Entries

Albert Pike Hotel

The Albert Pike Hotel in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) opened in 1929 and was one of the state’s best-known hotels for decades. In 1971, Little Rock’s Second Baptist Church bought the hotel for $740,000 and transformed it into a residence hotel. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It remains a residential facility for individuals aged fifty-five and older. The block on which the hotel was built had once been occupied by a house constructed in 1827 for Robert Crittenden, the secretary of the Arkansas Territory. The Crittenden House was among the first brick residences built in Little Rock. Facing financial problems, Crittenden attempted to trade the house for ten sections of undeveloped land, …

Albert Pike Memorial Temple

  The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700–724 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another …

Alco (Stone County)

Alco is an unincorporated community in Locust Grove Township on Highway 66 between Timbo (Stone County) and Leslie (Searcy County), about fourteen miles west of Mountain View (Stone County), the county seat. At the invitation of the Cherokee in 1817, Shawnee from the Ohio River Valley entered the Ozark Mountains and settled west of the White River on Crooked Creek, with their main settlement at Shawneetown, what is today Yellville (Marion County). The Cherokee may have expected the Shawnee to aid them against the Osage. Shawnee villages could also be found in the Livingston and Sylamore Creek valleys along the White River and along Bear Creek in Searcy County. The role played by the Shawnee Cornstalk family in Searcy County …

Alco School

The Alco School, located on State Highway 66 at Alco (Stone County), is a one-story, fieldstone-clad building constructed in 1938 by the National Youth Administration (NYA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1992. Alco is located about fourteen miles west of the county seat, Mountain View (Stone County). A post office was established at Alco in 1878, and the unincorporated community had sufficient population to support a school. While no information about previous school buildings is available, local residents were able to get a new building in 1938 through the NYA, which provided jobs for young people during the Depression. The Alco School was one of about a …

Alderson-Coston House

The Alderson-Coston House is a one-and-a-half-story Craftsman-style home located on Pine Bluff Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). Constructed in 1923, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1995. The house is located in the Pine Bluff Street National Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. James Alderson was a businessman in Hot Spring County in the early twentieth century. The owner of the Malvern Meteor newspaper, he later served as postmaster of Malvern from 1934 to 1954. He was married to Lethe Alderson, who was active in a number of community organizations and served on the board of the Hot Spring County Library. The Aldersons …

Alderson, Edwin Boyd Jr.

Edwin Alderson Jr. became a prominent lawyer, jurist, and businessman in Arkansas in the late twentieth century. A lifelong booster of his hometown of El Dorado (Union County), he was also an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Edwin Boyd Alderson Jr. was born on May 16, 1940, to Edwin Boyd Alderson and Jewell Sample Murphy Alderson. The couple’s oldest son, he was a sixth-generation resident of Union County. After graduating from El Dorado High School in 1958, Alderson earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1962. He did postgraduate study in philosophy for a year at the University of Georgia before moving to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where …

Alexander (Pulaski and Saline Counties)

The city of Alexander is located northeast of Benton (Saline County) on the line dividing Pulaski and Saline counties. It was a railroad construction camp before it incorporated on December 2, 1887. The first settlers, who came in 1878, were Jacob Ash and W. N. Slack. Within two months, seventy people had settled in the area, including German immigrants. The town had two stores, a drugstore, a sawmill, and a physician, and the people raised money for a church and a school. In 1884, Alexander had three churches: a Methodist church, a Baptist church, and a German Lutheran church. It now has four churches: two Baptist churches, Collegeville Church of the Nazarene, and Immanuel Lutheran Church. It also has a …

Alexander, Harold Edward

Harold Edward Alexander was a conservationist and stream preservationist who was a proponent of conservation and wildlife management in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1980s. The Harold E. Alexander Wildlife Management Area in Sharp County was named in recognition of his service to Arkansas conservation and his long career with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). He has been called “the father of Arkansas conservation.” Harold Alexander was born on November 23, 1909, in Lawrence, Kansas, the son of Edward Alexander, the treasurer for the city of Lawrence, and Ruby Pringle Alexander. Alexander was the oldest of four boys. He went to Lawrence High School and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1939 with two years of …

Alexander, Henry McMillan

Henry McMillan Alexander brought the city manager plan to Arkansas and served as an adviser to many state agencies, cities, and counties. He was the founding chairman of the Department of Government at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Henry Alexander came from a Southern aristocratic background in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born on September 10, 1905. He had five brothers and one sister. When Alexander was eight, his father, Charlton Henry Alexander, died of a heart attack, just after President Woodrow Wilson nominated him for associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He would have become the first Southerner appointed to the court after the Civil War. When Alexander graduated from high school in 1922, …

Alexander, John Hanks

John Hanks Alexander was the second African-American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, following Henry O. Flipper. John Alexander was born on January 6, 1864, the son of James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander, both of whom were born slaves. Supported and protected by prominent white families in Helena (Phillips County),  Alexander’s father prospered as a barber and dealer in toiletries, acquired property, and purchased his own freedom, as well as that of most of his family. Alexander’s parents were determined that their seven children would be educated. All seven graduated from high school, and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1879, Alexander graduated from high school in Helena at the head of his …

Alexander, Larry Dell

Larry Dell Alexander is a visual artist, writer, and Bible teacher best known for his elaborate pen-and-ink drawings and crosshatching technique. He painted Clinton Family Portrait, an oil painting that he gave to President Bill Clinton in 1995. He has also written several Bible study commentary books on the New Testament. Larry D. Alexander was born on May 30, 1953, in Dermott (Chicot County), the second son of Robert and Janie Alexander. His father was a truck driver and his mother a hairdresser. He has eight siblings. Alexander began drawing at age four and never received any formal art training while growing up. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where …

Alexander, William Vollie (Bill), Jr.

William Vollie (Bill) Alexander Jr. represented the state of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993, rising to the post of Chief Deputy House Majority Whip, an important position of chamber leadership. Bill Alexander was born on January 16, 1934, in Memphis, Tennessee, to William V. Alexander Sr. and Spencer (Buck) Alexander. The family moved to Osceola (Mississippi County) soon thereafter. He graduated from Osceola High School in 1951. That same year, he became an Eagle Scout. From 1951 to 1953, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and then moved back to the city of his …

Alford, Boyce

Boyce Alford was a well-respected optometrist who also had a long career in public service. Active at both the local and state levels, the conservative Democrat served in the Arkansas General Assembly for a decade, while holding various local offices for an additional twenty years. D. Boyce Alford was born on November 13, 1923, in Cove (Polk County). His first initial is something of a mystery, as his tombstone reads “Boyce Alford,” and there are apparently no records that reveal his full first name. He was the son of Thomas Franklin Alford, a one-time state commissioner of education, and Ida Womack Alford, also an educator. Boyce Alford grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated from Little Rock Catholic …

Alford, Thomas Dale

Thomas Dale Alford was a prominent Arkansas ophthalmologist, Episcopalian, radio announcer, civic leader, and politician remembered largely as a leader of opposition to federally mandated desegregation during the crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Alford’s role as a leading segregationist came first through his seat on the Little Rock School Board and then as the “Segregation Sticker Candidate” who upset incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Brooks Hays after a notorious ten-day write-in campaign in the 1958 election for the Fifth Congressional District of Arkansas. Dale Alford was born near Murfreesboro (Pike County) on January 28, 1916, the son of T. H. Alford and Ida Womack Alford, both of whom were itinerant school teachers. His father ultimately became …

Algae

Arkansas has a very diverse assemblage of algae. The majority of the research conducted on algae in the state is published in the Arkansas Academy of Science’s journal, but some is available in other journals and government publications. Most of the studies have been performed in northern Arkansas by Dr. Richard L. Meyer from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He and his graduate students undertook many studies that were developed into MS and PhD theses. The studies were performed in rivers (Buffalo, White, Arkansas, and Mississippi rivers), a few lakes (Lake Chicot, Lake Fort Smith, and Lake Fayetteville), a few smaller ponds, a stream, and an agricultural rice field. Three studies were done in Hot Springs …

Alicia (Lawrence County)

Alicia is on the segment of U.S. Highway 67 that has been dubbed Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67. In addition, the length from Alicia to Hoxie (Lawrence County) is one of five sections of the Old U.S. Highway 67 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built as a railroad stop, the town was once the southernmost passenger stop on the Iron Mountain railroad in Lawrence County. The Osage once hunted in northern Arkansas, although they lived farther north and left few archaeological remains in the area that would become Alicia. After treaties removed the Osage and other Native Americans from the area, the land was opened for settlement, but much of the land around Alicia remained unclaimed for many …

All American Red Heads

A nationally known women’s basketball team, the All American Red Heads formed in 1936 in Cassville, Missouri, with Connie Mack Olson as its founder and coach. Originally, the team, all sporting dyed or natural red hair, publicized Olson’s Beauty Parlors in Kansas and Missouri, and though later the team moved to Arkansas, they kept their name. The team became so popular with the sports’ crowds that the team hit the road and successfully challenged men’s teams with their trick shots, athletic ability, and “hijinks.” The Red Heads thrilled audiences all over the United States with behind-the-back shooting, back-hand passing, and athletic ability on the court. They played men’s teams using men’s rules and won seventy percent of their games. While …

Allbright, Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson Allbright was one of the best-known and most widely read newspaper columnists in Arkansas. Allbright wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and its successor the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, served as a speech writer, and authored several books. Charles Allbright was born on February 5, 1929, in Oxford, Mississippi, to Brice and Nita Allbright. In an interview conducted by Michael Haddigan in March 2000, Allbright stated, “I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, which has nothing to do with my life except that is where my mother’s parents were. And, in those days, it took two weeks to have a baby, and you’d go where your parents are, and they’d take care of you, so I was born at Oxford.” At the …

Allen Chapel (Independence County)

Allen Chapel is a small community in Independence County on Highway 14 between Ramsey Mountain and Salado (Independence County). Once located upon a spur called the Allen Chapel Road, it is now on the main road from the county seat of Batesville (Independence County) to Oil Trough (Independence County). Today, the Allen Chapel Free Will Baptist Church (and the associated cemetery) is the only landmark for the community. At one time, a country general store, the Dewey Lusk Grocery, was located near the church. In the early twenty-first century, the only remaining business is the Time Bandit, which sells electric cargo-strap winders. Several businesses, including  two banks and a motel, are located nearby on Ramsey Mountain. In 1827, at age …

Allen Tire Company and Gas Station

The Allen Tire Company and Gas Station is a Craftsman-style, purpose-built gas station located in Prescott (Nevada County). Constructed in 1924, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 25, 2001. The building was constructed by Henry Harrison Allen after his retirement from the lumber industry in 1924. Built on the corner of the same lot as his home, the station is located at 228 First Street Southwest. (First Street is also U.S. Highway 67.) The Allen family operated a combined gas station and tire company in the building, and for at least part of that period, the station sold Magnolia-brand gasoline. Allen operated the station until his death in 1936. Allen’s daughter Thorn Hesterly took …

Allen, Al

aka: Alvin Lee Allen Jr.
Alvin Lee (Al) Allen Jr. was a painter whose contributions to Arkansas culture were his artwork, his teaching, his development of the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and two autobiographical books. His mature work was of idealized man-made structures, often with windows, bathed in bright light. His style presents realistic subjects in a classical and abstract way. Al Allen was born on November 29, 1925, the only child of Carrie Allen and Alvin Lee Allen in Steele, Missouri. His father was an automobile dealer in nearby Caruthersville; his mother was a seamstress who later worked for Goldsmith’s department store in Memphis, Tennessee. The Missouri Bootheel landscape was an environment of vast space, emptiness, …

Allen, Dick

aka: Richard Anthony Allen
Richard Anthony “Dick” Allen—or “Richie” Allen, as the media called him early in his career—was the first African American to play for the minor league baseball team based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). That same year, 1963, official baseball records first recognized the team’s name change from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers. After one season in Little Rock, Allen had a memorable, though controversial, career in the major leagues. Dick Allen was born on March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of nine children born to Era Allen and Coy Allen, a traveling truck driver and self-employed sanitation worker who later divorced her. Era Allen raised Dick Allen primarily on her own. Allen’s family was …

Allen, Dorathy N. McDonald

Dorathy N. McDonald Allen was the first woman to serve in the Arkansas Senate. She was elected to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Senator Tom Allen, after his death in 1963. She was reelected in 1966 and 1970 without opposition, serving until January 1975. Dorathy McDonald was born in Helena (Phillips County) on March 10, 1910, to Dora and Jack McDonald. Her father was lumberman and sawmill owner, and her mother was a homemaker; she had four siblings. She was educated in public schools and at Sacred Heart Academy in Helena. Her mother died the same year McDonald graduated from high school. Due to the financial state of her family, college became impossible, so she took a business …

Allens, Inc.

aka: Allen Canning Company
aka: Sager Creek Vegetable Company
Allens, Inc., began canning vegetables at Siloam Springs (Benton County) in 1926. From its inception, the Allen family owned and operated the company, which, by 2013, employed more than 1,000 people nationwide and produced canned and frozen vegetables with eleven brand names: Allens, Butterfield, Freshlike, Popeye Spinach, Princella, Royal Prince, Sugary Sam, Sunshine, Trappey’s, Veg-All, and Wagon Master. Company offices were in downtown Siloam Springs, and processing plants are located across the United States. In late 2013, the company declared bankruptcy and put itself up for sale. After its purchase by Sager Creek Acquisition Corp., it was renamed Sager Creek Vegetable Company, although brand names were retained. In 2015, the company was purchased by Del Monte. Earl and Shadye Allen established …

Alley, Gerald Byron

Gerald Byron Alley is the founder of Con-Real, LP, which is the leading black-owned construction and real estate firm in Texas, with other offices located in Arkansas and California. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2020. Gerald Alley was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on September 30, 1952. He was the youngest of five children of Troy Alley, a local businessman who started the Alley ESSO Service Station, and Gladys Gray Alley, an educator who had taught at Philander Smith College before marriage. After attending local public and private schools, and working in his father’s station, Alley enrolled in the University of Arkansas (UA) in …

Alligator Snapping Turtle

The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is North America’s largest freshwater turtle. This turtle is found primarily in major rivers, streams, swamps, and oxbow lakes throughout much of the south-central United States—all around the states of Arkansas and Mississippi and in portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, and Florida. Alligator snapping turtles have distinct morphological features that distinguish them from their closest cousin, the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). For example, the dorsal shell, or carapace, of the alligator snapping turtle has three prominent keels (ridges on the carapace), whereas the keels of the snapping turtle are low and become less conspicuous with age. The tails of both species have three rows of tubercles (warty projections), but these scales …

Allison, Luther

Blues guitarist and singer Luther Allison was born in Arkansas, but like many of his contemporaries in the rural South, he rose to fame in cities far from his original home. His style exemplified the soulful blues of the west side of Chicago, Illinois, where he moved with his family as a child. Later, in 1977, when the popularity of the blues faded in the United States, he began touring Europe extensively and became an international star. Born in Widener (St. Francis County) on August 17, 1939, Luther Allison was the fourteenth of fifteen children, all of whom were musically inclined, born to parents who were cotton farmers. He was exposed to gospel music as a young child, although he …

Allport (Lonoke County)

Allport is a town on Highway 165 in southern Lonoke County located two miles west of Humnoke (Lonoke County). Allport is largely populated by African Americans, although Lonoke County’s population is nearly ninety percent white. Southern Lonoke County has rich alluvial soil that attracted cotton farmers who created large plantations operated with slave labor. When the Civil War ended the practice of slavery in Arkansas and other Southern states, many freed slaves became tenant farmers. Others were able to purchase land; African Americans often were sold the lower land, more prone to flooding, while white farmers retained possession of the higher agricultural land. An African-American community developed along Crooked Creek in southern Lonoke County; by 1878, the community had a …

Allsopp, Fred

Frederick William Allsopp was a newspaperman, book collector, and bookstore owner who was an important player in the history of the Arkansas Gazette. Though he never held the title of editor or publisher, he shaped the development of the Gazette—and of Arkansas newspapers at large—for the duration of his career. Fred W. Allsopp was born on June 25, 1867, in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. When he was twelve, his family moved to Prescott (Nevada County). Shortly thereafter, he entered the “newspaper business” by selling newspapers. In 1884, he worked for thirteen weeks setting type and working in the printing department of the Nevada County Picayune. He did not receive any pay, but he gained invaluable experience. With dreams of someday becoming …

Alltel

Alltel Corporation is a wireless communications company that began as a technical service provider to small-town Arkansas telephone companies in 1943 and evolved into one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. Before its merger with a private equity firm and the acquisition of most of its assets by Verizon Communications in 2008, Alltel operated one of the largest wireless networks in the United States and served more than 13 million customers in thirty-four states. Three generations of the founding family led the company, based in Little Rock (Pulaski County), for sixty-five years until the merger. Brothers-in-law Hugh Randolph Wilbourn Jr. and Charles Beverly Miller, both of Little Rock, went to work as construction crewmen for Southwestern Bell Telephone …

Allwhite, Louis (Lynching of)

Louis Allwhite, a white man, was lynched just outside of Newport (Jackson County) on December 31, 1904, for having allegedly participated, with his son, in the rape and murder of two women on Christmas Day. The incident is particularly indicative of the brazenness of lynch mobs and how their violence was abetted by local law enforcement officials, who typically ruled that the victim of a lynching died at the hands of people “unknown” even when the act was carried out in broad daylight. At the time of the murder, Louis Allwhite was forty-three years old and Newton Allwhite nineteen. In the 1900 census, the Allwhite family is recorded as living in Big Bottom Township of neighboring Independence County, the family …

Alma (Crawford County)

Alma has been Crawford County’s second-largest town since the town’s establishment around 1872. It is known nationally as the “Spinach Capital of the World” for its spinach-processing facility and has attracted national attention through the actions of outlaws Bonnie and Clyde and fundamentalist pastor Tony Alamo. Before Alma became a settlement, Armstead “Ira” Smoot bought the land from the government on August 3, 1836. It was used mainly as farmland until Colonel Mathias F. Locke bought it in 1872. Locke built his house and a cotton gin on ten acres next to W. W. Smith’s drugstore and Smoot’s cabin. J. D. James kept a livery stable and a stage stand. In 1870, Alex W. Griffin had the first store and …

Almand, John Parks

John Parks Almand worked as an architect in Arkansas for fifty years, beginning in 1912. Ten of his commissions have been recognized for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, including Central High School, First Church of Christ Scientist, and First Presbyterian Church, all in Little Rock (Pulaski County). First United Methodist Church in Fordyce (Dallas County) is also included, as well as Couchwood, the country home of Arkansas Power & Light founder Harvey Couch, and the Medical Arts Building, both in Hot Springs (Garland County). John Almand was born on May 8, 1885, in Lithonia, Georgia. He was the third of eight children of Alexander J. and Clara Bond Almand. Almand attended Emory College in Georgia and graduated …

Almond (Cleburne County)

Almond lies in the northeastern corner of Cleburne County. The community historically had close family and commercial ties to Concord and Banner in Cleburne County to the southwest and Locust Grove (Independence County) to the northeast. Almond was in Independence County until February 20, 1883, when the last county in Arkansas, Cleburne County, was created. Brock Mountain, towering over 1,200 feet, separates Almond from Independence County and its county seat, Batesville. The community of Almond in the twenty-first century is virtually a ghost town with one abandoned store building. It is not known for sure how Almond received its name, because almonds do not grow naturally in Arkansas. It is suspected that an Almond family lived in the area when …

Almyra (Arkansas County)

Located half-way between Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and DeWitt (Arkansas County) on state Highway 130, the town of Almyra has a history similar to its larger neighbors. Sparked by railroad construction and fueled by the farms of Arkansas County, Almyra has diminished in size but has maintained its identity as an eastern Arkansas community. When Arkansas was first settled, the Grand Prairie seemed untamable to cotton farmers who preferred the rich soils of the Delta region or new land claimed by clearing away the forests. Following the Civil War, though, newcomers to the state made their home on the Grand Prairie, and rice farming succeeded where other kinds of agriculture had seemed unpromising. The Stuttgart and Arkansas River Railroad (later part …

Alpena (Boone and Carroll Counties)

Alpena is a town located predominately in western Boone County, although the town has, since the 2000 census, recorded some of its population also living across the county line in Carroll County. Created by the railroad early in the twentieth century, Alpena is on U.S. Highway 62 and is home to about twenty small businesses. The area was originally part of Carroll County when white settlers began claiming land in the Ozark Mountains. The fertile land along Long Creek attracted John Boyd, who received a land grant in 1849. He was joined by William J. Estes in 1860 and Bailey Stone in 1861. As Carrollton (Carroll County), then the county seat, was only a few miles away, the residents could …

Alpine (Clark County)

Alpine, one of the oldest settlements in Clark County, is an unincorporated community located in the northwestern part of the county. The community is located twenty-two miles northwest of the county seat, Arkadelphia, and is best known as the childhood home of noted actor and director Billy Bob Thornton. William Glover and his family, the first settlers of the area, arrived in 1848 in what would become Alpine, followed by several other families. It is most commonly thought that the settlement received its name due to its location on the highest point of the county. However, several folktales also relay the origin of the name. The original settlement was located a mile east of the present community and comprised little …

Altheimer (Jefferson County)

Altheimer is a second-class city in Jefferson County, located roughly halfway between Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Stuttgart (Arkansas County). Founded as a railroad town and named for the Jewish family who encouraged the building of the railroad, it quickly became a center for the shipping of cotton, surpassing older cities in eastern Arkansas. Located in the Arkansas River Valley, the site of Altheimer was originally flood-prone forestland. Doctor Samuel Johnson Jones was the first resident of what would become Altheimer. He acquired and cleared 500 acres of timberland and moved to Arkansas from Mississippi in 1857, bringing his family and 150 slaves with him. His mansion, the Elms (which is now on the National Register of Historic Places), was …

Altheimer, Benjamin Joseph, Sr.

Benjamin Joseph Altheimer Sr. was a lawyer and philanthropist who was known as a “real trailblazer” in promoting agricultural research and education in Arkansas. He created the Ben J. Altheimer Foundation, which has provided funding for civic, legal, and agricultural endeavors. Ben J. Altheimer was born on September 30, 1877, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the only son of Joseph and Matilda Josephat Altheimer. He had one sister. His parents were German–Jewish immigrants who were members of Pine Bluff’s Congregation Anshe Emeth. Joseph’s brother Louis had brought him to Pine Bluff, where he had established and operated a mercantile store. The two brothers became land developers and, together, founded the town of Altheimer (Jefferson County). Ben Altheimer was educated at …

Altheimer, Joshua

Joshua Altheimer was one of the Delta’s most prolific blues pianists. Altheimer mastered the emerging boogie-woogie style of the 1930s as he accompanied some of the legendary blues musicians of his era. Joshua Altheimer was born on May 17, 1911, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Silas Altheimer and Verdis Pruitt Barnes Altheimer. He played his first years in Arkansas, performing during the late 1920s. It is not clear whether Altheimer knew blues legend “Big Bill” Broonzy during this period, who was from his home county and who was raised just a few miles from where he was born. By the 1930s, Altheimer had moved to Chicago, Illinois, and was playing with the likes of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Washboard Sam, …

Altus (Franklin County)

Altus (Franklin County) was incorporated on August 31, 1888. Railroad authorities had named their railhead Altus, from the Latin for “high,” because it was the highest point on the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad. The town is known today as the center of wine making in Arkansas. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood A Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Dardenne had a claim made on his behalf in June 1814 for 640 arpents (approximately 544.45 acres) in the area. In 1819, the U.S. government ordered the white settlers out of the area, giving the Cherokee exclusive title to the territory lying between the White and Arkansas rivers. However, a treaty in 1828 removed the Arkansas Cherokee to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). …

Altvater, Catherine Tharp

Catherine Tharp Altvater was a nationally known watercolorist whose works were shown in numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Today, her paintings are found in many private collections and museums in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Catherine Tharp was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 26, 1907, to William J. Tharp and Catherine Collins Tharp. Her maternal grandparents were early settlers of Little Rock, and her paternal grandfather, originally from Tennessee, had a private academy in Little Rock with R. C. Hall. Altvater’s interest in art began at an early age and continued throughout her school years, when she spent many hours in art classes. At the age of eighteen, …

Aluminum Bowl

On December 22, 1956, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the Aluminum Bowl football game. The game pitted Montana State College against St. Joseph’s College of Indiana in the first national football championship game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA governs hundreds of small college athletic programs across the United States. The Aluminum Bowl marked two historic events in Arkansas. It was the first time that a national collegiate football championship game was played in Arkansas, and it is thought to be the first racially integrated college football game to be played in the state. In an era of tense race relations across the South, the game came to Little Rock due to …

Alworth, Lance Dwight “Bambi”

An All-American football player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1961, Lance Dwight “Bambi” Alworth was the first player from the American Football League (AFL) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance Alworth was born on August 3, 1940, in Houston, Texas, to Richard R. Alworth, an oilfield construction executive, and Elizabeth L. Parrish Alworth, a teacher. When he was a child, his family moved to Hog Chain, Mississippi, where his father’s company, Humble Oil, had an operation. At high school in nearby Brookhaven, Alworth won fifteen letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates both offered Alworth contracts to play professional baseball, …

Alzheimer’s Arkansas

Alzheimer’s Arkansas is an incorporated nonprofit organization governed by a local board of directors consisting of family members of Alzheimer’s patients, business and community leaders, and healthcare professionals. The organization offers an array of programs and services, including respite care, home improvements (such as wheelchair ramps), and educational tools. All services are funded through special events, grants, memberships, memorials, and other contributions; eighty-five percent of all contributions received are spent in Arkansas. Alzheimer’s Arkansas was founded as the Alzheimer’s Support Group of Central Arkansas in 1984. In 1986, the group affiliated with the national Alzheimer’s Association. In June 2002, however, the Alzheimer’s Arkansas Board of Directors elected to withdraw from the national association and become an independent nonprofit organization. Several …

Amagon (Jackson County)

Amagon is a town in southern Jackson County on Highway 14. It is best known as the birthplace of Mike Beebe, Arkansas’s forty-fifth governor. About 600 archaeological sites in Jackson County indicate that the land has been populated for around 10,000 years. However, the area around Amagon was only sparsely populated until the twentieth century. In 1900, Will Pennington owned the land where Amagon stands. He granted some land to the Bonnerville and Southwestern Railroad (also called at one time the Bonnerville and Southern), which was built in 1905 to link Bonnerville—now Bono (Craighead County)—to Estico (Jackson County). The line was later extended through Amagon to Algoa (Jackson County). The railroad, which soon became part of the St. Louis–San Francisco …

Amazing Adventures of My Dog Sheppy, The

In a 1958 effort to promote economic development and tourism in Stone County, a group of local investors under the leadership of Harold M. Sherman filmed a thirty-minute television pilot titled, “The Amazing Adventures of My Dog Sheppy.” A poor script, inept casting, amateurish acting, and the on-camera killing of a bobcat combined to produce a show that could not be pitched to the national networks. The film is significant, however, for documenting Stone County before the Ozark Folk Center or Blanchard Springs Caverns opened to the public. The television pilot was the brainchild of Harold Sherman. This Michigan native was the author of more than sixty books, a motivational speaker, and a Hollywood script writer. In 1958, television shows …

Amendment 33

Amendment 33 was the first of three constitutional amendments ratified by voters in the decade after the beginning of World War II to try to curb political interference with large government agencies and institutions. It prohibited the governor and the Arkansas General Assembly from diminishing the powers of state agencies and institutions, as well as from interfering with their governing boards by dismissing members before their terms expired or increasing or reducing the membership of the boards. The amendment, ratified in 1942, followed Governor Homer M. Adkins’s purging of the board of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in order to fire the university’s president J. William Fulbright, who was the son of a political foe of …

Amendment 44

aka: Interposition Amendment
On November 6, 1956, Arkansans voted to adopt an amendment to the state constitution that would allow Arkansas law to supersede federal law. The “interposition” amendment, as it was called, was in response to the looming integration of Arkansas schools. Similar amendments were adopted across the South after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Although the idea of interposition gained popularity in 1954, the precedence for the argument can be traced back to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions put forth by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798 and 1799. James D. “Justice Jim” Johnson, an Arkansas politician from Crossett (Ashley County), first presented the idea of an interposition …

Amendment 59

aka: Taxation Amendment
Amendment 59 was an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, ratified by voters overwhelmingly in 1980, that overhauled the system of valuing and taxing private property. It quickly became known for its bewildering complexity—an Arkansas Supreme Court opinion called it “the Godzilla of constitutional amendments”—and for its damaging effect on the financing of public schools. The amendment and its various interpretations had a major role in the long legislative and judicial battles over school reform and tax reform (as with the court cases Jim DuPree v. Alma School District No. 30 and Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee). The valuing of private property, both real and personal, had long been a divisive issue, owing to the property tax’s role …