Entries - Starting with W

Weeks (Scott County)

Weeks is an unincorporated community located in northwestern Scott County south of Highway 28. Weeks was established circa 1882 just south of the Poteau River. Agriculture has traditionally been important to the area. Prior to European exploration, Weeks was a wilderness lush with native vegetation and numerous species of wildlife. Archaeological evidence from the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods has been discovered throughout the area. Additional archaeological evidence has indicated that the Caddo tribe had a strong presence along the Poteau River and other prominent waterways. Throughout the early seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, French trappers and explorers traveled west from Arkansas Post along the Arkansas River. From there, they began traversing smaller tributaries such as the Fourche La Fave …

WEHCO Media, Inc.

WEHCO Media, Inc., of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a privately owned communications company with interests in newspaper publishing, cable television, and digital services. Established in 1909, it operates daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, and cable television companies in six states. WEHCO (pronounced WAY-CO) is an acronym for Walter E. Hussman Company. The company chairman is Walter E. Hussman Jr., who also serves as publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the company’s largest newspaper. Hussman is the grandson of Clyde E. Palmer, whose media holdings formed the basis of WEHCO, and the son of newspaper publisher Walter Hussman Sr. The company has almost 2,000 employees. In a history of his family for the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Hussman wrote: “In 1909, …

Weibel, Eugene John

aka: Johann Eugen Weibel
A Swiss-German Catholic priest and missionary, Father Eugene John Weibel founded so many churches and other ecclesiastical institutions that he has been termed the Catholic “Apostle to northeastern Arkansas.” Eugene Weibel was born on May 27, 1853, in the small town of Eschenbach, Canton Lucerne, Switzerland. (His name appears as Johann Eugen Weibel in some German-language sources.) In Weibel’s autobiography, he failed to mention his birth mother’s name, only that she died at age thirty-three, four weeks after his birth; his father, John Baptist Weibel, remarried when Eugene was two. Although he mentions that there were eleven children in the family, he does not indicate where in that order he arrived. After attending Catholic elementary school in his village and a …

Weiner (Poinsett County)

The town of Weiner in Poinsett County is recognized principally for its rice farming, duck hunting, and unusual name. Since 1977, the town has annually sponsored the Arkansas Rice Festival on the second Saturday of October. The first known settlers on record were members of the John P. Phillips family, who arrived from Macon, Georgia, in 1866. Other families located nearby, forming the earliest settlement about one and a half miles west of present-day Weiner. In the early years, settlers made their living by hunting, fishing, and raising cattle. The Scott-Raybourn settlement was established a few years later near the site of the present-day Weiner schools. Weiner, a prairie land surrounded by forest, was originally known as West Prairie, and …

Welch, Thomas Rice

Thomas Rice Welch was an early Presbyterian minister and leader in Arkansas. He played an important role in the establishment of Lyon College and served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for twenty-five years. Thomas Rice Welch was born on September 15, 1825, on a farm near Nicholasville in Jessamine County, Kentucky, to John Welch and Elizabeth J. Rice (Betsey) Welch. He had at least four brothers and a sister and was named after his mother’s brother, who was a Methodist minister. Welch was encouraged by his uncle to pursue the ministry. Welch received his early education at Bethel Academy near Knoxville, Kentucky, before enrolling at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in May 1844. He …

Welch, William Blackwell

In the late nineteenth century, physician William Blackwell Welch was a leader in the movement to modernize medicine in Arkansas. A cofounder and first president of the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS), he later led the effort to establish a city hospital in Fayetteville (Washington County). W. B. Welch was born on December 9, 1828, in Scottsville, Kentucky, to Christopher A. Welch, who was a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Lyles Welch. In 1829, his family, which eventually included two brothers and three sisters, moved to Somerville, Alabama. He attended schools in Huntsville, Alabama, and studied medicine under his older brother. After graduating from Tennessee’s University of Nashville medical department (later merged with the Vanderbilt University Medical School) in 1849, he …

Welcome Centers

aka: Tourist Information Centers
People traveling in or through Arkansas often find assistance at one of the state’s fourteen Welcome Centers. Formerly designated as Tourist Information Centers, these facilities are located at thirteen points alongside major highways near the borders of the state; an additional center is in Little Rock (Pulaski County) at 1 Capitol Mall, which also contains many state government offices. Most of the centers are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the fall and winter and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the spring and summer. They include amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables, as well as displays of brochures and other information about the state and its attractions. The centers are jointly operated by the Arkansas Department …

Weldon (Jackson County)

Weldon is a town in Jackson County, south of the county seat, Newport (Jackson County). It is on State Highway 17 between Auvergne (Jackson County) and Tupelo (Jackson County); the White River valley lies to the west of Weldon, and the Cache River plains lie to the east. Archaeological evidence indicates that Jackson County has been inhabited for up to 10,000 years. The first white explorers and settlers entered the county by way of the White River, creating such settlements as Newport and Jacksonport (Jackson County). In 1831, Alvin McDonald moved from Tennessee to Jackson County, first purchasing land northeast of Newport but later farming near the present site of Weldon. McDonald raised cattle and hogs, and grew corn, potatoes, …

Weldon Gin Company Historic District

The Weldon Gin Company Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the farming economy of the town of Weldon (Jackson County), as well as for being the only example of cotton gin architecture and technology in Weldon. By the late antebellum period, Alvin McDonald was farming more than 900 acres just south of the current town of Weldon. Survey maps and federal land records of the period show that McDonald paid $1.25 an acre for just over 930 acres. As was the case with many of his peers in Jackson County, McDonald’s farm income was supplemented rather than supported by cotton. Smaller farmers who could not afford to build their own gin depended …

Weldon, Casey Bill

Casey Bill Weldon was one of the most talented, yet enigmatic, blues slide guitarists of the early twentieth century. Known as the “Hawaiian Guitar Wizard,” Weldon exhibited a range of material encompassing rag, hokum, and blues, though the majority of his more than 100 recorded songs are considered blues. Though he had a solid body of recordings and played with some well-known performers and bands of his day, much of his life is still shrouded in mystery. Casey Bill Weldon was born on February 2, 1901, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), according to blues legend Big Bill Broonzy; some sources list his birthdate as July 10, 1909. Little is known of his youth, but as a young man he eventually …

Wells, George Henson

George Henson Wells was a reporter and editor at the Pine Bluff Commercial and Arkansas Gazette. His long career was marked at the end by his distinguished reporting on two epic federal trials. George Wells was born on February 9, 1938, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the son of George Wells, who was at one time an insurance salesman, and Annette Wilson Wells. While his father worked at construction jobs around the country during World War II, he and his mother lived in Camden (Ouachita County), his mother’s hometown. They lived in an apartment over a grocery store until Wells graduated from Camden High School and they moved to Hot Springs. At Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in …

Wells, Ira James Kohath

A pioneer in education and journalism, Ira James Kohath Wells was a gifted scholar, businessman, and humanitarian with humble rural beginnings. Ira J. K. Wells was born in Tamo (Jefferson County) on July 1, 1898, to William James Wells and Emma Brown Wells. When he was young, half of his leg was amputated after he injured it trying to hop on to a moving freight train. For the rest of his life, he had a wooden prosthetic leg. He finished his secondary education at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—and then went on to earn a degree in business from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1923. Even as a student, …

Wesley Chapel

Wesley Chapel is a historic church located near Woodlawn (Cleveland County). Constructed in 1872, the single-story, Greek Revival–style, wood-frame building served the local Methodist congregation until the 1960s. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 7, 1995. A small, mostly rural community located in eastern Cleveland County, Woodlawn is located about thirteen miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The church was constructed on land donated by Augustus and Margret Bridges, and it operated as part of the Lehi Circuit of the Pine Bluff District, Little Rock Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The congregation organized in 1870. The rectangular building faces U.S. Highway 63 to the west. The narrow ends of the …

West End Park

West End Park was a privately established park in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that opened on May 30, 1885. Created by the Little Rock Street Railway Company, it encompassed a six-block area between 14th and 16th Streets and Park and Jones (formerly Kramer Street). By the late 1920s, much of the land had become the site of what is now Central High School. The park was the last stop for the Ninth Street Line, which took streetcar passengers to 14th Street, where they walked the remainder of the way and entered the park near the spot occupied in the twenty-first century by the Central High School athletic building. The park boasted the largest grandstand in the state, an artificial lake …

West Fork (Washington County)

West Fork is a small community in Washington County lying south of Fayetteville along Interstate 49, Highway 71, and the White River. It functions primarily as a suburb of Fayetteville, with local churches, businesses, and a school system that serves many square miles of rural property. Established with the arrival of the railroad in 1885, West Fork has maintained a small-town existence without a significant role in Arkansas history. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The name West Fork applied to at least two early settlements along the spring-fed headwaters of the west fork of the White River. Settlers arrived by 1828, creating self-sufficient homesteads farmed by extended family groups. The 1850 census for West Fork Township listed ninety-six households with trades …

West Gulf Coastal Plain

aka: Gulf Coastal Plain
aka: Coastal Plain
The Gulf Coastal Plain is an area of relatively gently sloping terrain extending across the southern portion of the United States from Texas to Georgia. It was covered by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico until about 50 million years ago. The land rose during periods of tectonic uplift, and water in the Gulf of Mexico retreated to near its present position. Because it was covered by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for much of its history, the geologic terrain of the Coastal Plain is flat to rolling. Its bedrock is deeply covered with sediment, and the surface has extensive deposits of sand and gravel. The western portion of the Gulf Coastal Plain—the West Gulf Coastal Plain—extends …

West Memphis (Crittenden County)

West Memphis is the largest town in Crittenden County. Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River where I-55 and I-40 meet, West Memphis has been referred to as the crossroads or mid-point of the United States and is one of the largest trucking centers in the nation. Memphis, Tennessee, is located just across the Mississippi River. Pre-European Exploration through European Exploration and Settlement Native Americans lived in the Mississippi River Valley for at least 10,000 years, although much of the evidence of their presence has been buried or destroyed. The Indians of the Mississippian Period were the last native inhabitants of the West Memphis area. Mound City Road, located within the eastern portion of the West Memphis city …

West Memphis Three

The West Memphis Three are Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr., who—as teenagers—were convicted in 1994 of triple murder in West Memphis (Crittenden County). Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were accused of killing three eight-year-old boys: Chris Byers, Stevie Branch, and Michael Moore. Their trial, which included assertions that the killings were part of a cultic ritual, and subsequent conviction set off a firestorm around the nation and world, inspired books and movies, and led to a movement to re-try or free the three men, believed by many to have been wrongly convicted. On May 6, 1993, Byers, Branch, and Moore were found in a water-filled ditch in the woods of the Robin Hood Hills subdivision less than twenty-four …

West Ninth Street (Little Rock)

aka: West 9th Street
West Ninth Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County) emerged as a predominately African-American neighborhood during the Civil War. In 1863, the Federal army, which occupied Little Rock, began constructing log cabins in the area for freed slaves. After the war, many stayed and settled there. By 1870, what was originally known as Little Rock’s West Hazel Street was renamed West Ninth Street. More African Americans settled west of Mount Holly Cemetery between 9th and 12th streets. As the population grew, a four-block section along West Ninth Street, between Broadway and Chester, became the center of the black business district. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African Americans created fraternal organizations, one of the most prominent of which was …

West Point (White County)

  The incorporated town of West Point is located in central White County, about five miles southeast of Searcy (White County). West Point thrived in its early days as a bustling river port and overcame the ravages of the Civil War, but the arrival of local railroads in the 1870s overshadowed the supremacy of trade via steamboats and diminished its importance as the commercial hub of White County. The earliest evidence of human habitation around West Point is a burial mound constructed sometime after AD 1300. From the mid-seventeenth century onward, the West Point area was part of a hunting ground under the dominion of the Osage until the arrival of white settlers to White County, beginning in 1789. The foundation for a …

West Point, Engagement at

aka: Little Red River Raid
The Confederacy suffered a crushing defeat on July 4, 1863, following an unsuccessful assault on the Union garrison at Helena (Phillips County), which was intended to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the defeat at Helena—coupled with Confederate surrender at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9—severed Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana from the rest of the Confederate states. Major General Sterling Price was formally tasked with the defense of Arkansas on July 23, but increasing desertions within the Rebel ranks thinned the already meager forces available to resist the imminent Union push to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock Campaign involved the movement of two Union columns: a division led by Brigadier …

West, Dan Carlos

Dr. Dan Carlos West served as president of Arkansas College, now Lyon College, from 1972 to 1988. As stated in Brooks Blevins’s history of the college, the physical and curricular changes, along with West’s administrative style, made his presidency “the most turbulent, the most exciting, the most confusing, [and] the most successful” time in the school’s history up to that point. Dan C. West was born on May 29, 1939, in Galveston, Texas, one of four children of Embry Carlos West and Mildred Louise Junker West. The family later moved to Dallas, Texas, where West attended Woodrow Wilson High School, graduating in 1957. He attended the University of Texas for a year and then went on to the U.S. Naval …

West, Donald W. (Don)

Donald W. West was a farmer, educator, writer, and folklorist who became a local legend in northwestern Arkansas, especially Fayetteville (Washington County). West moved with his family to the thickly forested mountains, abandoned farmland, and isolated hollows of southern Washington County near Winslow (Washington County) in 1938. He published a memoir about his family’s subsistence farming experience and worked as itinerant teacher. (A different Don West was also a writer and proponent of folk culture and rural life who co-founded the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1932.) Don West was born in Oklahoma on September 12, 1905, the fourth of five children of John West and Mollie West. West was a resident of Garrett, Oklahoma, and Santa Fe, …

West, John (Lynching of)

On July 28, 1922, a laborer named John West was shot to death near Guernsey (Hempstead County) after an argument at a work site over a shared drinking cup. The Arkansas Gazette gives the cause for the lynching as “impudence.” According to the Gazette, on the morning of July 28, John West, an African American recently arrived from Kansas, was working on a paving gang in Hope (Hempstead County). He had an argument with the foreman on the job, Andrew Worthing, another Kansan, who was white. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Bisbee (Arizona) Daily Review, the argument concerned West’s attempt to use the crew’s common drinking cup. When challenged by Worthing, West declared that “he was as …

West, Timothy (Tim)

Tim West was a reclusive artist who lived and worked in the woods near Winslow (Washington County) for more than forty years. The son of writers Don West and Muriel Leitzell West, who had homesteaded in the Winslow area beginning in 1938, West completed a graduate degree in art before pursuing his very private life as an eccentric sculptor, painter, and ink artist near the land where he roamed as a young boy. Timothy (Tim) West was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 7, 1937, before coming to Arkansas as a baby with his parents and older sister Petra. Homeschooled as a child by his mother, West eventually attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). …

Western Grove (Newton County)

  Western Grove is located on U.S. Highway 65 in the northeastern corner of Newton County. Travelers along the highway have made it possible for Western Grove to support a larger number of businesses than is typical of rural towns in the Ozark Mountains region of Arkansas. Joseph Holcombe was the first to claim land in the area that would become Western Grove. As early roads were developed, the area gained a trading post. The community was originally established before the Civil War under the name of Marshall Prairie. Among the early settlers in the area were William O’Daniel (1849), Edward Potts (1854), and Lewis M. Potts (1861). The post office, established in 1854, was named for postmaster John H. …

Western Mosquitofish

aka: Gambusia
The western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) belongs to the order Cyprinodontiformes and family Poeciliidae. The name “mosquitofish” is appropriate for this fish because its diet sometimes consists of large numbers of mosquito larvae. The family contains about twenty-one genera and 160 species. There are eight other freshwater species of Gambusia similar in appearance in North America north of Mexico, including the eastern mosquitofish (G. holbrooki), Amistad gambusia (G. amistadensis), Big Bend gambusia (G. gaigei), largespring gambusia (G. geiseri), San Marcos gambusia (G. georgei), Clear Creek gambusia (G. heterochir), Pecos gambusia (G. nobilis), and blotched gambusia (G. senilis). Many of these Gambusia spp. are endemic and afforded protection, as populations are either listed as threatened or endangered. The similar western mosquitofish ranges …

Weston v. Arkansas

aka: Arkansas v. Weston
Joseph Harry Weston v. State of Arkansas dealt with two criminal cases that reached the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1970s, the second of which led the court to declare the state’s old criminal-libel law unconstitutional. Joseph Harry Weston was the owner and editor of a tiny tabloid newspaper in Cave City (Sharp County) called the Sharp Citizen, which he printed off and on from 1972 until 1978. The paper, which was composed on typewritten stationery with hand-drawn headlines, reveled in strongly opinionated articles that alleged corruption and other scandalous behavior by public officials, businessmen, and common citizens, including Weston’s rural neighbors. The editor’s crusades got national attention but put him into almost perpetual conflict with law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, and …

Weston, Joseph Harry

Joseph Harry Weston was a journalist who retired to the mountains of Sharp County in 1962 and became famous for a crude but crusading newspaper called the Sharp Citizen. The paper’s lurid headlines and stories packed with scandal and scurrilous descriptions of business and political leaders kept him in trouble with the law. His arrests ultimately led the Arkansas Supreme Court to invalidate the state’s 105-year-old criminal-libel law. In the six years that he printed the paper, he twice ran for governor, unsuccessfully. Joseph Weston was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 6, 1911. Little is known of his life from then until his retirement to a farm near Cave City (Sharp and Independence counties) except what he …

Westside School Shooting

In the early afternoon of March 24, 1998, two students from Westside Middle School, located approximately two miles west of Jonesboro (Craighead County), conducted an armed ambush on teachers and students, which resulted in five dead and ten others injured. The shooters, Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson, were arrested and prosecuted for the crime. The incident was one of two school shootings in Arkansas and one of several school shootings across the nation that adjusted school administrators’ and law enforcement officers’ concepts on school security and response plans to violent incidents at schools. The students and teachers had returned from spring break the day before the shooting. Fifth period was just starting at 12:35 p.m. when a fire alarm caused …

Wheat and Small Grain Industry

Wheat and other small grain crops have been important to Arkansas since the first European settlers arrived. At first, these crops were mainly used on the farms where they were grown for both human and livestock consumption. Today, these grains are a multi-million-dollar industry in the state and are sold worldwide. Cereal grain crops are grass species that are grown primarily for their edible seeds or grain. This group includes the world’s six most widely grown crops: wheat, rice, corn, sorghum, millet, and barley. Cereal grain crops with a small plant structure are generally categorized as small grain cereals. Wheat, barley, oats, and rye are considered small grains. Although rice fits the definition, it is often considered separately because of …

Wheatley (St. Francis County)

Wheatley is a town in the southwestern corner of St. Francis County. Its northern portion is crossed by Interstate 40, and its southern portion is crossed by U.S. Highway 70 and by the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad. During the time between the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War, the area was not attractive to American settlers. Surveyors passed through the area planning a railroad to connect Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Memphis, Tennessee. Although work was done on the eastern and western portion of the railroad before the Civil War, the central portion of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad was not built until after the war was over; it was completed in 1871. Nineteenth-century trains required stops …

Wheelbarrow Strike of 1915

The Wheelbarrow Strike of 1915 was a union-management conflict centered upon Wheelbarrow Mine in Johnson County’s Spadra coal fields. Lawsuits subsequent to the strike remained in the court system until 1928 and resulted in the United Mine Workers (UMW) being found guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Many of the miners in Johnson County were members of local unions formed by the regional District 21 of the UMW, and the Wheelbarrow Mine operated under union agreements. Complications with a small strike in 1910 prevented a new union contract from being created, and the Wheelbarrow mine came under the control of the Pennsylvania Mining Company (PMC), which had been founded by the Pennsylvania businessman James Gearhart earlier that year. Because of …

Wheeler, Henry

Henry W. Wheeler was an Arkansas native who earned a Medal of Honor for valor while fighting with a Maine regiment during the 1861 Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. Henry W. Wheeler was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on September 23, 1841, the son of Hiram Wheeler and Elizabeth Wheeler. His father may have been working as a carpenter during construction of the second U.S. military installment at Fort Smith when Wheeler was born, but the family had returned to his father’s native Maine by 1860; at that time, Hiram Wheeler recorded 1,800 in real property and $2,000 in personal property in Bangor. Henry Wheeler, age eighteen, was working as a clerk, and the family included a second …

Wheeler, Lloyd Garrison

Lloyd Garrison Wheeler was a prominent and trailblazing African-American lawyer, political figure, and businessman in Illinois and Arkansas. Lloyd G. Wheeler was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on May 29, 1848. His father was active in the Underground Railroad, but when Ohio passed a law making the harboring of slaves illegal, the family relocated to Chatham, Canada, where Wheeler received his early education. When his mother died, he returned to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois. There, he worked at a variety of jobs, including on the railroad and as a shoe black. Throughout this period, his greatest ambition was a career in law. He became the first black mail carrier in Chicago while studying law in the office of …

Whelen Springs (Clark County)

Whelen Springs is a small town located along state Highway 53 twenty-two miles south-southeast of the Clark County seat of Arkadelphia. It was once a main hub for powerful lumber companies. The initial settlement of Whelen Springs began in September 1881 as a result of lumber companies coming to the area. The town’s proximity to the Camden (Ouachita County) line of the Iron Mountain Railroad also played a role in its origin. The name of the town can be traced to Henry Whelen, the owner of the land that would become Whelen Springs. In 1882, Southern Lumber Company began construction of a sawmill, under the direction of a Mr. Thompson. In February 1882, a post office was established, with Francis …

Whig Party

The Whig Party emerged as a national force in the 1830s under the leadership of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, primarily in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson. The party’s emergence and success in Arkansas largely mirrored the national pattern, with Arkansas Whigs opposing the political dynasty known as “The Family,” which dominated the territorial and state Democratic Party until the eve of the Civil War. Echoing the national Whig Party’s platform of federal support for internal improvements such as roads and canals, protective tariffs, and a national bank, Arkansas Whigs championed a stronger national role in regional economic development. This ran counter to the more limited states-rights philosophy of the Democrats. The Whigs, however, were largely unsuccessful …

Whipple, Win “Skinny”

aka: James Winfield Whipple
James Winfield “Skinny” Whipple of Arkadelphia (Clark County) was a track and field star in high school and college. He set numerous records in the broad jump while at Arkadelphia High School and at Louisiana State University. He set an Arkansas high school long jump record of twenty-four feet, which stood for more than fifty years. Win Whipple was born in Crowley, Louisiana, on September 10, 1915, to Fredrick and Pearl Maxwell Whipple. He had three sisters and two brothers. Shortly after Winfield’s birth, the family moved to Arkadelphia, where his father opened a restaurant. At Arkadelphia High School, Whipple participated in football, basketball, and track and field. Although he trained in all of those areas, the broad jump (now …

White Bluff Generating Plant

The White Bluff Generating Plant is a coal-fired electrical energy generating plant located near Redfield (Jefferson County) and operated by Entergy Arkansas. It was the first coal-fired plant constructed in Arkansas and one of four in operation. Until the early 1970s, electricity, gasoline, and natural gas had been cheap and apparently in plentiful supply in the United States, but the first Arab oil embargo quickly drove energy prices up sharply, causing immediate gas and oil shortages. Energy suppliers, including electric utilities, had already begun to plan for the use of alternative fuel sources. For example, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L—now Entergy Arkansas) had begun construction of two large nuclear fuel generators near Russellville (Pope County). At this point, however, there …

White County

White County is the second largest county in land area in the state. Geographically, it is a microcosm of the state as a whole. The southeastern half of the county is alluvial land that today is mostly used for farming and timber production. The northeastern half of the county is rocky higher ground where much of the land is used for dairy and beef cattle ranching. The county seat, Searcy, contains the greatest population and number of industries of any town in the county. Even though the county was formed before statehood, its boundaries have altered little through time. Southeastern White County is mostly farmland and lowland forests. The Little Red River flows northwest to southeast across the county and …

White County Courthouse

The White County Courthouse in the northeastern Arkansas city of Searcy (White County) is located in a historic district. The courthouse has hosted many local events over the years ranging from farmers’ markets to the annual Get Down Downtown festival. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the White County Courthouse as historically significant, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1977. White County built its first courthouse when the county was still in the Arkansas Territory. In 1835, one year before Arkansas’s statehood, the Territorial Legislature created White County and established a five-man commission to determine its county seat. David Crise, one of the commissioners, hosted the local government in his home, which …

White County Historical Society

The White County Historical Society has been the guiding force in the preservation of the history of White County’s people and institutions. It continues to work to preserve the heritage and records of the county. The first meeting of what would become the White County Historical Society was held at the Searcy City Library on July 28, 1961, and attended by thirteen people. From the beginning, the society was dedicated to preserving the history of White County, providing information for those interested in genealogy, and encouraging the dissemination of information. In June 1962, the society began publishing White County Heritage on a quarterly schedule. The first edition was sent to over thirty people and contained several stories and two cemetery …

White Flight

“White flight”—the departure of white residents from racially mixed cities to heavily white suburban enclaves in reaction to court-ordered school desegregation—occurred in several urban communities in Arkansas. Related changes occurred in other communities in the state during the same period, especially in the Arkansas Delta. There, many white families moved children into private, all-white “academies” as desegregation was implemented. In addition, many families—both white and black—chose to depart such communities entirely, although it seems clear that those demographic changes were caused more by a sense of economic hopelessness than school politics. While towns such as Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) evidenced “white flight” in the aftermath of court orders in the latter decades of the twentieth century, it was in the …

White Hall (Jefferson County)

White Hall (once called Grenshaw Springs and Grenshaw “Hall” Springs) is on Arkansas Highway 365 North in Jefferson County. The city developed slowly—first as an early nineteenth-century rest stop for early settlers who were drawn to the pristine water that flowed freely in pools above the ground, then later, during the early twentieth century, as the most direct route for the early Dollarway Road, the first paved (concrete) road in Arkansas, which ran approximately 22.2 miles from the city limits of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County). During World War II, the United States Army’s Chemical Warfare Division began construction of the Pine Bluff Arsenal on December 4, 1941, near the future city’s northern boundaries. The 6.8 …

White Lightning

Released in 1973, White Lightning is a film written by William Norton and directed by Joseph Sargent starring Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty. It is set in fictional Bogan County, Arkansas, though it was shot in several locations throughout the central part of the state and includes many recognizable landmarks, particularly in Benton (Saline County). Taking its name from a colloquial term for moonshine whiskey, the film primarily deals with central character Gator McKlusky (Reynolds) and his attempt to infiltrate an illegal bootlegging operation. Upon hearing of his brother’s murder, McKlusky, who at the outset of the film is in prison for bootlegging, agrees to work as a “stool pigeon”—or cooperative informant—for the federal government in an attempt to bring …

White Nose Syndrome

White nose syndrome (WNS) is an emerging disease caused by an exotic fungus of the Phylum Ascomycota, Class Dothideomycetes, and Family Pseudeurotiaceae. This fungus is native to Europe and perhaps portions of Asia and is specifically termed Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Pd was unknown to science and undescribed until it was identified in 2008. Initially named Geomyces destructans, it was reclassified as P. destructans in 2013. The fungus was first found in Asia and Europe, where scientists believe it had existed for some time, as host bats do not appear to get as ill from the disease it causes. The strain of Pd that made it to North America is thought to have originated from some locality in Europe. There is …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (April 14, 1864)

  The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (September 29, 1864)

  As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts. …

White Oak Lake State Park

White Oak Lake State Park in Ouachita and Nevada counties in southwest Arkansas provides access to fishing on White Oak Lake and other recreational opportunities, including camping, picnicking, hiking, and interpretive programs. The lake contains bass, crappie, catfish, and bream, and the park is also rich in wildlife, including great blue herons, egrets, ospreys, green herons, and bald eagles. The land that is now White Oak Lake and White Oak Lake State Park was acquired by the federal government in the 1930s through the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937. This act was intended to assist farmers during the Depression by making it possible for them to own land rather than continuing in tenant arrangements. In 1957, the State of …

White Revolution

Headquartered in Mountain View (Stone County), White Revolution was a neo-Nazi group founded by Arkansas native Billy Roper in 2002. Roper copyrighted the name White Revolution and set up a website and forum for members to exchange ideas, post events, and build an online community. Although not an indicator of total group membership, on March 17, 2011, the White Revolution forum had more than 1,200 participants. Before the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president in 2008, the forum hovered at around 300. Roper encouraged members of his group to contribute to the forum and use other social networking media to promote the organization and recruit members. The anti-Semitic organization promoted the interests of whites over other ethnic/racial groups, recruited racially aware …