Entries

Van Dorn, Earl

A noted Mexican War veteran and Indian fighter, Earl Van Dorn was the Confederate general defeated at the Battle of Pea Ridge and at Corinth, Mississippi. Following the defeat at Pea Ridge, he stripped Arkansas of badly needed Confederate troops, leaving the state nearly destitute of defenders. Earl Van Dorn was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi, on September 17, 1820, to Sophia Donelson Caffery, a niece of Andrew Jackson, and Peter Aaron Van Dorn, a lawyer and judge. He married Caroline Godbold in December 1843. They had one son, Earl Jr., and one daughter, Olivia. Some believe that Van Dorn fathered other children through adulterous affairs prior to, and possibly during, the Civil War. Graduating fifty-second of fifty-six cadets from …

Van Dyke, Jerry

Jerry Van Dyke was a famous comedian and actor who lived in Arkansas; he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in 1998. He was perhaps most noted for his Emmy-nominated performance as Luther Van Dam on the television show Coach. Van Dyke and his wife, Shirley Jones, owned a ranch in Hot Spring County, and, in the late 1990s, they purchased and renovated a city block in Benton (Saline County), including the Royal Theatre and a soda shop that bears his name. Jerry Van Dyke was born in Danville, Illinois, on July 27, 1931, to Loren and Hazel Van Dyke. Loren Van Dyke was a traveling salesman for the Sunshine Biscuit Company. Both their sons had successful …

van Zandt, Elliott C.

Elliott van Zandt was a pioneering figure in international athletics. A physical education instructor, he served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Afterward, he remained in Europe, and at a time when the national athletic landscape in the United States was still hampered by segregation, van Zandt (who was African American) became a critical figure in the development of national programs for a number of different sports, especially basketball, in countries across the European continent. He coached a number of different teams and sports, serving as the Olympic coach for multiple national teams while also teaching both players and coaches around the world. Elliott C. van Zandt was born in 1915 in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Una …

Vanadium Mining

Major deposits of vanadium were discovered in central Arkansas by Union Carbide’s Western Exploration Group in the 1960s. Vanadium orebodies are found in two isolated igneous intrusive complexes in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas: the Potash Sulphur Springs (now Wilson Springs) complex located in Garland County and the Magnet Cove complex in Hot Spring County. The Wilson Springs vanadium deposits were the first to be mined solely for vanadium in the United States. The major use of vanadium is as an alloying metal in iron and steel (ferroalloy). Small amounts of vanadium added to iron and steel significantly increase its strength, improve toughness and ductility, and reduce weight, making it suitable for structural and pipeline steel. Vanadium also increases high-temperature …

Vance, Rupert Bayliss

Rupert Bayliss Vance was a sociologist on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), who, along with fellow sociology faculty member Howard Odum, established the field of “regional sociology”—in their case, an extensive study of the South. The two helped provide a progressive counterweight at UNC in the 1930s to the conservative agrarian philosophy centered with the faculty at Vanderbilt University and expressed in their collection of essays I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930). Rupert B. Vance was born on March 15, 1899, in Plumerville (Conway County), the oldest of four children of Walter Vance and Mary Bayliss Vance. Walter Vance owned a general store, though the Vances lived on …

Vandervoort (Polk County)

Vandervoort was a key stop for the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern). Francis Marion Cecil, with his wife Rhoda Lebow Cecil and thirteen children, owned and farmed the land in southern Polk County where Vandervoort now stands. When the town site was first laid out, it was known as Janssen, taking its name from the maiden name of Jan DeGeoijen’s wife. Jan DeGeoijen was a Dutch coffee merchant who was involved in financing the construction of the railroad. There was another town in Arkansas called Jansen, however, and mail between the two towns was constantly being mixed up. In 1907, the town’s name was changed to Vandervoort in honor of the mother of Jan …

Vapors

The Vapors was a nightclub in Hot Springs (Garland County) during the last era of illegal gambling in the city. Upscale entertainment in the style of Las Vegas, Nevada—featuring well-known acts like Edgar Bergen, the Smothers Brothers, and Tony Bennett—distinguished it from many of the rival clubs in the area. Dane Harris, who had been a World War II pilot, accumulated money from a stake he had in the Belvedere Country Club and casino during the 1950s and used that money to build the Vapors nightclub. Harris partnered with Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden, owner of the Cotton Club in New York and a noted gangster, to build the nightclub at a site at 315 Park Avenue formerly occupied by the …

Varner Unit

The Varner Unit is a detention facility run by the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is located in the Choctaw Township of Lincoln County, along U.S. Highway 65, about thirty miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Varner Unit was constructed in response to the state’s fast-growing inmate population; other state facilities had been expanded prior to Varner’s construction. When it opened in 1987, it could accommodate 300 prisoners; its capacity was increased to 700 and then later to around 1,700. The Varner Unit is made up of two separate units: the Supermax Unit and the Varner Unit. The Supermax Unit was opened in 2000 and in 2003 became home to all the state’s male death row inmates. In …

Vaughan, Joseph Floyd “Arky”

Joseph Floyd “Arky” Vaughan was a professional baseball player and one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Considered one of the best shortstops in baseball history, Vaughan was also one of the premier hitters in the 1930s. Arky Vaughan was born on March 9, 1912, in Clifty (Madison County) to Robert Vaughan and Laura Denny Vaughan. He was one of six children. When he was an infant, the family moved to Fullerton, California, where his father became an oilfield worker. Vaughan never returned to Arkansas. Throughout much of his life, Vaughan was linked to the state because of his nickname, given to him as a child because he talked with an Arkansas accent acquired …

Velazquez, Loreta

In late spring of 1861, a Cuban woman named Loreta Janeta Velazquez adorned herself with a Confederate uniform and fake facial hair, assigned herself the rank of lieutenant in the Confederate army, and adopted the name of Harry T. Buford. According to her own account, Velazquez embarked on a remarkable career as both a Confederate soldier and spy during the turbulent years of America’s Civil War, partially in Arkansas. As professor Jesse Alemán points out in the introduction to Velazquez’s memoir, there are historical inaccuracies in the memoir (which was put together by Velazquez and her editor, C. J. Worthington) that cast some doubt on Velazquez’s authenticity. However, Alemán stresses that the memoir holds its own as a Civil War …

Venomous Snakes

Arkansas hosts about forty-five species and subspecies of snakes, and six (thirteen percent) are species that use venom to obtain food and to defend themselves. There are two families of venomous snakes in the state: Elapidae (a single elapid species, the Texas coral snake) and Viperidae (five species of pitvipers). All of Arkansas’s venomous snakes inject venom through fangs via muscular contraction of paired venom glands. Texas Coral Snake The Texas coral snake, Micrurus tener tener (formerly Micrurus fulvius tenere) is a tricolored, medium-sized (maximum length = 122 centimeters), secretive elapid snake that primarily occurs in the southern and southwestern part of the state. Verified records are available for only five counties of the state in the Gulf Coastal Plain, …

Vertac

The Vertac site in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) is one of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites and Arkansas’s most publicized Superfund site. Cleanup of the area after its abandonment by its corporate owner took more than a decade, and the name “Vertac” soon became synonymous in Arkansas with the fear of industrial pollution, similar to how New Yorkers view Love Canal. The Vertac site was originally part of the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP), a World War II–era facility that manufactured various components of explosive devices, such as primers and detonators. In 1946, the federal government offered the AOP facilities for sale to private companies. The future Vertac site was purchased in 1948 by Reasor-Hill Company, which produced pesticides, as did …

Vestal Nursery

aka: J. W. Vestal & Son
The Vestal Nursery, based in the Baring Cross neighborhood of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), operated for more than 100 years, cultivating and shipping flowers across the United States. By the mid-twentieth century, it had one of the largest greenhouse spaces in the United States. Joseph Wysong Vestal, a Quaker horticulturist in Cambridge City, Indiana, grew and sold plants as early as 1855, following prior Vestal family advancements in horticultural technology. By 1860, J. W. Vestal was cultivating greenhouse flowers. As the Arkansas Democrat Magazine wrote, “From 300 square feet of glass, he made additions annually, thus being able to accumulate an astonishingly large variety of plants.” In 1861, Vestal began publishing an annual floral and vegetable catalogue first titled …

Vick, Volmer “Cactus”

Volmer “Cactus” Vick was one of Arkansas’s first radio and television personalities in the post–World War II era. As a showman, Vick was a combination of magician, ventriloquist, comedian, preacher, and cowboy. Vick’s three-decade-long career began on a local radio station in the late 1940s. He made thousands of appearances, in character, while working as spokesperson for the Finkbeiner Meat Packing Company and for the Continental Baking Company in Little Rock (Pulaski County), makers of Arkansas Maid Wieners and Wonder Bread, respectively. Volmer Voss Vick was born on a plantation at Varner (Lincoln County) on November 2, 1911. His father, K. P. Vick, had a general store there before he died, leaving Vick—the oldest of three children—to help his mother, …

Victoria (Mississippi County)

  Victoria is a town in Mississippi County, located on Arkansas Highway 158 about three miles west of Interstate 55. Although it was founded in the late nineteenth century by Robert E. Lee Wilson as part of his plantation empire, which also included Marie, Wilson, and Armorel. Victoria did not incorporate until 1966 and has since steadily declined in size. Wilson earned a fortune in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, acquiring and developing land that other people considered worthless. In 1870, he inherited 400 acres of Mississippi County land from his father. In the following years, he purchased more land, eventually owning roughly 50,000 acres. Wilson harvested the valuable hardwood trees from this swampland and constructed his own rail line …

Vietnam War Markers and Memorials

A number of markers and memorials to Arkansans who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War are located in communities throughout the state. Vietnam veterans are also memorialized on a number of other monuments that recognize service members from other wars. Most monuments are located at county courthouses or other public spaces. Funding for these monuments came from a variety of sources, with the placement of the monuments typically organized by local citizens and members of various veterans’ organizations. The Arkansas Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is located on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dedicated on March 7, 1987, by retired U.S. Army general William Westmoreland, the memorial includes a circular wall listing …

Villa Marre

In 1881, Angelo and Jennie Marre built an elegant family home at 1321 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and 125 years later, its façade became familiar to millions of people around the world through its appearance in the opening credits of a popular television show. Television producers and former Arkansas residents Harry Z. Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, used the home’s exterior to depict the design firm run by the main characters of the couple’s CBS television series, Designing Women. The house—which has weathered storms, architectural changes, urban renewal, and neglect—is still one of Little Rock’s most prominent landmarks. After amassing a fortune in the liquor import and saloon business, Marre began to build his home, which …

Village Academy Beavers

Village Academy was a fictitious private school in Arkansas that was created by two members of the staff at Jessieville High School in Garland County in 1985. Fake scores for the school’s football teams were printed from 1985 to 1988 in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat before anyone at either of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers caught on. It is considered one of the classic pranks in modern Arkansas history and was the subject of a lengthy feature story in the 2015 edition of Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine. Soon after that story was published, the Little Rock–based company Rock City Outfitters began selling Village Academy Beavers shirts. Bob Sivils, the band director at Jessieville High School at …

Village Creek State Park

Village Creek State Park in northeast Arkansas, located six miles south of Wynne (Cross County), encompasses almost 7,000 acres along Crowley’s Ridge, preserving the ridge’s unique natural features. Park facilities occupy only a fraction of the total acreage, while the rest of the land remains in its natural state. While Village Creek Park, named for a stream that flows through the area, is classified as a “natural” state park, it also preserves part of the rich history of the region. Early settlers named the area Old Cherokee Village, though there is little evidence of Cherokee occupation outside scattered camp remnants. A section of the 1820s Military Road that once linked Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County) is still visible …

Villemont (Chicot County)

Villemont, one of the earliest settlements in the Arkansas Territory, was the first county seat of Chicot County, which was created on October 25, 1823. Located on the Mississippi River, it was a thriving river port town until the river itself swept away the town in 1847. The land upon which the settlement was founded was part of an original Spanish land grant issued to Don Carlos de Villemont, commandant of Arkansas Post, by the governor of Louisiana in 1795. The grant measured two leagues wide by one league deep. It is believed that de Villemont owned approximately 14,000 arpens, with each arpen equating to eighty-five percent of a modern acre. Though Villemont never occupied his land grant, it did …

Villines, Floyd Galloway “Buddy”, III

Buddy Villines, who retired in 2014, was a longtime public official in central Arkansas. Following service on the Little Rock Board of Directors, he became the city’s mayor before serving for over two decades as Pulaski County judge. Over that time, he oversaw a significant transformation of Arkansas’s capital city. Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines III was born on June 23, 1947, in Roxboro, North Carolina. Nicknamed Buddy at an early age due to his pleasant demeanor, he was one of three children born to Floyd Villines and Hazel Villines. As his father was a Methodist minister who served numerous counties all over the state, the family led a nomadic existence, moving frequently during Villines’s youth. In 1969, he graduated from …

Vilonia (Faulkner County)

Vilonia of Faulkner County was originally known as Vilsonia, the “land of two valleys,” by the pioneers who settled the valleys near the forks of Cypress Creek in the early 1860s. The name was given to the community by members of Masonic Lodge No. 324, which was established early in the town’s history. Members of this lodge originally hailed from North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee and came to the area now known as Vilonia in search of fertile land. When they applied for a post office, the approval came back misspelled Vilonia, but they let it stand. Vilonia is located thirteen miles east of Conway (Faulkner County) on U.S. Highway 64. After the Civil War, families of English, Irish, German, …

Vine Prairie, Skirmish at

This skirmish occurred as part of a reconnaissance patrol planned by Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison but commanded by Captain Charles Galloway of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), designed to eliminate the Confederate guerrilla band led by Peter “Old Pete” Mankins Jr. (whose small irregular unit repeatedly harassed Harrison’s operations in northwestern Arkansas). On January 31, 1863, Harrison ordered Galloway and eighty-one troopers from Company E of the First Arkansas Cavalry to Huntsville (Madison County) to protect a public convention of approximately 1,000 Unionists and to assist Colonel James M. Johnson in the organization of the First Arkansas Infantry. Afterward, Harrison ordered Galloway toward the Arkansas River in pursuit of Mankins. On February 2, 1863, Galloway entered Ozark (Franklin County) rather …

Vines

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases, it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various reference works differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows: Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than …

Vining, Peggy Sue Caudle

Peggy Sue Caudle Vining was appointed Poet Laureate of Arkansas in 2003 by Governor Mike Huckabee. She was the sixth poet laureate since the creation of the position by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the Arkansas legislature in 1923. Peggy Sue Caudle, the oldest of three daughters, was born on March 4, 1929, in Greenfield, Tennessee, to Clayton R. Caudle, a salesman and later owner of a farm equipment company, and Winnie May Moore, a schoolteacher prior to their marriage. Caudle’s father was a deacon at the Greenfield Baptist Church, and she learned hymns and Bible verses at an early age. Caudle left home to attend college at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1946. She earned her elementary …

Viola (Fulton County)

Viola is in western Fulton County, located on U.S. Highway 62, a few miles south of the Missouri state line. Established shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, the town has survived largely due to its schools. For centuries, people from the north have visited Arkansas for its hunting and fishing opportunities. The Osage were engaged in those activities at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. A series of treaties between 1808 and 1825 moved the Osage to the west, opening the lands of northern Arkansas for Euro-American settlement. Even so, settlers were slow to come to the land that would become Viola; the first reported white settler was William Cook, who established his homestead in 1846. …

Violet Cemetery

Violet Cemetery is a historical burial site located in Osceola (Mississippi County). Situated near the heart of downtown, the cemetery is bounded on the front and south by Johnson Avenue, on the rear and north by West Semmes Avenue, on the west by Pecan Street, and on the east by private property. The cemetery’s location was originally an isolated burial ground in Mississippi County known as God’s Acre. However, as Osceola expanded from a small river town into a larger agricultural community, the cemetery became part of the Townsite Addition of Osceola. The earliest marked grave within the cemetery is from 1831, which predates the formation of Mississippi County (November 1, 1833) as well as Arkansas statehood (1836). The list of …

Vogel, Mabel Rose Jamison (Jamie)

Mabel Rose Jamison (Jamie) Vogel taught art to Japanese American children and adults at the Rohwer Relocation Center during World War II. “Miss Jamison” brought to this unique American experience set in a bleak camp in the uncleared swamplands of the Arkansas Delta a respect for people of all nationalities, including the thousands of imprisoned West Coast Japanese Americans uprooted from their California homes. Such respect was not typical in the United States at that time, and it was certainly not the norm in Arkansas. When the teacher left the Desha County camp as the war came to an end, she took with her not only the friendship of former students, but also an abiding commitment to continue her support of …

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

aka: VISTA
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is a national welfare program begun in 1965. The volunteers were recruited from all over the country and sent to help people in poverty-stricken areas, including Arkansas. Some of the first areas to receive assistance were Yell County and Texarkana (Miller County). Not only did volunteers help many Arkansans, the written accounts from the time they spent in Arkansas are of great historical value because they describe many details of the rural Arkansas culture of the twentieth century. The program was begun during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency with the “War on Poverty.” The VISTA program was included in the larger program, the Office of Economic Opportunity, originally called National Service Corps. VISTA was described as …

Von Berg, Charles Ludwig “Old Scout”

Carlos Ludwig von Berg was a German immigrant, a Civil War soldier, a postwar scout during the last Indian Wars, and an artist and guide who settled in the Fayetteville (Washington County) area later in life. He was featured in the 2012 documentary Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville. Carlos Ludwig von Berg was born on October 18, 1835, in the Duchy of Baden, where his family members were foresters. His first schooling was in Karlsruhe, followed by the University of Heidelberg. His studies were interrupted by the 1848 revolutions that caused his family to flee to Switzerland. He returned to Heidelberg but in 1854 immigrated to the United States. He traveled west, and he took up trading …

Voting and Voting Rights

Voting rights in Arkansas have evolved from an initial narrow limitation to today’s near-comprehensive voting rights. 1836 Original State Constitution In 1836, when Arkansas became a state, it had neither a property requirement nor a taxpaying requirement for voting eligibility—unlike seven of the twenty-five states of the Union at the time. This was in keeping with Jacksonian democratic principles and was somewhat advanced for the South, where many states had these types of restrictive requirements. To vote, a person had to be male, of the white race, a U.S. citizen, and a citizen of the state for at least six months. Some twenty of the twenty-five states then had some type of race exclusion, including all of the South. Most …

W. F. Branch High School

Located in west Newport (Jackson County) on Arrington Avenue, W. F. Branch High School served as the town’s high school for black students until its closure in 1970. After the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision in 1954, some school districts in Arkansas, such as Charleston (Franklin County), Hoxie (Lawrence County), and Fayetteville (Washington County), desegregated successfully. In 1957, the attention of the nation focused on desegregation at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The federal government allowed school districts to utilize the Freedom of Choice plan, which allowed for more gradual integration. In Newport, for example, the all-black Branch High School and the all-white Newport High School operated separately within the same district. In …

W. H. Allen House

Located in Spotville (Columbia County), less than twenty miles from Magnolia (Columbia County) on the old Magnolia–El Dorado road, the W. H. Allen House is representative of the early settlement of the area. It is also an example of the transitional architecture many dogtrot structures have undergone. It was built by William Henry “Dick” Allen in 1873 as a four-room dogtrot, a common style for pioneer families in the southeastern United States in the nineteenth century. In 1907, his son, Walter Howard Allen, enlarged the house, added a front porch, and enclosed the breezeway, using handmade shingles for the roof and timber cut from trees grown on the Allen property. In January 1853, Dick Allen married Eliza Jane Gillespie. They …

W. H. Young House

The Craftsman Bungalow–style W. H. Young House was constructed in 1921 in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Located at 316 Meador Lane, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2006. The land on which the house is located was originally purchased by John S. T. Callaway in 1836 and subsequently lost at a sheriff’s auction in 1842. It had been auctioned to pay a legal judgment to Benjamin Duncan, a party to the lawsuit that forced the sale of the land. The land was later platted and added to the city in 1858, named for Duncan. Duncan’s Addition is located north of downtown Arkadelphia and to the southeast of the Ouachita Baptist University campus. Born …

Wabbaseka (Jefferson County)

Wabbaseka is a town in northern Jefferson County. It is on the conjoined highways U.S. 63 and U.S. 79 between Humphrey (Arkansas and Jefferson counties) and Altheimer (Jefferson County). When Arkansas became part of the United States, the land where Wabbaseka would later be founded was a forested swamp that attracted few settlers. Antoine Barraque visited Quapaw chief Heckaton at what was referred to as Wadittesha Wattiska, or Black Clay Bayou, in January 1826. Surveyor William Pelham noted “Bayou Wabbaseekee” in 1836, calling it “a stream with a gentle current.” High land next to the bayou was noted during a flood in 1844, leading Jordan Embree to purchase the “island” in 1853. On his map of Jefferson County in 1872, …

Wabbaseka United Methodist Church

The Wabbaseka United Methodist Church is a Classical Revival–style religious building located in Wabbaseka (Jefferson County). Constructed in 1925, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 2002. Willie Hocker, designer of the Arkansas state flag, was an active member of the church. The congregation dates to 1870, when the Flat Bayou Methodist Episcopal Church was founded. It was not located in the community of Wabbaseka due to the availability of alcohol for purchase in the town. After construction of a bridge over the Arkansas River in 1883, the Cotton Belt Railroad reached the town and spurred growth in the area, and the congregation at Flat Bayou moved to Wabbaseka. Captain Nathaniel Terry Roberts donated …

Waddell’s Farm (near Village Creek), Skirmish at

 While on a foraging expedition on June 12, 1862, a detachment of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry engaged a Confederate force at Waddell’s Farm (also called Waddill’s Farm in some sources) near Village Creek in Jackson County, Arkansas. Bettering the Confederates, the Federals filled some thirty-six wagons with supplies before returning to Camp Tucker close to the junctions of the Black and White rivers. When Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn stripped Arkansas of all valuable military supplies to support operations in the Western Theater, Jacksonport (Jackson County) was abandoned of all reasonable defenses. The new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Major General Thomas Hindman, had to create a new army from scratch. Consequently, he appointed individuals across the state such …

Waggoner, William Jayson (Bill)

William Jayson Waggoner, a lifelong resident of Lonoke County, served for forty-one years as circuit judge. Elected state representative in 1914, he served in that role until resigning to take a commission in the U.S. Army in 1917. Upon his return, he was elected prosecuting attorney and continued to serve in elected office for the rest of his life. Bill Waggoner was born near the community of Needmore (Lonoke County) on November 12, 1889, to Thomas J. Waggoner and Nancy Munsch Waggoner; he was one of ten children. After Waggoner’s father’s death in 1898, the family lived in Carlisle (Lonoke County) and Lonoke (Lonoke County). Waggoner’s mother remarried in 1911 to William Henry Stout. After graduating from the Law Department …

Wainwright, Larry (Murder of)

The 1967 murder of Larry Wainwright, an African-American teenager, near his home in the black neighborhood of Morning Star rocked the city of El Dorado (Union County) and remains an important civil rights–era cold case. This was not the first time Morning Star had been subjected to racist violence. Whites would regularly drive through the neighborhood and throw bottles or bricks at the black men, women, and children, seriously injuring them. Wainwright’s parents, Melvin and Louise Wainwright, and the African American community of Morning Star mourned the loss but also rallied in the wake of Wainwright’s death, ensuring that the murder was publicized beyond Union County and El Dorado. Although national attention was lacking, newspapers such as the Northwest Arkansas …

Wair, Thelma Jean Mothershed

Thelma Jean Mothershed Wair made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the African-American students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Mothershed was a junior when she entered Central. Despite the fact that she had a cardiac condition since birth, she had a near perfect record for attendance. Thelma Mothershed was born on November 29, 1940, in Bloomberg, Texas, to Arlevis Leander Mothershed and Hosanna Claire Moore Mothershed. Her father was a psychiatric aide at the Veterans Hospital, and her mother was a homemaker. She has three sisters and two brothers. …

Wakely, James Clarence (Jimmy)

Jimmy Wakely, an American country and western singer and actor from the 1930s through the 1950s, made several recordings and appeared in B-western movies with most major studios as a “singing cowboy.” Wakely was one of the last singing cowboys after World War II and also appeared on radio and television; he even had his own series of comic books. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1680 Vine Street. Jimmy Wakely was born James Clarence Wakeley on February 16, 1914, in Mineola (Howard County) to Major Anderson Wakeley, a farmer, and Caroline (or Carolin) “Cali” Burgess Wakeley. As a teenager, he changed “James” to “Jimmy” and dropped the second “e” in his last name, making …

Waldenburg (Poinsett County)

Waldenburg is an incorporated town in Owen Township of Poinsett County. Located west of Crowley’s Ridge, the town lies at the intersection of State Highways 14 and 49. It is located south of Weiner (Poinsett County) and approximately twenty-five miles from Jonesboro (Craighead County). Originally known as the German Settlement, then Bern, and later Youngville, Waldenburg was incorporated in 1958. Early in its settlement, the town was a small milling community predominately settled by German immigrants whose descendants still make up the majority of the population. The construction of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (commonly called the Cotton Belt) in 1881 established a firm foundation for the town, and many businesses began to appear. Waldenburg’s milling and agricultural economy soon …

Waldo (Columbia County)

Like many small cities throughout the state of Arkansas, Waldo (Columbia County) owes its existence to the construction of the railroad through the area in the 1880s. With a connection to the outside world, it soon became a thriving commercial area with as many as seven lumbering operations located in the immediate vicinity. Waldo owes its founding and development to the construction of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railroad into the surrounding timberlands in 1883. At that time, Lamartine (Columbia County) was a thriving town in the area. But when the tracks were put down approximately three miles to the south, citizens began to move there, with businesses soon to follow. Once the Lamartine post office was relocated along …

Waldo Water Tower

The Waldo Water Tower, located in Waldo (Columbia County) on East Main Street west of its junction with North Skimmer Street, was constructed in 1935 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2007. As the United States struggled with the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs. The leaders …

Waldron (Scott County)

Surrounded by forested ridges and wide fertile valleys, Waldron is located fifty miles south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County), near the Oklahoma border in Scott County. It is situated on the South Fork of the Poteau River in the Ouachita Mountains. The town, the seat of Scott County, is centrally located on the north-south highway artery on the western side of the state and is within easy reach of air, train, or truck shipping facilities. Louisiana Purchase through the Gilded Age The founder of Waldron, William Grandison (W. G.) Featherston, moved to the area in 1832 with his mother, wife, and four children. He built a store/tavern on his property where Main Street was later constructed. A post office named …

Waldron Commercial Historic District

The Waldron Commercial Historic District comprises a collection of buildings along Main Street from 1st to 5th Street in downtown Waldron (Scott County). Within the boundaries of the historic district are thirty-four buildings and one additional structure, built in several different phases between the years 1880 and 1958. Of the thirty-five total structures, twenty maintain a high level of integrity and contribute to the historic district; the other fifteen are non-contributing. The district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 25, 2008. The oldest buildings remaining in the Waldron Commercial Historic District date from circa 1880; however, development on Main Street began prior to that time. In the late 1830s, resident William Featherston operated a tavern …

Waldron War

The Waldron War was a decade-long period of violence that began during the Reconstruction era and was characterized by arson, general lawlessness, personal and political feuds, electoral misconduct, and violence—including murder—throughout Scott County. The civil strife resulted in Governors Augustus Garland and William Read Miller dispatching the state militia to the county on at least three occasions to restore order. With much of Waldron (Scott County) burned by departing Union troops in 1864, the citizens faced the reestablishment of the infrastructure of the town. While hostile feelings remained between those sympathetic to the Union cause and the Confederate cause, much of the strife was attributed to personality conflicts within the local Republican Party. Although there was the occasional outburst of …

Waldron, Attacks on

The capture of Waldron (Scott County) was the beginning of the Federal sweep south of the Arkansas River to rid western Arkansas of Confederates and guerrilla bands, before consolidating with other forces in the spring of 1864 for the Red River Campaign. When Colonel William F. Cloud of the Second Kansas Cavalry defeated Confederate brigadier general William L. Cabell’s forces at Devil’s Backbone Ridge south of Greenwood (Sebastian County) on September 1, 1863—on the same day that Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was occupied by Major General James Gilpatrick Blunt (US)—Waldron’s northern and western sides were defenseless. More than one skirmish happened in Scott County before the order was issued to occupy Waldron. The first attack happened one day after the …

Walker, David

David Walker, a lawyer, a jurist, and an early settler of Fayetteville (Washington County), was the leading Whig in the state’s “great northwest” region for nearly fifty years. He began his career as a member of the convention that wrote the state’s first constitution in 1836. He chaired the 1861 convention, and remained active in politics and law until shortly before his death. David Walker was born on February 19, 1806, near Elkton, Kentucky, to Jacob Wythe Walker and Nancy Hawkins Walker. The Walkers were a prolific and politically prominent family in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia. In 1808, his father moved to Logan County, Kentucky, where in 1811 Walker first attended school. In two years, he memorized the grammatical rules …