Entries - Starting with B

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) …

Busey, Samuel Thompson

Samuel Thompson Busey was a 1920s oil speculator and promoter of the Arkansas oil industry. While originally trained as a physician, he later became a geologist and completed the famed “Discovery Well,” or Busey No. 1 Well, outside El Dorado (Union County) in 1921. Busey’s efforts helped usher in the south Arkansas oil boom of the 1920s. Samuel Busey was born in Champaign County, Illinois, on February 10, 1867, and was the fifth of six children of John Simpson Busey and the former Caroline Marie Snyder. Busey came from a family of adventurers and community activists. His father was a farmer until 1845, when he left farming to travel across the United States. His father then took over his own …

Bush, John

John Edward Bush, a chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, rose from poverty to national prominence when he co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope, spanning twenty-six states and six foreign countries from the 1880s until the 1930s. Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the nation and the world; it included an insurance company, a building and loan association, a hospital, a business college, a publishing house, and a nursing school. Living most of his early life in the downtown 9th Street district of Little Rock, Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas …

Business, Commerce, and Industry

Business, commerce, and industry in Arkansas developed with the help of Arkansas’s natural resources. In the twentieth century, former governor Charles Hillman Brough boasted that if Arkansas were walled off from the rest of the nation, it could exist independently due to the fertile soil, multitude of minerals, and wide variety of trees. In addition, Arkansas’s location in the central United States, which gives it access to navigable waters, intercontinental railroads, and interstate highways, helped integrate and encourage a wide variety of businesses, commercial enterprises, and industries. Despite the state’s reputation for backwardness, it was at the forefront of prehistoric development and, in the twentieth century, became home to the world’s leading revolutionizing business force, Walmart Inc. Prehistoric Period The …

Bussey, Charles E., Jr.

Charles E. Bussey Jr. was the first African American elected to serve on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) City Board of Directors since Reconstruction, the first African-American deputy sheriff of Pulaski County, and the first African-American mayor of Little Rock. Charles Bussey Avenue in Little Rock was named for him in 2005, and he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Charles Bussey—often called Charlie—was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on December 18, 1918, the eldest child of Annie Bussey and Charles Bussey Sr. Acclaimed author Maya Angelou, who also grew up in Stamps, recalled that her uncle gave Bussey a job in his store and taught him his multiplication tables and a love of …

Butchie’s Drive-In

What was originally called Butchie’s Drive-In is a small restaurant located on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Designed in Art Moderne style, the building was constructed in 1952 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Bailey’s Dairy Treat began operations in the building in 1995. An outstanding example of a tourist-focused business that existed in Hot Springs during the mid-twentieth century, it is the only remaining restaurant from the period on Park Avenue. A number of businesses catering to visitors to Hot Springs appeared along Park Avenue in the 1930s. The roadway led travelers from Little Rock (Pulaski County) into the city, and multiple tourist courts, motels, and restaurants were constructed along …

Butler-Matthews Homestead

The Butler-Matthews Homestead is a complex of agricultural structures located near Tulip (Dallas County). Sixteen structures are located in the complex, dating from the 1850s to 1930s. The complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 28, 1983. Alexander Butler arrived in Dallas County from North Carolina in the early 1850s and constructed a home on the property. He first obtained forty acres of federal land north of Tulip in 1855, followed by 160 acres in 1857; the second parcel is the location of the homestead. Constructing a house around 1853, Butler built a thriving agricultural enterprise in the area before the Civil War. By 1850, he owned fifteen enslaved workers and also operated a mercantile …

Butler, Ben F.

aka: Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler served as mayor of Osceola (Mississippi County) for nearly three decades and was a well-known figure in civic and political affairs at both the state and county level. His tireless advocacy for economic expansion resulted in Osceola’s transformation from a small farm town into an industrialized small city. Ben F. Butler was born in Osceola on January 29, 1894, to Clarence E. Butler and Ada Bragg Butler. Upon completion of his education in 1913, he went into business for himself, first as a car salesman and later in the farm implement business, eventually establishing an International Harvester dealership known as the Ben F. Butler Company. In 1919, he married Irene Tidwell of Memphis and had two sons, …

Butler, Jack

aka: Jack Armand Butler Jr.
Jack Armand Butler Jr. is a poet and novelist known for structurally experimental writing, usually dealing with the development of a religious self-awareness transcending orthodox views. His work is often sexually charged and humorous. Jack Butler was born May 8, 1944, in Alligator, Mississippi, to Jack Butler, a Baptist preacher, and Dorothy Butler, a homemaker. He attended high school in Clinton, Mississippi. He was ordained a Baptist minister in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1965, and pastored the Bethlehem Baptist Church briefly in 1966. He received a BS in math and a BA in English from Central Missouri State College (now Central Missouri State University) in 1966. That year, he married Lynnice McDonald, with whom he had two children, Lynnika and Sarah; …

Butler, Richard Colburn III

Richard Colburn Butler III was a noted historic preservationist who saved historic buildings in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington (Hempstead County) and was active with organizations promoting preservation and Arkansas history. Richard Colburn Butler III was born at Trinity Hospital in Little Rock on September 21, 1937, the son of Richard C. Butler Jr. and Gertrude Marjorie Remmel Butler (the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies is named for his father). He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1955, after which he attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, earning an AB in history in 1959. Butler was a student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving an LLB in 1962, …

Butler, Richard Colburn, Sr.

Richard Colburn Butler Sr. was a lawyer, banker, real estate investor, philanthropist, and horticulturist who is best remembered for his wide variety of business developments and community activities. As the attorney for the Little Rock School Board, he played a major role in the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis. Richard Butler, the fourth child of Edna M. Clok and Richard Colburn Butler Sr., was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on January 1, 1910. (Butler, technically “Richard Butler Jr.,” referred to himself as “senior” after his father passed away.) His father was a real estate developer. Butler attended public school in Little Rock and then graduated from Little Rock Junior College in 1929. He subsequently enrolled in the University …

Butler, Turner

Lawyer and jurist Turner Butler was a farmer and schoolteacher before educating himself in law. Butler practiced law for twenty years before being elected a chancery judge. He was a trial judge for fifteen years before he was appointed and then elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court, where he served the last nine years of his life. As a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1930, he wrote a sublime opinion establishing the precedent that the courts must stand in the way of corporations doing harm to land and streams in the pursuit of private profit or the alleged public good. Turner Butler was born on July 7, 1869, as Phillip Turner Butler, in the town of Poplar Bluff …

Butlerville Lynching of 1882

On June 1, 1882, three African Americans named Joseph Earl, Taylor Washington, and Thomas Humphreys were hanged in Butlerville (Lonoke County) for allegedly attacking a young girl named Annie Bridges. Public records reveal very little about the girl or her alleged attackers. There was a thirteen-year-old girl named Sally Bridges in Butler Township of Lonoke County in 1880. She was living in the household of George and Mary Phillips, and her relationship to them was listed merely as “Home.” If the victim’s first name was Sally and not Annie, there is information indicating that her mother had died in Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1878. There was a fourteen-year-old boy named Taylor Washington living in neighboring Prairie County with his …

Butterfield (Hot Spring County)

Butterfield lies in the northern part of Hot Spring County, north of Malvern (Hot Spring County) on Arkansas Highway 51. This small residential community once served as an important stop for stagecoach and rail travelers. The Concord Stagecoach line established a stop in the mid-1800s at the present location of Butterfield, and a community emerged around it. The origin of the town’s name is unknown. Some sources state that the name came from the famous Butterfield stage line, while others say the community was named in honor of a Colonel Butterfield who made several stops at the community. Still others state that it was named in honor of a railroad supervisor named D. A. Butterfield. By 1891, the town had …

Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company

aka: Overland Mail Company
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Though only running from 1858 through 1861, it was the longest stagecoach line in world history at approximately 2,812 miles and was a major factor in the settlement and development of Arkansas and the American West before the Civil War. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Many sites in Arkansas, such as Butterfield Trails Village in Fayetteville (Washington County), still reflect the era of Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. Before modern technology, the mail was America’s lifeblood. “Post roads” were created in the …

Butterflies and Moths

Arkansas has long been an ideal place to see butterflies and moths, but an increase in public awareness has occurred since the mid-1990s with the publication of scientific papers and checklists, as well as the emergence of special events in state parks. Butterflies and moths are classified in the insect order Lepidoptera, meaning “scale-wing.” Of approximately 350,000 species of butterflies and moths on earth, approximately 15,000 species are butterflies. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by the thousands of microscopic scales that create the color patterns on both sides of the wings. During a typical year, 134 butterfly species may be sighted in Arkansas, including year-round residents, summer residents, and migrants; 94 of these species live on Mount Magazine. An estimated …

Button Blank Industry

America’s mother-of-pearl button industry boomed in the late 1800s due to a seemingly inexhaustible supply of freshwater mussels, the bounty of Mississippi River Valley tributaries. Long made from saltwater marine shells, pearl buttons could now be made from freshwater shells due to new engineering techniques. In addition, the 1890s McKinley tariff on imported goods protected the market for American button makers, allowing mother-of-pearl button manufacturing to explode. Button finishing plants in Iowa and New York were supplied by tons of button blanks—a circular piece punched out of a shell before the smaller thread holes were added, similar in shape and size to a coin—that came from small factories lining the northeastern Arkansas rivers, which teemed with the freshwater mollusks that …

Bynum, Preston Conrad

Preston Bynum was a political leader in the later part of the 1960s into the early 1980s. In addition to his work in the Arkansas General Assembly, he also played a major role in the growth and development of a vibrant and competitive Republican Party in Arkansas. He later served prison time for bribery. Preston Conrad Bynum was born on June 8, 1939, in Pryor, Oklahoma, to Homer and Roma Bynum. He grew up in Siloam Springs (Benton County), where his father headed Bynum Motor Company. He was a 1957 graduate of Siloam Springs High School and was three times elected class president. In his high school athletic career, he earned three varsity letters in each of his four years, …

Byrd, Conley F

Conley F Byrd Sr. was a sharecroppers’ son from northeastern Arkansas who, after World War II, became a lawyer and a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He proved to be a maverick on the court by dissenting often, and he frustrated some members of the elite court with his obstinacy. Injuries from vehicle accidents left him in so much pain that he retired in 1980 and spent the last thirty-four years of his life farming in the woods east of Redfield (Jefferson County). Conley F Byrd (he had no middle name, just the initial) was born on January 14, 1925, in Poughkeepsie (Sharp County). His parents, Robert Lee Byrd and Artie Elizabeth Barnes Byrd, were sharecroppers. They lived in …

Byrd, Henry

Henry Byrd was one of Arkansas’s most prolific antebellum portrait painters. His portraits present Arkansas’s merchants, planters, and professional gentlemen, along with their wives and children, as they wished posterity to see them. Henry Byrd was born in Ireland in 1805, one of seven children born to William Byrd and Anne Garrett of Belmount Hall, County Tiperary. He immigrated to America and was naturalized through the port of New York City in November 1835. He established himself as a painter and resided at 164 Delancy Street in New York City. During his years in New York, Byrd married Sarah J. Updike, and they had two children while still in New York. Sometime during the late 1830s, the family migrated south, …

Byrne, Andrew

Andrew Byrne was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocese which then and now encompasses the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. A prelate on the southern frontier, he had few Catholics in his ecclesiastical domain; nevertheless, he planted the Church so deeply that even his death, the Civil War, and the five-year absence of any bishop could not eradicate the faith. Andrew Byrne was born in Navan, a town about forty miles northwest of Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert and Margery Moore Byrne. There is no exact date of his birth on parish records, though they record that he was baptized on December 3, 1802; with his name being Andrew, he may have …