Entries - Starting with O

Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium

The Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium served the African-American community in western Clark County for almost two decades. The last remaining structure on the former Simmons High School campus, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011. Okolona (Clark County) was first settled in the early nineteenth century. The town attracted residents as it grew into a regional agricultural and transportation hub. Education played an important role in the development of the town, with the first school opening in 1833, followed by a second in 1857. The Okolona Male and Female Institute opened in the town in 1871, and Okolona High School began operations in 1890. Schools for African Americans in the community …

Okolona Male and Female Institute

aka: Okolona Academy
The Okolona Male and Female Institute was a school that operated for over seven decades in Okolona (Clark County) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally known as the Okolona Academy, it was the first formal school to operate in the town. The first families to settle in the Okolona area arrived in the early 1830s. A post office was established in 1858, and the population slowly grew over the next several decades. The first permanent school to open in the community began operations in 1857. Constructed on the site of an early school housed in a log cabin, this school was the first in the area to meet regularly. It was housed in a two-story wood building and was …

Okolona, Skirmishes at

aka: Battle of the Bees
    The Skirmishes at Okolona were fought as Confederate cavalry under Joseph O. Shelby harassed the rear of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army as it moved into southwest Arkansas during the Camden Expedition of 1864, marking the first serious resistance to Steele’s advance. Steele led his army from Little Rock (Pulaski County) on March 23, planning to link up with another Union army under Nathaniel Banks at Shreveport, Louisiana, and conquer the cotton-rich country of eastern Texas. The Federal army arrived at Arkadelphia (Clark County) on March 29 and waited for John Thayer’s Frontier Division out of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) before continuing south and camping at Spoonville (Pike County) on April 1. At around noon the next …

Ola (Yell County)

Ola is the third-largest city in Yell County. It was originally known as Petit Jean, but its name was changed to Ola on December 10, 1880. On March 20, 1900, it was incorporated as a second-class city. Louisiana Purchase through Early StatehoodThe area that became Ola was part of the Ward Township, Section 3, Township 4 North, Range 21 West. The 1850 Census shows twenty-two families residing within the Ward Township and includes a store and scattered, outlying homesteads. Postal service was established in 1848. Early settlers came from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, attracted to the area by its cheap land and commercial possibilities. Civil War through the Gilded AgeThe first house was completed in 1860 by homesteader …

Old Arkansas 51, Curtis to Gum Springs

Old Arkansas 51 is an abandoned highway located in Clark County between the towns of Curtis and Gum Springs. Constructed in 1931, it was replaced by U.S. Highway 67 in 1965. This stretch of highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. The communities of Curtis and Gum Springs were settled in the late nineteenth century, and each served as stops on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The two settlements were connected by roads, which were improved over the decades. The roads evolved from the Southwest Trail, one of the earliest roads in the state. Named Arkansas Highway 51, the road linking the communities became part of the Arkansas Highway System when it was created …

Old Austin (Lonoke County)

Settled in the early 1820s, what is now called Old Austin, located about thirty miles northeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County), was one of central Arkansas’s early settlements. Local folklore holds that Old Austin narrowly missed being the state capital. Once a thriving town, it experienced a decline after being bypassed by the railroad in the late 1800s. Today, it serves as a bedroom community of Cabot (Lonoke County) and nearby towns. The first settlers, among them James Erwin, came to the area in 1822. Before the founding of a town, the settlement at various times was called Oakland Grove, Oakland, Saundersville, and Atlanta. In 1848, Isaac Dunaway and Colbert Moore built the settlement’s first store. Growth was enhanced by …

Old Bank of Amity

The Old Bank of Amity is a two-story brick structure located on the northwest corner of the square in Amity (Clark County). Constructed between 1906 and 1907, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1991. Amity was first settled in 1847 and grew over the next several decades due to the rich reserves of timber in the area. By the early 1900s, the Gurdon and Fort Smith Railroad reached the community, opening up new shipping options for the lumber mills that operated in the area. The Bank of Amity was founded in 1905 by William Curtis Hays. The first mention of the bank building appeared in 1906 when a Gurdon craftsman visited the …

Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge

Located in Bauxite (Saline County), the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge stands as an example of the county’s earliest bridges designed specifically for vehicular use. Although it is no longer accessible by road, it is considered a beloved local landmark by the people of Saline County, much like the Old River Bridge in Benton. The bridge was built in 1919 to connect the communities of Benton (Saline County), Bauxite, and Sardis (Saline County). Settlements around the Old Benton-Sardis Road Bridge reached their peak after the towns of Benton, Bauxite, and Sardis began developing in the early 1900s. In the 1910s, new and improved roads were needed to aid in the transportation of bauxite ore from the nearby strip mines to Alcoa …

Old Folks’ Singing

What became known as Old Folks’ Singing started on May 17, 1885, with the dedication of a new Methodist church and cemetery in Tull (Grant County). The event was multi-denominational, with the entire community participating in the singing and midday dinner. The annual event, which celebrated its 125-year anniversary in 2010, is held in Tull at the Ebenezer United Methodist Church on the third Sunday in May. It is believed to be the oldest continuous singing day held west of the Mississippi River. While the shape-note system of learning music is no longer part of Old Folks’ Singing, the musical heritage of the event can be traced back to the shape-note singing popular in New England and moving to rural …

Old Hickory (Conway County)

Old Hickory in Conway County is just one of the many rural, unincorporated Arkansas communities that once served as area commercial centers and have since disappeared. Located about fifteen miles northwest of Morrilton (Conway County), the community was perhaps best known for a general store that closed in 1983. The first documented white settler, John H. Jones, was drawn to the area in 1849 by cheap land. On September 22, 1858, a post office was established with Abihu Arnn as its first postmaster. It is said that the long-lost original name for the post office was rejected due to its being too long. One story states that Julius Mackie Washington Masingill, an early settler, then suggested naming the office after the hickory …

Old Independence Regional Museum

The Old Independence Regional Museum, 380 S. 9th Street, was established in Batesville (Independence County) in 1998 to serve the twelve-county region of northeast Arkansas that was included in Independence County in 1820. Detailed maps describe the region’s historic sites and museums, leading visitors to continue their journey into the other counties in the region, which include all or part of Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff counties. Organization of the museum began in the fall of 1991, when the Independence County Historical Society formed a museum-planning committee of sixteen people. The committee learned from museum operations experts; drafted planning documents; and created a statement of purpose, a mission statement, goals, and a set …

Old Jail Museum Complex

The 1892 Sebastian County Jail is one of the oldest buildings in Greenwood (Sebastian County), as well as one of the few buildings to survive the 1968 tornado that destroyed much of the city’s business district. In 1966, the South Sebastian County Historical Society repurposed the “Old Jail” as a repository for historical artifacts of Greenwood and surrounding communities. On December 1, 1994, the jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The jail now serves as the centerpiece of the Old Jail Museum Complex, which is dedicated to the history of southern Sebastian County. The jail was constructed in 1892 by mason Isaac Kunkel, son Henry Oliver Kunkel, and son-in-law George Williamson, using stone quarried from Backbone …

Old Mike

Old Mike is the name given to a traveling salesman who died in 1911 in Prescott (Nevada County). The people of Prescott only knew him by his first name, Mike. He was subsequently embalmed and publicly displayed for over sixty years. Mike visited Prescott about once a month to sell pens, paper, and thread to homes and businesses near the railroad tracks in the center of town. He would arrive on the southbound 3:00 p.m. train and stay overnight. The next day, he would re-board the 3:00 p.m. train and continue his journey. On April 11, 1911, Mike probably attended an outdoor revival in the city park. The next day, his body was found underneath a tree in the park, …

Old Mill

Famous for its appearance in the opening credits of the 1939 classic movie Gone with the Wind, the Old Mill in the five-acre T. R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) contains the work of noted Mexican sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez, who perfected the folk art style known as faux bois (fake wood) by crafting reinforced concrete to resemble petrified logs. Justin Matthews, the developer of the town’s Park Hill and Lakewood subdivisions, hired Rodriguez in 1932 to create a tourist attraction for his new suburban development. Formally named Pugh’s Mill in honor of Matthews’s lifelong friend Thomas R. Pugh, the mill features a two-story stone building, bridges, benches, and other examples of Rodriguez’s art, all designed to …

Old Randolph County Courthouse

The Old Randolph County Courthouse sits in the middle of historic downtown Pocahontas (Randolph County). The second courthouse to serve Randolph County, the Old Courthouse is made of bricks and wood and decorated with wood trimming. A cupola adorns the roof. The building once had a vault, but it was removed sometime in the 1930s. Although the Old Courthouse is no longer home to the court system, it is still an important landmark for the city of Pocahontas. The Randolph County courts moved their offices diagonally across the street from the Old Courthouse to the new courthouse in 1940, after more than sixty years of service for the Old Courthouse. Since that time, the Old Courthouse has had several uses, …

Old River Bridge

The Old River Bridge spans a section of the Saline River at the end of River Street in Benton (Saline County). It is one of the oldest remaining bridges of its kind in the state. The Old River Bridge spans 260 feet and is composed of iron beams, two large trusses, and a wooden platform supported by iron columns. The bridge itself dates back to an act of the Saline County Court, which appropriated $5,000 “for the construction of an iron bridge over the Saline River at the Military Road Crossing” in 1889. Construction was completed in 1891 by Youngstown Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio. The land around it is also important, having been the site of William Lockhart’s settlement …

Old River Lake, Engagement at

aka: Engagement at Ditch Bayou
aka: Engagement at Lake Chicot
aka: Engagement at Lake Village
aka: Engagement at Furlough
aka: Engagement at Fish Bayou
aka: Engagement at Grand Lake
On June 6, 1864, Union and Confederate forces clashed along the southern shore of Lake Chicot near Lake Village (Chicot County). The engagement at Old River Lake (also known as Ditch Bayou) was the largest to occur in Chicot County and the last significant Civil War engagement in Arkansas. Union forces won the field but suffered higher casualties. By the end of 1863, Union forces controlled almost all traffic on the Mississippi River. Steamships were the primary sources of transportation. Gunboats protected fleets of troop transports moving up and down river. Their large cannons bombarded areas of Rebel activity along the river bank. Landing parties foraged for food and burned plantations. Local inhabitants lived in terror at the approach of …

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section, located at 1612 Smith Road in Rondo (Miller County), commemorates Confederate soldiers from Texas who died of disease in Rondo in 1862. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 22, 2004. On June 12, 1862, Brigadier General Henry Eustace McCulloch ordered all Confederate troops located east of Tyler, Texas, to march to Little Rock (Pulaski County), which was threatened by Samuel Curtis’s Union army. These troops included the Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment under Colonel Richard Waterhouse. At least seven companies of the Nineteenth were stationed at Rondo, just past the Arkansas-Texas state line, from July through early September. While the men were camped at Rondo, measles struck, killing dozens of Waterhouse’s …

Old Scott County Courthouse

The Old Scott County Courthouse is located on courthouse square in the historic commercial district of Waldron (Scott County). It was built in 1934 and housed the county government until 1996, when the county completed the current courthouse: a plain, contemporary structure that is located on 1st Street in Waldron. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) recognizes the 1934 building, a three-level courthouse with a full basement, as architecturally and historically significant due to its Art Deco style and as an example of a New Deal–era project. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1989. Since Waldron became the county seat in 1845, seven courthouses have served as the seat of justice, including the …

Old Scott County Jail

The Old Scott County Jail is located on West 2nd Street in Waldron (Scott County), adjacent to the Waldron Commercial Historic District. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 16, 2002. In 1907, plans were made to build a new jail to replace the old wooden jail that was in derelict condition, according to Judge W. A. Bates. J. L. McCartney was chosen to build the new jail after recently constructing a new courthouse downtown. The stone jail was completed in 1908. On March 22, 1933, a fire destroyed the courthouse that McCartney had built. A new courthouse opened on February 21, 1935, with the third floor designed to serve as the county jail. Upon …

Old Springdale High School

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was enjoying great prosperity as a shipping and processing hub for the northwestern Arkansas fruit and vegetable industry. With the economic good times came population growth and the need for a new school building. School officials opted to demolish the town’s 1871 school and construct a new one on the same site (present-day corner of Highway 71B and Johnson Avenue). The land had been donated to Springdale School District 50 in 1901 by community leaders Millard and Ida Berry with the stipulation that the property always be used for school purposes. In the fall of 1909, Rogers (Benton County) architect Albert Oscar (A. O.) Clarke was hired …

Old State House

The Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. The structure was built to accommodate all branches of the new state’s government. It served a multitude of uses before becoming, in 1951, a museum of Arkansas history. Under the direction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Old State House Museum continues to interpret Arkansas history from statehood to the present. In 1833, believing that Arkansas would soon achieve statehood, territorial governor John Pope hired Gideon Shryock, the architect of the Kentucky State Capitol, to design a state capitol building perched high on a bank of the Arkansas River. Shryock drew up plans for a large stone structure …

Old U.S. Highway 67

Highway 67 was one of the original highways included when the Arkansas State Highway System was formed in 1923; it was also one of the first Arkansas highways to be integrated as part of the U.S. highway system in 1925. By the late 1920s, Highway 67 was in need of serious improvement. The Arkansas State Highway commission began a major effort to upgrade and improve Arkansas’s major highways, including Highway 67, through the 1930s. Five sections of the highway and one rest area from this period, as well as a bridge and a rest area, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The route of the highway followed that of the Southwest Trail of the early 1800s, …

Old Union School

Early residents of Randolph County settled in the Ozark Plateau area of the county. While many of these communities are gone, remnants of their existence can be seen. For the Birdell (Randolph County) community, the Old Union School survives as an example of the early history of this once thriving community. Located approximately two miles northwest of the community, the school is a prime example of what early education looked like in rural Arkansas. The early community of Birdell constructed a hewn-log school out of material readily available, which was a common building technique in early Arkansas. It is believed that the original school was built sometime prior to the Civil War. This school burned in 1910, and classes were …

Oldfield, Pearl

aka: Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield
In 1929, Fannie Pearl Peden Oldfield became the first woman from Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served from January 9, 1929, to March 3, 1931. While a member of the House of Representatives, Oldfield introduced twenty-eight bills, served on three House committees, and spoke in Congress on three occasions. Pearl Peden, daughter of John Peden and Amanda Hill Peden, was born on a farm near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on December 2, 1876. She attended Cotton Plant Grammar School and Batesville Public School. In 1891, Peden enrolled in Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville (Independence County) but withdrew before finishing a degree. In June 1901, she married William Allen Oldfield. The couple had no …

Oldfield, William Allan

William Allan Oldfield was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-first U.S. Congress and to the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from 1909 until his death in 1928. During that time, he served as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and was chosen as chair of the Democratic Congressional Committee, campaigning across the country for Democratic candidates and incumbents. He was reelected to the Seventy-first Congress, his tenth consecutive term, but he died before he could take office. After a special election, his wife took his place in Congress, becoming the first woman in Arkansas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. William A. Oldfield was born in Franklin (Izard County) on February 4, 1874, …

Olio (Scott County)

Olio is an unincorporated community in eastern Scott County located along Highway 80. Olio was established in 1858 along Dutch Creek. Agriculture and timber have contributed to the economy and way of life in the region. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Olio was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds are located along the banks of prominent waterways such as Dutch Creek. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area. During the late …

Oliver (Scott County)

Oliver is an unincorporated community located in northwestern Scott County along Highway 28 north of the Poteau River. Agriculture has traditionally been important to the area. Prior to European exploration, Oliver was a wilderness lush with native vegetation and numerous species of wildlife—including buffalo and elk, which no longer inhabit the area. Archaeological evidence from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods has been discovered throughout the area. Additional evidence has indicated that the Caddo tribe had a strong presence along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways. 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 La Fave River and Poteau River. It is likely that …

Oliver, Dan (Lynching of)

On July 28, 1884, an African-American man named Dan Oliver was shot by a mob near Roseville (Logan County) for allegedly attempting to assault the daughter of a local white man identified only by his last name, Amos. Amos, whom the Arkansas Gazette called “one of the best citizens of Logan County,” was probably Elisha Amos. According to public records, Elisha Amos was born in Tennessee in 1841, and by 1860, he and his parents were living in Arkansas. He married Malinda Ann Pendergraft in Franklin County in 1862, and served in the Civil War. In 1870, he and Malinda and two children, Jesse (three years old) and Emily (six months), were living in Sebastian County. Elisha Amos was living …

Oliver, M. E.

aka: Marvin Elmer Oliver
Marvin Elmer Oliver was an artist, farmer, and civil service employee in the Arkansas Ozarks. In 1955, he produced a book, Strange Scenes in the Ozarks, which attracted notice because of its unique artistic qualities. Text and illustrations were printed using the silk-screen (or serigraph) process, assembled by hand, and enclosed in a handmade cover. Oliver published 400 copies. The text describes the backwoods life Oliver remembered, which was almost completely gone by the time he produced his book. His distinctive illustrations make Strange Scenes in the Ozarks an item of interest to collectors of Arkansiana and of regional art. Oliver later published Old Mills of the Ozarks (1969) with black-and-white sketches, descriptions, and locations of twenty water-powered mills. M. …

Olympians

From 1908 to 2016, nearly eighty athletes with ties to Arkansas (either natives/residents or affiliated with the state through its universities) have participated in the Olympic Games. Summer Olympians have competed in track and field, basketball, boxing, baseball, rowing, shooting, cycling, kayaking, modern pentathlon, swimming, golf, and art. One Winter Olympian competed in short-track speed skating. Thirty-five Arkansas-affiliated Olympians have won medals. Veronica Campbell-Brown leads this group, with eight medals. A former sprinter at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the Jamaican native won a silver medal for Jamaica in the 4×100-meter relay in 2000, gold medals in the 200 meters and the 4×100-meter relay and a bronze medal in the 100 meters in 2004, a gold medal …

Olyphant (Jackson County)

The community of Olyphant is most noted for being the site of the last train robbery in Arkansas. On November 3, 1893, eight men hijacked Iron Mountain passenger train No. 51, robbed the passengers, and murdered the conductor, William P. McNally. The robbers were tracked down, tried, and found guilty, and three were hanged in Newport (Jackson County) in the only known multiple execution in Jackson County history. Olyphant is located on Highway 367 halfway between Newport, eight miles to the north-northeast, and Bradford (White County), eight miles to the south-southwest. Before the Civil War, Grand Glaise (Jackson County), a river port on White River, was the dominant community in the area and the second-largest town in the county. The …

Olyphant Train Robbery

During the nineteenth century, travelers on steam locomotives were at risk for train robberies. In Arkansas, one particularly high-profile train robbery happened in the small town of Olyphant (Jackson County) in 1893. What followed was a sensationalized manhunt and the execution of three bandits involved in the incident. On November 3, 1893, the seven-car Train No. 51 of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway pulled off to a side track so that the Cannonball Express, a much faster train, could pass. It was about 10:00 p.m. on a cold and rainy night; the train had left Poplar Bluff, Missouri, at noon that day and was headed to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Many of the 300 passengers were wealthy …

Omaha (Boone County)

  Omaha is a town in northern Boone County, about five miles from the Missouri state line. The town is on State Highway 14 (old U.S. 65) and was a stop on the Missouri Pacific railroad’s White River line. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Osage—who lived in what is now southern Missouri—would frequently visit the Ozark hills of what is now northern Arkansas on hunting and fishing expeditions. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, both Cherokee and Shawnee moved into the area. Local lore says that a Native American village called Sha-wa-nah existed at the site where Omaha would be built, although the village’s existence has not been verified by archaeological evidence. Even after treaties were revoked …

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

The OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology of Fayetteville (Washington County) began its work as a traditional peace advocacy organization before moving into local community engagement linked to state, national, and global networks. The organization’s mission is as follows: “OMNI Center educates, empowers and connects, for a world that is nonviolent, sustainable and just.” The OMNI Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The OMNI Center’s founders were James R. (Dick) Bennett and Dana Copp. When Bennett retired from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1998, after a forty-year career as a professor of English, he wanted to start a peace organization and change the world. Copp agreed to help, and in the spring of 2001, they set …

On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw

A ninety-six-page joke book, On a Slow Train Through Arkansaw gained wide popularity upon its publication in 1903 and eventually became the bestselling joke book in American history. Subtitled “funny railroad stories—stories of the Southern darkies—all the best minstrel jokes of the day,” the book includes puns, some tall tales, and the prevalent racial and gender stereotypes of its day. The author, Thomas W. Jackson (1867–1934), was a train brakeman for the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company who collected stories and jokes he heard on his travels; as he had injured his hand in an accident and was not able to write, his wife wrote his stories down for the book. Published in Chicago, the book was sold by “train butchers,” …

One Drop Rule

aka: Act 320 of 1911
aka: House Bill 79 of 1911
In 1911, Arkansas passed Act 320 (House Bill 79), also known as the “one-drop rule.” This law had two goals: it made interracial “cohabitation” a felony, and it defined as “Negro” anyone “who has…any negro blood whatever,” thus relegating to second-class citizenship anyone accused of having any African ancestry. Although the law had features unique to Arkansas, it largely reflected nationwide trends. Laws against interracial sex were not new. Virginia declared extramarital sex a crime during Oliver Cromwell’s era and increased the penalty for sex across the color line in 1662. In 1691, Virginia criminalized matrimony when celebrated by an interracial couple. Maryland did so the following year, and others followed. By 1776, twelve of the thirteen colonies that declared …

One False Move

One False Move is a 1992 thriller co-written by Arkansan Billy Bob Thornton, who was born in Hot Springs (Garland County). Running for one hour and forty-five minutes, the R-rated film stars Thornton, his future wife Cynda Williams, and Bill Paxton, known for roles in the hit films Apollo 13, Twister, and Titanic. The director of One False Move was Carl Franklin, who went on to direct Denzel Washington in 1995’s Devil in a Blue Dress. The screenplay was written by Thornton and Tom Epperson, a native of Malvern (Hot Spring County). One False Move was a low-budget independent film that became popular through word of mouth as well as critical raves from film critic Roger Ebert and his reviewing …

One With Others

One With Others is C. D. Wright’s 2010 book of investigative, documentary poetry chronicling the life of her mentor, Margaret Kaelin McHugh, otherwise known as “V.” The “nom de guerre” of V. was given to McHugh by a “gaggle of unsolicited student acolytes,” among them Wright, who took McHugh into their student housing in Memphis, Tennessee, after she was exiled from her hometown in eastern Arkansas for her role in the 1969 March Against Fear from West Memphis (Crittenden County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taking as its subject the “stuck clock of history,” the book switches between 1969 Big Tree, the fictive name Wright gives V’s hometown, and 2004 Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood, as V. is dying. While …

Onia (Stone County)

Onia (pronounced Ownie) is located on Highway 263 three and a half miles north of Timbo (Stone County) near Roasting Ear Creek. The creek—popular for swimming, fishing, and baptisms—reportedly received its name when ears of corn were washed downstream during a flood. The two main landmarks of Onia are the Bethany Baptist Church and the post office in the center of the community. At one time, the area was part of the large community of Locust Grove, which was located in Searcy County before Stone County was created on April 17, 1873. What is today Onia was often referred to by locals as Lower Clark, with Upper Clark being in the Thola area of Searcy County. Near the old Roasting …

Opal’s Steak House

Opal’s Steak House is a single-story building designed in the Art Moderne style. Constructed as a restaurant circa 1948 on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), it has held various businesses over the decades. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. The brick and stucco building faces Park Avenue to the south and is turned at an angle to the street. The building is fronted with a door to the left and a window that covers the center and right side of the front wall. Constructed from brick, the front of the building includes two projecting brick bands above the door and window. Both corners of the front façade are curved. Another …

Opalinids

Opalinids are a small group of peculiar cosmopolitan organisms that belong to the kingdom Protista. Recent classification places the opalinids as heterotrophic stramenopiles (heterokonts) within the phylum Placidozoa, class Opalinea, and order Slopalinida. There are over 200 species, and, although opalinids are typically endocommensals (that is, living within the host without affecting it) in the large intestine and cloaca of anurans (frogs and toads), they have also been reported from fish, salamanders, reptiles, and some invertebrates (mollusks and insects). They are of no medical or economic importance, but they are interesting because their reproductive cycles are apparently controlled by the host’s hormones. In addition, opalinids are routinely encountered in dissections of frogs in college biology laboratories, and most students are …

Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point

Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point is a summer program that trains opera singers and stages performances at Inspiration Point, overlooking the White River seven miles west of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The company has always performed in repertory style, with each student learning several roles over the season. Generally, three operas make up the summer season, with at least one being performed in the original language. Charles Mowers, a German-born engineer and inventor, came from Texas to the Ozark Mountains around 1900 to hunt wild game. He bought the land known as the Big Rock Candy Mountain in 1928 and began construction of a “castle” based on his memories of buildings along the Rhine River. Using stone quarried on …

Operabilly

Operabilly is a genre of music unique to the Ozark Mountains of northwestern Arkansas. The term “operabilly” is a compound of “opera” and “hillbilly,” thus indicating a fusion of traditional operatic elements and themes with the motifs and musical sensibilities of Ozark Mountain dwellers. Its foothold in Arkansas’s rich musical history includes performances of My Damn Butterfly and the controversial naming of a stretch of Arkansas highway the highfalutin “Opera Highway 23,” rather than the more accurate “Operabilly Highway 23.” While there have long been so-called “hillbilly opera” productions, these have primarily been comedy productions lampooning the people of Appalachia and the Ozarks through a contrast of low, hillbilly culture with the highbrow word “opera.” True operabilly, by contrast, preserves …

Operation Iraqi Freedom

The armed conflict called Operation Iraqi Freedom began with an invasion of Iraq, led primarily by the United States with the assistance of Great Britain and other allies; the conflict lasted from 2003 to 2011. The invasion was initiated based on intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and that Saddam Hussein was harboring and supporting al-Qaeda terrorists. The lack of evidence of any WMDs later became a political flashpoint. One goal of the invasion was to overthrow the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein to establish a free and independent Iraqi government, democratically elected by its people. Significant opposition arose in 2002–2003 during the run up to the war, with sixty-three percent of Americans desiring a diplomatic solution …

Opossums

aka: Possums
aka: Didelphis virginiana
Arkansas opossums (commonly referred to as “possums”) are of the Virginia opossum species Didelphis virginiana and can be found in both rural and urban habitats. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tracks opossum populations and oversees an opossum hunting season during the winter months. As the only marsupials found in North America, opossums have existed for 70–80 million years. They are highly adaptable omnivores who eat a variety of foods including insects, rodents, berries, grasses, leaves, and carrion. The females can have twenty to twenty-five babies in one litter and carry their young in their pouches for up to three months. Opossums have opposable thumbs on their rear feet and can also grasp with their tails. Contrary to popular belief, …

Oppelo (Conway County)

Known by thousands of travelers as the “turn-off” or last gas stop on the way to Petit Jean State Park, the small community of Oppelo had its origins many years prior to the development of the notable intersection of Highways 9 and 154. The often mispronounced name also provides recognition for this community of nearly 800. The area south of the Arkansas River in Conway County was negotiable territory in the early days and became a part of Perry County in 1840, when it was known as Aplin Township. In 1873, the Arkansas legislature returned the area to Conway County. Again, the area’s location relative to Petit Jean Mountain was an important consideration in the reunification with Conway County. The …

Optimus (Stone County)

Optimus is an unincorporated Stone County community in Optimus Township on Highway 5 across the White River from Calico Rock (Izard County), which is five miles to the north. Optimus is about twelve miles north of Mountain View (Stone County), the county seat, and about twelve miles west of Melbourne (Izard County). Bannerstones (stone artifacts whose function is much debated) have been found at Optimus, indicating early habitation by Native Americans in the caves and bluffs of the area. One of these caves, the Clay Cave, is easily accessible from Sylamore Road. Miles Ware Jeffery was born in 1816 in what is today Mount Olive (Izard County), three and a half miles south-southeast of present-day Optimus. His parents, Johoiada Jeffery …

Ord, Edward Otho C.

Edward Otho C. Ord was a major general in the Union army during the Civil War and commanded the Department of Arkansas and the Fourth Military District during Reconstruction. Born in Cumberland, Maryland, on October 18, 1818, Edward O. C. Ord was the son of James and Rebecca Ord. The family moved to Washington DC when Ord was young. Tutored by his father, he was known as a mathematical genius. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point at the age of sixteen. He graduated in 1839 and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Third United States Artillery. After service during the Second Seminole War and a promotion to first lieutenant in 1841, Ord sailed …

Orient Ferry, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Paroquet Bluff
  The Skirmish at Orient Ferry took place when troops in the Fifteenth Texas Cavalry attacked elements of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry as they ferried their supply wagons across the Black River at Paroquet Bluff, located on the west side of the river above Jacksonport (Jackson County) during their drive to join Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Southwest as it marched across eastern Arkansas toward Helena (Phillips County) on the Mississippi River. The bulk of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry left Rolla, Missouri, on June 17 to join the Army of the Southwest. The veteran Kansans traveled fast and light, leaving their wagons and stores to catch up. Captain William F. Creitz and Company A, soon joined by …