Entries - Starting with P

Passenger Pigeons

aka: Ectopistes migratorius
The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a North American bird species in the order Columbiformes (pigeons and doves) that became extinct in the early twentieth century. The fate of the passenger pigeon serves as a graphic lesson in the misuse of natural resources, as the species went from an almost indescribable abundance to extinction in only a few decades. The decline came primarily as a result of relentless persecution of its breeding colonies by market hunters, largely for meat, with no (or ineffectual) regulation that might have maintained a stable population. The passenger pigeon had the same general body shape as the common and familiar mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) but was larger and somewhat more colorful, with areas of slate-blue …

Patmos (Hempstead County)

Patmos is a town in southern Hempstead County on State Highway 355. The town was created by construction of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway early in the twentieth century, but its most significant years have been in the twenty-first century. Caddo lived and traveled along the Red River not far from Patmos, but no settlement was established in the area at that time. After the Arkansas Territory was established, a network of routes called the Southwest Trail was built across the territory, terminating at Fulton (Hempstead County) on the Red River. Washington (Hempstead County) and other communities were established and grew during these years, but the site of Patmos remained unsettled. Just before the start of the Civil War, in …

Patrick, William (Lynching of)

On December 3, 1915, an African-American man named William Patrick was lynched in St. Francis County for allegedly killing a young white man named Bard Nichols in October of that year. There is very little information available about William Patrick. In 1900, there was an eighteen-year-old African American by that name boarding in Franks Township in St. Francis County and working on a farm. He could both read and write. In 1910, there was an African American named W. D. Patrick living in Franks Township; his age is listed as thirty-six at the time, making him a slightly more likely candidate. He was a farmer living with his wife and four small children. If Patrick was fifty-five years old as …

Patterson (Woodruff County)

Patterson, located in the southwestern part of Woodruff County, was once an important shipping point for the lumber industry. Today, its economy relies on farm services and granaries. Patterson, like many other settlements, was not always called by that name. It began when the B&B Railroad tracks were built across the Missouri Pacific tracks in the 1880s. Rufus Martin was the construction engineer on the project, and the place where the tracks crossed was named Martin’s Junction. Sanders Sawmill on the Cache River floated logs down the river to Martin’s Junction for shipping. Several other sawmills in the area, as well as a stave mill, used the point for shipping, and businesses began to spring up. At some point, the …

Patterson, Anne W.

Anne W. Patterson was a longtime member of the United States Foreign Service. Over the course of a distinguished career, she served in numerous diplomatic posts, including a lengthy term as interim U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was promoted to career ambassador, the highest rank in the career Foreign Service, in 2008. Anne Woods was born on October 4, 1949, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to John Davis Woods and Carolyn Ackley Woods. She has one brother. She grew up in Fort Smith and attended the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, before enrolling at Wellesley College, from which she graduated in 1971 with a BA in economics. She attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina but …

Patterson, Hugh Baskin, Jr.

Hugh Baskin Patterson Jr. was publisher of the Arkansas Gazette for thirty-eight years and is considered the unsung hero of the triumvirate that led the newspaper through the 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its coverage of the crisis won two Pulitzer Prizes. Hugh Patterson was born in Cotton Plant, Mississippi, on February 8, 1915, the youngest of three children of Hugh B. Patterson Sr. and Martha Rebecca Wilson. His father was a merchant with experience in general stores in Cotton Plant and other places in Mississippi as well as Monticello (Drew County). The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1917. As a young man, Patterson worked for a commercial printing business …

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

aka: Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College
Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College, located at the corner of Wright Avenue and Ringo Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is significant in four areas: African-American history, education history, legal history, and architecture/engineering achievement. From 1929 to 1955, Dunbar offered a comprehensive education for black students in Little Rock. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Known historically as a Rosenwald School and funded in part by Julius Rosenwald—president of Sears, Roebuck and Company—Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College was completed in 1929 as the Negro School of Industrial Arts. It was part of a comprehensive nationwide program, funded primarily by Rosenwald, to improve the quality of …

Paul Laurence Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District

Dotted with homes dating to the 1890s, the Paul Laurence Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) has been described by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program as “reflecting the varied architectural styles prevalent during the late-nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth centuries, exhibiting a broad mix of influences and architectural variants popular during the period.” The district is nestled between the Governor’s Mansion Historic District to the east and the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District to the west. Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College, from which the historic district takes its name, was erected in 1929. “The elaborate Art Deco school is undoubtedly the architectural showcase of the neighborhood,” noted the Paul Laurence …

Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton (Crime Spree)

Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton escaped from an Oklahoma prison and embarked on a crime spree that took them across multiple states, including Arkansas. The men were convicted in Arkansas of killing town marshal Marvin Ritchie and park ranger Opal James in Logan County. They were executed along with a third man at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction on January 8, 1997. At the time of their escape, Ruiz was serving a life sentence for armed robbery, while Van Denton was serving a life sentence for murder. Working as part of a twenty-member crew tasked with tearing down a brick factory near the prison in McAlester, Oklahoma, the pair escaped on June 23, 1977. They …

Paulette, Gene

Gene Paulette was a professional baseball player whose career totaled six seasons in the major leagues. He played with four clubs: the American League’s St. Louis Browns and the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies. An athlete of average speed and hitting ability, Paulette excelled as a defensive infielder. His time in the major leagues was cut short when, amid game-fixing accusations, he became the first player ever to be banned from baseball. After his career ended, Paulette returned to Arkansas, where he lived the rest of his life. Gene Paulette was born on May 26, 1891, in Centralia, Illinois, to Joseph Paulette and Marguerite DeServe Paulette. Paulette was the eleventh of twelve children born …

Payne, “Sunshine” Sonny

aka: John William Payne
“Sunshine” Sonny Payne was the longtime host of King Biscuit Time, the radio program broadcast on KFFA 1360 AM in Helena (Phillips County) (now Helena-West Helena) that has done much to popularize blues music. As blues journalist Don Wilcock wrote, “Sunshine Sonny Payne exists totally outside the boundaries that define and confine most of society. That he loves blues music and the people…all people…who make it and that he has a vehicle for expressing that love to thousands who then in turn influence millions makes the contribution of his cherub wisdom and good humor of incalculable value.” Sonny Payne was born John William Payne on November 29, 1925, to Gladys Swope Payne and William G. Payne, in Helena (Phillips County). …

Pea Ridge (Benton County)

The influx of white settlers into the Pea Ridge area of Arkansas began during the decade prior to Arkansas statehood in 1836 and continued through the 1850s. Pea Ridge became one of the earlier college towns in Arkansas, offering business instruction, music education, and training teachers for early northwest Arkansas schools. Pea Ridge National Military Park, occupying the site of the 1862 Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge, is a major Arkansas tourist attraction. As part of the rapidly expanding economy of northwest Arkansas, Pea Ridge is poised for significant growth during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In fact, the city motto is “Anchored to the Past… Rising to the Future.” Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Pea Ridge …

Pea Ridge Academy

aka: Mount Vernon Normal College
aka: Mount Vernon Masonic College
aka: Pea Ridge Normal College
The Pea Ridge Academy, organized in 1874, was one of the earliest enduring institutions of higher education in the developing northwest Arkansas area following the Civil War. Contemporary with what is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and the older Cane Hill College, the Pea Ridge Academy played a significant role in advancing education in Benton County. Organized as a private (or subscription) school, the academy soon entered a cooperative venture with the newly developing public school system, providing space for the public elementary and high school grades, while continuing to operate as a private trustee-governed academy offering college-level courses. Though never a large school, it sent out numerous graduates as business leaders and teachers for …

Pea Ridge Campaign

The Pea Ridge campaign was arguably the most significant campaign of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi region. The Union Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis defeated the Confederate Army of the West led by Major General Earl Van Dorn in the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862, and played a pivotal role in claiming Missouri for the Union and opening Arkansas to Union occupation. Missouri was high on the wish lists of both the Federal and Confederate governments in 1861. Federal Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon drove pro-secession elements out of St. Louis, Missouri, then chased Major General Sterling Price’s Missouri State Guard to the southwest corner of Missouri and fought the Battle of …

Pea Ridge Mule Jump and Show

The Pea Ridge Mule Jump is an annual event held each autumn in Pea Ridge (Benton County). Each year on the second Saturday in October, spectators come from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma to enjoy this unique competition. In 2008, the crowd numbered more than 1,000. Mule jumping events occur mostly in the South. Mule jumping originally began when raccoon hunters taught their mules to jump fences on hunts. The riders dismounted, climbed over the fence, placed a blanket on the fence so the mule could see it, and urged their mules to jump over. The Pea Ridge Mule Jump began when local resident Colonel Negel Hall, along with his friend Don Shockley from Powell, Missouri, set up the event …

Pea Ridge National Military Park

Located near Rogers (Benton County), the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park was created by an act of Congress in 1956. The park, which preserves the battlefield of the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, was dedicated as a national park during the nation’s Civil War Centennial in 1963. Pea Ridge is one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the country. The Pea Ridge National Military Park came into being through the work of several Arkansas congressmen. Representative Clyde T. Ellis of Arkansas’s Third Congressional District began corresponding with the National Park Service in 1939, reviving a proposal to preserve the Pea Ridge battlefield. In 1956, the Arkansas congressional delegation proposed legislation to make Pea Ridge a national military park. …

Pea Ridge, Battle of

aka: Battle of Elkhorn Tavern
The Battle of Pea Ridge played a pivotal role in securing Missouri for the Union and opened Arkansas to Union occupation. It played a large role in preserving Missouri’s tenuous loyal-state status. After the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, August 10, 1861, the command structure on both sides in Missouri underwent major overhauls. Union Major General Henry W. Halleck chose Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis to command the force that fought at Wilson’s Creek, the newly christened Army of the Southwest. The Confederates also had command issues. Major General Sterling Price and Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch feuded bitterly, and President Jefferson Davis chose Major General Earl Van Dorn to revive the Confederacy’s fortunes in the new Military District of …

Peach Industry

Peaches are grown throughout the state of Arkansas with the highest concentrations being in central Arkansas  (Pope and Faulkner counties), western Arkansas (Johnson and Franklin counties), southwest Arkansas (Howard and Clark counties), northern Arkansas (Boone, Benton, and Washington counties), and Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas (Cross and St. Francis counties). Peaches are most successfully produced on light, sandy soils with at least thirty-six inches of soil depth. Orchards are usually placed on locations with raised elevations to avoid or lessen the impact of incidents of low temperature such as frosts. Peaches were introduced as a crop in Arkansas after the Civil War, as were many other fruits and vegetables, during the New South Diversification movement in agriculture. This movement was …

Peach Orchard (Clay County)

  Although it was not incorporated until 1910, Peach Orchard is the oldest extant settlement in Clay County. Located on state Highway 90 a few miles south of the Black River, the city reached its peak during the timber harvesting in Clay County that followed construction of the railroad. Since that time, Peach Orchard has slowly dwindled. French explorers traveled the Black River late in the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century, and their presence in Arkansas did not abruptly end when the United States acquired the land in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Pierre Le Mieux owned a small estate on the south shore of the Black River that may have existed earlier than 1800. In 1816, he deeded that …

Peake High School

Peake High School served the African-American community in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for decades. Partially funded by the Rosenwald Fund, the building was constructed in 1928 and eventually became part of the Peake Elementary School campus. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 19, 2005. The first school built for African Americans in Arkadelphia opened in 1891. While educational opportunities for black children had existed in the community since 1869, the Sloan School on West Main was the first purpose-built public educational building. Arkadelphia Baptist Academy and the Bethel Institute (later Shorter College) also operated in the city during this period. The need for a newer building increased as the population of Arkadelphia grew, and the …

Pearce, Nicholas Bartlett

Nicholas Bartlett Pearce commanded the First (western) Division of the Arkansas Army in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Oak Hills) on August 10, 1861, and served subsequently as a Confederate commissary officer. Nicholas Bartlett Pearce was born on July 20, 1828, in Princeton, Kentucky, to farmers Allen Pearce and Mary (Polly) Morse Pearce; he had four sisters and one brother. He reportedly graduated from Cumberland College in 1845 and then attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating in the class of 1850, ranking twenty-sixth in a class of forty-four. Entering the service as a second lieutenant, he saw service in Texas and Utah and, in June 1855, while stationed at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), married Nancy …

Pearl Rush

The rivers of northeast Arkansas once teemed with freshwater mollusks capable of producing pearls, which led to a huge “pearl rush” in the region in the late 1800s. The mussels had not been harvested on a large scale since Native Americans dwelled along these rivers, giving the animals—and the pearls within—time to grow. In an era before cultured pearls, these gems only occurred naturally, growing inside a freshwater mollusk or saltwater oyster, and the rarity of this occurrence made them precious. Native Americans used pearls to indicate elite status through adornment and burial practices. Burial sites in Campbell, Missouri, and Spiro, Oklahoma, revealed large quantities of freshwater pearls heaped in baskets or large shell vessels. A grave near present-day Helena-West …

Pearson, John

John Pearson was a renowned gunsmith noted for his early work with Samuel Colt in developing the first working revolver. He later worked as a gunsmith in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). John Pearson was born in England around 1811 and, by the 1830s, had immigrated to the United States, where he established himself as a tradesman and gunsmith in Baltimore, Maryland. He was operating there when Samuel Colt began developing his design for a revolving pistol that could fire multiple rounds before being reloaded. Colt worked with several contractors, but Pearson was his favored gunsmith and consultant, and Colt would bring him designs to build with hand tools and early machinery. As one biographer noted, …

Pearson, John Albert

John Albert Pearson Jr. was the last man to be appointed as an officer in the Confederate States Marine Corps during the American Civil War and may have been the only Arkansan to serve as a Confederate marine officer. John Albert Pearson Jr. was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on November 5, 1845, the son of John and Mary Pearson. His father had created the prototype for the first revolving pistol from designs by Samuel Colt, and Pearson was learning the gunsmith trade when the Civil War began in 1861. Pearson, though only fifteen years old, joined the Third Arkansas State Troops on May 21—fifteen days after Arkansas seceded from the Union. Pearson was with the Third Arkansas when …

Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens

The Peel Mansion Museum and Heritage Gardens preserve the Colonel Samuel W. Peel House, constructed in 1875 and located at 400 South Walton Boulevard in Bentonville (Benton County). The house remains a remarkably good example of the Italianate style of architecture, in spite of the later covering of the main body of the house with stucco. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1995. A native of Arkansas, Samuel Peel was a Civil War veteran who, by the conflict’s end, had risen to the rank of colonel in the Fourth Regiment, Arkansas Infantry. Peel was penniless at the close of the war and set on a career in law immediately after his discharge. He was …

Peel, Samuel West

Samuel West Peel’s diversified career in Arkansas included roles as a businessman, politician, county clerk, Confederate soldier, lawyer, prosecuting attorney, congressman, Indian agent, and banker. In Benton County and Arkansas, he is best remembered as the first native-born Arkansan to be elected to the United States Congress. Sam Peel was born in Independence County on September 13, 1831, to John Wilson Peel, a farmer and merchant, and Elizabeth West Peel. He had two sisters. Peel was four years old when his mother died. His father left him with his grandparents and moved to Carrollton (Carroll County), making a home on Crooked Creek and remarrying. John Peel and his second wife, Malinda Wilson, had eleven children. As a youth, Peel worked …

Peeler Bend Canoe

The Peeler Bend Canoe is an extremely rare and well-preserved relic of Arkansas’s Native American heritage. Found by chance in 1999, the canoe is believed to have been made by members of the Caddo tribe. Radiocarbon dating places the canoe’s creation sometime between AD 1160 and 1300. After spending several years at the Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Peeler Bend Canoe was placed on display in Riverside Park in Benton (Saline County). The canoe has been loaned to the City of Benton by the Department of Arkansas Heritage for exhibition until March 15, 2020. In August 1999, Benton resident Charles Greene was fishing in the Saline River near the Peeler Bend access located just outside …

Pellagra

Pellagra is a form of malnutrition caused by a severe deficiency of niacin (also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) in the diet. The disease affected thousands of Arkansans and other Southerners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Symptoms of pellagra can include lack of energy, outbreaks of red splotches on the skin, diarrhea, and—in extreme cases—depression, dementia, and even death. Pellagra is not contagious, and the condition can be reversed. The lethargic appearance of pellagra victims was also a symptom of two other diseases widely found in the South at the time, hookworm and malaria. These three contributed to the false stereotype of Southerners at this time as lazy. Pellagra was first recognized as a disease in 1762 …

Pemiscot Bayou, Skirmish at

Throughout Mississippi County and the adjacent Missouri counties of Dunklin and Pemiscot, bands of guerillas harassed Union forces, raided farms and communities, and terrorized the citizenry with acts of violence during the Civil War. Composed primarily of Confederate deserters and civilian sympathizers, these combatants hid within the dense swamplands and canebrakes that dominated the landscape, making it difficult for Union forces to pinpoint their exact locations. Determined to disperse these groups and limit their activities, Major John W. Rabb spearheaded an expedition from New Madrid, Missouri, to Mississippi County on April 5, 1864. At 11:00 p.m., with a force of approximately 200 men, he embarked on a steamer and sailed down the Mississippi River to Barfield’s Point (Mississippi County), where …

Penal Systems

aka: Prisons
The penal system of Arkansas has been fraught with controversy through the years. It has been central to the careers of some of the state’s governors and has more than once drawn national and international attention for its faults and shortcomings. Beginnings Many of the Europeans who settled in the United States believed that the chief purpose of government was to punish sinners while leaving the righteous alone. As a result, many of the early actions of colonial and territorial Arkansas pertained to crime and punishment (as was the case across North America). Arkansas Post was a colonial settlement of the French and Spanish (mostly the French) during the seventeenth century; a prison was one of the first structures to …

Pencil Bluff (Montgomery County)

Pencil Bluff is an unincorporated community located in Montgomery County, nine miles west of the county seat, Mount Ida (Montgomery County). Today, Pencil Bluff encompasses the two former area communities of White Town and Sock City. White Town grew along Highway 6, which ran from Mount Ida to Fort Smith (Sebastian County). In the early 1920s, a car repair workshop and small store served White Town, followed some years later by a café. In 1930, Highway 6 became U.S. Highway 270 when it was improved and relocated around White Town. Two differing accounts exist documenting how Sock City received its name. According to one, the area’s men hid money in their socks when they met to play poker. The second …

Pendleton (Desha County)

Pendleton (Desha County) is the site of the only highway bridge over the Arkansas River between Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and the Mississippi River forty miles downriver from the bridge. Pendleton is located in the northwestern-most part of Desha County. It was also the site of a major levee break on April 16, 1927, during the Flood of 1927. The Pendleton Post Office was open from 1867 to 1926 in one of the two general stores at the “town” of Pendleton. When much labor was required to farm the fertile land, a large community thrived in the area. The community was named for Dr. Samuel H. Pendleton, who was born in Amherst, Virginia. He moved his family to the area …

Pendleton, Donald Eugene (Don)

Donald Eugene Pendleton was a pulp fiction, action, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for the Executioner series books, which centered on the character Mack Bolan, who waged a one-man war against the Mafia. Pendleton is generally credited with creating the action-adventure genre in the 1970s. Don Pendleton was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 12, 1927, to Louis Thomas Pendleton, a machinist, and Drucy Valentine. On December 7, 1942, Pendleton lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, days before his fifteenth birthday. He served as a radioman first class until November 1947. He served in all the war theaters and received several medals, including the Naval Commendation Medal, Iwo Jima, in 1945. He …

Pentastomes

aka: Tongue Worms
The phylum Pentastomida (some consider it a class) includes four orders, seven families, and about 144 species, including eight extinct species from the Paleozoic Era. They are wormlike obligate parasites, meaning that they cannot complete their life cycle without a host. As adults, they inhabit the respiratory tract (lungs and nasal passages) of vertebrates. Four species are known from intermediate host insects (three coprophagus cockroaches and one coleopteran). In addition, fishes are common intermediate hosts for pentastomes occurring in crocodilians and piscivorous chelonians, and rarely for some species of snakes. Definitive hosts include amphibians (few hosts) but mainly reptiles (lizards, snakes, freshwater turtles, and crocodilians), the latter making up about seventy percent of hosts. The most common genera of reptilian …

Pentecostal Church of God

The Arkansas District of the Pentecostal Church of God is, with 150 churches, the largest district within the denomination. The Pentecostal Church of God is also one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in Arkansas, exceeded only by the Assemblies of God, the Church of God in Christ, and the United Pentecostal Church. Several Arkansans have played prominent roles in the fellowship’s formation and continued leadership. Formation and AdvancementOn December 29 and 30, 1919, a small group of pastors, evangelists, and other individuals from across the United States and Canada met in Chicago, Illinois, in an attempt to unite their efforts for evangelism. Among those present for this meeting was Arkansan Eli Jackson DePriest, an evangelist from Black Rock (Lawrence County). …

Pentecostals

Pentecostalism is a “Spirit-driven,” renewalist movement within Protestant Christianity that began in the last part of the nineteenth century. Today, it is a fast-growing and influential religious tradition in Arkansas and worldwide. The term “Pentecostal” is derived from what is known as the Upper Room outpouring—the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit as described in chapter two of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit is described there as descending upon the followers of Jesus Christ with the sound of wind, tongues of fire, and the ability to speak other languages. This outpouring is known as Pentecost in Greek (because it marks the fiftieth day after Pesach/Passover), “Feast of Weeks” in English (also known as “week …

Penters Bluff (Izard County)

aka: Penter’s Bluff (Izard County)
The historic community of Penters Bluff is located on the White River about six and a half miles southeast of Guion (Izard County) and approximately five miles west of Cushman (Independence County). Penters Bluff and the neighboring railroad towns of Switch and Crocker have disappeared without much of a trace. Named for John Penter and family, whose name was often pronounced Painter, the bluff (or really a collection of bluffs) is sometimes called by that name and also by Panthers, Panters, and even Pinters Bluff; the apostrophe is usually left out between the “r” and the “s” in Penter’s Bluff but not always. The main reason Penters Bluff is still on the map is its breath-taking beauty, which attracts tourists …

Penzel, Charles Ferdinand

Charles Ferdinand Penzel emigrated from Austria to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1857 and, after the Civil War, became a leading merchant, pioneering banker, and prolific investor who rose to the first rank of capitalists in the city. He was also active, often as an officer, in numerous city economic development, religious, civic, and charitable organizations. At the time of his death, he was perhaps the richest German American in Arkansas. Born on October 8, 1840, to Johann Christof Penzel and Maria Elizabeth Penzel, Charles Penzel was one of twenty-eight emigrants from Asch, a Bohemian city of about 9,000 and a district of about 20,000 people, who settled in Pulaski County between 1848 and 1857. When he arrived in Pulaski …

Peonage

The term “peonage” refers to a debt labor system whereby workers are tied to a landowner due to debts owed the landowner by the worker. Peonage is considered a form of slavery since the worker is essentially prohibited from leaving the control of the landowner. Peonage was declared illegal by Congress in 1867, and two of the most famous peonage investigations occurred in Arkansas during the first decades of the twentieth century. Potential for peonage came about following the Civil War when the South’s agricultural economy shifted from use of a slavery-based workforce to a farming environment that relied on a mixture of hired labor and tenant farming or sharecropping. The sharecropping system encouraged indebtedness to the landowner since supplies …

Perkins, George Napier

George Napier Perkins was an African-American lawyer and newspaper publisher. Born a slave, he went on to become a major civil rights activist in both Arkansas and Oklahoma. George Napier Perkins was born to Moses Perkins and Millie Perkins. However, given the public record of the time, there is some discrepancy as to facts surrounding his birth; U.S. Civil War pension records list his birthday and birthplace as January 1, 1841, in Williamson County, Tennessee, while other sources list him as born on January 1, 1842, in Washington County, Tennessee. He received a limited education in Tennessee before the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was fifteen. The move was more likely a product of Perkins’s owners …

Perla (Hot Spring County)

Perla of Hot Spring County is one-tenth of a mile east of the city of Malvern (Hot Spring County) on U.S. Highway 67/270. Known for its clay pits, this incorporated community is home to the Perla East Gate Plant and Perla Plant No. 2 of Acme Brick. Later influenced by the brick industry, Perla was actually founded on its timber prospects. Malvern Lumber Company was established in 1880 by Adalbert Strauss. Strauss was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1848. He graduated from the College of Preceptors and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1864. He worked in the lumber industry there as well as in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Shreveport, Louisiana. On a train headed to the spas in …

Perry (Perry County)

  Perry is a town in Perry County that began as a railroad stop and survived as a lumber town. State Highways 9 and 10 run south as a single highway from Perry to Perryville (Perry County), but they divide in Perry, with Highway 9 running north to Morrilton (Conway County) and Highway 10 running west to Adona (Perry County). Few settlers came to the northwestern side of Perry Mountain before the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad was built in 1898. The depot built at this location was known first as North Perryville, but by the time the post office was established in 1899, the name had been shortened to Perry. Railroad workers preferred the well water of Perry to that found …

Perry County

  Perry County is in the Ouachita Mountains with the Arkansas River Valley flanking its eastern border and the Fourche La Fave River traversing it from west to east. It has six sub-basins and fourteen watersheds that include 836 acres of streams and lakes. The beauty of the mountains, rivers, and lakes is evident at every turn. The soil is rich alluvial in the river bottoms, and the uplands have loam with a clay foundation. The county has more than 287,000 acres of woodlands. Timber companies and the U.S. Forest Service are the major landowners. Despite its central location in the state of Arkansas, the mountains and watercourses made early settlement difficult. Flood control and better roads have made the …

Perry County Courthouse

The Perry County Courthouse was built in 1888 as a two-story brick building with very little decoration. This architectural look gives it a Plain Traditional style with extremely restrained Colonial Revival influences. The land for the courthouse was donated by John Huston and John Greathouse in 1841, with the stipulation that Perryville must be made the permanent seat of Perry County. A log courthouse was built on the site immediately. This first courthouse lasted approximately seven years, until 1848, when it was burned to the ground during a feud between the McCool and Lively families. (Some sources say it burned in 1850.) Another log courthouse was built on the site; it was known to be standing in 1889. Sometime in the …

Perry County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Perry County Historical and Genealogical Society was organized in December 1997 at the Max Milam Library in Perryville (Perry County) with only two people in attendance. Betty Burke was elected the first president and Jackie Paul Myers the first secretary and treasurer. Meeting times were set for the second Tuesday of each month, and with permission of the librarian, Jan Guffey, the organization met at the library. Six people attended the second meeting in January 1998: Betty Burke, Jackie Myers, Elise Hill, Leroy Williams, John Pennington, and Pearl Bowen Pennington, who was elected vice president. The goals of the society were: 1) to create and foster interest in genealogy; 2) to gather and preserve genealogical and historical data through library …

Perry County War of 1881

The Perry County War is the common name given to a brief period of violence that erupted in Perryville (Perry County) in the summer of 1881. The general lawlessness, including the murder of the local newspaper editor, resulted in the governor sending the militia to calm the situation. In actuality, the 1881 events were a second eruption of an ongoing settling of political differences in Perry County dating back to the Civil War. Like many counties in Arkansas during the Civil War, Perry County was divided by conflicting loyalties. The mountainous western sections of the county aligned with the Union, while whites in the eastern half, where most of the enslaved people lived, held Confederate sympathies. These philosophical differences continued …

Perry County, Skirmish at

The December 3, 1864, Skirmish at Perry County was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry, headquartered in Lewisburg (Conway County) at the time. According to this report, Lieutenant Robert W. Wishard conducted a scouting expedition into Perry County (the exact location is not given) and encountered Rebels affiliated with the companies of John A. Conly and a man named Franz. The resulting fight left five Confederates dead, including a lieutenant, and one Union private dead. Wishard pursued …

Perry Plaza Court Historic District

The Perry Plaza Court Historic District consists of a former motel (or “tourist court,” as it was known at the time) on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Constructed in the International Style, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004, due to its architectural significance and condition. In the 1970s, the building was converted into an apartment complex. Construction of the motel began in 1947 and was completed the next year. Designed by Hot Springs architect Irven McDaniel, the motel had nineteen units. The International Style, in which the building was constructed, is noted for its horizontal design elements and minimal adornment. The motel was built with steel joist construction, fire walls, …

Perry, Harold Robert

Harold Robert Perry was the first African American to become a bishop in the Catholic Church in the modern era. Part of his career beforehand was spent serving a church in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Perry was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on October 9, 1916, the son of a mill worker and a domestic cook. He knew at a young age that he wanted to enter the ministry, and at age thirteen he entered the Society of Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. In 1944, he was ordained into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church, becoming the twenty-sixth African American to attain this position. Over the decade, he served in several positions, pastoring congregations in Mississippi, …

Perryman, Lloyd Wilson

Lloyd Wilson Perryman was a member of the country and western group Sons of the Pioneers for more than four decades, appearing in dozens of movies and selling millions of records. An accomplished guitarist and singer, Perryman was a fixture in Hollywood from the mid-1930s until his death. Lloyd Perryman was born in Ruth (Fulton County) on January 29, 1917, to Samuel and Sally Perryman. He had eight older brothers and sisters. His family also lived in Zion (Izard County), where they farmed and owned a general store, prior to moving to California in 1928 when Perryman was eleven years old. There, Perryman learned to play the guitar and became involved with music while in high school. His first radio …