Entries

Atkins (Pope County)

Atkins has long been identified as the pickle capital of Arkansas, although the pickle industry is only a part of its heritage now. The city grew up along the railroad, served as a center for river traffic, and is now situated along a major interstate. Nearby Lake Atkins is a popular fishing destination. Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Following the Civil War, Arkansas underwent a brief period of industrialization as capitalists, mostly from the North, took advantage of the opportunities to foster commercial growth in the devastated Southern states. One of these ventures was the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad. As the surveyed route followed the northern side of the Arkansas River from Little Rock (Pulaski County) toward points …

Atkins Pickle Company

Atkins Pickle Company was the major industry in the town of Atkins (Pope County) for more than fifty years, and its legacy survives in the annual Picklefest celebration that began in 1992. The building that housed the pickle plant now houses Atkins Prepared Foods. The new company employs more people than the pickle plant did at its end, but it does not provide the same level of recognition for the town once dubbed the “Pickle Capital of the World” and known as the home of the fried dill pickle. In 1946, a group of citizens led by Lee Cheek raised $17,000 for a loan to the Goldsmith Pickle Company of Chicago, which had agreed to invest $75,000 of its money …

Atkins Race War of 1897

  What most newspapers described as the “Atkins Race War” occurred in Lee Township of Pope County in late May and early June 1897. In what appears to have been an unprovoked incident, a group of African Americans attacked two white men, Jesse Nickels and J. R. Hodges, just south of Atkins (Pope County) on May 30. In subsequent encounters, several residents of Lee Township, both white and black, were killed and wounded. Despite the fact that the events in Pope County attracted national attention, the extant newspaper records provide little information regarding the motivations of those who perpetrated the violence. This area of the county, located in rich farmland along the Arkansas River, was populated mostly by farmers. Atkins, …

Atkins, Jerry (Lynching of)

Jerry Atkins, a black man, was murdered in Union County on November 21, 1865, for having allegedly murdered two school-age children. The lynching was notable for the viciousness it exhibited, a brutality that foreshadowed later lynchings in the state and nation, as well as the fact that it was witnessed by federal troops still occupying the state following the Civil War. Little information exists regarding the lynching. According to an account of the event in the Goodspeed history of the area, Atkins waylaid and murdered two siblings on their way to school on November 7, 1865. The two children were Sarah K. Simpson, who was thirteen years old, and Jesse G. Simpson, eight. The diary of George W. Lewis of …

Atkinson, James Harris (J. H.)

James Harris (J. H.) Atkinson was an educator, author, and historian who, through his leadership in state and local historical organizations, significantly advanced the preservation and awareness of Arkansas’s history, earning him the nickname “Mr. Arkansas History.” He helped organize and subsequently served as president of both the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA) and the Pulaski County Historical Society (PCHS), wrote numerous articles for each of their publications, served as chairman of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives), and co-authored Historic Arkansas, a text for teaching Arkansas history. J. H. Atkinson was born on June 7, 1888, in a farmhouse near the community of College Hill in northern Columbia County, the son of Gracie Ella Finley and …

Atkinson, Wash (Lynching of)

On December 6, 1877, an African-American man named Wash Atkinson was hanged by a mob in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a white man named H. G. Ridgeway. Ridgeway was probably carpenter H. G. Ridgeway, who at the time of the 1880 census was a fifty-three-year-old widower living in Arkadelphia. On December 1, 1877, Arkadelphia’s Southern Standard published an account of the original crime. According to this report, Ridgeway, acting as “night policeman,” had been patrolling the western part of the city on Saturday, November 24. During that time, he attempted to arrest two African Americans, Wash Atkinson and Ike Smith, for disorderly conduct. While Ridgeway was holding Smith by the arm, Atkinson dropped behind them and hit Ridgeway …

Atkinson, Willie Emmett

W. Emmett Atkinson was a farmer and teacher working in Arkansas in the later part of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. An active Democrat and local office holder, he became embroiled in controversy concerning his support for the American effort in World War I. Willie Emmett Atkinson was born on February 4, 1874, to Robert Atkinson and Eliza Ramsey Gordon Atkinson on the family’s farm near McNeil (Columbia County). He grew up in the Harrison Township of Columbia County; his father had been heavily involved with the development of the township. Atkinson taught school in Columbia, Lafayette, and Nevada counties from 1897 to 1916. Atkinson was often the only teacher in a school that might enroll …

Attorney General, Office of

The attorney general, one of the state’s seven constitutional offices, is the state’s top law enforcement officer and consumer advocate. The office of attorney general was not originally a constitutional office but rather was created by Act 1 of 1843, which designated the state’s attorney for its Fifth Judicial District as the attorney general. The first attorney general was Robert W. Johnson. The constitution of 1868 made the post elective, though it required only that the attorney general “perform such duties as are now, or may hereafter, be prescribed by law.” This was reaffirmed in the constitution of 1874. Act 131 of 1911 laid out four general responsibilities of the attorney general’s office: 1) to give opinions to state officers …

Aubrey (Lee County)

  The town of Aubrey stretches along State Highway 121 in western Lee County. Formed early in the twentieth century when the railroad came through the area, the town was not incorporated until 1966. Although Lee County’s population is predominately African American, Aubrey remains more than two-thirds white. Lee County was sparsely populated when it was first formed in 1873. Most of the county land consisted of cotton plantations—converted from slave labor to tenant farmer labor after the Civil War—and oft-flooded lowlands. The construction of railroads changed the county’s character early in the twentieth century. The Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad, linking Joplin, Missouri, to Helena (Phillips County) on the Mississippi River, brought much commercial traffic through the county. The refueling stop that became …

Auburn, David

David Auburn is a Tony Award– and Pulitzer Prize–winning American playwright, screenwriter, and director best known for his 2000 play Proof, which he also adapted for the screen, and for the screenplay for the film The Lake House. His play The Columnist opened on Broadway in 2012. David Auburn was born on November 30, 1969, in Chicago, Illinois, to Mark Auburn and Sandy K. Auburn. He grew up in Ohio and moved with his family to Arkansas in 1982, where his mother worked first for the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and then as the assistant deputy director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services for the Arkansas Department of Human Services in Little …

Auditor, Office of

The auditor, one of the state’s seven constitutional offices, serves as the general accountant for the State of Arkansas. The auditor oversees the balance sheets of state agencies and disburses funds on behalf of the State, as well as disbursing select federal funds, keeping “all public accounts, books, vouchers, documents, and all papers relating to the contracts of the state and its debts, revenue, and fiscal affairs which are not required by law to be placed in some other office or kept by some other person,” according to the Arkansas Code. The office of auditor has been in existence since Arkansas was made a territory of the United States in 1819, and very little has changed regarding the auditor’s duties …

Audubon Arkansas

Audubon Arkansas was established in 2000 as the twenty-fifth state office of the National Audubon Society through a seed grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. Audubon Arkansas’s mission is to inspire and lead Arkansans in environmental education, resource management, habitat restoration, bird conservation, and enlightened advocacy. In 2003, Audubon Arkansas was recognized as “Conservation Organization of the Year” by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. Robert Shults was the founding board chairman of Audubon Arkansas. Shults, an Arkansan, served on the National Audubon Society board of directors from 1980 to 1986. The chairman of the National Audubon Society at the time was Donal C. O’Brien. O’Brien and Shults both served on the board of trustees of the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. …

Audubon, John James

John James Audubon, a frontier naturalist and artist, is famous for illustrating and writing The Birds of America. He visited Arkansas Territory in 1820 and 1822 and documented Arkansas’s birds, including the Traill’s flycatcher, also known as the willow flycatcher, which is the only bird originally discovered in Arkansas. John Audubon was born Jean Rabin on April 26, 1785, in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). He was the illegitimate child of Jean Audubon, a ship’s captain, and Jeanne Rabin, a French chambermaid. His mother died in 1785 or 1786, and Jean Audubon and his children returned to France after a slave revolt. Along with his sister, he was adopted by his father and stepmother in 1794. Audubon stayed with his father and stepmother …

August House

August House, a commercial book publisher founded and run by Arkansans, was a fixture on the national scene for its twenty-five years in the state. Originally a publisher of poetry, it moved into general fiction and eventually folklore and storytelling. In 1978, two young Arkansas poets, Ted Parkhurst and Jon Looney, started a company to publish Arkansas poetry. They called their enterprise August House Publishers. Parkhurst quit his job to run the fledgling company, even selling his poetry door-to-door. Looney soon left Little Rock (Pulaski County), but Parkhurst stayed, and August House Publishers began to grow. By 1979, it became apparent that literary publishing interested writers in Arkansas and the region, and August House published six titles, including poetry by …

Augusta (Woodruff County)

Augusta, located on the east bank of the White River, has been the county seat of two counties, first Jackson and then Woodruff, and is the oldest settlement in Woodruff County. The town’s placement at a natural river landing brought prosperity during the era of steamboats. Boats from Memphis, Tennessee, hauling a wide variety of goods landed weekly at Augusta year round, and boats from New Orleans, Louisiana, made regular stops. Augusta is still a part of the river trade as barges haul farm crops from large grain storage facilities on the banks of the White River. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Local tradition holds that, long before white men set foot in what is now Arkansas, Chickasaw Indians built …

Augusta Expedition (December 7–8, 1864)

Fearing that several Confederate guerrillas and partisan bands were operating in northeastern Arkansas, Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews dispatched 100 men under Captain Joseph H. Swan to Augusta (Woodruff County) to capture enemy groups believed to be there. The expedition resulted in no combat, but intelligence was gathered regarding the movement of Confederates and the deprived condition of the civilian population. For Union troops stationed in northeastern Arkansas, constant rumors of the movement of guerrilla and partisan units kept Union troops busy. During November and early December 1864, Andrews, commanding the Second Division, Seventh Army Corps at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), had received reports on the movements of small enemy units under the command of Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn and …

Augusta Expedition (January 4–27, 1865)

In an effort to continue to conduct expeditions into northeastern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate and guerrilla activities, Union colonel Washington F. Geiger was dispatched with 1,050 men to occupy Augusta (Woodruff County) on January 4, 1865. Wet and cold conditions made travel difficult. Nonetheless, Geiger occupied the town from January 11 to January 24, 1865. Holding it for thirteen days, Geiger returned to Brownsville (Lonoke County); he had not engaged the enemy, but he captured seven prisoners and gained supplies from the region. The fatiguing task of occupation duty often meant moving troops to demonstrate projection of force capabilities, gathering intelligence, and/or acquiring supplies. Concerned about the movements of small Confederate and guerrilla groups in northeastern Arkansas in late 1864 …

Augusta, Skirmish at

Attempting to locate and destroy Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby somewhere in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel Washington F. Geiger engaged in a small skirmish in the town of Augusta (Woodruff County) on August 10, 1864. The small Confederate force fled the city. The presence of Brig. Gen. Shelby’s command in northeastern Arkansas plagued Union forces there. After two failed expeditions to destroy Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele outfitted Brigadier General Joseph R. West in August 1864 with 3,094 men to locate and destroy Shelby, who was believed to be in the Little Red River valley. Brig. Gen. West divided his command into two provisional brigades. The first, commanded by Col. Geiger of the Eighth …

Ausbie, “Geese”

aka: Hubert Ausbie
Hubert “Geese” Ausbie joined the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in 1961 following a standout college career at Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County). For the next twenty-four years, Ausbie played for the Globetrotters in more than 100 countries and became known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” for his entertaining antics on the basketball court. Geese Ausbie was born in Crescent, Oklahoma, on April 25, 1938. He was one of eight children and the youngest son of Bishop and Nancy Ausbie. As a youth, Ausbie excelled in baseball, basketball, tennis, and track. He once scored seventy points in a basketball game for Crescent’s Douglas High School and helped lead Douglas to four straight Oklahoma Basketball State Championships. After …

Austin (Lonoke County)

Austin is a second-class city situated in northern Lonoke County. The railroad was responsible for moving the settlement of Old Austin (Lonoke County) a mile to the northwest of its original location; in the twenty-first century, many of Austin’s residents work in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Old Austin had been established before the Civil War and included a wool carding factory, a hotel, three doctors’ offices, three saloons, and a number of stores. No major Civil War confrontations took place in the area, but Camp Nelson was established as a Confederate winter camp and became also a Confederate cemetery during the war. The community revived after the war but was bypassed by the building of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain …

Austin v. The State

Slaves in the United States had no legal rights and only limited access to legal protection, so few legal cases in antebellum Arkansas involved African Americans. Even fewer of those cases were ever reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. However, a case in 1854 established a new principle for Arkansas courts that allowed slave owners to testify in criminal cases involving their own slaves. The murder trial of Austin, a slave in Independence County, was appealed to the state’s high court on several procedural issues, one of which was the denial of his owner’s testimony. The court found that such testimony must be permitted, thus throwing out the circuit court’s decision and ordering a new trial. The event that led …

Austin, Stephen Fuller

Stephen Fuller Austin, most widely known as the “Father of Texas,” spent a short period of his life in Arkansas after leaving Missouri and before heading south to establish the Lone Star Republic now known as Texas. Austin spent only a brief time in Arkansas, but there are various partnerships cited and references to his presence in historical notes regarding the settling of southwest Arkansas. Stephen Austin was born on November 3, 1793, near a lead mining area in Austinville in Wythe County, southwest Virginia, to Moses Austin and Mary Brown Austin. He was the second of five children. His father, Moses, was the pioneer who originally obtained the land grant from Mexico for an American colony in Texas. Moses …

Auvergne (Jackson County)

Auvergne of Jackson County is a small unincorporated community located about ten miles southeast of Newport (Jackson County) on land that was home to some of the area’s first settlers. Though occupied by the 1830s, no settlement began to emerge until the 1870s. During its heyday in the late nineteenth century, the community, positioned on a ridge between the White and Cache river bottoms, was home to a thriving timber trade and ample farming. James T. Henderson, sometimes called the “father of Auvergne,” moved from Tennessee and settled in the area with twenty-five slaves in 1860. Establishing a large farm and orchard, he built his house just west of where the settlement would be. Local history records that it was …

Aviation

Aviation history in Arkansas includes one pioneer inventor, a few attempts at commercial airplane production, a regional commuter airline, a now-national air freight company, and varying degrees of impact on the state’s communities. By the 1970s, aviation had become essential both for business use and for personal travel. Balloons and Dirigibles Balloon ascensions became popular throughout the United States in the 1850s, and balloons also figured in the Civil War, though none were deployed in Arkansas. There was an ascension in Yell County in 1879, and in 1902, balloonist Charles Geary came to Baxter County to perform, along with “Professor” Murgle, who demonstrated the parachute. Balloon production was apparently limited to the Hot Springs Airship Company of Joel Troutt Rice …

Avilla (Saline County)

Founded by German settlers, the unincorporated community of Avilla lies in northern Saline County seven miles north of Benton (Saline County) on Congo-Ferndale Road. Centered around a Lutheran church and school, the mostly rural settlement also has a Baptist church and two stores. The first white settlers in the area were farmers who gained land grants from the federal government before the Civil War. These settlers include Henry Fletcher, who arrived in 1834; Thomas Keesee, who arrived in 1839; and George Brown, who arrived in 1857. Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, railroad companies, including the Iron Mountain Railroad, advertised the quality of Arkansas life in Germany and other parts of Europe. Among those who responded to these ads were …

Avoca (Benton County)

Avoca is a town on U.S. Highway 62 in Benton County, located between Rogers (Benton County) and Pea Ridge National Military Park. Since its incorporation in 1966, it has benefited from the general growth in population that northwestern Arkansas has experienced. In the early years of the Arkansas Territory, the Osage were frequent visitors to the forested hills of northwestern Arkansas. Three treaties moved the Osage farther west, and the area began to be developed for white settlement as Lovely County. Later, the region was renamed Washington County, and in 1836—the year Arkansas became a state—Benton County was separated from Washington County. Settlement remained sparse in the Avoca area, however, until after the Civil War. The Butterfield Overland Mail Company …

Aydelott (Independence County)

Aydelott is a historic community in Independence County located on Highway 14 between Oil Trough (Independence County) and Macks (Jackson County) in Oil Trough Township. The name derives from the Aydelott family from Cleveland County, North Carolina. The White River bottoms in what became known as Pleasant Island, and later Oil Trough, first became a popular area for bear hunting by the French before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The rich alluvial soil beckoned farmers who grew cotton and corn in the early days of settlement, tolerating the frequent floods. The corn was also used to make moonshine, which proved almost as profitable as trading bear oil down the river. Alfred Paisley Aydelott first journeyed to Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

B-17 Flying Fortress Explosion of 1943

On March 12, 1943, the nine-man crew of a B-17F Flying Fortress perished after one of the plane’s engines caught fire and exploded mid-air during a flight from Smoky Hill Air Field in Salina, Kansas, to Morrison Field in West Palm Beach, Florida. The plane crashed in a wooded area five miles northwest of Sheridan (Grant County). In 2015, the crash site became home to a memorial park honoring the nine airmen; it also honors Union and Confederate Civil War soldiers who fought in the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry, along with the soldiers from Grant County who have been killed in action since World War I. The nine-man crew consisted of Second Lieutenant George Davis of Dubuque, Iowa (pilot); Second Lt. Robert …

B-47 Bomber Crash of 1960

On March 31, 1960, aircraft number 52-1414A was set to take off from the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) in Jacksonville (Pulaski County). This B-47E was part of the 384th Bombardment Wing, which was established at the LRAFB on August 1955. The aircraft was destined for Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. The typical B-47 crew consisted of three crew members: pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. However, this flight was carrying four crew members on the morning of March 31: Captain Herbert J. Aldridge (pilot, Air Force Reserve), First Lieutenant Thomas G. Smoak (co-pilot, Air Force Reserve), Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds S. Watson (navigator, Air Force Reserve), and Kenneth E. Brose (civil engineer, Regular Air Force.) With pre-flight checks complete, …

Babbitt, Wayne Hubert

Wayne Hubert Babbitt was a Republican politician who, in 1972, became the only Republican ever to run against John McClellan, Arkansas’s long-serving and powerful U.S. senator. While his candidacy was unsuccessful, Babbitt’s effort represented another step forward in the development of a competitive Republican Party in Arkansas in the latter part of the twentieth century. Wayne H. Babbitt was born on April 21, 1928, in Macedonia, Iowa, to Darwin Merritt Babbitt and Frances Charron Babbitt. He spent most of his childhood in Nebraska. After high school, he served in the U.S. Navy, and upon completing his tour of duty, he returned to Nebraska, spending a year at the University of Omaha (now the University of Nebraska Omaha). Babbitt married Eleanor …

Babcock, Bernie

aka: Julia Burnelle Smade Babcock
In 1903, Julia Burnelle (Bernie) Smade Babcock became the first Arkansas woman to be included in Authors and Writers Who’s Who. She published more than forty novels, as well as numerous tracts and newspaper and magazine articles. She founded the Museum of Natural History in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was a founding member of the Arkansas Historical Society, and was the first president of the Arkansas branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Bernie Smade was born in Union, Ohio, on April 28, 1868, the first of six children, to Hiram Norton Smade and Charlotte Elizabeth (Burnelle) Smade. The Smades raised their children with a freedom uncharacteristic for that time. When Smade’s lively imagination was mistaken for lying …

Babcock, Lucille (Lucy)

Lucille (Lucy) Babcock was a noted actress in theater and television who established the first community theater in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She also fostered the literary organizations her grandmother, writer Bernie Babcock, founded. Lucy Babcock was born Lucille Thornburg on September 30, 1921, to Frances Babcock Thornburg and John Thornburg. She had one sibling. While she was still an infant, her father deserted the family. Her grandmother had purchased Broadview, a wooded acreage that overlooked Little Rock, and the family moved into her barn-cum-house. At school, she was often in trouble for defending the underdog, recalling, “No one ever told me fighting was wrong.” Her circumstances and the area where she lived branded her as “white trash.” She attended …

Baby of Arts Degree

After World War II ended, large numbers of veterans were headed to college on the GI Bill, officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The GI Bill provided economic assistance to veterans so they could receive a college education or vocational training. Enrollment at colleges and universities had dropped dramatically during the war, as high school graduates put college education on hold for four or five years so they could serve in World War II. Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC), now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), had an enrollment of 764 students for the 1940–41 school year. But by the 1943–44 school year, enrollment had dropped to 289 students. After the war was over, the student enrollment …

Bachman, Joseph

Joseph Bachman is widely recognized as Arkansas’s leading developer of grape varieties. During his career, he received national and international attention for his development of grape vines, winning several awards and supplying cuttings and plants to numerous nurseries. Joseph Bachman was born in 1853 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Little is known about his childhood, including his family, education, and early career. According to immigration records, Bachman arrived in New York on May 9, 1878, on a ship that had departed Le Havre, France, earlier that year. By 1881, following the advice of his relatives, Bachman had settled in the town of Altus (Franklin County), where many of his other countrymen resided. He held a wide array of occupations, serving as the …

Bachman’s Warbler

aka: Vermivora bachmanii
Bachman’s warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) was a small, yellow-and-black bird of the American wood-warbler family (Parulidae) that formerly nested in the southeastern United States, including Arkansas. In winter, Bachman’s warblers migrated south to spend the winter on the island of Cuba. Preferring swampy bottomland habitat, the species suffered severe population decline in the early twentieth century when that habitat began disappearing and is now believed by most ornithologists to be extinct. Bachman’s warbler was discovered in 1832 near Charleston, South Carolina, by the Reverend John Bachman, a skilled amateur naturalist. Bachman (pronounced BACKman) was a close friend to John James Audubon, the famed naturalist and artist. Audubon painted a pair of the birds based on skins (prepared specimens) and named the …

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle

Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle, published in 1932, is the autobiography of Charles Wayman Hogue (1870–1965), who grew up in Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains. Arkansas folklorist Vance Randolph wrote that Back Yonder was, “One of the finest nonfiction books ever written about the Ozark country. Hogue is a native of Van Buren County, Arkansas. He knows the truth about this region, and sets it down without any sentimental twaddle.” Hogue was the father of well-known Arkansas author Charlie May Simon. Her second husband, Howard Simon, illustrated Hogue’s book with exquisite woodcuts. As a young man in his early twenties, Hogue left the Ozarks to attend Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). It was there that he …

Back-to-Africa Movement

The Back-to-Africa Movement mobilized thousands of African-American Arkansans who wished to leave the state for the Republic of Liberia in the late 1800s. Approximately 650 emigrants left from Arkansas, more than from any other American state, in the 1880s and 1890s, the last phase of organized group migration of black Americans to Liberia. As early as 1820, black Americans had begun to return to their ancestral homeland through the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization headquartered in Washington DC, which arranged transportation and settlement. The ACS founded the Republic of Liberia in 1847, with its flag and constitution emulating American models, and nearly 13,000 redeemed slaves and free blacks had settled there before the Civil War. With …

Back-to-the-Land Movement

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, nearly one million people throughout the United States left urbanized areas for rural settings, intent on establishing themselves as “back-to-the-landers.” While many of these people moved to the Northeast or the West, which had long been centers of counter-cultural movements, a significant number were drawn to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It is difficult to state how many back-to-the-landers (BTLs) moved to Arkansas between 1968 and 1982, but rough estimates suggest that it was somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000. Nearly all of the BTLs who moved to the region were in their early to mid-twenties. On the whole, the BTLs were well educated, with over seventy percent having completed an undergraduate degree. Approximately …

Bacon, Nick Daniel (Nicky)

Nick Daniel Bacon stands as Arkansas’s only Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the Vietnam War. In addition, Bacon served for more than a decade as the director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, championing many programs for Arkansas’s veterans and playing an instrumental part in the erection of a memorial honoring all of Arkansas’s Medal of Honor recipients. Nicky Bacon was born on November 25, 1945, in Caraway (Craighead County), one of eight children. In the early 1950s, his financially struggling family moved to Arizona. Bacon dropped out of high school after the ninth grade to work but was inspired to do something else by his uncle’s tales of World War II. Despite being too young, he joined …

Baerg, William J.

William J. Baerg was a naturalist, entomologist, and teacher who served as head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-one years. His research on black widow spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, and other arthropods led to descriptions of their behavior, biology, and natural history that had previously been largely ignored by biologists and entomologists. William Baerg was born in Hillsboro, Kansas, to Johann and Magaretha (Hildebrand) Baerg on September 24, 1885. His parents, who had left Russia in 1874, worked as field hands on a Kansas wheat farm. The family later acquired a small piece of land for their own. Baerg was the sixth of seven children. Baerg began school at age seven. At …

Bagley-Ridgeway Feud

“Officer Uses a Pistol Fatally,” an Arkansas Gazette headline stated on March 5, 1905. The incident that led to this headline was the catalyst for one of the state’s longest-running and bloodiest feuds. On March 4, 1905, Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) city marshal Robert Lee Ridgeway shot Jesse Edward (Ed) Bagley, son of wealthy farmer Isham J. Bagley, three times. Bagley was reportedly drunk and resisting arrest when Ridgeway, acting in his legal capacity as law officer, shot and killed him. At a coroner’s inquiry, Ridgeway was found innocent of any wrongdoing. At the time of the shooting, Isham Bagley and his other two sons were “in the country” (that is, in the vicinity). It was reported, “When they learn …

Bahá’ís

The Bahá’í faith originated in Persia (present-day Iran) in the mid-1800s as a movement within a minority sect of Islam led by a man known as the Báb (whose name means “the gate”). After his execution by Iranian leaders, one of the Báb’s followers, a man known as Bahá’u’lláh, became the leader of the movement and claimed to be the Messianic figure written about by the Báb. Bahá’u’lláh established the Bahá’í faith as a new religion and, after many exiles, was finally sent to Akka, Palestine (in present-day Israel), where he spent the remainder of his days. Bahá’u’lláh appointed his son, `Abdu’l-Bahá, to assume leadership of the Bahá’í faith upon his death. Central tenets of the Bahá’í faith include the …

Bailey, Bob

aka: Robert Ballard Bailey
Robert Ballard (Bob) Bailey was a prominent early to mid-twentieth-century lawyer and political figure who served two terms in the state Senate and three terms as lieutenant governor. He frequently served as acting governor when the governor was out of state. Bob Bailey was born on August 7, 1889, in Knott County, Kentucky, to John Marshall and Mollie (or Mallie) French Bailey. His father served as a district judge in the Hindman, Kentucky, area. Bailey attended high school in Hindman and acquired his early knowledge of law by accompanying his father to court. He later studied law under his father and attended Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. On May 2, 1909, Bailey …

Bailey, Carl Edward

Carl Edward Bailey, a two-term governor of Arkansas in the 1930s, struggled to modernize state government and to cope with the Great Depression. He led a political faction consisting of state employees, which clashed with a coalition of federal workers over control of patronage. This conflict split the Democratic Party as well as the state into opposing political blocs. Carl Bailey was born on October 8, 1894, in Bernie, Missouri, to William Edward Bailey and Margaret Elmyra McCorkle. His father worked as a logger and hardware salesman. Bailey grew up in Campbell, Missouri, where he graduated from high school. He attended Chillicothe Business College in Missouri but lacked the funds to graduate. He held a series of jobs and read …

Bailey, George (Lynching of)

Sometime during the night of December 19–20, 1909, an African-American man named George Bailey was shot to death by a mob while he was housed in the jail at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). Although whites outnumbered blacks approximately two to one in Prairie County at that time, there was already racial animus in the area because a few days earlier an unknown African-American man had reportedly attacked a white man who was sleeping in a boxcar nearby. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the attack was an attempted robbery, and the attacker almost cut the victim’s throat: “At the time a party was organized to lynch the negro, but cooler counsel prevailed and the would-be lynchers were dissuaded from their purpose.” …

Bailey, James (Lynching of)

On July 9, 1891, James Bailey was hanged from a railroad crossing sign in Beebe (White County) for allegedly attacking a white woman. There is very little information available on Bailey. The only African American named James Bailey in White County at the time of the 1880 census was five years old. He was living in West Point Township with his mother, Fannie, and five siblings. If this is the correct James Bailey, he would have been only sixteen years old at the time of the lynching. The alleged victim was a Mrs. Folsom. There was still a Folsom family in Beebe at the time of the 1900 census. Henry Folsom, a forty-five-year-old day laborer, was living with his wife …

Bailey, Marian Breland

Marian (Ruth Kruse) Breland Bailey was a pioneer in the field of animal behavior. Marian and her first husband, Keller Breland, were the first to use operant conditioning technology for commercial purposes. From their Hot Springs (Garland County) farm, the Brelands exported the new technology all over the world. Marian Ruth Kruse was born on December 2, 1920, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Christian and Harriet (Prime) Kruse. Christian Kruse owned an auto parts supply house. Harriet was a registered nurse. Marian had one brother, Donald. She was known as “Mouse” to her friends; Marian’s father was the first to call her “Maus,” a common German term of endearment for girls. Later, when Marian met her soon-to-be husband, Keller, he also …

Bailey, O. C.

aka: Olin Cavanaugh Bailey
Olin Cavanaugh Bailey of El Dorado (Union County) was a leader in the Arkansas oil industry and served as the first chairman of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. Both Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) and Hendrix College have buildings named in Bailey’s honor. O. C. Bailey was born in Blevins (Hempstead County) on July 28, 1894, the second child of Gentry Ethridge, a farmer from Haynesville, Louisiana, and Sarah Margaret Stephens Bailey, a housewife from Wallaceburg (Hempstead County). Bailey graduated from Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University) with a BA in 1914. Bailey married Leila St. Clair Lide of Camden (Ouachita County) on September 12, 1917. The couple had no children. On October 18, 1918, Bailey joined the United States …

Bailey’s, Affair at

aka: Affair at Crooked Creek
A brief encounter between a Union scouting party and a band of Confederate guerrillas, this skirmish was one of many used by Federal forces to disrupt enemy efforts in northwestern Arkansas during the Civil War. Colonel John E. Phelps of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move from Cassville, Missouri, into Arkansas in an effort to interrupt Confederate efforts to launch a raid into Missouri. On January 17, 1864, Phelps led two companies of his regiment into Arkansas and arrived at Berryville (Carroll County) the next day, joining three more companies already in the town. Due to a large number of sick and absent men, Phelps remained at Berryville until January 20, when …

Baitfish Industry

Arkansas leads the nation in the farming of bait and feeder fish, providing sixty-one percent of the value of all cultured baitfish in the country. Baitfish are small minnows used as fishing bait to catch predatory game fish such as crappie, catfish, walleye, and largemouth bass. Feeder fish are small fish sold as live food for fish and animals in aquariums and zoos. Six billion bait minnows—predominantly golden shiners, fathead minnows, and goldfish—are raised in Arkansas each year and shipped throughout the country. In 1998, the Census of Aquaculture recorded sixty-two baitfish farms in Arkansas. The annual farm-gate value of Arkansas baitfish production was $23 million; with an economic impact of six to seven times this amount, baitfish production contributes …