Entries - Starting with B

Bauxite and Northern Railroad

The Bauxite and Northern Railroad (B&N) is a short, three-mile railway built in 1906 by a subsidiary of Alcoa called the American Bauxite Company in what is now Bauxite (Saline County). The B&N transports hundreds of tons of alumina, a key ingredient in the production of aluminum, from the former Alcoa processing plant to Bauxite Junction, where the B&N connects with the Union Pacific. In 2012, the Bauxite and Northern Railroad and its parent company at the time, RailAmerica, Inc., were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Bauxite deposits were discovered outside Little Rock (Pulaski County) during road construction in 1887 and were publically identified by State Geologist John C. Branner in 1891. In 1900, Colonel John Rison Gibbons and …

Bauxite Historical Association and Museum

The Bauxite Historical Association and Museum (BHAM) works to preserve the history and culture of the company-owned town of Bauxite (Saline County). The organization started its life as the Alcoa Employees Descendants Association (AEDA), which was created on October 15, 1986, as a non-profit organization charged with the maintenance, protection, and everyday business of the Bauxite Community Hall and all other property deeded to it by the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). The community hall building houses the Bauxite Historical Museum. The building’s main hall is run by the association and functions as a venue for local events. The community hall was finished in 1926. Built by the Republic Mining & Manufacturing Company, the building itself was dedicated as the …

Bauxite Mining

Bauxite is the principal ore of aluminum and is a mixture of aluminum oxides and hydroxides that formed from intense chemical weathering of a soil in tropical environments. Soils formed under these conditions are termed laterites. In Arkansas, the aluminum-enriched soils are the result of the decomposition and lateritic weathering of nepheline syenite, an intrusive igneous rock. During the weathering process, leaching by rain, groundwater, and salt spray decomposed the original syenite minerals (feldspar and nepheline). Weathering removed much of the silica and concentrated the newly formed aluminum oxides and hydroxides as the rock termed bauxite. Geologically, the soils formed from syenite and weathered to laterites in the Paleocene Epoch (65–55 million years ago) along the west edge of a …

Baxter Bulletin

The Baxter Bulletin newspaper was established in 1901 in Mountain Home (Baxter County) by J. G. “Uncle Jess” Copeland, who had previously worked for both the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Over the years, it became a popular weekly turned six-day-a-week publication with a circulation of around 11,000. Copeland sold the Bulletin in October 1903 to Joe Doehring and Will M. McNair. He then moved to Cotter (Baxter County) and established the Cotter Courier. Doehring was serving as both editor and publisher when the newspaper was sold to Tom Shiras in 1905. The next year, Enness Shiras joined his brother as co-owner of the paper. They owned and operated the paper for approximately forty years. In …

Baxter County

  Governor Elisha Baxter formed Baxter County just prior to the Brooks-Baxter War. It is a county important to Arkansas history because of its flood control projects and its early educational institutions. Most of the land in Baxter County is hilly and rocky, typical of the Ozark Plateau on which it lies. Pre-European Exploration and Settlement Hundreds of prehistoric sites, representing various time periods and traditions, are found in Baxter County. By the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the Osage claimed control over the area, but they relinquished their claims in an 1808 treaty with the United States government. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Jacob Wolf House in Liberty (now Norfork) was the territorial seat of government from 1828 …

Baxter County Courthouse

The Baxter County Courthouse was opened the week of August 13, 1943. Designed by Fayetteville (Washington County) architect T. Ewing Shelton, who used a Plain Traditional style with minimal Art Deco influences, the building is minimalistic in nature, reflecting the “functional emphasis common to Depression-era projects.” The Baxter County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1995. Located at 1 East 7th Street in Mountain Home (Baxter County), the Baxter County Courthouse was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1941 and 1943. The exterior is cut stone with buff brick veneer, with the only decoration being marble panels in a variety of patterns resting between the basement and first floor, between the first …

Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society was founded on September 27, 1974, by a group of individuals who were interested in history and preserving the heritage of Baxter County. The organization, originally known as the Baxter County Historical Society, is officially chartered in Arkansas as a nonprofit organization. In 1999, the name was changed to the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. The mission of the society is to preserve and interpret the history of Baxter County by acquiring, preserving, and showcasing artifacts; acquiring, preserving, and making available for research records documenting the social, economic, and political history of the county through an active archival program at the Baxter County Archives; promoting historical and genealogical research; and educating children …

Baxter, Elisha

Elisha Baxter, a Unionist leader during the Civil War and a jurist, is best remembered as Arkansas’s last Republican governor during Reconstruction. The attempt to overthrow him became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. Baxter’s victory resulted in the end of Reconstruction and the adoption of the Constitution of 1874. Elisha Baxter was born on September 1, 1827, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, to William Baxter and his second wife, Catherine Lee. She was the mother to five sons and three daughters out of William Baxter’s twenty children. His father had emigrated from Ireland in 1789 and prospered in Rutherford County in western North Carolina, acquiring land and slaves. Baxter received a limited education and sought to better himself by obtaining …

Bay (Craighead County)

Bay (Craighead County) is located in northeast Arkansas between Trumann (Poinsett County) and Jonesboro (Craighead County) and has long been known as a farming community. Once populated with long-time generational residents, it is now occupied largely by younger adults who migrated from larger cities. The first settlers arrived in the early 1800s, and although Native Americans had already left the area, their remnants have been discovered. Indian mounds can be found on Bay’s north side. Originally, three such mounds existed, but only two remain. These mounds were investigated in 1883 for the Bureau of American Ethnology. The mounds have never been fully investigated, and their purpose remains uncertain. Local legend holds that the mounds were sacred burial grounds and give …

Bayou Bartholomew

Located in southeast Arkansas, Bayou Bartholomew was, until the construction of railroad lines in the area in 1890, the most important stream for transportation in the interior Delta. While the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers served their adjoining areas, it was the bayou that provided a transportation route into an otherwise landlocked area. This route allowed the development of one of the richest timber and agricultural tracts in the Delta. Bayou Bartholomew has the distinction of being the longest bayou in the United States, beginning its meandering 359 miles in Jefferson County and passing through Lincoln, Desha, Drew, Chicot, and Ashley counties before proceeding into Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, where it eventually empties into the Ouachita River near Sterlington. The present bayou …

Bayou Fourche, Engagement at

aka: Battle of Little Rock
The Engagement at Bayou Fourche, also known as the Battle of Little Rock, was a Civil War battle fought on September 10, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to stop Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army from capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. With the exception of the short Action at Bayou Meto (or Reed’s Bridge) on August 27, the Union approach to Little Rock had seen relatively light resistance. As the Union army prepared for its final assault on the Arkansas capital, Steele had some 10,477 men present for duty and fifty-seven …

Bayou Meto

Bayou Meto is a slow-moving stream that originates in northern Pulaski County at the confluence of several creeks west of Little Rock Air Force Base and travels 150 miles south and east through Lonoke, Arkansas, and Jefferson counties before emptying into the Arkansas River a few miles southwest of Gillett (Arkansas County); it forms parts of the boundary lines between Lonoke and Prairie counties and Arkansas and Jefferson counties. The bayou has lent its name to different communities along its path, a Civil War action in Pulaski County, and the first wildlife management agency (WMA) established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The origins of the bayou’s name are a matter of debate. Some early French documents dub …

Bayou Meto, Action at

aka: Action at Reed's Bridge
The Action at Bayou Meto, also known as the Action at Reed’s Bridge, was a Civil War battle fought on August 27, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to hinder the advance of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army toward Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. Though they were harassed by Confederate cavalry and partisans, the Union troops had encountered little opposition, with the exception of a sharp clash around Brownsville (north of present-day Lonoke) on August 25. A Union probe toward the Confederate works on Bayou Meto (at present-day Jacksonville) was turned back …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish at (February 24, 1865)

By 1863, guerrilla activity had become so prevalent in the territory surrounding Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) that local citizens requested that Federal forces move into the area to reduce the threat of violence. Later that year, forces under the command of Colonel Powell Clayton were ordered to Jefferson County. The city remained occupied for the remainder of the war. To secure the area, scouting patrols were regularly sent out to assess enemy activity. On February 22, 1865, Captain George W. Suesberry took a detachment of eighty troopers of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Volunteers to the north side of the Arkansas River to monitor enemy movements. Only sixty-five troopers crossed the river but were shortly joined by twenty-five additional men. As …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish near (February 17, 1865)

  On February 16, 1865, a seventy-five-man scout detachment of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry (US) was sent out from its headquarters at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The scout detachment, commanded by Captain John H. Norris (US), was sent to search for Confederate troops along Bayou Meto. Early in the morning of February 17, the scout detachment, fifty miles downriver from Pine Bluff, began crossing Bayou Meto. After one platoon had successfully crossed the bayou, Capt. Norris ordered Lieutenant Z. P. Curlee to take the platoon and search an area two miles surrounding the bayou. Lt. Curlee was instructed to engage any Confederate force he encountered and report to Norris no later than noon. During the scout detachment’s search of the …

Bays, Glenco (Lynching of)

On February 18, 1904, Glenco Bays was burned at the stake near Crossett (Ashley County) for the murder of J. D. Stephens, a prominent local farmer. The lynch mob was made up of both whites and African Americans. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Bays was employed by Stephens, who found him to be “a quarrelsome negro.” Bays and Stephens apparently had an argument, and Bays allegedly went to Stephens’s house and shot him. According to the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, after he killed Stephens, Bays beat his body with the butt of the shotgun. Stephens was one of the most prosperous and admired farmers in the county. The Arkansas Gazette reported that black residents of the area “showed their esteem …

Bazooka [Musical Instrument]

Although today it is more commonly applied to the anti-tank weapon widely used during World War II, or to a product of Topps Chewing Gum, the name “bazooka” was originally given to a novelty wind instrument created by native Arkansan radio and film personality Bob Burns. Spanning the musical gap between a trombone and a slide whistle, the bazooka produces a narrow range of notes with a tone that is more comical than dulcet. Burns developed the bazooka one evening, as early as 1905, during band practice at Hayman’s Plumbing Shop in Van Buren (Crawford County). Burns blew into a gas pipe that made a noise described as sounding like a “wounded moose.” Inspired by this, he developed a new …

Beall, Ruth Olive

Ruth Olive Beall was superintendent of Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Home from 1934 to 1961. She was largely responsible for the hospital’s survival during the financial difficulties of the Great Depression and for its expansion and improvement in the following years. Ruth Beall was born in St. Louis, Missouri, sometime in 1896, the daughter of Charles Carlton Beall, a traveling salesman, and Florance Walcott Beall. While she was attending a boarding school in Arcadia, Missouri, her parents moved to Rogers (Benton County). Beall graduated from Washington University in St. Louis before joining her family in Arkansas. In Rogers, Beall was advisor to the local chapter of the Junior Red Cross during World War I. She was briefly the owner and …

Beall, William Nelson Rector

William Nelson Rector Beall served as a Confederate brigadier general from Arkansas during the Civil War. He most notably served as an agent for the Confederate government to raise funds to purchase supplies for Confederate troops held in Federal prisons. William Beall was born on March 20, 1825, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Samuel Beall and Sally Rector Beall. Sally Beall was a member of the Rector family, which was prominent in Arkansas politics. The Bealls moved to Arkansas in 1840, settling in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both of Beall’s parents died soon thereafter, orphaning him and his four siblings. Beall graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1848, ranking thirtieth in a class of …

Beals, Melba Pattillo

Melba Pattillo Beals made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. She later recounted this harrowing year in her book titled Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School. Melba Pattillo was born on December 7, 1941, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Beals grew up surrounded by family members who knew the importance of an education. Her mother, Lois Marie Pattillo, PhD, was one of the first black graduates of the University of …

Bean’s Rangers

Captain Jesse Bean’s Ranger Company was one of six companies of mounted militia authorized by Congress in 1832. Led by a member of a prominent Arkansas family, the company formed a part of the first mounted battalion in the U.S. Army for seventeen years. Its actions are representative of the militarization of Arkansas’s western border and the area beyond during the territorial period. Influenced in 1815 by a need for economy and a deep-rooted fear of standing armies, Congress had eliminated cavalry, considered by some to be a uniformed elite, from the army. However, the Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin reminded legislators of the utility of cavalry, and, on June 15, 1832, Congress authorized President Andrew Jackson to raise …

Bear (Garland County)

Bear of Garland County was a boom town of the 1880s whose phenomenal growth was fueled by rumors that gold, silver, and other precious metals could be found in the nearby Ouachita Mountains. One enterprising fraud claimed to have found the legendary Lost Louisiana Mine. However, all such rumors ultimately proved false, and the town diminished as quickly as it had grown. Before the gold rush, people had homesteaded in the area around Bear Mountain—the mountain from which the town later took its name. One early settler was Melson Larkin. The first post office was established in 1882. As early as 1884, rumors of gold in the area began to spread. That year, the first plat of Bear was filed. A …

Bearden (Ouachita County)

Bearden, originally founded as a railroad town, has been an important center for the timber industry in Arkansas. It is home to the annual Gazebo Festival. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Bearden was founded as one of many whistle-stop communities along the Cotton Belt Railway Line during the steam engine years. The city limits for the town of Bearden were set in 1882 by the Southwest Improvement Association, an agency of the Railway Land Office. This office was part of what would become the Cotton Belt Railway Line. Bearden was named after one of the lawyers for the agency, Judge John T. Bearden. Among the first settlers were the Byars, Clemmons, Hollingsworth, and Shaddock families. The small town soon …

Bearden Lynching of 1893

On May 9, 1893, three African Americans were lynched in Bearden (Ouachita County) for what was called a “murderous assault” on Jesse Norman, a prosperous young businessman. At midnight on Saturday, May 6, Jesse Norman was hit over the head with an axe and robbed. The victim was probably the Jessie J. Norman listed in the 1880 census, thirteen years before the event. In 1880, he was nine years old and was living with his parents Eleazer (variously spelled Elezer and Elesa) Norman and Panthaia (variously spelled Panttairer and Panthier) Norman in Union Township of Ouachita County; his parents were still living in the county in 1900. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Norman’s skull was crushed with an axe, and …

Bearden Waterworks

The Bearden Waterworks, located on the northwest corner of North Second and North Cedar streets in Bearden (Ouachita County), was constructed in 1936 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 5, 2006. As the United States struggled with the effects of the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs. Though …

Bearden, Henry Eugene (Gene)

Gene Bearden was a major league baseball player in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Despite major injuries suffered in World War II, he was still able to craft a seven-year career that was highlighted by his role as a starting pitcher on the 1948 Cleveland Indians team that won the World Series. Henry Eugene (Gene) Bearden was born on September 5, 1920, in Lexa (Phillips County) to Henry and Ella Bearden. With his father working as a machinist for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the family moved a number of times, but Bearden spent much of his youth playing sandlot baseball in Tennessee. Graduating from Technical High School in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1938, the left-handed pitcher whose boyhood hero was …

Beatles, Stopover of the

In 1964, the world’s most popular music group, the Beatles, visited the Lawrence County town of Walnut Ridge. Though brief, their visit left a lasting impact on the community and has recently been the subject of a documentary movie. That year, the popularity of the Beatles was without rival. George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr were mobbed by teenage fans at each public appearance. The Fab Four, as they were dubbed, had five singles in the top five slots on the Billboard charts. Their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, appeared in 500 U.S. theaters. The group’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show drew an estimated seventy-three million viewers. In their legendary 1964 concert tour, they …

Beaton (Hot Spring County)

Beaton (Hot Spring County) is an unincorporated community located in western Hot Spring County on the north shore of DeGray Lake about six miles west of Bismarck (Hot Spring County). In the twenty-first century, the community consists of a number of scattered homes and churches. The community is located within the Sixteenth Section of the township, land set aside to fund public schools in the township. The land became available for purchase around 1848. Jonathan Diffee moved with his family to the area that year and established a farm. At that time, the area was located in Clark County, and Diffee petitioned the Clark County Court in 1850 to establish a new township on the east bank of the Caddo …

Beatty’s Mill, Skirmish at

  By 1864, much of Conway County and the surrounding area was routinely overrun by marauding bands of Confederate guerrillas. In April 1864, Colonel Abraham Ryan and the recently formed Third Arkansas Cavalry were dispatched to Conway County to help secure the area. Col. Ryan established his base of operations at Lewisburg (Conway County). The regiment remained on almost constant watch, as it had been engaged in several skirmishes during scouting missions. On September 1, 1864, Colonel David Hamilton and a force of sixty-five troopers were dispatched upon a short scout into Yell County. On that same day, Col. Hamilton engaged an estimated force of 160 Confederates led by John A. Conly. Upon seeing the approaching enemy, Hamilton immediately ordered …

Beauchamp (Scott County)

Beauchamp is an unincorporated community located in southwestern Scott County. Named for the family who settled in the area, Beauchamp was established in 1901 along Black Fork Creek three miles west of Blansett (Scott County). The agricultural and timber industries have contributed to the economy and way of life in Beauchamp. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Beauchamp was an explored 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 the Fourche La Fave River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. …

Beauvoir College

In 1897, John Jefferson Lee Spence established the Drew Normal Institute in the town of Wilmar (Drew County). On May 27, 1903, the school was “chartered with the privilege of conferring degrees” by the Arkansas Board of Education. Subsequently, the college was renamed Beauvoir College, after the Mississippi estate where Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, retired. The college was initially a success, but Spence, founder and the institution’s only president, was forced to close the college in 1907. Despite the brevity of its existence, Beauvoir College signaled a new trend in higher education, as the institution sought to meet the higher-educational needs of southeast Arkansas’s working-class and rural population. Educated at the University of Mississippi, Spence came …

Beaver (Carroll County)

Named for early settler Wilson Ashbury Beaver, the Carroll County town of Beaver is on State Highway 187 about seven miles north of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Osage hunted and fished in the Ozark Mountains when European and American explorers first entered the region. White settlers gradually displaced the Osage presence. John and Sarah Williams received title to the land that would become Beaver in 1852, although their house had been built on that land around 1836. They sold this house and land to Wilson Ashbury Beaver in 1857. Beaver established several businesses on his land, including a 350-acre farm, a grist mill, a trading post, a ferry across the White River, and an inn, all of which bore the …

Beaver Dam and Lake

Beaver Lake was created by Beaver Dam in Carroll County. The lake—technically a reservoir since it was created by a manmade dam in order to store water—is located on the White River in the Ozark Highlands region of northwest Arkansas. Approximately seventy-three miles long and a maximum of two miles wide, the lake reaches from Eureka Springs (Carroll County) roughly to Fayetteville (Washington County). About 450 miles of shoreline extend through three counties: Benton, Carroll and Washington. The multi-purpose project provides flood control, hydroelectric generation, water supply, and recreation. While the possibility of a dam on the upper White River was examined as early as 1911, the first feasibility studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for constructing such …

Beavers, William and Henry (Lynchings of)

In 1890 and 1892, brothers William and Henry Beavers—both African American—were lynched near Warren (Bradley County) and Wilmar (Drew County), respectively. William was accused of assaulting Inez Abernathy, whose family he had been living with. Henry was murdered for attacking Chloe Wright, the daughter of a prominent Drew County farmer. In 1880, William Beavers (then two years old) and his brother Junior (presumably Henry, age four) were living in Pennington Township of Bradley County with their parents, Henry and Lorenda Beavers, and several other siblings. Henry Beavers Sr. was thirty years old and was a farmer. If these ages are correct, William Beavers would have been only fourteen years old at the time of his murder, and Henry sixteen. Both …

Becker, Jerome Bill

Jerome Bill Becker served as president of the Arkansas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from 1964 to 1996. At the time of his death, Becker was noted as the longest-serving state AFL-CIO president in the United States. J. Bill Becker was born on February 25, 1924, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, Joseph and Hazel Becker, were Russian immigrants. In 1942, Becker graduated in the upper third of his class from John Marshall High School in Chicago, where he was a standout football player. Becker suffered a knee injury while playing high school football, which initially made him ineligible to serve in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Instead, he worked at a defense …

Beebe (White County)

Beebe started out as the intersection of the railroad and Des Arc Road (now Highway 31). As of 2010, Beebe’s official population stands at 7,315, a significant growth since 2000. Beebe is also the home of Arkansas State University–Beebe. Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Roswell Beebe was president of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company, which became part of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad Company. This was the company that built the railroad through White County. In 1872, the first train stopped at Des Arc Road. This intersection was designated Beebe Station in honor of Roswell Beebe. The train stopped there to take on wood and water to power the steam engine. Many of the new residents …

Beebe Jail

The Beebe Jail, located in an alley east of the junction of North Main and Illinois streets in Beebe (White County), is a one-story, reinforced-concrete structure built in 1934 with apparent assistance from a pair of a Depression-era federal relief agencies. The Beebe Jail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1991. Beebe had been without a city jail for several years when local leaders sought funding through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Details on which agencies were involved vary. A July 3, 1934, Arkansas Gazette article states that “after having been without a jail for eight years, town officials announced today that a new jail will be erected soon under PWA [Public Works …

Beebe, Ginger Kay Croom

Ginger Kay Croom Beebe is the wife of Mike Beebe, who was the forty-fifth governor of Arkansas. In 2007, she became the state’s fortieth first lady. Outside of politics, she has been best known for her efforts in adoption, literacy, and removing the stigma from mental illness. Ginger Kay Croom was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 3, 1949. Adopted at the age of four, she was raised in Searcy (White County) by Buell and Virginia Croom. Her adoptive father was an Amoco Oil Company wholesale distributor, and her adoptive mother was a homemaker. She has no photographic record of life before her adoption, stating, “I was born in Little Rock, and then adopted at age 4 by …

Beebe, Mickey Dale (Mike)

A veteran of state government, Mickey Dale (Mike) Beebe was inaugurated as Arkansas’s forty-fifth governor on January 9, 2007. He remained popular with Arkansas’s electorate across his entire eight-year term of service, with support that crossed party lines during a time of polarization in American politics. The steadiness of the Arkansas economy and state finances during the Great Recession, the near total elimination of the state’s sales tax on groceries, and the culmination of the Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee public school lawsuit were the hallmarks of the Beebe governorship, which was often characterized as “pragmatic.” However, Beebe also served as the leader of the state Democratic Party during its historic fall from power. Mike Beebe was …

Beebe, Roswell

Roswell Beebe was the first benefactor of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the town of Beebe (White County) was named after him. In the late 1840s and the 1850s, he was one of the most important businessmen and politicians in Little Rock. He donated several pieces of land to the city. Roswell Beebe was born on December 22, 1795, in Hinsdale, New York, to a wealthy English family. When he was seventeen, he talked his father into letting him go to New Orleans, Louisiana. He was behind the cotton bales with Andrew Jackson when the United States turned back the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Roswell was successful in several businesses. The 1832 New …

Beedeville (Jackson County)

Beedeville is a town in southeastern Jackson County. It is located on State Highway 37 near the Cache River. Sawmills built in Beedeville early in the twentieth century attracted the interest of railroad investors, but the line that included Beedeville in its name was never completed to the town. The Cache River served as a transportation corridor both before and after European explorers entered Arkansas. The actual river valley, prone to flooding, remained sparsely settled even after Arkansas became a state. William H. Beede, who arrived around 1866, was probably the first settler to occupy the current site of Beedeville. He helped to organize the first public school in the area in 1880. A Church of Christ was established near …

Beef Industry

aka: Cattle Industry
The raising of beef cattle has been carried out in Arkansas since before the area became an American territory. Though not as prominent as the state’s poultry industry, the beef industry has an estimated $1.4 billion annual economic impact upon Arkansas. Undomesticated bison were present in Arkansas before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Both the expedition of Hernando de Soto and the Marquette-Joliet expedition reported the presence of these animals. Frenchmen in the area of Arkansas Post judged the land fit for raising cattle, and a general census of Arkansas Post in 1749 lists sixty cows among the livestock kept there. Early Anglo-American settlers brought cattle with them, as did the Cherokee, who began moving to Arkansas in …

Beekeeping

As of 2010, more than 1,500 Arkansas beekeepers have registered with the Arkansas State Plant Board, the vast majority of whom are hobbyists. Hobbyist beekeepers maintain fewer than five hives and do not rely upon beekeeping as their primary source of income. An estimated twenty-five to thirty commercial beekeepers operate in the state. The two types of beekeepers collectively manage more than 50,000 colonies, making Arkansas a significant national producer of honey. Commercial apiaries in Arkansas vary in size. Some commercial apiaries include Coy’s Honey Farm in Brookland (Craighead County), which is one of the largest; Clyde Gray in Jonesboro (Craighead County), who has hives from Jonesboro to Wynne (Cross County); Culp’s Honey Farm in Jonesboro; Richard’s Apiaries in Benton …

Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut

Located in downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), the Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut was built in 1934 by American Legion members and local citizens. A kitchen was added to the building’s interior in 1937 by the Legion Auxiliary. The one-story building is constructed of rough-cut native stone quarried from a mountain east of Springdale. There have been no major changes to the building over the years. The Beely-Johnson Post 139 American Legion Hut was organized as the Clarence E. Beely Post in 1921, named in honor of Springdale’s first World War I casualty. An American Legion Auxiliary was established in 1922. In 1962, the post’s name was changed to include the name of Elmer Johnson Jr., the city’s …

Beirne (Clark County)

The small community of Beirne is located twenty-one miles southwest of the Clark County seat of Arkadelphia. It was founded by Illinois native and steamboat captain James Lewis Beirne in 1880. Originally named York, the community was later renamed for Beirne. The community, like many surrounding it, grew out of the timber industry, and it was once considered one of the premier shipping locations along the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. Like many of its neighboring communities, it too fell victim to waning timber production in the early 1900s. Today, Beirne is home to one of the largest producers of hardwood material in the world. Quickly after the community’s establishment, Captain Beirne built a sawmill and Methodist church, …

Belfast (Grant County)

Belfast is an unincorporated community in Dekalb Township in northern Grant County. It is located along Arkansas Highway 35, seven miles north of Sheridan (Grant County) and ten miles south of Bauxite (Saline County). Belfast was an early pioneer settlement located in what was then southern Saline County, becoming part of Grant County in 1869. The community later relocated approximately four miles east, to be near the newly established railroad, and is often referred to as New Belfast or simply, Belfast. The original community of Belfast is now commonly referred to as Old Belfast, although no physical evidence of it remains. The earliest settlers, arriving before 1840, established a small village situated near an excellent spring. Later, a two-story log …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Bell, Al

aka: Alvertis Isbell
Al Bell is considered the driving force behind Stax Records as a producer, songwriter, and executive during the company’s most productive period, from 1965 to 1975. He was responsible for promoting the careers of such talent as the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, and Otis Redding, among many others. Al Bell was born Alvertis Isbell on March 15, 1940, in Brinkley (Monroe County). One of his earliest musical memories was that of listening to his father’s Louis Jordan records. In an interview published in 2001, Bell claimed Jordan, also a Brinkley native, as a distant relative. Bell’s family moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was five years old. After attending Catholic and Seventh-Day Adventist private schools, Bell attended Scipio A. …

Bell, Clarence Elmo

Clarence Elmo Bell was a prominent public school educator as well as a longtime, influential member of the Arkansas Senate. He announced his retirement just prior to the state’s adoption of constitutionally mandated term limits. Clarence Bell was born on February 1, 1912, in Camden (Ouachita County). The son of Joseph Dudley Bell and Dona Massengale Bell, he grew up in Camden and graduated from Camden High School, where he was a star athlete. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), where he continued to shine athletically. Graduating in 1934, he spent the following year working as assistant coach and Dean of Men at OBU. In 1935, Bell left Ouachita to …

Bell, Earl Holmes

Earl Holmes Bell of Jonesboro (Craighead County) is one of the most renowned U.S. men’s pole vaulters and coaches, a three-time Olympian, and five-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record holder. His achievements include setting the world’s outdoor record in 1976; qualifying for the Olympic Games in 1976, 1984 and 1988; and winning the bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics. He was the U.S. national champion in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—a remarkable three-decade achievement for an athlete. After turning to coaching by founding Bell Athletics in Jonesboro, he was named the 1998 National Olympic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 2004, Bell Athletics alone produced half of the U.S. Olympic pole-vaulting team. Earl Bell was …