Entries

Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, whose mission is introducing the public to the importance of conservation education in Arkansas, is the fourth nature center established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The center opened on December 17, 2008, and is funded by the Amendment 75 Conservation Sales Tax, allowing the center to provide free admission. Covering almost three and a half acres of land within the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park in the River Market District in Little Rock (Pulaski County), it is located along the Arkansas River Trail between the First Security Amphitheater and the Interstate 30 Arkansas River bridge. Permanent exhibits include large indoor aquariums filled with native fish from several of Arkansas’s natural …

Witt, James Lee

James Lee Witt served as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under President Bill Clinton and is often credited with raising the agency’s level of professionalism and ability to respond to disasters. Since his departure from FEMA, he has worked as a consultant on emergency management issues across the nation and world. James Lee Witt was born in Paris (Logan County) on January 6, 1944. He grew up in Dardanelle (Yell County), attending Dardanelle public schools and playing football at Dardanelle High School, graduating in 1962. In 1961, he married Lea Ellen Hodges of Dardanelle; they have two sons. When Witt was twenty-four years old, he started Witt Construction Company. For the next ten years, while heading …

Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson Architects

Wittenberg, Delony and Davidson Architects (WD&D) is the firm responsible for some of Arkansas’s most noteworthy buildings, including Little Rock (Pulaski County) landmarks such as Little Rock Central High School, Robinson Auditorium, and the Regions Bank Building. George H. Wittenberg and Lawson L. Delony formed a partnership in Little Rock in 1919 under the name Wittenberg and Delony, Architects. The firm is still active in the twenty-first century and is the oldest continuing architecture firm in Arkansas that has kept essentially the same name. (The only name change was when Julian Davidson became a partner in 1946.) Either alone or in association with other firms, it has designed many award-winning projects throughout Arkansas and the nation. Wittenberg and Delony were …

Wittsburg (Cross County)

Located on the eastern slope of Crowley’s Ridge in the St. Francis River watershed, Wittsburg developed near the intersection of the roads on Crowley’s Ridge, the St. Francis River, and the Congressional (Military) Road from Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Incorporated in 1848, the town functioned as the Cross County seat from 1862 to 1865 and again from 1868 to 1884. Rebounding after the Civil War and surviving a major fire in 1874, the town grew due to the trade in cotton and dry goods. Wittsburg began to fade after being bypassed by two railroad lines in 1882 and 1887 that drew trade to the west side of Crowley’s Ridge and Wynne (Cross County). European Exploration and Settlement Due …

Wittsburg Fortification

The Wittsburg Fortification is an earthen redoubt built in July 1863 at the junction of the Wittsburg to Batesville, Mount Vernon, and Madison roads to protect Union cavalrymen as they received supplies on the St. Francis River at Wittsburg (Cross County) during the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Union horsemen led by Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson crossed the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff on July 19, 1863, to confront a reported Confederate force under Major General Sterling Price that was said to be heading north up Crowley’s Ridge to invade Missouri. Davidson’s column of 6,000 men, failing to find Price’s phantom army, continued down the ridge, reaching Jonesboro (Craighead County) on the evening of July 24. The cavalrymen spread …

WOK

WOK was the first radio station in Arkansas, started in 1922 by Harvey C. Couch Sr., founder of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L). Meant to service the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area, it was one of the early leaders in the field of mass media. In 1921, Couch visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the radio station KDKA, which is generally considered the creator of the modern form of broadcasting (and is also famous for announcing the results of the 1920 presidential election). On this trip, he met Lee de Forest, who invented the “radio-telephone”; Couch bought equipment and decided to set up a radio station in his home state, “to advertise Arkansas and, incidentally, [AP&L].” He believed this new means of …

Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County)

Wolf Bayou is located on the Wolf Bayou Cutoff Road (Highway 90) near Concord (Cleburne County) and Drasco (Cleburne County). According to local historian Louie Clark, French explorers called the local runoff-fed creek a “bayou,” and when the post office was established in 1851 the word “wolf” was added because the timberland along the creek was the home of many wolves. The area was sparsely populated by a few hunters and trappers by 1818. Even with the coming of the post office, not many lived in the area, and only gradually did the region increase in population. The creek later became popular with kayakers. The Old Cherokee Boundary Line goes through the northwestern part of Wolf Bayou and runs diagonally across …

Wolf, Jacob

Jacob Wolf was an Arkansas pioneer, territorial legislator, county official, militia officer, post master, and community leader. In 1825, he established the first permanent courthouse for Izard County, and it still stands as the oldest public structure in Arkansas. Jacob Wolf was born on May 12, 1786, in Rowan County, North Carolina, one of the eleven known children of Michael and Cathrina Wolf of Pennsylvania German descent. Shortly before 1800, the family moved to Hopkins County, Kentucky, where Wolf married his first wife, Mildred Meredith, on March 9, 1809. Before her death in about 1820, they are thought to have had five children. Shortly afterward, Wolf migrated to the Arkansas frontier to join members of his extended family, who had …

Wolf, John Quincy, Jr.

A college professor and self-trained folklorist, John Quincy Wolf Jr. left a lasting legacy in the mid-South folk music world through his intrepid collecting and field recording and his broad-ranging scholarship. Wolf was born in Batesville (Independence County) on May 14, 1901, the younger of the two children of John Quincy Wolf Sr. and Adele Crouch Wolf. Known as Quincy to distinguish him from his banker father, he spent the first twenty-one years of his life in Batesville, earning his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in 1922. One year later, Wolf received an MA in English at Vanderbilt University and returned to his alma mater to teach English and history for much of the next decade, with occasional …

Wolf, Judy Chaney Petty

Judy Chaney Petty Wolf, a political activist and Arkansas state legislator, was deeply involved in the Republican Party as it was developing into a viable electoral challenger of the long-dominant Democratic Party. She gained national attention in 1974 when she ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, offering the first real challenge that House Ways and Means Committee chairman Wilbur Mills had experienced in over two decades. Judy Chaney was born on September 4, 1943, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to John T. Chaney and Jostine Leming Chaney; she had one brother. She graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She married a pharmaceutical salesman in about 1963 and had a daughter. The …

Wolfe, Paul

Paul Wolfe was a lawyer and World War II veteran who later became the circuit judge for the Twelfth Judicial District of Arkansas (Scott and Sebastian counties) and was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to organize and chair a committee to write what became the textbook for the new National Council of State Trial Judges under the administration of the American Bar Association. He also served as a member of the Arkansas Model Criminal Jury Instructions Committee. Paul Wolfe was born on January 5, 1908, in Weir, Kansas, to John Walter Wolfe and Myra Este Vasser Wolfe. His first name was Harry, but he preferred to use his middle name, Paul. The Wolfe family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) …

Woman They Almost Lynched

An interesting film lurking behind an exploitative title, Republic Pictures’ 1953 western Woman They Almost Lynched is set in early 1865 in “Border City,” a fictitious Ozarks town bisected by the Arkansas-Missouri border. The town has been militantly neutral throughout the Civil War, under a “petticoat government” led by tyrannical mayor Delilah Courtney (Nina Varela). Made in California, the movie is a typical B-western (though better than most) with no real Arkansas atmosphere except one old man with a mandolin. The town and the rural scenery look like routine Hollywood western locales. None of the hillbilly stereotypes found in other Hollywood films set in Arkansas are present, and no one attempts a local accent. Border City is said to attract …

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)

aka: Arkansas Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Arkansas chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was established in 1879 in affiliation with the national WCTU, which originated as a state organization in Ohio in 1873. The Arkansas WCTU advocated for the abstinence of alcohol in Arkansas as well as supporting the state and national movements to prohibit the sale, manufacture, and consumption of alcohol. The organization also provided a political outlet for women in Arkansas through its campaigns, local option petitioning, and its newsletter, the Arkansas White Ribboner, which ran from 1888 to 1984. In 1876, Lydia Chase, a national union member from Ohio, moved to Arkansas and gave a lecture on temperance to a group of women at a Presbyterian church in Monticello (Drew …

Woman’s Chronicle

On March 3, 1888, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) three women—Catherine Campbell Cuningham, Mary Burt Brooks, and Haryot Holt Cahoon—published the first issue of the Woman’s Chronicle, a weekly newspaper dedicated to women’s interests, particularly suffrage. Cuningham was listed as the editor, Brooks and Cahoon as associate editors. The previous year, the short-lived Little Rock publication the Southern Ladies’ Journal had ended its run, leaving a void that it appears these women sought to fill. The founding meeting of the Arkansas Equal Suffrage Association had been held the month before, likely generating some of the motivation as well. The Woman’s Chronicle focused on women’s primary day-to-day interests at the time—cooking, fashion, and literature—in addition to social gatherings, events, and the …

Women

From prehistoric times through the French and Spanish colonial eras, from the territorial period through statehood, secession, Reconstruction, and modernization, women have played major and defining roles in the development and history of Arkansas. Women of every race, ethnicity, religion, social class, and legal status have been instrumental in shaping the culture and social structure of Arkansas, even as they have been forced to struggle for equal rights, political and legal equality, economic and social independence—even the most basic human right of freedom. Prehistory The first women in Arkansas were likely the descendants of Asians who crossed the land bridge to North America between 18,000 and 10,000 BC. During the Paleoindian, Woodland, Archaic, and Mississippian periods, women farmed, hunted, and …

Women in the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union

The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) was an organization of tenant farmers formed in 1934 in Tyronza (Poinsett County). The union was notable for three things: racially integrating union locals in some areas, relying on evangelical church traditions in meetings, and utilizing the work of women at all levels of the organization. For many women involved in the STFU, the organization served as a springboard into other activism, particularly in the civil rights movement. Women in the union came from all social backgrounds. Society women were active throughout the country, raising money and promoting awareness for the STFU. Women were also crucial at the local level among the sharecropper class, partially because it was necessary for officers to have a certain degree of …

Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK)

Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the national Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) was formed on June 10, 1923, as a result of the exclusively male Klan’s desire to create a like-minded women’s auxiliary that would bring together the existing informal, pro-Klan women’s groups, including the Grand League of Protestant Women, the White American Protestants (WAP), and the Ladies of the Invisible Empire (LOTIE). However, the group was ultimately short lived, waning in influence with its male counterpart. Lulu Markwell, a civically active Little Rock resident and former president of Arkansas’s chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for twenty years, was the national organization’s first Imperial Commander, establishing its national office in Little Rock’s Ancient Order …

Women’s Action for New Directions, Arkansas Chapter

aka: Arkansas WAND
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women in politics, particularly through social justice, peace, and nonviolence initiatives; Arkansas created its own chapter in the mid-1990s. The organization has its roots in the Women’s Party for Survival, founded by Helen Caldicott, and became known as the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament around 1982, with a focus on denuclearization and reduction of U.S. spending on military and defense. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, the 1980s saw a number of women’s peace and anti-nuclear organizations forming in the United States, including Another Mother for Peace, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), The Ribbon, Grandmothers for Peace, and Peace Links; the latter was formed by …

Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC)

Before World War II, Arkansas was predominately an agricultural state, and jobs for women were very limited. Serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) gave Arkansas women a chance to assist in the war efforts and to do jobs they never thought they could do. Women in the WAAC aided the war effort in a variety of roles across the state and nation. On May 28, 1941, as the United States was preparing for the possibility of becoming involved in World War II, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill to the U.S. Congress to establish the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. Rogers used what women had done in the navy and marines in World War I as …

Women’s Community Club Band Shell

Built in 1933, the Women’s Community Club Band Shell is located at the northeast corner of Spring Park in Heber Springs (Cleburne County). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 16, 1994. The band shell is important as a study of the cultural and social development of a central Arkansas resort community and provides a good example of a New Deal public works project. The Women’s Community Club was organized in 1921, and, by the early 1930s, it had decided that a band shell was needed to replace the entertainment pavilion located in Spring Park. Members of the club visited other cities to see their band shells and then contracted with Leo King for construction …

Women’s Foundation of Arkansas

The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas (WFA) is dedicated to the economic, educational, and social advancement of women and girls in the state, and is the only statewide foundation to focus solely upon women and girls. WFA’s mission is to promote philanthropy among women and to help women and girls achieve their full potential. To fulfill this mission, WFA serves as a grant-maker, a convener, and a resource on the status of women and girls. The organization was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. WFA’s programs and initiatives include Girls of Promise, an annual two-day science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) conference for eighth-grade girls; annual grants that support projects that assist Arkansas women and girls in achieving …

Women’s Intentional Communities

aka: Women's Land Communities
Women’s intentional communities emerged in the context of the second wave of the women’s movement, encompassing feminist values and environmentalism, as well as the back-to-the-land, hippie, and anti-war movements. The intentional women’s land communities discussed here were located in northwest Arkansas. There may have been others in the state, but their presence has not been documented. (There is no consensus regarding the definition and meaning of “intentional communities.” For the purpose of this entry, women’s intentional communities are defined as including a variety of communal living arrangements based on a shared set of explicit values. Intentional communities are often property based and include land trusts among other types of collective living. In the broader context of individualism, intentional communities are …

Women’s Library

The Women’s Library was formed in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1982. Completely volunteer based and operated, the library lent books, musical recordings, and local and national periodicals that supported women’s rights and self-education. Many of these materials could not be found at Fayetteville’s public library or in local bookstores, and so the library was a central resource for early gender and women’s studies courses at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. The library sponsored special events like book and craft fairs, live music, and poetry readings in its space. In addition, it donated materials to women’s prisons and to the Women’s Project in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The library closed in 2000. The Women’s Library was created by a …

Women’s Project

The Women’s Project began in 1980 in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) as the Arkansas Women’s Training Project (AWTP) and was incorporated as the Women’s Project in 1985. It was founded by Suzanne Pharr, a VISTA volunteer, with Bob Torvestad and Freeman McKendra of VISTA providing its first staff: five VISTA volunteers who were located throughout the state. The organization was sponsored by the Northwest District of the United Methodist Church. Initial funding came from the National Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. A feminist, anti-racist organization, the AWTP worked with women in small towns throughout Arkansas to gain skills to confront local issues. In 1982, the Women’s Project relocated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in …

Women’s Suffrage Movement

After the Civil War, Arkansas leaders began advocating women’s right to vote. Women’s suffrage clubs started to organize, and an Arkansas women’s suffrage movement emerged. These suffragette leaders lectured at meetings, campaigned on street corners, and lobbied the Arkansas legislature for a women’s suffrage law. This campaign ended in 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. An Arkansas law proposing women’s suffrage was initially introduced by Miles Ledford Langley of Arkadelphia (Clark County), a representative to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1868. On February 11, 1868, the Arkansas Gazette reported that he made a motion that “all citizens 21 years of age, who can read and write the English language, shall be …

Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC)

The Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) was formed on September 12, 1958, to combat the governor’s closing of Little Rock (Pulaski County) high schools. The first meeting of the organization was held on September 16. During the summer after the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Governor Orval Faubus invoked a recently passed state law and closed the schools to prevent further desegregation. The WEC became the first organization to publicly support reopening the schools under the district’s desegregation plan. It remained active until 1963. Forty-eight women met in September 1958 in the antebellum home of Adolphine Fletcher Terry, the widow of U.S. Congressman David D. Terry and a local activist for libraries, …

Wonderland Cave

Wonderland Cave is a natural underground cavern on Dartmoor Road in Bella Vista (Benton County) near U.S. 71 and Cave Road. C. A. Linebarger, general manager of the resort of Bella Vista, developed it in the 1920s as a tourist attraction and place for local entertainment. The cave was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1988. The one-acre part of the cave used for the public has a large, naturally vaulted chamber with a concrete dance floor. There is an alcove for a ten- to twelve-piece band, a 30′ bar at the opposite end, and wooden and stone booths around the perimeter. The generally horizontal floor area provided an exotic setting for dancing at this …

Woo Pig Brie

Woo Pig Brie is a pig’s milk cheese produced in Arkansas starting in 1969. It is a product licensed with the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), with the name “Woo Pig Brie” being a pun on the famous “hog call”—Woo Pig Sooie—associated with UA’s Razorbacks football team. Woo Pig Brie is probably the most successful dairy product in the nation licensed with a college football team. (Morehead State’s “Morehead Cheese” is not technically a cheese, despite the name.) Woo Pig Brie had its genesis in one of the Razorbacks’ most memorable games, the 1969 contest with the number-one Texas Longhorns later dubbed “The Big Shootout.” The game was attended by such national figures as President Richard M. …

Wood v. Strickland

Wood v. Strickland is the title of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that grew out of a local dispute over a teenage prank perpetrated by three high school students of the Mena Special School District. This case has attained an importance far beyond its origins, helping to define the constitutional rights of public school students and the parameters under which public officials may be sued for monetary damages in federal court. On February 18, 1972, three students—Virginia Crain, Peggy Strickland, and Jo Wall—at Mena (Polk County) confessed to spiking the punch at an extracurricular function with twenty-four ounces of a flavored malt liquor beverage. Principal Duddy Waller suspended the three students for a week. The same day, meeting in a …

Wood, Carroll D.

Carroll D. Wood was an important figure in Arkansas legal history. Although he served on the Arkansas Supreme Court for over thirty-five years, he is arguably best known for his unsuccessful candidacy for governor in 1904. Carroll D. Wood was born on July 8, 1858, in Ashley County; he was the son of Baptist minister John S. Wood and Martha Bussey Wood; Wood’s mother died when he was very young. The Reverend Wood remarried, and his second wife, Mary Kelsey Wood, provided the future jurist’s earliest education. Wood also attended local Hamburg (Ashley County) schools before pursuing a degree at what is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Following graduation in 1879, he read law with …

Wood, Forrest Lee

Forrest Lee Wood is known worldwide for his success in the sport fishing industry. In 1968, he founded Ranger Boats, now the largest manufacturer of bass boats in the nation. Wood has thus become known as an “outdoor legend” and the father of the modern bass boat. Forrest Wood was born in Flippin (Marion County) on June 9, 1932, to Ervin and Beulah Wood; he has one younger brother. His father served for a time as a game warden, and he and Wood worked on the construction of the Bull Shoals Dam. On April 21, 1951, Wood married Nina Kirkland; they had four daughters. The couple began raising cattle early in their marriage, but cattle prices dropped, and Wood found …

Wood, John Shirley

Drew County native Major General John S. Wood served for over thirty years in the United States military. He fought in both world wars and is considered by many military experts to have been one of the best divisional commanders of World War II. John Shirley Wood was born to Arkansas Supreme Court justice Carroll D. Wood and Reola Thompson Wood on January 11, 1888, in Monticello (Drew County). While attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he was the quarterback and captain of the football team. He graduated in 1907 with a BS in chemistry. In 1908, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, lettering in football, wrestling, and boxing. After his 1912 graduation, …

Woodland Period

The Woodland period is a label used by archaeologists to designate pre-Columbian Native American occupations dating between roughly 600 BC and AD 1000 in eastern North America. This time period traditionally is divided into Early, Middle, and Late subperiods, which refer to intervals characterized in very general terms by the first widespread use of pottery across the region, the rise and then decline of a vast exchange network throughout eastern North America,and finally, a period of increasing agricultural intensification and population growth in many areas. During the Woodland period, sedentism, population, and organizational complexity dramatically increased. Around 600 BC, Native Americans in Arkansas were probably living in small groups tied together by collective ritual, including burial that sometimes involved the …

Woodruff County

  Woodruff County, a level, fertile plain watered and drained by the White and Cache rivers, was once home to many Native Americans who inhabited the area when the first white men arrived. Little is known about the early inhabitants, but the mounds they built for worship, burial, and living can be found in many areas of the county, particularly near Cotton Plant and McCrory, though farming operations have leveled most of the sites. The White River forms most of the western boundary of Woodruff County. The Cache River and Bayou DeView, confluents of the White River, also cut through the county. The five incorporated towns in Woodruff County are Augusta, the county seat, with a population of 2,199; McCrory, …

Woodruff County Courthouse

The Woodruff County Courthouse is located in Augusta (Woodruff County), on the northern end of 3rd Street not far from the White River. The Woodruff County Services Center stands behind the courthouse, and the historic Augusta Memorial Park is less than a mile away, but it is the residential homes from different eras that define the local identity. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the Woodruff County Courthouse as historically and architecturally significant, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982. In November 1862, the Arkansas General Assembly officially established Woodruff County with Augusta as its county seat, although the ongoing Civil War complicated plans. Many residents joined the Confederate army, the state …

Woodruff County Historical Society

On June 8, 1972, a group of citizens met in Augusta (Woodruff County) to plan the organization of a county historical society to gather and publish historical information about Woodruff County and its people. A nominating committee was selected, and the committee met on July 12. At the second meeting, officers were elected, and articles of incorporation were prepared and adopted. The board of directors met at the Woodruff County Library on July 25 and approved the constitution and by-laws of the newly formed Woodruff County Historical Society. The papers of organization were filed with the Secretary of State’s office on August 28, 1972. The first publication of the society, Rivers and Roads and Points In Between, was published in …

Woodruff, William Edward

William Edward Woodruff’s life spanned the years of Arkansas’s territorial days, statehood, Confederacy, and Reconstruction. Although best known today as the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, the state’s first newspaper, Woodruff became one of the state’s most important and colorful historical figures through his other business interests, political connections, and efforts to promote Arkansas. William Woodruff was born on December 24, 1795, on a small farm at Fire Place on Long Island, New York, the oldest of five sons born to Nathaniel Woodruff and Hannah Clarke Woodruff. His father died when Woodruff was twelve; two years later, his mother apprenticed him to Alden Spooner, a Sag Harbor, New York, printer who published the Suffolk Gazette. His original indenture document still …

Woodson (Pulaski County)

Woodson is a community in southern Pulaski County, north of Hensley (Pulaski County) and east of Interstate 530. Although it was incorporated on January 17, 1882, as a timber town and a stop on the Little Rock, Mississippi River and Texas Railroad, Woodson continued to operate as an unincorporated area, leading to confusion eighty years later. William D. Pennington acquired land in the area that would become Woodson in 1843. His son, William Q. Pennington, established a post office called Pennington’s Mills in 1855. In 1860, James Jones and John Little also purchased land in the area. The Civil War had little direct impact upon the area during the course of the fighting, but the conclusion of the war reshaped the …

Woodward, Comer Vann

Comer Vann Woodward was arguably the twentieth century’s foremost Southern historian. Although published in the 1950s, his Origins of the New South, 1877–1913 and The Strange Career of Jim Crow remain vital interpretive narratives. C. Vann Woodward was born November 13, 1908, to Hugh (Jack) and Emily (Bess) Woodward in Vanndale (Cross County). During Woodward’s youth, his father was a school administrator in Wynne (Cross County), then Arkadelphia (Clark County), and subsequently Morrilton (Conway County). Woodward graduated from high school in Morrilton in 1926 and enrolled at Henderson-Brown College, a small Methodist institution in Arkadelphia. After two years, he transferred to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1930 with an AB in philosophy. Inspired by his uncle and namesake, …

Woodward, William (Lynching of)

William Woodward, a white farmer, was lynched by a mob in Searcy County in June 1900 for killing his step-daughter, Lurena Thomas, after she apparently charged him with sexually assaulting her. At the time of the 1900 census, William Woodward, age thirty-five, was living in Richland Township with his wife, Margaret J. Woodward (thirty-nine), two daughters and four sons ranging from two to eleven, and step-daughter Lurena, then eighteen. (The census rendered the family name as Woodard, but all news reports give the name as Woodward.) According to the Marshall Republican, in a report reprinted in the Arkansas Democrat, Woodward was a farmer known for the ill treatment he afforded his wife and step-daughter, having reportedly whipped both on several …

Wool Hat Boys

The “wool hat boys” was the term used to refer to the broad-based populist group that was critical to the political career of Arkansas political leader Jeff Davis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The term was intended to distinguish his supporters—white lower- and middle-class working people—from the wealthy, “silk hat” plutocrats whose interests Davis publicly derided. Indeed, it was Davis’s efforts on behalf of the wool hat boys and their compatriots, manifested in his opposition to the state’s economic elite, that cemented the electoral coalition that propelled the charismatic Davis to one term as a hard-driving state attorney general and three terms as governor; he was also elected to two terms in the U.S. Senate, although he …

Woolly Hollow State Park

Woolly Hollow State Park, located near Greenbrier (Faulkner County), is unique among Arkansas’s fifty-two state parks because it began as the first scientific study in North America of soil and silt erosion with a specific watershed. Originally built in 1935, the lake and the surrounding area opened as a state park on November 2, 1973. The refurbished Woolly Cabin, the homestead of the family after whom the park is named, still stands in the park about three-quarters of a mile from its original location. Woolly Hollow remains one of Arkansas’s most popular state parks and hosts a number of activities for children and adults each year. In 1851, William Riley Woolly and his family left Waynesboro, Tennessee, to homestead in …

Wooster (Faulkner County)

  Wooster is a city in Faulkner County, seven miles north of Conway (Faulkner County) and four miles west of Greenbrier (Faulkner County). Although it was settled in the later years of the nineteenth century, it did not incorporate until 1958. Land grants were given to Frederick Campbell, Alexander Ferguson, John Lewis, and John Wiser in 1820 for the section of land where Wooster would be developed. Evidently, they farmed the land without developing a community, since the first recorded structure in the area was a store built by N. E. Adams around the middle of the nineteenth century. Adams also maintained a sawmill and a cotton gin. Adams sold his store to J. P. Wooster in 1881. The community …

Wootton, Robert (Bob)

Robert (Bob) Wootton was a musician best known for having been Johnny Cash’s backing guitarist for thirty years. In addition to having played on most of Cash’s albums made after 1968, he released music with other members of Cash’s band, the Tennessee Three. He also worked as a driver for musical acts and as a stunt man. Bob Wootton was born on March 4, 1942, in Red Branch, which is a part of the town of Paris (Logan County). He was one of eight children of Rubin C. Wootton, who was a coal miner, and Noma Lucilla Moore Wootton. His father, who also played mandolin, taught him to play the guitar. Wootton’s first musical performances were in church. Among his …

Wordlaw, William

William Wordlaw (sometimes spelled Wardlow or Wordlow) was one of twelve men arrested and charged with murder following the events of the Elaine Massacre of 1919. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six (including Wordlaw) who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Ultimately, the Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1923; after numerous legal efforts, the Moore defendants were freed in 1925. William Wordlaw was born to sharecroppers Edd and Georgia Wordlaw on August 19, 1897, in Pontotoc, Mississippi. William and his six siblings grew up helping their parents farm the land. According to his draft registration documents, he …

Works Progress Administration (WPA)

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), later called the Work Projects Administration, was the largest and best known of the federal work relief programs established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat unemployment and stimulate a national economy ravaged by the Great Depression. During the eight years of its existence, 8.5 million people nationwide received WPA paychecks totaling nearly $11 billion. In Arkansas, the WPA provided much-needed social services and infrastructure improvements, while its salaries supported thousands of families and the merchants who depended on their business. The WPA began operations in Arkansas in July 1935. It carried on many of the functions of the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) while emphasizing work programs to a greater degree than its …

World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig

The World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig is held annually the second week of October in the Mount Ida (Montgomery County) area. According to Montgomery County: Our Heritage, “The Quartz Crystal Festival held October 24, 25 and 26, 1986, was attended by some two thousand residents and tourists from coast to coast.” The event was the idea of Paul G. Griffiths Sr. of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce and Sonny Stanley. The dig is a two-day event with two divisions: crystal points and clusters. The winners keep the crystal they mine and share in $1,500 in prize money. Contestants pay a $75 registration fee and compete in both divisions. On each of the three days of the dig, the …

World Services for the Blind

aka: Lions World Services for the Blind
World Services for the Blind (WSB), located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is the only organization in the United States, if not the world, that offers career-path professional training for adults who are blind or visually impaired. The mission of the organization is to educate adults who are blind or visually impaired for careers and independent lives. Founded by Roy Kumpe and the Lions Clubs of Arkansas in 1946, the organization was first known as the Prevocational Adjustment Center for the Adult Blind. The passage by the U.S. Congress of the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936 created the first significant employment opportunities for blind individuals in Arkansas and throughout the nation. The Prevocational Adjustment Center’s original mission was to train Arkansans …

World War I

aka: The Great War
World War I had less impact on the state of Arkansas than the Civil War or World War II. Still, World War I did deplete the young male population of the state for a time, brought new institutions into the state that continue to the present time, and gave many Arkansans a new view of the world and of Arkansas’s place in an increasingly connected world community. World War I was the result of many complex factors, including a network of alliances linking the larger powers in Europe and the growing power of nationalism in some regions of the world. The Balkan region of southeastern Europe—which had been part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and …

World War I Markers and Memorials

Arkansans began memorializing the state’s World War I troops even before the war ended, and many monuments can still be found across the state honoring the Great War’s dead. The first memorial in Arkansas, honoring the first three U.S. servicemen to die in the war, was dedicated on November 3, 1917, in Van Buren (Crawford County), but it was not until after the war that larger-scale efforts to remember Arkansas’s World War I veterans began. Some of the state’s memorials reflected a larger debate among progressives in the United States, who urged construction of “living memorials” as opposed to statuary—a reaction to the ubiquitous statues around the country honoring Civil War soldiers. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), this advice was …