Entries - County: Hempstead

Avery, Andrew (Lynching of)

On July 30, 1917, an African-American man named Andrew Avery was lynched for allegedly attacking a levee contractor named Will Woods (also referred to as W. J. Woods and William Wood) several days earlier. Although a headline in the Arkansas Gazette indicates that Avery was lynched in Garland City (Miller County), information in the article itself seems to indicate that Avery was captured by Deputy Sheriff Walter Oden at Sheppard (in neighboring Hempstead County) and a mob intercepted them on their way to the Hempstead County jail. Another article in the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, however, omits any mention of Sheppard or Hempstead County and reports that Oden was taking Avery to the jail in Texarkana (Miller County) when he …

Barlow Hotel

The Barlow Hotel at 102 South Elm Street in Hope (Hempstead County) was, for more than seventy-five years, the city’s most popular lodging and dining venue, as well as its most sought-after meeting and banquet facility. The Barlow was built as the Lamar Hotel by local merchant J. C. McKee and opened in 1886, ten years after the town’s founding. It initially sought to attract a clientele dominated by railroad passengers, as Hope was built around what would become two major railroad junctions: the north-south Louisiana and Arkansas line (now Kansas City Southern) and the east-west Cairo and Fulton (now Union Pacific). In 1886, M. H. Barlow, a hardware merchant who hailed from Cory, Pennsylvania, was persuaded that the hotel, …

Big Arkie

Big Arkie was a thirteen-foot-long alligator caught in 1952 near Hope (Hempstead County). He was the Little Rock Zoo’s main attraction for eighteen years. Weighing 500 pounds, Big Arkie was considered to be the largest alligator in captivity in the western hemisphere. Big Arkie was spied by a young boy in a flooded pasture by Yellow Creek, which is west of Hope. Ed Jackson, caretaker of a local hunting club, was alerted and, with some companions, wrapped Big Arkie in a fifty-foot-long cable attached to a tractor. The alligator spent one night in Hope’s public children’s pool, encased in chicken wire. On the following day, he was delivered to the Little Rock Zoo, doubled up in a crate. When the …

Bingen (Hempstead County)

An unincorporated community in Mine Creek Township, Bingen (Hempstead County) is located about four miles northeast of Nashville (Howard County) and about twenty-seven miles northwest of Hope (Hempstead County). The growth and early history of the community are closely tied to Dr. J. R. Wolff.   The original name of the community was Ozan, not to be confused with the town of the same name located about nine miles to the southeast. A post office opened in the community in 1852. A name change was suggested by South Carolina native Wolff, who moved to the area around 1859. Wolff’s grandfather was a native of Germany, inspiring the community to be named around 1881 for Bingen am Rhein, located in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Trained as a physician, Wolff established a medical practice in Bingen but quickly branched out into other businesses.  In 1889, the community included a number of businesses, all owned by Wolff, such as a general …

Bittick, Helen Long

Helen Marie Long Bittick was an artist of the “primitive folk style,” meaning that she had no academic art training but developed her own unschooled, unique patterns of portraying her subjects. Helen Long was born on June 24, 1918, to Bette Ann Mangum and William Monroe Long on the Judge Level Farm between Washington (Hempstead County) and Hope (Hempstead County); she had three siblings. Her father ran a restaurant in Hope and farmed in McCaskill (Hempstead County). Long attended Brookwood School in Hope, the three-room schoolhouse in Friendship, and schools in McCaskill and Blevins (all in Hempstead County). She did not graduate from high school. She married Cloid Sykes Bittick on November 12, 1933, in Bingen (Hempstead County). They had …

Black, James

James Black, popularly known as the maker of the bowie knife, was one of the early pioneers of Arkansas and settled in the town of Washington (Hempstead County) in southwest Arkansas. James Black was born on May 1, 1800, in New Jersey; the names of his parents are unknown. His mother died when he was young, and his father remarried. Black did not get along well with his stepmother and ran away from home at the age of eight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While in Philadelphia, he was taken in as an apprentice to a silverplater named Stephen Henderson. During that time, Black apparently became strongly skilled in the art of silverplating. In 1818, when he was eighteen years old, his …

Blevins (Hempstead County)

  Blevins is a second-class city located in the northeastern corner of Hempstead County on U.S. Highway 371. Overshadowed in significance by Washington (Hempstead County) and Hope (Hempstead County), Blevins has been overlooked in most historical studies. Unlike many similar small communities, it has survived into the twenty-first century. The first courthouse of Hempstead County was established two miles south of the current location of Blevins. The county government met in 1819 in the log house of John English, built on the bank of Marlbrook Creek. It continued to meet there until 1824, when a courthouse was completed in Washington. Around 1837, Hugh A. Blevins acquired several plats of land in northeastern Hempstead County; Hugh and Sarah Blevins had eleven …

Block, Abraham

aka: Abraham Bloch
Abraham Block was the patriarch of the first documented Jewish family to immigrate to the state of Arkansas. After a period as a businessman in Virginia, Block moved his family to southwest Arkansas in search of new economic opportunities. Along with his sons, he created a regional merchant empire with businesses in Washington (Hempstead County), Fulton (Hempstead County), and Paraclifta (Sevier County) in Arkansas, as well as in New Orleans, Louisiana, and at several stops along the railroad in Texas from Houston to Dallas. The family home in Washington has been restored and is currently a house museum in Historic Washington State Park. Abraham Block (or Bloch) was born on January 30, 1780, or 1781, in Schwihau, Bohemia. The names …

Block, Frances Isaiah Isaacs (Fanny)

Frances (Fanny) Block was the matriarch of the first documented Jewish family to immigrate to what became the state of Arkansas. After courtship and the start of a family in Virginia and New York, Block and her family moved to southwestern Arkansas in search of new economic opportunities. Her willingness to forgo the stability of a religious community on the East Coast and move her family west allowed the family to establish a regional mercantile empire that included businesses in places such as Washington (Hempstead County), Fulton (Hempstead County), and Paraclifta (Sevier County) in Arkansas, as well as in New Orleans, Louisiana, and at several stops along the railroad in Texas from Houston to Dallas. Fanny Block and her family …

Bryant, Kelly

Kelly Bryant was a Democratic politician in the 1960s and 1970s. He has long been identified as the first of three Hope (Hempstead County) natives who won statewide office from the 1960s to the 1990s, heading a trio that also included Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee. Kelly Bryant, who grew up in Hope, was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on August 8, 1908, to Charles C. Bryant and Anna May Nelson Bryant. The family moved to Hope soon after Bryant’s birth. After finishing high school, Bryant attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), graduating in 1934 with a degree in business administration. Bryant spent the bulk of his professional life working in journalism and publishing before entering public …

Carter, Vertie Lee Glasgow

Vertie Lee Glasgow Carter was a renowned educator whose doctorate in education paved her way into previously unattainable arenas for an African-American woman of her time in Arkansas. Over her long career in education, she influenced generations of teachers and revolutionized the way Arkansas applied employment and merit systems. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Vertie L. Glasgow was born on October 19, 1923, into the sharecropping family of Daisy James Glasgow, who was also a schoolteacher, and Thomas Glasgow in the Antioch community in Hempstead County. To buy books and pay tuition to Yerger High School in Hope (Hempstead County), she raised and sold pigs. After graduating from high school in 1942, she attended …

Clinton Birthplace

aka: President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
aka: Bill Clinton Birthplace
William Jefferson Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States, lived the first four years of his life in his grandparents’ home at 117 South Hervey Street in Hope (Hempstead County). Since June 1997, known as the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site, has been open to the public as a museum. The house was built in 1917 for Dr. H. S. Garrett, who evidently designed the house to imitate his previous dwelling in France. The two-and-a-half-story, 2,100-square-foot building contains six rooms, including a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and the nursery where Clinton slept. The house was purchased in 1938 by Eldridge Cassidy and Edith Grisham Cassidy, Clinton’s grandparents. Their daughter, Virginia Cassidy Blythe, made her home …

Clinton, Bill

aka: William Jefferson Clinton
William Jefferson Clinton, a native of Hope (Hempstead County), was the fortieth and forty-second governor of Arkansas and the forty-second president of the United States. Clinton’s tenure as governor of Arkansas, eleven years and eleven months total, was the second longest in the state’s history. Only Orval E. Faubus served longer, with twelve years. Clinton was the second-youngest governor in the state’s history, after John Selden Roane, and the third-youngest person to become president, after Theodore Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Clinton’s years as governor were marked by extensive efforts to reform the public school system and to spur economic growth. He persuaded lawmakers to enact numerous educational reforms, levy substantial taxes to improve education, and enact an array of …

Columbus (Hempstead County)

Columbus is an unincorporated community in Hempstead County, on State Highway 73. Along with Washington (Hempstead County) and Fulton (Hempstead County), Columbus is one of the oldest communities in the area and was once a major commercial center. Native Americans lived in the area for centuries before the first white settlers arrived. Caddo were the principal residents of the area when it was purchased from France by the U.S. government in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Five years later, Abner and Reuben Mouren traveled north from Mooringsport, Louisiana, and built a grist mill and a blacksmith shop out of logs near a natural spring. They were soon joined by several other families. The settlement was known as Pin Hook until …

Confederate State Capitol Building (Hempstead County)

aka: Hempstead County Courthouse of 1836
The 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse located in Washington (Hempstead County) was used as the Confederate State Capitol after Little Rock (Pulaski County) fell to Union forces in 1863. Today, it is one of the attractions of Historic Washington State Park. In 1824, Washington was designated the county seat of Hempstead County; the seat had previously been located in the northeastern part of the county. By 1835, local officials recognized the need for a new county courthouse. The circuit court had previously met in a one-room building built by Tilman L. Patterson, who also supervised the construction of the new two-story courthouse. It was built in 1836 for $1,850. Between the time of its construction and the advent of the Civil …

Cross, Edward

Edward Cross, who was born in Tennessee and reared in Kentucky, practiced law briefly in eastern Tennessee as a young man and then moved to southern Arkansas in 1826, where he spent a long career in politics and the judiciary but particularly in land speculation and business. He served in Congress, was the state attorney general for a time, and also served on the state’s highest court—first the territorial Superior Court and then briefly the Arkansas Supreme Court. His stints on the appellate courts earned him little distinction in the eyes of contemporaries, but his business instincts did. He helped form and develop the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, which later became the state’s most prosperous railroad, the St. Louis, Iron …

Dillard (Lynching of)

On January 18, 1909, a young African American man was lynched in Hope (Hempstead County) for an attempted assault on a white woman. Newspaper reports differ on the victim’s name. While most stories give his last name as Dillard, the earliest report, published in the Arkansas Democrat on January 18, calls him Hillard. Reports on his first name are also confusing. The Washington Telegraph and the Arkansas Gazette identified him as Tom Dillard, while the Nashville News gave his first name as Jim. Some lists of lynching victims give his name as John. Census and other records cast no light on this confusion. For convenience, this entry will refer to him as Dillard. According to reports, on Friday night, January …

Dillon, Melinda Ruth

Melinda Dillon was an American actress who appeared in dozens of movies, plays, and television shows. She was nominated for several major awards, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award; in addition, the Screen Actors Guild recognized her for her role in Magnolia (1999). Other memorable films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), A Christmas Story (1983), and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). She also appeared on television in episodes of Bonanza and the TV movie A Painted House (2003). Melinda Ruth Dillon was born Melinda Ruth Clardy on October 13, 1939, in Hope (Hempstead County) to Floyd Clardy Jr. and Essie Norine Barnett Clardy. Following the death at birth of an older sibling, Dillon was delivered …

Dooley’s Ferry Fortifications Historic District

The Dooley’s Ferry Fortifications Historic District features a series of redoubts and trenches that Confederate soldiers constructed in 1864 and 1865 to protect the approaches to Texas via the Red River during the waning days of the Civil War. In mid-September 1864, Major General Sterling Price led a force of 12,000 men—including most of the Confederate cavalry serving in the state—on a raid into Missouri, leaving the remaining Confederate troops in Arkansas under the command of Major General John Bankhead “Prince John” Magruder. Magruder faced the challenge of defending southwestern Arkansas as aggressive Federal patrols probed the region in the absence of Maj. Gen. Price and the Rebel cavalry. His ability to defend the region was further complicated by a …

Eakin, Jno

aka: John Rogers Eakin
Jno Rogers (John) Eakin, an editor, jurist, champion of women’s rights, and viniculturalist, made notable accomplishments in all four fields. During the Civil War, he edited the Washington Telegraph, making it the state’s only newspaper to remain in operation throughout the war. As a jurist, he served as chancellor from 1874 to 1878 and then as an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court until his death in 1885. His vigorous repudiation of the common law’s entrenched hostility to women was reflected first in his work as chancellor and carried over into his well-crafted, but dissenting, opinions on the Supreme Court. His essay on grape culture was one of the earliest agricultural publications in the state. John Eakin was born …

Foster, Vincent Walker (Vince), Jr.

Vincent Walker Foster Jr. was a prominent Little Rock (Pulaski County) lawyer and close friend and associate of Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Although he had a distinguished legal career in Arkansas, he became a historically important figure for the last six months of his life, when he was deputy counsel for the White House in the administration of President Clinton. Despondent over the political turmoil in which he became involved, Foster committed suicide in a suburban Virginia park, triggering a series of investigations that became part of what was popularly called the “Whitewater scandal.” Vince Foster was born on January 15, 1945, to Vincent W. and Alice Mae Foster in Hope (Hempstead County), where his father …

Frazier, George Thomas

George Frazier was a well-known business, civic, and political leader in Hope (Hempstead County) for six and a half decades. He served as a close friend and advisor to prominent Arkansas Democrats, most notably two Hope natives: Bill Clinton and Mack McLarty. Frazier was also a key figure in the effort to preserve Clinton’s boyhood home in Hope as a National Historic Site. George Thomas Frazier was born on October 29, 1918, in Anderson, Kentucky, to Leonard Leigh, a machinist, and Faye Thomas, a secretary. Leigh left his family when George was two, and his mother married John Joseph Frazier, a construction worker from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1923. John Frazier adopted George, and the family lived in St. Louis …

Fulton (Hempstead County)

Fulton is a town on the northern bank of the Red River in southern Hempstead County. It is one of the earliest non–Native American settlements in Arkansas, and some claim that it is the oldest continually settled community in the state. Located at a convenient crossing of the Red River, Fulton has long been a transportation hub of southern Arkansas. Due to floods and river erosion, none of the early historic structures of Fulton have survived into the twenty-first century. Caddo Indians inhabited the Red River valley of Arkansas long before any European explorers reached the area. A party of French explorers passed through the area in 1687 and noted several Caddo villages, one of which may have been located …

Gantt, Edward W.

Edward W. Gantt became one of southwestern Arkansas’s leading politicians in the Civil War era. He pushed for secession in 1860, led Confederate troops in 1861–1862, and then abruptly supported the Union from 1863 to 1865. He promoted radical social, economic, and political change during Reconstruction as he led the Freedmen’s Bureau and Radical Republicans in Arkansas. Edward W. Gantt was born in 1829, the son of George Gantt, a teacher and Baptist preacher, and Mary Elizabeth Williams. He decided to become a lawyer and attended the 1850 Nashville Convention, which considered secession during the crisis over California statehood. Hoping to find opportunities in the booming Southwest, he moved to Washington (Hempstead County) in 1854. The Sixth Judicial District elected …

Garland, Rufus King

Rufus King Garland was a prominent Arkansas politician who voted for secession and briefly held the rank of captain in the Confederate army. He turned against the war by 1863, won election to the Confederate Congress, and became one of President Jefferson Davis’s most vocal critics. After the war, Garland remained active in politics and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1882. Rufus King Garland was born on May 22, 1830, in Tipton County, Tennessee, to Rufus Garland and Barbara Hill Garland; he had one brother and one sister. He was raised in Washington (Hempstead County) and educated at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky. On February 22, 1853, he married Isabella Sarah Walker, who was the daughter of prominent doctor …

Garner, Claud Wilton

Claud Wilton Garner was a man of many interests and talents. He began as a musician, became a merchant and an advocate for farmers, and, when he was fifty years old, began writing fiction. In addition to his interest in writing, he also composed a number of pieces of music. The sheet music for these compositions, along with the recordings, are located in the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington (Hempstead County). Garner is remembered both as an Arkansas author and as a worker for farmers in Southwest Arkansas and in the Rio Grande Valley. Claud Garner was born in Hope (Hempstead County) on August 29, 1891, to Thomas Jefferson Garner and Ida Hope Haynes Garner. He had three sisters …

Goodlett Gin

The Goodlett Gin is located at 799 Franklin Street in Historic Washington State Park in Washington (Hempstead County), once the county seat for Hempstead County and the last Confederate capital of the state of Arkansas. Constructed in 1883 in nearby Ozan (Hempstead County), the gin was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and moved to the park between 1978 and 1980 after it was purchased by the state. Reassembled in the park, it opened as a non-operating exhibit to the public in 1984. David Goodlett was born on April 3, 1840, in Tippah County, Mississippi. After the death of his mother in 1844, Goodlett moved with his family to Camden (Ouachita County). In 1859, he moved …

Gunter, James Houston (Jim), Jr.

Lawyer and politician James Houston Gunter Jr. was a prosecutor and judge for thirty-six years in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, spending the final eight years of his public career as a justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. He retired after one term on the Supreme Court and returned to a private law practice and cattle farming. James Gunter was born on March 8, 1943, in Atlanta, Texas, the oldest of four children of James H. Gunter Sr. and Helen Marie Long Gunter. His father went into the U.S. Army when Gunter was an infant, and he and his mother lived with his grandmother until World War II ended. The family lived in Arkansas on the farm …

Harris, Oren

Oren Harris served as prosecuting attorney of Arkansas’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (1937–1940) and in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Fourth Congressional District from 1941 to 1953 and, following redistricting, the Seventh Congressional District from 1953 to 1966. Harris resigned his congressional seat in February 1966 after President Lyndon Johnson appointed him U.S. district judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas. Although Harris took senior status with the court in 1976, he fulfilled his promise to work until “he couldn’t put his socks on” and carried a full docket of cases for two additional decades. Oren Harris was born on a farm in Belton (Hempstead County) on December 20, 1903, to Homer Harris and Bettie Bullock Harris, …

Haygood Seminary

Haygood Seminary in Washington (Hempstead County) was established in 1883 as one of the first schools for African Americans funded by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) in Arkansas. Its mission was to prepare preachers and teachers for their vocation so that they could help with the education and development of other African Americans. Haygood Seminary was one of the first five educational institutions in the South supported by the CME Church in the late nineteenth century. Haygood Seminary, also known as Haygood Academy, was organized in March 1883 by former slave John Williamson in Washington. His former master was the Reverend Samuel Williamson of the Presbyterian Church in Washington. John Williamson was a member of the CME congregation in …

Hempstead County

Hempstead County, located in the southwest corner of the state, was organized in 1818, before Congress established Arkansas Territory. The Missouri territorial legislature had created three counties from Arkansas County—Hempstead, Clark, and Pulaski. The county was named for Edward Hempstead, the first delegate to Congress from Missouri Territory. It has been the home of four Arkansas governors: Augustus H. Garland, Daniel Webster Jones, William Jefferson Clinton (later a U.S. president), and Michael Dale Huckabee. European Exploration and Settlement Early Spanish and French explorers traded with the Indians, and it is possible that Hernando de Soto’s 1539–1542 expedition visited this area. Archaeologists have found evidence of Caddo Indian villages and mounds. The Caddo were known to hunt along the Red River …

Henry’s Chapel

Henry’s Chapel was a log church built at Mound Prairie (Hempstead County) around 1817 by Methodist pioneers from Bellevue Valley, Missouri. Many accounts refer to Henry’s Chapel as the area’s first Protestant church. In 1817, a Methodist conference appointed itinerant Methodist preacher William Stevenson to the Hot Springs Circuit, a wilderness area on the western frontier in what would later become southwest Arkansas. Stevenson had scouted the area in 1813 and realized the need to establish a church. He chose the tiny settlement of Mound Prairie as the place for it. At Stevenson’s urging, thirty families from the Bellevue Methodist Church moved to the area. The leader of the group was the Reverend John Henry, a thirty-eight-year-old preacher and farmer. Several others …

Historic Washington Foundation

aka: Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation
The Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation was founded in 1958 to help preserve the community of Washington (Hempstead County). Later renamed the Historic Washington Foundation, it is the oldest historic preservation organization in Arkansas. Following the Civil War, the community of Washington steadily declined in population. In 1939, the county seat of Hempstead County was moved from Washington to the larger community of Hope, which was more accessible by railroad. After World War II, citizens began looking for ways to help keep the community of Washington in existence. In 1951, local resident and ex-mayor Charlean Moss Williams completed her book, The Old Town Speaks, which presented many of the unique stories of the different residents who had lived in Washington. On …

Historic Washington State Park

Historic Washington State Park, originally called Old Washington Historic State Park, is one of fifty-two state parks operated by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. This park primarily exists to preserve and interpret the history of the town of Washington (Hempstead County), emphasizing its political, cultural, and architectural history in the nineteenth century. Washington was a major stopping point on the Southwest Trail that connected St. Louis, Missouri, to Fulton (Hempstead County) on the Red River. Many pioneers and settlers traveled this route on their way to Texas and the Southwest. Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie each traveled separately through Washington before they fought for Texas’s independence. While in Washington, Bowie commissioned local blacksmith James Black to …

Hoover, Dorothy M.

aka: Dorothy Estheryne McFadden Clarke Hoover
Dorothy M. Hoover was a pioneer in the field of aeronautical mathematics and physics. The granddaughter of enslaved people, she overcame the significant obstacles facing African American women in the Jim Crow era of the twentieth century to earn advanced degrees in mathematics and physics. One of her greatest achievements in aeronautical research was her contribution to the development of the “thin sweptback tapered wing,” which revolutionized flight and became the aviation industry standard. Her life story was essentially unknown until she was briefly mentioned in the highly acclaimed book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016), by Margot Lee Shetterly. Hidden Figures, which was made …

Hope (Hempstead County)

Hope is on Prairie De Roan in southwest Arkansas. It is divided by Union Pacific Railway tracks traveling from northeast to southwest and is the birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton, the fortieth and forty-second governor of Arkansas and the forty-second president of the United States. Hope received national attention when Clinton closed his nomination acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention with the words, “I still believe in a place called Hope.” Reconstruction through the Early Twentieth Century The town developed as the Cairo and Fulton Railway (predecessor to the Union Pacific) tracks were being laid from Argenta (now North Little Rock (Pulaski County)) to Fulton (Hempstead County). The first passenger train pulled into “Hope Station” on February 1, …

Hope Girl Scout Little House

The Hope Girl Scout Little House, located near Jones Street in Fair Park in Hope (Hempstead County), is a one-and-a-half-story Rustic-style log building constructed between 1938 and 1939 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2015. The Girl Scout Little House movement had its origins in the 1923 Better Homes Demonstration Week when architect Donn Barber designed a house “for the American family of average size and moderate income” behind the White House in Washington DC for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Better Homes of America organization. After the June 1923 celebration, Lou Henry Hoover, wife of future …

Hope Watermelon Festival

Hope (Hempstead County) annually celebrates its claim as the home of the world’s largest watermelons with a yearly watermelon festival. The event first originated in 1926 and has been ongoing, though not continuous, since 1977. There is no admission fee for the multi-day event scheduled for the second week in August at Hope Fair Park. It is sponsored by the Hope–Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. Activities include watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests, fiddling, arm wrestling contests, as many as 200 vendors displaying their wares, and much more. The competition for growing big melons was a creation of John S. Gibson, who, in 1916, began to offer modest prizes for the largest vegetables and watermelons. Hugh and Edgar Laseter, local farmers, developed …

Huckabee, Janet McCain

Janet McCain Huckabee is the wife of Mike Huckabee (the forty-fourth governor of Arkansas) and was the state’s thirty-ninth first lady. Outside of politics, she became best known for her work with Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross. Janet McCain was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on July 16, 1955, to Angus Bouie McCain, who was an oilfield worker, and Pat Potter McCain, who was a homemaker, a businesswoman, and later a politician. She moved to Hope (Hempstead County) as an infant, where her mother raised her and her siblings after her parents’ divorce. Her mother later married Johnny House. She had two brothers, Tal McCain and Mike McCain; two sisters, Susan McCain Hinger and Kathy McCain; and …

Huckabee, Mike

aka: Michael Dale Huckabee
Michael Dale Huckabee served as the forty-fourth governor of Arkansas. His personal visibility helped him to become the first Republican governor elected to two four-year terms in Arkansas, but he did little to promote the growth of a more expanded two-party system in Arkansas. His policy legacies may well be in the areas of education, environment, and health. Mike Huckabee was born on August 24, 1955, in Hope (Hempstead County), the son of Dorsey W. and Mae (Elder) Huckabee. Huckabee’s father worked as a firefighter, and his mother was employed by the Louisiana Transit Company. In 1965, he joined Garrett Memorial Baptist Church and became involved in church activities. His faith continued to play a significant role in his private …

Jetton, White (Lynching of)

In late December 1904, an African-American teenager named White Jetton was hanged near Spring Hill (Hempstead County) for allegedly attacking a white farmer named Nobbs. A search of public records revealed no information about either Jetton or Nobbs. A report in the Arkansas Gazette on January 3, 1905, said only that the lynching occurred “several days ago.” The report indicates that two African Americans, one of whom was Jetton, attacked a farmer named Nobbs near Spring Hill, ten miles south of Hope (Hempstead County), in a dispute over money they maintained Nobbs owed them. Jetton was described as being “less than 18 years of age.” According to the Gazette, Nobbs was wounded in the face and head, but not seriously. …

Johnson, Glenn T.

Glenn T. Johnson was a trailblazing judge in the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Arkansas, he spent most of his professional life in Illinois, serving in a number of public positions in a career dedicated to public service. Johnson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Glenn T. Johnson was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on July 19, 1917, to Floyd Johnson and Reola Thompson Johnson. As the family moved around the state, he received his early education Washington, then Hope (Hempstead County), and finally Hot Springs (Garland County), where he graduated from Langston High School. Johnson earned a BS from Wilberforce University in Ohio, graduating in 1941. After college, he served in …

Jones, Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster Jones was the last Civil War veteran to serve as governor of Arkansas. He was a member of the old, aristocratic, land-owning class in the South. Most of the Arkansas governors of his genteel social rank had stood loyally by the interests of the wealthier landowners and businessmen, but Jones, as governor, tended to give more attention to the interests of the poorer farming class. Those who wanted still more radical reform in the interests of the lower classes had formed the Populist Party in the early 1890s. This new party threatened the dominance of the one-party system, and thus white supremacy. To stave off the movement of voters away from the Democratic Party, Jones cautiously moved toward …

Jonquil Festival

The Jonquil Festival takes place the third weekend of March each year at Historic Washington State Park in Washington (Hempstead County). Along with people from surrounding communities, it attracts visitors from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma who are eager to see the flowers, the crafts, and a culturally significant historic park covering the period from early settlement to Reconstruction. In 1966, a small tour around town during the March blooming of the jonquils (a type of daffodil) was started. In 1967 or 1968, the tour was established for one weekend and named the Jonquil Trail. What was then called Old Washington Historic State Park was established in 1973, and the park took over what had, by then, become the Jonquil Festival. …

Klipsch Group, Inc.

Klipsch Group, Inc., of Hope (Hempstead County), formerly Klipsch and Associates and later Klipsch Audio Technologies, is one of the leading loudspeaker companies in the United States and a world leader in premium-quality audio products. The company’s official motto, “A Legend in Sound,” has also been applied to its founder, Indiana native Paul Klipsch, who was eulogized as “a great inventor, engineer, scientist, pilot and legendary eccentric.” Holding patents in acoustics, ballistics, and geophysics, Klipsch had a revolutionary vision for audio design and founded the company that bears his name in 1946. As a boy, he enjoyed music and was fascinated with sound, although he was not satisfied with the sound of recorded music. At age fifteen, he built a …

Klipsch, Paul Wilbur

Paul Klipsch was an American engineer and audio pioneer whose work in acoustics gave rise to speaker technologies that radically enhanced sound quality for music lovers around the world. His factory was based in Hope (Hempstead County), and his achievements led to his induction into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame in 1997. According to the Klipsch Museum, Paul Klipsch and Thomas Edison were the only two people from the audio industry to receive that honor since 1946. Paul Wilbur Klipsch was born on March 9, 1904, in Elkhart, Indiana, to Minna Eddy Klipsch, who was a homemaker, and Oscar Colman Klipsch, who was an instructor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. Paul Klipsch moved with his family to …

Lambert, Joseph Calvin (Joe)

Joseph Calvin Lambert was a career U.S. Army soldier who fought in World War II before achieving the rank of major general and serving as the army’s adjutant general in the 1960s. Joseph Calvin (Joe) Lambert was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on August 3, 1908, one of six children of timber industry worker Walter Samuel Lambert and Maude Johnson Lambert. He lived in the area, much of the time in Texarkana (Miller County), until 1925, when he joined the army as a buck private. He rose through the non-commissioned officer ranks, reportedly gaining his master sergeant’s stripes after rescuing a general’s daughter from shark-infested waters in Panama, and was promoted to second lieutenant in the Army Reserve Corps in …

Lemley, Harry Jacob Jr.

Harry Jacob Lemley Jr. was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War before retiring as a lieutenant general in 1971. Harry Jacob Lemley Jr. was born on February 1, 1914, in Hope (Hempstead County), the son of future U.S. District Court judge Harry J. Lemley Sr. and Caroline McRae Lemley. After graduating from Hope High School, Lemley attended the Marion Military in Marion, Alabama, in preparation for his appointment to West Point. Remembering his time at West Point, Lemley wrote years later: “West Point devastated me mentally and physically, as I was grossly immature in every respect. I nevertheless toughed it out, as I …

Lester, Ketty

Ketty Lester is a singer and actress best known for her chart-topping single “Love Letters,” as well as her appearance in the cult classic film Blacula (1972). Lester was a regular on the daytime drama Days of Our Lives and was especially known for her long-running role on the TV series Little House on the Prairie. Ketty Lester was born Revoyda Frierson in Hope (Hempstead County) on August 16, 1934. She was one of fifteen children born to a farm family. Her interest and talent for music led to her singing at church and in school choirs. She won a scholarship to San Francisco City College in California, where she studied music. In San Francisco, she began singing professionally at …

Lewis, Charles (Lynching of)

Charles Lewis, an African American man, was hunted by an armed posse and killed in Hope (Hempstead County) on October 17, 1911, for allegedly making threats to the wife of a prominent local planter. The incident was poorly reported in state newspapers, perhaps due to the coverage afforded the more dramatic lynching of Nathan Lacey near Forrest City (St. Francis County) the previous day. According to the Arkansas Democrat, “Charley” Lewis, as he was called, went on October 17 to the home of one Mrs. Lewellan, “the wife of a prominent planter a few miles south of Hope,” where, “in the absence of the family he used very abusive language to Mrs. Lewellan and finally threatened her and used the …