s on March 22, 1839. They left the next day and arrived at their destination in Indian Territory only eight miles from Cincinnati.
Trade in Cincinnati was brisk with Cherokees following their arrival so close by, as it was in Evansville, Cane Hill and other towns in the area.
“The Prairie Grove Valley and Its Communities,” by Willard Gatewood, Flashback, Winter 2003.
History of Washington County, by Shiloh Museum, 1989
“Buzzard Roost, Silvia, Cincinnati,” by Tom Feathers, Flashback, November 1951.