Entries - Starting with S

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

Scatterville, Skirmish at

  During a raid of northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri in the late summer of 1864, a battalion of Union cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John T. Burris defeated a Confederate recruiting party and a group of guerrillas at Scatterville (Clay County) on July 28, 1864. After the skirmish, the Union forces burned several structures in the town. In an effort to clear northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri of small bands of Confederate regulars, guerrillas, and general bushwhackers who had been menacing the countryside, Burris left New Madrid, Missouri, with a battalion consisting of the Second Cavalry Missouri State Militia and the First Cavalry Missouri Volunteers on July 21, 1864. From July 21 to July 26, Burris’s battalion …

Schexnayder, Charlotte Tillar

Journalist and state politician Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder co-owned the Dumas Clarion newspaper in Dumas (Desha County) with her husband for more than four decades and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for fourteen years. She was the first woman appointed to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Parole, and she was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce. She was also president of several associations for professional journalists, including the Arkansas Press Women, the Arkansas Press Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the National Newspaper Association. Charlotte Tillar was born on December 25, 1923, in Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) to Jewell Stephen Tillar and Bertha Terry Tillar. The family moved to McGehee (Desha County) in …

Schilberg, Richard

Richard Schilberg was an aviation pioneer whose early efforts in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) made him Arkansas’s first acknowledged aircraft manufacturer. Richard Schilberg was born on September 28, 1887, at Canada, Kansas, the son of Gottlieb Schilberg and Juliana Heidt Schilberg. He moved to Stuttgart in 1909 and opened a welding shop, initially specializing in agricultural machinery. He married Gladys Fricker on January 28, 1913. They divorced in 1926 and he married Mable Stilzen in 1927. The couple took their first airplane rides in June 1913, when one of Arkansas’s first aerial exhibitions came to the town. Increasingly interested in flying, he began building aircraft in Stuttgart by 1914, becoming the first major promoter of aviation in the Grand Prairie region. …

Schmidt, Charles “Boss”

Arkansas native Charles “Boss” Schmidt was a baseball player whose minor and major league career spanned most of the first two decades of the twentieth century. His nickname was a tribute to the toughness he exhibited, especially in fights during his baseball career (with other ballplayers, including his Detroit Tigers teammate Ty Cobb) and during a brief stint as a boxer. Charles Schmidt was born on September 12, 1880, in London (Pope County)—some sources say Coal Hill (Johnson County)—to German immigrants John and Mary Schmidt. It is unclear how many siblings he had, but a younger brother, Walter, played professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a youth, Schmidt worked in the coal mines central to the region’s economy. While …

Schnable, John Adams

Lieutenant Colonel John Adams Schnable was a noted Arkansas architect and engineer who designed and built Spring Mill and two rock bridges over Salado Creek in Independence County, as well as the Jacksonport (Jackson County) courthouse in Jackson County. He was a Civil War veteran and one of the few German immigrants who fought on the side of the Confederacy. John Schnable (name spelling varies) was born on June 11, 1817, in the German Confederation shortly after its creation in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna. Researchers are unsure about the names of his parents. He was directly involved in the Revolution of 1848 and, as a result, migrated to the United States and arrived in Virginia in 1851, where …

School Consolidation

When relating to public education, the term “consolidation” refers to the combining of schools, districts, or administrative units in rural communities as a way to save costs and broaden educational opportunities. This highly contentious education policy has been implemented since the nineteenth century across the country in states such as New York, Kansas, Vermont, and Wyoming. In Arkansas, rural schools and districts have faced consolidation policies throughout most of the history of public education in the state. The most recent wave of school consolidation occurred as part of Governor Mike Huckabee’s response to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Lake View School District vs. Huckabee, which stated that the state’s school funding system was unconstitutional. Early efforts to consolidate …

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft published the first written description of the Arkansas Ozarks’ geography, vegetation, wildlife, and inhabitants. His Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw, published in London, England, in 1821, is an account of a three-month exploration by Schoolcraft and one companion, Levi Pettibone. From November 1818 to February 1819, Schoolcraft explored land from Potosi, Missouri, southwest to the White River, northwest to near Springfield, Missouri, then south by canoe on the White River to present-day Batesville (Independence County), and finally northeast again to Missouri. Schoolcraft’s great-grandfather was a British soldier in New York in the early 1700s who settled with a German wife in Schoharie County, New York. His son John served in the …

Schoonover, Wear Kibler

Wear Kibler Schoonover won many academic and athletic awards while attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). While he was part of the All-American football team, he went to Hollywood to play a part in the film Maybe It’s Love. Schoonover later served in the U.S. Navy and worked for the government in the Legal Services Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wear Schoonover was born on March 18, 1910, in Pocahontas (Randolph County) to attorney Eugene Gardiner Schoonover and Estelle Waddle Schoonover; he had two siblings who died in infancy and one brother. Schoonover graduated from Pocahontas High School and attended UA, accomplishing much in both academics and sports. Schoonover was the first UA athlete …

Schoppach, Annie

aka: Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse
Annie Schoppach was the first female graduate of the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas (now the College of Medicine of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). She practiced medicine in Little Rock (Pulaski County), entering a profession that was almost entirely male dominated. Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse was born in Port Ryerse, Ontario, Canada, on May 3, 1859, the daughter of James and Sarah Ryerse. The Ryerse family was the most prominent family in the area, her great-grandfather having been the lieutenant governor of the Western District of Upper Canada. She experienced a great deal of loss early in her life. Her mother died when she was a small child. Later, her twin sister died. Her paternal …

Science and Technology

Arkansas has had a rather conflicted relationship with science and technology throughout its history. On the one hand, the state existed for a long time on the American frontier, separated from the intellectual and academic centers of the rest of the nation; hence, its residents have been popularly perceived throughout history as possessing an anti-intellectual strain, an image on occasion reified during, for example, controversies regarding the place of evolutionary theory in public education. On the other hand, political leaders, and the people themselves, fairly readily support scientific research that promises to have an immediate economic benefit for the state of Arkansas. Given Arkansas’s place as a largely agricultural state, it is no surprise that much of this research has …

Scipio A. Jones House

The Scipio A. Jones House is a 1928 Craftsman-style residence on Cross Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that was the home of Scipio Africanus Jones, a renowned African-American attorney, and his second wife, Lillie. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 28, 1999. Jones was born a slave in 1863 near Tulip (Dallas County). Moving to Little Rock around 1881, he attended Walden Seminary (now Philander Smith College) in Little Rock and Bethel Institute (now Shorter College) in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) before passing the bar in 1889. Jones would practice law in Little Rock for the remainder of his life, with his most noteworthy case being the defense of the so-called Elaine …

Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke Counties)

Scott is a small community on the line between Pulaski County and Lonoke County, north of the Arkansas River. Surrounded by farmland and by oxbow lakes, Scott is also near two state parks and several historic properties. Over the centuries, events such as floods, droughts, and—most recently—human construction have altered the path of the Arkansas River. Remnants of former sections of the river remain near Scott as oxbow lakes, particularly Bearskin Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and Willow Beach Lake. More than 1,000 years ago, a complex formation of mounds was created near what is now called Mound Pond. The site was farmed in the nineteenth century but was later preserved as Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park. Not only did the river …

Scott Cemetery

Scott Cemetery, established in 1920, is located in rural Lawrence County near Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County). The cemetery is representative of many small, rural African-American cemeteries in the South, although it is not associated with a nearby church. There are approximately 101 graves in the cemetery, including those of former slaves and of several leaders of the African-American community in the area. Scott Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A, with local significance for its association with the ethnic heritage (burial customs) of the African-American community of Walnut Ridge, Hoxie (Lawrence County), and the surrounding portions of Lawrence County from the 1920s to the present. Scott Cemetery is one of seven African-American cemeteries within …

Scott County

Scott County is located on the west central border of Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountain region of the state. The topography of the area is mountainous and interspersed with expansive valleys along the Fourche LaFave, Petit Jean, and Poteau rivers and associated tributaries. The town of Waldron and portions of the town of Mansfield are the two primary towns within Scott County. Major communities in Scott County are Abbott, Bates, Blue Ball, Boles, Cauthron, Cedar Creek, Harvey, Hon, Needmore, Nola, Parks, Union Hill, Winfield, and Y City. Pre-European Exploration Although little is known of those living in the area prior to 1,000 years ago, the first inhabitants of the Scott County area arrived millennia prior to any European exploration of …

Scott Plantation Settlement

The Scott Plantation Settlement, with its twenty-five exhibits, represents plantation history for the first 100 years of Arkansas statehood. It rests on more than eight acres of the Illallee Plantation donated by Virginia Alexander, daughter of Arthur Alexander and Otelia George Alexander, who purchased the land in 1898. The historical sequence of plantation culture can be seen in the preserved buildings and other exhibits dating from the antebellum period through the early twentieth century. The Scott Plantation Settlement is located in Scott, on the Pulaski–Lonoke county line, approximately twelve miles east of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its original owner, Chester Ashley, was a prominent attorney, land speculator, and U.S. senator. Joan Dietz, daughter of Virginia Alexander, is credited with the …

Scott-Selden Duel

aka: Selden-Scott Duel
The Scott-Selden Duel was fought on May 26, 1824, between Andrew Horatio Scott and Joseph Selden, both judges of the territorial Superior Court of the Arkansas Territory. Judges Scott and Selden worked together on the Superior Court from 1821 until the duel, which resulted in Selden’s death. Arkansas was created as a separate territory from Missouri in 1819. Congress vested the judicial power of the territorial government in a Superior Court, consisting of three judges appointed by the president for four-year terms, and in such other inferior courts as the territorial legislature might create. In 1819, Andrew Scott, Charles Jouett of Michigan, and Robert Letcher of Kentucky were appointed to be the first judges of the Superior Court. Jouett and …

Scott, Andrew Horatio

Andrew Horatio Scott was one of the first Superior Court judges of Arkansas Territory by virtue of appointment by President James Monroe. He was the first governmental official to report for duty at the village of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) on July 4, 1819, and assisted in putting into operation the laws of the territory. He served as Circuit Court Judge for the first District and was the first County Judge of Pope County. The county of Scott, created in 1833, was named in his honor. Andrew Scott was born on August 6, 1789, to Andrew Scott, a Scottish emigrant weaver and Elizabeth Ferguson in Hanover, County, Virginia. In 1808, he arrived with his parents, two brothers, and three sisters …

Scott, Bob

Bob Scott is a lawyer, politician, and longtime Republican operative. He is best known for his work during Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s administration as a legal advisor on the state’s prisons and as a finance manager. Despite being a Republican his entire adult life, Scott became an outspoken critic of what he came to see as his party’s extremism and abandonment of its core principles and historical legacy. Bob Scott was born on October 6, 1933, in Gravette (Benton County) but grew up in Rogers (Benton County). He was the youngest of three sons born to Rogers native Kenneth Holmes Scott and Missouri native Jeffa June Beck Scott. In September 1940, Scott’s father died in a truck accident while working as …

Scott, Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Scott was appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court after the resignation of Williamson Simpson Oldham Sr. in 1848. He was elected to the position in 1850 and reelected in 1858. He served on the Arkansas Supreme Court until his death in 1859, the longest tenure of any justice in the antebellum period. Christopher C. Scott was born in Scottsburg, Virginia, on April 22, 1807. He was the son of General John Baytop Scott, who was a prominent lawyer and Revolutionary War soldier, and Martha “Patsy” Thompson, an accomplished daughter of a wealthy planter. John Baytop Scott was friends with many of the nation’s founding fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. He was a graduate of …

Scott, Clyde Luther “Smackover”

Clyde Luther “Smackover” Scott, who received his nickname and his notoriety as a football player from the town he grew up in, became legendary at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). An Olympian and a two-sport star for the Razorbacks, he was named the state’s athlete of the century by readers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2000. Scott was a three-time Southwest Conference player and an All-American in football in 1948. He also lettered in track and proclaimed himself to be self taught in this sport. Clyde Scott was born in Dixie, Louisiana, on August 29, 1924, to Luther and Callie Scott. His father was a gang manager for Liberty Oil Company. Clyde was the third of …

Scott, Cynthia

Cynthia Scott is a Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist known for her work as one of Ray Charles’s “Raelettes” and for her subsequent solo career. She was named Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State in 2004 and was Wynton Marsalis’s choice for the first person to give a concert in the Lincoln Center’s Rose Room. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. Cynthia Scott was born on July 20, 1951 (some sources say 1952), to the Reverend Sam Scott and Artelia Scott in El Dorado (Union County), the tenth of twelve children—six boys and six girls. She began singing at age four in her father’s church but exposed her ear to secular music by sneaking …

Scott, Dortha Delena Shaw

Dortha Delena Shaw Scott of Mount Ida (Montgomery County) created the design for the Arkansas quarter. Her design was chosen from among more than 9,300 entries in a statewide contest by a panel of ten judges and Governor Mike Huckabee. The final design was unveiled to the public on October 7, 2002, at the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The quarter officially entered circulation October 28, 2003, at Murfreesboro (Pike County). Dortha Shaw was born on January 11, 1936, near Mount Ida. Her parents were Henry and Carrie (Manley) Shaw. Henry Shaw, who died on September 7, 1936, was a carpenter most of his life, and Carrie Shaw was a homemaker. Dortha had five siblings: Gene, Helen, …

Scott, George Washington

George Washington Scott was Arkansas Territory’s first U.S. marshal, serving from 1820 to 1831, as well as the state’s first auditor and the first clerk of the Territorial General Assembly. However, his volatile personality negated many of his early accomplishments, and he died a violent death in almost total obscurity. George Washington Scott was born in June 1798 in Virginia. He was one of six children of Andrew and Elizabeth Scott; his older brother, Andrew Horatio Scott, was later appointed as one of the first judges of the Arkansas Territory Superior Court. The family was living near St. Louis in the new Louisiana Territory as early as 1805. In 1808, they moved to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. By 1815, they were …

Scott, James Powell

James Powell Scott was a prominent mid-twentieth-century American artist and art educator. He began studying, producing, and teaching art in Arkansas. Now best remembered for his lithographs, watercolors, and oil paintings on canvas, Scott has works in the collections of major regional and national art museums, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. James Powell Scott, the second of three sons, was born to Wellington Friend Scott and Sarah Powell Scott on April 22, 1909, in Lexington, Kentucky. He attended public schools in Kentucky and in Arkansas after his family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1928, Scott graduated from Little Rock High School. Scott studied art fundamentals with Adrian Brewer, a popular Little Rock artist and …

Scott, Ralph Downing, Sr.

Ralph Downing Scott Sr. had a long career in law enforcement and served as director of the Arkansas State Police during most of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s administration. In this capacity, Scott enacted many reforms to the Arkansas State Police that improved the professionalism of the department. Ralph Scott was born in McCaskill (Hempstead County) on February 2, 1914, to Burton L. Scott and Grace Bonner Scott. He was the oldest of the couple’s three sons and graduated in 1931 from high school in Prescott (Nevada County). He received a BA in chemistry from Hendrix College in 1935. In 1939, he received a Bachelor of Commercial Science in accounting from Southeastern University in Washington DC. Scott married Ruth Hirst in 1940, …

Scranton (Logan County)

  Investors seeking to profit from coal mining established the city of Scranton in Logan County early in the twentieth century. Although the nearby coal mines did not prove to be profitable, Scranton survived and flourished, becoming for a time one of the largest cities in Logan County. James Murphey was the first owner of the land on which Scranton would be built. His deed to the land was registered in 1838, and Murphey bought additional land adjacent to his first lot in 1839 and in 1843. It remained farmland until 1907, when Harmon Remmel led a group of investors to purchase land in Logan County for a city that would be a center of mining operations. They named their city …

Scruggs, David (Lynching of)

In late July 1885, an African-American man named David Scruggs was lynched by a mob of black citizens near Redfield (Jefferson County) for allegedly committing incest with his daughter. In 1880, farmer David Scruggs was living in Victoria (Jefferson County) with his wife, Nancy; an eleven-year-old daughter named Julia; and a ten-year-old grandchild. His wife was working as a laborer. Although some sources say that the lynching occurred on July 24, an Arkansas Gazette article datelined Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), July 24, gives the date as “one night this week.” As July 24 was a Friday, it is probable that the lynching occurred earlier in the week. The Alexandria Gazette says that it happened on Thursday night, which would make …

Sculpins

aka: Cottids
Sculpins belong to the order Scorpaeniformes and superfamily Cottoidea. There are about 11 families, 149 genera, and 756 species. They reach their maximum diversity in the northern Pacific Ocean. The family Cottidae is the largest family, with approximately 258 species; the second-largest family is the Agonidae (marine poachers), with 47 species. The most speciose genus, Cottus (freshwater sculpins), is confined to North America and Eurasia. It includes about 68 taxa that are native to the Northern Hemisphere (Palearctic and Nearctic realms). There is fossil material similar to Cottus that dates to at least the Miocene Epoch (23 to 5.3 million years ago). Most sculpins are generally less than 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length, although a few species can reach …

Seals, Frank “Son”

Frank “Son” Seals was a singer who became a driving force behind a brief but stormy rejuvenation of the blues throughout the mid- to late 1970s. For three decades, he dominated the Chicago blues as no one has since. Son Seals was born on August 13, 1942, in Osceola (Mississippi County). His father was musician Jim “Son” Seals. He acquired the nickname “Son” while a child in Osceola. Seals came to the blues early. He grew up in a juke joint operated by his father, who had been a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Juke joint the Dipsey Doodle featured some of the greatest of all blues performers, including Albert King, Robert Nighthawk, and Sonny Boy Williamson. The Dipsey Doodle …

Searcy (White County)

Searcy has been the White County seat since the county’s organization in 1835. Located on the Little Red River near the county’s geographic center, the city continues to be the county’s commercial, educational, and healthcare center. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Little Red River and the White Sulphur Springs figure in Searcy’s founding. On the west bank of the Little Red, below the mouth of Gin Creek, a Spanish land grant was surveyed for Frenchman Jean LaFayac (LaBass) and patented to him in 1805. By 1834, the White Sulphur Springs, developed by Samson Gray, were attracting visitors with their healing properties. The home of David Crise, about halfway between the springs and the river, was the site of the …

Searcy Confederate Monument

The Searcy Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1917 at the White County Courthouse to honor local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. White County sent eight companies of infantry and cavalry troops to fight for the Confederacy, and shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, local members of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) decided it was time to raise a monument in their memory. The Reporter, a trade magazine for monument makers and dealers, included a notice in 1904 saying, “At the recent reunion of Camp Walker-McRea [sic] U.C.V., held at Searcy, Ark., a committee was appointed to co-operate with a committee of the local chapter of the U.D.C. in …

Searcy County

Searcy County is in the Boston Mountains and the Springfield Plateau sections of the Ozark Plateau. Marshall is the county seat and commercial center; Leslie is significant for the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) railroad and timber products; St. Joe, an old mining center, was also on the railroad and is the first town along Arkansas 65 north of the Buffalo River. Farther northwest is Pindall, an old railroad stop first known as Kilburn Switch, and the old regional commercial center is home to two timber manufacturing companies. Gilbert, another railroad stop, and on the Buffalo River, was originally a point for logs and cotton taken down the river to be placed on the M&NA. In the early 1920s, a …

Searcy County Courthouse

The Searcy County Courthouse is in the historic commercial district of Marshall (Searcy County). Built in 1889, this two-story building, made of stone native to the area, stands as one of the oldest courthouses in Arkansas. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the courthouse as architecturally and historically significant as an outstanding example of an Arkansas Adamesque building. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 12, 1976. Since Searcy County turned eleven acres into its county seat in 1856, three courthouses have managed local affairs. The first was a log cabin, one of the few structures in town at that time along with a two-story hotel, a mercantile store, and a collection of houses. At …

Searcy County Draft War

Coming on the heels of a notorious case of World War I–era draft resistance in Polk County was the less notable Searcy County Draft War in Leslie (Searcy County). Like other such so-called draft wars in Arkansas, the Searcy County incident involved a family/clan living in an isolated, mountainous region. In August 1917, a year prior to the incident, the youngest son of the local Goodwin family, Miller Goodwin, had committed suicide rather than enter into military service. The Arkansas Gazette reported that he had left his home to report for military service in Marshall (Searcy County). During the trip, he stopped at a neighbor’s house at breakfast time. Shortly after his arrival, he shot himself. Suicides such as that …

Searcy County, Skirmish at

The July 4, 1864, Skirmish at Searcy County was a Union response to the operations of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby north of the Arkansas River after the Camden Expedition in 1864. During most of the summer, Shelby and his men had operated freely behind Union lines, causing much havoc, but this engagement was a rare Federal victory. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Shelby received orders to move northward across the Arkansas River and behind Federal lines. The Confederates were tasked with gathering recruits and stopping lawless bands roaming the area from preying on civilians. Shelby also used this opportunity to make strikes against Federal outposts and generally make himself and his men …

Searcy, Affair at

A small engagement fought during a scouting mission by Union troops, this action is typical of the type of fighting during this point of the war in the state. Federal outposts worked to keep their supply lines open and disrupt any enemy movements by sending out multiple scouting parties. Colonel Oliver Wood commanded the Federal post at Brownsville (Lonoke County) and worked to ensure that Confederate forces in the area remained off balance and unable to launch an effective attack on the men stationed in the area. Scouting parties also gathered food from the surrounding countryside to supplement the meager rations issued to the Union troops. In May 1864, Wood accompanied a scouting party as it searched for enemy troops …

Searcy, Fairview, and Augusta Expeditions

aka: Attack on Steamers Celeste and Commercial
  The purpose of the Searcy, Fairview, and Augusta expeditions was to aid Union forces previously engaged in conflict with Confederates northeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and then to pursue Confederate general Joseph O. Shelby. Brigadier General Joseph R. West departed Little Rock on August 27, 1864, with 600 cavalrymen to assist Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Clark and his 800 men of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry. Prior to West’s arrival, Clark’s men had engaged Shelby’s forces on August 26 at Cypress Bayou, four miles north of Austin—now called Old Austin (Lonoke County). He then followed Shelby’s rear guard to Bull Bayou, where ten Confederates and two Union soldiers were killed. Because he had not heard from Union forces and his …

Searcy, Richard

Richard Searcy is an often-overlooked figure of Arkansas’s territorial period who helped in the founding and organization of the first county seats in Lawrence and Independence counties. He worked in various positions and professions to serve the people and the Territory of Arkansas, such as secretary for the Arkansas territorial legislature in 1820, county clerk to Lawrence and Independence counties, judge in the First Judicial District (which included Lawrence, Independence, Phillips, and Arkansas counties), postmaster at Davidsonville (Lawrence County), and lawyer based in Batesville (Independence County). Richard Searcy was born on September 1, 1794, in Sumner County, Tennessee, to Reuben Searcy and his second wife, Elizabeth Jett. He was his father’s sixteenth of seventeen living children and his mother’s seventh of eight children. Little …

Searcy, Skirmish near (August 13, 1864)

Starting in May 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was in sole command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River; he actively recruited local men of fighting age and mustered his force effectively to harass Union garrisons and supply lines along the White River. Within Shelby’s Iron Brigade, munitions were in short supply and were acquired through raids on the enemy. By mid-July, a detail led by Colonel Thomas H. McCray and his brigade had procured for Shelby more than 800 firearms and badly needed ammunition from a transport on the Mississippi River. Successful hit-and-run tactics over the summer sufficiently frustrated Union command at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and warranted more than one expedition mounted to deal with Shelby. …

Searcy, Skirmish near (September 13, 1864)

    After the Union’s Red River Campaign of 1864 failed, most military action in Arkansas was limited to guerrilla maneuvers and quick cavalry strikes for the remainder of the war. By this time, Confederate forces across the state were too small and thinly concentrated to mount an effective frontal assault on Union-held areas. Local Union commanders were focused more on protecting their own garrisons and maintaining a hold on Arkansas’s rivers than on conquering additional territory, which would bring logistical problems of protecting longer supply lines and imposing local order. This was the climate in which Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. (Jo) Shelby operated following his promotion on May 27 as commander of Confederate forces north of the Arkansas …

Sebastian County

Sebastian County is located on Arkansas’s western border in the natural division known as the Arkansas Valley. The Arkansas River forms the county’s northern border, while its southern border touches upon the Ouachita Mountains. The county is home to Fort Smith, the state’s second-largest city, as well as Fort Chaffee, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was the site of the state’s largest coal-mining operations. From the earliest days of the territorial period to the present, Sebastian County has served as a major transportation corridor to points west. Pre-European Exploration The Arkansas Valley region served as a place of residence to Native Americans since the last Ice Age, and there are hundreds of pre-contact settlement sites …

Sebastian County Courthouse

aka: Fort Smith City Hall
The Sebastian County Courthouse stands at 100 South 6th Street, less than a mile from the Fort Smith National Cemetery, in the heart of the frontier city of Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The white, Art Deco–style courthouse is home to one of the county’s two seats of justice (the other is in Greenwood) as well as Fort Smith’s City Hall. This is the only public building in Arkansas that has this dual purpose. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the building for its historical significance due to its New Deal–era construction, as well as its architectural attributes. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 8, 1993. After Sebastian County’s establishment in 1851, citizens of the …

Sebastian County Union War of 1914

The Sebastian County Union War of 1914 is one of the major instances of labor contention and violence in the state of Arkansas. Growing out of a mining operator’s attempt to save his badly run company by eliminating union labor, it resulted in murder, the destruction of property, and a lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sebastian County was one of the centers of the state’s coal-mining industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, producing over 1.5 million tons of coal in 1913. Parallel to the strength of the industry was the strength of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), a union of which every miner in the state was a member. …

Sebastian, William King

William Sebastian represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate from 1848 until 1861. Also a farmer, lawyer, and judge, Sebastian served his state until the Civil War ended his career. Sebastian County, formed on January 6, 1851, was named for him. William King Sebastian was born in Centerville, Tennessee, in 1812 to Samuel Sebastian and his wife. Records do not include the name of his mother or any siblings (he appears to be one of at least three children in the household in 1830.) or the exact date of his birth. Sebastian moved to Arkansas in 1835, living briefly in Monroe County before making his home in Helena (Phillips County). While in Tennessee, Sebastian attended Columbia College, graduating in 1834. He …

Secession Convention

On May 6, 1861, a body of men chosen by Arkansas voters in an election held on February 18, 1861, voted to remove Arkansas from the United States of America. Arkansas’s secession ultimately failed in 1865 due to the military defeat of the Confederacy. States’ rights versus the national government had a contentious history prior to 1861. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 suggested that states retained powers to protect citizens from the federal government, and the Hartford Convention of 1814–1815 paved the way for the Doctrine of Nullification that South Carolina unsuccessfully invoked in 1832. States’ rights debates—notably among U.S. senators Daniel Webster, Robert Y. Hayne, and John C. Calhoun—led to a theoretical acceptance of this …

Second Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

The Second Arkansas Cavalry was the name of several Confederate units that served during the Civil War. These units are not to be confused with the Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, which served for much of the war as an infantry regiment. The first unit to be organized as the Second Arkansas Cavalry was based on the Second Arkansas Cavalry Battalion. After the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee in April 1862, the battalion was created from independent companies in northern Mississippi. This unit consisted of five companies from Calhoun, Bradley, Jefferson, Dallas, and Ashley counties. In May 1862, the battalion consolidated with the Sixth Arkansas Cavalry Battalion, which consisted of four companies from Drew, Crittenden, and White counties, along with two …

Second Arkansas Cavalry (US)

Arkansas seceded from the Union in 1861, but support for the Confederacy was not universal among the population. In the mountains of north-central Arkansas, groups of men formed secret societies to resist Confederate authority (known collectively as the Arkansas Peace Society). Hundreds more fled to southern Missouri to escape persecution by secessionist forces. In other parts of the state, far from the Union lines, people were forced to bide their time and keep quiet. As a distinct minority in a state frenzied by war, many Arkansas Unionists could ill afford to have their true sympathies known. During the summer of 1862, the Union army made its way to Helena (Phillips County) after an abortive attempt to capture Little Rock (Pulaski …

Second Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) (US)

aka: Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry
The Second Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) was one of the many African-American units formed following the Emancipation Proclamation. The regiment was raised under the commands of Lieutenant Colonel George W. De Costa and Major George W. Burchard in early 1863 and was composed primarily of freed slaves in the Arkansas River Valley. Before the unit could officially report for muster as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas, it found itself engaged in the Battle of Helena. On the morning of July 4, 1863, Confederate forces under the command of Lieutenant General Theophilus Holmes organized a three-pronged attack on the fortified Union position at Helena (Phillips County). The attack would ultimately fail, securing eastern Arkansas as a Union supply stronghold …

Second Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Second Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate regiment that saw service in the Western Theater during the Civil War. It is not to be confused with the Second Arkansas Infantry Battalion, which fought in the Eastern Theater. The Second Arkansas was formed in the summer of 1861. Former congressman Thomas Hindman of Helena (Phillips County) obtained permission from Confederate secretary of war LeRoy Walker to recruit an infantry regiment. The state was responsible for providing the arms for the unit. Ten companies were raised by June 1, with six at Helena and four at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The companies were from Phillips, Jefferson, Bradley, and Saline counties. Support from state authorities never materialized, and Hindman personally provided the funds …