Entries - Starting with F

Fisher (Poinsett County)

  Fisher is located on U.S. Highway 49 in the southwest corner of Poinsett County. Like many other Arkansas cities, Fisher owes its existence to the railroad industry and the lumber industry. In the nineteenth century, western Poinsett County was a flood-prone hardwood forest. A road connecting Helena (Phillips County) to Batesville (Independence County) ran across the future site of Fisher, but no families chose to live in the area until after the Civil War. Reportedly, the first building erected in what would be Fisher was a double-pen log cabin built by Allen Steelman in about 1875. Steelman’s son-in-law, Shep Pope, lived in the other half of the cabin. Local historians have written that, following the death of Steelman, his widow married …

Fisher, Derek Lamar

Derek Fisher is one of the most successful basketball players to hail from Arkansas. After an exemplary high school and college career in Little Rock (Pulaski County), he won five championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also set an NBA record for participation in the most playoff games at 259. In 2011, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Derek Lamar Fisher was born in Little Rock on August 9, 1974, to John and Annette Fisher. He has an older half brother, Duane Washington, who also played in the NBA, and a younger sister. The Fishers lived on West 22nd Street in Little Rock. Derek attended Wilson …

Fisher, George Edward

George Edward Fisher was a political cartoonist whose work influenced and helped define Arkansas politics for a generation. He created a series of visual metaphors and themes that were widely associated with the politicians he caricatured and became a part of Arkansas political folklore. Fisher focused primarily on political, social, and environmental issues. George Fisher was born on April 8, 1923, near Searcy (White County) to Charles W. Fisher, a tree nursery owner, and Gladys Fisher. His mother died when he was five, and his father alone raised Fisher’s two brothers, sister, and him. Fisher grew up in Beebe (White County), where he attended school and started the Beebe Grammar School News. Fisher’s father was an avid reader and encouraged …

Fisher, Isaac

Isaac Fisher was a prominent African-American educator in the early part of the twentieth century. A protégé of famed black educator and leader Booker T. Washington, Fisher served as president of Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff—UAPB) in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) from 1902 to 1911. Isaac Fisher was born on January 18, 1877, on a plantation named Perry’s Place in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. His parents were former slaves; little is known about them beyond the fact that they had sixteen children, the last of whom was Isaac. In 1882, the family was forced to live for six months in the plantation’s cotton gin following a levee break on the Mississippi River, an experience …

Fisher, Jimmie Lou

Jimmie Lou Fisher, a pioneering female politician, was the state treasurer or state auditor of Arkansas for twenty-four years. She is the longest-serving state treasurer in Arkansas history. Fisher got her start in politics by being elected treasurer of Greene County in 1970, but her friendship and alliance with young Bill Clinton when he campaigned for Congress in 1974 launched her state political career. Her final race came in 2002, when Democratic Party leaders persuaded her to run for governor against the popular Republican governor Mike Huckabee, who was running for his second full term. Though heavily outspent and suffering from a painful back ailment, Fisher nevertheless received forty-seven percent of the votes. Jimmie Lou Cooper was born on December …

Fisher, Rosemary Beryl Snook “Snooky”

Rosemary Beryl Snook Fisher was an artist and pottery instructor for the Arkansas Arts Center (now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts) for several years. She had an active interest in the preservation of the art forms of the Ozarks but was influenced by many diverse cultures. As a devoted teacher into her last years, she influenced many future artists. She had added local notoriety as the wife of George Fisher, the chief editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Gazette. Her husband regularly wove her nickname, Snooky, into his cartoons; for many years, a favorite game among readers was to find the hidden nickname. Rosemary Snook was born in early 1927 in Burnham-on-Sea, England, to Harold George Snook and Rose Annie …

Fitzgerald Station and Farmstead

Fitzgerald Station and Farmstead in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 27, 2003. Focusing on the time period 1857–1953, the National Register listing includes a barn used by Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company (1858–1861), an 1870s house, a stable, a pump house, a chicken house, a cistern, native stone entry markers, and an outdoor fire pit. Fitzgerald (or Fitzgerald’s) Station and Farmstead has also been designated by the National Park Service as a certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. John Fitzgerald Sr. (1783–1875) and his wife, Mary Fitzgerald (1794–circa 1865), moved their family from Alabama to Washington County, Arkansas, in the late 1820s or early 1830s, settling …

Fitzgerald, Edward Mary

Edward Mary Fitzgerald was the second Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock (Pulaski County), overseeing a diocese that encompasses the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. As the most historically significant Arkansas Catholic prelate, he was one of the only bishops in the world, and the only English-speaking one, to vote against papal infallibility. As an Arkansas bishop, he strove to attract Catholic immigrants to the state and sought also to evangelize African Americans; these efforts, however, bore little fruit. St. Edward Catholic Church was named in his honor. Although it is known that Edward Fitzgerald was born in the city of Limerick on the west coast of Ireland, his birth certificate fails to reveal his exact date of birth. …

Fitzhugh (Woodruff County)

Fitzhugh (Woodruff County) is a community six miles northeast of the county seat of Augusta (Woodruff County). Named for Rufus K. Fitzhugh Jr., the community developed and grew around his 800-acre plantation. Over time, two schools, a cotton gin, churches, and a general mercantile store came to be located at Fitzhugh; the area is mostly large farm fields in the twenty-first century, with only a few residences. Early settlers to the Fitzhugh community were attracted by the area’s rich alluvial soil deposits that became so profitable for cotton production in the nineteenth century. Area farms benefited from Fitzhugh’s proximity to the White River just a few miles west. In 1859, Rufus King Fitzhugh Sr. brought his family and a large …

Fitzhugh Snapp Company

Located six miles north of Augusta (Woodruff County) at the junction of County Roads 140 and 165, the Fitzhugh Snapp Company at Fitzhugh (Woodruff County) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 for its significance in two areas of merit: the general store’s important association with agriculture in Woodruff County and the building’s distinctive representation of twentieth-century commercial architecture. The Fitzhugh store was an integral part of an agricultural community that revolved around cotton production in the northeastern Arkansas Delta from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Rufus K. Fitzhugh and J. Harrison Snapp built the original wooden mercantile store in Fitzhugh, probably in the mid-to-late 1890s. Although its exact date of construction is not …

Fitzhugh’s Woods, Action at

The Action of Fitzhugh’s Woods was a Civil War action fought on April 1, 1864, as Union forces ventured from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Woodruff County in an attempt to stop Confederate recruitment efforts and disrupt Rebel attempts to attack Federal targets. As Major General Frederick Steele led a Yankee army into south Arkansas in March 1864 on what became known as the Camden Expedition, Confederate Brigadier General Dandridge McRae was recruiting troops in the area between the White and Mississippi rivers. Aided by forty-six commissioned officers who were left without commands because of the flood of Confederate desertions that followed the fall of Little Rock in September 1863, McRae sought to bring the former soldiers back into the Rebel …

Flanagin Law Office

The Flanagin Law Office is located at 320 Clay Street in Arkadelphia (Clark County), across the street from the Clark County Courthouse. The building was finished by 1858 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1977. The office is named for Harris Flanagin, governor of Arkansas from 1862 to 1864. A New Jersey native, Flanagin moved to Arkansas from Illinois. Settling in the Clark County seat of Greenville, Flanagin moved to Arkadelphia when it became the county seat in 1842. The same year, he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives, and in 1848 he was elected to the Arkansas Senate. In 1851, he married Martha Nash of Washington (Hempstead County). Sometime in that …

Flanagin, Harris

Harris Flanagin, the seventh governor of Arkansas, had his four-year term cut short when he surrendered Arkansas’s Confederate government following the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department at the end of the Civil War. After the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1863, he reconvened the Confederate state government in Washington (Hempstead County), thus becoming Arkansas’s only governor to head a government in exile. Harris Flanagin was born on November 3, 1817, in Roadstown, New Jersey, to James Flanagin, a cabinetmaker and merchant who had emigrated from Ireland in 1765, and Mary Harris. No records indicate his middle name, and little is known about his early life. Flanagin was educated in a Society of Friends (Quaker) school and became a …

Fleas

Fleas are small, wingless, hematophagous (blood-feeding) ectoparasites that belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, and Order Siphonaptera. There are four recognized suborders—Ceratophyllomorpha, Hystrichopsyllomorpha, Pulicomorpha, and Pygiopsyllomorpha—with about 246 recognized genera and over 2,500 described species within sixteen families. Adult fleas feed on blood of mostly mammals (about ninety-four percent of known species), including dogs, cats, and humans, with the remainder of species parasitizing birds. Fleas are an important component of the worldwide biota. In addition, they can be nuisance biters, and some serve as vectors or intermediate hosts of flea-borne disease agents and parasites. The most recent summary listed twenty-nine species of fleas in Arkansas. Fleas are most closely related, evolutionarily speaking, to insects in the orders Diptera (true …

Fleck, Jack

Jack Donald Fleck had one of most improbable victories in golf history with his 1955 U.S. Open playoff victory over perennial golfing great Ben Hogan, an established star on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour who had previously won four U.S. Opens. Fleck was an unknown who had been playing regularly on the PGA Tour for less than a year when he recorded his historic victory. Fleck moved to Arkansas in 1988, opening the Lil’ Bit a Heaven Golf Club in 1992. Jack Fleck was born on November 7, 1921, on the outskirts of Bettendorf, Iowa, one of five children of Louis and Elsie Fleck. He grew up in a poor family, working odd jobs around farms, with his salary …

Fleming, Sam (Lynching of)

On May 6, 1907, an African-American man named Sam Fleming—who was reportedly from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—was hanged at McGehee (Desha County) for winning a fight with a white bartender named Henry Vaughan. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Fleming was a “former Pine Bluff negro” who had lived in McGehee for several years. He was working in a saloon for black patrons owned by a man named Hellworth. Fleming had supposedly been in frequent trouble in Pine Bluff, once throwing a glass at a liquor dealer named Edward Wertheimer and wounding him in the head. Next door to Fleming’s workplace was a saloon for whites, also owned by Hellworth, where Henry Vaughan worked. Fleming and Vaughan had a fight, and …

Fleming, Victor Anson (Vic)

Victor Anson “Vic” Fleming of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a judge, author, and adjunct law professor. He also writes crossword puzzles that appear in prestigious national publications, including the New York Times. In 2017, Fleming and former President Bill Clinton co-authored a Times crossword. Fleming appeared in the 2006 documentary film Wordplay, playing guitar and singing an original song, “If You Don’t Come Across (I’m Gonna Be Down),” about the relationship between a Times crossword and its solver. Vic Fleming was born on December 26, 1951, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Elijah Anson Fleming Jr., who was a General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) manager, and Norfleet Cranford Fleming, who worked as an administrative assistant for the Mississippi legislature. The family …

Flemming, Owen (Lynching of)

On June 8, 1927, a mob murdered Owen Flemming, an African-American man, near Mellwood (Phillips County). At the time of the lynching, Arkansas was experiencing unprecedented flooding. The Flood of 1927 remains the most destructive in Arkansas history, covering about 6,600 square miles and inundating thirty-six of the state’s seventy-five counties. Many black citizens who lived along the Mississippi River and other flooding waterways were forced to work on the levees, often at gunpoint. One of these forced workers was Owen Flemming (or Fleming, according to some accounts). There is little information available about Flemming, but he is described in several articles as a “prominent black man.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, however, Flemming had a bad reputation. Officials at …

Fletcher, Albert Lewis

Albert Lewis Fletcher was the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, the only Catholic diocese for the state of Arkansas. He was the first native Arkansan ever to be raised to the rank within the American Catholic episcopacy, and he oversaw Arkansas Catholicism during an era of unprecedented growth and upheaval. Albert Fletcher was born on October 28, 1896, the oldest of four children, to Thomas Fletcher, a physician, and Helen Wehr in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Around the time of their marriage, both parents converted to Catholicism, his father being a former Episcopalian and his mother a former Lutheran. Within a few months of his birth, the family moved first to Paris (Logan County) and then to …

Fletcher, John Gould

John Gould Fletcher, poet and essayist, is widely acknowledged as one of the state’s most notable literary figures. He enjoyed an international reputation for much of his long career, earned the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and participated in movements that shaped twentieth century-literature. John Gould Fletcher was born on January 3, 1886, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Adolphine Krause and John G. Fletcher. After the Civil War, Fletcher’s father formed a successful cotton brokerage firm with fellow veteran Peter Hotze, bringing him wealth and prominence. Fletcher’s mother had abandoned the prospect of a musical career to tend to her ailing mother and likely centered her artistic ambitions on her only son. Fletcher was reared and educated by tutors in …

Flint Creek Power Plant

The Flint Creek Power Plant, located near Gentry (Benton County) and operated by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), is one of four coal-fired power plants in Arkansas. On April 9, 1974, SWEPCO and the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) jointly filed an application with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) to build and operate a single-unit coal-fired power plant and related facilities in western Benton County near Gentry, close to the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line. SWEPCO would build and operate the plant. This application was the second request to build a major coal-fired generating plant in Arkansas filed within the first year after the Arkansas General Assembly adopted a law known as the Utility Facility Environmental Protection Act. The first request, …

Flippen, Jay C.

Jay C. Flippen was a versatile entertainer whose career spanned more than six decades and multiple show business genres, from minstrelsy to motion pictures. Flippen became an iconic Hollywood character actor during the 1950s and 1960s. Long before that, he had established himself as a popular stage and radio performer whom Milton Berle eulogized as “one of the greatest standup comedians I ever saw.” J. C. Flippen was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on March 6, 1899. He may have been named for his father, whose name was either Jay Charles or John Constantine. However, Flippen reminisced that his parents could not decide on a name and took to calling him by the initials “J. C.” His mother was Emma …

Flippin (Marion County)

Hometown of the internationally recognized Ranger Boats bass boat manufacturer, Flippin (Marion County) is located seven miles from the county seat of Yellville (Marion County) and is surrounded by areas offering a wealth of recreational opportunities. The city of Flippin began as a small community outside the present-day city limits, near the site of what today serves as Flippin’s airport. Here, the first families settled in an area called the Barrens. Established sometime in the early 1800s, the Barrens was a small settlement that included a general store, flour mill, and cotton gin. The name later changed, and local legend purports that the owner of the general store, a man named Johnson, was not pleased with the wares being sold …

Flood of 1927

aka: Great Flood of 1927
aka: Mississippi River Flood of 1927
aka: 1927 Flood
The Flood of 1927 was the most destructive and costly flood in Arkansas history and one of the worst in the history of the nation. It afflicted Arkansas with a greater amount of devastation, both human and monetary, than the other affected states in the Mississippi River Valley. It had social and political ramifications which changed the way Arkansas, as well as the nation, viewed relief from natural disasters and the responsibility of government in aiding the victims, echoing the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the present day. In largely agrarian Arkansas, the Flood of 1927 covered about 6,600 square miles, with thirty-six out of seventy-five Arkansas counties under water up to thirty feet deep in places. In Arkansas, more people …

Flood of 1937

A cold, rainy January in 1937 set the stage for one of the worst floods—if not the worst—in Arkansas. Corrective action undertaken during the preceding ten years kept Mississippi River levees along Arkansas’s border from breaking, however, thereby preventing a repeat of the Flood of 1927. Nevertheless, eleven Arkansas waterways overflowed, inundating or otherwise affecting seventeen adjacent counties. Eleven additional states flooded, from West Virginia to Louisiana, affecting 1.5 million people in 196 counties and submerging 8,141,182 acres (12,721 square miles) along the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. This natural calamity shattered all previous disaster records, excluding World War I, according to the American Red Cross (ARC). Flood conditions developed over January and February 1937 from abnormal barometric pressure over …

Flood of 1978

On September 13, 1978, a large rainstorm subjected much of central Arkansas to record-setting amounts of rainfall. Due to the resulting flash floods, ten people drowned in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and three more died in Benton (Saline County). In addition to local authorities, Governor David Pryor activated the Benton and Little Rock National Guard units to assist in search and rescue efforts. The flood affected Arkansans in at least fifty-seven counties and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. The storm began moving from west to east beginning on September 13. The National Weather Service reported that 8.10 inches of rain fell on September 13 alone, a record second only to the 8.81 inches that fell on April …

Flood of 2019

The flood along the Arkansas River that occurred in the spring of 2019 broke a number of high-water records and proved to be one of the costliest natural disasters in the state’s history. In addition, the flood cast light upon the state’s aging levee and transportation infrastructure. Several climatological factors combined to produce the flood. First, a mild winter and warmer than usual spring (likely exacerbated by global warming) led to early snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains, the source of the Arkansas River. During the spring months, especially in May, the Great Plains were hit by repeated storms that brought record numbers of tornadoes and record rainfall; high pressure over the southeastern states stalled this weather in the Midwest. For …

Floods

Floods are one of the most commonly occurring natural hazards in the United States. Their effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or can occur in large scale, affecting entire river basins and several states. About 3,800 towns and cities in the United Sates with populations of more than 2,500 lie on floodplains. The National Weather Service has documented some ninety-two flood deaths per year in the United States since 1903. This figure does not include flood-related deaths associated with Hurricane Katrina (2005). Since 1997, more than half (about fifty-seven percent) of all flood deaths have been vehicle-related fatalities. Throughout its history, Arkansas has been drastically affected by floods, with the most notable being in 1927 and 1937. …

Floral (Independence County)

Floral is a community in Independence County located south-southwest of the county seat of Batesville (Independence County). Floral is believed to have received its name from the beautiful flowers that grow in the area, but may have been named for the Floral family who lived in the area at one time. An early pioneer in the region was John (Johnny) Thomas, who was born in 1814 in Alabama. He and his family crossed the Mississippi River and settled in Arkansas by the 1840s; the 1860 census reported him living at Round Pond in Independence County. The same census also listed the area’s first doctor, Sterling Wesley Allen, who had come from Tennessee. During the Civil War, lawless bands roamed the …

Florence Crittenton Home

Established in 1903, the Little Rock Florence Crittenton Home (LRFCH) operated as a rehabilitative and reform institution for unwed mothers. The LRFCH’s building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982. In 1883, wealthy evangelist Charles N. Crittenton founded the first Florence Crittenton Home (FCH), which was named after his daughter. Located in New York City, it was a rescue mission for prostitutes. In the early 1900s, the FCH sought to increase its clientele by refocusing its reform efforts on unmarried pregnant women. In October 1903, at the invitation of local ministers, Charles Crittenton visited Little Rock (Pulaski County) and held a series of revival meetings in the city’s churches. Shortly after his visit, civic …

Florida Brothers Building

Constructed in 1936, the Florida Brothers Building is a commercial property located at 319 West Hale Avenue in Osceola (Mississippi County), directly across the street from the Works Progress Administration–built post office building. The structure is a one-story, flat-roofed building that features Indiana limestone and reflects the Art Deco style of architecture. The structure was built by Thomas P. Florida at the same time that he and his brothers, Andrew J. Florida and George H. Florida, constructed the First National Bank Building on the same block. It was designed to house the brothers’ real estate business, which had enjoyed considerable success during the Great Depression, allowing the Florida Brothers to lend millions of dollars to Mississippi County farmers and homeowners. …

Flowers, Beulah Lee Sampson

Beulah Lee Sampson Flowers was an African-American educator, community leader, political activist, and businesswoman who was also a mentor to Maya Angelou. Beulah Sampson was born on January 10, 1883, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Her parents, John Sampson Sr. and Frances Johnson Sampson, were ex-slaves and farmers who lived in the Ozan and Mine Creek townships of Hempstead County. According to the Sampson-Flowers oral tradition, Beulah was the youngest child of approximately twenty-three full and half siblings. Family members debate the exact number of her siblings. She received a public school education in Hempstead County and attended Bowen Seminary in Clow (Hempstead County). Sampson completed her education at Williams Industrial College, a vocational training school for African Americans, in Little …

Flowers, Cleon

Cleon Aurelius Flowers Sr., an African-American physician from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was reported to be the first physician in the country to deliver viable conjoined twins successfully during a home birth. During his fifty-nine-year career as a physician, he earned a reputation as a compassionate and generous healthcare provider in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. Cleon Aurelius Flowers was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on July 26, 1913. His father, Alonza William (A. W.) Flowers, was a laborer in sawmills who later became an insurance agent for Universal Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Beulah Sampson Flowers, was a teacher, community leader, and political activist. His parents also owned and operated the A. W. Flowers and Sons grocery store …

Flowers, Gennifer

Gennifer Flowers is a singer and former model best known for her affair with Governor Bill Clinton. The relationship, which she claimed lasted for twelve years, was revealed by the tabloid Star in the early winter of 1992 and threatened to derail Clinton’s 1992 campaign for president. Eura Gean Flowers, who was known growing up as Geannie Flowers, was born on January 24, 1950, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the only child of Gene and Mary Flowers. After her birth, the family left Oklahoma for Anchorage, Alaska, and then moved to Washington state and Modesto, California. They eventually settled in rural Brinkley (Monroe County), and her father developed a crop-dusting business. Flowers says that she wanted to be an entertainer from …

Flowers, William Harold

William Harold Flowers was a lawyer, minister, social and political activist, and one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement in Arkansas in the 1940s. He was the first African-American special circuit judge in Jefferson County and a president of the African-American National Bar Association. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the state, serving as president of the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) branch and as president of the state conference of branches. Born on October 16, 1911, in Stamps (Lafayette County), William Harold Flowers was the son of Alonza (often spelled Alonzo) Williams Flowers Jr., a businessman, and Beulah Lee Sampson, a schoolteacher. He was the eldest of …

Floyd, John Buchanan

John Buchanan Floyd was the governor of Virginia, secretary of war, a brigadier general in the Confederate army, and a lawyer and planter who lived in Arkansas for a period. John Buchanan Floyd was born on the Smithfield Plantation, outside Blacksburg, Virginia, on June 1, 1806. His father, John Floyd, served in the House of Representatives and as the governor of Virginia. His mother, Letitia Preston Floyd, came from a prominent Virginia family. Floyd was the oldest of twelve children. Floyd attended South Carolina College and opened a law practice in Abington, Virginia, in 1829. The next year, he married Sarah Buchanan Preston. The two adopted a daughter. In 1834, Floyd and a brother moved to Arkansas, purchasing a cotton …

Floyd, John Charles

John Charles Floyd was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Third District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Ninth through the Sixty-Third Congresses, serving from 1905 to 1915. John Charles Floyd was born on April 14, 1858, in Sparta, Tennessee, to John Wesley Floyd and Eliza Jane Snodgrass Floyd. Floyd spent his early years in Tennessee while his father served in the Confederate army. After the Civil War, the family moved to Arkansas, settling near Bentonville (Benton County) in 1869. There, Floyd received his early education, attending the local common school and the high school. He continued his education at Arkansas Industrial University in Fayetteville (Washington County), which later became the University of Arkansas, from which …

Flu Epidemic of 1918

aka: Influenza Epidemic of 1918
A deadly influenza outbreak began in 1918 and spread around the world, killing more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. In Arkansas, the flu killed about 7,000 people, several times more than the state lost during World War I. This flu’s history remains significant today as world health officials seek to prevent an outbreak of a similar influenza epidemic mutated from swine or “bird flu” from poultry. In the fourteenth century, Italian doctors noted a mysterious illness that often turned into an epidemic. They called it the influentia in medieval Latin, believing it was caused by an adverse influence of the stars or alignment of the planets. By the eighteenth century, it was called influenza di …

Fly-fishing

Fishing for food and recreation has played a significant part in Arkansas’s history. Accounts of Hernando De Soto’s expedition mention Native Americans (possibly in northeastern Arkansas around the St. Francis River) having developed complex canals and marsh ponds for keeping fish to be caught later at a chief’s leisure. By the mid-1800s, early illustrations of Arkansas show anglers fishing from a bank with a rod and line (probably using a worm or minnow). In the 1920s and 1930s, as automobiles became more common, state parks and hatchery personnel discovered that fishermen did not hesitate to travel 200 miles or more to good fishing waters. Incidental newspaper reports began to appear about this time mentioning fly anglers traveling from Batesville (Independence …

Fogleman, John Albert

John Albert Fogleman was a lawyer who spent seventy years in the profession, including fourteen years as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the last one as chief justice. Fogleman was an unusually congenial litigant and judge, liked by his colleagues and opponents and known for his scholarship, copious opinions, and rigid, conservative application of constitutional and statutory law.  A descendant of pioneer settlers of Crittenden County, John Fogleman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 5, 1911, one of three sons of John Franklin Fogleman and Marie Julia McAdams Fogleman. He was reared and educated in Marion (Crittenden County) and enrolled at the University of Arkansas (UA) in  Fayetteville (Washington County) at the age of fifteen, where he received a bachelor of arts degree. As a freshman at the university, he met and, three years later, married Annis Adell Appleby …

Foley, Blaze

aka: Michael David Fuller
Singer-songwriter Michael David Fuller worked under the names Depty (or Deputy) Dawg and then Blaze Foley, being best known by the latter. His songs have been recorded by singers such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine. Blaze Foley was born on December 18, 1949, to Edwin Fuller and Louise Fuller in Malvern (Hot Spring County). His family traveled as gospel performers and were known as the Singing Fuller Family. Foley began singing with the group at the age of eleven with his mother, brother, and sisters. When Foley was a baby, the family left Arkansas for Texas, settling in San Antonio and later the Dallas/Fort Worth area. While an infant, he contracted polio, which was cured …

Folk Music

Folk music is part of a society’s “unofficial culture,” much of which is passed on through face-to-face contact among close-knit people. Early folk music in Arkansas falls into two broad categories: folksongs (which do not present a narrative) and ballads (which tell a story). Folksong collectors sought to record and preserve this traditional music in the twentieth century, with Vance Randolph, John Quincy Wolf, and others working in Arkansas. The lyric folksong form of the blues developed in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta regions in the late nineteenth century among the first generation of African Americans to come of age after slavery. Protest music of the early to mid-twentieth century, dealing with labor and social conditions—as well as war, civil rights, and …

Folklore and Folklife

When English antiquarian William J. Thoms introduced his new coinage “folk-lore” in 1846, he intended it as a “good Saxon substitute” for “popular antiquities,” a Latinate term that referred to the manners and customs of the “olden time.” Although subsequent folklore scholars have recognized that their subject is an ever-changing, modern phenomenon, the association of folklore with antiquity has often sent folklorists to people and places that seem to lie outside the mainstream of cultural development and where, they assume, a way of life untouched by modernization and globalization endures. In the United States, the “folk” were those who lived in isolation as a result especially of geography but sometimes of ethnicity or another distinguishing factor. Arkansas, especially its Ozark …

Food and Foodways

Because nutrition is essential to human survival, the production and consumption of food has been central to life in what is now Arkansas for more than ten thousand years. Evolving social customs dictate when, where, and how food is presented. Because of Arkansas’s ties to rest of the South, as well as to the Southwest and Midwest, the core components of local food preparation followed traditional “American” lines, with little impact being felt from the small immigrant population. The globalization of food, mostly via restaurants, came generally after 1960. Prehistory The first humans in Arkansas, the Paleoindians, were hunter-gatherers. Despite Arkansas’s lack of excavated and analyzed sites, evidence from adjacent areas suggests that besides hunting the now-extinct mega animals (mammoths, …

Forbush, Nellie

Nellie Forbush is a fictional character created by bestselling author James A. Michener (1907–1997). A native of Arkansas, the character of Nellie first appears in Michener’s book Tales of the South Pacific, which was published in 1947. Tales of the South Pacific, a series of nineteen interrelated stories based on Michener’s experiences in the U.S. Navy while stationed on the New Hebrides Islands in the Pacific during World War II, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Michener explained that he had wanted to write observations of what he called the “valiant people” he met there: “the French planters, the Australian coast watchers, the Navy nurses, the Tonkinese laborers, the ordinary sailors and soldiers who were doing the work, and …

Ford, Archibald Washington (Arch)

Archibald Washington Ford was commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education from 1953 until his retirement in 1978. He served under five governors: Francis Cherry, Orval Faubus, Winthrop Rockefeller, Dale Bumpers, and David Pryor. Under his leadership, the state undertook significant work to provide a quality education to all students regardless of their race, age, abilities, or location in the state. Arch Ford was born in Wooster (Faulkner County) on January 25, 1906, to Thomas Noah Ford (1872–1959) and Minnie Lee Clements Ford (1880–1954). He was the fourth of six children. His father was a farmer and a Baptist minister who served on the local school board as well as the Faulkner County Board of Education. His father helped lead …

Ford, Edsel

Although Edsel Ford did not arrive in the Arkansas Ozarks until the age of eleven, he lived most of his adult life in the region, consistently incorporated its culture into his writing, and became one of its most distinguished poets. At the time of his death, at the age of forty-one, he was a well-established regional poet who was beginning to earn national literary attention. Edsel Ford was born to James Tilden Ford and Nora Louisa Ford in Eva, Alabama, on December 30, 1928. His family farmed cotton, and he was one of four children. When Ford was two years old, he moved with his family to Roswell, New Mexico. In 1939, the family moved to Avoca (Benton County) to operate …

Ford, Richard Carrel

Richard Carrel Ford is a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist whose formative years in Little Rock (Pulaski County) helped shape his career as a writer. He has written seven novels and five collections of short works and was the first person to be awarded both the Pulitzer and the PEN/Faulkner Award for the same book. Ford was born on February 16, 1944, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Parker Carrel and Edna Ford. His mother was a native of Arkansas, and his grandfather, Ben Shelley, managed the Marion Hotel in downtown Little Rock. As a child, Ford often spent his summers at the hotel and, during his teen years, worked as a lifeguard at the Little Rock Country Club. Ford recalls that his residence in …

Fordyce (Dallas County)

Located at the intersection of Highways 167 and 79 in south central Arkansas, Fordyce was established in 1882 and named for Colonel Samuel Wesley Fordyce, a railroad builder and developer. It has long been a center for the timber industry in southern Arkansas. Pre-European Exploration Prior to European settlement, present-day Fordyce was inhabited by ancestors of the Caddo. Although no historic Caddo communities existed there, artifacts of Native American life are occasionally found in the area. Louisiana Purchase through Reconstruction Fordyce was a relatively late bloomer in Dallas County as compared to centrally located Princeton (Dallas County), which was incorporated in 1849 and served as the first county seat, and Tulip (Dallas County), which was considered the cultural center of …

Fordyce Commercial Historic District

The Fordyce Commercial Historic District includes the core of downtown of Fordyce (Dallas County). Centered on Main Street, the district included sixty-one resources at the time of its addition to the National Register of Historic Places on May 20, 2008. Thirty of the resources contributed to the district, with six additional sites being empty lots. The boundaries of the district are roughly Fifth Street to the north, Oak Street to the west, Spring Street to the east, and the railroad tracks south of First Street. Incorporated in 1884, Fordyce served as a stop on the Texas and St. Louis Railway, later named the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas, but commonly known as the Cotton Belt. Named for Samuel Wesley Fordyce, …