Civil War to Gilded Age

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American Missionary Association

The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a nondenominational abolitionist society dedicated to providing education and political rights to African Americans. Founded on the premise that denying citizenship to African Americans was a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the AMA sought to find solutions to what was called the “Negro problem” in a divided America. In Arkansas, the AMA focused its efforts on providing education to freedmen and women, seeking to train them to survive in the antebellum South. Although the AMA’s efforts in Arkansas lasted barely a decade, the educational push of the organization persists in several remaining educational institutions. The AMA was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 1846 through the merger of a group of abolitionists who …

Anti-miscegenation Laws

Anti-miscegenation laws were edicts that made it unlawful for African Americans and white people to marry or engage each other in intimate relationships. The measures first appeared in the United States in colonial times and had two functions. First, the laws helped maintain the racial caste system necessary for the expansion of slavery and the idea of white supremacy. If white masters took slave women as lovers and fathered children by them, anti-miscegenation laws ensured that the children remained slaves because the illicit nature of the relationships left biracial children with none of their father’s free status. Second, anti-miscegenation statutes gave white men greater power to control the sexual choices of white women. In the colonial period, white patriarchs used …

Arkadelphia Lynching of 1879

aka: Lynching of Daniels Family
In late January 1879, Ben Daniels and two of his sons—who were accused of robbery, arson, and assault—were lynched in Arkadelphia (Clark County). There is some confusion as to the actual date of the lynching. A January 31 report in the Arkansas Gazette said only that it had happened several days previous. The Cincinnati Daily Star reported that it took place on Sunday night, which would have been January 26. The Cincinnati Enquirer, however, reported that the lynching occurred on Friday, January 24. At the time of the 1870 census (nine years before the incident), thirty-three-year-old Benjamin (Ben) Daniels was living in Manchester Township of Clark County with his wife, Betsy, and eight children. His older sons were Charles (thirteen …

Atkins Race War of 1897

  What most newspapers described as the “Atkins Race War” occurred in Lee Township of Pope County in late May and early June 1897. In what appears to have been an unprovoked incident, a group of African Americans attacked two white men, Jesse Nickels and J. R. Hodges, just south of Atkins (Pope County) on May 30. In subsequent encounters, several residents of Lee Township, both white and black, were killed and wounded. Despite the fact that the events in Pope County attracted national attention, the extant newspaper records provide little information regarding the motivations of those who perpetrated the violence. This area of the county, located in rich farmland along the Arkansas River, was populated mostly by farmers. Atkins, …

Atkins, Jerry (Lynching of)

Jerry Atkins, a black man, was murdered in Union County on November 21, 1865, for having allegedly murdered two school-age children. The lynching was notable for the viciousness it exhibited, a brutality that foreshadowed later lynchings in the state and nation, as well as the fact that it was witnessed by federal troops still occupying the state following the Civil War. Little information exists regarding the lynching. According to an account of the event in the Goodspeed history of the area, Atkins waylaid and murdered two siblings on their way to school on November 7, 1865. The two children were Sarah K. Simpson, who was thirteen years old, and Jesse G. Simpson, eight. The diary of George W. Lewis of …

Atkinson, Wash (Lynching of)

On December 6, 1877, an African-American man named Wash Atkinson was hanged by a mob in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a white man named H. G. Ridgeway. Ridgeway was probably carpenter H. G. Ridgeway, who at the time of the 1880 census was a fifty-three-year-old widower living in Arkadelphia. On December 1, 1877, Arkadelphia’s Southern Standard published an account of the original crime. According to this report, Ridgeway, acting as “night policeman,” had been patrolling the western part of the city on Saturday, November 24. During that time, he attempted to arrest two African Americans, Wash Atkinson and Ike Smith, for disorderly conduct. While Ridgeway was holding Smith by the arm, Atkinson dropped behind them and hit Ridgeway …

Back-to-Africa Movement

The Back-to-Africa Movement mobilized thousands of African-American Arkansans who wished to leave the state for the Republic of Liberia in the late 1800s. Approximately 650 emigrants left from Arkansas, more than from any other American state, in the 1880s and 1890s, the last phase of organized group migration of black Americans to Liberia. As early as 1820, black Americans had begun to return to their ancestral homeland through the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization headquartered in Washington DC, which arranged transportation and settlement. The ACS founded the Republic of Liberia in 1847, with its flag and constitution emulating American models, and nearly 13,000 redeemed slaves and free blacks had settled there before the Civil War. With …

Bailey, James (Lynching of)

On July 9, 1891, James Bailey was hanged from a railroad crossing sign in Beebe (White County) for allegedly attacking a white woman. There is very little information available on Bailey. The only African American named James Bailey in White County at the time of the 1880 census was five years old. He was living in West Point Township with his mother, Fannie, and five siblings. If this is the correct James Bailey, he would have been only sixteen years old at the time of the lynching. The alleged victim was a Mrs. Folsom. There was still a Folsom family in Beebe at the time of the 1900 census. Henry Folsom, a forty-five-year-old day laborer, was living with his wife …

Baker, Eugene (Lynching of)

On July 30, 1892, Eugene Baker (sometimes referred to as Dan Baker), who allegedly murdered a white man in Ashley County, was taken from the jail in Monticello (Drew County) by a mob and lynched just outside of town. According to the 1880 census, seven-year-old Eugene Baker was living at that time in White Township, Ashley County, with his parents, Henry and Mary Baker. This would have made him nineteen at the time of the lynching. Baker had five siblings, and both of his parents worked on a farm. Neither could read or write. According to newspaper reports, Baker, an African American, was abused by whitecappers in Ashley County. Whitecappers, also called nightriders, were vigilante bands, usually consisting of poor …

Bays, Glenco (Lynching of)

On February 18, 1904, Glenco Bays was burned at the stake near Crossett (Ashley County) for the murder of J. D. Stephens, a prominent local farmer. The lynch mob was made up of both whites and African Americans. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Bays was employed by Stephens, who found him to be “a quarrelsome negro.” Bays and Stephens apparently had an argument, and Bays allegedly went to Stephens’s house and shot him. According to the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, after he killed Stephens, Bays beat his body with the butt of the shotgun. Stephens was one of the most prosperous and admired farmers in the county. The Arkansas Gazette reported that black residents of the area “showed their esteem …

Bearden Lynching of 1893

On May 9, 1893, three African Americans were lynched in Bearden (Ouachita County) for what was called a “murderous assault” on Jesse Norman, a prosperous young businessman. At midnight on Saturday, May 6, Jesse Norman was hit over the head with an axe and robbed. The victim was probably the Jessie J. Norman listed in the 1880 census, thirteen years before the event. In 1880, he was nine years old and was living with his parents Eleazer (variously spelled Elezer and Elesa) Norman and Panthaia (variously spelled Panttairer and Panthier) Norman in Union Township of Ouachita County; his parents were still living in the county in 1900. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Norman’s skull was crushed with an axe, and …

Beavers, William and Henry (Lynchings of)

In 1890 and 1892, brothers William and Henry Beavers—both African American—were lynched near Warren (Bradley County) and Wilmar (Drew County), respectively. William was accused of assaulting Inez Abernathy, whose family he had been living with. Henry was murdered for attacking Chloe Wright, the daughter of a prominent Drew County farmer. In 1880, William Beavers (then two years old) and his brother Junior (presumably Henry, age four) were living in Pennington Township of Bradley County with their parents, Henry and Lorenda Beavers, and several other siblings. Henry Beavers Sr. was thirty years old and was a farmer. If these ages are correct, William Beavers would have been only fourteen years old at the time of his murder, and Henry sixteen. Both …

Berryman, Peter (Lynching of)

On February 20, 1901, Peter Berryman (regularly referred to as “Nigger Pete” in newspaper articles) was murdered in Mena (Polk County) for the alleged assault of young Essie Osborne. Berryman’s murder and numerous other instances of racially motivated harassment throughout the years in Mena—combined with changing job prospects with the relocation of railroad division shops—apparently convinced many African Americans to leave the area, and Mena slowly became a “sundown town.” There were 152 black residents of Mena in 1900 but only sixteen in 1910. In 1900, Peter Berryman, age forty-five, was living alone in a house in Mena. He could neither read nor write; his occupation is illegible on the census record. According to various newspaper accounts, Berryman was “half-witted” …

Biscoe Family (Lynching of)

In early February 1892, Hamp Biscoe (or Bisco), his pregnant wife, and his thirteen-year-old son were killed in Keo (Lonoke County); their infant escaped with only a minor wound. This murder was apparently the culmination of years of suffering and bitterness on the part of the Biscoe family. It was also one of the numerous incidents occurring in Arkansas at the time that prompted the Reverend Malcolm E. Argyle to write in the March 1892 Christian Recorder (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): “There is much uneasiness and unrest all over this State among our people, owing to the fact that the people (our race variety) all over the State are being lynched upon the slightest provocation….In the last 30 days there have been …

Black Hawk War of 1872

The Black Hawk War was a Reconstruction-era political and racial conflict in Mississippi County that occurred in 1872—not to be confused with two earlier incidents both called the Black Hawk War, which were clashes between Native Americans and white settlers in other states. Little is known about the event, including the origins of its name. During Reconstruction, the radical wing of the Republican Party controlled most elected offices. Many judges, prosecutors, and registrars were intensely disliked by local residents, who had little say in their own affairs and who resented the granting of civil rights to African Americans, of which Mississippi County had a sizeable population. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was very active in the area, resulting in Mississippi …

Black Union Troops

aka: African-American Union Troops
aka: United States Colored Troops
Many former African-American slaves and freedmen from Arkansas answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to help put down the Confederate rebellion. Across the war-torn nation, 180,000 black men responded. An estimated 40,000 lost their lives in the conflict. Lincoln later credited these “men of color” with helping turn the tide of the war, calling them “the sable arm.” The official records from the U.S. government credit 5,526 men of African descent as having served in the Union army from the state of Arkansas. Between 3,000 and 4,000 additional black soldiers served in Arkansas during the war, including in heavy artillery, cavalry, and infantry regiments. In addition, black soldiers manned all of the batteries and fortifications at Helena (Phillips County) …

Black, Pickens W., Sr.

Pickens W. Black Sr. was one of the most remarkable African-American agriculturalists in northeast Arkansas in the post–Civil War years. Although little has been written about his life, he is rightly entitled to appear in the annals of Arkansas history as an entrepreneur, community developer, philanthropist, and advocate for the education of black children in Jackson County. Pickens Black Sr. was born a slave about 1861 (no later than 1863) near Gadsden, Alabama. His mother, Mary Johnston, and her first and second husbands (the second was his father) were the slaves of a white plantation owner named Black, and they took the surname of their master. Black had an older half-brother, John V. Lee, from his mother’s first marriage. Black …

Bogan, West (Trial of)

Bound in slavery on a cotton farm near Helena (Phillips County), West Bogan fought and killed his subjugator, Monroe Bogan, with an ax the morning of December 15, 1863. After many months in jail and a court sentence to hang, Bogan’s case was presented by Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt to President Abraham Lincoln on the fresh legal grounds of the Emancipation Proclamation. Bogan was ultimately seen as having acted in self defense and freed, but the rest of his life remains a mystery. Two weeks after the murder, West Bogan was discovered by plantation neighbors hiding among the thousands of former slaves in the contraband camps around Helena. They handed him over to Union troops. Bogan was held at a Helena …

Bowles (Lynching of)

Sometime around August 22, 1892, an African-American man identified only by his surname, which was Bowles, was hanged near Gurdon (Clark County) for allegedly raping sixteen-year-old Nellie Wilkes. Public records reveal no additional information about either Bowles or Wilkes. Although the incident was apparently not covered in Arkansas, several publications across the country reported on it, including a German-language newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. According to the Hamilton, Ohio, Daily Republican, Bowles, a “burly negro,” “outraged” Wilkes and then fled the scene. This aroused the neighborhood, and a mob was soon in pursuit. He was discovered at a farmhouse, where he had compelled the occupants to give him food. He was brought back to the scene of the crime, where he …

Branch, Charley (Lynching of)

On December 26, 1882, Charley Branch (sometimes referred to as Charles, Charlie, or Charles B. Branch) was lynched by a mob of African Americans near Varner (Lincoln County) for allegedly raping and murdering Cora Wallace, the daughter of Dock Wallace. Both Branch and his alleged victim were African American. At the time of the incident, Charley Branch was reported by the Arkansas Gazette to be thirty-five years old. There is no likely listing for a Charley or Charles Branch in either the 1860 or 1870 Arkansas census. One possible Charles Branch listed in Arkansas in 1880 was living in Monroe Township in Mississippi County. However, there was also listed in the 1880 census one “Chas. Branch.” Born around 1857, he …

Brown, Fountain

Fountain Brown was a Methodist preacher who was the first person to be charged and found guilty of violating the Emancipation Proclamation. Charged with having sold several of his slaves back into slavery after they had in fact been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s order, Brown found himself at the center of a case that reflected the changes that came with the war. For a brief time, it was a celebrated legal matter leading to an active postwar effort to secure a pardon for the physically ailing Brown. Little is known about Fountain Brown’s early years. He is thought to have been born in 1806 or 1807, but the location is unknown. A one-time resident of Tennessee, he had been …

Butlerville Lynching of 1882

On June 1, 1882, three African Americans named Joseph Earl, Taylor Washington, and Thomas Humphreys were hanged in Butlerville (Lonoke County) for allegedly attacking a young girl named Annie Bridges. Public records reveal very little about the girl or her alleged attackers. There was a thirteen-year-old girl named Sally Bridges in Butler Township of Lonoke County in 1880. She was living in the household of George and Mary Phillips, and her relationship to them was listed merely as “Home.” If the victim’s first name was Sally and not Annie, there is information indicating that her mother had died in Hot Springs (Garland County) in 1878. There was a fourteen-year-old boy named Taylor Washington living in neighboring Prairie County with his …

Caldwell, Will, and John Thomas (Lynching of)

aka: John Thomas and Will Caldwell (Lynching of)
On September 10, 1895, an African-American man named Will Caldwell and an “old negro man” identified by some newspapers as John Thomas were lynched near Blytheville (Mississippi County) for allegedly murdering and robbing a woman named Mattie Rhea. An extensive search of records for Arkansas and neighboring states revealed no information about either Mattie Rhea or Will Caldwell. There was, however, a John Thomas living in Mississippi County in 1880. He was twenty-six years old and living in Pecan Point Township, in the very southeastern part of the county. He would have been forty-one at the time of the lynching, which may not qualify him for the sobriquet “old negro.” Living in the same township and working on a farm …

Canfield Race War of 1896

On Saturday, December 12, 1896, African-American workers at the Canfield Lumber Company in the small lumber town of Canfield (Lafayette County) were fired on by a mob of whites and forced to leave the area. This was part of a widespread pattern of intimidation of black laborers in southern Arkansas in the 1890s, a practice that seems to have reached a peak in 1896. There were incidents involving railroad workers in Polk County in August and on the Cotton Belt Railway line in Ouachita County in early December. Later in December, there was a similar incident at a sawmill in McNeil (Columbia County). These incidents were part of a larger pattern evident in southern Arkansas throughout the 1890s in which …

Capus, Henry (Lynching of)

Henry Capus, an African-American man, was lynched in late June 1894 in Columbia County. The reports regarding his killing are brief and lacking details, but his murder follows the pattern of many other lynchings of the era. The exact identity of Henry Capus is unknown, as there are no exact census matches for that name (especially given that the enumeration sheets for the 1890 census were lost to fire), and national reports offered variations on his last name, rendering it Cabus or Cahns. There is a Henry Cabos or Cabus listed on the 1880 census residing in Shreveport, Louisiana, but he would have been sixty-four at the time of the lynching. That same census finds a Henry Capus in Alabama; …

Carter, Allen (Lynching of)

Sometime during the first week of August 1892, an African-American man named Allen Carter was lynched at Wynne (Cross County) for allegedly assaulting his fourteen-year-old daughter. While the method of the murder is not specified, brief reports from across the United States indicate that the mob that lynched him was composed entirely of African Americans. There exists insufficient documentary evidence to determine the identity of Carter, and reports differ as to when exactly Carter was lynched. According to the August 6 issue of the Daily Public Ledger, Carter was arrested on Tuesday, August 2. The mob later removed him from jail and lynched him. Other similar published accounts vary on the date of the lynching, placing it anywhere from August …

Chicot County Race War of 1871

aka: Chicot County Massacre
In late 1871, Chicot County was taken over by several hundred African Americans, led by state legislator and county judge James W. Mason. The murder of African-American lawyer Wathal (sometimes spelled as Walthall) Wynn prompted the area’s black citizens to kill the men jailed for their role in the murder and take over the area. Many white residents fled, escaping by steamboat to Memphis, Tennessee, and other nearby river towns. Like the Black Hawk War that occurred in Mississippi County the following year, the situation arose, in part, from the radical wing of the Republican Party exercising its power in choosing local officials. Both Mississippi and Chicot counties’ populations were primarily black, with blacks outnumbering whites four to one in Chicot County. …

Clarendon Lynching of 1898

On August 9, 1898, Manse (or Manze) Castle, Will Sanders (Saunders), Sanders’s mother Lorilla (Rilla) Weaver, Dennis Ricord (Record, Rikard), and Susie Jacobs—all African American—were lynched in Clarendon (Monroe County) because of their complicity in the murder of prosperous merchant John T. Orr. Rilla Weaver was the cook in the Orr household, and Susie Jacobs worked there as a maid. Rachael Morris, a “prominent young Jewess” who had also been implicated in the plot, escaped and was spared. Orr’s wife, Mabel, who had instigated the murder, lay fatally ill in the nearby jail, having taken poison; she was eventually to die in the jail. With her was the Orrs’ only child, three-year-old Neva. As horrifying as this story is, the …

Coy, Edward (Lynching of)

On February 20, 1892, Edward Coy, a thirty-two-year-old African-American man, was burned at the stake in Texarkana (Miller County) before a crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Ida B. Wells, a journalist and prominent anti-lynching crusader from Memphis, Tennessee, described Coy’s murder as one of the most shocking and repulsive in the history of lynching. Coy, described in press accounts as “mulatto,” was charged with a crime “from which the laws provide adequate punishment. Ed Coy was charged with assaulting Mrs. Henry [Julia] Jewell, a white woman. A mob pronounced him guilty, strapped him to a tree, chipped the flesh from his body, poured coal oil over him, and the woman in the case set fire to him.” According to the …

Crittenden County Expulsion of 1888

In July 1888, a group of influential white citizens in Crittenden County expelled a number of prominent African-American citizens and county officials. Apparently weary of the fusion governments that had prevailed there for years, as well as fearful of the outcome of the upcoming September and November elections, they hoped their actions would intimidate black voters and ensure a victory for white Democrats. Following the Civil War, land agents began to recruit black laborers from around the South to work in the cotton fields. By 1870, the black population in Crittenden County had reached sixty-seven percent, the majority for the first time. The emergence of a black middle class tied to the Republican Party threatened the hegemony of the white …

Devoe and Huntley (Lynching of)

aka: Huntley and Devoe (Lynching of)
In early January 1898, two African Americans named Devoe and Huntley (no first names were given in the reports) were allegedly lynched near Bearden (Ouachita County) for an attempted assault on an elderly woman there a year earlier. They were apparently lynched in two different incidents, and as the authorities maintained they had escaped, few details are available. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Devoe and Huntley had attempted to assault an elderly woman named Mrs. Paine near Bearden approximately a year before the alleged lynchings. They fled the scene, but in early January 1898, Devoe returned to the Bearden area and was arrested by J. D. Best and Frank Butler. They asked him where Huntley was, and when he refused …

DeWitt Lynching of 1891

On December 21, 1891, a mob of masked men entered the jail in DeWitt (Arkansas County) and shot three men: Floyd McGregory (sometimes written as Gregory) and his father-in-law, J. A. Smith (who were both white), as well as Mose Henderson (who was African American). The three men had been put in jail for plotting to kill Smith’s wife, who had divorced him and received one-third of his property in the settlement. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Smith’s wife, Mary, divorced him because “he was unkind to her, and abandoned her companionship for that of negroes.” The case was bitterly fought, but in the end, she received damages as part of the settlement, and her former husband objected. Smith enlisted …

Donnelly, Robert (Lynching of)

Robert Donnelly, an African-American man, was lynched in Lee County on June 29, 1892, by a mob of more than 200 other African Americans. His alleged crime was the repeated assault of a twelve-year-old black girl. While black-on-black lynchings were rare, historian Karlos Hill asserts that many of those that occurred shared a number of similarities. Most of the victims were young, married males who worked as farm laborers. Many of the victims were also connected with plantation societies, communities where everyone knew each other and which were inclined to punish their own criminals. Many of the thinly populated areas in the Arkansas Delta were similar to frontier areas, where violence was rampant and white officials were unresponsive, especially to …

Emancipation

By 1860, about twenty-five percent of Arkansas’s population was enslaved, amounting to more than 111,000 people. The emancipation of these people in Arkansas took place as a result of the American Civil War, their freedom achieved due to the decisions made by Union military leaders, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the actions of the slaves themselves. Slavery’s abolishment meant more than simply the loss of human property and the end of a labor system—it ended a social relationship that had defined the state’s early development. The process of emancipation in Arkansas began before Lincoln’s formal Emancipation Proclamation. Finding that Confederates had used slave labor to create physical obstacles in his path across Arkansas in 1862, Union general Samuel R. …

Farmer, John (Lynching of)

On July 19, 1891, an African-American man named John Farmer was lynched in Chicot County for allegedly murdering a prominent local planter named C. C. Buckner. John Farmer may be the same person who was living with his grandmother, Lou Gibson, in the household of another African American, Jack Gillis, in Mason Township of Chicot County in 1880; his grandmother was a servant, and fifteen-year-old Farmer was a farm laborer. This would mean that he was twenty-six at the time he was lynched. According to Paul R. Hollrah’s History of St. Charles County, Missouri (1765–1885), C. C. Buckner was Charles Creel Buckner, born in Kentucky in 1850 to George Roberts Buckner and Harriet Creel Buckner. C. C. Buckner graduated from …

Forrest City Riot of 1889

In the 1888 election, the Union Labor Party, which included farmers of the Agricultural Wheel, allied with the Republicans to challenge the Democrats. Aware of black Arkansans’ important electoral support of this movement, white Democrats responded by launching an effort to end African Americans’ political participation. In St. Francis County in eastern Arkansas, which had become a black-majority county by 1890, the Wheel/Republican alliance became politically powerful. In 1888, county Union Laborites and Republicans formed a fusion ticket to challenge the previously dominant Democrats. Much to the Democrats’ dismay, three black Republicans captured the offices of county assessor, treasurer, and coroner, and white Union Labor candidates won the offices of sheriff, county clerk, and county judge. Shortly after the election, …

Frederick, Bart (Lynchings Related to the Murder of)

On January 7, 1898, in Little Bay (Calhoun County), African-American men Charley Wheelright (or Wheelwright) and A. A. Martin were lynched for the alleged murder of Bart Frederick, a white man. Jim Cone, another suspect in the case, was probably lynched around the same time. Six months later, Goode Gray (a.k.a. Tobe Gray) was lynched at Rison (Cleveland County) for the same crime. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Bart Frederick was murdered in the first week of January while he was operating a handcart on the Cotton Belt Railroad near Kingsland (Cleveland County), where he was a waterman (a worker who supplied water to the railroad tanks). A letter written by Dr. William Buerhive to Bart Frederick’s brother in Michigan, …

Freedmen’s Bureau

aka: Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands in March 1865 to help four million African Americans in the South make the transition from slavery to freedom and to help destitute white people with food and medical supplies in the dire days at the end of the Civil War. Headed by General Oliver Otis Howard, the Freedmen’s Bureau was supervised in Arkansas by assistant commissioners General John W. Sprague (April 1865–September 1866), General Edward O. C. Ord (October 1866–March 1867), and General Charles H. Smith (March 1867–May 1869). The bureau attempted to help Arkansas’s estimated 110,000 slaves become truly free as the Civil War ended. Seventy-nine local agents (thirty-six civilians and forty-three army officers) labored from 1865 to …

Freedmen’s Schools

Freedmen’s schools in Arkansas were created as early as 1863 in areas occupied by Union forces to provide for the education of newly freed slaves during the Civil War and in the Reconstruction period that followed. These schools were first run by teachers from the American Missionary Association (AMA) and the Quakers—particularly the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends. Early schools existed in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Helena (Phillips County), all areas with large populations of freed slaves. The federal government soon became involved in providing education for the freed slaves, and in 1865 the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (known as the Freedmen’s Bureau) assumed responsibility for educating former slaves. AMA and Quaker …

Grey, William Henry

William Henry Grey emerged as a leader of African Americans in Arkansas after he settled in Helena (Phillips County) in 1865. Never a slave himself, he was a tireless fighter for the rights of freedmen. His involvement in politics included being a Republican member of the 1868 state constitutional convention and a member of the Arkansas General Assembly, as well as serving as the Commissioner of Immigration and State Lands. In 1872, he became the first African American to address a national nominating convention, seconding the nomination of Republican presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. He was also the first Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge (Colored) of Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas, established in 1873 from the merger …

Hampton Race War of 1892

aka: Calhoun County Race War of 1892
The Hampton Race War (also referred to as the Calhoun County Race War in many sources) occurred in September 1892 and entailed incidents of racial violence all across the southern part of the county. While many sources have attributed the events in Calhoun County to Arkansas’s passage of the Election Law of 1891, with provisions that vastly complicated the voting process for illiterate citizens of all races and effectively kept them from voting, it seems that the trouble in the county started prior to the early September election. Racial unrest was widespread in Arkansas in the 1890s, especially across the southern counties. Incidents increased after the state began passing Jim Crow legislation that limited the rights of its black citizens. (According …

Harris, Frank (Lynching of)

On August 18, 1871, an African-American man named Frank Harris was lynched at Wittsburg (Cross County) for allegedly murdering a twelve-year-old white girl named Isy Sanders, the daughter of Isaiah Sanders. According to the 1870 census, farmer I. Sanders was living near Wittsburg with his wife K. Sanders, their daughter S. J. (age twelve), and two sons, I. L. G. (age eleven) and M. C. (age five). That same year, a twenty-five-year-old African-American farm laborer identified as F. Harris was also living with his wife near Wittsburg, only two households away from the Sanders family. In addition, there was another African American named Frank Hare living not far away near Wittsburg with his wife M. Hare and four children between …

Hayden, Bud (Lynching of)

On June 3, 1898, Bud Hayden was lynched in Texarkana (Miller County) for allegedly assaulting twelve-year-old Jessie Scott, the daughter of the late James V. Scott, former circuit clerk. Although Hayden claimed to be twelve years old at the time, the authorities estimated his age to be at least eighteen. The Arkansas Gazette’s reports of the lynching were carried in newspapers across the country, including the Atlanta Constitution, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Herald. At the time of the 1880 census, J. V. Scott was living in Cut Off Township in Miller County. He was a twenty-four-year-old farmer living with his wife, Talitha, who was twenty. There was only one African-American family named Hayden in the county. …

Hogan, John (Lynching of)

On June 28, 1875, an African American named John Hogan was lynched near Russellville (Pope County) for allegedly attempting to assault one of Russ Tucker’s daughters. Public records provide some information about the lynching victim. The 1870 census (five years before the incident) lists a twelve-year-old African American named John Hogan, who was living on the farm of a twenty-two-year-old white man named Reece B. Hogans. Hogans had a wife, Josephine, and a two-year-old daughter. Also living on the farm was another black laborer, fifteen-year-old Rose Hogan, who may have been John Hogan’s sister. If this is the correct John Hogan, he would have been only seventeen when he was lynched. Russ Tucker was probably David Russell Tucker, who in …

Howard County Race Riot of 1883

aka: Hempstead County Race Riot of 1883
The Howard County Race Riot occurred along the Howard and Hempstead county line in late July and early August 1883. Two events spurred the outbreak of violence. First, a disagreement over the surveying of a property line led to the beating of Prince Marshall and his brother James Marshall, both African-American farmers, by Thomas Wyatt, a white sharecropper living on land owned by Joseph Reed, a white farmer. Second, a few days later, Wyatt is alleged to have approached a young black woman, a member of Prince and James Marshall’s family, as she was plowing alone in a field and “solicited” her. When she began to cry out, he hit her over the head with a fence rail. The latter …

Howard, Jesse (Lynching of)

On May 26, 1883, an African-American man named Jesse Howard was fatally shot in Marianna (Lee County) for allegedly setting fire to a livery stable. The Arkansas Gazette, in a brief report published on May 27, does not name Howard, but newspapers across the country reported on the incident, giving not only Howard’s name but additional details. Interestingly, a few of these additional reports mistakenly identified the lynching victim as Henry B. Derrick, who was, in fact, the owner of the livery stable. Jesse Howard had lived in Arkansas since at least 1870, when the census listed him as a farmer and a native of Virginia living in Phillips County with his wife, Susan. By 1880, he and Susan were …

Hunley, Dan (Lynching of)

On October 6, 1885, an African-American man named Hunley (or Hunly) was murdered for an alleged attack on a young white girl near Tuckerman (Jackson County). Although most reports identify the girl as Priscilla Bundy, census records reveal that her name was probably Drucilla Bandy. One account identifies Bandy’s attacker by the last name Hunly, but it is probable that Dan Hunley was the alleged perpetrator, as, in 1880, a widow named Nelly Hunley was living in Breckenridge Township of Jackson County with her two sons, Anderson (thirteen) and Dan (nineteen), and a daughter, Judy (ten). At the time of the 1880 census, nine-year-old Drucilla was living in Bird Township of Jackson County with her parents, farmer George W. Bandy …

Hunter, Buck (Lynching of)

On December 1, 1886, an African-American man named Buck Hunter was lynched in Monticello (Drew County) for allegedly threatening to kill “two respected citizens of that county.” While the identities of his intended victims are unknown, Buck Hunter does appear in Drew County records. In August 1884, a man named Buck Hunter married Julia Carr there; they were both listed as residents of Saline Township. According to the St. Paul Evening Globe, Hunter (referred to as “Brick” Hunter) was being held in the Monticello jail when group of masked men surrounded the jail and demanded the prisoner. The jailer, being outnumbered, surrendered the key. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the mob then “placed a rope around his neck, led him …

James, Henry (Lynching of)

On May 14, 1892, Henry James was lynched in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for an alleged assault on five-year-old Maggie Doxey. According to the Arkansas Gazette, it was the first time in twenty years that “Little Rock [had] witnessed a mob or an attempt at enforcing mob law in this city.” James, described in some newspapers as a twenty-two-year-old “mulatto,” was originally from Augusta, Maine, but had moved south three years earlier. He worked for a time as a waiter in Hot Springs (Garland County), but for the two weeks prior to his murder, he had been working for the family of Charles Johnson in Little Rock. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the family found him to be “a faithful …

Jefferies, Oscar (Lynching of)

In 1887, a black teacher named Oscar Jefferies from Brownstown (Sevier County) was shot to death by a group of men because he eloped with Ina W. Jones, the daughter of a wealthy white farmer. According to newspaper accounts, Oscar Jefferies, “a fine looking colored man,” arrived in Brownstown from Oswego, New York, in June 1887 to take over the “colored academy.” After his arrival, he paid considerable attention to Ina Jones, who was described as the daughter of “one of the largest plantation owners in the counties.” She welcomed his attentions, and despite her parents’ threats, in late September, she told her friends that she was going to marry Jefferies the following Sunday, October 2. When her parents heard …