Entries - Starting with B

Brumley, Albert Edward

Albert Edward Brumley Sr. was one of the most successful American gospel song composers of the twentieth century, penning such standards as “I’ll Fly Away,” “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” “If We Never Meet Again,” “Turn Your Radio On,” and many others. Between 1926 and 1931, he studied, lived, and worked at the Hartford Music Company in Hartford (Sebastian County) under the tutelage of its founder, Eugene Monroe (E. M.) Bartlett. Although Bartlett died in 1941, Brumley forever credited him as the chief mentor and inspiration behind his music and eventually purchased the Hartford Music Company in 1948. Albert E. Brumley was born on October 29, 1905, in Indian Territory near present-day Spiro, Oklahoma. His parents, William Sherman Brumley …

Brundidge, Stephen, Jr.

Stephen Brundidge Jr. was a prosecuting attorney, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, and a six-term U.S. Representative for the Sixth and Second Congressional districts. Born on January 1, 1857, in Searcy (White County), Brundidge was the fourth child of Stephen and Minerva Brundidge, who moved to Searcy from Mississippi in 1853. His father was a contractor who built the first brick buildings in Searcy, including the main section of the present White County Courthouse, built in 1869. Brundidge graduated with honors from the Searcy Male and Female Academy. He then read law in the offices of William R. Coody and Dandridge McRae and was admitted to the bar in 1879. He first practiced law in Jacksonport (Jackson …

Bruno’s Little Italy

Bruno’s Little Italy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of the most well-known restaurants in central Arkansas, serving authentic Neapolitan food since 1949 and introducing hand-tossed pizza to Arkansas. It was founded by Vincent “Jimmy” Bruno and continues in the twenty-first century with his sons and grandson, although it has operated in several locations with brief interruptions over the years. Known for its fine food and also for the many photos of celebrities on the walls, it has been recognized as having the best Italian food in the United States. Giovanni Bruno emigrated from Naples, Italy, in 1903 to join his brother in opening one of New York’s first pizzerias—actually a bakery from which they served pizzas. He was …

Bryan (Scott County)

Bryan is an unincorporated community located in northwestern Scott County along Highway 28 north of the Poteau River. The community of Bryan was also known as Center Point and Bryan’s Spur. Agriculture has traditionally been important to the area. Prior to European exploration, Bryan was a wilderness lush with native vegetation and numerous species of wildlife—including buffalo and elk, which no longer inhabit the area. Archaeological evidence from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods has been discovered throughout the area. Additional evidence has indicated that the Caddo tribe had a strong presence along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller …

Bryant (Saline County)

Bryant (Saline County) is a small city that is currently growing and developing into an extension of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) metropolitan area. It has a long history of local and regional significance, although it has had few residents for most of its history. The Geographical Center of Arkansas marker is located within Bryant city limits. From the early days of the railroad in central Arkansas to the construction of an interstate, Bryant has been at the forefront of transportation in the state. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Bryant’s earliest inhabitants of European descent settled along Hurricane Creek in the early part of the nineteenth century. Local legend holds that these pioneers were traveling to Texas when they came upon …

Bryant, “Bear”

aka: Paul William Bryant
Paul William “Bear” Bryant is one of America’s all-time most successful college football coaches. At the time of his death, he had won more games than any other coach, including the legendary Amos Alonzo Staggs and Pop Warner. Arkansas-born Bryant remains an icon not only for athletic accomplishments but for personal strength, determination, and the will to win. Paul William Bryant was born on September 11, 1913, near Kingsland (Cleveland County) in south central Arkansas, to William Monroe Bryant, a farmer, and Dora Ida Kilgore Bryant, a homemaker. Bryant was the eighth surviving child (three died at birth) of a total of nine. He had four brothers and four sisters and was the youngest boy, with one sister born four …

Bryant, John Winston

John Winston Bryant is an Arkansas politician and attorney who held an array of high-level offices in state government. Beginning as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and serving for two decades in statewide offices, Bryant was an influential figure in Arkansas politics over the last quarter of the twentieth century. Winston Bryant was born on October 3, 1938, in Malvern (Hot Spring County) to Johnie Bryant and Hestie Killian Bryant. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1960. He then earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1963, and he earned a Masters of Law in administrative law from George Washington University in 1970. Bryant …

Bryant, Kelly

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

Bryozoans

aka: Ectoprocta
aka: Moss Animals
Bryozoans (commonly called moss animals) are generally sessile, colonial invertebrates that belong to the phylum Bryozoa (or Ectoprocta), which is sometimes combined with two other phyla (Phoronida and Brachiopoda) to form a possible clade within the Deuterostomia. The three are sometimes referred to as the Lophophorata. Fossil bryozoans commonly found in Arkansas can be divided into two broad groups: the lacy colonies and the twig-shaped colonies. One fossil, the Archimedes, is especially abundant in northwestern Arkansas. In the southeastern United States, large gelatinous colonies of P. magnifica are a common sight, sometimes called “dinosaur snot.” These are often seen at Lake Wilhelmina in Polk County, and some have been reported in eastern Arkansas County. The primary uniting characteristic of this …

Buchanan, Herbert Earle

Herbert Earle Buchanan was a nationally known astronomer, mathematician, teacher, and sports reformer. His research significantly advanced a mathematical understanding of the stability of the orbits of heavenly bodies, and he authored numerous college and university textbooks. Buchanan was very interested in athletics and was one of the founders of the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Buchanan was born in Cane Hill (Washington County) on October 4, 1881, to Susan Clark Williamson and James A. Buchanan, a Civil War veteran who became a farmer, surveyor, and circuit-riding Presbyterian minister. After attending the local “subscription school,” in which the family of each attending child paid a pro-rated fee, Buchanan entered the college preparatory program at Arkansas Industrial University (later the University of …

Buchanan, Roy

aka: Leroy Buchanan
Leroy (Roy) Buchanan was a guitar innovator whose skill inspired an aptly titled documentary, The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World. For more than thirty years, the guitarist melded blues, country, jazz, and rock music into a unique sound. Roy Buchanan was born September 23, 1939, in Ozark (Franklin County), the third of four children born to Bill Buchanan and Minnie Bell Reed Buchanan. When he was two, the family moved to Pixley, California, a tiny San Joaquin Valley farming town, where his father was a farm laborer. At age five, Buchanan learned a few guitar chords. When he was nine, his father bought him a red Rickenbacker lap steel guitar, and, by age twelve, he was playing lap steel …

Buck Horn, Skirmish at

On May 5, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was ordered from his position south of the Arkansas River to “occupy the valley of White River and to prevent its navigation in every possible manner and fashion.” Colonel Robert R. Livingston (US), who maintained a small detachment in Batesville (Independence County), had left Colonel John Stephens in command of the city, but in a letter dated May 11, 1864, Livingston advised Stephens of probable evacuation: “I may deem it best for you to evacuate Batesville, and should you find it necessary to do so, fall back upon this point,” being Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby and his Confederate troops moved from Clarksville (Johnson County) and crossed the Arkansas River at Dardanelle (Yell …

Buckner (Lafayette County)

Buckner is a town in northern Lafayette County, a few miles east of Stamps (Lafayette County) on U.S. Highway 82. Established by the Cotton Belt Railroad, Buckner was a lumber center early in its history, but the economy of the town in the twenty-first century is shaped more by its proximity to oil and gas fields and to poultry farms. What would become northern Lafayette County was heavily forested when Arkansas became a state in 1836. Caddo, who lived along the Red River valley, moved through the area regularly. Gradually, white settlers began to claim and clear land in the region. Because the area remained sparsely populated, the Civil War had little effect upon the area. John Colvin was farming …

Buckner College

Buckner College in Witcherville (Sebastian County), chartered in 1879, began operations in the fall of 1882 as one of Arkansas’s earliest Baptist educational institutions. It was named for Henry Frieland Buckner (1818–1882), Baptist missionary to the Creek Nation, in hopes of attracting students from Indian Territory. The college’s founder, the Reverend Ebenezer L. Compere, was a longtime western Arkansas Baptist minister and missionary who, in 1876, together with a group of Witcherville citizens, began working to establish an educational institution in the area. In 1879, he obtained the reluctant support of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which allowed him to “open a correspondence with such parties as he may think proper with a view of employing a President and Teachers …

Buckskull, Skirmish at (November 20, 1864)

After attempting to clear communication lines in Missouri, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Thilenius of the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Militia led a raid into Arkansas to catch Confederate colonel Timothy Reeves at Cherokee Bay (Randolph County). Near Buckskull, on the Arkansas-Missouri border, Thilenius’s command killed two guerrillas believed to be members of Reeves’s command before charging the undefended town of Buckskull to find no opposing force. Located where the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) passes into northeastern Arkansas, Buckskull sits on the Arkansas-Missouri line near the Current River and across from the town of Pitman (Randolph County). As Pitman’s Ferry was critical for movement of men and materials between northeastern Arkansas …

Buckskull, Skirmishes at (October 1 and 10, 1863)

  On September 28, 1863, Captain William T. Leeper with elements of the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry moved into Randolph County, Arkansas, to engage guerrillas in the area. On October 1 and October 10, skirmishes occurred on the Arkansas-Missouri border near Buckskull due to its location near Pitman’s Ferry on the Current River. Traffic crossing the Current River just south of the Arkansas state line on the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) made Pitman’s Ferry a major entrance point in the region. Over time, the towns of Pitman (Randolph County) in Arkansas and Buckskull on the Arkansas-Missouri border developed around the location. Periodically, Confederate forces were stationed in this region to …

Buckville (Garland County)

The community of Buckville, located on the upper Ouachita River in Garland County, emerged as a small town amidst the sparsely settled Ouachita Mountains after the Civil War. The town typified rural upland Arkansas with its small farms and reliance on agriculture. Following the construction of Blakely Mountain Dam in the 1950s, the waters of Lake Ouachita covered the site of Buckville. The lake’s completion necessitated a total, permanent evacuation of the town. Extensive archaeological remains exist in the upper Ouachita River valley; many fields bordering on the river contain evidence of Native American presence in the area. Caddo occupied the Ouachita Mountains in relatively small, widely dispersed settlements in the northern part of the region. By 1700, no European or Indian resident …

Buckville Cemetery

The community of Buckville (Garland County) was inundated by the waters of Lake Ouachita in the 1950s; the remains lie under the lake’s surface. The Buckville Cemetery is the only reminder of the town that occupies its original location. The cemetery, which is located in northern Garland County off Buckville Road about two miles south of Avant (Garland County), was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 27, 2007. The town of Buckville developed in the years following the Civil War. A post office was established in 1884, and a thriving community existed by the 1900s. A decline began by the 1920s when Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L) embarked on the construction of three dams on the …

Buddhists

Buddhists in Arkansas are represented by ethnic immigrants who bring to the state the religious practices of their homelands as well as native Arkansans who have turned to Buddhism for their spiritual needs. Though less than one percent of the population of Arkansas, Buddhists in the state have established temples testifying to their presence, in addition to meeting in a variety of formal and informal groups. Buddhism can be described as a religion, a philosophy, a psychology, a practice, or a way of life. Buddhism’s essentially non-theistic framework, along with its emphasis on personal experience as the only true validation of its teachings, sets it apart from most other religious systems. Despite the varied schools of Buddhist thought and practice, …

Buffalo (Scott County)

Buffalo is a historical community in southern Scott County located along U.S. Highway 71. The community was established along Buffalo Creek. The agriculture and timber industries have contributed to the economy and way of life in Buffalo. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Buffalo was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds can be found along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Fourche La Fave River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area. During the late …

Buffalo Island

Buffalo Island is a local name given to western Mississippi County and eastern Craighead County. It consists of the land south of Big Lake between the Little River (not to be confused with a stream of the same name in southwestern Arkansas) and the St. Francis River, containing the communities of Manila (Mississippi County), Monette (Craighead County), Leachville (Mississippi County), Black Oak (Craighead County), and Caraway (Craighead County). The first written mention of the area was by Hernando de Soto, who passed through the area in 1541. De Soto’s party described Big Lake as existing on a high, dry area near the Mississippi River and feeding a moat around a large village believed to be in the area of contemporary Gosnell (Mississippi …

Buffalo Mountains, Skirmish at

  In the autumn of 1863, Colonel Joseph O. Shelby launched a raid from Arkansas into his home state of Missouri. After meeting organized Federal resistance at the Action at Marshall, Missouri, Shelby returned to the relative safety of Arkansas. This skirmish was one of the final engagements between Shelby and Federal forces during the raid. Shelby and 600 men from his brigade departed from Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 22, 1863, and moved northward to the Arkansas River. Engaging Federal forces as they appeared, Shelby crossed the Arkansas River on September 27 and moved into Missouri on October 2. Moving through the countryside capturing supplies and dispersing small Union garrisons, Shelby and his men were finally stopped by a …

Buffalo National River

aka: Buffalo River
The Buffalo National River, which runs through Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter counties, became the first national river in the United States on March 1, 1972. It is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states. The Buffalo National River, administered by the National Park Service, encompasses 135 miles of the 150-mile long river. President Richard M. Nixon signed Public Law 92-237 to put the river under the protection of the National Park Service 100 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park. The law begins, “That for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features, and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of …

Buffalo River Expedition

  By 1863, much of northwestern Arkansas was loosely controlled by Union forces but still home to many Confederate partisan forces. In many instances, isolated areas in the mountains were used as sites by these and others for the manufacture of saltpeter, an ingredient necessary for the production of gunpowder. On January 9, 1863, following orders issued by Brigadier General Francis J. Herron, Major Joseph W. Caldwell led a detachment of 300 Union troopers of the First Iowa Cavalry into the mountains in the direction of Kingston (Madison County) in search of Confederate activity. They rode out of Huntsville (Madison County) at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Kingston at 2:00 p.m. Here, Caldwell forwarded recently acquired information to Herron concerning area …

Buford School Building

The Buford School Building at 4439 Buford Road near Mountain Home (Baxter County) is a single-story two-room structure designed in the Craftsman style and constructed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1992. The town of Buford (Baxter County) reportedly had its origins in an 1870 wagon train in which a group of Mississippians who were headed for Texas instead diverted to Baxter County after hearing of a severe drought at their original destination. A post office was established at their settlement in 1879, and postmaster George Osborn named it Buford in honor of his son. The small town prospered, and …

Bull Bayou, Skirmish at

During an expedition to attempt to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel James Stuart engaged in a small skirmish at the bridge on Bull Bayou on August 7, 1864. Defeated, the unidentified Confederate force fled. Frustrated by the inability of Union troops to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele dispatched a third expedition to destroy the Confederate leader on August 6, 1864. Placing Brigadier General Joseph R. West in command of 3,094 men, Steele envisioned a movement toward the Little Red River and possibly beyond until the enemy was defeated. West divided his force into two provisional brigades commanded by Colonel Washington F. Geiger of …

Bull Shoals (Marion County)

  Bull Shoals is located in Marion County about ten miles south of the Missouri state line. The origin of the town of Bull Shoals is related to the building of Bull Shoals Dam and the formation of Bull Shoals Lake. Bordered on three sides by Bull Shoals Lake, modern-day Bull Shoals is primarily a vacation and retirement community. The town was the creation of Charles S. Woods Sr. A real estate developer, Woods had founded communities in Texas and Georgia. Bull Shoals was to be his fifteenth and final development. With the planned construction of Bull Shoals Dam and the forming of a nearby lake, Woods saw great potential for the area. With the backing of local investors, Woods …

Bull Shoals Dam and Lake

Bull Shoals Dam site is located on the White River about ten miles west of Mountain Home (Baxter County), where the river divides Baxter and Marion counties. The site is named after its location at a shoal (a shallow and swift reach of river), borrowing from the French “Boill,” meaning a large spring. Private power companies had explored the possibility of building a dam at Wildcat Shoals above Cotter (Baxter County) as early as 1902 but never began any work toward it. Congress approved the construction of six reservoirs in the White River Basin in the Flood Control Act of 1938. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report in 1930 had recommended the Wildcat Shoals site along with seven others …

Bull Shoals-White River State Park

Arkansas’s seventh state park, Bull Shoals-White River State Park, is near Mountain Home (Baxter County) in northeast Arkansas on the White River, one of the nation’s premier trout-fishing streams, and Bull Shoals Lake, one of the region’s major man-made lakes. The site was adopted into the state park system in 1955 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake by constructing Bull Shoals Dam on the White River. Bull Shoals was named by early French hunters and trappers who used the word “Boill,” meaning a large spring, to describe the area. Edmund Jennings, the first English-speaking person to visit the “Six Bulls” country, lived among the Indians for fifteen years before returning to his home state of Tennessee. …

Bullfrog Valley Gang

The Bullfrog Valley Gang was a notorious counterfeiting ring that operated in the wilderness of Pope County during the depression of the 1890s. The gang’s origin and methods were mysterious, but the New York Times reported its demise on June 28, 1897. The article said deputy U.S. marshals attached to the federal district court at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) had captured three men, effectively breaking up “the once-famous band of counterfeiters known to secret service operators all over the United States as the Bullfrog Valley Gang.” Previous arrests were reported in Arkansas earlier in the year. In all, some fifteen men were arrested and convicted in federal courts at Fort Smith and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Others, in Arkansas and …

Bump, Dallas

Dallas Bump of Royal (Garland County) was a fourth-generation chair maker who constructed handcrafted furniture for more than seventy-five years. One of his handmade chairs, the “Bump Rocker,” spread his renown around the world. Along with being named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council in 2013, he saw his work featured in Southern Living magazine, spotlighted on television’s Good Morning America, and lauded by the Smithsonian Institution. One of his rockers found a home in the White House during the Bill Clinton administration. A Bump rocker is unique, as each step, from the fallen tree onward, was controlled by Dallas Bump and his family. The chairs are made one at a time and assembled with the family’s …

Bumpass, Rodger

Rodger Bumpass is an actor and voice performer who was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Along with numerous television and film roles, he has achieved fame as the voice of the character Squidward in the popular SpongeBob SquarePants film and TV series. Rodger Bumpass was born on November 20, 1951, in Little Rock to Carroll C. Bumpass and Virginia Cathey Bumpass, owners of Bumpass Cleaners and Dyers in Little Rock. He had two siblings, Leonard and Cathey (the latter of whom died at birth), and attended Little Rock Central High School, where he obtained his first experience in theater, primarily in the area of comedy. In high school, he …

Bumpers, Betty

Betty Bumpers, wife of former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator Dale Bumpers, was known for her far-reaching efforts to promote childhood immunizations and world peace. Betty Lou Flanagan was born on January 11, 1925, to Herman “Babe” Flanagan and Ola Callan Flanagan in Grand Prairie (Franklin County). Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a cattle farmer and auctioneer. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) during World War II, and later to Iowa before returning to Franklin County. She attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Flanagan married Dale Bumpers on September 4, 1949, while he was attending law school at Northwestern …

Bumpers, Dale Leon

Dale Leon Bumpers was one of the state’s most successful politicians in the last half of the twentieth century. As governor, Bumpers initiated the enactment of historic legislation, including a restructuring of the tax system and a reorganization of the state’s government, and as a U.S. senator (1975–1999), he was a fiscally conservative, socially liberal legislator recognized for his oratorical skills. Dale Bumpers was born on August 12, 1925, in Charleston (Franklin County). He was one of four children born to William Rufus and Lattie (Jones) Bumpers. His father worked for the Charleston Hardware and Funeral Home beginning in 1924. In 1937, he and a partner bought the business. Bumpers spent his childhood in Charleston in the lean years of …

Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut

The Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut in Clarksville (Johnson County), a two-story, native-stone structure built on a raised foundation on what was formerly an island in Spadra Creek, is one of the most architecturally interesting legion huts in Arkansas. It displays an unusual castellated design that is best described as Normanesque, perhaps designed to simulate the architecture veterans had seen in Europe during World War I. The Lee Bunch Post 22 was formed in Clarksville in February 1919 when fifteen veterans applied to form a Johnson County post. It was named for Lee Bunch, the first Johnson County soldier to die in World War I. The group initially met in local homes, churches, and clubs, but in February 1932 …

Bunch, Bradley

Bradley Bunch was a longtime Arkansas legislator, Carroll County judge, and the first historian of Carroll County. In addition, he is known as the fourth-great uncle of Barack Hussein Obama, the forty-fourth president of the United States, whom he markedly resembles. Bradley Bunch was born on December 9, 1818, in Overton County, Tennessee, the eighth child of Captain Nathaniel Bunch and Sally Wade Ray Bunch of Virginia. Between 1838 and 1841, his father, a “farmer-blacksmith-mechanic,” moved with his family in stages to Carroll County, Arkansas, settling on the headwaters of Osage Creek near Dinsmore in what subsequently became Newton County. Bunch’s sister Anna (1814–1893) married Samuel Thompson Allred in Tennessee prior to the move; this couple became the great-great-great-great (fourth-great) …

Bunch, William

aka: Peetie Wheatstraw
William Bunch, known as “Peetie Wheatstraw,” was raised in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) and became one of the most popular and widely imitated bluesman of the 1930s and 1940s. He was an incredibly successful pianist, recording more than 160 songs between 1930 and his death in 1941. William Bunch was born on December 21, 1902, in Ripley, Tennessee, although some accounts list Bunch’s birthplace as Arkansas. Bluesman Big Joe Williams, who recorded with Bunch, stated: “Peetie come from Cotton Plant, Arkansas.” Bunch’s family was living in Cotton Plant soon after his birth. Cotton Plant was a local cultural center in the early 1900s, and Bunch began playing both piano and guitar there at a young age. Around 1920, all members …

Bunn, Henry Gaston

Henry G. Bunn was a prominent lawyer and judge in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Highly respected in the legal community, he served for eleven years as chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Henry Gaston Bunn was born on June 12, 1838, near Rocky Mount in Nash County, North Carolina, to David and Elizabeth Bunn. The family moved to Fayette County, Tennessee, in 1844 and, two years later moved again, settling in Calhoun County, Arkansas. Bunn received his early education in the county schools before returning to North Carolina to Davidson College, which he attended until 1861. Returning to Arkansas, he joined the Confederate army, helping raise a company that became part of the Fourth Arkansas Infantry …

Burdette (Mississippi County)

Burdette (Mississippi County) is located nine miles south of Blytheville (Mississippi County) on State Highway 148 just off U.S. Highway 61, known as the Great River Road. Burdette is named after Alfred Burdette Wolverton, who in the early 1900s was one of the first lumbermen to settle in the area. It was incorporated as a company town by workers of the Three States Lumber Company of Wisconsin in May 1905. Prior to Three States Lumber Company’s arrival, the area had been swampland and uninhabitable. Burdette Township split from Fletcher Township in 1908 to create the community of Burdette. Burdette proper is located within the larger Burdette Township (a township being a division of a county), which includes farming and lumber …

Burdette School Complex Historic District

The Burdette School Complex Historic District is a group of six buildings located in Burdette (Mississippi County), with historic buildings constructed between 1922 and the late 1940s. Classes at the complex ceased at the end of the 2001–2002 academic year, and the complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 28, 2001. The earliest school in Burdette operated in a building owned by the Three States Lumber Company. Although the dates of operation are unknown, the building burned, and the company replaced it before a third building was constructed directly across from future location of the school complex. The residents of Burdette approved a twelve-mill school tax in 1917, leading to the creation of the Burdette …

Burgess, Franklin

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

Burgess, Sonny

aka: Albert Austin Burgess
Albert Austin “Sonny” Burgess was best known as one of the original rock and roll recording artists for Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, and as one of the pioneers of rock and roll. He and his band, the Pacers, made a hit of his first recording, “Red Headed Woman,” and the flip side, “We Wanna Boogie,” both of which Burgess wrote. The record sold approximately 100,000 copies, a phenomenal number for that era. Burgess and the Pacers performed at various events in the United States and Europe until his death in 2017. Sonny Burgess was born on May 31, 1929, in Newport (Jackson County). His parents, Albert and Esta Burgess, raised him, his two brothers, and his three sisters on …

Burke, Lloyd Leslie “Scooter”

Lloyd Leslie “Scooter” Burke is among the most-decorated Arkansans to have served in the military. He served in the U.S. Army for more than thirty years and fought in three wars. He was wounded several times during his career and, in addition to receiving the Bronze Star three times and the Purple Heart five times, he received both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s two highest military honors. Lloyd Burke was born in Tichnor (Arkansas County) on September 29, 1924, one of five children of A. D. and Betty Burke. In 1930, A. D. Burke was working as a foreman at a lumber mill in Clarendon (Monroe County). Lloyd Burke graduated from Stuttgart High School …

Burks, Ruth Coker

Ruth Burks is an Arkansas woman who, in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, provided support for dozens of men who were dying of AIDS—men who were often abandoned by their families, with even some health professionals being reluctant to treat them. Burks treated the men with dignity and compassion that eased the pain, physical and emotional, that marked their final days. She also ensured that they would have a proper final resting place, providing for the burial of dozens of men in Files Cemetery. Frances Ruth Coker was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on March 19, 1959, to James Isham Coker and Aline Lawlor Coker. Her father, who was almost twenty years older than her mother, served …

Burns, Bob

aka: Robin Burn
Bob Burns was a well-known national radio and film personality during the 1930s and 1940s. He was known by a variety of titles that referenced his hillbilly origins, such as “The Arkansas Traveler” and “The Arkansas Philosopher.” Burns was a musician and an actor who wove tales of life in the Arkansas hills with his musical performances. He earned his nickname, “Bazooka,” from an instrument he invented and named as a young man in a plumbing shop in Van Buren (Crawford County). The instrument, which was a simple device made of spare gas fittings and a whiskey funnel, eventually lent its name to the World War II anti-tank weapon due to its similar looks and Burns’s popularity among the troops who …

Burr, Edward Everett

Best known for designing the Arkansas Centennial half-dollar, Edward Everett Burr was a commercial artist, sculptor, and art professor. Raised in Paragould (Greene County), he spent most of his career in Chicago, Illinois. Everett Burr was born on January 18, 1895, in Warren County, Ohio, to George and Virginia Burr; he had two siblings. Burr’s father practiced law in Ohio but moved to Paragould in 1905. In 1915, two days after Burr’s twentieth birthday, his mother died. His 1917 draft card shows him living in a boarding house in Detroit, Michigan. His trade was motor building, but he was unemployed. In 1923, his father became a Methodist minister, serving a number of communities in northern and western Arkansas. Burr enrolled …

Burris, Sidney

Sidney Johnson Burris is a prolific writer of essays, criticism, and poetry. His poetry is as influenced by his classical studies in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit as it is the images of his Southern boyhood. A significant portion of Burris’s critical work has been devoted to the study of Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He has served in various posts at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) since 1986, including as director of the Fulbright College Honors Program. He also co-founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas.  Sidney Burris was born on March 9, 1953, in Danville, Virginia. His father, John Colton Burris, was a salesman and a World War II U.S. Air Force veteran. His mother, Helen …

Burrowsville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Tomahawk
  The Skirmish at Burrowsville during the Civil War was part of a larger attempt to drive Confederate and guerrilla forces from northern Arkansas. The overall effort was deemed to be a success by Federal commanders, but their success was somewhat embellished in their official reports. In early January 1864, Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, commander of the District of Southwest Missouri, received reports of a major Confederate force massing in Newton, Searcy, Izard, and Carroll counties. Sanborn ordered units of the First and Second Arkansas Cavalries (US), along with part of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, to move into the area and flush the enemy out in an effort to push the Confederates south to the Arkansas River. As part …

Burton-Aikin Feud

The Burton-Aikin (also spelled “Aiken”) feud between Dr. Phillip Patrick (known as P. P.) Burton and Dr. Trent C. Aikin—who both practiced medicine in Batesville (Independence County )—began on October 21, 1841, with the death of Nicholas E. Burton (son of P. P. Burton) and ended on September 15, 1849, when an Independence County jury found P. P. Burton’s son Phil Burton “not guilty” in the murder of Dr. Aikin. The feud grew out of a medical disagreement between the two doctors. Dr. Aikin was called to treat a “Negro woman” (presumably a slave) belonging to a Mr. Byers of Batesville. Aikin diagnosed the woman with liver disease and began treatment of it. When the woman failed to improve, Byers asked Dr. …

Burtsell (Clark County)

Burtsell is a community in Clark County located about five miles southeast of Okolona (Clark County). An alternate spelling of the community’s name is Burtsel. The first settlers to the area arrived in the mid-nineteenth century, attracted by the virgin timber and prime farming land near the Little Missouri River. The population of the area was never very large, and only a few families called Burtsell home at any one time. Robert Welch obtained eighty acres of land in the area in 1837, and Elijah Franklin purchased forty acres nearby in 1848. A Federal army under the command of Major General Frederick Steele passed through the area during the Camden Expedition of 1864.  Burtsell was linked with Smithton (Clark County) …