by Ina Jones Duren

Samuel Peel Duren was born to Levi and Emily Duren in 1887 in Fredonia, Texas. The family moved to Arkansas when Sam was about four years old. He attended school at the old brick schoolhouse until he finished. He then went to Seattle, Washington, where his brother, Patrick Duren, lived. Sam found work as the county engineer of Scagget County. He learned to survey and, at the same time, was encouraged to take a correspondence course that enabled him to enter construction work. In 1915 he went to California and worked for the Imperial Valley Irrigation Company, which was responsible for bringing water from the Colorado River to Imperial Valley. He also worked in lower California where the levee was being raised along the Main Canal to California.

In 1918 Sam and Ina Jones were united in marriage in El Centre, California. The company for which he worked built them a small house and they stayed there two years. Sam was then transferred to the State of Calexico, Mexico, where he worked two years before transferring to Brawley.

Sam and Ina had a son in 1924, Robert Marion. Sam spent, with his family, thirteen years in Brawley and was active in civic affairs. In 1935 the family was transferred back to Mexico where, at the end of a year on that job, his health began to fail and the family returned to Yellville where Sam and Ina had grown up. Here, Sam was appointed to the State Park Commission which was establishing State Parks over the state. Sam thought that Marion County had beautiful locations for a State Park and, after working with the people and interested groups of Marion County, the Buffalo River State Park was established. The government was locating CCC Camps where young men whose families had been hard hit by the depression could earn some money and also learn a trade which would help them to secure better jobs. Through the efforts of the Park Commission, the Congressman from the 3rd District, Mr. Claud Fuller, and other friends, the Buffalo River State Park was chosen for one of these camps. Sam was appointed the engineer on the job and, after a few months, resigned from the Park Commission but stayed on as engineer at the park. His duties were to survey and built a a road from Highway 41 South, establish water and sewer lines, built cottages and other related projects. The CCC boys did the labor and several men around Yellville secured jobs on this project. It put new life in the community after the severe depression.

When WW II was at its worst, Sam was appointed Sanitary Engineer at Camp Chaffee, which entailed the installation of the water and sewer system. After about two year, he resigned, due to ill health, and returned to Yellville. Shortly thereafter he was appointed Chairman of the War Bond Sales. He received several citations for his work and kept this job until he died in 1972.

In 1944, early in the spring, County Judge Earl Berry resigned to accept a job with the Government at Little Rock. Sam received the appointment to fill out eight months left in the year. As the Courthouse was being repaired, due to fire, there was much work to be done. This was carried out.

Sam went to work for the State Highway Department working on Highway 62. He worked several ex-servicemen on this job. They respected Sam and took his advice in doing other work when the work on the highway was finished.

J. C. Perkins was in charge of building the Crooked Creek Bridge at Pyatt. Sam worked with him until the bridge was completed. As his health was failing, he resigned from the Highway Department.

In 1956 Robert Marion Duren, after serving three years with the Armed Forces, came home and worked for a time for the Highway Department under his father. Then, in 1946, Robert martied Betty Jo Burns. To this union were Mark, Dan and Glen.

The Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Central Committee resigned in 1946 and Sam was chosen to that position. Here he served for ten years.

He died in September 1972 at the age of 85.

Reprinted with permission from History of Marion County edited by Earl Berry, copyright 1977.