Entries - Starting with R

Ruled by the Whip

Ruled by the Whip: Hell behind Bars in America’s Devil’s Island, the Arkansas Penitentiary is a 1958 self-published autobiographical account written by Dale Woodcock. One of the few printed accounts by an Arkansas prisoner, the book chronicles Woodcock’s experiences at Cummins prison farm in the 1950s. While the book garnered little attention when it was written, its tales of violence, corruption, and brutality corroborated abuses documented later during the governorship of Winthrop Rockefeller, who began work to reform the prisons. The author was born Charles Dale Woodcock on March 21, 1925, in Rogers (Benton County). He was the son of Henry Lee Woodcock (1900–1928) and Lillie Dell “Honey” Townsend Woodcock (1907–1988), both of whom were Arkansas natives. After the death …

Rumph House

The Rumph House is a Craftsman-style home located in Camden (Ouachita County). Constructed in 1874 with Victorian details, the house was extensively remodeled in 1925. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 25, 2003. The house and accompanying four acres are also located in the Washington Street Historic District. The early details of the house are unknown. Dr. Junius Bragg lived in the home with his family in the late nineteenth century. In 1899, his daughter, Helen Bragg Gaughan, married in the home. Early in the twentieth century, Bragg sold the home to Samuel and Mary Green. In 1904, the Greens sold the home to Garland Rumph, the son of Dr. John Benjamin Rumph and …

Running and Walking

In Arkansas, running and walking have long been used for exercise and fitness. Enthusiasts support each, especially as Arkansans become more health conscious. Arkansas also is home to a number of events and organizations devoted to running and walking. Walking draws the largest percentage of people exercising, but, beyond basic fitness walking, there are also speed walkers (sometimes referred to as power walkers) who walk at paces ranging from ten to sixteen minutes per mile. There are also race walkers who must abide by specific USA Track and Field (USATF) rules when it comes to form and style of walking. They can be very speedy, often walking faster than many runners. One club in the state is dedicated only to …

Runyan, Paul

Paul Runyan is a household name in Arkansas golf history. He won the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship twice, in 1934 and 1938. At the diminutive size of 5’7″ and 125 pounds, Runyan earned the nickname “Little Poison” both because of his stature and because of his style of play—producing only short drives but relying on tremendously accurate freeway wood play. Paul Scott Runyan was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on July 12, 1908, to Walter and Mamie Runyan; he had an older brother, Dixon. His father was a farmer who also worked at the Majestic Hotel across the street from Hot Springs Country Club. Despite numerous chores, Runyan escaped to the golf course, where he made money caddying …

Rural Electrification

The first major effort to provide electricity to rural Arkansas began with the passage of the federal Rural Electrification Act in 1936, creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The agency was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to improve the economic condition of farmers hit hard by depression, flood, and drought. It provided twenty-five-year loans at three percent interest for constructing power lines in rural areas. With REA loans, farmers could afford to electrify their homes and farms. Electrified farms, officials believed, would improve farm incomes and raise farm standards of living. Providing electricity to Arkansas farms and communities of fewer than 2,500 people was costly. Rural areas averaged fewer than five customers per mile of electric …

Rush (Marion County)

Marion County lays claim to the only ghost town between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The remains of the prosperous zinc-mining town of Rush attained this status almost fifty years ago. A true ghost town exhibits the physical existence of structures, including buildings, and a zero population. During the early 1880s, prospectors came to the Rush area in search of lost silver mines from Indian legends and found shiny metallic flakes believed to be silver concentrated in the rocks. Within a short time, news of the discovery spread like wildfire throughout the Mid-South, making eyes from far away turn to the hills of Arkansas, focusing on the mineral wealth near the Buffalo and White Rivers. A rock smelter …

Rush, Bobby

aka: Emmett Ellis Jr.
Bobby Rush, known as the “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” is an award-winning blues artist whose music also parlays elements of southern soul, funk, and rap into a genre he calls “folkfunk.” Bobby Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. on November 10, 1935, near Homer, Louisiana, to Emmett and Mattie Ellis; however, the 1940 census lists him as three years old. The son of a minister, Rush was influenced by his father’s guitar and harmonica playing, and he first experimented with music by tapping on a sugar-cane syrup bucket and playing a broom-and-wire diddley bow. In 1947, his family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his music career began. He headed a band at a local juke joint behind a sawmill, …

Rushing (Stone County)

Rushing is located in Turkey Creek Township on Highway 9 just south of where Highway 263 merges with it for a short distance traveling east. Rushing is in the rugged hills of the Ozark Mountains, with rocky soil unsuited for large crops. Because of the difficulty in making a living from farming there and because of its isolation, Rushing did not attract settlers until after the Civil War. Only a few hunters and trappers ventured through the wooded mountains, which were full of small game such as squirrels and rabbits as well as deer and bears. Turkey Creek had plentiful fish and beavers. Settlers began subsistence farming along Turkey and Brushy creeks following the Civil War. The passage of the …

Russ, Carnell (Killing of)

The killing of African American Carnell Russ by white Star City (Lincoln County) police officer Charles Lee Ratliff on May 31, 1971, highlights many matters surrounding race, civil rights, and law enforcement in Arkansas at the time. The case involved hostile and aggressive white policing, skewed all-white or mostly white juries, the lack of black police officers and black jurors in areas heavily populated by black residents, judges with questionable impartiality, unconcerned federal agencies, and the procedural intricacies and bureaucracy of the criminal justice system. Importantly, it led to a change in federal policy over how civil rights cases would be handled in the future. Carnell Russ was pulled over by state trooper Jerry Green at around 5:45 p.m. on …

Russ, Otis Stanley

Otis Stanley Russ was an Arkansas state senator from 1975 through 2000. He began serving before term limits were imposed and became the third-ranking senator in seniority. During his legislative career, he served as chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, vice chairman of the Insurance and Commerce Committee, vice chairman of the Education Commission of the States, member of the Efficiency Committee, member of the Joint Committee on Energy, member of the Joint Legislative Facilities, and member of the Education Committee. Stanley Russ was born on August 31, 1930, in Conway (Faulkner County) to O. S. Russ and Gene Browne Russ. He was the youngest of three children. Russ attended the Training School on the campus of Arkansas State Teachers …

Russell (White County)

  Russell sits along U.S. Highway 67 and Arkansas Highway 367 in White County. In the late 1880s, Russell Kaufman, an employee of the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad Company, was in the area locating sites for the railroad company to store supplies at five-mile increments, and he platted the town that would eventually bear his name. In 1875, a post office in the area opened named Russell, but the name was changed to Plants 1878 and back to Russell in 1884. In 1922, a house bought from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog was built in Russell for the Klotz family on what is now Highway 367. The building still stands in the twenty-first century. Also around this …

Russell Jail

The Russell Jail, located off Elm Street in Russell (White County), is a one-story, reinforced concrete structure built around 1935 with apparent assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. The Russell Jail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 23, 1992. The small railroad and farming community of Russell was apparently in need of a jail during the Great Depression and turned to the WPA, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies, for funding around 1935, though no record of the project exists in WPA project files at the Arkansas State Archives. The Russell Jail is one-room building constructed of steel rod–reinforced cast concrete, including a concrete roof and foundation. …

Russell, Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis Russell Jr. was an author, editor of several newsletters, political and public relations advisor and consultant, political activist, and founder of the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas. He was also nationally recognized as a leader in the preservation of state and national Civil War battlefields. Jerry Russell Jr. was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 21, 1933, to Jerry Lewis Russell Sr. and Frances Marion Lieb Russell. In 1958, Russell graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and then co-edited the two-volume Who’s Who in Arkansas (1959). From 1958 to 1961, he edited The Heights Land Weekly Visitor (Little Rock). However, Russell was soon deeply involved in local …

Russell, William Leon

William Leon Russell, who served in World War II and the Korean War, ranks as the Arkansas National Guard soldier who has received the most Purple Hearts. William Leon Russell was born on July 26, 1914, near Cecil (Franklin County) to the farming family of James W. Russell and Belah Eubanks Russell; he had five siblings. He was recruited by Coach “Peanut” Ralston to play high school football at Charleston (Franklin County), where he excelled as a lineman. Following graduation from Charleston High School, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College—now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA)—in Conway (Faulkner County) with a football scholarship. He became captain of the team for the 1940 season and was named to the 1940 All-State …

Russellville (Pope County)

Russellville is located on Lake Dardanelle, approximately halfway between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and is the seat of Pope County. The largest town in the county, it is home to Arkansas’s only nuclear power plant, Arkansas Nuclear One. A major business center of the area, it is home to ten divisions of Fortune 500 companies and Arkansas Tech University. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In the early 1800s, Osage from Missouri hunted frequently in the valley where Russellville is located. Between 1818 and 1828, the area was within a Cherokee reservation, but after 1828 the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and the land became available for white settlement. P. C. Holledger was …

Russellville Public Library

aka: Heritage Hall
The Russellville Public Library, located at 114 East 3rd Street in Russellville (Pope County), is Colonial Revival–style brick-veneer building constructed in 1936–1937 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 20, 2000. Russellville’s efforts to create a public library began in 1885 when the Excelsior Club, a men’s civic group, raised money to acquire a small collection of books that could be checked out for five cents per book per week, with additional books purchased through the proceeds. This campaign was augmented in 1889 when A. E. Lee, Russellville’s school superintendent, bought books for the high school and added these to the collection. …

Rust, Albert

Albert Rust—Confederate general, congressman, legislator, and lawyer—helped shape the course of Arkansas in the early years of its statehood. Rust served as an important figure in helping to build the communities of Union County. Rust was born in 1818 in Fauquier County, Virginia, near the Maryland border. His exact birth date is uncertain. In 1837, he made the trek from Virginia to Arkansas, settling on the banks of the Ouachita River in Union County. Soon after his arrival, he bought a few acres of land and a store house near the river. In 1838, he became a county surveyor, helping organize the untamed land into defined sections for sale. In 1839, the county seat was moved to Scarborough’s Landing (called …

Rust, John Daniel

John Daniel Rust invented the first practical spindle cotton picker in the late 1930s. The Rust cotton picker threatened to wipe out the old plantation system and throw millions of people out of work, creating a social revolution. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin had created the Cotton South, but the Rust picker threatened to destroy it. In 1949, Rust moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where the Ben Pearson Company produced cotton pickers using the Rust patents. John D. Rust was born on September 6, 1892, near Necessity, Texas, to Benjamin Daniel Rust, a farmer and schoolteacher, and Susan Minerva Burnett, a homemaker. As a youngster, Rust did farm work and displayed an aptitude for mechanical tinkering. His parents died when …

Rutherford (Independence County)

Rutherford is a historic community that was located in the White River Township. It grew out of the Rutherford Landing on the White River across from the Goodie Creek Valley, along the Jackson Military Road. The landing was originally part of the August Friend-Furnash Spanish grants from 1763 to 1800. The landing was at Russell’s Ferry (a.k.a. Wyatt’s Ferry), today Russell Ferry Road. Wyatt Ferry was licensed in 1817 to John Wyatt, who operated it for about a year, and licensed in November 1818 to John L. Lafferty. The Jackson Military Road, established in 1831 to parallel the old Southwest Trail, entered Independence County in the Hazel Grove community, continued through Walnut Grove, crossing Dota Creek at Pleasant Hill, traversed …

Rutherford, James

James Rutherford fought at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War. He later became a political leader in Independence County, serving in the Arkansas General Assembly. James Rutherford was born on July 7, 1825, in Rutherfordton, Rutherford County, North Carolina, to Walter Blythe Rutherford Sr. and Sarah McTyre Rutherford; he was the fourth of nine children. His father had migrated from Jedburgh, Scotland, in the winter of 1815 to Rutherford County, which was named after other members of the family who lived there before the American Revolution. In February 1849, Rutherford traveled to Independence County in Arkansas for his father to collect a $3,000 debt from a man named Dillingham; this was money owed to his uncle Jimmie Rutherford. …

Rutherford, James Luin “Skip” III

James Luin “Skip” Rutherford III, a native of Batesville (Independence County), is a long-standing figure in Arkansas politics, working as a key advisor on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and later serving as president of the Clinton Foundation and as dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Rutherford also led the effort to plan the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, which would garner him several awards. Skip Rutherford was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 28, 1950, the only child of James Luin Rutherford Jr. and Kathleen Roberson Rutherford. Rutherford grew up in Batesville and graduated from Batesville High School in 1968. He went on to attend the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington …

Rutledge, Leslie Carol

Leslie Rutledge is a lawyer and government official who rose to prominence in the Arkansas Republican and legal communities in the early 2010s. A conservative Republican, she was elected state attorney general in 2014 and quickly became an active participant in the ongoing culture wars that, among other things, focused on denying marriage rights to same-sex couples. Leslie Carol Rutledge was born on June 9, 1976, in Batesville (Independence County) to Nancy Rutledge and Keith Rutledge. She grew up in Batesville and graduated from Southside High School in 1994. She then studied at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she majored in English, receiving her undergraduate degree in 1998. She earned her law degree at the …

Rwake

Rwake is a sludge/doom/experimental metal band based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The band, originally called Wake, formed in 1996 and consisted of Kris Graves on guitar, Jeff Morgan on drums, Chris (C. T.) Terry on vocals, and Aaron Mills on bass. The band added the R to its name when it realized that another band had already claimed the name Wake. The original line-up played its first show on March 15, 1997, in Batesville (Independence County). Rwake melds elements of a number of metal subgenres including sludge, doom, hardcore, and death metal. Due to the band members’ fondness for many styles of music, especially southern music, subtle influences from artists such as Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams (as well as …

Ryan, Abraham Hall

Abraham Hall Ryan was a Union army officer serving on the staff of Major General Frederick Steele when he was authorized to raise the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) in 1864, leading the regiment for the rest of the Civil War. Abraham Ryan was born in New York City to Charles Ryan and Amy Bosworth Ryan, on February 16, 1837, and moved to Illinois as a child. When the Civil War began in 1861, he helped organize Company A of the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry Regiment, mustering in as first lieutenant in May; he was soon made the regiment’s adjutant. In the chaotic fighting at Shiloh in April 1862, Ryan commanded a brigade for several hours after its colonel was killed in …