Entries

Wilson, Charles Kemmons

Charles Kemmons Wilson was a businessman who founded the Holiday Inn hotel chain. Called the “Father of the Modern Hotel,” he revolutionized the travel industry by providing affordable, comfortable, dependable lodging. Kemmons Wilson was born on January 5, 1913, in Osceola (Mississippi County) to Kemmons Wilson, who sold insurance, and Ruby “Doll” Wilson, a homemaker. He was their only child. His father died when Wilson was nine months old, and his mother took the baby to her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where she found work as a dental assistant. Wilson’s business career began when he was six and sold subscriptions to The Saturday Evening Post. When he was fourteen, he was hit by a car while making deliveries on his …

Wilson, Charles Morrow

A native of Fayetteville (Washington County), Charles Morrow Wilson was a nationally known freelance author. While the majority of his many books and magazine articles were on international trade, agriculture, and medicine topics, a significant number were on Arkansas culture and politics. Charles Wilson was born in Fayetteville on June 16, 1905, to Joseph Dixon and Martha (Mattie) Maude Morrow Wilson. He was educated in Fayetteville Public Schools and graduated from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1926. Wilson began writing when he was still a student, and author Charles J. Finger became his mentor. Wilson was included in the group of writers, artists, and scientists who frequently gathered at Finger’s home near Fayetteville, and he was associated …

Wilson, Donald Roller

Donald Roller Wilson is a nationally acclaimed artist whose paintings use distinctive and mysterious imagery. He lives in Fayetteville (Washington County). Roller Wilson was born on November 23, 1938, in Houston, Texas. At the age of six, he moved with his family to northern Nebraska when his father opened a company that made farm combines. In 1945, the family moved to Wichita, Kansas. The last of three children, he grew up essentially an only child because his brother and sister were much older. His first artistic experience was painting signs on beer trucks. After earning an MFA in painting and art history at Kansas State University in Wichita, he taught painting at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville from …

Wilson, George Nicholas (Nick)

Nick Wilson is a former Arkansas lawyer and political leader who served in the Arkansas Senate for almost thirty years, gaining a reputation as one of the most powerful people in the state. However, in 2000, arguably at the peak of his power, Wilson was identified as the ringleader of a wide-ranging corruption scheme. Convicted on multiple counts, he served just under six years in prison and was ordered to pay back over $1 million in restitution. George Nicholas (Nick) Wilson was born on March 12, 1942, in Monette (Craighead County). Wilson earned a BS from Arkansas State University, and he received a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County). He and his …

Wilson, Robert Edward Lee

Robert Edward Lee Wilson created a plantation empire out of the swamps of Mississippi County in the late nineteenth century, an empire that remains in place today. He was able to fashion his 65,000-acre plantation and lumbering operation by purchasing cut-over land considered worthless by less imaginative men and then draining and developing the swamps. His substantial holdings and creative financing allowed him to weather the economic catastrophe of the 1920s relatively unscathed. By the time the New Deal was implemented in 1933, Lee Wilson & Company was characterized as operating the largest cotton plantation in the South, and its founder enjoyed the kind of political and economic connections that made it possible for him to take best advantage of …

Wilson, Tom (Lynching of)

In late February 1884, Tom (sometimes referred to as Thomas) Wilson, an African-American man, was lynched near Conway (Faulkner County) for allegedly attempting to assault a woman identified only as Mrs. Griffy. Several other newspaper accounts identify her husband as William Griffy. No further information is available on either Wilson or the Griffy family in Faulkner County. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on February 21, the lynching had occurred “several days since.” According to the Gazette and several other national newspapers, including the Little Falls Transcript, William Griffy was away from his farm overnight when Wilson entered the house and attempted to assault Mrs. Griffy. She screamed and attacked him with a fire shovel, whereupon he …

Wilson, Winston Peabody “Wimpy”

Winston P. Wilson was a major general in the U.S. Air Force. He also served as the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Winston Peabody “Wimpy” Wilson was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on November 11, 1911, to Winston Wilson and Eunice Cotton Wilson; he had a brother and a sister. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) during Winston’s childhood, and he attended Little Rock High School. He obtained the nickname “Wimpy,” as football coaches would yell “Win P. Wilson!” to get his attention. He enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard in 1929 and graduated from high school the same year. Wilson attended Hendrix College while also serving in the 154th Observation Squadron as a mechanic. Wilson graduated …

Wilton (Little River County)

  Like many of the cities of southwestern Arkansas, Wilton was created alongside railroad development. Although the city was at one time a candidate for the county seat of Little River County, Wilton’s current condition is exemplified by its four properties on the National Register of Historic Places: a strip of highway, an abandoned store, a railroad depot, and a cemetery. Allen Scott was the first owner of the land where Wilton would be established, but Scott sold his land to Paschal S. Kinsworthy prior to the arrival of the railroad. Sergent Smith Prentiss Mills, a Sevier County farmer, was also investing in Little River County land. Mills owned a hotel, a store, and a newspaper in Richmond (Little River County) …

Winchester (Drew County)

Winchester is a town in northeastern Drew County, near U.S. Highway 65. Winchester is most notable as the home of Robert L. Hill, the African-American founder of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. Drew County is crossed by the Bayou Bartholomew, which was long a principal transportation route of southeastern Arkansas. John Martin Taylor, a wealthy physician and farmer, purchased land near the bayou in 1848 and built a plantation house. In 1860, Winston J. Davie purchased farmland to the east of Taylor’s plantation, near the present location of Winchester. In the late 1870s, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad built a line that crossed Drew County near Davie’s farm. The railroad depot and post office …

Winchester School for Mountain Boys

The Winchester School for Mountain Boys opened near Havana (Yell County) in 1921. Named after Bishop James R. Winchester, the Episcopal bishop of Arkansas from 1911 to 1932, the school was operated by the Episcopal Church and associated with St. Barnaba’s Mission in Havana. The Winchester School was a “mountain mission school,” a type of educational institution established during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to serve children in the mountainous regions of the South, particularly Appalachia and the Ozark Plateau. The Winchester School for Mountain Boys was funded by a group of women from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and first run by the Reverend Gustave Orth, locally revered as “the Apostle of the Mountains,” and later the Reverend E. …

Winchester, James Ridout

James Ridout Winchester served as the sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas from 1912 until his retirement in 1931. His episcopate faced many fiscal difficulties brought about by the overzealous plans of his predecessor William Montgomery Brown and by economic challenges resulting from World War I and the Great Depression. James Ridout Winchester was born in Annapolis, Maryland, on March 15, 1852, to Jacob Winchester and Mary Ridout Winchester. He received a BA from the College of Washington and Lee in Lexington, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. He earned four advanced degrees, including two Doctor of Divinity degrees. He married Elizabeth Atkinson Lee in Clarke, Virginia, on April 17, 1878. Francis McNeece Whittle, …

Winder, Ray

Ray Winder was a minor league baseball executive. After learning the ins and outs of the minor league baseball business through a decade of short-term stints with teams in the Southeast, Winder joined the Little Rock Travelers (now the Arkansas Travelers) for good in 1931. By the mid-1940s, he had become one of the team’s owners and was the driving force behind the team for the next twenty years. Ray Winder was born in Indian Springs, Indiana, on February 5, 1885. He moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) with his family in 1905 to run a livery stable. While the stable was the last in the city to close, it was still a dying business, and Winder was forced to …

Wineries

Winemaking in Arkansas began when European Catholics, primarily German-Swiss but also Italian, immigrated to the state, attracted by the range of opportunities the then-frontier had in store. Chances are that wine was made at the Hinderliter Grog Shop in Little Rock (Pulaski County), built around 1827 by Jesse Hinderliter, a man of German descent, and currently the oldest standing building in the city. In addition, there are accounts of a winery run by one J. Ressor about six miles south of Batesville (Independence County) in the 1830s and records of German immigrants in the small town of Hermannsburg (Washington County) making wine as early as 1845. However, the wine industry of Arkansas really took root in the 1870s. At that …

Winfield (Scott County) [Northeast]

The Winfield community located northeast of Waldron (Scott County) is a historical town in central Scott County. Very little structural evidence of the town remains. Agriculture was likely important in the area, which was settled in the late 1830s. For a time, Winfield also served as the county seat. It is one of two communities to bear that name in Scott County. The area’s first inhabitants included natives from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Archaeological discoveries have provided evidence that suggest natives of the Caddo tribe made their homes along the East Fork of the Poteau River and other prominent waterways in the area. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and traders traveling west from the Arkansas Post likely traversed the Poteau River …

Winfield (Scott County) [West]

Winfield is an unincorporated community in west-central Scott County located along Highway 248. Winfield was established in 1882 near the junction of Jones Creek and Ross Creek. Agriculture has traditionally been an important part of Winfield’s culture and economy. It is one of two communities in Scott County to have the name of Winfield. The area’s first inhabitants included natives from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Archaeological evidence suggests that natives of the Caddo tribe made their homes along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways in the area. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from the Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche …

Wingmead

Wingmead, a farming operation south of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) on State Highway 33, has long been recognized as one of the nation’s foremost duck-hunting clubs. Wingmead was established in 1937 by Edgar Monsanto Queeny, son of John Francis Queeny, who founded Monsanto Chemical Co. Wingmead is a word of Scottish origin that means “meadow of wings.” Edgar Queeny served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and then earned a chemistry degree from Cornell University in 1919. He married Ethel Schneider after graduation and began working for Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri. He became a vice president of the company in 1924 and Monsanto’s president in 1928. By the time Queeny retired from Monsanto in 1960, it had …

Wingo, Effiegene Locke

In 1930, Effiegene Locke Wingo became the second of only four women from Arkansas to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from November 4, 1930, to March 3, 1933. Wingo introduced eighteen bills and served on three House committees during her congressional service. Effiegene Locke, daughter of George T. Locke and Callie Blanche Dooley Locke, was born in Lockesburg (Sevier County) on April 13, 1883. She attended Union Female College in Oxford, Mississippi, but it is unknown if she graduated from this institution. In 1902, she graduated from Maddox Seminary in Little Rock (Pulaski County) with a bachelor’s degree in music. On October 15, 1902, she married Otis Theodore Wingo, a lawyer and banker who …

Wingo, Otis Theodore

Otis Theodore Wingo was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-third through the Seventy-first Congresses, serving from 1913 to 1930. Otis T. Wingo was born in Weakly County, Tennessee, on June 18, 1877, to Theodore Wingo and Jane Wingo. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee; McFerrin College in Martin, Tennessee; and ultimately Valparaiso College in Indiana. Following college, Wingo taught school while he studied the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1900 and settled in De Queen (Sevier County), opening a legal practice there. On October 15, 1902, he married Effiegene Locke, and the couple …

Winrock International

Winrock International, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), traces its roots to a research endeavor that Governor Winthrop Rockefeller established at his home and ranch on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County). Winrock International works in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment. It has active projects in an average of sixty-five countries each year with a focus on agriculture and enterprise develoment, clean energy, ecosystem services, forestry and natural resource management, leadership development, volunteer technical assistance, and agricultural and environmental policy. It is one of the few international development organizations that has an active domestic program. Winrock International Livestock Research and Training Center …

Winslow (Washington County)

Winslow (Washington County) was reported to be the highest railroad pass on the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway line between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The elevation helped make Winslow a popular summer resort area for decades. Pre-European Exploration though Louisiana Purchase Southern Washington County has been inhabited for roughly 12,000 years. In the 1700s, the Osage claimed the land from the Arkansas River north into what is now central Missouri. Their main villages were in Missouri, but they traveled to north Arkansas to hunt. In the early 1800s, settlers began to move north from the river and south from Missouri Territory into the mountains of what is now northwestern Arkansas. Reconstruction through the Gilded Age The stage lines became an …

Winslow Tunnel

In September 1880, the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Company (Frisco) created a railroad subsidiary, the Missouri, Arkansas and Southern Railway of Arkansas. The new subsidiary was authorized “to build in a southerly direction”—likely from Fayetteville (Washington County)—“to some point on the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway, not east of Clarksville, with total mileage of about 55 miles.” The Little Rock and Fort Smith (LR&FS) in 1876 began rail service between Argenta—now North Little Rock (Pulaski County)—and Van Buren (Crawford County). The broad language of the authorization clearly reflected the uncertainty in constructing a railroad line through the Boston Mountains range of the Ozark Mountains, the highest range between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. The range, the highest elevation of …

Winslow, Thyra Samter

Thyra Samter Winslow wrote more than 200 stories published between 1915 and 1955 in the heyday of American popular magazines. Her early life in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) provided background for her view of small towns as prejudiced, hypocritical, and suffocating places. She was a principal contributor to Smart Set, with stories in every issue from December 1914 to 1923. Some of her work was collected in books such as My Own, My Native Land (1935), People Round the Corner (1927), Picture Frames (1923, reprinted as Window Panes in 1945), and The Sex without Sentiment (1954). Published accounts of Winslow’s life are often contradictory. The authoritative work is a doctoral dissertation by Richard C. Winegard, who established Winslow’s biography from …

Winthrop (Little River County)

Winthrop is located in Little River County, in the extreme southwestern portion of the state of Arkansas. It is situated on Highway 234, approximately eight miles north of Foreman (Little River County) and fifteen miles northwest of Ashdown (Little River County). Winthrop does not lie on any main traffic route, since most traffic passes through on Highway 71 to the east and Highway 41 to the west. Winthrop is perhaps best known as the 1964 and 1966 kick-off headquarters for Winthrop Rockefeller’s campaigns to serve as governor of Arkansas. In April 1860, Kinion Whittington obtained a patent from the United States for the area that would later become the central portion of the town of Winthrop. Early records indicate that …

Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

  Winthrop Rockefeller, who died in 1973, left most of his estate to the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF)—a private, nonprofit foundation—was created from this trust in 1974, with a focus on education, balanced economic growth and development, and social justice in Arkansas. In the twenty-first century, the foundation remains active in these areas, as well as working to improve conditions for children and at-risk families. From 1974 to 2009, the foundation gave more than $135 million to nonprofits in Arkansas. Thomas C. (Tom) McRae IV became the first president of the foundation in 1975, serving until 1989. McRae focused special attention on addressing problems that caused Arkansas to appear at or near the bottom of …

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System (commonly called the Rockefeller Institute) is an educational institute and conference center. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization seeks to continue the legacy of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller by serving the people of Arkansas with ongoing learning opportunities and by providing a place for group meetings and conferences. The Rockefeller Institute is located on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton (Conway County), on 188 acres of the original grounds of Governor Rockefeller’s model cattle farm. Winthrop Rockefeller died in 1973, and, that same year, the nonprofit Winrock International was established. In 2004, Winrock vacated the facilities on Petit Jean and relocated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington DC. The property reverted to …

Winthrop School Museum

The Winthrop School Museum, the location of the former Winthrop School, is located in a two-story brick schoolhouse building at 530 Spring Street in Winthrop (Little River County). The Winthrop School Museum is a monument to the educational and community history of Winthrop, and the building is a historical representation of a rural school building in the early twentieth century. As Winthrop’s population grew in the early twentieth century, the Winthrop School was built to replace a three-room rough-plank building, located on the same site, that had previously served as the school. Construction started on the Winthrop School in 1912, and it was completed the following year. According to the Little River County deed record books, on September 19, 1908, …

Wirges, Gene

Eugene Henry (Gene) Wirges was an Arkansas journalist noted for his crusade against the influence over Arkansas politics exerted in the early 1960s by Governor Orval Faubus and his political ally Sheriff Marlin Hawkins of Conway County. As a crusading editor and good-government advocate, Wirges, along with his wife, Betty, allied themselves with the forces of reform at serious personal risk. Principally as editor of the Morrilton Democrat, as well as other local papers, Wirges led a campaign for better government and honest elections, which resulted in lawsuits, criminal prosecution, physical altercations, and—allegedly—a contract on his life. His opponent and chief nemesis, Hawkins, vehemently denied being involved in such activities. Born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 5, 1927, …

Wirth (Sharp County)

Wirth is a small, isolated community located on an approximately fifteen-mile-long north-south plateau rising from the Spring River in northern Sharp County. At its peak, the community was a commercial and social center that attracted a number of German settlers. The first non–Native American settlers to the area may have come as early as the 1700s, with one source reporting a Spanish family by the name of Munz settling there. More likely, the first to settle were Buck Baldridge and Dee Arnold, who established themselves by 1848. No significant settlement occurred until the 1880s, when a substantial number of German immigrants were enticed to move to the area. Apparently, many people read glowing accounts published by railroad companies in German-language …

Wishbone Cutter

aka: The Shadow of Chikara
aka: The Curse of Demon Mountain
A low-budget western/horror movie made in Yellville (Marion County) and in the Buffalo River country of Marion County, Wishbone Cutter (1977) was written, produced, and directed by Earl E. Smith, previously screenwriter on two Arkansas horror films directed by Charles B. Pierce: The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). Wishbone Cutter, the only film Smith ever directed, was also known as The Curse of Demon Mountain and The Shadow of Chikara. The Internet Movie Database lists five additional English titles for the film’s theatrical, television, and video releases. The Arkansas setting is made clear by an opening title informing audiences that Arkansas is the only state to produce diamonds. Captain Wishbone Cutter (Joe Don …

Witherspoon, Jimmy “Spoon”

James John (Jimmy) Witherspoon, also known by the nickname “Spoon,” was a versatile singer who achieved commercial success and critical acclaim in the genres of blues, jazz, and rhythm and blues. His 1947 recording “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” was a hit in 1949 and became his signature song. Jimmy Witherspoon was born in Gurdon (Clark County) to Leonard Witherspoon, a Missouri Pacific Railroad brakeman, and Eva Tatum Witherspoon, a church pianist. The family was devoutly religious. His parents were members of the choir at their Baptist church. His date of birth is usually given as August 8, 1923, but some sources give the birth year as 1920, and more than one source gives the birth date as August 18, 1921, attributing …

Withrow Springs State Park

Withrow Springs State Park is located approximately five miles north of Huntsville (Madison County) in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. The park was created among scenic mountains and valleys in a wilderness that surrounds the site’s key feature, Withrow Spring. At first, the park was also called Withrow Spring State Park—that name appears in literature from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism as late as the mid-1970s—but common usage has made the name Withrow Springs State Park. The spring, which has a constant temperature of fifty-four degrees, served as a common watering place for area settlers and travelers in the 1800s. No archaeological information reveals whether the spring was used prior to this time. It is named for …

Witness, The

A 2012 novel by romance writer Nora Roberts published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Witness is set in the imaginary Ozarks town of Bickford, Arkansas, a community that somewhat resembles the tourist town of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Bickford is hardly ever mentioned by name, however, and its identity with Eureka Springs is tenuous. The novel’s characters are what you might expect to find in a tourist town in the mountains: generous, family-centered Ozarkers gifted at story-telling and meandering conversation. They are also more welcoming to “Yankees” than small-town folk in other Roberts novels. Brooks Gleason, chief of police of Bickford, has come home after ten years on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) police force. His father teaches mathematics …

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 …

Womble District Administration House Number 1

The Womble District Administration House Number 1 is located east of Mount Ida (Montgomery County) and was constructed to house the administrative headquarters of the Womble Ranger District of the Ouachita National Forest. Constructed in 1940 by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 20, 1993. The CCC established companies throughout the country to offer unemployed men a way to provide for their families while also constructing needed facilities and structures. CCC Company 741 was established at Camp Pike (which later became Camp Joseph T. Robinson) on May 1, 1933. Moving to Crystal Springs (Garland County), near Black Springs (Montgomery County) in the Ouachita National Forest on May …

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 …