Entries - Starting with C

Crockett, Woodrow Wilson

Miller County native Woodrow W. Crockett served as a combat pilot in both World War II and the Korean War. Entering the service as an artilleryman, Crockett transferred to Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute as an aviation cadet and became one of the pilots of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Crockett remained in the service of his country for twenty-eight years. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995. Woodrow Wilson Crockett was born on August 31, 1918, in Homan (Miller County). Nicknamed “Woody” as a child, he was the fifth of six children born to school teachers William Crockett and Lucindan Crockett. He grew up in Texarkana (Miller County) and then lived with his sister in Little Rock …

Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc.

Cromwell Architects Engineers is one of the oldest architectural firms in the nation and is clearly the oldest in Arkansas. Begun in 1885 with one architect and his draftsman son, by the twenty-first century, the firm had more than 100 employees offering a variety of services and could show an enormous body of completed work around the world. Most notably, the firm employed Charles Louis Thompson (1868–1959) and his son-in-law, Edwin Boykin Cromwell (1909–2001), both of whom were well known in their profession. The firm’s history begins with the arrival in Little Rock (Pulaski County) of Benjamin J. Bartlett. It is likely that both he and his son came to the state because they had been selected in 1885 to …

Crooked Creek, Skirmish at

Part of Union efforts in northwestern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate operations, this skirmish was one of several encounters over a four-week period in early 1864. In January 1864, the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) was stationed in Cassville, Missouri. Colonel John E. Phelps received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move into Arkansas in an effort to disrupt a planned raid by Confederate forces into Missouri. Phelps led his unit into the state to link up with other Federal units. At the same time, troops from the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) under the command of Captain Charles Galloway were scouting in the area. Leaving Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 10, Galloway moved eastward, receiving reinforcements. Galloway’s troops joined the Second …

Crop Circles

Crop circles are a relatively recent phenomenon in Arkansas, appearing in northeastern Arkansas wheat fields in 2003. Crop circles are geometric patterns, sometimes simple and other times astonishingly complex, that appear in fields of wheat, barley, rye, and other crops. The formations are created by a flattening of the stalks of grain; in the more refined crop circles, the grain is bent rather than broken. Crop circles have been reported as far back as the late seventeenth century in England, but it was an outbreak in England in the 1970s which brought the phenomenon worldwide attention. Thousands of formations were subsequently reported across the globe, leading to speculation that they were created by extraterrestrials or other paranormal entities, given the …

Cross County

Cross County is one of the state’s leading producers of soybeans and rice, the location of the only copper tube mill in Arkansas, and the home of two state parks: Village Creek State Park and Parkin Archeological State Park. Created during the Civil War, the county was largely shaped by railroad development during the Gilded Age, with small industry and tourism becoming more of a focus in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Geologically, the county is divided roughly into thirds. Crowley’s Ridge, a glacial age erosional remnant covered with a unique loessal topsoil, traverses the county north to south, rising seventy-five to 100 feet above ancient deltaic alluvial floodplains on either side. The eastern third is drained primarily …

Cross Hollow (Camp)

Cross Hollow (or Cross Hollows), located along the Telegraph Road eighteen miles south of the Missouri-Arkansas border near modern-day Rogers (Benton County), was the site of Confederate winter quarters during the winter of 1861–62. A Civil War skirmish was fought near Cross Hollow in 1864. Following the August 10, 1861, Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, General Benjamin McCulloch’s army fell back into Arkansas. Feeling that the troops would be close enough to Missouri to march there readily if circumstances demanded, commanders chose Cross Hollow, a long, narrow valley at the intersection of an east-west road and the Telegraph Road, which was the major north-south road into Missouri. Abundant springs and forage and the presence of two mills nearby, …

Cross Hollow, Skirmish at

  Federal forces in northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri used cavalry patrols to prevent Confederate regulars and guerrillas from organizing in the area. This skirmish was part of an effort by Union forces in Missouri to disrupt small bands of the enemy gathering near Cross Hollow. On June 20, 1864, Captain James Powell of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders to embark on a scouting mission with an unspecified number of men. Moving southward from Cassville, Missouri, Powell and his men first encountered enemy forces near Sugar Creek but did not attack. The Federals continued to Cross Hollow where they turned southward to Fayetteville (Washington County) before moving to Bentonville (Benton County). On the third day of the scouting mission, …

Cross-Roads, Skirmish at

During the 1864 Federal occupation of Batesville (Independence County), many detachments were sent out through the surrounding counties for information, forage, and seizure of bushwhackers. In an accidental encounter, one such detachment caught some brigands for the second time. Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers left Batesville on March 24, 1864, with a detachment of 200 men and six officers to scout to the southwest and west. They traveled up the White River to the mouths of Wolf Bayou and Briar Creek, then turned southwest until they reached Coon Creek. They camped at McCarles’s farm, where they found a mule harness that had been taken by Captain George Rutherford during a previous skirmish at Waugh’s Farm. …

Cross, John Storrs

John Storrs Cross became a national and international expert in all types of electronic communication as a member of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Navy during World War II, and the U.S. Department of State, as well as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In Arkansas, he was the engineer for Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs (Garland County) in the 1930s and ran a motel with his wife near Eureka Springs (Carroll County) in the later part of his life. John S. Cross was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 18, 1904, to Thomas C. Cross and Elise T. Cross. He had one younger sister, Elise. In his high school years, he attended the private McCallie …

Crossett (Ashley County)

  In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the demand for wood fiber for a growing country led lumbermen, investors, and speculators into the vast forest that stretches from east Texas across the lower Mississippi River Valley to the Florida panhandle. Demand having outstripped the forest resources of the Great Lakes region, other sources for timber were sought. One result of the interest in the forestland of the South was the founding of Crossett (Ashley County). Crossett was founded in the late 1890s by three investors from Davenport, Iowa— Edward Savage Crossett, Austria native Dr. John Wenzel Watzek, and Charles Warner Gates. Today, Crossett is one of the state’s leading manufacturing centers, billing itself as the “Forestry Capital of …

Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF)

Established in 1934, the Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service was one of the first experimental forests in the southern United States. It has provided decades of scientific research on topics ranging from forest ecology and silviculture to wildlife, hydrology, and soils in the loblolly and shortleaf pine-dominated forests of the Upper West Gulf Coastal Plain geographic province. The scores of studies conducted on the CEF have generated hundreds of scientific publications, making the station an internationally known example of high-quality long-term forestry research. Long-term research studies and demonstration projects also serve as in-the-woods educational opportunities regarding low-cost forestry practices, and tens of thousands of students, professionals, and others have visited the …

Crossett Light

Outside of Crossett (Ashley County), where the old railroad tracks once lay, an unexplained light has become a local legend. It has reportedly been seen consistently since the early 1900s by multitudes of people. The light is typically seen floating two to three feet above the ground but also is said to move into the treetops and sometimes side to side. The light reportedly disappears as one walks toward it and then reappears the same distance away, so that one can never get a close look at it. The Crossett Light’s color reportedly ranges from yellow or orange to blue or green. The Crossett Light is one of many similar phenomena commonly known as “spooklights” in the South. There are …

Crossett Lumber Company

The Crossett Lumber Company (CLC) was Arkansas’s largest and most influential lumber company from its founding in 1899 until its merger with the Georgia-Pacific Company in 1962. It is notable for its growth alongside the company town of Crossett (Ashley County) and its early use of sustained-yield forestry in collaboration with Yale University’s School of Forestry. On May 16, 1899, Charles W. Gates, Edward Savage Crossett, and Dr. John W. Watzek—all from Davenport, Iowa—founded the Crossett Lumber Company in Ashley County in southeast Arkansas and Morehouse Parish in northern Louisiana. Stockholders named them president, vice president, and treasurer of the board of directors, respectively. Their first action was the purchase of 47,000 acres of land from the Michigan investment firm …

Crossett Strike of 1940

The Crossett Strike of 1940 was a fifty-eight-day work stoppage in the lumber and manufacturing town of Crossett (Ashley County). The strike followed a contract dispute between the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (Local No. 2590) and the Crossett Lumber Company. (The Crossett Lumber Company owned all the land, mills, and residential real estate comprising the town of Crossett in the early 1900s.) Picketing and protests were initially peaceful before altercations became more tense and violent as community support for the union waned. The final settlement increased wages for workers but did not address the root causes of the strike—namely, management’s unwillingness to provide preferential treatment to union members or permit a union shop. On June 4, …

Crossett, Edward Savage

Edward Savage Crossett was a pioneer Arkansas lumberman during the late nineteenth century. As the great Southern forest was being developed to meet a growing nation’s need for lumber and wood fiber, Crossett and two associates—all from Davenport, Iowa—came to south Arkansas, acquired land, and began a sawmilling operation that was one of the largest of its kind. The city of Crossett (Ashley County) was named for him and came to be known as “The Forestry Capital of the South.” Edward Crossett was born on February 4, 1828, in West Plattsburgh, New York, one of three children of Mary Gregory and John Savage Crossett, a veteran of the War of 1812. Crossett received his early education in the public schools …

Crowley, Benjamin

Benjamin Crowley and his family were among the early settlers of northeast Arkansas. In 1821, they settled near the present community of Walcott (Greene County) on a ridge that would bear his name. Crowley, one of eleven children of Benjamin and Sarah Strong Crowley, was born in 1758 in Halifax County, Virginia. He married Catherine Annie Wiley of Augusta County, Virginia, on December 15, 1795. They had eight children. Crowley was a surveyor by trade and also raised cattle and dabbled in horse breeding. By 1785, the Crowleys had relocated to Oglethorpe County, Georgia. They moved to Christian County, Kentucky, by 1810 and moved again to Henderson County, Kentucky, by 1821. Crowley had served in the military during the War …

Crowley’s Ridge

Crowley’s Ridge is a small yet distinctive natural region. It ranges in width from one to twelve miles and extends from southern Missouri across eastern Arkansas to Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). It is made up of a continuous series of rolling hills except for a slight break at Marianna (Lee County); this break or gap was created by the L’Anguille River as it flowed across the ridge. The ridge received its name from Benjamin Crowley, the first white settler to reach the area near present-day Paragould (Greene County), sometime around 1820. Also of note is that the Civil War Skirmish at Chalk Bluff was fought on Crowley’s Ridge on May 1–2, 1863. The Chalk Bluff Natural Area in Clay County …

Crowley’s Ridge College (CRC)

Crowley’s Ridge College (CRC) in Paragould (Greene County) is a co-educational liberal arts college providing a balanced course of study. Until it became a four-year institution in 2008, it was the only two-year college in the nation affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Crowley’s Ridge College opened its doors on July 6, 1964, as a Christian junior college. CRC’s founder, Dr. Emmett Floyd Smith Jr., had a strong desire to bring college-level Christian education to northeast Arkansas. Eleven years earlier, in 1953, Smith had established a Christian secondary school, Crowley’s Ridge Academy, and found that there was support for other Christian endeavors such as the Children’s Homes of Paragould and Crowley’s Ridge College. Governor Orval Faubus helped turn the first …

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, National Scenic Byway

As Arkansas’s first National Scenic Byway, Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, merges six U.S. highways, nine Arkansas highways, and 11.5 miles of well-maintained gravel road through a national forest to track the crest of Crowley’s Ridge, the sole geographical phenomenon ridge formation in North America and one of only two similar geological ridge formations in the world (the other being in Siberia). The parkway stretches 198 miles over a half million acres in Arkansas, encompassing eight counties and eleven communities from St. Francis (Clay County) to Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). An additional 14.2 miles run through Missouri. As one of Arkansas’s three national byways—the other two being Talimena Scenic Byway and the Great River Road—Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is one of the 126 …

Crowley’s Ridge State Park

Crowley’s Ridge State Park in northeast Arkansas is a recreationally oriented park with a rich social and geological history. The park, situated on land that was homesteaded by nineteenth-century pioneer Benjamin F. Crowley, also preserves the structures built by young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. Arriving on the scene in 1820, Crowley was the first prominent white settler in the region. He selected the site for his plantation home because of the upland terrain and a spring, which continues to flow today. Crowley, a veteran of the War of 1812, became an acknowledged leader in northeast Arkansas and strongly supported the creation of Greene County on November 5, 1833. He died in 1842 at age …

Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute

The Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute (CRTI) was a technical college in Forrest City (St. Francis County) that provided skilled workers for local industries. It operated from 1967 to 2017, when it was merged with the nearby East Arkansas Community College (EACC). In 1966, the CRTI building on Newcastle Road was approved for construction by the State Board of Vocational Education; the building site was donated by the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. Before it was completed, however, CRTI operated one welding class started by the Manpower Development and Training Act program with approval from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which provided $90,860 to finance the thirty-two-week program, covering both student costs and the salary for two instructors. This …

Crumpler, Denver Dale

When singer Denver Dale Crumpler became a member of Hovie Lister and the Statesmen Quartet of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1953, his Irish tenor voice completed what many experts in the Southern gospel music field have termed “The Perfect Quartet.” By then, the Statesmen had formed a team with the famed Blackwood Brothers Quartet of Memphis, Tennessee, and were performing 250–300 concerts per year across the United States. Shortly after Crumpler’s arrival, the Statesmen signed a recording contract with RCA-Victor, as well as a contract with Nabisco as the sponsor of a syndicated television show eventually to be seen on about 150 television stations around the nation. Denver Dale Crumpler was born on August 17, 1912, in Village (Columbia County), near …

Crushed Stone Mining

Crushed stone is an angular form of construction aggregate, made by breaking quarried rock into fragments that may be sorted, sized, and recombined into a variety of products. Crushed stone is typically quarried—that is, mined using benching methods (carrying out work from a ledge in a mine or quarry) and explosives, as opposed to the mechanical digging used for extracting sand and gravel. Consolidated rock is cut into vertical ledges, so that drilling can be done from above to place explosives within the wall for proper breakage of rock during mining. Benches typically vary from twenty to sixty feet in height, depending on how competent the rock is. The quarry stone is normally run through a primary crusher and then …

Crustaceans

Crustaceans (subphylum Crustacea) are a very large and diverse group of arthropods (invertebrate animals having an exoskeleton, jointed appendages, and segmented bodies). Crustaceans are distinguished by having paired mandibular jaws and maxillae, along with two pairs of antennae. Recent classifications include six classes within crustaceans—Branchiopoda, Remipedia, Cephalocarida, Maxillopoda, Ostracoda, and Malacostraca. The Classes of Crustacea Class Branchiopoda includes several groups of primitive aquatic and marine animals, including clam shrimp, the small fairy shrimp (less than one centimeter in length and living in temporary pools), and the “living fossil” tadpole shrimp. The most noteworthy brachiopods are the cladocerans, or water fleas, that make up many of the zooplankton in Arkansas lakes and ponds. These small, free-swimming animals are a critical food …

Crystal Bathhouse

The Crystal Bathhouse in Hot Springs (Garland County) was the first purpose-built bathhouse to exclusively serve the needs of African Americans in Arkansas. It opened in 1904 and became a destination for those who were attracted to the nationally known thermal waters of the Spa City during the era of the Jim Crow segregated South. The Crystal Bathhouse was located at 415 Malvern Avenue on Block 66 in the black business district of town. Two local contractors, Michael H. Jodd and Albert P. Aldrich, built the bathhouse. They chose architect John McCaslin to design a two-story brick building with parlors, dressing rooms, cooling rooms, tubs, vapor cabinets, restrooms, and eleven rooms for lodging accommodations. Externally, the building had double-hung sash …

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville (Benton County), officially opened to the public on November 11, 2011. The 201,000-square-foot museum with its 120 acres of forest and garden was designed to portray the spirit of America. The museum was founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart Inc. The museum took its name from Crystal Spring, which is located nearby on the grounds, and the bridge-shaped design of the building, designed by Moshe Safdie. The museum collection includes art from colonial times to the present day. It also offers temporary exhibits from other museums and collections. Alice Walton was ranked as one of the richest people in the United States in 2010 and …

Crystal Hill (Pulaski County)

Crystal Hill is a geological formation on the north side of the Arkansas River near Murray Lock and Dam. It is also the name of a neighborhood in the city of North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Nearby Pyeatte-Mason Cemetery contains the graves of some of the early settlers of Crystal Hill. The formation, about seven miles upstream from downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County)—although many early travelers exaggerated the distance to fifteen miles—is a bluff consisting of sandstone and shale. It also contains significant amounts of iron pyrite, which sparkles in the sunlight. River travelers, seeing the sparkle, gave the hill its poetic name. East Arkansas settlers displaced by the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812 began to settle this part of …

Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District

aka: Crystal River Tourist Court
aka: Crystal River Cave and Court
The Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District is perhaps the most unusual tourist court in the state, and one of the most unusual in the country. The striking exteriors have remained largely unchanged since the structures were built by a local businessman and a stone mason in 1934. The court surrounds the entrance to the Crystal River Cave, a popular gathering place for which the town of Cave City (Sharp and Independence counties) was named. The Crystal River Cave and Courts, as it is now called, no longer functions as lodging, although the property’s owners offer tours of the cave by appointment. The Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June …

Crystal Springs Dam and Camp Shelter

The Crystal Recreation Area, located in the Ouachita National Forest, included two structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935, the stone dam and log picnic structure were added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 1993. The site is located on Forest Road 177 north of Norman (Montgomery County). The shelter was constructed by CCC Company 741. The company was formed on May 1, 1933, at Camp Pike. The company completed numerous projects in the Ouachita National Forest and was stationed at Crystal Springs at the time of the project. The dam is placed across Collier Creek and is constructed from fieldstone. The two-tier structure is …

CSS Arkansas

During the Civil War, the Confederate navy’s ironclad vessel bearing the state’s name was the ram CSS Arkansas. It was in use only twenty-three days, yet earned the rage of the Union and the respect of the Confederacy. The Confederate navy’s task to defend rivers from its better-equipped adversary’s attacks and blockades required the building of vessels capable of meeting the challenge. To this end, on August 24, 1861, the navy ordered two ironclads from Memphis, Tennessee, shipbuilder John T. Shirley; one was christened the CSS Arkansas. The CSS Arkansas’s keel was laid in October 1861, with work continuing through the winter. While the vessel was under construction, news arrived that Union naval forces were en route to capture Memphis. …

CSS Maurepas

Like many vessels that saw active military service with the Confederate navy during the Civil War, the CSS Maurepas started out as a civilian vessel engaged in river commerce and transportation. In 1858, J. A. Cotton of New Orleans, Louisiana, contracted with the shipbuilding yards in New Albany, Indiana, for a wooden-hulled sidewheel steamer packet named the Grosse Tete. Upon completion, the vessel measured 180 feet with a thirty-four-foot beam. It weighed 399 tons, drafted seven feet, and carried a crew of seventy-nine. Between 1858 and 1860, the Grosse Tete worked the New Orleans–Bends commercial trade route, piloted by Captain Isaac Hopper. In 1860, the Bayou Sara Mail Company purchased the Grosse Tete and placed it under Captain J. McQuoid for …

CSS Pontchartrain

The CSS Pontchartrain was a Confederate warship that served on the Arkansas and White rivers. While it never saw combat in Arkansas, the Pontchartrain played a supporting role in several battles and affected Union strategy in 1862 and 1863. The CSS Pontchartrain began its career as the Lizzie Simmons, a 454-ton sidewheel paddleboat built at New Albany, Indiana, in 1859. The Lizzie Simmons ran between New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Ouachita River in 1860 under Captain George Hamilton Kirk; it then worked the river between New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee, under Captain W. B. Richardson. The Confederate navy purchased the ship in October 12, 1861, and converted it into a gunboat in January and February 1862. It was renamed the …

Cuban Refugee Crisis

Arkansas played a part in the international drama of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans left their homeland for a new life in the United States. Roughly 25,000 of these Cuban refugees—called Marielitos because they had departed Cuba from the port of Mariel—were housed for a time at Fort Chaffee in Sebastian County. Their presence in Arkansas created social and political tension widely thought to have had an impact on the Arkansas governor’s race of 1980. Cuba and the Boatlift The crisis of 1980 began April 11 of that year, when Hector Sanyustiz, accompanied by five friends, drove a Havana city bus through a gate onto the grounds of the Peruvian Embassy to Cuba. The six intended to seek political asylum. By …

Cultured Pearl Industry

Arkansas freshwater mussel shell provided the raw material for cultured pearl farming in the latter half of the twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries. Following World War II, cultured pearls were the quintessential statement of elegance, and this drove the demand for Mississippi River Valley freshwater shell. The 1960–1980s were the heyday for shell harvesting from northeast Arkansas waterways. Most of the shell was shipped to Japan, where Kokichi Mikimoto had perfected a cultured pearl process in the early 1900s. In this process, a bead, or nucleus, was inserted into a marine oyster and the creature layered its natural nacre around the orb, thus creating a pearl. As is the case with human organ transplants, pearl oysters could potentially reject …

Cumberland Presbyterians

Beginning in 1812, the Cumberland Presbyterian (CP) denomination sent missionaries to preach the Gospel and establish congregations on the Arkansas frontier. Members of these new congregations wrote to friends and family back east, encouraging them to come to Arkansas. Many came in response, especially from middle Tennessee. Nearly 300 Cumberland Presbyterian congregations have been organized in Arkansas and over 1,000 pastors ordained. The denomination’s support of rural churches (not requiring the consolidation of smaller congregations) has made country living more tenable in Arkansas. In 1802, the Presbyterian Church formed the Cumberland Presbytery (covering Kentucky and Tennessee). Controversy erupted when the new presbytery’s leaders felt forced to ordain “unqualified” preachers because too few educated preachers would come to the frontier. The …

Cummins Prison Break of 1940

The Cummins prison break on the morning of September 2, 1940, which was Labor Day, involved the escape of thirty-six white men from Cummins Unit (often referred to as Cummins prison farm), the largest of the three prison units in the state. The escape is the largest in Arkansas history. All the men were ultimately captured or killed by authorities. Four of the escapees were executed in Louisiana in 1941 for the murder of a deputy the day after they broke out of Cummins; these men claimed they escaped because of the horrible conditions at the prison farm. Despite an investigation into conditions at the prison, no serious attempt at reform was initiated. The 1940 escape was the first major …

Cummins Prison Strike of 1974

The Cummins prison strike of 1974 was a non-violent incident involving 200 inmates who stopped work for twenty minutes on Monday, October 14, to protest conditions at the Cummins prison farm. At 1,350 inmates at that time, Cummins—located five miles southeast of Grady (Lincoln County)—was the largest of the Arkansas prison farms. The strike was swiftly stopped by Cummins superintendent Art Lockhart, who used riot guards to ensure that prisoners returned quickly to work without any violence. By Tuesday, Cummins had returned to normal. The strike revealed that inmates could peacefully protest at that time without fear of severe physical punishment. It also showed that unrest still existed, and the prisons had more work to do before they achieved compliance …

Cummins Unit

aka: Cummins Prison Farm
Cummins Unit is a 16,600-acre maximum-security prison located five miles southeast of Grady (Lincoln County). Cummins is run by the Arkansas Department of Correction and houses male and female inmates. It is also the location of Arkansas’s facilities for administering the death penalty. Cummins is the oldest and largest of the state’s working “prison farms,” which use inmate labor to grow crops and produce livestock. In 1897, the Arkansas General Assembly established that the state could purchase “any lands, buildings, machinery, livestock and tools necessary for the use, preservation, and operation of the penitentiary.” In 1902, the state bought 10,000 acres of property—consisting of land from the Cummins and Maple Grove plantations—to create the Cummins prison farm. Cummins would later gain …

Cunningham, Charles E.

During the 1870s and 1880s, Little Rock (Pulaski County) resident Charles E. Cunningham played a leading role in farmers’ organizations and in third-party politics both in Arkansas and at the national level. His political career included third-party nominations for a seat in U.S. House of Representatives, the governor’s office, and the vice presidency. Although he failed to win election to any of these offices, he nevertheless played an important role in building the Union Labor Party in Arkansas, which may well have wrested control of the state government away from the Democratic Party during the late 1880s and early 1890s had Democrats not resorted to election fraud and violence to maintain their power. Charles E. Cunningham was born on July …

Cunningham, Charles Franklin

Charles Franklin Cunningham Sr. was instrumental in the creation and leadership of the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) and served as its executive director for thirty-seven years. In 1981, he became the first African-American mayor of Benton (Saline County). He served as mayor from 1981 to 1983. From 2003 to his death in 2017, he served as alderman for Benton’s Ward 2, which encompasses much of Benton’s Southside, including the communities of Christy Acres and the historic Ralph Bunche Community. Charles F. Cunningham was born on January 17, 1933, in South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee, to Floyd S. Cunningham and Georgia Anna Cunningham. In 1952, he married Josie M. Slaughter. Following service in the U.S. Army, Cunningham earned a …

Curia (Independence County)

The historic community of Curia (pronounced Curie) was located near Curia Creek, a tributary of the Black River, east of Highway 25 between Saffell (Lawrence County) and Cord (Independence County). The remains of this community, like Hazel Grove (Independence County), are on private land with restricted public access. It was located in Barren Township. Curia Lake is a popular fishing spot noted for its perch and crappie. The place name of Curia (a.k.a. Bayou Cura, Bayou Cure, and Cura Creek) is mentioned in a written description of the boundaries of the new Independence County on October 23, 1820, which included, “All that portion of the county of Lawrence bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at a point in Big Black …

Curran Hall

aka: Little Rock Visitor Information Center
aka: Walters-Curran-Bell House
Curran Hall, sometimes known as the Walters-Curran-Bell House, stands at 615 East Capitol Avenue in the MacArthur Park Historic District and is one of the few remaining antebellum landmark properties in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dating back to 1842, the house was constructed during the city’s first building boom, which reached its peak around 1842 and faded out with the depression of 1843. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1976. According to widely accepted tradition, Curran Hall was constructed in the Greek Revival style by noted Greek Revival architect Gideon Shryock, who designed the Kentucky State Capitol as well as the Old State House, making this house of particular significance. The original one-story …

Current River

The Current River crosses into Arkansas from Missouri at the border between Randolph and Clay counties and flows for approximately forty miles before merging with the Black River near Pocahontas (Randolph County). The river was the site of four Civil War skirmishes at Pitman’s Ferry in Randolph County. This is a well-known river for canoeing and was made a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a national park located in southern Missouri, in 1964. The Current River arises in the Ozark Mountains from the confluence of Montauk Spring and Pigeon Creek in Dent County, Missouri. Numerous other springs pour into the river as it progresses through Missouri, thus giving it a fairly constant flow of water throughout the year; …

Curtis (Clark County)

Curtis is an unincorporated community located along State Highway 67, nine miles south-southwest of the Clark County seat of Arkadelphia. Originally used as a refueling stop for trains along the Iron Mountain Railroad, it became a timber community heavily dependent on the surrounding forests. During the mid-1900s, the community became home to a successful semi-professional baseball team. Today, like many of its neighbors, the community has dwindled due to the decline in the area’s timber industry. The community was established in the 1870s, largely due to promotional brochures distributed by the railroad, advertising the area and encouraging people to settle there. It was originally established as a fuel chute along the Iron Mountain Railroad. At first, the fuel chute only …

Curtis, Dorris Lafferty

Dorris Lafferty Curtis was a nationally recognized folk art painter, author, and songwriter. Compared to folk art painter Grandma Moses (who started painting at age seventy-five) by herself and others, Curtis began painting at age sixty-five just before she retired from teaching. She produced hundreds of paintings, many of which are on display at the Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). Dorris Lafferty was born on March 4, 1908, in Rogers County, Oklahoma, near Foyil, to Roy Lafferty, a farmer, and Nan Lafferty. She was the third of four children. She grew up on the family farm, and much of her folk art is based on memories of her early years. Her mother …

Curtis, Samuel Ryan

Samuel Ryan Curtis was the Union general responsible for the victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the capture of Helena (Phillips County), and the repulse of Price’s 1864 invasion of Missouri and Kansas. Samuel Curtis was born on a farm in Clinton County, New York, on February 3, 1805, to Zarah and Phalley Yale Curtis prior to the family’s move to Licking County, Ohio. He married Belinda Buckingham in 1831. The couple had six children. A West Point graduate (1831), Curtis resigned his commission in June 1832. During his civilian life, Curtis served as an engineer for the Muskingum River and the Des Moines River improvement projects, the National Road, and the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Admitted to …

Curtiss, Edwin

Edwin Curtiss, a nonprofessional field man who excavated archaeological sites and collected antiquities, is credited by Arkansas archaeologists with making the first scientific archaeological excavation in their state. In 1879 and 1880, Curtiss and his associates spent eighty-six days excavating at ancient Native American village sites along the St. Francis River in northeast Arkansas, where he collected nearly 1,000 pottery vessels and hundreds of other specimens for Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnography. Edwin Curtiss was born on January 27, 1830, in North Lansing, New York. Originally a tailor by trade, Curtiss served in the Union army during the Civil War, subsequently moving with his family to Tennessee. After the war, Curtiss worked as an independent contractor …

Cushman (Independence County)

Cushman, established in 1886 as the result of an accident, was an important shipping and trade center for the next seventy-two years. The center of the tremendously valuable manganese mining industry, Cushman also served as a shipping point for businesses and farmers in northern Independence County and most of Izard County. William Einstein of St. Louis established a mining operation on what is now known as Polk Southard Mine, near what is now Sandtown Road, in about 1866. At the time, this was just a wild wooded area. In 1885, the Keystone Mining Company, an Andrew Carnegie company, began operations on Southard Hill. Shortly thereafter, the St. Louis Mining Company came to the area and began operations near Polk Southard. …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (December 1, 1864)

The December 1, 1864, Skirmish at Cypress Creek was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying both the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River and the ongoing role of guerrilla fighting. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry. According to this report, Captain Marvin C. Gates of Company C, Third Arkansas Cavalry, along with two men in the advance, came upon five of the enemy near Cypress Creek in Perry County, nine miles from Lewisburg (Conway County), where the report was composed. Capt. Gates charged and was killed. None of the enemy …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (May 13, 1864)

  This action was the first engagement between Federal and Confederate forces during Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s movement into northern and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Near the Arkansas River, Federal forces worked to determine the strength of Confederate forces and keep them from crossing the river if possible. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in early May 1864, Federal forces remained in several fortified cities across the state, while Confederate forces held southern Arkansas. Seeing an opportunity to operate more freely in central and northern Arkansas, Confederate commanders ordered units of cavalry to move across the state and determine Union strength, among other tasks. Shelby led his brigade of Missouri cavalry from southern Arkansas in …