Entries - Starting with R

Rabbit Foot Lodge

Built in 1908, Rabbit Foot Lodge in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) is one of the best examples of Adirondack-style architecture in Arkansas. It was most notably home to J. William Fulbright and his family from 1936 to 1941. Located at 3600 Silent Grove Road, on a hillside above a spring and creek, the two-story residence was built for Dr. Charles F. Perkins and Edith Clark Perkins on land that had formerly been the old Jonathan “Uncle Bud” Smith homestead. The property had once been owned by Joseph L. Dickson as part of an 1857 land grant, deeded as remedy for claims arising under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830); this treaty was mentioned on the abstract deed and …

Rabies

 Rabies, a viral disease that attacks the body’s central nervous system, causes convulsions, hallucinations, and an inability to swallow liquid—hence its earlier name, hydrophobia, or “fear of water.” Until Frenchman Louis Pasteur’s 1885 creation of a vaccine that successfully treated rabies in humans, the bite from a rabid animal almost always resulted in a death excruciating to endure and horrifying to witness. Pasteur’s discovery was publicized in Arkansas, but it would be almost thirty years before the state had a treatment center using his methods, though it lasted only briefly. Two months after Pasteur’s breakthrough, four New Jersey children who had been bitten by a rabid dog traveled to France and were cured using the vaccine. News of these boys’ …

Race Riots

A race riot is any prolonged form of mob-related civil disorder in which race plays a key role. The term is most often associated with mob violence by or against a minority group. The motivations for such violence can vary significantly, and once properly defined, the difference between collective violence and riot is somewhat arbitrary. For instance, many lynchings targeting African Americans are considered race riots, as they involved large numbers of whites and were the fatal culmination of existing racial tensions. The 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock (Pulaski County), with the slaying of a white girl as a catalyst, involved a prolonged assault against the city’s black community and is often considered a riot. However, other …

Rackensack Folklore Society

The Rackensack Folklore Society was organized for the purpose of perpetuating the traditional folk music of the people of Arkansas, particularly in the mountainous area of the north-central part of the state. Stone County, located in the area, was unique in having music-making families throughout its boundaries who founded the base of the Rackensack organization. The society was begun by Lloyd Hollister, a doctor, and his wife, Martha. They came from the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area in 1962 and settled in the Fox (Stone County) community. Hollister set up his medical practice in Mountain View (Stone County) with Howard Monroe, a noted surgeon in the area. The Hollisters attended various musical sessions in the Fox community and joined in the …

Raggio (Lee County)

The town of Raggio existed briefly on the east bank of Alligator Bayou, about a mile from the St. Francis River, in Lee County. A logging community that was served by the railroad, the town was destroyed by fire around 1916 and was never rebuilt. Until after the Civil War, the site that would become Raggio was largely unclaimed wetland with abundant trees. Hunting and fishing occupied the few visitors to the area, and steamboats traveled the river. Following the war, a logging settlement was established at Raggio; the community was named for a local merchant who had come to Arkansas from Italy. Logs were bound together as rafts to be transported by water to sawmills. Shortly after Lee County was created, …

Ragon, Hiram Heartsill

Hiram Heartsill Ragon was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fifth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth through the Seventy-Third Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1933. He also served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas from May 1933 until September 1940. H. Heartsill Ragon was born in Dublin (Johnson County) on March 20, 1884, to Alfred Jackson Ragon and Anne E. Heartsill Ragon. (His congressional biography lists 1885 as his birth year, but his draft card, 1900 census data, and grave stone give 1884 as the year.) He received his early education in the local common schools and at Clarksville High School. He attended the College …

Ragon, Imogene McConnell

Imogene McConnell Ragon was a well-known twentieth-century Arkansas educator and plein air (outdoor) artist. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and nationally. Today, she is best remembered for her watercolors of native wildflowers and landscapes, and her architectural renderings of historic buildings all around Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The dogwood and the magnolia are among her most popular subjects. Imogene McConnell was born on May 21, 1887, in Clarksville (Johnson County) into the pioneer family of Edward Taylor McConnell and Alice Adele Porter McConnell. She was the third of four children. In 1894, when she was six years old, her father was appointed superintendent of the Arkansas prison by Governor William Meade Fishback. The family moved to Little …

Railroads

In the mid-nineteenth century, the newly created state of Arkansas needed an efficient means of transportation to speed its development. Railroads were constructed in order to get goods to markets elsewhere and to bring in new technologies, as well as people to work in and populate the state. The construction of railroads had a significant impact on the state, creating towns where none had existed while all but eliminating others due to their lack of ready rail access. Many of the cities and towns in the state were named after prominent railroad executives who influenced, and in some cases were essential to, these communities’ development. While very little passenger service still exists, many of the same routes are used to …

Randolph County

Randolph County’s five rivers, proximity to land transportation routes, and rich agricultural promise drew settlers to the area before the Louisiana Purchase. As dependence on water-based transportation fell, land and railroad routes allowed agriculture and industry to maintain the county’s economic prominence in northeast Arkansas. The county is home to the Rice-Upshaw House, the oldest standing structure in the state, and Davidsonville Historic State Park, devoted to one of Arkansas’s earliest settlements. The county has five incorporated communities: Biggers, Maynard, O’Kean, Pocahontas, and Ravenden Springs. Pre-European Exploration Hundred of archaeological sites exist in Randolph County, some dating back to 11,000 BC or perhaps earlier. As time progressed from the Dalton Period through the Archaic,the number of sites and the duration of …

Randolph County Courthouse

The Randolph County Courthouse is an Art Deco–style brick and concrete building erected in 1940–1941 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in Pocahontas (Randolph County). The courthouse was built in a natural depression of one city block across the street to the west from what became known as the Old Randolph County Courthouse, the former seat of county government. The Randolph County Courthouse, which houses the offices and government of Randolph County, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 22, 1996. Citizens of Randolph County voted their approval for the building of a new courthouse in 1940. After the election, Judge Joe S. Decker appointed an advisory board and building commissioners for the construction of …

Randolph County Heritage Museum

Located on the historic court square in Pocahontas (Randolph County), the Randolph County Heritage Museum officially opened in 2006 during the Pocahontas Sesquicentennial Celebration and is owned by Five Rivers Historic Preservation, Inc., a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Randolph County history and culture. The museum includes three room-sized exhibits. The River Room is dedicated to the five rivers of Randolph County and their contributions through transportation, industry, recreation, and support to the local economy. The largest of the five rivers, the Black River, supplied the shelling and pearling industry of the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Included are a working button machine and a collection of original tools and implements, as well …

Randolph, Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson and friend of Andrew Jackson, served as the last secretary of the Arkansas Territory. Despite his strong connections with many influential families in Virginia, as well as intimate friendships with numerous U.S. presidents, he chose to settle on the Arkansas frontier. He obtained thousands of acres of land in Clark County with the intent of establishing a plantation and making his residence there. His education, family, and social ties offered great promise to the new state, but his contributions were cut short by an early death. Some sources have Randolph’s birth date as January 10, 1810. His father, Thomas Mann Randolph, was a member of a prominent Virginia family and served as …

Randolph, Vance

Vance Randolph was a folklorist whose wide-ranging studies in the traditional culture of the Ozarks made him famous with both academic and popular readers from the 1930s to the present. Vance Randolph was born on February 23, 1892, in Pittsburg, Kansas, to John Randolph, an attorney and Republican politician, and Theresa Gould, a public school teacher. He was the eldest of three sons. Born to the respectable center, he was as a young man attracted to the margins, to the rich ethnic and cultural diversity and radical politics of the region’s mining communities. He dropped out of high school and published his first writing for leftist periodicals such as the socialist Appeal to Reason, published in nearby Girard. He graduated …

Raney v. Board of Education

aka: Arthur Lee Raney v. Board of Education of the Gould School District
Raney v. Board of Education, a lawsuit originating in Gould (Lincoln County), was one of three cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April and May 1968 that brought an end to so-called “freedom of choice” school desegregation plans that had gained traction in the 1960s. In the 1964–65 school year, ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, Gould schools were still totally segregated. The district covered an area of eighty square miles and contained 3,000 residents. Of these, 1,800 were black and 1,200 were white. Since Gould was the only town in the predominantly rural county, many of the district’s students attended school there. Gould maintained two segregated combined elementary and high …

Raney, Wayne

Wayne Raney was an American country singer and harmonica player best known for his hit song “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me.” Raney, along with fellow Arkansan Lonnie Glosson, played a major role in making the harmonica a popular instrument through their musical performances as well as through their mail-order harmonica business. Wayne Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Due to a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labor. Instead, he pursued an interest in music, learning to play harmonica at an early age. He was drawn to the harmonica after hearing a street performer …

Ranger Boats

Ranger Boats, founded in Flippin (Marion County) in 1968 by Forrest Lee Wood and his wife, Nina, is the largest maker of bass boats in the United States. The Woods were instrumental in developing the sport of professional bass fishing, and Forrest Wood is considered the creator of the modern bass boat. Ranger Boats are sold throughout the world and have the reputation of being among the finest bass boats made. Wood, born in 1932 and a native of Marion County, married Nina Kirkland, also a Marion County native, in 1951, and the couple began operating a fishing guide and float trip service in the late 1950s. The Woods took their clients on expeditions on Bull Shoals Lake, the White …

Ratcliff (Logan County)

  Halfway between Paris (Logan County) and Charleston (Franklin County) on Highway 22, Ratcliff in Logan County has 202 residents as of the 2010 census. The area that is now northwestern Logan County was sparsely populated prior to the Civil War. Alexander Kannady and Jerry Nunnellee filed papers in Clarksville (Johnson County) in 1861 claiming ownership of the land; Nunnellee is said to have operated a plantation in that area for many years prior to this claim. Early in the 1870s, the area became an attraction due to five natural springs of mineral water that were thought to have healing benefits. Stone pavilions sheltered three of the five springs for the comfort of visitors, and a community called National Springs came into …

Rathke, Wade

Wade Rathke is a longtime community organizer and the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He was living in Arkansas when he started an organization that would evolve in 1970 into ACORN. His efforts to achieve social justice were highlighted in a 2017 documentary film titled The Organizer. Stephen Wade Rathke was born on August 5, 1948, in Laramie, Wyoming, to Edmann J. Rathke and Cornelia Ratliff Rathke. He was raised in Colorado and New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans in 1966. He then headed to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which he attended from 1966 to 1968. Dropping out of Williams in 1968, Rathke began his organizing …

Ravenden (Lawrence County)

Ravenden, a small Lawrence County town near the Spring River, owes its origin to the completion of the railroad in the 1880s. With the development of the town along the tracks, it soon became an important trade center in the area. The business sector is no longer located on the original site. In 1947, the business sector slowly began to move to the newly completed U.S. Highway 63, where it remains today. Long before white settlers began to develop the land along the Spring River, the Osage used the area as hunting grounds. The first important white settler to the area was William J. Ball, a former British soldier who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars and later in the …

Ravenden Springs (Randolph County)

The town of Ravenden Springs is located in the easternmost extension of the Ozark Mountains in western Randolph County, an area that is among the oldest settled areas of Arkansas. In 1809, John Janes, a Revolutionary War veteran, settled on the large creek that now bears his name just south of present-day Ravenden Springs and established a trading post there. One of the earliest mail routes in Arkansas ran from Dry Springs on the Missouri border to Lanes’s Store (successor to Janes’ Trading Post) to Batesville (Independence County). Two villages grew up around Lanes’s Store—Walnut Hill and Kingsville—both of which disappeared in time. In 1820, Caleb Lindsey started what has been documented as the first school in Arkansas. “School Cave” …

Ravenden Springs School

The former Ravenden Springs School is a Craftsman-style school building in Ravenden Springs (Randolph County). Built in 1941, the one-story rectangular building operated as a school until it was closed during consolidation in 1974. The school changed ownership many times but was acquired by the town of Ravenden Springs in 1990. The school was originally built with four classrooms and a library, but the building was later renovated to be used as the local town hall and community center. The school no longer retains its original interior design, but it still possesses significant historical integrity. The first documented school in Ravenden Springs was known as the Cave School. Run by Caleb Lindsey, this school dates back to 1815, where classes …

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the longtime home of the minor league baseball team originally known as the Little Rock Travelers, a name that was later changed to the Arkansas Travelers. Known as Travelers Field when it opened in 1932, the stadium’s name was changed in 1966 in honor of Ray Winder, whose involvement with the Travelers, in roles ranging from ticket taker to part-owner and general manager, spanned half a century. The stadium, designed by the Little Rock architecture firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio, was built in 1931. It was located in what was known as Fair Park (later War Memorial Park), with the Little Rock Zoo as a neighbor to the west. In …

Ray, Mary Lee McCrary

Mary L. Ray spent thirty-seven years educating African Americans. She applied the self-help approach she learned at the Tuskegee Institute to formal education in private and public schools, and then in informal education as the first African-American female employee of the “Negro” division of the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service—that is, the first black home demonstration agent in the state. Mary Lee McCrary’s birth year and early life remain a mystery. During the late nineteenth century,  as African Americans faced increased assaults to their civil liberties, many turned to capitalism, another American ideal, as visible evidence of citizenship. McCrary apparently embraced this approach. She learned the self-help philosophy from one of the most celebrated advocates of the approach, Booker T. Washington, …

Ray, Victor Keith

Victor Keith Ray was a prominent writer and journalist who worked in Arkansas for much of his career. Later in his career, he moved to public relations and advocacy work on behalf of the nation’s farmers. Victor Keith Ray was born on February 10, 1919, in Bernie, Missouri, to Victor Hugo Ray and Myrtle Fonville Ray. He grew up in Missouri and graduated from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Southeast Missouri State University). He married Pearl Downs; the couple had a daughter. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Ray’s wide-ranging writing career began after the war in California, where he wrote a number of mystery stories that appeared in pulp detective magazines such …

Rayburn, Howell A. “Doc”

Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn was a Civil War guerrilla chieftain who operated in the area between West Point (White County) and Des Arc (Prairie County). His legacy is a mix of fact and legend. His attacks and those of other guerrillas on Union outposts and expeditions tied up countless Union military assets that otherwise could have been used elsewhere. Doc Rayburn was born about 1841 in Roane County, Tennessee, one of six children born to farmer Hodge Rayburn and Susan Rayburn. A few years later, the family relocated to Texas. Rayburn joined the Confederate army on October 21, 1861, when he enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Texas Cavalry. The regiment moved to Des Arc in March 1862 and prepared to …

Rayburn, Otto Ernest

Otto Ernest Rayburn was a writer, magazine publisher, and collector of Arkansas and Ozark lore. Vance Randolph, in his introduction to Rayburn’s autobiography, Forty Years in the Ozarks (1957), defined Rayburn as a “dedicated regionalist” and added, “There is no denying that, in the period between 1925 and 1950, Rayburn did more to arouse popular interest in Ozark folklore than all of the professors put together.” Otto Rayburn was born on May 6, 1891, in Hacklebarney settlement, Davis County, Iowa, to William Grant Rayburn, a farmer, and Sarah Jane Turpin Rayburn. The family soon moved to Woodson County, Kansas, where Rayburn grew up. In 1909–1910, he attended Marionville College in Marionville, Missouri. In the spring of 1917, Rayburn bought forty …

Raye, Collin

aka: Floyd Elliott Wray
With five platinum records and fifteen number-one singles to his credit, country star Collin Raye is one of the most successful recording artists to ever have emerged from Arkansas. Joining the ranks of acclaimed country performers Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and K. T. Oslin, Raye has proven to be a versatile performer, turning out diverse hits ranging from tender ballads to socially relevant tunes. Collin Raye was born Floyd Elliott Wray on August 22, 1960, in De Queen (Sevier County). His mother, Lois Wray, had achieved notoriety in the 1950s as a regional musician, opening shows for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Later in her solo career, Raye’s mother had Raye and his older brother accompany her on …

Razorback Hogs

Arkansas was known for its razorback hogs long before the University of Arkansas mascot came into being. These wild boars were called razorbacks because of their high, hair-covered backbone and ill-mannered temper. The razorback hog was considered ruthless and dangerous when backed into a corner. The true wild boar, also called the European or Russian boar, is not native to the United States. Christopher Columbus introduced their domesticated ancestors to the New World in 1493. Wild boars are thought to have arrived with explorer Hernando de Soto, who brought the original thirteen grunting hogs to the new world in 1539, though this theory has lately been cast into doubt by Charles Hudson, who reconstructs de Soto’s path in his book, …

Razorbacks Football Team

Because the state of Arkansas lacks a National Football League team, its college football programs draw a great deal of attention every year. As measured in print and broadcast media coverage and observed in vehicle decorations, the football team of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the Razorbacks, is the most popular. Although they have not enjoyed the kind of success achieved by similar programs in other states, such as Nebraska and Oklahoma, the Razorbacks continue to receive widespread fan support and attention every football season. The football team of UA was founded in 1894. That same year, a contest was held to pick the new school colors, with cardinal red and white being chosen. UA’s first …

Read, Lessie Stringfellow

Lessie Stringfellow Read was an early champion of women’s rights, a writer for six national periodicals of her day, a correspondent for two large newspapers, and a newspaper editor herself. She was a founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association of Washington County and was an officer for the local Red Cross during World War I. In addition, she served many years as national press chairperson for the largest women’s organization of the early twentieth century, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Lessie Read was born Mabel Staples on January 3, 1891, in Temple, Texas, to William and Lillian Staples. Both her parents died from a fever when she was two years old, and the renowned horticulturist Henry Martyn Stringfellow and …

Read, Opie Pope

Opie Pope Read was a newspaperman, author, and lecturer. He cofounded the comic newspaper The Arkansas Traveler and wrote several successful novels. Arkansas provided much of his education as he worked for three Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers: the Arkansas Gazette, the Arkansas Evening Democrat, and the Evening Ledger. His work as city editor and his associations with the state’s antebellum elite provided him with decades of literary material. Opie Read was born on December 22, 1852, in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of eleven children. His parents were Guilford and Elizabeth Wallace Read. Read’s early life was spent in Gallatin, Tennessee. His formal education was limited, but he read extensively. After writing his first anonymously published piece for a local …

Reader Railroad

The Reader Railroad, which ran through Nevada and Ouachita counties, was one of the last remaining trains drawn by steam locomotives. Though no longer in operation, either in industry or as a tourist attraction, it has drawn many to the area and was a featured set piece in the television miniseries, North & South. Sayre Narrow Gauge, the railroad’s original name, was constructed in 1889 to move the virgin timber that was being harvested south of Reader, which is on the Nevada–Ouachita County border, for a sawmill at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad located in Gurdon (Clark County). In 1910, the line was purchased by the McVay Lumber Company and, in 1913, was taken over by the …

Rebel Stakes

The Rebel Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race restricted to three-year-old colts and geldings, has been run each year since 1961 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs (Garland County). Over the years, it has developed into an important preparatory race not only for the $1 million Arkansas Derby, but also for the subsequent Triple Crown races. (The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes make up the Triple Crown.) The Rebel Stakes is traditionally held in mid-March. Stakes races—so called because of the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay—are rated grade one (the highest), grade two, or grade three based on the size of the purse. (The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing in …

Recreation and Sports

Recreation and sports have long been vital to Arkansas. Recreation has been important in Arkansas since prehistoric times, and sports also have a long prehistoric as well as historic component. RECREATION We can only guess at the nature of recreation during the more than ten thousand years of habitation before the first Europeans arrived. The modern and Euro-centric term “recreation” very inadequately defines what tribes practiced. Dancing, for example, was a main component of Caddo Indian culture, but in addition to its elements of immediate enjoyment, it transmitted traditions and practices to upcoming generations. European settlement of Arkansas began with the French, and judging by the observations of outsiders, entertainment provided by the Quapaw and other local tribes, such as …

Recreational and Retirement Communities

Land developers have long capitalized on the American dream of owning real estate or a home in the sun by mass-marketing vacation and retirement home sites to a distant clientele. Land was subdivided into relatively small lots within amenity-based subdivisions and sold as future retirement home sites or as an investment. During the 1950s, property in suburban subdivisions became popular. Lots were mass-marketed by a few large land development corporations, principally in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. The companies created a nationwide market for property sold on the installment plan by mail, often sight unseen. This type of land development soon became a national phenomenon; raw or partially developed acreage was “improved,” subdivided into small parcels, and offered for sale …

Rector (Clay County)

Rector, a railroad town on the St. Louis and Texas railroad line (Cotton Belt), was platted by the Southwestern Improvement Association in 1882 and incorporated in 1887. Rector and the surrounding land has served as an area of timber harvest and agriculture, religion, education, business, and politics. Named for former governor Henry Massie Rector, the town has served many politicians who visit for its annual Labor Day parade and picnic. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement Eastern Arkansas has been inhabited for thousands of years. The area long has provided abundant hunting and fishing, as well as fertile soil for native populations. Indian artifacts have been found on farmland around Rector. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto entered present-day Arkansas …

Rector, Elias

Elias Rector was appointed U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas and Indian Territory and later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. During the Civil War, he sought to make treaties with Native American tribes on behalf of the Confederacy. Rector was the subject of the poem “The Fine Arkansas Gentleman, Close to the Choctaw Line,” written by his friend Albert Pike. Elias Rector was born on September 28, 1802, in Fauquier County, Virginia. He was the youngest of nine sons born to Wharton Rector and Mary Vance Rector, who was a native of North Carolina. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Illinois, where Elias Rector spent the early part of his youth. The family relocated again, …

Rector, Henry Massie

Henry Massie Rector was the state’s sixth governor. He was part of Arkansas’s political dynasty during the antebellum period, but he was not always comfortable in that role and played a part in its downfall. Henry Rector was born on May 1, 1816, at Fontaine’s Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, to Elias Rector and Fannie Bardell Thurston. He was the only one of their children to survive to maturity. Elias Rector, one of the numerous Rectors who worked as deputy surveyors under William Rector, the surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri, served in the Missouri legislature in 1820 and as postmaster of St. Louis, Missouri. He also surveyed in Arkansas and acquired, among other speculations, a claim to the site of the …

Rector, James Alcorn “Indian”

James Alcorn “Indian” Rector, who took the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 1908 Olympic Games, was the first Arkansan to win an Olympic medal. His nickname “Indian” is said to have been given to him by his teammates or East Coast track fans who said he ran like an Indian. Born on June 22, 1884, in Hot Springs (Garland County), James Alcorn Rector was the fourth of six children of Elias William Rector and Rosebud Alcorn Rector. His paternal grandfather, Henry Massie Rector, served as governor of Arkansas, while his maternal grandfather, James Lusk Alcorn, served as governor of Mississippi. His father practiced law and was a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. After attending schools in Hot Springs, …

Rector, Rickey Ray (Execution of)

Rickey (or Ricky) Ray Rector was the third death row inmate to be executed in Arkansas after the reinstatement of capital punishment in the state in 1990. He was executed despite concerns over his ability to understand the difference between life and death or the consequences of his actions. On March 22, 1981, Rector entered Tommy’s Old Fashioned Home-style Restaurant in Conway (Faulkner County), where he had previously been denied entrance to a private party. Rector fired several shots, killing Arthur Criswell and wounding two others. Two days later, Rector entered his mother’s home while the police were there questioning his mother and sister. Rector shot and killed Robert Martin, a Conway police officer, before running outside and shooting himself …

Red River

The Red River emerges from two forks in the Texas panhandle and flows east approximately 1,290 miles, forming the border between Oklahoma and Texas as well as part of the border between Texas and Arkansas. In southwestern Arkansas near Fulton (Hempstead County), the Red River takes a decidedly southern turn before entering Louisiana, where it flows southeasterly before emptying into the Mississippi River northeast of the town of Simmesport. Although only approximately 180 miles of the Red River touches upon or passes through the state of Arkansas, it has had a major impact upon the people of southwestern Arkansas from prehistoric times to the present day. Important prehistoric Caddo artifacts have been unearthed in the Red River valley, particularly the …

Red River Campaign

The Red River Campaign involved a multipronged Union attack in southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. The objectives—the capture of Texas to prevent Mexican Emperor Maximilian from threatening the region, the crippling of Confederate resistance west of the Mississippi, and the seizure of cotton land—failed as outnumbered Confederates maximized positions to repel the invasion. Afterwards, Confederate morale improved, bolstering further resistance in the Trans-Mississippi and prolonging the war. Under Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck’s plan, Major General Nathaniel P. Banks would march from west of New Orleans, link with Rear Admiral David Porter’s Mississippi Squadron on the Red River and infantry troops from east of the Mississippi River, and coordinate their movement into northwest Louisiana while Brigadier General Frederick Steele pushed south …

Red Scare (1919–1920)

aka: First Red Scare
In the United States, the First Red Scare (1919–1920) began shortly after the 1917 Bolshevik Russian Revolution. Tensions ran high after this revolution because many Americans feared that if a workers’ revolution were possible in Russia, it might also be possible in the United States. While the First Red Scare was backed by an anti-communist attitude, it focused predominately on labor rebellions and perceived political radicalism. While Arkansas was not immune to the Red Scare, it did see comparatively little labor conflict. Nationally, 7,041 strikes occurred during the 1919–1920 period; Arkansas contributed only twenty-two of those strikes. This was not because Arkansas had a weak labor movement. In fact, Arkansas was home to the Little Rock Typographical Union, railroad unions, and sharecropper …

Red Springs (Clark County)

Red Springs is a community in southeastern Clark County. It is located about five miles east of Gurdon (Clark County). An early name of the community was Bethel Springs.   The earliest landowners in the area were William Gwin and Samuel Davis, who obtained 1,040 acres on April 8, 1846. The two were business partners who owned thousands of acres in Clark and Hempstead counties. Jacob Wingfield Jr. obtained 320 acres in the area in 1859. He owned land in several other locations across Clark County but lived in the Red Springs community with his wife Mary, their seven children, and two slaves in 1860. Other families moved to the community over the next several decades. All were small-scale farmers. …

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers

aka: Picoides borealis
With the exception of the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker, red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) are the rarest of Arkansas’s nesting woodpeckers. A century ago, the bird was common in mature, open pine stands. Its natural range included millions of acres of pine habitat throughout the southeast United States. An estimated ninety-nine percent of suitable habitat was lost because of logging, wildfire suppression, conversion to agricultural lands, and urbanization. Best estimates range-wide indicate an original population numbering over four million. By the time the bird was declared endangered, it had declined to an estimated 10,000. The Arkansas population dwindled to under 400 birds. The red-cockaded woodpecker was designated as endangered on October 13, 1970. It received formal legal protection with the passage …

Redbug Field

Redbug Field in Fordyce (Dallas County) is a high school football field with its significance lying in the fact that future University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant learned to play the game there in the late 1920s. The regulation-sized football field was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 6, 2014. Football is important to the history of Fordyce, a town where Arkansas’s first high school football program was started in 1904 when New York native Tom Meddick organized a high school team at the Clary Training School. By 1909, Fordyce High School also fielded a team. The original playing field was behind the high school, but in the mid-1920s, it was relocated to accommodate a …

Redeemers (Post-Reconstruction)

The term “redeemers” was self-applied by those who succeeded in returning the Democratic Party to prominence at the end of Reconstruction in Arkansas, generally dated to 1874. The Republican Party came to power in the state in 1868 with the passage of the Congressional Reconstruction Acts. Arkansas’s second Republican governor, Elisha Baxter, elected in 1872, worked to curry favor with conservative Democrats by appointing many to office in an effort to build strong alliances with members of that faction. This, in part, led Baxter’s 1872 electoral opponent, Joseph Brooks, to challenge Baxter’s right to hold the governorship, thus resulting in the political and military conflict known as the Brooks-Baxter War. For some time, the Brooks-Baxter War involved bipartisan alliances on …

Redfield (Jefferson County)

  Redfield is a growing city located in Jefferson County near Interstate 530, which connects Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). The city has always relied on land transportation, beginning in the nineteenth century with the railroad and continuing in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with highways. The Little Rock, Mississippi River, and Texas Railroad built a line from Chicot Point (Chicot County) to Pine Bluff in 1873. Financial problems that year delayed completion of the line to Little Rock for several years, but James Kirkwood Brodie anticipated the completion of the line and invested in land along its route. For $71.28, Brodie bought 163 acres from the State of Arkansas, land that had been seized from the …

Reed (Desha County)

Reed of Desha County is a small community on U.S. Highway 65, six miles north of McGehee (Desha County). It was established as a predominately African-American community in the mid-twentieth century. Much of the impetus for the creation of Reed lay in the emergence of Mitchellville (Desha County), which arose following World War II when the government provided land north of Dumas to returning soldiers. Mitchellville became something of a model black community, its leaders working with white leaders from Dumas to get proper sewer, water, and street improvements. African Americans around McGehee and Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) were thus motivated by a desire to govern themselves and follow Mitchellville’s example. In 1961, they incorporated the town of Reed in an …