Entries - County: Chicot

Alexander, Larry Dell

Larry Dell Alexander is a visual artist, writer, and Bible teacher best known for his elaborate pen-and-ink drawings and crosshatching technique. He painted Clinton Family Portrait, an oil painting that he gave to President Bill Clinton in 1995. He has also written several Bible study commentary books on the New Testament. Larry D. Alexander was born on May 30, 1953, in Dermott (Chicot County), the second son of Robert and Janie Alexander. His father was a truck driver and his mother a hairdresser. He has eight siblings. Alexander began drawing at age four and never received any formal art training while growing up. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where …

American Legion Post 127 Building

aka: Wilson Burnett Post 127 American Legion Hut
The American Legion Post 127 Building, located on the northeast corner of Cherry and Armstrong streets in Eudora (Chicot County), is a Rustic-style structure erected in 1934 with assistance from the Civil Works Administration (CWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 8, 1992. Local veterans of World War I established an American Legion post at Eudora on April 9, 1920, and named it in honor of Wilson B. Burnett, an eighteen-year-old soldier from Montrose (Ashley County) who was killed in action in France on July 20, 1918. It would be another fourteen years before the post had a permanent home with the assistance of the CWA. In seeking CWA …

Arkansas Real Estate Bank

In 1836, the establishment of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas became the initial act to pass the first state legislature. Momentum for a state-sponsored bank began during the territorial phase when planters and other lowland agricultural interests sought ways to enhance the availability of capital. The bank’s charter required the state to issue $2 million in five-percent bonds, the proceeds from which would serve as the bank’s capital. But the state held no authority for immediate supervision of the bank’s operations other than the appointment of a minority of the bank’s directors. From 1836 to 1855, when the state took over control, the Real Estate Bank proved to be a source of political corruption, financial mismanagement, and intense sectional …

Burgess, Franklin

Arkansas native Franklin Burgess earned All-American honors in basketball at Washington State’s Gonzaga University and played professionally before going on to a successful career as a lawyer and judge. Franklin D. Burgess was born on March 9, 1935, in Eudora (Chicot County) to Morris and Ollie Burgess. Burgess attended Eudora Colored High School and then spent one year at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), which is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, before joining the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge in 1958, he entered Gonzaga University. By this time, he and his wife, Treava Burgess, had twin daughters, so Burgess focused on the school’s academic offerings as well as its basketball program. He earned a …

Chicot County

Chicot County is the southeasternmost county in Arkansas. It is bounded by Louisiana to the south and the Mississippi River to the east. The county is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta; therefore, it is a prime location for agriculture, with some of the richest soils in the state. Because of this, the county continues to have strong ties to the land and is consistently one of the largest producers of cotton in Arkansas. With Lake Chicot as the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest oxbow lake in North America, the county provides residents and tourists with ample opportunities for year-round fishing. According to the 2020 Census, the county had a population of 10,208, with three …

Chicot County Courthouse

The Chicot County Courthouse is a 1950s–era Art Deco building incorporating many Corporate or Government Moderne features. It sits at 108 Main Street in Lake Village (Chicot County). Lake Village was chosen as the seat of local government in 1857, the third city to formally hold the title of county seat since the county was formed from a part Arkansas County in 1823. Both Villemont and Columbia, the former seats, were overtaken by the Mississippi River, and a third location, Masona, was temporary, with no buildings or permanent fixtures ever put in place during its two-year stint as county seat. Lake Village was the fourth and final move for local officials. The land on which the courthouse and county jail …

Chicot County Lynching of 1836

aka: Bunch (Lynching of)
According to the Arkansas Gazette, an African American identified only as Bunch was hanged in Chicot County in August 1836. The incident was also reported in a number of newspapers across the United States. According to the Gazette, Bunch, perhaps a member of the free black population in Chicot County, attempted to vote, but the judges turned him back because he was black. Bunch “took umbrage” at this and “resorted to violent measures.” In the midst of the fracas that followed, one Dr. Webb, “a highly respectable citizen,” was stabbed multiple times and was expected to die. Local citizens were so incensed that they promptly hanged Bunch. The Indiana American, quoting the Louisville Journal, reported that Bunch had a copy …

Chicot County Race War of 1871

aka: Chicot County Massacre
In late 1871, Chicot County was taken over by several hundred African Americans, led by state legislator and county judge James W. Mason. The murder of African-American lawyer Wathal (sometimes spelled as Walthall) Wynn prompted the area’s black citizens to kill the men jailed for their role in the murder and take over the area. Many white residents fled, escaping by steamboat to Memphis, Tennessee, and other nearby river towns. Like the Black Hawk War that occurred in Mississippi County the following year, the situation arose, in part, from the radical wing of the Republican Party exercising its power in choosing local officials. Both Mississippi and Chicot counties’ populations were primarily black, with blacks outnumbering whites four to one in Chicot County. …

Columbia (Chicot County)

Columbia, founded during the late territorial period, was a busy settlement located on the western bank of the Mississippi River in extreme southeastern Arkansas. The one-time Chicot County seat was an important shipping point for local cotton plantations and the site of a branch of the Arkansas Real Estate Bank. Over time, the banks of the river slowly eroded the town site until it was eventually washed away. When Chicot County was established on October 25, 1823, a board of commissioners selected the settlement of Villemont as the county seat. In 1833, as the county boundaries changed, the seat of government was removed to a more central location a few miles upriver at Columbia. The added importance of being the …

Dermott (Chicot County)

Dermott grew from a bayou settlement, which had its beginning in the early 1840s, to a thriving railroad town in the 1880s. With an economy based largely on agriculture and timber, it flourished until the Depression. While many other small Delta towns did not survive that period, Dermott prevailed. Although it never regained its former stature, it remains a substantial town populated by many descendants of early settlers. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The first settlers chose the rich and heavily timbered land along the bayou. John Smith and his wife, Sarah Bowden, arrived in 1811 and opened the first settlement in the vicinity. The town was named after Dr. Charles McDermott, who first visited in 1834. He bought land …

Dermott Crawfish Festival

The Dermott Crawfish Festival is one of the longest continuously running festivals in Arkansas. Every third weekend of May, Dermott (Chicot County) transforms its downtown streets into an entertainment district offering carnival amusements, arts and crafts, specialty foods, pancake breakfasts, live music, a disc jockey, beauty pageants, basketball contests, fire truck rides, magic shows, bingo, karate demonstrations, a “Show Your Rims” competition, and a dog show, as well as educational exhibits and visiting local and state politicians. The festival originated with the expansion of this Delta community’s farm-based economy into aquaculture. In the early 1980s, local agriculturists Ronnie Thomas, John Green, Jimmy Duncan, and Jerry Duncan began crawfish farming. Thomas, a fishery biologist, researched superior farming and food-preparation techniques. The …

Dermott News

Dermott (Chicot County) did not have its own newspaper until decades after the community was founded in the 1840s. In 1910, J. A. Watkins established the most prominent local newspaper, the Dermott News. The Dermott News had many publishers during its almost seven-decade run. In 1911 alone, the paper changed hands several times. The next year, Gilbert Earle Kinney purchased it, bringing stability to the paper. He remained editor and publisher until his death in 1938. The paper merged with another in 1977. In 1939, Joe W. Sitlington purchased the paper, and he worked as the publisher until 1946. The paper changed hands rapidly again, from the Dermott News Publishing Company to W. W. Mundy in 1947. Mundy stayed with …

Epstein, Sam

Sam Epstein, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, was a merchant, planter, and civic leader in Lake Village (Chicot County) and Chicot County in the early twentieth century. Sam Epstein was born to Menasha Epstein and Malke Epstein on July 25, 1875, on a farm near Riga, Latvia, in the former Russian Empire. He was likely the second of five children. Many Eastern European Jews fled violence and legal restrictions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While Epstein’s parents likely did not immigrate, at least five of their children, including Sam, arrived in the United States between 1891 and 1900. Epstein likely arrived in New York City in May 1896. He traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, and joined an older brother, Nathan, …

Eudora (Chicot County)

The city of Eudora, in the southeastern corner of Arkansas, was built on land rising twenty-five feet above the surrounding Delta flatlands. It came about as a result of antebellum plantations and an early twentieth-century railroad. Eudora survived the Flood of 1927 because of its elevation. The city calls itself the “Catfish Capital of Arkansas.” Louisiana Purchase through Reconstruction The rich land on which Eudora was established was still only sparsely settled when Arkansas became a state in 1836. A Presbyterian church was built on the ridge in the 1840s, and a Masonic lodge opened at that location in 1848. E. C. James owned 700 acres of Chicot County land, including the ridge; he named his homestead Eudora Plantation for …

Eudora Church, Skirmish at

Conflict along the Mississippi River did not end with the Confederate defeat at the July 1863 Battle of Helena. Throughout 1864, Confederate forces attempted to harass Federal shipping from the Arkansas side of the river. The Skirmish at Eudora Church resulted from Federal efforts to stop this harassment. The forces engaged were small in number and irregular in nature. The Confederates fielded only a squad (a party smaller than a company), and Confederate forces operating in this area were described as “independent squads, deserters, skulkers fleeing from conscription” and “lawless bands.” On the Federal side, one infantry company of the Mississippi Marine Brigade fought at Eudora Church. This brigade was created to protect Federal shipping from Confederate attacks along rivers. …

Eunice Expedition

In August 1862, General Samuel Curtis, commander of the Army of the Southwest, dispatched a naval-escorted ground force from Helena (Phillips County) to Eunice (Chicot County). The purpose of the expedition was to capture a wharf-boat, gather useful information about Confederate forces in the area along the Mississippi River, and “annoy” the enemy. The venture was a complete success for the Union forces. On August 28, 1862, a Union force consisting of 200 men of the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers and two pieces of artillery manned by men of the First Iowa Battery boarded the steamers White Cloud and Iatan. The slow-moving force, which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William H. Raynor, was escorted by the gunboat USS Pittsburgh (often …

Farmer, John (Lynching of)

On July 19, 1891, an African-American man named John Farmer was lynched in Chicot County for allegedly murdering a prominent local planter named C. C. Buckner. John Farmer may be the same person who was living with his grandmother, Lou Gibson, in the household of another African American, Jack Gillis, in Mason Township of Chicot County in 1880; his grandmother was a servant, and fifteen-year-old Farmer was a farm laborer. This would mean that he was twenty-six at the time he was lynched. According to Paul R. Hollrah’s History of St. Charles County, Missouri (1765–1885), C. C. Buckner was Charles Creel Buckner, born in Kentucky in 1850 to George Roberts Buckner and Harriet Creel Buckner. C. C. Buckner graduated from …

Faulkner, Sandford C. “Sandy”

Sandford C. (Sandy) Faulkner is an iconic individual from Arkansas’s early statehood. Although he never held elective office, his political and economic activity made a significant contribution to the development of the young state. Moreover, Faulkner is largely responsible for the story of the “Arkansas Traveler,” which has shaped the image of Arkansas since the 1840s. Sandy Faulkner was born on March 3, most likely in 1803, in Scott County, Kentucky, to Nicholas Faulkner and Sally Fletcher Faulkner. Much confusion surrounds Faulkner’s early history; many sources spell his first name “Sanford,” and one researcher even suggests that at birth he was given the name “Sanderson.” The 1850 census appears to record his age as forty-four, suggesting that he was born …

Gaines’ Landing, Skirmish at (July 20, 1862)

This Civil War skirmish occurred in relation to strategic considerations of Major General Samuel R. Curtis after he occupied Helena (Phillips County) and established operational headquarters there in the summer of 1862. The location of Gaines’ (or Gaines) Landing in Chicot County—situated between Curtis’s base at Helena and the stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi—made it a useful base for Confederates to transport munitions and other supplies into Arkansas by flatboat and steamboat. In addition to his concern for the general strategic security of the Mississippi River, Curtis also worried that such activities could impinge upon possible operations against Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the area between Memphis, Tennessee, and the mouth of the Arkansas River. To address these concerns, Curtis led …

Gaines’ Landing, Skirmish at (June 28, 1863)

Located on the western bank of the Mississippi River in Chicot County, Gaines’ (or Gaines) Landing was a busy shipping point between Helena (Phillips County) and Vicksburg, Mississippi. A road heading west from Gaines’ Landing through Drew County was one of few in the area leading inland away from the river, making it very important to settlers, immigrants, and merchants. During the American Civil War, Gaines’ Landing was one of many points along the river used by Confederate troops to harass Federal steamboats. Long bends of the river were ideal for the Confederates’ hit-and-run tactics: they could attack a boat as it entered the bend and then race across the narrow neck of land to attack it again as it …

Garner, Margaret “Peggy”

Margaret Garner, a Kentucky-born enslaved woman, gained national notoriety for killing one child and attempting to kill the rest of her children under duress of being recaptured and returned to her master following her family’s escape to Ohio. According to all accounts, she declared it a humane act to prevent her offspring from suffering the indignities of slavery. She and her controversial deed became immortalized through popular media, most notably in Toni Morrison’s 1987 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Beloved. Garner lived briefly in Chicot County, Arkansas, prior to her death. Little is known about her early life. She lived on Maplewood Plantation in Boone County, Kentucky, owned first by John Pollard Gaines, who sold her to his brother, Archibald, in 1849. …

Hart, Clyde

Clyde Hart was one of the nation’s leading track and field coaches. Serving as the head coach at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for just over four decades, Hart coached numerous Olympians, whose accomplishments, especially in the 400 meters, helped Baylor earn the nickname “Quarter-Miler U.” Clyde Hart was born on February 3, 1934, in Eudora (Chicot County) to Clyde T. Hart and Erma Lee Brymer Hart. He grew up in Hot Springs (Garland County), where his father was a Baptist minister. A standout runner in high school, Hart was a five-time state cross country and track and field championship winner. He originally planned to attend Louisiana State University, but having met a number of Baylor University student-athletes who attended …

Hicks, Robert (Lynching of)

In late November 1921, a young African-American man named Robert Hicks was lynched near Lake Village (Chicot County) for writing a letter to an eighteen-year-old white woman. While the identity of the woman remains a mystery, Hicks was probably the same Robert Hicks who was living with his mother, Minnie, in the household of his stepfather, Henry Singleton, in South Charlton Township of Chicot County in 1910. At that time, he was eight years old. In 1920, at eighteen, he was still in South Charlton Township working on a cotton farm owned by his uncle, Jessie E. Cooper. While newspaper reports put his age at twenty-three or twenty-five, the census information shows that he was only nineteen at the time …

J. Wilson [Steamboat]

The J. Wilson was a steamboat that was destroyed when two of its boilers exploded as it left Columbia (Chicot County) on January 6, 1853, resulting in dozens of deaths. Captain John Rotan and J. M. Craig had the J. Wilson built in 1852 with plans to use the vessel to transport freight and cotton along the Mississippi River. Rotan served as the vessel’s captain. The steamboat had just taken a load of freight owned by A. H. Davies and Johnson Chapman aboard at the landing at Columbia on January 6, 1853, when two of its boilers exploded, completely destroying the vessel’s forecastle and a third of its hurricane deck roof. A report in the Washington Telegraph stated that “all …

Jerome Relocation Center

The Japanese American relocation site at Jerome (in Drew County and partially in Chicot County) was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 4, 2010. This Japanese American incarceration camp, along with a similar one built in Desha County, eventually housed some 16,000 Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. The Japanese American population, of which sixty-four percent were American citizens, had been forcibly removed from the West Coast under the doctrine of “military necessity” and incarcerated in ten relocation camps dispersed throughout the inner mountain states and Arkansas. This was the largest influx and incarceration of any racial or ethnic group in Arkansas’s history. The Jerome Relocation Center was in operation …

Johnson, Henry (Lynching of)

On November 3, 1903, an African-American man named Henry Johnson was hanged in Lake Village (Chicot County) for his alleged involvement in a shooting at a saloon. It is not possible to specifically determine who Johnson was, since the 1900 census lists more than one Black man named Henry Johnson in Chicot County. According to newspaper accounts, around 2:00 a.m. on November 3, Frank Anderson, described by the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic as “a prominent businessman of Lake Village,” and Baldy Vinson, “the well known Little Rock attorney,” were drinking in Joe Frame’s saloon in Lake Village. The Daily Independent of Newport (Jackson County) reported that some of the Black waiters in the saloon had been “throwing beer around the …

Johnson, Lycurgus Leonidas

Lycurgus Leonidas Johnson was one of the largest cotton planters and slaveowners in antebellum Arkansas. Around 1860, he built an imposing, seventeen-room Greek Revival mansion along the banks of the Mississippi River at his Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County. Lycurgus Johnson was born on March 22, 1818, the eldest of nine children born to Joel Johnson and Verlinda Offutt Johnson of Scott County, Kentucky. The Johnsons were among the most prominent families in early Kentucky. Johnson’s paternal grandfather, Robert Johnson, was a political, educational, and religious leader in the Bluegrass State; he had been instrumental in establishing Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University) at Lexington, the Rittenhouse Academy in Scott County, and the Kentucky Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge. One of …

Jones, Green Hill

Green Hill Jones was an African-American politician and Free Will Baptist minister in Chicot County. Born into slavery, Jones served in the Union army during the Civil War and received an education in the North following his discharge. Upon returning to Chicot County, he became county treasurer and county assessor and served two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly. Throughout his adult life, he was known as G. H. Jones, Greenhill Jones, Green Hill Jones, or Hill Jones. However, in an interview with the U.S. Pension Office, he stated that his true name when he attained his freedom was Green Hill Jones Haywood. Born a slave in Maury County, Tennessee, on December 18, 1842, Green Hill Jones was part of …

Lake Chicot

Lake Chicot in Chicot County is both the largest oxbow lake in North America and the largest natural lake in the state of Arkansas, running almost twenty-two miles in a C-shaped curve one mile wide and covering 5,000 acres. The city of Lake Village (Chicot County) is situated along its western shore, while Lake Chicot State Park lies on its northern shore. The lake has been at the center of history and culture in Chicot County, serving as the site of a Civil War engagement and as a focal point for local plantation agriculture. Charles Lindbergh conducted his first night flight ever over Lake Chicot in 1923. Geologists estimate that Lake Chicot likely separated from the Mississippi River several centuries …

Lake Chicot State Park

Lake Chicot State Park, located near Arkansas’s southeastern corner, provides recreational access to Arkansas’s largest natural lake, Lake Chicot, a twenty-mile-long oxbow created by the Mississippi River hundreds of years ago. Activities at the lake and its environs include fishing and bird watching. Early in the twentieth century, the pure waters of the lake were used untreated by the city of Lake Village (Chicot County). The area became popular for its fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. The forests surrounding the lake served as a rich habitat for wildlife. The lake was polluted by a flood in 1916 and, beginning in 1920, work on the Mississippi River levee polluted it even more. Dredging, increased cultivation around the lake, and the …

Lake Village (Chicot County)

Lake Village is located in the extreme southeastern part of the state in Chicot County. While Lake Village is the smallest incorporated town, by square miles, in the county, it has served as the county seat since 1857. The hub of commercial activity for Chicot County, Lake Village prides itself on its rich agricultural background. European Exploration and Settlement While Lake Village was not incorporated as a town until 1898, the history of the area starts much earlier, beginning with the arrival of the Spanish in 1541. One local story claims that Hernando de Soto and his men came upon a friendly Native American tribe ruled by Chief Chicot, who had their village on the banks of the Mississippi River …

Lake Village Confederate Monument

The Lake Village Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1910 by the Jacob McConnell Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) of Lake Village (Chicot County) and the George K. Cracraft UDC Chapter from Eudora (Chicot County) in honor of local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Chicot County provided three companies for Confederate service during the Civil War. Among the soldiers who served in them were Captain Jacob McConnell, who fought with the Chicot Rangers (Company A, First Arkansas Mounted Rifles) and was killed in action in the fighting at Chickamauga, Georgia, on September 20, 1863, and Captain George K. Cracraft of Company G, Twenty-Third Arkansas Infantry, who was …

Lake Village Post Office

The Lake Village Post Office at 206 South Cokley Street in Lake Village (Chicot County) is a one-story, brick-masonry structure designed in the Colonial Revival style of architecture. It features a mural financed through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later renamed the Section of Fine Arts), a Depression-era stimulus project that promoted public art. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998. In August 1937, Congress passed an appropriation bill providing a $23 million lump sum for construction of public buildings. Included in the allocation was $75,000 for a new post office for Lake Village, the seat of Chicot County. Though details of construction could not be located, the building …

Lakeport Plantation

The Lakeport Plantation house in Chicot County is Arkansas’s grandest remaining example of antebellum Greek Revival architecture. The plantation was established around 1831 by Joel Johnson, the scion of a large and influential Kentucky family. Johnson had sold his house and grist mill in Scott County, Kentucky, and set off for Chicot County. He purchased a tract of land southeast of Old River Lake (present-day Lake Chicot) just above a large oxbow curve in the river called American Bend. The plantation he developed there was named Lakeport after a nearby steamboat landing. For the next fifteen years, Johnson expanded his holdings in land and slaves and brought more land under cultivation. The soil produced abundantly, and slave-based plantation agriculture became …

Lightfoot, Claude M.

Claude Lightfoot was an Arkansas-born Communist who became involved in politics after moving to Chicago, Illinois. A frequent candidate for public office in Chicago from the 1930s to the 1950s, Lightfoot represents the impact of the Great Migration out of Arkansas and both the possibilities and limitations of black liberation in northern cities. Claude M. Lightfoot was born on January 19, 1910, in Lake Village (Chicot County). His grandmother, who separated from her husband, acquired a farm of her own and raised her twelve children to adulthood. Shortly after Lightfoot’s birth, his parents moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his father worked for a railroad company and his mother as a domestic worker, while young Claude stayed with his …

Lindbergh, Charles, First Night Flight of

In the acclaim for Charles Augustus Lindbergh following his solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, few people recognized the small but significant role Arkansas played in the historic event. Today, a modest monument off Highway 159 near Lake Village (Chicot County) marks the Arkansas site that contributed to one of the greatest stories in American history. In April 1923, Charles Lindbergh was a young pilot who had taught himself to fly. On a flight between Mississippi and Houston, Texas, he landed near Lake Chicot in Lake Village, in an open space which was used as a local golf course. The nearest building was the clubhouse. The keeper, Mr. Henry, and his family sometimes used the building as an inn and extended …

Mason, James W.

aka: James Mason Worthington
James W. Mason of Chicot County was the first documented African-American postmaster in the United States. He later served as a delegate to the 1868 Arkansas constitutional convention and was a state senator. James W. Mason was born in Chicot County in 1841. His father was Elisha Worthington (1808–1873), the wealthiest landowner and largest slaveholder in Chicot County. Mason’s mother was one of Worthington’s slaves, whose name is unknown. Worthington apparently carried on a longtime, public relationship with this woman. (He did, however, marry Mary Chinn of Kentucky in 1840, but she returned to Kentucky only six months later, claiming that he was an adulterer, and the marriage was annulled.) Mason’s full name, which rarely appears in any public record, may have …

McHan, Clarence Lamar

Lamar McHan grew up and played football in Lake Village (Chicot County), became a star for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and was one of the first Razorbacks to achieve some stardom in the professional football leagues. McHan was a versatile player who did everything—pass, run, kick, block, and tackle. He was the second player selected overall in the 1954 draft of the National Football League—still the highest draft pick ever for an Arkansas player as of 2021—and spent ten years as a quarterback in the league and part of another season with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He later was a coach for high school, collegiate, and professional teams. Clarence Lamar McHan …

Mud

Mud is the third film written and directed by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Jeff Nichols. The film was shot over an eight-week period in parts of Dumas (Desha County), DeWitt (Arkansas County), Lake Village (Chicot County), Crockett’s Bluff (Arkansas County), and Stuttgart (Arkansas County) in the fall of 2011. The film used more than 400 locals as extras. Other Arkansan actors in the film include Jacob Lofland of Yell County in the role of Neckbone and El Dorado (Union County) native Stuart Greer, a noted character actor, as a bounty hunter called Miller. The film made its premiere at the famous Cannes Film Festival in France on May 26, 2012, and was shown at the Sundance Film Festival before …

Old River Lake, Engagement at

aka: Engagement at Ditch Bayou
aka: Engagement at Lake Chicot
aka: Engagement at Lake Village
aka: Engagement at Furlough
aka: Engagement at Fish Bayou
aka: Engagement at Grand Lake
On June 6, 1864, Union and Confederate forces clashed along the southern shore of Lake Chicot near Lake Village (Chicot County). The engagement at Old River Lake (also known as Ditch Bayou) was the largest to occur in Chicot County and the last significant Civil War engagement in Arkansas. Union forces won the field but suffered higher casualties. By the end of 1863, Union forces controlled almost all traffic on the Mississippi River. Steamships were the primary sources of transportation. Gunboats protected fleets of troop transports moving up and down river. Their large cannons bombarded areas of Rebel activity along the river bank. Landing parties foraged for food and burned plantations. Local inhabitants lived in terror at the approach of …

Parnell, Harvey

Harvey Parnell was the first lieutenant governor of the twentieth century and twenty-ninth governor of Arkansas. During his term as governor, he appointed Hattie Caraway to the U.S. Senate. She later became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Harvey Parnell was born in Orlando (Cleveland County) on February 28, 1880, to William Robert Parnell, a farmer, and Mary Elizabeth Martin. He shared farm chores with four brothers and two sisters. He was educated in the one-room schoolhouses of rural Arkansas. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Warren (Bradley County), where he attended high school and worked in the local hardware store. Parnell’s early career as a small business owner and farmer influenced his later career as …

Reynolds, Daniel Harris

Daniel Harris Reynolds was a lawyer, Confederate general, and state senator who ranks as one of Arkansas’s most talented and dedicated citizen-soldiers during the Civil War. Daniel Reynolds was born on December 14, 1832, in Centerburg, Ohio, to Amos and Sophia (Houck) Reynolds. He studied at Ohio Wesleyan University in the town of Delaware, where he joined the Masonic order in 1853. He studied law privately in Louisa County, Iowa, and Somerville, Tennessee, where he befriended fellow future Confederate general Otho French Strahl. Admitted to the bar in 1858, he established a legal practice in Lake Village (Chicot County) At the outset of the Civil War, Reynolds raised a cavalry company, the “Chicot Rangers,” and entered Confederate service as a …

Rob Roy [Steamboat]

The Rob Roy was a steamboat plying the route between Louisville, Kentucky, and New Orleans, Louisiana, when it suffered a fatal boiler explosion near Columbia (Chicot County) in 1836. This was not the first deadly accident involving the Rob Roy’s boilers. On July 19, 1835, the steamboat was approaching the shore to drop off a passenger about fifteen miles above New Madrid, Missouri, when it hit an underwater snag. The collision raised the Rob Roy’s bow several feet above the surface of the Mississippi River, causing a connecting pipe to break in two places and the boilers’ contents to spill out, scalding several deck passengers. At least four people died from the scalding, and three who jumped overboard to escape …

Robinson, Samuel Dunn

Samuel Dunn Robinson was a lawyer and horseman whose long and colorful life mixed the two passions in nearly equal proportions. He was a criminal lawyer, prosecuting attorney, justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court for sixteen years, soldier, rancher, cowboy, and professional equestrian. When he died, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called him “a cross between the Marlboro Man and Clarence Darrow”—a reference to the cowboy icon of cigarette advertisements and the famous lawyer in the 1925 Scopes evolution trial. Sam Robinson was born on March 21, 1899, in Greenville, Mississippi, but lived on the Deerfield Plantation in Chicot County, one of the biggest farms in the most prolific cotton-producing county in Arkansas after the Civil War. He was one of four …

Ross’ Landing, Skirmish at

  Early in 1864, Chicot County witnessed an event that characterized the increasingly brutal nature of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Department during the last full year of the Civil War. On February 14, 1864, twenty-two self-described “half bushwhackers” from Captain W. N. “Tuck” Thorp’s Company E of the Ninth Missouri Cavalry (Elliott’s Scouts, serving as the advance of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s brigade and sometimes called the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion) surprised and attacked a detachment of the First Mississippi Infantry (African Descent) under First Lieutenant Thaddeus K. Cock on the Johnson family’s Tecumseh plantation near Grand Lake. While patrolling near Lake Village (Chicot County), Capt. Thorp’s men learned from an unidentified citizen that a detachment of black Union soldiers from …

Sam Epstein House

The Sam Epstein House in Lake Village (Chicot County), constructed in 1910, was of historical and cultural significance on several counts. The wood-frame house itself was an interesting blend of Colonial Revival design with touches of Craftsman and Vernacular, primarily in the additions and the second story. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 21, 1992, but burned down approximately twenty years later, on June 30, 2012. Sam Epstein came to America from czarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. As a young adult, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his brother Nathan and peddled a variety of goods between that city and the Louisiana border. Epstein left Memphis to become one of the …

Starr, John Robert

John Robert Starr was a reporter, columnist, author, and educator who served as the managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat (and later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) from 1978 to 1992. He is most known for his role in the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette. John Starr was born on December 29, 1927, in Lake Village (Chicot County), the oldest of three children of John Phillip Starr and Thelma Russell Starr. The family lived in various locations in southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and Mississippi during Starr’s childhood. After Starr’s father died in 1932, Starr’s mother moved with the children to Lake Village and the family then moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) when Starr was in the fourth …

State v. Buzzard

State v. Buzzard (1842) was a case in the first half of the nineteenth century involving the right of an individual to carry a concealed weapon. The case came two decades after an 1822 Kentucky case that struck down a state law that restricted concealed weapons—although the weapon at issue there was a sword concealed in a cane. Ultimately, given the facts in Buzzard, coupled with the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the case has come to be recognized as one of the earliest examinations of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The case was heard by the original three members of the Arkansas Supreme Court—Chief Justice Daniel Ringo and Associate Justices Townsend Dickinson and …

Sunnyside Plantation

Sunnyside Plantation of Chicot County is synonymous with the immigration of Italian Catholics into the cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta. During the 1890s and early 1900s, Sunnyside Plantation was the largest Catholic colony of new immigrants in the state and the primary factor in attracting Italians to Arkansas. Almost all Italians had left by 1910, however, due to dissatisfaction with increasing poor working arrangements. In the later half of the nineteenth century, Austin Corbin of New York bought more than 10,000 acres of Chicot County land on the Mississippi River and established his Sunnyside Plantation. Under the auspices of the Sunnyside Company, Corbin consolidated several plantations and named the property after an area plantation that dated back to the …

Villemont (Chicot County)

Villemont, one of the earliest settlements in the Arkansas Territory, was the first county seat of Chicot County, which was created on October 25, 1823. Located on the Mississippi River, it was a thriving river port town until the river itself swept away the town in 1847. The land upon which the settlement was founded was part of an original Spanish land grant issued to Don Carlos de Villemont, commandant of Arkansas Post, by the governor of Louisiana in 1795. The grant measured two leagues wide by one league deep. It is believed that de Villemont owned approximately 14,000 arpens, with each arpen equating to eighty-five percent of a modern acre. Though Villemont never occupied his land grant, it did …