County: Calhoun

Bass, Raymond Henry

Raymond Henry Bass was an Olympic gold medalist, Gymnastics Hall of Fame honoree, and decorated World War II hero who rose to the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Raymond Henry Bass was born on January 15, 1910, in Chambersville (Calhoun County) to Henry L. Bass and Maude Wise Bass. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927 and was recruited for the gymnastics team. He was coached by Lou Mang, who had developed an innovative rope-climbing technique stressing rhythm and balance. According to an Olympics biography of Bass, he was a boxer and wrestler at the Naval Academy before joining the gymnastics team and was nicknamed “Benny” by his classmates due to a resemblance …

Calhoun County

Located in south-central Arkansas, with its southernmost border about twenty-five miles from the Louisiana state line, Calhoun County has the smallest population of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties. Hampton is the only town with more than 1,000 residents. Thornton, Harrell, and Tinsman are the only other incorporated communities. The economic base is timber, sand, and gravel. The majority of the workforce is employed in manufacturing. Pre-European Exploration There are about 350 archaeological sites known in Calhoun County, testifying to the habitation of Native Americans in the region for thousands of years. Two prehistoric mounds—Boone’s Mounds and the Keller Site—believed to be from the Coles Creek culture of the Late Woodland Period, are preserved near Calion (Union County) and are on the National Register of …

Calhoun County Courthouse

The Calhoun County Courthouse is a 1909 building composed of a rectangular central wing flanked on all sides by a variety of projections. The courthouse includes arched double-hung windows, and arched doorways form the exterior of the first floor. The second floor houses paired, rectangular windows. While devoid of many intricacies, the building demonstrates common Classical and Colonial Revival details. On December 12, 1976, the courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Calhoun County Courthouse is at 309 W. Main St. in Hampton (Calhoun County), 200 feet north of the Hampton Cemetery and slightly west of the Hampton Masonic Lodge Building, both of which are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed in …

Hampton (Calhoun County)

Hampton has served as the seat of Calhoun County since the county was created in 1850, and it remains the county’s most populous city. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The first white person to patent a claim in the area of what is now Hampton was Nathaniel Hunt of Tennessee, who arrived in 1848. He established a farm on the north side of what was later the Hampton and Warren Road. When Calhoun County was created in 1850, a county seat was established near Hunt’s farm due to its central location and named Hampton for Colonel John R. Hampton, a state senator. Oliver Hazard Perry Black of Union County settled in Hampton around 1850, starting the first store there. In …

Hampton Lynching of 1872

On March 12 or 13, 1872, a jailed African-American man alleged to have assaulted a white man named Tom Tatum was killed by a mob that stormed the Hampton (Calhoun County) jail and set it on fire. As is often the case, reports are conflicting, and it is hard to sort out the facts. On April 6, an account in the Memphis Daily Appeal, which references the March 28 edition of the Magnolia Flower, reported that “several weeks ago” an unidentified Black man attempted to kill Tatum. The alleged assailant fled, and a group of African Americans captured him near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He was put in jail in Hampton pending trial. According to the Appeal, “an enraged set …

Hampton Race War of 1892

aka: Calhoun County Race War of 1892
The Hampton Race War (also referred to as the Calhoun County Race War in many sources) occurred in September 1892 and entailed incidents of racial violence all across the southern part of the county. While many sources have attributed the events in Calhoun County to Arkansas’s passage of the Election Law of 1891, with provisions that vastly complicated the voting process for illiterate citizens of all races and effectively kept them from voting, it seems that the trouble in the county started prior to the early September election. Racial unrest was widespread in Arkansas in the 1890s, especially across the southern counties. Incidents increased after the state began passing Jim Crow legislation that limited the rights of its black citizens. (According …

Hampton Waterworks

The Hampton Waterworks is located on the north side of Hunt Street west of Lee Street in downtown Hampton (Calhoun County) in southwest Arkansas. The metal water tower and associated well house were built by the Pittsburgh–Des Moines Steel Co. for the Public Works Administration (PWA) in 1937. Hampton and Calhoun County suffered along with the rest of Arkansas during the Great Depression, and one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies provided much needed assistance. The Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, which became known as the Public Works Administration, was created on June 16, 1933, as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. While initial efforts focused on federal projects, Congress soon expanded PWA aid to state and …

Harrell (Calhoun County)

Established as a railroad depot early in the twentieth century, the town of Harrell is in eastern Calhoun County, about five miles east of Hampton (Calhoun County), the county seat. Harrell still maintains a working sawmill in the twenty-first century. Calhoun County is part of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Caddo lived in these forested hills long before European exploration, and the county contains many reminders of their presence, including two prehistoric mounds and roughly 350 archaeological sites. European explorers entered the area by means of the Ouachita River, but more inland areas like what would become Harrell were not frequented until long after the county was created in 1850. After the Civil War, northern developers began to purchase land in southern Arkansas to …

Harris, Carroll Wayne “Thumper”

Wayne Harris became a football legend as a star for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorbacks and later in his twelve years with the Canadian Football League. He would be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in the United States and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. The Canadian postal service issued a series of commemorative stamps with his image. Carroll (sometimes spelled Carol) Wayne Harris was born on May 4, 1938, in Hampton (Calhoun County) to Melvin Carroll “Chick” Harris and Mary Agnes Nutt Harris. His father was a Mississippian who came to Calhoun County as a youngster and married a woman in the community of Tinsman (Calhoun County). His father went to school for six years …

Lost 40

The Lost 40 is a forty-acre tract of mature forest along Wolf Branch (a tributary of Moro Creek) in southeastern Calhoun County. Owned by PotlatchDeltic Corporation, the tract is known for its large trees, some more than 200 years old, and has variously been described as “primary,” “virgin,” and “old-growth.” It has been the site of several scientific studies conducted by the faculty and students of the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and is protected by a forty-year cooperative management agreement between PotlatchDeltic and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) signed in 1996. Lost Forty Brewing, a brewery based in Little Rock (Pulaski County), takes its name from the tract. Several natural communities …

Steelman, John Roy

John Roy Steelman, the son of lower-middle-class cotton farmers, rose to become one of President Harry S. Truman’s best friends and top advisors. He performed valuable government services, sometimes without official title, during the administrations of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Born on June 23, 1900, on a farm near Thornton (Calhoun County) to Pleasant (Ples) Cydney Steelman and Martha Ann Richardson Steelman, John Roy Steelman was the oldest child in a family of six boys and one girl. He finished high school and, through the Department of War’s Student Army Corps established during World War I, was able to attend Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County). After discharge from the army, he managed to stay …

Thomason, Harry Z.

Harry Z. Thomason is a film and television producer best known for the television series Designing Women and for his friendship with Bill Clinton. Thomason made the casting of people of Southern heritage more popular, replacing the ignorant hillbilly type with a more wry, witty, sophisticated Southerner. Thomason was born in 1940 in Hampton (Calhoun County). After moving to Little Rock (Pulaski County), he became a high-school speech teacher and football coach. Beginning with Encounter with the Unknown (1973), he wrote, produced, and/or directed the movies The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad about Gloria (1975), The Day It Came to Earth (1979), and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979). He then moved to television, where he produced the television movies A Shining Season …

Thornton (Calhoun County)

The city of Thornton developed on the St. Louis and Southwestern Railway (often called the Cotton Belt) four miles southwest of Fordyce (Dallas County) in 1883. A center of the timber industry, it became, for a time, the largest city in Calhoun County. Evidence of prehistoric activity in the region that would become Calhoun County is seen in several Native American mounds located in the county. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the area was understood to belong to the Caddo, but their dwellings tended to be in river valleys to the south of the heavy pine forests of south-central Arkansas. White settlers did not make a permanent home in the pine forests until after the Civil War, when …

Tinsman (Calhoun County)

Tinsman is a town in eastern Calhoun County. Once important as a junction for the Rock Island Railroad, the town has faded considerably since the decline of the railroad. Until the arrival of European and American settlers, the forested hills of Calhoun County were only sparsely settled, although the Caddo lived in the area perhaps as much as 5,000 years ago. Covered with pine, oak, cypress, red gum, and hickory trees, the region was not welcoming to early settlers, although some did arrive in the 1840s and 1850s, mostly from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Calhoun County was largely untouched by the Civil War, although roughly 400 men from the county fought in the war, most of them for the Confederacy. Late …

USS Calhoun County (LST-519)

The USS Calhoun County, originally USS LST-519, was a tank landing ship that served the U.S. Navy in the European Theater during World War II and was later used to dump radioactive material into the Atlantic Ocean. It was renamed the USS Calhoun County on July 1, 1955, in honor of counties of that name in eleven states, including Arkansas. LST-519 was one of a class of vessels created to carry tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, artillery, construction equipment, and supplies during military operations along coastal areas. Called “Large Slow Targets” by their crews, they were designed as shallow-draft vessels; when loaded with a 500-ton cargo, LST-519 drew just under four feet at the bow and just under ten feet …

Ware, Jim and Jack (Lynching of)

On July 14, 1895, brothers Jim and Jack Ware, who allegedly assisted Wiley Bunn in the murder of Allen Martin, were lynched in Hampton (Calhoun County). The Ware family had been living in Calhoun County for some time. In 1870, Moses and Easter Ware were living in Jackson Township. Among their children were two sons, fifteen-year-old James (Jim) Ware and thirteen-year-old Jack. Moses and James Ware were working as laborers. They were still in Jackson Township in 1880. Jack, along with James and James’s wife, Susan, were still living with their parents. Moses was farming, and both James and John were working as laborers. In 1880, fourteen-year-old Willey (Wiley) Bunn was living in Jackson Township with his parents, Drew and …