Entries - Starting with S

Skipper v. Union Central Life Insurance Company

aka: William Franklin Skipper (Murder of)
aka: Monticello Lynching of 1898
  The death of William Franklin Skipper near Baxter (Drew County) in 1896 sparked a series of trials the Arkansas Gazette described as “perhaps the strangest case in the criminal annals of Arkansas.” The only certainty in the case seems to be that Skipper, a merchant and sawmill owner and a partner in the firm of Skipper and Lephiew (sometimes spelled Lephlew), died of a knife wound to the neck beside Bayou Bartholomew sometime on May 13, 1896. During the two criminal trials, much of the argument centered on whether he committed suicide or was murdered by a group of African-American men who worked at his mill. The criminal case dragged on for more than two years. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned …

Slater, Philip (Lynching of)

On March 22, 1921, fifty-year-old Philip Slater was hanged on the public square in Monticello (Drew County) for allegedly assaulting a white woman in nearby Wilmar (Drew County). Philip Slater was one of many African Americans who worked in Drew County’s timber industry, the largest industry in the county in 1920. According to the 1920 census, Slater and his wife, Jimmie, were boarding with Addie Green on Buber Street in Wilmar. Both Philip and Jimmie could read and write, and he was working as a laborer in a lumber mill. This may have been the large Gates Lumber Company, which was located in Wilmar. Slater was reportedly fifty years old when he was murdered. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on …

Slater, Rodney Earl

Rodney Earl Slater rose from poverty to become an Arkansas assistant attorney general and served in several positions under Arkansas governor (and later U.S. president) Bill Clinton. He was chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, director of governmental affairs for Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), the first African-American director of the Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. secretary of transportation. Rodney Slater was born on February 23, 1955, in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Soon after, Slater’s mother married Earl Brewer, a mechanic and maintenance man about whom Slater has said, “My stepfather was my father.” When Slater was a small child, the family moved across the Mississippi River to Marianna (Lee County), where, by age six, Slater was picking …

Slaughter, Tom

Dead before his twenty-fifth birthday, Tom Slaughter was a violent, arrogant, and handsome conman, bank robber, and killer. When he died on December 9, 1921, in Benton (Saline County), Slaughter had been given the death sentence for murder. Tom Slaughter was born in Bernice, Louisiana, on December 25, 1896, but he lived in the Dallas, Texas, area until he was fourteen. Slaughter then moved to Pope County, Arkansas, where he was convicted of stealing a calf in 1911. Slaughter was sentenced to the Arkansas Boys’ Industrial Home. A few months later, he escaped. He returned to Russellville (Pope County), where he paraded before Sheriff Oates, who arrested him. He escaped from jail the second night. For the next ten years, …

Slave Codes

Slave codes were the legal codification of rules regulating slavery. These official parameters for slavery were enacted in every colony or state that condoned the institution. Even before Arkansas was a recognized territory, slave codes existed in the region. Adopted by the French in 1724, the Code Noir, or Black Code, set the legal structure of slavery in Louisiana during the French and Spanish periods. The Code Noir was a comprehensive and detailed policy that set forth guidelines for almost every facet of slavery. The initial laws were partly designed to set limits upon slave owners and convey certain responsibilities to the masters regarding their slaves, including setting minimal standards for food, clothing and shelter, long-term care of sick or …

Slave Literacy

The ability of enslaved people in Arkansas to read and/or write presented one of the significant power struggles within the system of slavery because it concerned access to information, communication among enslaved people, and the opportunity for interpretation of texts like the Bible (considered a subversive activity). For antebellum Arkansans, literacy also signified personal improvement—something that slavery was understood to deny African Americans. While a fortunate few became literate, most enslaved people could not read or write. Literacy, however, was among the most important goals that freed people pursued upon emancipation. Although Arkansas law never specifically prohibited it, slaveholders generally prevented enslaved people from learning to read or write. Those who did learn had plenty of incentive to conceal their …

Slave Resistance

Enslaved people in Arkansas resisted dehumanization, demands on their labor, and limits on their activity in a variety of ways, ranging from indirect (often referred to as “passive”) to direct, even violent. Many factors—such as gender, age, location, and personality—determined slaves’ resistance strategies. Enslaved people also met with varying levels of circumscription within the system of slavery, causing them to push back against that regime in very different ways. While there is not enough evidence to determine for certain exactly how resistance strategies may have varied between slaves on Arkansas’s smaller holdings and those who resided on the state’s large plantations, it is reasonable to assume that the size of the slave-holding had some effect on resistance. For example, farm …

Slavery

American chattel slavery was a unique institution that emerged in the English colonies in America in the seventeenth century. Enslaved peoples were held involuntarily as property by slave owners who controlled their labor and freedom. By the eighteenth century, slavery had assumed racial tones as white colonists had come to consider only Africans who had been brought to the Americas as peoples who could be enslaved. Invariably, the earliest white settlers who moved into Arkansas brought slave property with them to work the area’s rich lands, and slavery became an integral part of local life. Slaves played a major role in the economic growth of the territory and state. Their presence contributed to the peculiar formation of local culture and …

Slemons, William Ferguson

William Ferguson Slemons was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Fourth through the Forty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1875 to 1881. William F. Slemons—a descendant of the family of Thomas Slemons, who was born in Perth, Scotland, and came to the United States in 1723, ultimately settling in Pennsylvania—was born on March 15, 1830, near Dresden, Tennessee, to J. B. Slemons and Elizabeth Slemons. After limited early formal education, he attended Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. Slemons moved to Arkansas in 1852. While he briefly taught school in Hamburg (Ashley County), he also began the study of law, including some formal training at Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, …

Slime Molds

Slime molds are among the more interesting yet relatively little known organisms found in Arkansas. They do not have a particularly attractive name, but some examples produce fruiting bodies that are miniature objects of considerable beauty. The organisms commonly referred to as slime molds actually belong to two different taxonomic groups—the myxomycetes and the dictyostelids. Members of both groups are common-to-abundant organisms in forests throughout Arkansas, but only the myxomycetes (also called plasmodial slime molds) can be observed directly in nature. As a result, the myxomycetes are by far the better known group, and to most people (including many biologists), they are the only “slime molds” of which they are aware. However, the dictyostelids (also known as cellular slime molds) …

Sling Blade

Filmed entirely in Benton (Saline County) by Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 1996 and earned Thornton—who wrote, directed, and starred in the movie—an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as a nomination for Best Actor. Sling Blade opens on the day that Karl Childers (Thornton), a developmentally challenged man, is released from an asylum for the criminally insane, twenty-five years after murdering his mother and her lover with a sling blade—a scythe-like tool that Karl prefers to call a kaiser blade. Karl demonstrates a talent for fixing small engines and is able to find work as a repairman in his hometown of Millsburg. One day at a …

Sloan Site

The Sloan site is located on an ice age sand dune in the lowlands of Greene County. People of the Dalton culture buried their dead in ceremonial fashion here about 10,500 years ago. Dalton people were mobile foragers who made and used a distinctive suite of stone tools. These tools have been found at sites across the mid-continental United States. Their material culture that has survived consists primarily of tools made from chert—a highly resistant silica-rich stone that is abundant in the Ozark Mountains, west of the Sloan Site—and in the gravel deposits of Crowley’s Ridge, just east of the Sloan Site. The Sloan Site is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, documented cemeteries in the New World. …

Sloan-Hendrix Academy

In 1891, the board of trustees of Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) recommended, in part to help provide for an educated clergy, a plan to build affiliated academies. The recommendation was adopted unanimously, and five academies were organized, the second being Sloan-Hendrix Academy in Imboden (Lawrence County). Imboden was selected due to the support of the local citizens and the influence of businessman W. C. Sloan, reportedly the wealthiest man in the county. The community provided land for the campus and money for buildings and equipment. The school was established in 1899 and set to open a campus located southeast of town. The buildings were not completed on time, however, and the classes of the first session were held …

Slovak (Prairie County)

Slovak (originally called Slovactown or Slovaktown), an agricultural community founded in 1894, still endures and is home to the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who are also known as the Apostles of the Slavs. Slovak is the result of the promotional efforts aimed at encouraging immigrant settlement in Arkansas in the 1890s. Various Slovak fraternal and nationalistic organizations, such as the National Slovak Society, translated advertisements promoting the favorable agricultural areas of Arkansas into the Slovak language at presses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. Following such advertisements, the Slovak Colonization Company was organized in 1894 in Pittsburgh by Peter V. Rovnianek. The company bought 3,000 acres of Arkansas land for settlement in the southern portion of Prairie County. This …

Smackover (Union County)

Smackover’s existence is a result of one of the largest and most dramatic oil discoveries in the nation. Its sixty-eight-square-mile oil field led the nation’s oil output in 1925, with production reaching seventy million barrels. Prior to the discovery of oil, the area’s economy initially relied upon cotton and, by 1890, a timber industry that thrived in the vast virgin forests of southern Arkansas. European Exploration and Settlement An uncharted wilderness greeted French hunters and trappers along the Ouachita River. The typography resembled a vast sunken swamp interspersed with rolling hills and steep knolls. The name Bayou de Chemin Couvert (Smackover Creek) first appeared in an April 5, 1789, letter written by the commandant of Fort Miro (Monroe, Louisiana) to …

Smackover Riot of 1922

In late November 1922, a hooded and robed “cleanup committee”—possibly members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) or some related group—rode through the Smackover (Union County) oil fields in order to drive away “undesirable” people, such as saloon owners and gamblers. The vigilantes killed at least one person, shot at others, and destroyed buildings, and there were widespread reports of floggings and even cases of people being tarred and feathered. This multi-day riot mirrored other vigilante actions in the newly established oil fields in Arkansas. The previous February, the citizens of El Dorado (Union County) had formed a “Law Enforcement League” for the same purpose. Smackover is located twelve miles north of El Dorado in Union County, an area that had relied on …

Smallpox

Smallpox is an infectious disease characterized by the formation of a rash and blisters across the face and extremities. With an overall mortality rate of approximately thirty-five percent, it was one of the most feared diseases in the world before coordinated vaccination efforts resulted in the disease being eradicated in 1979. In Arkansas, smallpox greatly affected Native Americans and played a role in the creation of later public health initiatives. Smallpox was first introduced into North America by European explorers, who brought to the New World any number of diseases to which Native Americans had not previously been exposed. Some historians estimate that perhaps ninety percent of the indigenous population of the Americas may have been killed by diseases brought …

Smelts

aka: Osmerids
Smelts belong to the family Osmeridae and order Salmoniformes. There are seven genera and about eleven species. Fishes of the genus Osmerus, to which the rainbow smelt (O. mordax) belongs, include the following: a North Pacific and Arctic species, O. dentex; the European smelt (O. eperlanus) of the Eastern North Atlantic; and the landlocked pygmy smelt (O. spectrum) of eastern Canada and New England, which some authorities suggest is not a valid species. In general, smelts are north circumpolar in geographic distribution, and they occur in marine and freshwater habitats in Asia, Europe, and North America. They date to the Paleocene Epoch (over 55 million years ago). The closest relatives are galaxioid (Protacanthopterygiid) fishes, and the marine argentinoid fishes are …

Smith (Lynching of)

In August 1882, an African-American man known only as Smith in published newspaper reports became the second man ever to be lynched in Pulaski County, according to available records. Jim Sanders had been lynched earlier that year in the county. In part because the victim was named only as “Smith” in published accounts, little information can be gleaned regarding his actual identity. Nothing was reported of the event in the Arkansas Gazette, and most reports that circulated nationally fell along the lines of this bare-bones account published in the Highland Weekly News of Highland County, Ohio: “Smith, who assaulted a white lady near Little Rock, Arkansas, was lynched by a disguised party who shot him to death.” The National Republican …

Smith, Alfred Edgar

Alfred Edgar Smith was active in the battle for equal rights for African Americans as an author, government worker, educator, journalist, and club leader. Alfred Smith was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on December 2, 1903. His parents were Jesse Rufus Smith, born a slave in Roanoke, Virginia, and Mamie Johnson Smith. Both worked at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. Later, the couple began to work at the Crystal Bathhouse, a spa for African Americans. Jesse became manager and Mamie the bookkeeper. Smith worked his way through Langston High School as a night bellhop for the Eastman and Arlington Hotels and as an exercise boy at Oaklawn Park Racetrack (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort). He was a member …

Smith, Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson Smith was a Union major general during the Civil War, commanding a division during the capture of Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post and during numerous other campaigns. Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on April 28, 1815, Andrew Jackson Smith was the son of Samuel Smith and Anne Lacey Wilkinson Smith. Entering the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1834, Smith graduated four years later and received a commission as a second lieutenant and served with the First Dragoons. Smith slowly rose through the ranks over the next two decades, serving on the western frontier and in the Mexican War, including with the Mormon Battalion. Smith married Ann Mason Simpson on October 17, 1844, in St. Louis, Missouri. …

Smith, Edmund Kirby

Edmund Kirby Smith was a Confederate general during the Civil War. Seeing service in both the Eastern and Western Theaters of the war, he is best remembered for serving as the commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, which included Arkansas. Edmund Kirby Smith was born on May 16, 1824, in St. Augustine, Florida, the son of Joseph Lee Smith and Frances Kirby Smith. His father, a lawyer by training, served as an army officer during the War of 1812 and for several years after the conflict before resigning his commission in 1821. He became the judge for the eastern district of the Florida Territory the same year. Edmund was the youngest child in the family, with an older …

Smith, Effie Anderson

Effie Anderson Smith was an Arkansas-born landscape painter and pioneer settler of Arizona. She began painting in southwestern Arkansas, in the style of the Hudson River School. Her mature style, exemplified by her Grand Canyon paintings, emerged after studies with California Impressionists. Born near Nashville (Howard County), on September 29, 1869, Effie Anderson grew up in Hope (Hempstead County). Her mother, Martha Adelia Coulter Anderson, came from a family of planters near Lockesburg (Sevier County). Her father, Major Adolphus Anderson, whose family members were planters in South Carolina, came to southwestern Arkansas in the 1850s as a surveyor and civil engineer. Her parents married in March 1861, before her father joined ten of his brothers in the South Carolina forces …

Smith, Eugene Wilson

Eugene W. Smith became a professor and administrator at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), and his work was instrumental in gaining the institution university status. He was appointed president of ASU in 1984 and oversaw major expansions of the university’s physical plant, double-digit growth in enrollment, and the establishment of ASU’s first doctoral program. A native of Forrest City (St. Francis County), Eugene Wilson Smith was born on June 10, 1930, to Milton Samuel Smith II and Frank Leslie Wilson Smith; he had two siblings. His father and mother were longtime educators, serving as school superintendent and classroom teacher, respectively, in the Forrest City school system. Smith enjoyed fishing and quail hunting with his father and developed …

Smith, George Rose

George Rose Smith was a prominent twentieth-century lawyer and state Supreme Court justice. As of 2015, he remains the longest-serving Arkansas Supreme Court justice. George Rose Smith was born on July 26, 1911, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), one of five children of Hay Watson Smith, a minister who served as the pastor of Little Rock’s Second Presbyterian Church for almost forty years, and Jessie Rose Smith. He received his early education in the Little Rock schools before graduating first in his class from Little Rock High School in 1928. Following graduation, Smith went to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He soon returned home, however, to attend the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He graduated …

Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth

Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was a minister and political agitator who built a series of “Sacred Projects,” tourist attractions with a religious theme, in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) beginning in the 1960s. He attained prominence first in the 1930s as an organizer for Louisiana political boss Huey P. Long but was known more for far-right activism, particularly for anti-Semitic and fascist causes. Gerald L. K. Smith was born on February 7, 1898, on a farm in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, to Lyman Z. Smith and Sarah Smith. He had one sister. He was descended from three generations of Disciples of Christ ministers, earned a degree in biblical studies from Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1918, and became a minister himself, serving churches …

Smith, Harold Raymond (Hal)

Harold Raymond (Hal) Smith of Barling (Sebastian County) became the starting catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in his rookie season, 1956, and held that position until a heart valve condition caused his retirement as a player in 1961. Playing in 570 games, Smith had a major league batting average of .258 and hit twenty-three home runs. Known for his rifle-shot throwing arm, Smith listed superstars Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Roberto Clemente—Baseball Hall of Fame members and the best base runners of the era—among his “thrown out trying to steal second” victims. Hal Smith was born on June 1, 1931, to Katherine and Ronald Smith, who operated a grocery and gas station along Highway 22; he had three sisters …

Smith, Hay Watson

Hay Watson Smith, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) Presbyterian minister, was a leading opponent of the movement to outlaw the teaching of biological evolution in Arkansas schools during the 1920s. His liberal viewpoints, both political and theological, brought him into conflict with traditional elements and resulted in charges of heresy by some within the southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). Hay Smith was born on February 18, 1868, the fifth of seven children, to J. Henry Smith and Mary Kelly Watson Smith in Greensboro, North Carolina. His father was a prominent Presbyterian minister. His brother, Henry Louis Smith, was later president of Davidson College in North Carolina, which Smith attended, graduating in 1890. Smith then entered Union Theological …

Smith, Jim (Lynching of)

Sometime in mid-November 1888, an African-American man named Jim Smith was lynched in Crittenden County for allegedly approaching an unidentified white woman with an insulting proposal. According to the November 30 edition of the Arkansas Democrat, which quotes the Memphis Avalanche, word reached Little Rock (Pulaski County) on November 29 that a black man named Jim Smith approached a married white woman on the road and asked her a question. She recognized him and paused to answer him, whereupon they spoke about “the weather and the cotton crop.” She was not suspicious, and answered his question, whereupon he made her “an insulting proposition.” She became angry and began to hurry away, but he followed, threatening her. The woman became increasingly …

Smith, Lavenski Roy

Lavenski Roy Smith, the son of a black county farm agent at Hope (Hempstead County), became a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court at age forty-one and became the second African American to serve on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-highest level of courts in the country, as well as the first to serve as chief justice. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Lavenski Smith was born on October 31, 1958, to Cayce B. Smith and Olee M. Smith at Hope. He began school in still racially segregated schools, but the city’s schools soon integrated under court orders. He graduated from Hope High School, the school from which future Arkansas governor …

Smith, Leroy (Lynching of)

On May 11, 1921, fourteen-year-old Leroy Smith was hanged at McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly attacking J. P. Sims and Arabella Bond as they drove along a road between McGehee and Arkansas City (Desha County). It is one of many accounts of alleged roadside attacks, some of which are referred to in historian Kristina DuRocher’s book, Raising Racists. Although early reports, including the one in the Arkansas Gazette, indicated that the name of the lynching victim was unknown, an article in the St. Louis Argus identified him as Leroy Smith, a teenager from Lake Providence, Louisiana, which is about sixty miles from McGehee. The 1920 census lists a teenager named “Lawyer” Smith, born around 1908, living in Police Jury Ward …

Smith, Less (Lynching of)

On December 9, 1922, an African-American man named Less Smith was lynched in Morrilton (Conway County) for the alleged murder of deputy sheriff Granville Edward Farish. Farish had been in Conway County since at least 1900, when he was twelve years old and living in Welborn Township with his parents, Columbus and Bell Farish. At the age of seventeen, he married sixteen-year-old Carrie Spears in Morrilton. Carrie might have died, because in 1909 he married a woman named Myrtle, and in 1910 they were living and farming in Welborn Township. In 1920, he and Myrtle were living in Welborn Township with their children Thetus (age eight), Cessna (age seven), Harrell (age five), Janie (age three), and Dorothy (age one). As …

Smith, Norman Eugene

Norman Eugene Smith was a classically trained pianist and musicologist from Benton (Saline County). He spent most of his career as a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, specializing in the study of early polyphonic (multiple melody) music and classical piano. His scholarly works focused on musical theory, particularly in music from the twelfth century. Norman Eugene Smith was born on November 4, 1931, the second son of Fred C. Smith and Ocie Clara Bryant Smith in Benton. As a young man, he began playing the piano. His teacher, Lorene Carson Houston, composed the Benton High School alma mater. Smith quickly became her protégé. As a member of Houston’s Junior Music Club at Benton Junior High, …

Smith, Ocie Lee (O. C.), Jr.

Ocie Lee (O. C.) Smith Jr. started out singing jazz before moving into the genres of country and rhythm & blues/soul. After touring with Count Basie’s band in the early 1960s, he had his biggest hit with the song “Little Green Apples,” which reached number two on the pop and R&B charts in 1968. In the 1980s, he put aside his career as a recording artist to become a minister. Smith was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. O. C. Smith was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on June 21, 1936 (although some sources say 1932). His parents, Ocie Lee Smith Sr. and Ruth Edwards Shorter Smith, who were both teachers, moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

Smith, Odell

Odell Smith was the state’s foremost trade union leader in the middle of the twentieth century, serving at various times as president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 878, the Little Rock Central Trades Council, the Arkansas State Federation of Labor, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO. Along with his close associates Henry Woods and Sidney McMath, Smith was one of the architects of liberalism in post–World War II Arkansas. They put together a coalition that promoted high wages and consumption, generous social provision, access to educational opportunity, racial equality, and the idea that strong governments are essential for regulating capitalist enterprises. Odell Smith was born in 1904 in Jackson, Tennessee, where his father worked as a railroad machinist. The exact date …

Smith, P. Allen

P. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer, a nationally known gardening/lifestyle expert, and the host of two public television programs, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home and P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table, as well as the syndicated show P. Allen Smith Gardens. He appears frequently as a guest on such programs as the CBS Early Show and the Today show on NBC, and on the Weather Channel, sharing design and gardening tips with viewers. He is a contributor for a number of national publications such as Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Southern Living, and Woman’s Day, and is the author of several bestselling books. Paul Allen Smith Jr., the oldest of four children, was born on March 12, 1960, …

Smith, Sarah Jane

An enigmatic figure who left few documentable details of her life or wartime experiences, Sarah Jane Smith was a Confederate sympathizer who sabotaged Union military telegraph wires and poles on two known occasions near Springfield and Rolla, Missouri, in 1864. The known details of Smith’s life are limited to information gleaned from court documents, due to her illiteracy (she signed her statement to the provost marshal with an “x”) and lack of a fixed residence. Although several secondary sources describe Smith as a smuggler and saboteur of two years’ duration, there is no documentation of her involvement in any smuggling activity or in any sabotage activities other than the two incidents chronicled in her trial records. Born in approximately 1846, …

Smith, V. V.

aka: Volney Voltaire Smith
The last Reconstruction Republican lieutenant governor, known for attempting a coup d’état aimed at displacing a sitting governor, Volney Voltaire Smith was also the most distinguished nineteenth-century figure to have died in the state insane asylum. V. V. Smith was born in 1842, apparently in Rochester, New York. His father was Delazon Smith, a noted Democratic newspaperman and politician. Delazon Smith attended Oberlin College and then wrote an exposé on it for its support of abolition, was lost for eleven months while on a diplomatic assignment in Ecuador (thus becoming known as “Tyler’s Lost Commission”), and served less than three weeks as one of Oregon’s first U.S. senators. V. V. Smith’s mother, Eliza Volk, died in 1846. Two years later, …

Smith, Willis S.

Dr. Willis S. Smith was a regionally significant teacher, sheriff, farmer, doctor, and writer in early southwestern Arkansas. Willis Smith was born on August 10, 1810, in Todd County, Kentucky, a frontier community. He was the fifth of twelve children of Millington Smith and Barbara Barton Smith. He was the grandson and namesake of Revolutionary War soldier Willis S. Smith, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Smith had little opportunity for an education, and he could barely read or write even at twenty years of age. He left his home in Johnson County, Illinois, for Rock Springs Theological Seminary in Rock Springs, Illinois, where he received sufficient education to become a teacher at the school himself. One …

Smithee-Adams Duel

What has often been described as “the last duel fought in Arkansas” was an exchange of gunshots in the streets of Little Rock (Pulaski County) between James Newton (J. N.) Smithee and John D. Adams on May 5, 1878. This event was also an early episode in the long newspaper war conducted between the Arkansas Gazette (then the Daily Arkansas Gazette) and the Arkansas Democrat. Adams became owner, with William D. Blocher, of the Gazette on November 11, 1876. They hired James Mitchell to be editor-in-chief of the newspaper; Mitchell had been a professor of English literature at Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Smithee competed with the Gazette by purchasing the printing …

Smithee, James Newton

James Newton Smithee, the founder of the Arkansas Democrat, was a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas journalism. Smithee was also an important Democrat during the years after Reconstruction and an advocate of the silver movement in Arkansas. J. N. Smithee was born in 1842 in what would become Sharp County into a poor Scottish-Irish farming family; his parents were Samuel Harris Smithee and Edna Elizabeth (Woodrome) Smithee. His formal education consisted of three months in a country school. When he was twelve years old, he became an apprentice to the Des Arc Citizen, where he learned the printing trade. When Smithee was eighteen, he bought into the Prairie County Democrat and used it to support the Southern Democratic …

Smithville (Lawrence County)

Smithville was the first county seat of present-day Lawrence County. Though it is largely abandoned today, Smithville was once a thriving trading center near the Strawberry River in the foothills of the extreme eastern Ozarks region. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The Nathaniel McCarroll family probably settled first in the area, around 1808. Other settlers joined them throughout the next several decades, most arriving from places such as Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri. By 1832, the area (then known as the Strawberry settlement due to the proximity of the Strawberry River) was populated enough to have the first post office erected within the modern boundaries of Lawrence County. In 1837, the redrawing of county lines forced Lawrence County to move its …

Smithville Public School Building

The Smithville Public School Building, located on Highway 117 in Smithville (Lawrence County), is a single-story, T-shaped educational structure built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 14, 1993. The first school in Smithville, then the county seat of Lawrence County, was a one-room log building built before the Civil War at the southwest corner of the Smithville Cemetery. School teacher Jasper N. Hillhouse later built a one-room building in 1872 on land that was donated by W. C. Sloan. As Smithville thrived in the late nineteenth century, two rooms were added to accommodate the growing student population. Smithville’s fortunes waned in …

Smithville, Skirmish at (June 17, 1862)

  After securing Missouri for the Union by routing the Confederate Army of the West at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union Army of the Southwest under General Samuel Curtis moved into northeast Arkansas and occupied Batesville (Independence County) on its mission to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). There, Curtis divided his force in the region, and the Fifth Illinois Cavalry (US) moved into Pocahontas (Randolph County) from Doniphan, Missouri, to reinforce a Union division under General Frederick Steele. From there, a battalion of the Fifth Illinois under Major A. H. Seley was sent to the vicinity of Smithville, the seat of government for Lawrence County and a strategic location along the Military Road that connected …

Smyrna (Clark County)

Smyrna is a community located in western Clark County. It is about five miles north of Okolona (Clark County) and two miles east of the Clear Spring (Clark County) community. The land where Smyrna is located was obtained by land speculators Samuel Doresy and Henry Dawson on August 10, 1837, when they received a federal land patent at the office in Washington (Hempstead County). This plot was part of more than 4,000 acres that the pair obtained in Clark County that month. The area remained sparsely settled for decades. Located in the former Terre Noire Township, the community is centered on the Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearby cemetery. The land for the church and cemetery was donated by James …

Snag Boats

As American settlers pushed westward following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, their goals of settlement, civilization, and trade were hindered by the hazardous nature of the western rivers. The pioneers found the Mississippi River and its tributaries, such as the Arkansas and Red rivers, filled with obstacles and debris. Snag boats, tasked with the removal of sunken trees and the clearing of the rivers, were one of the first answers to the growing loss of life and property. The navigability of the rivers became a priority to settlers, who believed the future prosperity of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the western frontier, including Arkansas, was acutely tied to the safety of river trade. As western river trade became more important …

Snake Fungal Disease

aka: Ophidiomycosis
Snake fungal disease (ophidiomycosis) is an emerging infectious disease of numerous species of snakes caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola within the family Onygenacea. Formerly, Ophidiomyces was classified as the Chrysoporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii species complex (CANV species complex), a group of fungi that are frequently associated with emerging infections in various groups of reptiles. However, recent phylogenetic analyses have demonstrated that CANV represents a species complex that also includes fungi of the genera Nannizziopsis and Paranannizziopsis and that Ophidiomyces is known to occur only on both colubrid and viperid snakes. It was first definitively identified in 2006 in a population of timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in New Hampshire. However, although identification has not been conclusively proven because cultures …

Snapp (Woodruff County)

Located about twelve miles northeast of the county seat of Augusta (Woodruff County), Snapp was an agricultural, business, and postal center for that area of the county from the late 1800s until well into the twentieth century. The community took its name from Lafayette D. Snapp, who moved there in 1866 from Missouri. Born on April 22, 1842, to a pioneer family of German descent in Taney County, Missouri, Snapp—along with two of his brothers—enlisted in Company E, Third Missouri Cavalry (CS), during the Civil War. Following the war, Snapp moved to Woodruff County, where on March 4, 1869, he married Mary Hester Luckenbill. Snapp established a general mercantile store and grist mill, as well as a cotton gin with …

Snawfus

In the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, the Snawfus is a mythological creature of regional folklore. Described as an all-white, deer-like creature, but much larger, the Snawfus is usually reported to have plum or dogwood branches in full bloom growing from its head instead of antlers. Most of what is known about the Snawfus was collected and recorded by the folklorist Vance Randolph, who related the various stories he heard about the creature in the animals and plants chapter of his book, We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks. The blue haze that hangs over the Ozark Mountains in the fall and winter is attributed to the exhalations of the Snawfus, which is believed to emit spirals …

Snell, Richard Wayne

Richard Wayne Snell—a member of a number of white supremacy groups, including the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), which was founded in 1971 in Elijah, Missouri, by polygamist James Ellison—was also reported to be a member of the Aryan Nation. In addition, there are unsubstantiated reports connecting Snell to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; perhaps not coincidentally, McVeigh’s act of domestic terrorism occurred only hours before Snell’s execution for two murders he had committed in the 1980s. Richard Wayne Snell was born in Iowa on May 21, 1930, to Charles Edwin Snell and Mary Jane Snell. Snell’s father was a pastor of the Church of Nazarene, and Snell himself trained in the ministry but did …