Entries - Starting with S

Sulphur Springs (Benton County)

Sulphur Springs in Benton County is only one of many communities in Arkansas that bear that name. Located near the Missouri and Oklahoma borders, it was an important spa and resort center in the late 1800s and early twentieth century as well as the location for a campus of what is now John Brown University (JBU) and facilities for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age The original city site contained numerous natural mineral springs, including a rare lithium spring. The reported healing properties of these springs led to the creation of a small community; a post office was established on April 26, 1878, and the city was formally laid out in 1885. The first school opened later …

Sulphur Springs (Jefferson County)

aka: White Sulphur Springs (Jefferson County)
Originally named White Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Springs is an unincorporated, census-designated place (CDP) in Jefferson County located about two miles southwest of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). It received its name due to its proximity to natural sulfur-rich springs. It was a spa and resort community during the mid-1800s and served as an important Confederate training and staging area during the Civil War. Following the war, the community once again returned to a resort community with dreams of expanding into a separate incorporated town. The expansion, however, was cut short by World War I, and the community was never incorporated. Following a flood that consumed much of southeast Arkansas in 1844, settlers began moving into the area southwest of Pine Bluff. …

Sulphur Springs (Yell County)

In the twenty-first century, Sulphur Springs is nothing more than a few houses and a cemetery. However, in the early to mid-1800s, it was a popular medicinal resort known for its healing waters. The details of its discovery were not recorded, but by the early 1800s, the springs were known as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana, and Boston, Massachusetts, for their purported ability to treat kidney and stomach ailments. The first known advertisement for the springs was published in the May 1, 1841, issue of the Arkansas Gazette, in which proprietor V. T. Rogers stated, “The resort has opened for the season for entertainment for those in search of health and pleasure.” A similar advertisement ran in 1851; the …

Sulphur Springs Cemetery

The Sulphur Springs Cemetery in Yell County, considered a historical resource, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 21, 2012, under multiple criteria, including Criterion C and Criterion D, for the designation of burial places. Among many unmarked fieldstones, the cemetery holds the remains of Judge John F. Choate, a prominent community member who served as Yell County circuit clerk and Yell County judge. The cemetery is one of the only surviving structures from the region’s days as a medicinal resort destination. In the early to mid-1800s, Sulphur Springs (Yell County) was known throughout the United States for its healing waters, which contained minerals such as white and black sulfur, soda, and chalybeate. Spas were popular …

Sultana

The Sultana steamboat disaster in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, has been called America’s worst maritime disaster. More people died in the sinking of the riverboat Sultana than on the Titanic. However, for a nation that had just emerged from war and was still reeling from the assassination of President Lincoln, the estimated loss of up to 1,800 soldiers returning home on the Mississippi River was scarcely covered in the national news. The remains of the steamboat are believed to lie buried in Arkansas. Those aboard the boat were mostly Union soldiers from Midwestern states such as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Having been taken prisoners of war, they were sent to the notoriously overcrowded Confederate prisons of …

Summer of My German Soldier

Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier is a novel and a television movie set in eastern Arkansas during World War II. Both portray the Arkansas location, era, and characters realistically. Since the novel’s publication in 1973, it has remained a young-adult best-seller and is considered a classic of young-adult literature. In 1973, it was an American Library Association Notable Book, a National Book Award finalist, and one of The New York Times’s Outstanding Books of the Year; it also won the Golden Kite award. In 1979, the movie earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Writing. Esther Rolle won the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy for her portrayal of Ruth. Rolle praised Greene for her skillful, true-to-life characterization of …

Summerall, George Allen “Pat”

Pat Summerall was one of television’s leading sportscasters in the twentieth century. He played for the University of Arkansas (UA) football team, and, following a decade of play in the National Football League (NFL), he moved easily into radio and television announcing. In addition to announcing football, he served for many years as the voice of CBS Sports for both golf and tennis. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1971. George Allen “Pat” Summerall was born on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Florida, to George Allen Summerall and Marion Summerall. His parents were in the process of divorcing when he was born, and they considered sending him to an orphanage. However, his aunt and …

Summit (Marion County)

  The city of Summit was built as a result of the construction of the White River Railway. Summit is a suburb of Yellville, the county seat of Marion County, and the two cities are separated by Division Street. Summit’s identity is so much overshadowed by Yellville’s that many people call it North Yellville. Northern Arkansas was home to various Native American tribes before European explorers and settlers arrived. The land that would become Summit was part of a large area given by treaty to the Cherokee, and the Cherokee at that time were joined by the Shawnee, who built the first houses in what would become the city of Yellville. Eventually, another treaty required the Cherokee and Shawnee to move …

Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing

aka: Albert E. Brumley Memorial Gospel Sing
The Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing, an outdoor gospel music event, was held on the first weekend in August in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) starting in 1969. During that time, the event was billed as the “largest outdoor gospel sing.” It was later named for its founder, gospel songwriter Albert Edward Brumley of Powell, Missouri, who penned such well-known songs as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Turn Your Radio On.” The idea for the Sundown to Sunup Gospel Sing was conceived after a gospel singing event in Bentonville (Benton County) in 1968. Brumley and his sons, Bill and Bob, worked with Springdale Chamber of Commerce president Lee Zachary to bring the event to Springdale’s Parsons Stadium in 1969. That first year, …

Sundown Towns

aka: Racial Cleansing
Between 1890 and 1968, thousands of towns across the United States drove out their black populations or took steps to forbid African Americans from living in them. Thus were created “sundown towns,” so named because many marked their city limits with signs typically reading, “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In Alix”—an Arkansas town in Franklin County that had such a sign around 1970. By 1970, when sundown towns were at their peak, more than half of all incorporated communities outside the traditional South probably excluded African Americans, including probably more than a hundred towns in the northwestern two-thirds of Arkansas. White residents of the traditional South rarely engaged in the practice; they kept African Americans down …

Sunken Lands

The term “sunken lands” (also called “sunk lands” or “sunk country”) refers to parts of Craighead, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties that shifted and sank during the New Madrid earthquakes which took place between 1811 and 1812. Because the land was submerged under water, claims to property based on riparian rights by large landowners generated controversy which lasted decades and ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. When the New Madrid earthquakes began in December 1811, the territory which is today northeastern Arkansas was sparsely populated. An early chronicler described the earthquakes’ effect as the ground moving like waves on the land, when suddenly the earth would burst, sending up huge volumes of water and sand, leaving chasms where the earth had …

Sunnyside Plantation

Sunnyside Plantation of Chicot County is synonymous with the immigration of Italian Catholics into the cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta. During the 1890s, Sunnyside Plantation was the largest Catholic colony of new immigrants in the state and the primary factor in attracting Italians to Arkansas. In the later half of the nineteenth century, Austin Corbin of New York bought more than 10,000 acres of Chicot County land on the Mississippi River and established his Sunnyside Plantation. Under the auspices of the Sunnyside Company, Corbin consolidated several plantations and named the property after an area plantation that dated back to the 1830s. When difficulties arose in finding laborers to work these cotton fields, including a stint with convict labor, Corbin …

Sunset (Crittenden County)

Sunset is a largely African-American town north of Marion (Crittenden County) and adjacent to Interstate 55. A school building in Sunset is on the National Register of Historic Places. Quapaw lived in the area before European explorers first visited. Two Spanish land grants were bestowed before 1800 for the land where Sunset would be built. The land became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Cotton was grown on the land both before and after the Civil War. Many former slaves continued to live as tenant farmers in Crittenden County after the Civil War. Friendship Lodge No. 39, a Masonic association for African Americans, was organized in 1873. A school for African-American children was built in …

Sunset Hotel

The Linebarger Brothers Realty Company, run by Clarence A. Linebarger and his two older brothers, opened a summer resort at Lake Bella Vista in northwestern Arkansas in 1917. In 1929, they added a large new hotel high on a hill across the highway to the west of the lake. The hill was called Sunset Mountain, and the hotel became the Sunset Hotel. The hotel, located in what is now Bella Vista (Benton County), consisted of approximately sixty-five rooms with a private bathroom for each room or suite of rooms, a large lobby, and an upscale restaurant. Vacation visitors flocked to the hotel, and locals often traveled up the hill for meals in the restaurant. A substantial part of the workforce …

Superfund Sites

In 1980, Congress passed, and President Jimmy Carter signed, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund law. CERCLA was created to deal with abandoned sites of industrial pollution. The act imposed taxes and fines upon companies to recover clean-up costs, and also established containment procedures for the pollution at such sites. This followed several years of highly publicized incidents related to industrial pollution, such as the 1974 contamination of Times Beach, Missouri—which was later evacuated due to high levels of dioxin in the city’s soil and water—as well as the eventual relocation of residents from the notorious Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, which was the site of a chemical dump …

Supreme Court of Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Supreme Court
The jurisdiction and power of the Arkansas Supreme Court is controlled by Article VII, Section 4 of the Arkansas constitution as amended in 2000 by Amendment 80. Under this section, the Arkansas Supreme Court generally has only appellate jurisdiction, meaning it typically hears cases that are appealed from trial courts. The Arkansas Supreme Court also has general superintending control over all inferior courts of law and equity. The Arkansas Supreme Court’s jurisdiction includes all appeals involving the interpretation or construction of the state constitution; criminal appeals in which the death penalty or life imprisonment has been imposed; petitions relating to the actions of state, county, or municipal officials or circuit courts; appeals pertaining to election matters; appeals involving attorney or …

Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World

aka: Royal Circle of Friends
The Supreme Royal Circle of Friends of the World, also known as the Royal Circle of Friends (RCF), was an African-American fraternal organization founded in 1909 in Helena (Phillips County). The organization was founded to supply insurance to the African-American population but was also dedicated to the moral, physical, social, and economic welfare of its members. Men and women were equal members. From the beginning, the RCF grew rapidly across the Southern states and soon spread across the nation. In 1944, the membership was quoted by a Chicago, Illinois, newspaper as being in excess of 100,000. Dr. Richard A. Williams was the founding Supreme President and held that position until his death in 1944. Williams was born in Forrest City …

Surratt, Alfred “Slick”

Alfred “Slick” Surratt was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After his playing career, he spent decades as a welder for the Ford Motor Company. He stayed involved in baseball, however, through his involvement in the creation and development of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Missouri. Alfred Surratt was born on November 9, 1922, in Danville (Yell County). A baseball player from his earliest days, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to live with his father at the end of the eighth grade. Not yet twenty years old when the United States entered World War II, Surratt served in the South Pacific during the war but was able to continue playing …

Sutton, Eddie

Eddie Sutton is a retired men’s college basketball coach who led four schools, including the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), to the Final Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. He is one of a small group of men’s Division I college basketball coaches to have more than 800 career wins. Born on March 12, 1936, in Bucklin, Kansas, Eddie Sutton graduated from Bucklin High School in 1954 and earned a basketball scholarship to what is now Oklahoma State University. Coached by Henry Iba, college basketball’s “Iron Duke of Defense,” he played guard on the freshman team (1954–1955) and on the varsity team (1955–1958). Sutton graduated from Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s degree in 1958. After graduation, …

Sutton, Ozell

One of the most important Arkansas political activists at the height of the civil rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s, Ozell Sutton was a key player at many of the movement’s most critical moments—both in the state and throughout the South. He was present at such watershed events as the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and the 1965 march at Selma, Alabama. In April 1968, Sutton was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when King was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a trailblazer in Arkansas race relations, becoming the first black newspaper reporter to work for a white-owned newspaper when he went to work in 1950 as a staff …

Swamp Land Act of 1850

The Swamp Land Act of 1850 gave Arkansas the right to identify and sell millions of acres of overflowed and swamp lands in the public domain and to use the proceeds to finance internal improvements, principally levees and drainage ditches. Arkansas eventually acquired more than 8,600,000 acres of land through the Swamp Land Act. This grant of land was of enormous importance to the state at the time, but it had little permanent impact on the economic development of the state. In the 1830s, planters and land developers began to move into Arkansas, attracted by the rich Mississippi Alluvial Plain bottomlands. The alluvial lands, however, were subject to seasonal overflows. In addition, much of the bottomland was swampland, described by …

Swann, Elija Caesar

Elija Caesar Swann was a Confederate soldier who achieved national fame for his refusal to surrender to federal authorities for over three decades following the end of the Civil War. His continued military activities in the Cache River bottoms of Arkansas resulted from a very literal interpretation of the orders of his commander, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby, never to surrender to Union forces unless ordered to do so by Shelby himself. Elija Swann was born on November 23, 1848, in rural Benton County to subsistence farmers George and LeeAnn Swann; he had ten siblings. Loyalties were divided in the Arkansas highlands, and the Swann family apparently tried to stay out of secessionist politics in 1861. However, the war came to …

Swedlun, Frederick Ernest

aka: Ernest Fredericks
Frederick Ernest Swedlun, best known pseudonymously as Ernest Fredericks, was a prolific early twentieth-century artist active in Arkansas and Illinois and throughout the Ozarks region. His colorful woodland landscape paintings captured the rustic beauty of the area during every season of the year. One example, Autumn in the Ozarks, painted of a scene near Rogers (Benton County), was exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute in June 1940. Frederick Swedlun was born of Swedish parents, Olof Swedlun and Christine M. Sandahl, on a farm near McPherson, Kansas, on February 8, 1877. According to Swedlun’s autobiographical sketch, the farm life was not appealing to him. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, and began study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. It was there …

Swedlun, Glenn C.

Glenn C. Swedlun was a popular twentieth-century regional artist active in Arkansas and Illinois. For almost forty years, Swedlun lived and worked in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Glenn Swedlun was born in Illinois (either Cairo or Elgin, depending upon the source) on May 11, 1902, the first child of Frederick Ernest Swedlun and Cordella Florence Cayle Swedlun. He had one sister. Swedlun grew up in the Chicago area, where he completed one year of high school. For five years while a young man, Swedlun played professional baseball. At age twenty-seven, he gave up baseball to become an artist like his father. His father, a well-known Illinois landscape painter who worked under the pseudonym Ernest Fredericks, taught Swedlun the fundamentals of …

Sweet Home (Pulaski County)

The small, rural community of Sweet Home (Pulaski County) is a majority black community in Pulaski County. Of more than two dozen communities in Arkansas named Sweet Home to have obtained a post office (done on May 29, 1877), this is the only community to have maintained it to the present. Its Hanger Cotton Gin is Arkansas’s oldest cotton gin on the National Register of Historic Places, dating back to at least the 1870s. From 1890 to 1955, Sweet Home housed Arkansas’s Confederate Soldiers’ Home until it moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County); only two entrance pillars and low parts of the front stone wall remain. Sweet Home had the state’s only Florence Crittenton Home for black unwed mothers, begun …

Swifton (Jackson County)

  Swifton is one of several Jackson County cities that were founded along the tracks of the Iron Mountain Railroad. Home to three notable names in baseball, including Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell, Swifton is also a landmark on Arkansas’s Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67. Henry Hileman received a patent to the land on which Swifton would be built on November 27, 1820. Hileman obtained that patent with a scrip recognizing his service to the United States in the War of 1812. Other settlers joined Hileman in the area, and a Methodist church was established in 1860. Until construction of the railroad, however, settlement remained sparse in northern Jackson County. The Cairo and Fulton Railroad built a line through …

Swine Industry

aka: Pig Industry
aka: Pork Industry
Swine (a.k.a. pigs, Sus scrofa) were first introduced into what is now Arkansas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. Since pork can be salted and smoked for preservation, many early settlers used pigs to supply their needs for meat and cooking fat (lard). The widespread production of pigs persisted until commercial refrigeration was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, pork became available from more remote sources, and production was more specialized and concentrated on fewer farms. In the mid-1970s, integration of pig production began to occur, with four corporations controlling most of the $84,148,000 of pig sales in 2007. The de Soto expedition had more than 700 pigs when the group was disbanded in …

Switzer, Barry

Barry Switzer is a native Arkansan who became one of the most successful football coaches of all time. He is one of only two men to win both a collegiate national championship and the Super Bowl. Barry Switzer was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on October 5, 1937, the son of Frank M. and Mary Louise (Wood) Switzer. Frank Switzer was a bootlegger and money-lender who spent time in prison. Both of the elder Switzers died under tragic circumstances. Switzer graduated from Crossett High School in 1955 and won a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he graduated in 1960 with a degree in business. After a brief stint in the army, he …

Sykes, Roosevelt “The Honeydripper”

Roosevelt Sykes was a leading blues pianist in the 1930s and is considered by many in the music world to be the father of the modern blues piano style. Sykes’s early musical experiences in Arkansas provided the blues background that served as the foundation for his later recording successes. He was a professional bluesman for more than sixty years, recorded on a dozen different labels, and played in St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Europe. Roosevelt Sykes was born the son of a musician on January 31, 1906, in the sawmill town of Elmar (Phillips County). By 1909, the Sykes family had moved to St. Louis. However, Sykes often visited his grandfather’s farm near West …

Sylamore, Skirmishes at (January 23 and 26, 1864)

After Arkansas seceded from the Union in May 1861, the Confederate Congress urged state leaders to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter, a major component of gunpowder. On August 21, the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore (Stone County) with a cargo of thirty huge kettles, a steam engine, and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool (now located in the Ozark National Forest). Governor Henry Rector placed Colonel Thomas R. Freeman in charge of the militia units to protect the munitions efforts. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of northern Arkansas …