Entries - Starting with D

Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium is an annual conference sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The symposium welcomes multidisciplinary submissions and presentations dealing with the Mississippi Delta region; of particular interest are submissions that engage the question of the Delta’s culture, arts, and lifestyles, and their effect upon the blues. The Delta Symposium was created in 1994 as a conference that would appeal to both the general public and the academic community. First organized under the name of the Delta Studies Symposium, this changed when it became evident that the genre of the blues offered the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary topic for exploration. A committee composed of faculty members of …

DeMent, Iris 

Arkansas native Iris DeMent has used her distinctive voice to sing folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel music. She has written songs about family, religion, people, places, and political ideas in a time when few were doing so. Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in Paragould (Greene County), the youngest of fourteen children. Her parents, Patrick Shaw and Flora Mae DeMent, were farmers on an island in the St. Francis River outside Paragould. When Iris was three, her father lost his factory job after a failed attempt to unionize, and the family hit hard times, sold the farm, and moved to Buena Park, California. They lived there until she was seventeen and then moved to Sacramento, California. Eventually, her …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company

Founded in 1871, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a family-owned operation specializing in catalog and magazine printing. The company grew out of a newspaper department to its own industrial facility employing up to 200. The Arkansas Democrat established the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company as part of the newspaper’s printing division in 1871. In 1906, Democrat Printing separated from the Arkansas Democrat when the newspaper divided its assets. For the next forty years, the company primarily offered printing services using a sheet-fed printer. By 1924, the company needed its own building for its growing business. Hiring the Sanders and Ginocchio architectural firm, the company built a three-story building, totaling 61,436 square feet, …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company Building

The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building, located at 114 East 2nd Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), housed the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company from 1924 to 1999. In the twenty-first century, it is a mixed-use building with space for commercial offices, retail stores, and lofts. On December 17, 1998, the building was added to National Register of Historic Places. The Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company building was built in 1924, in an area then known as the East Markham Warehouse District. Its namesake, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, was founded in 1871 as the commercial printing division of the Arkansas Democrat newspaper. The Arkansas Democrat divided its assets in 1906, which separated the printing division from the …

Democratic Party

Even for the historically one-party Democratic South, the Democratic Party’s control of Arkansas politics was solid—until the end of the twentieth century. Indeed, from the end of Reconstruction, Republican presidential candidates were denied Electoral College votes every four years until Richard Nixon’s 1972 victory. The Democratic Party’s dominance of state and local elections (outside northwestern Arkansas, which had housed Republicans since the Civil War era) was just as impressive. Still, while Democrats long fended off any sustained Republican development, recent trends–especially the historic results in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles–indicate that the change that has come to other Southern states with the rise of a competitive Republican Party has taken root in Arkansas. Before statehood, Arkansas politics was …

Democratic Party Caucuses of 1984

On March 17, 1984, the state Democratic Party initiated the formal process of delegate selection to the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Participatory caucuses convened in the state’s 767 precincts with the expectation that thirty-five of the forty-two delegates chosen would reflect, proportionally, the participants’ candidate preferences. Seven slots were reserved for super-delegates, elected officials, and party organization leaders. The state party organization had traditionally taken responsibility for convention delegate selection, but national party reforms had substantially altered delegate selection processes in the states by making them more open to participation by the party rank-and-file. In this spirit, the Arkansas Democratic Party conducted presidential preferential primaries in 1976 and 1980. Those contests attracted some 500,000 and 440,000 voters, respectively. In 1983, …

Denieville (Independence County)

The historic community of Denieville was located on Spring Creek less than a mile from Limedale (Independence County) on Limedale Road. It was about five miles west-northwest of the county seat, Batesville (Independence County). The White River and the Missouri Pacific railroad tracks run about two miles south of Denieville. Following the Civil War, mining interests in the eastern United States attempted to develop the white lime deposits of Independence County for commercial use, establishing kilns near Batesville. (Quick lime is used for a number of purposes, including mortar, plaster, and the manufacture of paper.) The production of lime in Independence County began in earnest in 1887, emerging on a small scale at Denieville on the Cushman (Independence County) branch …

Denning (Franklin County)

Denning is a town in southern Franklin County. Its northern border is the southern city limit of Altus (Franklin County). Denning was at one time the largest city in Franklin County, with six coal mines providing jobs for more than 1,000 miners. Osage used to come from the north to hunt and to fish in the Ozark Mountains. From 1819 to 1828, the area was part of a Cherokee reservation. Various treaties moved both nations farther west, opening the land to white settlement. In 1839, Samuel Davis acquired a land patent for part of the land where Denning would be established. Coal was discovered south of Altus around 1890, and the Western Coal and Mining Company, based in St. Louis, …

Dennison Heights (Independence County)

Dennison Heights of Independence County began as a housing development in the 1950s and 1960s on the bluffs overlooking the White River. It was named for the Dennison/Denison family (different branches of the family spelled the name differently) who had a large farm south of the White River and across the river from Eagle Mountain. Dennison Heights is located three miles south of Batesville (Independence County), the county seat. It sits atop Ramsey Mountain (a.k.a. Ramsey Hill), just off Highway 167, also called Batesville Boulevard. At the time of Dennison Heights’ formation, three roads made a triangle at the “top of the hill,” as the Dennison Heights area is commonly called: Highways 14 and 25 led to Desha (Independence County) …

Denton (Lawrence County)

In the mid-1830s, at the intersection of the Powhatan-Smithville Road and Military Road, one of Lawrence County’s earliest unincorporated communities developed. If it still existed today, Denton would be located about six miles west of Powhatan (Lawrence County) on State Highway 117. The nearby Black River and the fertile land of the Flat Creek valley attracted many settlers to the area prior to the Civil War. In about 1818, a Baptist church known as Bethel was organized as a missionary meeting house. Disagreements among the congregation resulted in a split. As a result, the New Hope Baptist Church was founded on July 22, 1844, with a building constructed in 1853. A new building was constructed in 1940. The church has …

Denton (Scott County)

Denton is an unincorporated community located in western Scott County. Established in 1877 near the confluence of Denton Creek and Ross Creek, the community is named after the Denton family, which settled in Scott County in the 1850s. The agriculture and timber industries have traditionally contributed to the economy and way of life in Denton. Before European contact, the area where Denton is located was a wilderness teeming with native vegetation and wildlife. The area’s first inhabitants included natives from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Archaeological discoveries suggest that natives of the Caddo tribe made their homes along the Fourche La Fave River near Denton and other prominent waterways in the area. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth …

Denton, Herbert Jr.

Herbert Denton Jr. was a leading African-American journalist at the Washington Post. Raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of a prominent public educator, Denton became the first person of color to hold a supervisory position at the Post. During his career, Denton reported for the metro, national, and foreign desks; served as both Maryland and District editor; hired and mentored a generation of minority journalists (especially African Americans and women); and built a potent legacy of journalistic excellence at the Washington Post. Herbert H. Denton Jr. was born on July 10, 1943, in Muncie, Indiana, the first of four children of Herbert Denton Sr. and Lucille Battle Denton. “Herbert Junior” spent part of his infancy in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Denton, Ivan

Ivan Denton, a pioneering Ozark woodcarver specializing in wildlife and Western scenes, was one of the most prominent artists in Arkansas. Ivan Denton was born Marlin Ivan Denton in 1927 in Ferrells, North Carolina, to William Denton and Mary Magdalena Massey Denton. Denton never had any formal artistic training but took up carving in the 1930s because he, like most boys in the Great Depression, often made his own toys. Denton whittled wood, pine bark, soap, soft stone, and, occasionally, bone and ivory. He ran away from home in 1945 and worked as a cowboy during a branding season in Texas and New Mexico. Denton spent a year as a first mate aboard a U.S. Army transport vessel, Leapin’ Lena, …

Departee (Independence County)

The historic community of Departee in Christian Township of Independence County is located on Blackland Road (Highway 157) near Departee Creek, about three and a half miles southwest of Oil Trough (Independence County) and two miles northwest of Thida (Independence County). Departee is close to Major Harris Mountain in the Oil Trough Bottoms near the Blackland community. The White River bottomland is a fertile area for farming, although cotton has been largely replaced by other crops such as soybeans and rice. Flooding, often disastrous, frequently occurs in the bottoms. The community was named for Departee Creek, a small bottomland creek that most likely received its name from the French who were in the area by the beginning of the nineteenth …

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas

Der Squire: Ein Bild aus den Hinterwalden Nordamerikas (The Squire: A Picture from the Backwoods of North America) by Albert von Halfern was published in 1857 by Hoffman and Campe of Hamburg, Germany. The novel presents the story of Squire Russel, a squatter (or pioneer) in western Arkansas near the Indian Territory. Von Halfern’s novel was never translated into English and therefore did not achieve the popularity in the United States that fellow German author Friedrich Gerstäcker’s novels did. Nevertheless, his description of western Arkansas in the early 1840s, like Gerstäcker’s work, offers insight into the daily experiences and the social life of Arkansas’s early settlers. Von Halfern, born about 1816, came to America in 1838, landing in New York …

Derechos, Squall Lines, Downbursts/Microbursts, and “Rogue” Winds

While Arkansas makes national news far more often for its tornadoes, the state suffers its fair share of what are commonly known as straight-line winds. For example, on June 5, 2014, a weather event originating in Colorado crossed northeastern Arkansas, killing two people, derailing a train in Craighead County, and leaving thousands without power. A derecho (pronounced “deh-REY-cho”) is an event that consists of winds that create a swath of damage that extends for more than 240 miles, has minimal wind gusts of at least fifty-eight miles per hour (mph) for most of this swath, and includes multiple hurricane-force (seventy-five mph or greater) gusts. Derechos originate from what are commonly called “bow echoes,” named for their curved radar signature. About …

Dermott (Chicot County)

Dermott grew from a bayou settlement, which had its beginning in the early 1840s, to a thriving railroad town in the 1880s. With an economy based largely on agriculture and timber, it flourished until the Depression. While many other small Delta towns did not survive that period, Dermott prevailed. Although it never regained its former stature, it remains a substantial town populated by many descendants of early settlers. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The first settlers chose the rich and heavily timbered land along the bayou. John Smith and his wife, Sarah Bowden, arrived in 1811 and opened the first settlement in the vicinity. The town was named after Dr. Charles McDermott, who first visited in 1834. He bought land …

Dermott Crawfish Festival

The Dermott Crawfish Festival is one of the longest continuously running festivals in Arkansas. Every third weekend of May, Dermott (Chicot County) transforms its downtown streets into an entertainment district offering carnival amusements, arts and crafts, specialty foods, pancake breakfasts, live music, a disc jockey, beauty pageants, basketball contests, fire truck rides, magic shows, bingo, karate demonstrations, a “Show Your Rims” competition, and a dog show, as well as educational exhibits and visiting local and state politicians. The festival originated with the expansion of this Delta community’s farm-based economy into aquaculture. In the early 1980s, local agriculturists Ronnie Thomas, John Green, Jimmy Duncan, and Jerry Duncan began crawfish farming. Thomas, a fishery biologist, researched superior farming and food-preparation techniques. The …

DeRoche (Hot Spring County)

DeRoche is located in the area of Arkansas Highway 84 between state highways 128 and 7. Located just south of Jack Mountain, the township lies about fifteen miles south of Hot Springs (Garland County) and eight miles east of Bismarck (Hot Spring County). The DeRoche community is enclosed on three sides by the Caddo and Ouachita rivers. Although the DeRoche Creek name appeared on maps in 1806, development of the area did not begin for another twenty-five years. “De Roche” is French for “of rock,” a possible reference to the rocky bed of DeRoche Creek, for which the community was named. Squatting was the primary way to obtain land in the area. Some worked the land for many years but then moved …

Des Arc (Prairie County)

Des Arc is one of two county seats serving Prairie County. It was one of the earliest settlements in eastern Arkansas as well as an important shipping point for lumber and agricultural goods. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Des Arc was the earliest settlement in Prairie County, taking its name from the Bayou des Arc two miles north of city; the bayou’s name is derived from a French term meaning “bow” or “curve.” Francis Francure, a Frenchman, was reportedly one of the first settlers in the area, testifying, upon receipt of a Spanish land grant, that he had lived on the land since 1789. Goodspeed’s history of the area credits as the first residents two Creoles named Watts and East, …

Des Arc and DeValls Bluff, Capture of

aka: Capture of DeValls Bluff and Des Arc
Des Arc (Prairie County) and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) became two important Union military outposts between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Helena (Phillips County). The capture and protection of these towns was a high priority for Federal commanders from 1863 until the end of the war. The towns were first captured by Federal troops in January 1863. An expedition was launched up the White River on January 13, 1863, after the capture of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). Under the command of Brigadier General Willis Gorman, troops captured St. Charles (Arkansas County) on the first day of the expedition. Leaving the USS Cincinnati and several units behind, Gorman continued up the White River, and on January 18, the Federals captured DeValls …

Des Arc Bayou Expedition

aka: Searcy Expedition
aka: West Point Expedition
  As the Union’s Army of the Southwest marched across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas after the Battle of Pea Ridge under the command of Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis, numerous expeditions were sent out in search of supplies for the men and animals and a route to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). This expedition failed to find either, which would eventually lead Curtis to continue his trek and capture Helena (Phillips County), where resupply could be accomplished by ships on the Mississippi River. By May 1862, Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr, commander of the Second Division of the Army of the Southwest, was searching the area northeast of Searcy (White County) to find supplies and information about Confederate forces …

Des Arc Bayou, Action at

The Action at Des Arc Bayou was fought in the early morning hours of July 14, 1864, as a detachment of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s Missouri cavalry attacked the camp of a detachment from the Tenth Illinois Cavalry that had set out to confront and harass Shelby’s troops in northeast Arkansas. Shelby had taken control of all Confederate forces in northeast Arkansas in May 1864, and his troops had been raiding throughout the region, destroying a Union garrison at Dardanelle (Yell County), sinking the U.S. gunboat Queen City as it lay at anchor at Clarendon (Monroe County), and attacking trains on the Memphis to Little Rock Railroad that ran troops and supplies between the Arkansas capital and the large Federal base …

Desert Storm

aka: Gulf War
aka: First Gulf War
aka: Desert Shield
aka: Persian Gulf War
aka: Operation Desert Storm
On August 2, 1990, the Iraq Army under the command of President Saddam Hussein and General Ali Hassan al-Majid invaded and occupied the country of Kuwait. Following the occupation, Ali Hassan was placed in Kuwait as military governor. In response to this, the United Nations Security Council condemned the Iraqi administration and issued economic sanctions on the country. From the invasion until February 28, 1991, U.S. president George H. W. Bush, along with a coalition of thirty-eight other countries, supported the military forces deployed to the Middle East to counter this action. This build-up of forces became the first part of the 1990/1991 Gulf War and was codenamed Operation Desert Shield (August 7, 1990–January 17, 1991). The counter-strike and combat …

Desertion (Civil War)

According to historian Mark Weitz, Arkansas ranks fifth out of the eleven Confederate states with significant (defined as more than 3,500) numbers of deserters. North Carolina is first on the list with 24,122, followed by Tennessee (12,308), Virginia (12,155), Mississippi (11,660), and Arkansas (10,095). Desertion was a common problem faced by commanders on both sides of the Civil War, although the issue has not been fully explored by military historians and exact numbers are hard to determine. Causes of Desertion Myriad reasons exist for desertion during the Civil War. Early in the war, some Confederate units in Arkansas deserted when rumors spread about local Native Americans raiding towns and scalping citizens; the soldiers left their units feeling that their place …

Desha (Independence County)

Desha is located on State Highways 14 and 25 (a.k.a. Heber Springs Road) in Independence County about six miles southwest of Batesville, the county seat. Desha is closely associated with nearby Locust Grove (Independence County), Jamestown (Independence County), McHue (Independence County), and Southside (Independence County). The White River is about one mile to the north, and Ramsey Mountain (a.k.a. Ramsey Hill) lies about two miles to the east. There is evidence that Hernando de Soto and his men journeyed through the Greenbrier Bottoms (named for Greenbrier Creek—originally spelled Greenbriar) in October and November 1541. Dr. Julie Morrow of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) began the process of archaeological study and research into the Native American city of Coliqua …

Desha County

Hardwood forests, alluvial soil, and flooding rivers marked the Native American territory that became Desha County. Lying at the confluence of the Arkansas, White, and Mississippi rivers, fertile land with abundant game provided sustenance for the Quapaw. Today, Delta soil and ample water make Desha County a leading agricultural producer. European Exploration and Settlement Explorers Hernando de Soto; Father Jacques Marquette; Louis Joliet; René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle; and Henri de Tonti visited area Indian tribes. Marquette and Joliet stopped in 1673 at the Indian village of Mitchagama, in the vicinity of the Arkansas River mouth. La Salle, visiting Indians in 1682, set up a cross in the same area. Frenchman Francis D’Armond erected a trading post on the …

Desha County Courthouse

The Desha County Courthouse in Arkansas City (Desha County) is a two-and-a-half-story brick structure built in 1900 in the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 12, 1976. After the establishment of Desha County in 1838, the first county seat was located at Napoleon in 1843, a river port at the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. Early courts were held at Wellington, a plantation in the Red Fork Township. In the fall of 1865, the old Marine Hospital building was leased by the county from the federal government for the purpose of conducting county business. By the 1870s, the county seat at Napoleon had been abandoned due to frequent flooding. In 1873, …

Desha County Historical Society

The Desha County Historical Society (DCHS) was founded in January 1969 at the county courthouse in Arkansas City (Desha County). The four charter members were C. C. Stuart, Mildred Stroud, Mary Gayle Tutt, and Pat Sherland. Later, the group decided to incorporate the organization, and a certificate of incorporation was issued to the Desha County Historical Society by the office of the Secretary of State on May 29, 1973. Since its inception, the society has gathered historical documents and a few artifacts. These items are located at the McGehee (Desha County) library in the Desha County Historical Society Research Room. The first issue of the society’s publication The Doctors of Desha County was published in 1969. From 1973 until 2000, …

Detonti (Saline County)

Detonti is an unincorporated community approximately six miles south of Benton (Saline County) and fifteen miles north of Sheridan (Grant County), near the center of Shaw Township in Saline County. The community is centered at the intersection of Arkansas Highways 35 and 190. Notable early settlers to the area were Samuel Young, David S. Ramsey, and Hiram Shaw, all present before 1860. These and other families farmed the rich lands, developing the area into a productive agricultural region before the Civil War. These men, or their sons, all supported the South, serving in the Confederate military. After the devastation of war on their homes and lands, survivors returned and reestablished a flourishing farming community. The only organizations in the community …

DeValls Bluff (Prairie County)

DeValls Bluff, in east-central Prairie County, is located on the White River and Highway 70. It is the county seat for the southern district of Prairie County. Excluding Helena (Phillips County), no other town in eastern Arkansas held such strategic importance to the Union army during the Civil War as did DeValls Bluff. Jacob M. DeVall and his son, Chappel S., were apparently the first white settlers in the area. They first appear on Prairie County tax records in 1851. Post office department records indicate the town was named for Jacob. Chappel S. DeVall had a mercantile operation with a warehouse and home on the White River (now White River basin) in 1849. At the beginning of the Civil War, …

DeValls Bluff Waterworks

The DeValls Bluff Waterworks, located at the corner of Hazel and Rumbaugh streets in DeValls Bluff (Prairie 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 September 20, 2007. As the United States struggled with 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. DeValls Bluff, located on the …

DeValls Bluff, Affair at (December 13, 1864)

Union forces guarded a number of important outposts across the state in 1864, creating an important line of defense against possible Confederate attacks from the southwestern corner of the state. In an effort to gather intelligence about enemy movements and possible threats more effectively, Federal commanders used patrols and guards in locations where their troops would not be expected by the Confederates. Even while the information gathered was not particularly important, Union officers passed any intelligence up their chain of command, allowing their commanders to make informed decisions. This affair is an example of such an incident. Brigadier General Christopher Andrews commanded the Federal garrison at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) in late 1864 and worked to gather information about the …

DeValls Bluff, Affair at (May 22, 1864)

One of the most dangerous missions Union soldiers could be assigned was to gather forage outside Federal outposts. Vulnerable to attack while they worked to gather food and other supplies, they often proved to be easy targets for Confederate units. This event shows how easily these groups could be surprised by the enemy. With hundreds or thousands of men in small garrisons across the countryside, Union supply lines strained to feed them all. Horses and mules had to be fed as well, so Union commanders often tried to gather as much forage nearby for their livestock as possible. West of the important Federal outpost of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), the Grand Prairie offered quality grazing opportunities for livestock. On May …

DeValls Bluff, Affair near (November 2, 1864)

aka: Affair at Hazen's Farm
With Union outposts scattered across the state during the Civil War, small parties of Federal troops became prime targets for Confederate forces and guerrillas. The need to gather necessary forage and other supplies forced Union troops outside the confines of their fortified positions, sometimes leading to their capture, as in this engagement. In November 1864, a company of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry was tasked with guarding the railroad between DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and what is now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Posted about seven miles to the west of DeValls Bluff under the command of Captain Nelson Claflin, the Federals were in a vulnerable and isolated position. On November 2, 1864, Claflin dispatched eleven of his men from their …

DeValls Bluff, Skirmish at (December 1, 1863)

A small inconsequential action, the December 1, 1863, Skirmish at DeValls Bluff was typical of the warfare the Union army faced as it manned isolated posts throughout Arkansas. As regular Confederate troops withdrew from central Arkansas, guerrilla groups continued to attack these outposts. DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) was an important Federal outpost on the White River. Supplies were transported up the White River to the Union garrison in the town, where they were loaded onto railcars for transport to the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. The troops stationed in the town protected both the river landing and rail station, as well as a large military hospital and other logistical infrastructure. The troops also patrolled the surrounding countryside for both regular …

Devil’s Backbone, Action at

aka: Action at Backbone Mountain
aka: Action at Jenny Lind
The Union victory at Devil’s Backbone secured the North’s capture of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on September 1, 1863. Although fighting continued in the region, Fort Smith remained a Union base until the war’s end. After driving other Confederate forces farther south into Indian Territory in late August 1863, Union Major General James G. Blunt rapidly turned toward Fort Smith. Blunt’s troops skirmished with Confederate Brigadier General William L. Cabell’s brigade southwest of Fort Smith on August 31. Cabell decided to retreat southeast and sent his baggage and ordnance wagons off that evening. Discovering this Confederate retreat the next morning, Blunt took an infantry regiment and captured Fort Smith without incident, while Colonel William F. Cloud led about 700 Union …

Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den State Park in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas is one of the best-preserved Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) park developments in the United States and contains the largest sandstone crevice cave area in the country. The park is popular for a variety of recreational opportunities and was designated a Natural Area by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The Arkansas Archeological Survey in 1979 recorded eleven archaeological sites at the park. Six sites are prehistoric and indicate the presence of Native Americans as far back as 8,000 years. Archaeological evidence of European-American settlement indicates that whites probably settled in the area before 1836, the year Arkansas became the twenty-fifth state. Settlement of upper Lee Creek Valley steadily increased during …

Devil’s Knot

Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three focuses on the facts of the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and the controversial court case that followed. One of the teenagers of the so-called West Memphis Three convicted in the case was sentenced to death, while two others were condemned to life in jail without parole; the three were freed in 2011. The murders remained unsolved. The book depicts a bleak picture of small-town Arkansas in the 1990s, providing background for how, in the author’s view, this case assumed a level of hysteria that in many ways equaled the Salem Witch Trials. The book provoked a larger discussion about …

Devoe and Huntley (Lynching of)

aka: Huntley and Devoe (Lynching of)
In early January 1898, two African Americans named Devoe and Huntley (no first names were given in the reports) were allegedly lynched near Bearden (Ouachita County) for an attempted assault on an elderly woman there a year earlier. They were apparently lynched in two different incidents, and as the authorities maintained they had escaped, few details are available. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Devoe and Huntley had attempted to assault an elderly woman named Mrs. Paine near Bearden approximately a year before the alleged lynchings. They fled the scene, but in early January 1898, Devoe returned to the Bearden area and was arrested by J. D. Best and Frank Butler. They asked him where Huntley was, and when he refused …

Dewees, Mary

A renowned reformer and advocate for prisoners’ rights, Mary Dewees was the first superintendent of the Arkansas State Farm for Women, the state’s first women’s prison, from 1920 to 1924. Mary Dewees was born on July 5, 1895, to Thomas B. Dewees and Lillie Dewees in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Bucknell University, where she studied social work and became well versed in the latest forms of progressive penology, especially ways to reform so-called wayward women. Dewees became director of education at New Jersey’s Clinton Farms reform school for women in 1918. At the age of twenty-five, Dewees was recruited by Grace Robson, another women’s reform pioneer who helped organize New Jersey’s first women’s reformatory in 1913. The following year, …

DeWitt (Arkansas County)

DeWitt, one of the two seats of Arkansas County, is located in the center of Arkansas’s rice industry and is a minor center of rice milling and processing. The town got its start as a compromise and its name out of a hat. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The settlement of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) served as the capital of Arkansas Territory until 1821, when the seat of government was moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). After that date, the seat of Arkansas County remained at Arkansas Post. As the county’s population grew, Arkansas Post’s importance dwindled, and a new county seat, closer to the center of the growing population, became desirable. After much debate, a site near the center …

DeWitt Lynching of 1891

On December 21, 1891, a mob of masked men entered the jail in DeWitt (Arkansas County) and shot three men: Floyd McGregory (sometimes written as Gregory) and his father-in-law, J. A. Smith (who were both white), as well as Mose Henderson (who was African American). The three men had been put in jail for plotting to kill Smith’s wife, who had divorced him and received one-third of his property in the settlement. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Smith’s wife, Mary, divorced him because “he was unkind to her, and abandoned her companionship for that of negroes.” The case was bitterly fought, but in the end, she received damages as part of the settlement, and her former husband objected. Smith enlisted …

Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field

The Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field is an airport located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Owned by the City of Arkadelphia, the facility serves both local general aviation and as the location for Henderson State University (HSU) flight operations. The first airplane to visit the city landed on May 25, 1918. Other planes infrequently appeared in the city over the next two decades until the first airport was constructed in 1933–34, located across the Ouachita River from Arkadelphia. The first plane landed at that facility on April 24, 1934. The land was leased for only three years, and after the expiration of the lease, the airport closed. It was reopened in 1939 when students from Henderson State Teachers College (which later …

Dexter, Maury

aka: Morris Gene Poindexter
Maury Dexter was a film and television director and producer perhaps best remembered for his work on low-budget horror films during the early 1960s, as well as his long professional association with television legend Michael Landon. Dexter’s career paralleled that of an elder Arkansas-born film maker, Jean Yarbrough of Marianna (Lee County). Both were known less for their artistry than for their efficiency, directing or producing numerous competent but unexceptional films for “Poverty Row” studios within the constraints of tight budgets and deadlines. Reflecting on his career, Dexter observed: “I’m first and foremost a filmmaker. Even when I first started out, my intent was to take a script, whatever that script was, and do the best I could under the …

Dhonau, Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin Dhonau, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, contributed to the Arkansas Gazette’s winning of a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the historic desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. Later, he served as an editorial writer at the newspaper for twenty-seven years and was chief of the opinion section when the Gazette closed on October 18, 1991. Jerry Dhonau was born on September 20, 1934, in Little Rock to Charles Mitchell Dhonau and Lura Hill Dhonau. His father settled damage claims for the Cotton Belt Railroad. An older brother, Charles Mitchell Dhonau Jr., was killed in combat in World War II. While he was a student at Little Rock High …

Dial, Rick

Rick Dial was a character actor, musician, and businessman from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Dial acted in fourteen Hollywood films, first appearing alongside childhood friend and fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996). In addition to his acting, Dial was part-owner of a furniture store in Malvern and was “the Voice of the Malvern Leopards,” announcing high school football games. Richard Halley Dial was born on March 9, 1955, in Malvern to Bill J. Dial and DeNora VanDusen Dial; he was one of three children. He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973, where he earned All-Conference honors on the Malvern Leopards football team. Dial married Phyllis Voss on September 22, 1973; they had three children. After high …

Dialects

The classification of dialects is an inexact science, as it is often difficult to track the minute differences in grammar, vocabulary, phonetics, and intonation that distinguish one from the next, and more importantly, track how those changes occurred. Migratory routes provide a basic framework for identifying dialects across the country. Informed by this framework, linguists identify two umbrella dialects in the state of Arkansas:Midland, sometimes called South Midland or Mountain Speech, andSouthern, which refers to east-coastal Southern speech. Geography also plays a decisive role in the distribution of dialects. The Ouachita Mountains, for example, form a natural barrier for language and culture. John Gould Fletcher observed as much in his historical study, Arkansas (1947): “One may say that there are roughly two …

Diamond Bear Brewery

Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) revived beer brewing in the state of Arkansas. Its name is derived from two previous monikers used by Arkansas: the “Diamond State” and the “Bear State.” Russ Melton, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bear, served in the military in Germany for four years, where he acquired a taste for fine beers. He and his wife, Sue Melton, came up with the concept of a local brewery in 1999 and, along with seven other owners, started production in the fall of 2000 at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) facility. The mission statement of the company is: “To provide the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region with their own local brewery, which produces great …

Diamond Cave

Diamond Cave, one of Arkansas’s many noteworthy caves, is located on Henson Creek, three miles from Jasper (Newton County). Diamond Cave is an underground natural wonder, containing a display of stalactites, columns, and stalagmites running many miles into the mountain. The discovery of Diamond Cave is credited to Samuel Hudson, a veteran hunter, an early settler in Newton County, and a member of the eleventh Arkansas General Assembly. Folklore has it that he and some companions discovered this cave while hunting bear early in the nineteenth century; he followed his dogs into the cave, discovered two of them dead from a battle with bears, and then killed one of the bears. The name Diamond Cave probably came from the abundant …