Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and Historic Dyess Colony

by | Aug 1, 2020

If you’re a fan of Johnny Cash, you may know that he was a native Arkansan and the son of a cotton farmer. He was born in southern Arkansas, but the Man in Black was raised in a little white house on Farm No. 266 in Dyess Colony, a New Deal resettlement community in the Arkansas Delta. His father, Ray Cash, was accepted into the program in 1935 and relocated his family to Dyess from Kingsland, Arkansas, Johnny’s birthplace. Johnny lived in Dyess from age 3 until he graduated high school and left to join the Air Force.

A cooperative agricultural community, the colony was built along the Tyronza River on 16,000 acres of reclaimed swamp land in Mississippi County. It was the innovation of its namesake, the Arkansas FERA/WPA administrator, Willam Reynolds Dyess. Colonists were advanced a 20-acre farmstead furnished with a house, barn, and a chicken coop. If they successfully converted the farmstead to agricultural production, they would be able to pay back the government and own their home and farm.

Meticulously restored by Arkansas State University, the site includes the Dyess Movie Theater and Pop Shop and the Dyess administration building on Dyess Circle, the hub of the community in Johnny’s day, and his boyhood home, 2.5 miles west of Dyess Circle. The Dyess Colony Museum is located in the administration building and tells the story of the colony, New Deal Farm Resettlement projects, and Johnny Cash’s life in Dyess through images, interpretive panels, and artifacts, some of which were donated by the Cash family. Upstairs is a collection of WPA Posters. Tours to Johnny’s home leave from the Dyess Movie Theater, now the Dyess Visitor Center and ticket office.

The Johnny Cash Heritage Festival is an annual 3-day event staged in the fields around Cash’s Boyhood home. Inaugurated in October 2017, the proceeds go to the continued restoration of the site.

Visit Dyess

Dyess Colony Visitor’s Center
110 Center Drive
Dyess, Arkansas, 72330

Open Monday – Saturday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Tours to Johnny’s boyhood home leave from the visitor’s center.

Admission – $10.00, $8.00 for seniors and groups, $5.00 for students.

Visit website

870-764-2274

Dyess Colony Center listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 1976

Johnny Cash Boyhood Home listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 2018

ASU Heritage Site

Great River Road Interpretive Center

Images of Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home and the Dyess Colony Museum

Historic Images of Dyess Colony

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

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