Entries - Starting with O

O’Kean (Randolph County)

The town of O’Kean (Randolph County) first developed in the Black River bottoms, the area to the south and east of the Black River in Randolph County, shortly after the Civil War. Attracted by plentiful game and productive ground, most pre-war settlers in the area lived near the road from Pocahontas (Randolph County) to old Greensboro (Craighead County) and Gainesville (Greene County), or along the Cache River. The history of the actual settlement and naming of O’Kean remains clouded. There were settlers near the junction of the track and road, but the name of that settlement, if it had one, is unknown. The name O’Kean came from Father James O’Kean, the former priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church. He stopped …

O’Neal (Independence County)

The O’Neal Cemetery is all that remains of a once vibrant river and railroad community located across the White River from Marcella (Stone County). Going west on Highway 106 through Bethesda (Independence County), the O’Neal Road leads to O’Neal, which is about four miles from Bethesda. In territorial days, O’Neal was in Ruddell Township, but it later became part of Washington Township. O’Neal lies on both the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the White River, south of Lock and Dam No. 3. The rich bottomland around O’Neal is still farmed on both sides of the river. O’Neal is about twelve miles west of Batesville (Independence County), the county seat. O’Neal was founded and first settled during territorial days by John …

Oak Grove (Carroll County)

Oak Grove is a town in northern Carroll County, located at the intersection of State Highways 21 and 103. A narrow strip of land in the town runs north along Indian Creek to the Missouri state line. The town is one of twelve communities in Arkansas identified as Oak Grove, and the only one to be incorporated. When a community in Greene County sought to incorporate with the same name in 1979, it was forced to incorporate as Oak Grove Heights. The forested Ozark Mountains have been sparsely inhabited for centuries. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the area was frequently visited by the Osage, who lived farther north but came into what would be Arkansas to …

Oak Grove Heights (Greene County)

Oak Grove Heights is a second-class city located on State Highway 135 four miles north of Paragould (Greene County). It was incorporated in 1979, roughly a century after the community came into being, and consists largely of residences for workers in neighboring communities of Greene County. The wilderness area immediately east of Crowley’s Ridge remained almost entirely uninhabited until after the Civil War, when the railroad industry began to open previously inaccessible regions of Arkansas. When the city of Paragould was established at the intersection of the Cotton Belt and Iron Mountain railways, many of the citizens of Gainesville (Greene County) relocated to the newer city, making it the county seat in 1884. Meanwhile, other settlers came to Arkansas to …

Oak Grove Rosenwald School

The Oak Grove Rosenwald School is located on Oak Grove Road in Oak Grove (Sevier County). The nearest landmark is New Zion Baptist Church, which is about 300 feet south of the Rosenwald School. The school was funded by the Rosenwald Fund in 1926. The school was primarily, if not exclusively, used for African-American students until its closure due to integration in the 1950s. This Rosenwald school has a floor plan created by Samuel Smith instead of a typical Rosenwald floor plan. The Oak Grove Rosenwald School was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 2004. The Julius Rosenwald Fund was created in 1917. Rosenwald earned his wealth from an investment in the Sears, Roebuck, and …

Oakhaven (Hempstead County)

Oakhaven is a town on State Highway 32, a few miles north of Hope (Hempstead County). Originally built as housing for officers serving at the Southwestern Proving Ground during World War II, Oakhaven has never had a post office or a school. Hempstead County was home to some of the most important communities of southwestern Arkansas in the early years of statehood. Fulton (Hempstead County) was an important port on the Red River and once served as the gateway to Mexico—later to Texas—while Washington (Hempstead County) was the county seat and an important city on the Southwest Trail; Washington even served as the Confederate state capital after Little Rock (Pulaski County) was captured by Federal forces in 1863. After the …

Oakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery in Camden (Ouachita County) was the first cemetery of that city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It encompasses approximately twenty acres and has approximately 683 graves. The cemetery’s Forrest Hill entombs Confederates who died in battle near Camden at both the Engagement at Poison Springs on April 18, 1864, and the Action at Marks’ Mills on April 25, 1864. The land for the cemetery was donated by Major William Bradley in the early 1830s. The first known grave bears a monument reading, “First grave in Cemetery. The body of an unknown little girl who died on a flat bottom boat on the Ouachita River was buried before 1840. Chain around the grave was from …

Oakland-Fraternal Cemetery

aka: Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park
Oakland & Fraternal Historic Cemetery Park was established in 1862 when the City of Little Rock (Pulaski County) purchased a 160-acre estate in order to accommodate the Civil War dead. Through the years, this 160-acre estate has been carved into seven distinct cemeteries: Oakland, National, an eleven-acre Confederate, a one-acre Confederate, Fraternal, Jewish Oakland, and Agudath Achim. Today, 108 acres of the original 160 remain as burial grounds. The cemeteries have seen more than 62,000 burials since the first in 1863. The land was originally “christened Oakland, probably because the site which was chosen for it was natural forest, wooded principally with oaks,” according to an 1862 Arkansas Gazette article. The need for a city cemetery then, during the Civil …

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

aka: Oaklawn Park Racetrack
aka: Oaklawn Jockey Club
aka: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming
Even before the Civil War, the former pasture where Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort now stands in Hot Springs (Garland County) was home to impromptu races between local farm boys riding their fastest ponies. Today, the track is Arkansas’s only thoroughbred horse racing venue and the lone remaining gambling center in a city once known as much for its casinos as for its famous thermal baths. The popularity of Sportsman’s Park, built on the southeastern edge of Hot Springs in the early 1890s, sparked an interest in developing the sport of thoroughbred horse racing in the area. Following the 1903 repeal of anti-gambling laws, Essex Park was built in 1904. Charles Dugan, Dan Stuart, and John Condon—owners of the Southern Club—decided …

Oates, Will Etta Long (Willie)

Willie Oates was a renowned civic activist in Arkansas throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Whether through her fundraising efforts for charities and nonprofit organizations or her service in the Arkansas General Assembly, she had a substantive impact on her state and its citizens—and it was all achieved in a colorful style that was characterized by the flamboyant hats that became her trademark. Will Etta (Willie) Long was born on January 14, 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas, to Harry L. Long and Roberta Fern Jordan Long. Harry Long, a pharmacist, was mayor of Arkansas City for several years. Willie Long arrived at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1938, earning her bachelor’s degree in …

Oats, Presley (Lynching of)

Although many lynchings in Arkansas occurred in connection with serious crimes, real or alleged, there were some people lynched for trivial reasons. On May 13, 1897, an African-American man named Presley Oats was dragged from his home in Pope County and lynched for supposedly stealing a ham. This incident preceded the Atkins Race War, which began approximately two weeks later. It was, however, indicative of the racial animus caused by the recent influx of African Americans into the county. Many of these new arrivals accepted lower wages for farm work and work in the lumber mills, causing resentment among area whites. Although one newspaper account of the incident referred to Presley Oats as an “old negro,” there is an eight-year-old …

Obesity

Obesity is a complex issue impacting every segment of the population and having many roots. The drivers and health effects of obesity are not fully understood but may be contextualized within the United States’ transition from a farm-based to an industrialized economy. Arkansas consistently ranks as one of the most obese states in the United States. Historically, most efforts to combat obesity have focused on individual-level interventions. Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003, which created the Child Health Advisory Committee, was among the first and most comprehensive statewide legislative initiatives to combat childhood obesity by focusing on creating healthier public school environments. Similar initiatives have proliferated since obesity has become a global health issue. Although widely discussed as a major risk …

Oden (Montgomery County)

Oden, a rural community in northwest Montgomery County, is on the north bank of the Ouachita River eight miles west of Mount Ida, the county seat. Oden’s population in 2010 was 232. In 1849, Henry Beshears settled where Oden now stands, his journey to Arkansas perhaps occasioned by the California gold rush. He wrote to his old neighbors in Mississippi about the wonderful country he had found—the Ouachita bottomlands and the abundant game. In the spring of 1848, a group left Tippah County, Mississippi, in thirteen ox-drawn wagons and arrived in Oden in January 1849. Hunting parties found game plentiful. Liking the land they saw, they cleared some ground and planted corn. A third wagon train came along and also …

Office of Removal and Subsistence

The United States government opened the federal Office of Removal and Subsistence for territory west of the Mississippi River in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1831. The office oversaw removal and subsistence operations relating to the Native American tribes being expelled from their eastern homes, along with providing subsistence for one year after their relocation to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). During the nine years the office was in operation, almost $4.5 million passed through the hands of the officers charged with the operations of the office. The Choctaw were the first of the five Southeastern tribes to sign a removal treaty. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed by the Choctaw on September 27, 1830, and ratified by the …

Official Days

aka: State Holidays and Commemorative Days
The Arkansas Code sets aside ten days as official holidays, days on which state offices are closed and for which state employees will receive compensation. These are: New Year’s Day (January 1), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (third Monday in January), George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day (the third Monday in February), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day (first Monday in September), Veterans Day (November 11), Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November), Christmas Eve (December 24), and Christmas Day (December 25). In addition, a state employee is granted one holiday to observe his or her birthday. The holidays are for the most part the same ones observed by the federal government …

Official State Beverage

aka: Milk
In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly designated milk the state’s official beverage. Introduced by Representative Bobby Glover of the Seventy-second District (covering Prairie County and part of Lonoke County), Act 998 met with no opposition and became effective on June 28 of that year. Reasons offered for the designation included milk’s healthfulness, the desirability of encouraging milk consumption, and the importance of the dairy sector in Arkansas. The legislation did not specify a type or grade of milk, leaving it up to Arkansans to consume the variety of their choice. Dairy production was long a mainstay of Arkansas farming. In 1940, Arkansas’s milk cows numbered about 439,000, the gross farm income from dairy totaling $23 million. Over the next two …

Official State Bird

aka: Mockingbird
On March 5, 1929, Governor Harvey Parnell and the Forty-seventh General Assembly adopted House Concurrent Resolution Number 22 proclaiming: “The mockingbird is declared and everywhere recognized as the state bird of the State of Arkansas.” In Arkansas, the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, in a campaign directed by Mrs. W. A. Utley, was responsible for promoting the legislation naming the mockingbird as the official state bird. The proposed bill was first perceived as a joke but passed following speeches proclaiming the mockingbird’s value to farmers. Four other states—Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas—have also designated the mockingbird as their official state bird, making it the third most popular choice, eclipsed only by the first-place cardinal and second-place western meadowlark. The mockingbird, …

Official State Butterfly

aka: Diana Fritillary [Butterfly]
On February 28, 2007, Act 156 of the Arkansas General Assembly designated the Diana fritillary (Speyeria diana) as the official state butterfly. Introduced by Representative John Paul Wells of Logan County, the legislation for making the butterfly a state symbol took note of the butterfly’s beauty, educational importance, and impact on tourism in Arkansas. Arkansas is the only state to designate the Diana fritillary as its state butterfly, pairing it with its state insect, the honeybee. Arkansas is the twenty-sixth state to designate a butterfly as a state symbol. The Diana fritillary is among the most spectacular of the 134 resident species of butterflies found in Arkansas. Diana was the Roman goddess of light and life (Artemis in Greek mythology), …

Official State Cooking Vessel

aka: Dutch Oven
The Dutch oven was adopted as the state historic cooking vessel to indicate the significance of the vessel in the Arkansas’s history. Dutch ovens were brought into the state by the explorers and early settlers and were in wide use by the early 1800s. By the time of statehood, most homes probably had Dutch ovens in use on their fireplaces. The Dutch oven is neither a pot nor a kettle. It is a cast iron vessel that has three legs to provide stable support and to provide space under the oven for coals to heat the oven from the bottom. The oven has a flat bottom and a tight-fitting lid to contain the heated pressure in the oven; the lid …

Official State Dance

aka: Square Dance
In 1991, the Arkansas General Assembly designated the square dance the official American folk dance of Arkansas. A concurrent resolution authored by Senator Jack Gibson of District 35 introduced the measure; it won quick approval and was signed into law by Governor Bill Clinton on February 7, 1991, as Act 93. Act 93 resembled measures introduced across the nation by promoters of club square dancing after an attempt to have the dance awarded national symbol status failed in 1988. The bill posited a long history of called, or “cued,” dancing in North America and Arkansas and the association of square dancing with family recreation. It defined square dancing as incorporating virtually all called or cued dances—including clogging, contra, and line …

Official State Dinosaur

aka: Arkansas Dinosaur
aka: Arkansaurus fridayi
In August 1972, Joe B. Friday discovered the remains of the right hind foot of a dinosaur in a shallow pit on his land in Lockesburg (Sevier County). He found the bones in rocks belonging to the Lower Cretaceous Trinity Group, which consists of deposits of clay, sand, gravel, limestone, and the evaporite minerals gypsum and celestite. Friday donated the bones to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, where they are kept in the University Museum Collections at the Arkansas Archeological Survey. UA professor James Harrison Quinn gave the bones the informal name “Arkansaurus fridayi” in 1973. He cleaned and assembled the bones and compared them to the feet of two similar-appearing dinosaurs previously described in the scientific literature. He …

Official State Flag

An official Arkansas state flag did not exist prior to 1913. During the Civil War, Arkansas soldiers fought under a variety of banners and flags, but none enjoyed the state’s official cachet. A military requirement, however, led to the creation of a civil flag for the state. In 1910, the keel was laid for the U.S. Navy’s newest battleship, the Wyoming-class USS Arkansas. Early in 1912, with the Arkansas’s scheduled commissioning just nine months away, the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) resolved to present a “stand of colors” (a national flag, a naval battalion ensign, and a state flag) to the new ship. The chapter contacted Arkansas secretary of state Earle W. …

Official State Flower

aka: Apple Blossom
In 1901, the Arkansas General Assembly designated the apple blossom—Malus (Pyrus) coronaria—the official floral emblem of Arkansas, the second state to adopt the bloom (Michigan was the first). Governor Jeff Davis signed the resolution into law on February 1 that same year. In 1900, the Arkansas Floral Emblem Society canvassed women’s groups to gauge sentiment for a choice of state flower or floral emblem. The holly, honeysuckle, passionflower, cotton boll, and apple blossom were considered. Some opposition to the apple blossom was voiced on biblical grounds, citing the apple’s role in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden and, conversely, the passionflower’s folkloric identification with Christ’s suffering. Although the Arkansas Federated Women’s Clubs (now the General Federation of …

Official State Fruit and Vegetable

aka: South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato
In 1987, the Arkansas General Assembly conferred official state symbol status on the pink tomato, long a staple of Arkansas gardens. Act 255, introduced as House Bill 1480, asserted the aesthetic and culinary excellence of the Arkansas-grown tomato and determined that, because it was technically a fruit but generally consumed as a vegetable, it should serve as both in the state’s collection of official symbols. The act’s wording describes a type rather than specifying a species because there exists no registered breed styled “South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato.” The measure was introduced by Representative John Lipton of District 90 whose constituency included Bradley County, long associated with Arkansas tomato production. The state symbol status recognizes the role of the …

Official State Gem

aka: Diamond
On February 22, 1967, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller signed Act 128, an omnibus measure designating the diamond as the state gem, quartz crystal as the state mineral, and bauxite as the state rock. The measure, introduced in the Senate by Robert Harvey, J. Hugh Lookadoo, and Olen Hendrix, called attention to Arkansas’s status as one of the few places in North America where diamonds are present in their host rock and the only such place where tourists may hunt for them. The diamonds are recovered from the Prairie Creek diamondiferous pipe, a roughly triangular surface outcrop exposed over thirty-seven acres situated two and a half miles southeast of Murfreesboro (Pike County). The site is a breccia-filled volcanic pipe formed during the …

Official State Grain

aka: Rice
Rice was designated the official grain of the State of Arkansas by Act 513 of the Eighty-sixth Arkansas General Assembly. Introduced by Representative Bruce Maloch of Magnolia (Columbia County), the act was approved on March 27, 2007. Rice, a staple of human consumption for thousands of years, entered North America when it was first planted in South Carolina in the early 1690s. While rice was cultivated in small amounts in Arkansas as early as 1840, it did not become a major crop in the state until the earliest years of the twentieth century. William Fuller of Carlisle (Lonoke County) is frequently credited with creating the interest in rice production through an experimental farm in 1902. Following his example, rice production …

Official State Grape

aka: Cynthiana Grape
Approximately 150 commercial vineyards and wineries have operated in Arkansas since 1870. In 2009, the Arkansas General Assembly took note of this agricultural mainstay when it designated the Cynthiana, a native grape, as Arkansas’s official state grape. Act 547 was introduced as House Bill 2193 by Representatives Beverly Pyle of Cedarville (Crawford County) and Kathy Webb of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The measure was introduced at the suggestion of Audrey House, proprietor of the Chateau Aux Arc vineyards in Franklin County, to draw attention to the survival and rising reputation of Arkansas vintages. Arkansas’s grape-growing industry is small, however, in comparison to that of such viticultural powerhouses as California. Between 2007 and 2009, acres of cultivated grapes ranged between 750 …

Official State Insect

aka: Honeybee
On February 1, 1973, Act 49 of the Arkansas General Assembly designated the honeybee as the state’s official insect. Introduced by Representative Albert “Tom” Collier of Jackson County, the legislation took note of the bee’s important role in crop pollination but primarily extolled the bee’s virtues of diligence, hard work, attention to home defense, and productivity. Act 49 said this “diligent and willing worker typifies the outstanding citizens of the state of Arkansas.” Arkansas’s designation of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) as a state emblem placed it in the company of fifteen states that have so honored the insect. Several states, such as Oklahoma and Tennessee, have designated multiple insects as state symbols, pairing the laboring honeybee with such graceful “ornamental” …

Official State Mammal

aka: White-tailed Deer
In March 1993, the Seventy-ninth General Assembly of Arkansas approved House Bill 2110, which designated the white-tailed deer as the official mammal of the State of Arkansas. The bill, introduced by Representative Arthur F. Carter, was signed into law by Governor Jim Guy Tucker as Act 892 on April 5, 1993. Arkansas is one of eleven states to have selected Odicoileus Virginianus as an official symbol. Before European entry into present-day Arkansas, deer abounded; the Hernando de Soto expedition discovered Native American populations dressed in deerskins. The later Caddo people depended heavily on the deer for sustenance. Early Euro-American populations hunted the white-tailed deer without restriction for decades. Roads, houses, farms, and towns soon encroached on its habitat, leading to …

Official State Mineral

aka: Quartz Crystal
On February 22, 1967, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller signed Act 128, an omnibus measure designating quartz crystal the state mineral, diamond the state gem, and bauxite the state rock. The measure was introduced in the Senate by Robert Harvey, J. Hugh Lookadoo, and Olen Hendrix, apparently as a favor to Arkansas rocks and minerals collectors and clubs; the text of the bill asserted that passage was essential in order that collectors and hobbyists might trade official state gems, rocks, and minerals with like-minded enthusiasts in other states. The measure was enacted with an emergency clause, allowing it to become effective upon the date of signing. Act 128 helped draw attention to the distinctive quartz crystals mined in the central Ouachita Mountains …

Official State Motto

aka: Regnat Populus
Arkansas’s state motto is Regnat Populus, which is Latin for “the people rule.” No other state employs this motto, in either Latin or English, although South Dakota’s comes close: “Under God, the people rule.” The motto’s use is mostly limited to the Seal of State and its derivatives used by various state officers. The constitution under the terms of which Arkansas entered statehood in 1836 stipulated that the governor must “keep” the Great Seal of the State. Its design, mentioned in Article 5, Section 12, should be “the present seal of the territory, until otherwise directed by the general assembly.” That seal bore, among other elements, the Latin motto Regnant Populi, which could be translated as “the people rule.” The …

Official State Musical Instrument

aka: Fiddle
On February 28, 1985, the Arkansas legislature approved Act 277, designating the fiddle as the official musical instrument of the State of Arkansas. The designation, which originated as House Bill 749 sponsored by Representative Bob Watts of Harrison (Boone County), asserted that the instrument was “most commonly associated with the musical education and entertainment of the pioneer families of Arkansas and…continues as a dominant musical instrument in the culture…of the people of Arkansas.” Watts’s measure was supported in the chamber by Representative Napoleon Bonaparte “Nap” Murphy of Hamburg (Ashley County), who delivered a brief oration on the floor of the House on the history of the fiddle from medieval times to its modern form. This official designation is a tangible …

Official State Nicknames

aka: State Nickname
Since the earliest days of statehood, Arkansas has been popularly known or designated by a succession of cognomens, or nicknames. The earliest were unofficial and reflected popular perceptions of a largely rural state, lightly tinged with humor. Later adoptions, spaced at intervals throughout the twentieth century, embodied less folk consciousness and more promotional intent, as Arkansas’s boosters sought to fine-tune the state’s image for outsiders’ consumption. Arkansas’s earliest recorded nicknames, the “Bear State” and the “Toothpick State,” made reference to characteristic features of the region. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Arkansas was noted for its population of Louisiana black bears (Ursus americanus luteolus), one of sixteen black bear species found in the United States. Human activities reduced …

Official State Nut

aka: Pecan
The Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly designated the pecan as the official nut of Arkansas. Act 638, introduced as HB 1906 by Representative Larry Cowling (District 2, Little River County), had twenty-two co-sponsors and was approved on March 27, 2009. The act specifically noted, however, that it did not grant protected status to the pecan, thus ensuring that the fruit of the Carya illinoinensis may be harvested and consumed. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas have similarly honored the pecan; in Texas, it is both the official state health nut and the official state tree, while Oklahoma celebrates it in the form of pecan pie in its official state meal. The pecan is a species of hickory native to much of the South. …

Official State Rock

aka: Bauxite
Bauxite, the most common ore of aluminum, was designated the official state rock in 1967. It is a sedimentary material composed primarily of one or more aluminum hydroxide minerals, plus mixtures of silica, iron oxide, titania, aluminum silicates, and other impurities in minor or trace amounts. Bauxite takes its name from the village Les Baux de Provence in southern France, where geologist Pierre Berthier first identified it in 1821. Bauxite was an economic mainstay for Arkansas through much of the twentieth century. Although aluminum is the second-most-abundant metal element in the world, it has been commercially produced for little more than a century. In 1891, state geologist John Branner identified a sample that had been found in southern Pulaski County …

Official State Seal

The term “state seal” refers to both a design incorporating specified symbolic or artistic elements created for use by the state government and a device that embosses, prints, or otherwise affixes replicas of the design onto official documents. Affixing the official seal to a document is meant to signify its authenticity as a document of state, in lieu of or in addition to the signature of the issuing official or officials. Seals were once commonly embossed into “sealing wax” (a heat-softened compound of shellac, other resins, chalk or plaster, and pigment) but today are more usually embossed into the document’s surface or affixed as a gold-foil sticker. The present official state seal of Arkansas derives from the territorial seal designed …

Official State Soil

aka: Stuttgart Soil Series
Act 890 of the Arkansas General Assembly of 1997 designated the Stuttgart soil series the official state soil. The bill was introduced by Representative Wanda Northcutt of District 81, which encompassed parts of five counties (Arkansas, Desha, Jefferson, Lonoke, and Prairie) noted for their agricultural production founded literally on the presence of the Stuttgart soils. The soils, named for Stuttgart (Arkansas County), are distributed over roughly 200,000 acres of east and southeast Arkansas. These acres are used primarily for cropland; the dominant crops are rice, small grains, soybeans, and corn. Stuttgart soil is, in fact, made up of several soils, layered in a predictable order, although the thickness varies. Stuttgart series soils typically exhibit three layers: the upper layers are …

Official State Songs

Forty-eight of the fifty states have designated one or more songs as official “state songs.” Arkansas has so designated no less than four compositions. (Only three states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Tennessee—have adopted more.) Their styles include devotional anthem, sprightly folk melody, and 1980s vintage country-pop. The earliest was adopted contemporaneously with the flowering of progressivism in Arkansas and marked a popular appreciation of the state’s natural beauty and agricultural bounties, turning away from the “hillbilly” Arkansas of early twentieth-century popular humor. Subsequent state song adoptions largely followed in this vein. Arkansas’s first unofficial song was likely the fiddle tune known popularly as “The Arkansas Traveler.” It appeared under this title by the mid-nineteenth century and became associated with a popular …

Official State Tree

aka: Pine Tree
House Concurrent Resolution No. 2 of 1939 designated the pine tree as Arkansas’s official state tree. The resolution, introduced by State Representative Boyd Tackett of Pike County, cited the state’s timber resources as one of its greatest sources of wealth and, notably, “one of the few renewable resources of the state.” The measure was introduced on January 11 and met no opposition, winning final approval on January 20. The resolution did not specify a particular native pine species, but reference is often made to either the southern shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) or the loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Before European-American in-migration and settlement, almost all of Arkansas was forested with notable diversity. Until the maturation of Arkansas’s rail network in the …

Ogden (Little River County)

  The city of Ogden is on the highway that connects Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Texarkana (Miller County). Now a quiet residential community, Ogden was once an agricultural center for the surrounding cotton farms. Settlers first began arriving in the Red River valley around 1838. John Nunneley was the first landowner in what now is Ogden; he owned many acres of land and several slaves. Other settlers before the Civil War included Paul Bagley and Christopher Waddell. M. W. Bates arrived around 1878 and named the settlement Ogden, which was the maiden name of his second wife. Bates, who served as Little River County judge from 1884 to 1888, owned the first cotton gin, the first sawmill, and the first …

Ogden, Dunbar H., Jr.

Dunbar Hunt Ogden Jr. was a minister who played an important role in the effort to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the mid-twentieth century. His support for the Little Rock Nine was controversial, and his efforts split his congregation. Ultimately, faced with diminishing support, Ogden resigned his pastorate and left Arkansas, taking over a church in West Virginia and eventually retiring in California. Dunbar Ogden Jr. was born on August 15, 1902, in Columbus, Mississippi. One of seven children born to Dunbar H. Ogden, who was a minister, and Grace Augusta Cox Ogden, Ogden was brought up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Boys High School in Atlanta before going to Davidson College …

Ogden, Mahlon Dickerson

Mahlon Dickerson (M. D.) Ogden was a physician who cofounded Trinity Hospital of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1923. At Trinity, he pioneered the use of the health maintenance organization (HMO)—a form of health insurance in which member physicians provide medical care to subscribers for a fixed fee—in Arkansas. Born on December 5, 1881, in Little Rock, M. D. Ogden was the only son of railroad clerk Charles Cullen Ogden and his wife, Altamira Deason Ogden. An older cousin, Fred R. Bryson, was adopted into the family and became Ogden’s legal brother. Educated in the local schools, Ogden graduated from the Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1904. From 1905 to 1916, he taught …

Ohio Club

The Ohio Club at 336 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) is considered Arkansas’s oldest continually operating bar. It was founded by John “Coffee” Williams and his nephew, Sam Watt, in 1905. It became a popular watering hole and meeting place for notorious figures such as Al Capone, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as local legends like Owen “Owney” Madden and Arkansas gambling czar William Stokley Jacobs. The Ohio Club has never closed its doors despite bans on both gambling and alcohol. The Ohio Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District on June 25, 1985. In 1905, Coffee Williams and Sam Watt …

Oil Industry

The oil industry in Arkansas, which includes exploration and the production, refinement, and distribution of petroleum-based products, exploded onto the state’s economic scene in the early 1920s, and once-local production expanded into an international business. From 1920 to 2003, more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil have been produced in Arkansas. Ten counties in Arkansas produce oil, all in the southern region of the state: Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Columbia, Hempstead, Lafayette, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, and Union. Historically, most of this production has been in Union, Lafayette, Columbia, and Ouachita counties. These four counties have been responsible for more than eighty-five percent of the oil produced in the state. Evidence of oil in the state existed well before the oil boom …

Oil Town Festival

Smackover’s Oil Town Festival, which is held the third weekend in June, is one of the state’s oldest festivals and attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year. The first festival was held in 1971 and was sponsored by the Smackover Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. The year 1971 was the fifty-year anniversary of the Busey No. 1 well, which was being celebrated in neighboring El Dorado, so the town of Smackover (Union County) organized a celebration of the Smackover oil field discovery well, the Richardson No. 1. Over the years, the festival has grown in size and events and has changed locations to accommodate the growth. Originally held in downtown Smackover, the festival has moved to Tennyson Park, which …

Oil Trough (Independence County)

The town of Oil Trough is located twelve miles southeast of Batesville (Independence County) in the southeastern part of Independence County. It is located southwest of the White River, in a rich area of bottomlands known as the Oil Trough Bottoms. Above the bottoms is the Oil Trough Ridge, composed of black limestone that the Goodspeed history of the area (1889) described as “capable of a superior polish.” Beginning around 1800, the area was a favorite hunting ground for French frontiersmen. The large stands of cane along the river were a perfect hiding place for game, including bear; the limestone cliffs nearby provided the bears with a perfect place for their dens. Indeed, legend has it that the area was …

Oil Trough Bottom, Skirmish at

The second Union army occupation of Batesville (Independence County) began on December 25, 1863, with the quiet entry of Colonel Robert Livingston’s command consisting of the First Nebraska Cavalry, Second Arkansas Cavalry, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, and some smaller units. Livingston’s orders were to “keep the peace,” but he was surrounded by mobile Confederate units that knew the area well, led by General Dandridge McRae, Captain Thomas R. Freeman, and Captain George Rutherford, among others. The forces Livingston sent out from Batesville were mostly detachments to protect foraging wagons and larger “scouts” to patrol the area, gathering information and attacking the small Confederate units and bands of brigands when they could. On March 15, 1864, Major Lewis Pace was sent from …

Okay (Howard County)

Until the late 1980s, the town of Okay (Howard County) was home to a major limestone mining operation located on a peninsula on the east side of Millwood Lake. Most of what remained of the once-thriving company town, founded in the late 1920s, had almost disappeared by the end of the twentieth century. In 1926, Charles Boettcher, founder of Ideal Cement Company, based in Denver, Colorado, dispatched Tom Dodson and Joe Hargis from a branch plant in Oklahoma to scout out a potential Arkansas plant site after learning of the growing movement in Arkansas to improve roads and bridges. A remote site in Howard County was chosen due to its rich deposits of limestone and chalk. A railroad spur necessary …

Okolona (Clark County)

Okolona is a small town located in southwestern Clark County, near the Little Missouri River. Okolona served as a regional agricultural and transportation hub in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before slowly fading into obscurity. The earliest known inhabitants of the area were Caddo Indians, who constructed a mound that is today located near Main Street. The first white settlers arrived in the Okolona area in the early 1830s. They named their new community after their hometown in Mississippi. In 1858, a post office was established in the town, and by the 1860s several general stores had been opened in the area. The earliest settlers founded schools in the area, and education would continue to play an important …

Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium

The Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium served the African-American community in western Clark County for almost two decades. The last remaining structure on the former Simmons High School campus, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011. Okolona (Clark County) was first settled in the early nineteenth century. The town attracted residents as it grew into a regional agricultural and transportation hub. Education played an important role in the development of the town, with the first school opening in 1833, followed by a second in 1857. The Okolona Male and Female Institute opened in the town in 1871, and Okolona High School began operations in 1890. Schools for African Americans in the community …