Johnny Cash’s Childhood Home: Tour the Historic Arkansas Property

by Matthew Wilson

Johnny Cash‘s childhood home still stands until this day. Before he became a famous country star, Cash grew up in Dyess, Arkansas. Now, thanks to the Arkansas State University, the house stands in its former glory as a testament to Cash’s humble beginnings.

There are ghosts in the Cash home or at least memories. That place proved to be influential on Cash’s life and also a moment of great tragedy for the artist. Later in his career, Cash would write “Five Feet High and Rising” about a heavy flood in the area. He also wrote “Pickin’ Time” about his time as a boy living in Arkansas.

But back in 1935, Cash was only three years old when he moved to the area. Dyess wasn’t a big town by any means. The town had a population of 400. The singer would live in the town until he was in high school. The fourth of seven children, Cash shared a room with three of his siblings: Jack, Louise, and Reba.

There were only five rooms in the house. His daughter, Rosanne Cash later told CBS, “It was five rooms with a potential bathroom.”

There wasn’t a bathroom back then nor one now. Cash’s family never got around to installing indoor plumbing or a bathroom during their time at the house. Rosanne visited the house where her father grew up during his formative years. If you were driving, you’d probably never slow down or stop or even realize one of country’s greatest artists grew up there.

Johnny Cash Faced Tragedy

As a child, Johnny Cash walked up and down that road near the house to go to school. It’s hard to imagine the Man in Black as a child, back before the Ring of Fire had even been lit. One of Cash’s best friends was his brother Jack. Growing up, the two had been almost inseparable. And Cash always considered his older brother to be his hero.

But a sawmill accident devastated Cash. His brother, only 15, had an accident while on the job. He fell onto a saw at the mill and almost cut himself in half. For more than a week, Jack clung to life in an extreme amount of pain. But his injuries proved too much to heal from.

He died in 1944, a moment that stayed with Cash for the rest of his life. The tragedy influenced Cash and all of his future decisions. Now, the house stands a memorial to Cash and his family for future generations to observe.