Entries - Starting with P

Planarians

aka: Triclads
There are at least seven species of planarians found in Arkansas, on land and in water. Planarians belong to the superphylum Lophotrochozoa, phylum Platyhelminthes, subphylum Catenulidea, class Rhabditophora (some consider the artificial grouping Turbellaria), order Tricladida, suborder Paludicola, and families Dugesiidae, Kenkiidae, Planariidae, and Dendrocoelidae. These flatworms are often simply referred to as triclads or triclad worms. Currently, the order Tricladida is split into three suborders, including the marine forms (Maricola); those found mostly in freshwater habitats of caves, although at least one species occurs in surface waters (Cavernicola); and land planarians/freshwater triclads (Continenticola). Scientists have argued about the systematics of platyhelminths for many years, and with the advent of molecular approaches (18S and 28S ribosomal DNA sequences), older classification …

Planned Parenthood

Through education, advocacy, and direct services, Planned Parenthood seeks to ensure healthy sexuality, family health, and access to high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare. The topic of reproductive education and healthcare has long been a source for debate both nationally and in Arkansas. At the height of the Depression, Little Rock (Pulaski County) activist Hilda Cornish was convinced that the ability to limit family size could be crucial to a family’s financial survival. In February 1931, Cornish established the Little Rock Birth Control Clinic, the first such service in Arkansas. Services were provided at a minimal fee for any married woman whose family made less than $75 per month. Establishment of this clinic was met with public resistance; one woman wrote, …

Plantation Agriculture Museum

The Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) is situated in the Arkansas River lowlands beside Horseshoe Lake, about twenty miles southeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The museum is dedicated to Arkansas’s rich cotton agriculture heritage. William Scott emigrated from Kentucky at an unknown date to the area that would become the town of Scott. His son Conoway Scott Sr. was born in 1815. By 1862, the Scott family owned 2,000 acres, ten slaves, and other property, valued at $37,895. Conoway Scott Sr. died in 1866 just before the birth of his son, Conoway Jr. Conoway Scott Jr. eventually operated several successful ventures, including the family plantation and a general store. Scott’s landholdings were eventually crossed by …

Planters Bank Building

The Planters Bank Building is a historical commercial structure located at 200 East Hale Avenue, at its intersection with Pecan Avenue, in Osceola (Mississippi County). Designed in 1920 by Missouri architect Uzell Singleton Branson, the building was originally constructed for the Citizens Bank. Upon the bank’s closure in 1928, the building became the home of First State Bank, which closed in 1930. For a number of years, the building was used by a large mercantile store. In 1943, the City of Osceola leased the building to house its city hall. In May 1944, a citizens’ group that included Congressman William J. Driver of Osceola chartered a financial institution known as the Planters Bank. The new depository took over the former …

Pleasant Grove (Stone County)

aka: Redstripe (Stone County)
The community of Pleasant Grove is located along Highway 14 about twelve miles east-southeast of Mountain View (Stone County), the county seat. Pleasant Grove is between Marcella (Stone County) and St. James (Stone County). The White River lies just over two miles to the east, accessible via the Martin Public Access. What is left of the old Hess/O’Neal/Grigsby Ferry is used by a local farmer to transport goods across the river. Pleasant Grove was originally known as Red Stripe, but the name of the community changed its name following the infamous Connie Franklin murder case. One of the first settlers of Red Stripe was a veteran of the War of 1812, Jacob Hollandsworth from Virginia by way of Tennessee. He …

Pleasant Plains (Independence County)

Pleasant Plains is a town located on U.S. Highway 167 between Bald Knob (White County) and Batesville (Independence County). Although it is not as old as Batesville, Pleasant Plains is one of the oldest settlements in Arkansas, with origins in the territorial period. Families traveling in covered wagons came into Missouri and Arkansas, following the Southwest Trail until they found promising land that was unclaimed. The earliest settlement, which called itself Fairview, was located about two miles north of the present Pleasant Plains. The first settlers wrote to their relatives about the bounty of their new home, with prairie chickens and eggs, wild berries (particularly strawberries), and good timber for firewood and for construction. When the settlers applied for a …

Pleasant Street Historic District

The Pleasant Street Historic District in Hot Springs (Garland County), located near Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, represents the most intact area of the city’s historic African-American community. In fact, it is the largest historic district in Arkansas composed of buildings constructed by and for African Americans. Originally, the district included ninety-six homes, but that number had fallen to seventy-seven by the twenty-first century. Buildings in the district represent the remaining fragment of the neighborhood, now surrounded by new development and ever-changing major thoroughfares through the city (E. Grand/Highway 70 and Malvern Avenue). Two buildings in the district were previously listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Visitors’ Chapel A.M.E. Church at 317 Church Street and the …

Pleasant Valley (Scott County)

Pleasant Valley is an unincorporated community in eastern Scott County located along Highway 80. The community was established east of Waldron (Scott County) along the Poteau River. The agricultural industry has contributed to the economy and way of life in Pleasant Valley. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Pleasant Valley was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds are located along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Poteau River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo …

Plum Bayou Culture

Plum Bayou culture was a people who built religious centers with a formal arrangement of earthen platforms or mounds that bordered a rectangular open area used for religious and social activities. The Toltec Mounds site in central Arkansas was the primary center. Plum Bayou culture, dating about AD 650 to 1050, was one of the first cultures to have such centers in Arkansas. Most of the Plum Bayou people lived in small villages and hunted, fished, gathered wild plant foods, and farmed. Villages were present primarily on the floodplains of the Arkansas and White rivers, but they were also in the adjacent uplands. Plum Bayou developed out of the earlier (300 BC to AD 650) Baytown culture, in which people …

Plum Bayou Project

The Plum Bayou Project was part of a New Deal plan designed to help rural residents receive federal relief and assistance during the economic crisis of the 1930s. Located approximately seventeen miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Plum Bayou was one of several similar communities built in the Arkansas Delta. During the Great Depression, the federal Resettlement Administration—later the Farm Security Administration (FSA)—experimented with programs designed to give assistance to rural farm families. Rexford G. Tugwell, head of the Resettlement Administration, believed that sending farmers into the cities with no job prospects was an untenable situation and certainly no answer to the farmers’ desperate plight. Instead, he focused on developing resettlement projects designed to move farmers barely surviving on …

Plum Point Energy Station

The Plum Point Energy Station (PPES) is a 665-megawatt (MW) energy facility located approximately five miles east of Osceola (Mississippi County). The station began commercial production of electricity on September 1, 2010, serving members of the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC) in the Arkansas communities of North Little Rock (Pulaski County), Osceola, and Piggott (Clay County), along with the Missouri communities of Carthage, Kennett, Malden, and Poplar Bluff, plus all thirty-five members of the Missouri Public Energy Pool No. 1 (MoPEP). The Empire District Electric Company, East Texas Electric Cooperative, and Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi own smaller shares of the company. Development and ConstructionSpurred by recent economic setbacks in the community and surrounding areas, the city of …

Plum Thicket, The

The Plum Thicket was Janice Holt Giles’s seventh book (her sixth novel) and the first to be set in her home state of Arkansas. It was first published in 1954 by Houghton Mifflin. The Plum Thicket was a deviation from the anticipated continuation of a series of historical novels about the settlement of Kentucky, which had begun with the publication of The Kentuckians in 1953 and would resume with publication of Hannah Fowler (1956) and The Believers (1957). Giles felt compelled to write the book following a pilgrimage to her paternal grandparents’ home place in Arkansas near Charleston (Franklin County), a place she had visited often as a child. The story told in the book is fictional but has some …

Plumerville (Conway County)

Plumerville was formed as a stagecoach stop in 1858, but the origins of the community are found along the Arkansas River in the early days of the Arkansas Territory. The community moved from the Harrisburg-Portland bottomland area to follow stagecoach and railroad developments. Samuel Plummer came to the area in 1833 and purchased 160 acres of the “first high ground” north of the Arkansas River. Over the next several years, the development of the Military Road from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) led to a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Company and the construction of the telegraph line across this important choice of land. The later railroad also needed to avoid the overflow areas and …

Plumerville Conflict of 1886–1892

During the late 1880s, electoral politics in Conway County turned violent, resulting in serious injuries and several deaths. In the Plumerville (Conway County) community, actions such as voter intimidation and the theft of ballot boxes were flagrant and seemingly condoned by public officials. The violence became widely known and was the subject of a federal investigation after the assassination of a congressional candidate, John Clayton. A pattern of local political affiliations and latent hostilities toward other factions developed and remained well into the twentieth century. While the political conflict renewed itself after the 1884 election, the underlying causes date back to the pre–Civil War days. Conway County was a small version of Arkansas in terms of geographic culture and economics. …

Plumerville School Building

The Plumerville School Building at Plumerville (Conway County), located at 105 Arnold Street, is a circa 1925 wood-frame structure that was remodeled with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program, while serving as a school in 1939. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 10, 1992. Plumerville was a leading agricultural center in Conway County and had a well-established school system at the time of the Great Depression. When President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal offered opportunities to improve facilities, Plumerville School District No. 39 took advantage of the funding possibilities and, around 1938, received money to build a new high school building and a gymnasium. The district decided to pursue …

Pocahontas (Randolph County)

Begun as a river port significant to commerce, Pocahontas joins alluvial Delta bottom with the Ozark foothills. The town has served as Randolph County’s only county seat and continues as a strategic educational and agricultural center in the state. European Exploration and Settlement The first residents of the area arrived roughly 12,000 years ago. During the time of European exploration, what would become Randolph County was part of the hunting territory of the Osage, who lived in southern Missouri. French hunters probably crossed the area in the eighteenth century and established temporary camps, but no permanent settlements were developed until after the Osage surrendered their rights to the land in 1808. The earliest documented settler was Ransom S. Bettis, who …

Pocahontas Commercial Historic District

The Pocahontas Commercial Historic District is the historic downtown area of Pocahontas (Randolph County). This area has been the seat of local and county government, as well its commercial center, since the formation of the county in 1836. The commercial district is roughly bounded by Thomasville, Jordan, Broadway, and Vance streets. The downtown area comprises numerous historic buildings, including two courthouses, a service garage, a theater, a Works Progress Administration (WPA) post office, and the former city hall and city-function buildings, as well as other buildings currently utilized for modern business purposes. Both of the courthouses and the WPA post office are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The center of the commercial district is dominated by …

Pocahontas Expedition

 The Pocahontas Expedition was an attempt to gather intelligence regarding the location of Confederates in northeastern Arkansas. During the expedition, Union soldiers conducted a raid in Pocahontas (Randolph County) on August 24, 1863, that resulted in the capture of Brigadier General Meriwether “Jeff” Thompson of the Missouri State Guard, thus temporarily hampering Confederate actions in the region. While the Union army struggled to win control of the northern half of Arkansas during the Arkansas Expedition (Little Rock Campaign) from mid-July to August 1863, Confederate regulars and guerrillas continually struck targets and occupied cities in northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. Consequently, Union forces in Missouri raided Arkansas to disrupt guerrilla activities and challenge invading Confederate commands. In August 1863, Union Brigadier …

Pocahontas Post Office (Historic)

The historic Pocahontas Post Office is a one-story, brick-masonry building built between 1936 and 1937. Located a few blocks away from the historic downtown square of Pocahontas (Randolph County), this building served as the post office for the area until 1986, when post office operations moved to new facilities. The old post office was built in the Art Deco style, which was a common form of architecture for Works Progress Administration (WPA) post offices at that time. This style of architecture is represented by vertical pilasters and brick segments with stylized ornamental decorations within the pilasters. Pocahontas got its first post office after the town was voted the Randolph County seat in 1835. By 1936, that original post office building …

Poe’s Battalion, Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

Poe’s Arkansas Cavalry Battalion was a Confederate cavalry unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Department, entirely in Arkansas, during the American Civil War. It participated in military engagements at Mount Elba, Easling’s Farm, Poison Spring, Marks’ Mills, and Hurricane Creek, as well as undertaking scouting and picketing duties in southern Arkansas. During Price’s Missouri Raid in 1864, it was one of the few cavalry units left behind to keep watch over Federal troops in Arkansas. The unit was organized in November 1863 by a former Saline County judge, Major James T. Poe of the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry. Poe had journeyed home from Louisiana to remove his family farther south from Saline County after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

Poesia

Poesia was a literary quarterly of poetry, commentary, and poetry reviews with an emphasis on previously unpublished poets—principally from northwest Arkansas, though submissions were accepted statewide and nationally as well. The commentary frequently focused on current issues concerning literary arts in Arkansas and the nation, such as the developing commercial trends in publishing and the politics of poetry and art. The journal also featured foreign poets, with their poetry published in English as well in the poet’s native language. Poets from Russia, Romania, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Slovenia, Jordan, and Israel were published in Poesia. Poesia was established in 2003 by Delta House Publishing Company, Indian Bay Press of Fayetteville (Washington County), founded by William R. Mayo, its publisher and editor. …

Poets Laureate of Arkansas

The position of Poet Laureate of Arkansas was established on October 10, 1923, by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the General Assembly. In Arkansas, as elsewhere, the title of poet laureate has sometimes been awarded on grounds not restricted to fame or literary eminence. The term “laureate” refers to the ancient custom of crowning a person with a wreath made from leaves of the laurel tree. In antiquity, military heroes, athletic champions, and winners in singing, music, and poetry contests typically received this honor. In modern times, monarchs, governing bodies, or other organizations have named poets laureate, often in recognition of a significant talent but sometimes for political or other reasons. John Dryden was the first poet laureate of …

Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas (PRA)

Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas (PRA), the state’s poetry society, was founded on February 5, 1931, by seven women “determined to learn the fundamental, technical rules of regular good, readable poetry.” Josie Frazee Cappleman, Laura Lewellyn, Bertha Meredith, Mae Lorraine Bass, Stella Payne Crow, Marguerite Lanier Kaufman, and Ruth Arnold Leveck met in members’ homes around a dining table, calling themselves Round Table Poets. The society’s current name was adopted on July 25, 1939. PRA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of poetry and the encouragement of poets. The purpose of the organization is to foster and encourage poets in the art, to promote an appreciation of poetry in the community, and to secure a fuller recognition of the works …

Poinsett County

Poinsett County is located in Arkansas’s northeast corner. The St. Francis River travels north to south in the eastern portion of the county, and the L’Anguille River begins at the north boundary and runs south through the center of the county. Crowley’s Ridge, a highland anomaly that begins in southeast Missouri and terminates near Helena (Phillips County), runs through the center of the county. On the eastern side of the ridge is the rich, alluvial land of the Delta, which primarily hosts cotton farming, while on the western side is prairie land used mostly for the cultivation of rice. European Exploration and Settlement When the first permanent settlers arrived in what was to become Poinsett County, a few communities of …

Poinsett County Courthouse

The Poinsett County Courthouse—built in 1918—is located on Courthouse Square, a section of Harrisburg (Poinsett County) that features the city’s historic commercial district and a green space with a wooden gazebo. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its Classical Revival style and for its standing as the most impressive building in Poinsett County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 3, 1989. The county’s first courthouse was located at Bolivar in 1839, the first county seat. A historical marker on the grounds tells how Benjamin Harris Sr., for whom Harrisburg was named, donated the land to the county to build a new courthouse when the seat …

Point Cedar (Hot Spring County)

Point Cedar is an unincorporated community located in western Hot Spring County. Located at the intersection of Arkansas Highways 84 and 347, it is about ten miles northeast of Amity (Clark County) and eight miles northwest of Bismarck (Hot Spring County). The name of the community comes from early settlers who found a point covered with cedar trees located at the mouth of a creek emptying into the Caddo River. At the time the first settlers arrived in the area, it was part of Clark County. The establishment of a post office led to the adoption of Cedar Point as the name of the community, but it was discovered that another Cedar Point existed, leading to the shift of the …

Point of Grace

Point of Grace, which originated in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1990, is a female vocal trio—formerly a quartet—that sings contemporary Christian music. Three of the singers in Point of Grace—Denise Jones, Heather Floyd, and Terry Lang—were life-long friends from Norman, Oklahoma. They had sung together in their church choir and school musicals. The trio enrolled at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia in 1988. While singing in the “Ouachitones,” an OBU-sponsored group, they met fellow student Shelley Phillips from North Little Rock (Pulaski County), and in 1991, they formed a quartet. Originally, the four named themselves Sayso from a biblical verse in Psalms: “Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so.” The quartet began singing at local churches, retreats, and other …

Point Remove (Conway County)

The designation of “Point Remove,” popularly employed to describe the confluence of Point Remove Creek in Conway County with the Arkansas River, is almost certainly derived from the French word remous, meaning “eddy” or “whirlpool.” Most instances of the term in early nineteenth-century documents follow this usage. However, the name “Point Remove” was later mistakenly connected to Indian Removal in Arkansas, supposedly marking the principal geographic point in the description of the boundary of Cherokee land in Arkansas, prior to the Cherokee population’s later relocation to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). William Lovely used the term “point remove byo,” the abbreviation “byo” meaning “bayou” and thus designating the creek, in a public document in 1813. In his book Journal of Travels …

Pointer, Anita

Anita Marie Pointer is an original member of the singing group the Pointer Sisters. She started singing gospel in her father’s church in West Oakland, California, and went on to attain pop/R&B stardom. The group’s top-ten hits include the songs “Fire,” “Slow Hand,” “He’s So Shy,” “Jump (For My Love),” “Automatic,” “Neutron Dance,” and “I’m So Excited.” Anita Pointer was born on January 23, 1948, in Oakland, California, the fourth of six children (four of them daughters) of Elton Pointer and Sarah Elizabeth Silas Pointer. Her parents were Arkansas natives, and Pointer’s two older brothers, Fritz and Aaron, were born in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Shortly thereafter, their parents moved the family to Oakland. The family traveled by car almost …

Poison Spring State Park

Location: Ouachita County Size: 85 acres Poison Spring State Park, west of Camden (Ouachita County), commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The Engagement at Poison Spring is remembered as a Confederate ambush of Union troops, which resulted in the massacre of many African Americans from the First Kansas Colored Infantry. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as picnic sites and a short trail. The name Poison Spring was known to Camden area residents at the time of the engagement and was used in battle reports, but its origins are uncertain. Later legends suggested that Union soldiers became ill after drinking the cold spring water, but no contemporary accounts confirm …

Poison Spring, Engagement at

The Engagement at Poison Spring was an April 18, 1864, battle in which Confederate troops ambushed and destroyed a Union foraging expedition. After black Union troops had surrendered, many were killed by the Confederate troops. After capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in September 1863, Federal forces held effective control of the Arkansas River, and both Confederate troops and government were concentrated in the southwestern part of the state. In the spring of 1864, many of the Union troops were involved in the Arkansas leg of a two-pronged attack to gain control of northwest Louisiana and east Texas. Union Major General Frederick Steele moved his troops south from Little Rock on March 23, 1864, for what …

Poke Bayou (Sharp County)

Poke Bayou creek begins near Sidney (Sharp County) at Big Spring in Izard County, flows through Sandtown (Independence County), and empties into the White River just above the bridge at Batesville (Independence County). Izard County historian Denny Elrod stated the following about the area’s history: “It was to this creek many of the early settlers came. Across the White River from Poke Bayou is Wolf Bayou which hosted an Indian camp and trading-post. The creek is picturesque near Sandtown as it flows along the foot of overhanging bluffs.” The original settlement at Batesville dates back to at least an 1814 trading post. When the first post office was established on the confluence of the bayou and the White River on …

Poland Committee

aka: Select Committee to Inquire into Conditions of the Affairs in the State of Arkansas
The Poland Committee was a congressional committee established by the U.S. House of Representatives to investigate the situation in Arkansas in the aftermath of the Brooks-Baxter War of 1874. It was chaired by Representative Luke P. Poland of Vermont. The group’s findings were ultimately submitted by President Ulysses S. Grant to his attorney general, George H. Williams, for further action, but Congress overrode the administration’s response to the report. The subsequent resolution is generally seen as marking the end of Reconstruction in Arkansas. The Brooks-Baxter War had roots in the contested 1872 gubernatorial election. On the one side was Joseph Brooks, a “carpetbagger” and reputed radical leader who ran as the head of the Reform Republicans, the faction that supported …

Polio

The poliovirus terrorized the United States for many years, and Arkansas was no exception. Infection with the virus either went unnoticed or caused poliomyelitis, commonly called polio, which resulted in paralysis that sometimes ended in death but more often left its victims permanently handicapped. As the disease often affected children, it was also called infantile paralysis. While the large urban centers of the country dealt with polio epidemics early in the twentieth century, Arkansas had only a few intermittent cases. The Arkansas Gazette, however, reported frequently on the disease, keeping its readers informed of efforts to combat, cure, and curtail its devastating effects in other areas. After the first significant numbers were reported in the state, Arkansans reacted to the …

Political Animals Club

The Political Animals Club of Little Rock (Pulaski County), an organization consisting of people interested in Arkansas politics, was formed by James L. “Skip” Rutherford in 1983. Rutherford, who has been dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service since 2006, had left the staff of U.S. Senator David Pryor shortly before the formation of the club and moved to the private sector to work for Mack McLarty, chief executive officer at Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co. (Arkla). Rutherford wanted there to be a place for those with a strong interest in politics to gather on an occasional basis and talk about what was going on in Arkansas. He wanted the group to hear from politicians, political consultants, and …

Political Equality League

The Progressive Era (circa 1890–1920) in Arkansas included efforts by citizens to win voting rights for women in the state and nation. Women’s clubs that were interested in civil rights, temperance, and social change gradually formed suffrage groups to push the Arkansas General Assembly toward state suffrage for women and toward approval of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enfranchised women nationally. Many women who led such groups were outsiders who also had legal training or were lawyers. The Political Equality League (PEL), formed in 1911 in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is considered by historians to be a culminating group that worked with similar organizations, both state and national, for the next eight years to win suffrage for …

Politics and Government

“Arkansas,” its leading newspaper once lamented, “has too much politics.” But while the state has seen plenty of noisy contention, healthy two-party competition has occurred only fitfully throughout its history. And the hoopla and hair-pulling of campaigns have typically been out of proportion to what state and local government actually did for—or required of—Arkansans. Pre-European Exploration Relatively little is known about how Arkansans were governed through the larger part of their past, there being no written records dating from before the era of European exploration. Archaeological evidence indicates that, by the Mississippian Period (AD 900–1600), the region harbored large settlements and intensive agriculture, its residents living in hierarchical societies governed by hereditary leaders exercising both political and religious authority. This …

Polk County

Polk County, located on the western edge of Arkansas, was the home of the comedy team of Lum and Abner, country singer T. Texas Tyler, and the controversial Commonwealth College. All of Polk County is in the Ouachita Mountains. Rich Mountain is the site of the historic Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood White settlement in Polk County began about 1830. At that time the region was part of Sevier County. Polk County, named for President James K. Polk, was separated from Sevier County by the legislature on November 30, 1844. The 1860 census gave the Polk County population as 4,090 whites and 172 black slaves. Slaves were not widely used in Polk County because the mountainous …

Polk County Courthouse

The Polk County Courthouse is located at the foot of Rich Mountain, on the corner of Church and De Queen avenues in downtown Mena (Polk County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building, built in 1939, as architecturally and historically significant for its Art Deco style and its stature as one of the most impressive structures in Polk County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 20, 1992. The Polk County Courthouse is a standing result of New Deal policies as a product of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which appropriated $110,000 for its construction. Architectural firm Haralson & Mott of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) designed it in the Art Deco style, which …

Polk County Draft War

The Polk County Draft War was the first of five documented episodes of armed resistance to the draft in Arkansas during World War I (four of which were violent). The Selective Service Act of 1917 introduced forced conscription to Arkansas, but efforts to apprehend and/or punish draft evaders did not begin in earnest until the spring of 1918, likely due to a greater demand for military manpower. The ensuing crackdown on draft evasion sparked a series of so-called draft wars, brief episodes of armed defiance by close-knit family groups against authorities. These acts of resistance often occurred in isolated, mountainous regions of the state, where socialism and/or organized labor had found purchase. On May 25, 1918, Sheriff H. W. Finger …

Polk County Possum Club

The Polk County Possum Club (PCPC) began with a challenge issued to local hunters of opossums (commonly called “possums”) in 1913 and henceforth hosted yearly banquets of opossum meat and side dishes until 1947, though it was active again for five years in the 1990s. The PCPC began when attorney J. I. Alley wrote a letter, dated December 11, 1913, to Mena (Polk County) mayor John H. Hamilton that read, in part: “The undersigned has recently seen and heard of much of your boastful conduct and self praise with reference to possum hunting. In fact I learned from reliable sources that you claim great credit to yourself as chief of all such sportsmen in these parts. Therefore believing that others …

Polk County Race War of 1896

In early August 1896, a “race war” broke out between white and black workers who were working on the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railway (later the Kansas City Southern) in both Polk County and near Horatio (Sevier County) to the south. As a result, three African Americans were killed and eight wounded. Although reports place some of the events near Horatio, accounts clearly stated that the purpose of the attack was to keep African Americans out of Polk County, and so it was generally referred to as the Polk County Race War. This was part of a pattern of labor-related racial intimidation that was sweeping Arkansas at the time. Other incidents during that period included unrest at the Hawthorne …

Polk, Leonidas

Leonidas Polk was the first bishop in the Episcopal ministry to serve Arkansas, and he also served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. In addition, he was the second cousin of President James K. Polk and helped found the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Leonidas Polk was born on April 10, 1806, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to William Polk, who served as an officer in the American Revolution and was a well-to-do planter in North Carolina, and Sarah Hawkins Polk; he had three brothers. Polk first attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1821 to 1823 but did not take a degree. In 1823, he received an appointment to the United States Military …

Polk, Lucius Eugene

General Lucius Eugene Polk, who for a brief time made Arkansas his home, was a nephew of Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk (the “Fighting Bishop” whose responsibilities included Arkansas) and also a distant relative of President James K. Polk. His greatest claim to fame, however, was rising from the rank of private in the Yell Rifles at the outbreak of the Civil War to the rank of brigadier general under Major General Patrick Cleburne late in 1862. He achieved this command post while being wounded numerous times in the course of the war. Lucius Polk was born on July 10, 1833, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to William J. Polk and Mary Rebecca A. Long. He was one of twelve children. When …

Polk’s Plantation, Skirmish at

  On May 25, 1863, Confederate and Union forces engaged in a skirmish on and near Polk’s plantation, roughly six miles west of Helena (Phillips County). The fighting was part of the Federal army’s ultimately successful campaign to hold Helena for the Union. Union troops had occupied Helena since summer 1862, but Ulysses S. Grant’s need for men in his campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the spring of 1863 weakened the town’s garrison. Confederates under the command of General Theophilus Holmes, aware of Grant’s actions, wanted to retake Helena. A Federal scouting mission departed from Helena on the morning of May 25 and clashed with Confederate pickets along Little Rock Road. The Union forces consisted of roughly 150 cavalrymen from …

Poll Tax

A poll tax is a uniform per capita tax levied upon a specified class of people often made a requirement for the right to vote. In Arkansas, use of a poll tax was as old as the state itself. Arkansas’s first state constitution, adopted in 1836, authorized the imposition of a poll tax to be used for county purposes, and a subsequent state statute authorized county courts to collect a poll tax not to exceed one dollar per year from every free male inhabitant between the ages of twenty-one and sixty. Provisions similar to that in the 1836 constitution were included in the subsequent Confederate state constitution of 1861 and Unionist state constitution of 1864 (the Confederate constitution allowed the …

Pollan, Carolyn

Carolyn Pollan, a longtime Republican officeholder, served twelve two-year terms and twenty-four years in the Arkansas House of Representatives, making her both the longest-serving Republican and longest-serving woman in Arkansas House history. Carolyn Joan Clark was born on July 12, 1937, in Houston, Texas, to Rex Clark and Faith Basye Clark. After years working in the oil fields in Texas, Rex Clark moved his family to Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), where he worked in the poultry business. Carolyn Clark graduated from Springdale High School in 1955 and then went on to what later became John Brown University, a private Christian college in Siloam Springs (Benton County). She graduated in 1959 but retained close ties with the school, later serving …

Pollard (Clay County)

Pollard is a city in Clay County, a few miles west of Piggott (Clay County) on U.S. Highway 62, in the foothills of Crowley’s Ridge. Pollard has witnessed the emergence and decline of the railroad and the timber industry; its focus in the twenty-first century is on local agriculture. Even before the Civil War, several families had settled in the hills adjacent to Crowley’s Ridge. A store was operated by a man remembered only as McElroy. New Hope Baptist Church was established before the war began. The Pollard family moved into the area after the war, with Jack Pollard opening the first general store in the area with partner Tom Irwin, and Bill Pollard obtaining a post office (which was …

Pollard, Odell

Odell Pollard was an Arkansas lawyer credited with playing a major role in the development of the two-party political system in Arkansas during the last half of the twentieth century. Pollard was chairman of the Arkansas Republican (GOP) state executive committee during Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s administration. Odell Pollard was born on April 29, 1927, on a farm in Union Hill (Independence County). Pollard was the third of four children of Joseph Franklin Pollard and Beulah Scantlin Pollard. He attended a one-room school at Union Hill through the eighth grade and then attended high school in Oil Trough (Independence County) until his graduation at age sixteen. He then entered the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), attending for two …

Pomeroy, Leslie Klett (Les)

Although Sierra Club founder John Muir championed forest conservation by setting aside large acreages, it was Leslie Klett Pomeroy who devised a conservation plan for growing and harvesting timber that both conserved it and turned it into a renewable resource. His science-based management plans regenerated timberlands across the South after cut-out-and-get-out practices had decimated its forests. Pomeroy’s groundbreaking work carried out in Arkansas ultimately affected forestry in the South and across America. Leslie Pomeroy was born on December 12, 1896, in Hub City, Wisconsin. He was the only child of William Justis Pomeroy and Anna Barbara Klett Pomeroy. His mother was a housewife, and his father began his employment with Madison Bus Company in 1922 as a motorman on streetcars, …